April 13, 2006


Jesus Nation: The never-ending American battle over how to think about Jesus. (Richard Wightman Fox, April 13, 2006, Slate)

Eighty percent of adult Americans say they are Christians, and 70 percent claim that Jesus is divine as well as human—not just the famous Jewish teacher who walked the Palestinian earth in the first century, not just the Christian equivalent of Mohammed or the Buddha (inspired men who founded or gave their names to new religions), but an actual divine-human being. Around the world and in the United States, many secularists shake their heads at the nutty American paradox of a modern industrial society saddled with a premodern religious sensibility. [...]

Emerson's Jesus modeled revolution in society as well as self. Break free, he urged, from all tired institutions and worn-out habits of mind. He had in mind a deeper revolution than any organized political or reform movement could effect. Reformers, Emerson insisted, just wanted to impose a new conformity. "It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." Jesus revealed himself as the ultimate nonconformist.

A position He never put more clearly than when He said, "And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's." Oops, nevermind....

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 13, 2006 2:00 PM

What do you expect from someone who writes about the "Palestinian earth in the first century."

Posted by: David Cohen at April 13, 2006 2:17 PM

And it's voluntary conformity, too.
What's even more interesting is that Mr. Fox seems confounded by the existence of the compartmentalized mind. What does a belief in the divinity of God's son have to do with supersonic stealth fighters, and why would belief in the one supposedly preclude the design and construction of the other?

Posted by: Mikey at April 13, 2006 2:24 PM

The ultimate nonconformist divinity for the ultimate nonconformist country.

Why doesn't he get it?

Posted by: Sandy P at April 13, 2006 3:16 PM

Most fortunately for the world, Christianity, the religion that succeeds in balancing the spiritual and the temporal, wherein all the others have failed, fail and will fail, in inoculated against Christologic heresies by the magisterium of the Chrurtch and by the fruit of that magisterium, the Bible.

Most explicity the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles of John address the various heretical misconceptions of the person, essence and nature of Christ. Bible-based Christianity remains, ipso facto, Trinitarian, catholic Christianity.

Read what Calvin, Luther and all the rest later wrote about this. They knew of Christologic heresies, both early and then contempory, and rejected them all. No contemporary Protestant authority is fooled on the slighest by the current reappearance of ancient errors.

All the silly fables of the past which have been weighed against Tradition and Scripture--that Jesus was married, that Jesus was a homosexual, that Jesus was an angel, or a phantom, or a Aryan-Arian hero fighting the Jews, as the Nazis held--have failed to undermine Christian faith is the past and they will fail now.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 13, 2006 4:58 PM


I'm not certain that you can say that these "silly fables" will fail to "undermine Christian faith." Christian faith has been undermined greatly in Europe and large swathes of North America.

Posted by: Brandon at April 13, 2006 5:26 PM

Lou: Neither has Judiasm failed to balance the spiritual and the temporal.

OJ: Jesus went to great lengths to make sure he would not be thought of as a revolutionary. This explains the otherwise difficult to understand fact that he did not call for the abolishment of slavery. He likely knew that if he did, he would be mistakingly thought of as a revolutionary instead of the Messiah, the Son of God. He goes out of his way in more than one gospel reading to reinforce the institution. (By the way, it should be noted that BEING a slave is not an impediment to salvation. I am of course not referring to being a slave of sin, but to being human chattel.)

Interestingly, the Founding Fathers of the United States found themselves in a related predicament regarding slavery. If they had tried to abolish it at the founding, the founding of the republic would not have been possible.

Posted by: geo at April 13, 2006 8:38 PM

Not really. Ancient slavery was a decent and moral institution. Chattel slavery was evil.

Posted by: oj at April 13, 2006 8:43 PM


The people who grasped the silliness (that Jesus didn't die on the cross but merely swooned and later revived in the coolness of the tomb, that the feeding of the 5000 could be explained by a secret cave in the ground through which food was passed to him, etc.) were already unwilling to believe the truth.

As Jesus himself told the rich dead man - if they won't believe Moses and the prophets, they won't believe if someone should return from the grave. He also warned that many are called, but few are chosen; and added that wide is the road to hell. Likewise, Paul elaborated that of all those who left Egypt on the night of Passover, only two crossed the river into Canaan.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 13, 2006 11:40 PM

Ooops....it was Abraham who told the rich dead man.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 13, 2006 11:42 PM