This quote resonated with me:
“I had stopped saying the word “Jesus.” 95% of the time, I only spoke of “God.” Or if I had to speak of him, I referred to God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, the Logos…names that sounded intellectual and sophisticated. If I had to speak of the Son incarnate, then I spoke of Christ, or the God-man. Never Jesus Christ, and certainly never just Jesus. Loving Jesus, following Jesus, seeking Jesus — these were the province of fundamentalists, Bible thumpers, Jesus Freaks, crude Christians who wore WWJD bracelets and listened to Michael W. Smith and read Max Lucado instead of Jurgen Moltmann.”
If you want you can read the whole blog whole blog here.
Oddly enough, but not really, I have had a similar experience.
Not so much in seminary, because it started well before, but for the same reasons. Jesus is stupid. Not because he is, but because he’s been made to be so. I wanted to not be stupid. The people who exclaimed Jesus were more than likely the ones who were pushing people away from Jesus, or just seemed downright ludicrous in their piety. I was in it and of it. It made me cringe, still does. I remember reading a quote sometime, somewhere credited to Matt Thiessen of Relient K, it followed the same line of thought, something along the lines of “It’s hard to sing Jesus in a song and not sound cheesy.” The name of Jesus evokes a certain emotional response in me that drives me away from it.
I suppose I resemble a majority of American culture who thinks along the same lines, Jesus, because of how Christianity has used the name and portrayed itself is cheesy, dumb and very distant.
Distant because the whole notion is abused in hypocrisy and vehement rhetoric.
Distant because the culture is very distant, an anthropologists dream with a whole set of language, practices and identity that, though American, very removed from America (like that weird clique in high school or college).
Distant because they say he’s fully man, but the way he’s presented and spoken about makes him seem very inhuman, kinda like he was human only in appearance, but never really ever weak, because he was always some sort of immortal being.
Distant because if he’s that spectacular then why does everything that’s supposed to be about him seem totally lame and flimsy? Lots of bad, cheesy music, terrible books and boring worship and preaching… can I get an AMEN?!
Clearly I have some frustrations with the whole Christian subculture.
It just seems more intelligent and honest to use some other title to refer to Jesus or God. I haven’t prayed to Jesus since sometime in my undergrad; instead, I pray to “my heavenly father”. Which isn’t bad, and in fact it has worked quite well for me, it moves me and its not a dishonest title because I do truly experience the reality of God’s parenthood, it also helps that I have a very healthy relationship with my paternal figures.
The problem ultimately is that I have let the cultural critique of the Christian culture effect my own Christian faith. I don’t pray to Jesus because I am associating Jesus with the cheesy Christian subculture.
Odd for me is inconsistency.
And this is a very inconsistent concept, because I have always been one to try and not judge a philosophy/religion by its abuse. And I see here the cheesiness as an atrocious abuse, if only aesthetically, but also, and more importantly, the vehemence and hypocrisy.
Since being in seminary this Jesus has become even more remote and distance. Because really we don’t talk about Jesus that much, or why he matters. I do find the benefit of classes teaching about why there are issues and the systematic relationship between distant wrongs and present struggles, but the problem is is we never get to Jesus as the solution. Per some professors: we can’t even read the Jesus into the Old Testament because we should allow it to stand on its own. Perhaps they were speaking in hyperbole to make an emphatic point that we need to find the power in the OT that gets over shadowed by too much Christology, which I would agree with, but they never let on that they were speaking in hyperbole. Yet the point remains that Christian culture has done a lot of abuse to the name of Jesus.
So seminaries react by striving to be an opposing force, I along with them I suppose.
After reading Mr. Dalrymple’s post I found myself pondering my own latent frustrations with myself and my lack of Jesus. I find frustrations with Christianity used as an opposing force, and yet here I am being an opposing for to this type of Christianity and not being a mediating force. I suppose that’s what happens when you lose sight of Jesus and become one of the intelligentsia, instead of solving a heart problem you want to fix practices and actions.
Because when it really comes down to it the problem is of the heart, and we all get that wrong. That Christian subculture wants to fix peoples practices, that academia subculture wants to fix peoples practices, my seminary wants to fix peoples practices. When what we need to realize, and what is shown by Jesus quite clearly in the Gospels, is that the problem is internal.
Therefore we need an internal solution… which I have found to be Jesus. (and it still sounds cheesy)
Perhaps I might find, again, that my own personal struggles of piety will be solved by fleeing to Jesus rather than understanding the systemics of it. Perhaps I might also find joy in things when the focus and goal becomes something atemporal.
What I have done, and am doing, ultimately, is letting my self down by letting external ideas and factions affect my own faith, piety and worship. I should be able to pray and live through the name of Jesus regardless of how cheesy it might be lived out, or how cheesy others might perceive it.