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Colloquial Spiciness of the Week: Dueling Views of Jesus

Since it seems we should move on from talking about Religion and Politics, I think a more relevant subject deserves recognition this week. I can’t stand talking about politics anymore, anyhow. This election season has me completely worn out from listening to politicians blabber. What I’d like to talk about this week stems from a discussion we had on one of Michael’s posts a couple weeks ago that led to the question of who Jesus was. I don’t want to get into how Jews vs. Christians view Jesus like the previous discussion, but I’d like to explore how Emerging Christians see Jesus compared to Conventional Christians. Essentially, what makes us different and why.

“Jesus, I believe, saw that his contemporaries were stuck in their own suicidal system, driven by their own defective framing story. He proposed a radical alternative—a profoundly new framing story that he called good news. News, of course, means a story—a story of something that has happened or is happening that you should know about. Good news, then, would mean a story that you should know about because it brings hope, healing, joy, and opportunity. Jesus was saying, in essence, “There are a lot of bad stories in our world. But I have a good story that frames the bad ones, that puts them in a new light, that says they aren’t the last word. I have a good story that inspires healing and transformative action in our world.”

The preceding quote is from Brian McLaren in his book, “Everything Must Change.” This statement sets the stage for the questions he asks next; comparing the two views (I’ll paraphrase his words to keep this short).

The Human Situation: What is the story we find ourselves in?

Conventional View: God created the world as perfect, but because of Adam and Eve’s sin, we have evil and injustice.

Emerging View: God created the world as good, but human beings—as individuals, and as groups—have rebelled against God and filled the world with evil and injustice.

Basic Questions: What questions did Jesus come to answer?

Conventional View: How can individuals be saved from eternal punishment in hell and instead go to heaven? How can God help individuals be happy and successful until then?

Emerging View: What must be done about the mess we’re in? The mess refers both to the general human condition and to its specific outworking among his contemporaries living under domination by the Roman Empire (Kingdom of God vs. kingdom of man).

Jesus’ Message: How did Jesus respond to the crisis?

Conventional View: Jesus says, in essence, “If you don’t want to burn in hell, repent of your sins and go to heaven when the earth is destroyed.” This is the good news.

Emerging View: Jesus says, in essence, “God loves humanity, even in its lostness and sin. God graciously invites everyone and anyone to turn from his/her current path and follow a new way. Trust me and become my disciple, and you will be transformed, and you will participate in the transformation of the world, which is possible, beginning right now.” This is the good news.

Purpose of Jesus: Why is Jesus important?

Conventional View: Jesus came to solve the problem of “original sin,” meaning that he helps qualified individuals not to be sent to hell for their sins.

Emerging View: Jesus came to become the Savior of the world, meaning he came to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil.

“The conventional view is very familiar to many of us; it is frequently defined as ‘orthodoxy’ and any departure from it as ‘heresy.’ It contains much of value; however, more and more of us agree that for all its value, it does not adequately situate Jesus in his original context, but rather frames him in the context of religious debates within Western Christianity, especially debates in the sixteenth century.”

This was just a small slice from Brian’s book and I encourage everyone to read it if you get a chance. Brian says he believes Jesus saw that his contemporaries were stuck in their own suicidal system, driven by their own defective framing story. To make what we are doing here with Trailblazer Ministries more apparent to people that don’t understand what we’re all about, I think we need to try to point out the differences that contrast the paradigms. It has been said amongst our group that if Jesus were to return to earth today and settle in for a while on the streets of Bozeman, he would probably be rejected for being too radical (or a “dissident”—from previous post on VR). For discussion I would like to hear other contrasts that people might have had with the conventional view and continue with six unintended negative consequences of that view. Jesus’ good news was and is better news than we have been led to believe!

Cheers, see you all on Thursday,



Great post Ryan! I loved the book "Everything must Change". I think the Emergent movement has just begun and will be as good for the church as the reformation was for the Catholic church. The church is due for another change, and we are living in it.
Phillis Tickle is predicting it:

Wow! Great post, Ryan; I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's discussion!

Since leaving Kirkwood Baptist last week, I've been struggling to redefine my goals and sense of direction in the ministry. Your post has helped remind me of why we're here.

Whenever I read something like this, I find myself wondering why I don't hear the gospel preached this way in the mainstream church. What you call the 'conventional' view has indeed passed for the totality of the 'gospel' in most of the churches I have been involved with - with a few notable exceptions. Honestly, if someone had shared the 'emerging' approach to the gospel with me when I was a teenager, I would not have spent so many years wandering through the jungles of atheism.

I believe there are thousands of people out there who are waiting for some truly good news about what God has done in Christ, but they're not getting it through mainstream outlets. That's where you and I come in. We can share God's love in a way that's desperately needed in today's evangelical culture, and see lives transformed by the good news of Christ.

See you tomorrow!

Right on, guys. Jesse, I'm going to have to get Tickle's book, it looks fascinating. Its interesting that there are a couple more issues you and I can think of that the church is going to have to re-think, from admitting that the earth is not flat but round to now re-thinking the age of the earth. I have yet to see a valid argument that will refute Tim Martin's book and I don't think anybody can. Yes, it is here, our 500 year cycle has arrived! Tis time once again to put thy thinking-caps on ye peoples of churchy land!!!

Michael, you raise a good question. Why didn't we all hear about the emerging view sooner? I'll find that book then I'll get back to you on that.

Unfortunately, Michael, I'm going to have to get the conversation started then pass the torch back to you around 8:00. I'm buying a semi-load of logs for firewood and I have to meet the trucker at my house around 9:00. Got wood?

Phillis Tickle spoke at Mars Hill in Michigan. She was amazing. I heard it on a podcast.

No worries, Ryan; we can get started around 7:15 and then break for conversation at 8:00.

Got wood? I don't even have a fireplace; I live in a boring condo :-(

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