“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the blatantly left-wing Christian (sort of) blog. Here’s a brilliant blow to the heart of my philosophy from a reviewer called “Hawkeye” on Amazon. The book he’s tearing to shreds is called “A Scandalous Jesus. How three historic Quests changed theology for the better”. It’s by John D. Bessler and is published by the Polebridge Press (2013). Hawkeye’s quite right to question the modern church’s motivation of course, but a world of liberty, equality and fraternity is surely better, and more Christian, than what we’ve got now.
(To remind you of what right-wing American Christians can be like, here’s media mogul and preacher Pat Robertson on Feminism, “a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”)
If only the people who read Zingcreed (nearly 8000 hits to date) would comment like Hawkeye on my Posts!”
Peter Turner, M.A. M.Sc.
Hawkeye’s Amazon review of Bessler’s book “A Scandalous Jesus.”
For those who have not kept up with developments in postmodern theology (including the Jesus Seminar), Bessler’s book presents a useful introduction to the subject. Its chief defect is that he thinks postmodern theology has changed theology for the better. In fact, of course, it has simply replaced theology with left-wing politics. In Bessler’s view theology does not presuppose a belief in a supernatural God. The task of theology is not to make God more accessible and plausible to modern people but to remove the supernatural from theological discussion because, historically, the concept of the supernatural has been used to oppress people. Doctrinal Christianity provides ideological support for right-wing political oppression. The point, therefore, is not to sort out the doctrines– they’re all oppressive– but to take that scandalous Jesus, who was such a thorn in the side of the religious and political authorities of his time, as a role model for disruptive behavior in the name of social justice. Today’s Christian will fight political battles for “social justice.”
Many on the left see themselves as pursing this agenda in opposition to religion, the opium of the masses. But Bessler sees the scandalous “historical Jesus” (as opposed to the doctrinal “Christ of faith”) as providing a theological justification for left-wing politics. What would Jesus do? Occupy Wall Street, man! Many historians hold that we do not have and will never have sufficient resources to produce a genuine biography of Jesus. But that’s no obstacle for postmodern historiography, which can construct a Jesus linguistically, poetically, narratively. The Gospels are fiction, anyway, so why not use hermeneutic circles, language games, and deconstruction to fashion a Jesus on our side? Call him the “historical Jesus” and use him as a theological warrant for radical politics. And if anyone is scandalized and is not prepared to sit at the feet of the elite divinity school theologians, accuse them of anti-intellectualism and biblical illiteracy.
Bessler sees the problem of using religion to support right-wing politics. He does not see the problem of using religion to support left-wing politics. Any theology worthy of the name would seek to serve God and not enlist Him in the service of our mundane political agendas.
[370, i&l, t&c]