748: JESUS: MODEL OR IDOL?

A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the only religious blog with more questions than answers. I am constantly reading and re-reading Alexandre Christyannopoulos’ masterpiece “Christian Anarchism”, and I am fortunate to have a study group to attend where we discuss the issues arising (next meeting, on chapter 4, will be in September 2017). This is an extract from chapter 3 ‘The state’s wickedness and the church’s infidelity’ (p. 141ff) that I found particularly striking.

“Christianity” is understood to be this official and dogmatic Christianity preached by the church.
Yet this perspective on Christianity, according to Andrews (i) ‘is essentially static’, ‘admits no questions,’ and ‘demands complete conformity.’ It therefore ‘rips the heart out of Christianity, replacing the warm, kind-hearted compassion of Christ with cold, hard-headed propositions about Christ, and relating to people, often violently, in terms of an ideology of Christianity, rather than the non-violent love of Christ.’ As a result, ‘we tend to treat Christ as our idolĀ , someone we’d like to be like, but know we never will be like; rather than our model, someone we’d like to be like, and do our best to be sure we are like.’….Andrews encourages us to ‘become less concerned about being “Christian” and a lot more concerned about being “Christlike”.’ Christian anarchists therefore wish Christians were less preoccupied with performing rituals and preaching dogmatic theology, and more with embodying Jesus’ teaching and example.

….Tolstoy (ii) believes that many theologians are fully aware of the revolutionary potential of Jesus’ teaching – but while they sometimes debate it amongst themselves, they keep it hidden from the masses…… Jesus roundly condemns such hypocrisy…..Tolstoy calls on the laity to use reason – the one gift which he believes God to have granted to all human beings – to deconstruct traditional interpretations, separate truth from falsehood, and uncover the truly radical potential of Jesus’ teaching and example.” Tolstoy understands true ‘faith’ to be precisely about using reason to clarify the truth.

(i) Andrews, Dave “Christi-Anarchy” Oxford Lion (1999) p.77 ff
(ii) Tolstoy, Leo “The kingdom of God is within you”

To help crowdfund Christoyannopoulos’ attempt to publish more books on Christianity and anarchism, with the University of Stockholm Press, go to Apinchofsalt.org.

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