From childhood, through Evangelical and Pentecostal years, through time in ministry, there was one belief that could never be questioned: The Resurrection.
Paul, who called himself “the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle,” wrote:
“If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain, and your faith has been in vain” (First Corinthians 15:14).
I remember Christian “apologists” saying over and over that the Resurrection had to be true–-there had to be an actual historical, bodily resurrection from the dead, or faith was virtually worthless. As they “reasoned”: no resurrection means Jesus wasn’t God and what he said or did had no meaning … there would be no basis or purpose for faith.
Once again, as “The Least Apostle” said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”
So, it’s pretty clear; it’s been established:
No Easter=No Faith
According to Paul, and most preachers, evangelists and theologians through the centuries, Christianity stands or falls on The Resurrection.
Enter “Secular Jesus.”
The man who lived and taught. The man who died. No resurrection.
As many biblical scholars have shown for years:
Jesus, the human being, was magically transformed into “Christ”–the “Resurrected Lord”–by Paul, by the Church with its creeds and theologies.
And therein lies the Achilles’ Heel (or Nailed Foot) of the Christian Religion.
Paul feared the rumor among the Corinthians that there was no resurrection of the dead at all, including Jesus. This scared him, as it does many people of faith today.
It’s an understandable fear IF your faith is nailed to that belief!
Ironically, I’m attempting to “resurrect” Secular Jesus because he’s been “buried” under centuries of dogma and doctrine, obscuring his essential life and message of compassion, justice, equality … practical, earthly ethical instructions anyone can practice.
Of course, I admit, and it’s obvious that this is my own particular sense of his life and teaching.
I think this is something to seriously consider on this “Easter Day,” the Central Holy Day of the Christian Faith.
I’m simply suggesting that we:
Dig Up a more Uplifting message in this Grave situation!
I would say that the more reasonable, hopeful, inclusive and timely “gospel” for our time might be:
“He is Not Risen … He is Not Risen, indeed!”
This may disintegrate much of what we know as Christian Faith, but it could serve to celebrate something much better than a dramatic, mythological, super-naturalized story of life after death.
If he stayed in the tomb, that gives us room to live more human lives, to try to practice what he taught, without the need to de-humanize or worship the man.
Secular Jesus has much to offer us today!