I just finished re-reading the chapter from Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy, and I had a few things to throw out to our cohort (current and future members). The 7th Jesus McLaren discusses comes out of "liberation theology." I had heard, at least vaguely, of the other 6, but this one was completely new to me. Of course I thought it was pretty much crap when I read it, because I handle anything unfamiliar very critically. I had a difficult time picturing Jesus as a universal Ghandi, a spirit transcending history and time, leading the oppressed into freedom. There seemed to be no spiritual element - this Jesus focused purely on the plight of living in this imperfect world. But then I realized that it was mainly this Jesus that McLaren discusses in The Secret Message of Jesus. If you haven't read it yet but are interested in the "Jesus of the Oppressed," I would recommend it. For the first time someone explained to me a possible line or reasoning for why Jesus had to die, and even more to die exactly as he did. I've believed in Christ pretty much my whole life and from time to time I would wonder why the Good News had to be so gory. Couldn't the Messiah just have come, given his message of hope, and then set up camp as the new king of the world? In the latter book I mentioned by him, McLaren presents Jesus as overturning the way humans ran the world - not just on the large-scale, political level, but our need to forcibly manage other people and submit to others only when it benefits us. (At least this is the way I read the book; admittedly it has been awhile.)
This Jesus of the Oppressed fights oppression at any level, even between individuals. I am also reminded of Don Miller's many mentions of his lifeboat theory in Searching for God Knows What. Miller says that after being a Christian for several years he discovered something terrible about himself, that Christ's gift should have freed him from feeling the need to struggle against his fellow man for higher placement (in God's eyes, materially, intellectually, etc.), but that somehow he seemed in this respect to be just like those that hadn't come into a relationship with Christ. He compares it to jumping a sinking ship, finding oneself safe on a lifeboat, but then continuing to fight for placement on that lifeboat, even though it doesn't matter. This metaphor really hit me over the head because I realized that I too had completely failed in this area. We humans seem have a need to feel superior to as many other people as possible. Maybe the reason I knew Christ for so many years and yet continued to treat others in this way was because I thought of him as the one born to die for my sins, giving me admittance into heaven and a personal relationship with God (the 1st of the 7 Jesuses). Maybe if I had learned about Jesus' successful attempt to overthrow the status quo in his life and death I would have spent fewer years trying to shove others out of the boat and taunting those that thrashed in the water...
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