Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Few Thoughtz: The Politics of Jesus, pt. 2

Peace and blessings,

During the last post, I provided my general thoughts on Dr. Hendricks’ “Politics of Jesus,” highlighting things that I agreed with and things I either disagreed or had concerns with. I now want to offer a potential explanation as to why I think he went to such great lengths (by “great lengths” I am referring to the extent to which he used biblical scripture to support and further his position) to urge us as Christians and those who may not be Christian but are passionate about issues of social justice to pay more attention to Jesus Christ’s revolutionary nature, and the implication of this nature on past, present, and future politics.
Looking back at the points in my life when I first realized that I was passionate about something, I noticed that whenever this realization occurred, it was as a result of experiencing or wrestling with two extremes simultaneously. In other words, once I learned something that was totally contrary to what I had previously been taught, I would kind of “flip out” in a sense. As a result, I would devote all of my energy embracing this “new” information that I would cut myself off from considering any other type of information that may differ from this “new” information that I was now fully embracing.
I think that Dr. Hendricks had a similar experience. It the start of the book he talks about his experiences with trying to understand God and Christianity as a child. He mentions how whenever he would suggest to others that the way he sees Jesus is different that how the Messiah has been characterized, portrayed, and widely represented historically and presently, he would run into opposition. In particular, he would be made to feel as if his “radical” view of Jesus is nothing more than a function of his misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the “real” Jesus: one who is meek, divine, and only concerned with our personal piety and salvation. As he got older, however, he began to become more engaged in the scriptures and realized that his “radical” notion of Jesus was not “wrong” or inaccurate. In fact, it was the exact opposite. In other words, Hendricks had discovered this “new” characterization of Jesus that was so drastically different than the apolitical characterization of Jesus that he was so accustomed to.
As a result, he focused most, if not all of his efforts on emphatically supporting this position. Further, I think that it was this simultaneous struggle between two drastically different conceptions of Jesus, and the resulting focus on supporting his “new” realization that Jesus was in fact a revolutionary, that explains why some of his interpretations of the scriptures (e.g. the passage in Matthew and the passage in Mark), seem to be earnestly trying to highlight some further social, economic, or political motive, when it is possible that it may not be.
As I said in the previous post, I am not saying that his interpretation of the passages in Matthew and Mark that I highlight are inaccurate, because I am in no way a biblical scholar, and he is. What I am saying is that for me personally, I do not see those larger motives. Second, there are plenty of interpretations of scriptures that he highlight in the book that I do agree with.
In conclusion, I want to note that Hendricks sheds some much deserved and long overdue light on some very important aspects of Jesus’ revolutionary nature, that in my opinion are just as important as His divine nature. In fact, I would argue that Jesus’ life and ministry is absolute proof that having an intimate relationship with God necessitates intimate relationships with others, such that we work to break down the walls of injustice, in any and every way God calls us to do so. We cannot be intimately connected to God if we are not also intimately connected to God’s children. Lastly, I think that the potential explanation I offered for as to why I think Hendricks was so “hard core” on arguing his position, reflects a larger issue regarding the “popular” conception of Jesus and Christianity that is prevalent within mainstream America. The sooner we start looking at Jesus’ divinity and revolutionary natures as sequential and interconnected (i.e. because He was divine, He was always concerned with holistically meeting people’s needs) and not polar opposites (or at the very least two separate, distinct, aspects), the better we will become as a people. Books that highlight the revolutionary nature of Jesus will then no longer be looked at as shocking revelations, but instead as confirmation.

What do you think? What is your conception of Jesus? Where does your conception of Jesus come from? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit…

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