Anyone who’s ever studied western civilization can recall the long and complicated movement of Christianity from a small sect in Palestine to the largest of the world’s religions, now encompassing about a third of the earth’s population and still counting.
But whereas it took two thousand years to bring Jesus Christ to global significance, it has taken less than one lifetime to lead to his fall in much of the “Christian world.” We have to use that phrase loosely, because it’s doubtful that often what has passed for “Christian” actually was more than skin deep. But for the sake of argument, we’ll still call it that.
It’s been only in my lifetime, at least in my own country, that Jesus Christ has moved from the status of Messiah and Lord, Incarnate Son of God, and only Savior of the world, to something far less. We may refer to the new Jesus on the market as “Saint Jesus,” Saint Jesus is the emergence of that personage who is on the same level as Saint Augustine, Saint Francis, or some other extraordinary believer.
Today, our culture accepts and likes Saint Jesus rather than Jesus Christ because he is the “real Jesus” of the media, the nice guy of Palestine who went about doing good, telling people about our essential goodness and the God who likes everything about everybody all the time everywhere. In fact, Saint Jesus is the only Jesus who passes muster by the media censors these days.
We no longer have room for the rigid and dogmatic Jesus of the New Testament because he really gets in the way of our new society (and new church). He just doesn’t fit the enlightened, post-modern, post-Christian model we’ve developed for ourselves. He particularly doesn’t fit in very well with the post-Christian Christianity that has emerged in the last generation.
If there’s one thing that our diverse, tolerant society just won’t tolerate today is the intolerant Jesus, the one who claimed that he, and he alone, is the way to God and the only source of eternal salvation available on earth.
But perhaps you’ve noticed something interesting here. As Jesus Christ has moved from high status of the “Man from heaven,” the Incarnation of God, and Lord and Savior of the world to merely Saint Jesus, one of the great religious leaders of history, people are losing interest in him. Many are now turning to other absolutist belief systems—atheism, Islam, secularism, materialism, Marxism, and others.
It’s true that several welcome and hail the new “all-faiths-are-equal” situation that’s taken shape, but others seem to long for that clear answer the old, real Jesus provided to the question, “What’s the real truth?” Now that he’s gone, they seek the answer in one of the other faiths that are still saying, “This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Hopefully, we’ll come full circle in the upcoming generation and find what past generations discovered, that we can’t tear up nature by its roots, namely, that no matter how hard we may try, we can’t ever get away from the inbuilt desire to know who’s who and what’s what. And it shouldn’t take us too long for reality to set in and discover what past generations already knew: when we say that everything is true, then nothing is true.
Which Jesus do you serve?
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”