“We Christians need to stop being welcoming and start being inviting.”
“Christianity isn’t Jesus-centered. It’s Christ-centered.”
I did not come up with either of these. I heard them spoken by others and have been reflecting on them for a few weeks.
What are your thoughts?
9 thoughts on “Two Theses”
I’m not sure. What do you think they mean? I, also, am a recent seminary graduate (Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL campus) and a pastoral intern (Faith Assembly, Orlando). Thank you for sharing, and God bless you. Here is my latest post: http://scottsholar.com/2012/04/29/power/
I’m still not sure what to do with the Jesus-/Christ-centered statement. It was made during one of my supervisory meetings as we discussed the experience of Jesus Christ by the early church and what that meant. I was concerned about the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar (yeah, I know, ancient history) and how focused it was on discerning the “facts” about Jesus. For me, the exact facts about what Jesus of Nazareth said and did are not as important as the revelatory, relational experience that the coming of Christ, the incarnation, meant for God and the world.
As for welcoming/inviting, I think it’s an interesting way to remind us to reach out instead of waiting for others to come to us.
Whatever happened to both/and? is my reflex response. Also, we need to be cautious of anything that begins with the words “we need to…”, as it may mean something more like “in my (more or less) humble opinion, you should…” 😉
Good catch. I hadn’t noticed before that both statements were either/or.
What?! This is the prime example of splitting hairs. Really? Does it matter if we say “welcoming” or “inviting”-“Jesus-centered” or “Christ-centered”? If folks spent an equal amount of time putting Christianity into action instead of playing word games, we would all benefit. Let’s just all concentrate on love and service and be done with it already. (oh, and sorry for the rant)
I’m still working on the Jesus- versus Christ-centered thing. But with regards to welcoming/inviting, if I remember, the heart of the message was that many Christians do a good job of welcoming people after they come in the door, but not outside of the doors. Inviting, in this particular context, meant going out beyond the doors.
Well, I’m a little late to this party, but I’ve been thinking since reading this post several days ago. Rosalind’s instincts to shift to both/and instead of either/or are, I think, commendable and oh so Anglican – always splitting the difference.
But I think she is especially right about the Jesus/Christ dichotomy your premise suggests. It is the risen one which animates our souls and whose body is represented within the church. In that sense, then yes, Christianity is Christ-centered. But if Jesus is the incarnation of God in human form, then what the earthly Jesus did or said is immensely important for understanding how God desires that we live in our world. In other words, the Risen Christ gives us the confidence and energy to live out the ethical life illustrated by the earthly Jesus.
As to being welcoming or inviting… Well, Episcopal churches, by and large, aren’t especially good at either and I suspect the same is true for most other mainline denominations as well. I think whoever told you that we need to “stop being welcoming” was more enchanted with their witty phrase than actually thoughtful about it’s content. Inviting people to a dinner party but ignoring them after they arrive makes for a lousy party and people who won’t take your future invitations seriously. The same is true for church.
I was under the impression that Jesus and the Christ were one and the same person. 😉
I would be very cautious about introducing a dichotomy between Jesus and the Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of Israel, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. If what Jesus said and did doesn’t matter, then why did he say and live it? The life and teachings of Jesus are just as vital to the redemption of humanity and creation as the death, resurrection and ecclesial experience of the risen Christ. Without the earthly life and teachings of Jesus, all we have a spiritual incarnation (i.e docetism or gnosticism). The separation of Jesus and the Christ also creates a temptation to neglect the Jewishness of Jesus (i.e. marcionism), and to ignore the ethical imperatives of Jesus’ teachings.
If you’re worried about the Jesus Seminar, separating Jesus and the Christ actually plays right into their hands.
Interesting. I shall contemplate.