The beginning of the disintegration process in progressive theology can be traced to one key assumption: that there is a difference between “the historical Jesus” and “the Jesus of faith” presented in the New Testament. Once Jesus has been dis-integrated, torn from our understanding of the Scriptures which cannot be trusted to show us who Jesus is, then Jesus becomes very quickly, “my Jesus.”
The troubling events of the General Assembly this year rely in no small measure on this disintegrated understanding. When anyone would bring up the Scriptural support that flew in the face of cultural imperatives, they would be told that “my Jesus would never say/do such a thing,” even if the Scriptures say He did. The real Jesus is the Jesus of my experience—in essence, a figure of my imagination: my Jesus.
The Church, too, has been part of this disintegrating impulse. As soon as the Word was made flesh, controversies innumerable sprang up. Theologians came to call this series of problems the scandal of particularity: to become human, Christ had to enter a specific culture as a specific person. He was a Jew, not a Gentile; he was a man, not a woman. And each particular part of humanity, divided from the others, wishes to claim Jesus Christ as its own: our Jesus.
But there is just one Jesus Christ. We believe that the Scriptures testify to who He is from beginning to end, and that that testimony can be trusted. No culture can contain Him, even though He lived on this earth as a Jewish man. Jesus Christ IS risen—that means He lives. And He lives for one purpose, best put in his prayer in John 17:11—“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
There is no chauvinist Jesus, no feminist Jesus, no black Jesus, no white Jesus, no “my Jesus.” There is only the Lord and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, to Whom the Scriptures testify. Born into one culture, His command transcends all cultures; for He came to earth to reunite and revivify what was divided and dead from our fall into sin. There is only one Jesus Christ known in one Book, testified to by many witnesses. Thanks be to God that He claims us.