This is a continuation of my review of the book Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by Robin Meyers. Here are the quotes we will look at on this post:
Adoration of the post-Easter Christ so dominates the language and liturgy of the church that the wisdom of pre-Easter Jesus is all but lost.
We know that Saul of Tarsus, who never met Jesus, became the apostle Paul through a completely mystical experience and seemed to care nothing for the earthly teachings of Jesus, only his “adoption” as the Son of God through the resurrection. Not only did he alter the nature of the gospel from a story to an argument, but his letters and those written by others in his name are the earliest Christian documents we have, written long before the gospels.
These words above were an eye-opener for me. I had been studying the words of Jesus in a serious way for over three years before I encountered them. It had just not occurred to me that there is indeed a very different view of Jesus by many after his resurrection than before.
The post-Easter Jesus was radically different from the pre-Easter Jesus in the eyes of many. To some he suddenly turned from a teacher of great wisdom into a God to be prayed to instead of followed. I think Jesus wanted us to remember is words more than that he conquered death as he had predicted. We need to learn how to take the stained glass off the gospel text and put back the life messages Jesus gave us. That is what he intends.
As Mr. Meyers said Paul was one of the dominant figures in creating the post-Easter Jesus. Paul, in fact never mentions any of the actual messages of Jesus but since he never actually met him that is understandable. The gospels were years away from being written when Paul penned his letters to the various churches so he did not have them to use as a reference. Paul’s words, even though inspired by God, were mainly from his background and experiences as a jewish authority. When he was struck down on that road to Damascus he knew that Jesus was God. That, not the lessons Jesus taught, was the theme of most of his writings.
Coming from a Roman Catholic background to a Lutheran one I often found it interesting that the Protestant focus is primarily of Paul. The words of Jesus seem to take a background. Especially now that I have left the Lutheran fold I find it strange that they filter the words of Jesus through the words of Paul and not the other way around. Jesus spent three years with his disciples teaching them daily what it meant for the kingdom of God to come to earth. Since many of the words of Jesus were not recorded until years after his death I wonder how many of his precious messages from those thousand days that were lost due to incomplete human memories.
We must always remember to filter the words of Paul, and all the other words in the Bible, through the words of Jesus. To do it any other way is just “bass-ackwards” in my mind.