“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
" We can not see the texts, through the interpretations "
I think there is profound wisdom in the Friedrich Nietzsche quotes above, especially in this place called post christendom. The biggest question, especially in North America is how do we navigate, and communicate the gospel in a land where christianity for the most part is an alien, and perceived as a threat? There are some that simply refuse to engage, still navigating with old maps, speaking a foreign langauge that most don't understand...they simple drive recklessly over the landscape taking anything out in their way. There are others, that simply watch sadly reminiscing like holding the hand of a loved one that is passing away. And others, that seem to have awakened after a deep deep sleep like Rip Vanwinkle rubbing their eyes wondering what in the hell happened.
But finding yourself on the shores of an uncharted land may not be a bad thing. It is coming to the conclusion we can't navigate with old maps, but, that is not say we through away the real wisdom that we have gained from the past. And, yes we will have to learn to communicate with the occupants of this foreign land.
I find in interesting that there are in fact wise sages doing this right now. People like Brian McLaren in A New Kind of Christianity; Bishop NT Wright in Simply Jesus, and How God became King; Scot McKnight in One Life:Jesus calls We follow and The King Jesus Gospel . These thinkers, pastors, scholars, writers...like many ordinary folks struggling with faith in the land of post christendom can Identify with Nietzsche's words. We have lost the texts underneath all the interpretations...and the interpretation that prevails is not necessarily a function of truth but power. And I think as a church, as christians we have to soul search...yes, there is some truth there.
So guys, like Mclaren, NT Wright and McKnight are digging through all the interpreations to get at Jesus and rediscover the gospel and what it means, especially as we navigate post christendom. Are they getting push back? For sure, those who are still camped out in christendom, refusing to even update old maps, refusing to rethink coordinates they have plotted out, are their harshest critics.
I for one, think we have lost the profound simplicity of the gospel. In simplicity, I mean understanding...to live out, is likely the most challenging thing we will ever encounter. We have made so much out of the gospel, and at the same time ironically, have made it so small. I'm going to stop here, and ask that you listen to Scot Mcknight as he engages the question, " What is the Gospel ", Then I'll come back and pick up the conversation.
Well, what do you think? Did you feel your building locks of belief that you had nicely stacked teeter a little bit, or did they just come tumbling down and now lay like rubble around your feet?
After my year of gospel immersion, where I literally read, and reflected on nothing but the four gospels, Jesus words, his teaching, his ministry...his life and death...I came away with far more questions than answers. Now that doesn't make me a scholar, but if we can't understand the gospels with out one...we have a huge problem. But the question that consumed me the most and still does, is how did we narrow it down to decision, a transaction where we crunched and compressed it down to a statement, that I must confess Jesus died for my sin...I get to go to heaven. In the year, and in the hours of reading the gospels since I have yet to find anywhere, where anyone one made a statement of faith...even the disciples.He forgave, he healed, he invited the marginalized, the worst of sinners...and even a betrayer to his table all with no statement of faith. People just seemed to be in whether thay knew it, or even liked it.
How in God's name did we end up putting these coordinates on map telling people this is the way?
Now am I saying there is no salvation plan...definitely not. Maybe it's not a plan, not a formula...not a set of coordinates on a map ? Maybe it something far more redemptive, something that re-captures the imagination of what it is to be fully human? Maybe as hard as you try you can't compress it into something a small as a " get out of jail free " card...you can't.
In this new landscape of post chistendom do we have enough faith, are we willing to risk that Jesus and the gospel can stand on its own. Or, will we again put more faith in our interpretations running to Jesus aide propping him up again from all sides. The funny thing is, the more things we put around Jesus and the gospel it tends to distract, and hides Jesus and the redemptive power of his story...and really shows how insecure, and unfaithful we are.
Are we willing to think that with out any coersion, any manipulation that someone could just jump into the gospels, Jesus story and be invited to follow...and mysteriously find themsleves redeemed without us pulling strings? Can we believe that just Jesus alone could do that?
Are we willing to untie Jesus, and just let him tell is story...how much are we willing to risk that Jesus alone can re-boot the imagination of a world that longs for something profoundly more than what it lives?