Folknotions asks on Young Radical Anabaptists: “the Jesus of the gospels, not the Jesus of theology” Could you clarify this distinction? Thanks.
The Jesus of theology is the Jesus discussed conceptually in intellectual circles, churches and Bible studies. This is the many “historical Jesus’” (although there have been many honest attempts to find the “real” Jesus), the Jesus of orthodox doctrine, the Jesus of deity alone, the Jesus who rules and who only loves in the abstract. The Jesus of theology has been developed over two thousand years, and has increasingly made Jesus, as a person, more philosophical and able to put in a box. Although this Jesus is arguably greater than the Jesus of the gospels, he is less “touchable” and more moldable by whatever concepts we find most dear within our own worldview.
Perhaps the Jesus of the gospels is more static, but he is more touchable, more realistic, and more difficult to conform to our notions of morality and reality. The Jesus of the gospels always challenges our thoughts and who we are. The Jesus of the gospels never panders to us, or tells us what we want to hear.
But the Jesus of the gospels is the one who looked with compassion at the rich young ruler. The Jesus of the gospels is the one who drew in the sand when asked for judgement. The Jesus of the gospels yelled at his disciples. The Jesus of the gospels insulted the Pharisees. The Jesus of the gospels cried to God to change the plan they had determined upon already. The Jesus of the gospels didn’t know everything. It isn’t just that this Jesus is human– he is real.