February 1, 2019
To the editor:
In his article, “Discovering the human Jesus opens new possibilities for being like Jesus,” Chuck Queen has abandoned the historic faith to find a Jesus not worthy of worship but worthy of emulation.
The list of historic Christian doctrines Queen denies is pretty long. Queen denies the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and the sinlessness of Christ. Queen argues that the earliest disciples did not imagine Jesus to be God, and it was only after reflection on the resurrection that Jesus was thought of as God.
Of course, this ignores 2,000 years of Christian history and the Scriptures themselves. The Gospels and Acts are clear: the disciples worshipped Jesus. The disciples were good Jews and knew that worship belonged to God alone. Worshipping someone or something other than God was tantamount to idolatry, yet they worshipped Jesus. John even records Thomas’ statement of Jesus divinity. Lest, however, one thinks that John is late and the Synoptics are the only place from which we are to draw evidence, take a look at a miracle from Matthew 14 and Mark 6. Jesus is recorded to have walked on water. The Gospels do not present miracles to note that Jesus could do impressive acts. The Gospels present miracles because they say something about Jesus the person. Walking on the water was an act attributed to God in Jewish tradition. Job 9:8 states, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” In other words, the walking on the water miracle is a divine claim made by the Gospel writers.
As Queen attests, the disciples and the early church tradition called Jesus “Lord.” Unfortunately, he only sees its use in connection to Jesus as a subversive counterclaim to Caesar’s use of the term. While Caesar would certainly have been offended, the primary use of the word “Lord” by Christians was not about Caesar. The word “Lord” comes from the word Adonai, a divine title. Calling Jesus Lord is to assert his divinity.
Queen makes another unfortunate claim about the divinity of Jesus. He claims that in worshipping Jesus as God we are able to dispense with Jesus’ agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understanding Jesus as God reminds us that we will be judged by Jesus. If I believe that Jesus is God, then I know I am accountable to him for the way I have lived. I am accountable for the “least of these.”
Queen’s article, deeply influenced by the progressive works of Borg, Rohr, Wink and others is exactly what is wrong with progressive Christianity. In a hopeless attempt to make Christianity appeal to the broader culture, historic Christianity is lost. This reinvention of Jesus as flawed, sinful, but crucial is not only unhelpful, it is destructive.
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina