Review by Rev Dr David Merritt
Dr Lorraine Parkinson is a Uniting Church minister and the author of one of the most widely read books on progressive Christianity by an Australian author, The World According to Jesus … his blueprint for the best possible world.
Dr Parkinson’s new book deals with a basic issue for contemporary Christians – how to distinguish Jesus the Teacher from the figure of Jesus the Christ depicted in the developing New Testament writings and in subsequent theological reflection. The author presents a carefully formulated argument that the gospel writers “created the Christ”. By confronting a common assumption of many people in the churches as well as of people who have left the churches, Lorraine Parkinson helps us see Jesus as relevant in a fresh way to people today.
“The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus.”
Writing about this book, Michael Morwood wrote: “At last! A book that helps readers to see and understand how the Way of Jesus with its emphasis on this world, was wrong-footed into fixation on ‘the Christ’ and the next world. There is no bigger challenge to Christianity today than to rid itself of this fixation and from creedal adherence to the worldview that shaped it.”
The book concludes with a section on implications: What would it mean for Christianity to remove the Christ and reclaim the Teacher? “Given the boundless human misery caused by the old triumphalist religion of certainty based on Christ, it is well past the time to allow it to be consigned to history, including the name ‘Christ’.” (Pages 344-345)
Available from the publisher online spectrumpublications.com.au