Jesus bigger than Christianity?

Jarrod McKenna download election dvdrip ’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“Because the life of Jesus has the significance and the transcendency to which I have alluded, I believe that he belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world; to all races and people, it matters little under what flag, name or doctrine they may work, profess a faith, or worship a God inherited from ancestors.”

-Gandhi “The Modern Review: Oct. 1941”

(This might be the post our reformed friends drown me for 😉 )

I remember the first time I wrote in my journal in 2001, “Jesus are you bigger than Christianity?” At the time I was one of two white people within eight blocks living in East Nashville with Karl Meyer. Karl is an amazing man who became a Christian through Dorothy Day who started the Catholic Worker Movement. Karl had a photo of in his living room of him up front of the Civil Rights marches in Chicago shoulder to shoulder with two other organisers. On one shoulder Thich Nhat Hahn. On the other, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. After writing “Jesus are you bigger than Christianity” in my journal I wasn’t sure if to worship or ask for forgiveness. (From memory I did a bit of both.)

I have a mate who had a life changing experience watching “South Park” when he saw Gandhi in hell with Hitler. (God can use anything I guess).

I know for many this might provoke questions of who’s going to heaven (or hell) and who’s not. But that’s not what was going on in my head and heart when I was was journaling while living in this poor neighbourhood where I heard guns shots. My questions weren’t coming out of an understanding of the gospel ‘as fire insurance for the afterlife’ nor ‘sin management’. Nor where they coming out of a liberal ‘social gospel’ that reduced the gospel to ideals and principles. Instead they were arising out of a burning desire in me for an alternative to the fundamentalism and the liberalism which is so often on offer.

I longed for a Christianity that was ‘evangelical’ in the sense of being ‘good news’ to our hurting world that had integrity when it came to the context of the early Christians and how they would have understood the gospel (instead of just arguments of the sixteenth century read back into Scripture). I became convinced that the gospel is about God’s will being done “on earth” as Jesus taught us to pray and that we don’t “go to glory” rather biblically glory is coming here and it has broken in through Jesus! (notice the direction of the New Jerusalem or the Son of Man… this however has not effected the sales of ‘left behind’).

Gandhi famously refused to become a Christian yet daily spent 2 hours meditating after reading the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. (Anybody know any Christians who spent 2 hours meditating on Christ’s teachings today?) Repeatedly when asked for the inspiration of his nonviolent revolution in India he would not fail to mention Jesus and his teachings. Gandhi’s dedication to Jesus and practice of his teachings cannot be doubted, nor can his dedication to his Hinduism (albeit a Hinduism that looks like Jesus. So much so Gandhi was often accused of “Christianising” Hinduism and was finally shot by someone who believed he was corrupting Hinduism.)

I have a friend who, like Gandhi, makes many uncomfortable with his ability to live in liminal space between 2 ‘tribes’ which compete for him yet he feels, to be faithful, he has to be the bridge between. Like Tony Campolo he’s a sociologist, who never divorced his field from his faith. But more than a bridge, a better metaphor might be a prophet.

Dave AndrewsHe’s the kind thinker that would be interesting if he didn’t practice his ideas making him so dangerous. He the kind of guy who is an influence on many but quoted by few because of fears that they to might experience the ‘blessings of being cursed’ that are seen in his life because of the way he challenges the principalities and powers. He has a gentleness and humility that is intimidating to the shamsters who travel the speaking circuit enjoying the fanfare and praise while merely talking about what he quietly speaks with his life away from the cameras and applause. Like Gandhi he has been written off by many Christians. Not because of his witness, his life, like Gandhi’s, has become a modern day metaphor for Christ-likeness. But he has been written off for suggesting that maybe Gandhi isn’t burning in hell for not becoming a Christian (it wan’t South Park that convinced him).

Dave Andrews

What is more interesting is that he hasn’t compromised on the centrality of Christ, nor avoided the question, nor departed from Scripture. But like Paul he’s suggested that maybe the “circumcisions” of our day make a mockery of the gospel. That the gospel was never about fire insurance for the afterlife nor sin management but God’s desire to heal creation which has broken into reality in Christ. His name is Dave Andrews and his books are a gift to the church at this time in history and a valuable companion to anyone thinking missionaly.

Like Gandhi we all wont agree with everything Dave says (we’re still talking about where an ecclesia fits in the ‘open set’ in his book Christi-Anarchy). But like Gandhi to ignore his life and writings is to miss a rich opportunity for our own journey and how better to bring others on that journey with us toward a the Jesus bigger than the boxes we put him in and a Christianity that does Christ justice.

73 thoughts on “Jesus bigger than Christianity?

  1. In one part of my your words soothe my soul Jarrod. Yet in another I say, “no that can’t be true. Only Christians can follow Jesus.”

    This is a prime example of my upbringing and training mashing with new teachings and understandings.

    I appreciate your humility in putting your views forward. You don’t say this is the truth-no believe in it everyone. But you are gentle but confronting.

    Thanks mate.

  2. Great words my friend. I too have been ‘smashed by the gentle touch’ of Dave Andrews. His words and actions, his life, confront me and my lifestyle regularly. I too ponder the ‘entrance into heaven’ issue quite often, maybe too often. I do believe it is a major distraction to true evangelism, yes, I believe entry to heaven issues are distraction to evangelism. Thanks again for your words. And thank God for heros of the faith like Dave!

  3. Interesting post. I’ve appreciated your fresh voice on this blog recently (not trying to imply that there’s anything un-fresh about Hamo of course)

    Can you suggest some good Dave Andres books to start with, where he touches upon the issues you raised?

  4. Baggas – I’ll let Jarrod answer your question, but there are some interesting articles to download for free at (see publications)

    The one entitled “The Crux” might be a good place to start and is sure to get a bit of robust discussion going!



  5. “Gandhi famously refused to become a Christian yet daily spent 2 hours meditating after reading the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.”

    Of course, becoming a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian. Neither does committing to Christ’s teachings. Committing to Christ makes you a Christian.

    Being born again (the work of the Spirit) has got to be in their somewhere and make a difference in the now!

    I agree that the gospel is more than sin management, but it is that as well.

    Your comment on the direction the New Jerusalem moves is an apt one – the Kingdom of God breaking in. The future entering the present. But it is still a future hope and expectation!

    The question is, what does all that look like? I suspect its all a both/and rather than an either/or.

    Jumbled responses. Just musing out loud.

  6. being born again… and again… and again…

    I think that’s the point – the work of the Spirit is happening deeply within people each and every time they respond to the Truth.

    Maybe “committing oneself to Christ” is simply the very act of responding to the Spirit’s work deep within our being, or as Pete Rollins says, the seeking is in fact the finding.

  7. Nice one Jarrod,

    Couple of things cross my mind. If Jesus is bigger than Christianity, what purpose does Christianity serve? It seems to me that there are so many definitions of Christianity that it’s becoming problematic. Doesn’t the Lord’s Resistance Army in Ughanda slaughter people in the name of Christianity? Religious vervor can be pretty scarey stuff and if Jesus (who He actually is) isn’t the focus of a Christianity, then it’s potentially catastrophic. Then there’s Jesus talking about people on ‘that day’ telling him all about the wonderful ‘Christian’ things they’ve done in His name, and He’s gonna tell them ‘I never knew you’… in which case, it seems they are Christians who Jesus doesn’t acknowledge…

    It’s all a bit tricky isn’t it?



  8. thanks jarrod. when you write i can read and digest the words, ponder and so on more than reading the books, the pages of many. you make sense of things for people like me, especially as a visual person who reads picture books.

    australia is full of great people stumbling forward, toward.


  9. Jesus has been given all authority and he will be the one to judge who has given themselves over to his authority.

    To paraphrase Gaz, “Only people who choose to follow Jesus can follow Jesus.”

  10. Yes Lance, but Gandhi chose to follow Jesus, but not to follow Christianity, and that is the issue. Jarrod is an amazing young man, who I have been blessed to learn from. I hope someday to be a bit less mean, and a lot more gentle, and it is he who has inspired this in me.

    I would recommend reading Not Religion But Love, if you are not a big committed reader. Christianarchy changed my life, but for many it is a bit too controversial. If you promise to read them both start with Christianarchy, but if you are not sure start with Not Religion but Love.


  11. I wonder if part of our problem lies in the desire for a title, a label, a group name. Somewhere along the line, that label was Christianity, a label we keep redefining to suit our current or evolving views. Whether or not we put God into a box, the label we choose boxes us. Do we need a title and if we do, why does it need to be collective? As long as Jesus is our central focus, does it really matter what religion/denomination/movement we subscribe to? I think sometimes our ‘Christianese’ stiffles our ability to reflect Christ…

    It’s late, my mind is jumbled but my questions aren’t rhetorical, I’m genuinely asking your views.

    I personally find Ghandi to be a great inspiration and wonder if his refusal to ‘become a Christian’ is negated by the fact that he was in love with Christ and held his teachings as a compass for the way he lived. Was he a follower of Christ? Did his refusal to ‘convert’ matter at all? Was he following Christ rather than following Christians?

    Thanks Jarrod, always grateful for your insights. Blessings 🙂

  12. Baggas, there are so many good places to start with Dave. I’m with John on “Religion Not Love” being a great place to start but if you have a small group Dave’s latest DVD series is fantastic here’s the link:

    Without making another post Gandhi said “I like your Christ but not you Christians. Your not much like your Christ.”

    I think Gandhi’s chanllenge is for us to be the church, a people that embody God’s alternative, that feel like the kingdom. I think I’m wondering not if others faiths can follow Christ but can Christians! 🙂 Not just as inspiring individuals like Dave Andrews but as communities shaped by the cross living in the Spirit’s power.


    gandhi drank his own pee

  13. History has shown us that whenever anyone comes up with a new fresh idea that brings life and hope and happiness, our tendency as humans is to institutionalise it or bureaucratise it. Jesus brought life to humanity and we turned his movement into an institution. I think people like Gandhi and Jarrod and Dave all help us to peel back the outer shells and get back to the essence of Jesus that still exists within – even though sometimes it’s like peeling an onion. Thanks

  14. Good on Jarrod.

    You’ve got these guys thinking.

    To follow Jesus always takes you into a liminal space. For example, that was what Alan Jamieson (of “A Churchless Faith” discovered when he was researching “backsliders” and discovered that they were in fact journeyers beyond the boundaries of “Christianity”.

    Christianity is what we make it (even when “Spirit-led”). Jesus is who he is. I’ve never gained the impression that he handed his identity management over to us, despite all the hype to the contrary.

    “Who is Jesus?” is not such a big question for each of us. Jesus is who he is. The bigger question for each of us is to look inside and ask “Who am I?” and to look into the eyes of the stranger and ask “Who are you?”.

    Be warned. Genuine sustained attempts at such practices will result in your life being turned upside down. People will probably either try to kill you or (worse) say nice things about you while completely ignoring you. Either way, you will disappear off the face of Christianity.

  15. Thanks Jarrod.

    Of course Jesus is bigger than Christianity. Christianity is what we make it. it is a reflection of our struggle to articulate Jesus. Jesus is Jesus. He is who he is. Here is no mere articulation of himself.

    The question for Ghandi or for each of us is not “am I Christian?”. The Question that we each must ask is “Who am I?”, “Who is my neighbour?” These questions will take you to the centre of things.

    But be careful you don’t ponder these questions too long or you will find yourself outside “Christianity?”… outside the gate.

    But, then again, you will find yourself in good company.

    If you like the the way Jarrod thinks, you might like this guy

  16. Actually I think ‘who is Jesus?’ is by far the way biggest question.

    When we answer that one we get a much better picture of who we are and it allows us to answer the ‘who am I?’ question and the ‘who is my neighbour?’ question with a sense of clarity…

    In ref to Ghandi it seems we are debating the age old tension of faith and works.

    Faith without works is dead, but works minus faith is not a means of salvation either.

    I’m sure we could bring it closer to home and think of plenty of good people in our own neighbourhood who are living the kind of life Jesus would call us to but would not call him their ‘Lord’… and also plenty who would call him ‘Lord’ and are complete pricks.

    I have never drunk my own pee.

  17. “I think people like Gandhi and Jarrod and Dave” flattering Rob but I’m no Gandhi or Dave. I’m Jarrod. A recovering sinner trying to let God’s grace flow through my life.

    But maybe that’s the encouraging thing! As our prayerful brother Russel put’s it “who are you?”. God doesn’t call us to be Dave or Gandhi but to let God’s love empower us to follow Jesus. The Spirit wants to empower us all to live for the least of these, to love our enemies, to love God will all our heart, to witness to the kingdom. God longs to do this through all of us! Not a select few, but even people like me.

  18. But Hamo, what is faith? If Gandhi had enough faith in Jesus to follow his way, and his teachings. To meditate on his words everyday. And to put his understandings of that word of Jesus into practice, isn’t that faith in Jesus. In fact, isn’t that acting more like Jesus is Lord, then many of the people that call him Lord, but do not do what He says? Isn’t it interesting that one of the best examples of what it means to truly follow Jesus, is a man that most Christians would say will burn in hell forever. That to me is truly ridiculous. Now I must reiterate we are not talking about a thoughtless do gooder, this was a man who specifically said that he believed Jesus transcended humanity, and was the greatest example of perfection on earth, and who endevoured to follow the Jesus in deed.


  19. While I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here, it’s hard to go past the issue that Jesus expected, wanted, and received worship in the New Testament. Not assent. Not veneration. Not even a loyal following in and of itself. The New testament writers – eye-witnesses or those who spoke to eye-witnesses – couldn’t come to any other conclusion about him other than that he was very God, both implicitly and explicitly stating it. We have to worship him because if we don’t we’re worshiping something or someone else – and that means the venerable (and he was indeed venerable)Gandhi was confronted with the issue of worshiping Jesus, and it appears he chose not to, despite his admirable attempts to follow his teachings. What that means for him on the last day, well that’s not in our hands to say.

    The really radical message of the Bible is not that God accepts good people, but that he accepts bad people – Romans tells us God justifies the wicked and that’s the only hope I have. I’m wicked and I need to be saved. I don’t know about anyone else, but if you could see into my heart it’s way less noble than Gandhi’s, so with all my heart I’m counting on God accepting bad people.

  20. Dudes,

    I woke up and the whole world has turned a paler shade of Ghandi (at least this blog’s discussion)

    Ghandi’s comments about Chritianity are in response to the godless nominalism of the Afrikaan church of South Africa early last century. I am not sure I would want that to be the benchmark of authentic Christianity or a fair straw man that Ghandi can take a shot at.

    Speaking of random thoughts: Has anyone thought that post-modernism is a just a new way to commit an old sin, “supressing the truth about God…exchanging the truth of God for a lie…worshipping created things….depraved minds…” This is not my opinion it is Paul’s in Romans 1:18-32

    Walk straight !


    PS Hamo, I am up for a coffee for sure! When are you free?

  21. Steve I’m with on the radical nature of the gospel is God accepting bad people. But the question becomes accepting them into what? Being born again into what? New life of what? Holy Spirit of what? I think both you and I would both say of the Age to Come. Reign of God or ‘kingdom’. The Messianic age. God’s dream for creation becoming a awaking reality in our lives.

    So while one of the scandalous aspects of the gospel is that sinners like me can get in on it, maybe more scandalous is that grace not just forgives us but empowers us to live like Christ. Would you agree?

    Steve I think I’m also with you regarding worship. But to clarify, you’re not saying you can worship Jesus without being obedient to him are you?

  22. Sorry Gav but this is not right (not just the spelling of Gandhi’s name 🙂 ).

    Firstly the Reformed Church in South Africa was often far from ‘nominal’, it was often very devout in practicing the spirituality of racism in Christian drag. Much like today in Perth where we have ‘respected’ evangelical Christian lawyers who defend the cause of big corporations against struggling Christian workers because “it’s there job”. Some how for them the gospel is being ‘assured of heaven’ while they do the devil’s business because this sin isn’t “personal”.

    Gandhi’s interaction with Christianity was very diverse, from his time studying Law in London at University Collage, to his experience of Anglican, Evangelical, Brethren, Quaker, Baptist and other Christian expressions (these are just ones in my memory from his writing but if I looked some up there would be many more) on 3 different continents. So while it’s true he saw the worst, he was also in conversation with many great expressions of Christ-like faith (famously Tolstoy, Charlie Andrews etc.)

    So to be clear, what Gandhi is “taking a shot at” is faith as we express it. And calling you and I to live more like Christ.

    Let’s both walk as Christ walked.

  23. Pingback: Gandhi, Dave Andrews and a ‘bigger Jesus’ « Peace Interactive

  24. Hi Jarrod

    True on both counts – grace both forgives sin and empowers change. There’s enough in Scripture to say that a tree that bears bad fruit – regardless of its claims about itself – is a bad tree.

    And worship is a life activity so yeah – that’s exactly the case. We worship demonstrably by what we do.

    I think you are right too on the born again/born from above issue. We are born into life in the Spirit – God’s gift of the future given today. Though on this point we have to remember that the first reference to being “born again/born from above” is to someone who in Judaism had Gandhi-like qualities. Nicodemus was a member of a very well respected and God-fearing group that was well thought of by all the people. The Pharisees were pious in the extreme, and we do them a disservice to think of them like Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. And yet – and it’s a big “and yet”, when Nic met Jesus he was told he wasn’t even going to see the kingdom of heaven unless he was born from above. The best of the best hadn’t a chance unless something outside of him happened inside of him. The reason? Because the Age to Come is the Spirit Age and only spirit can inherit it. it’s not simply a question of goodness, but a question of whether our very being is kitted out for the age to come. Now I realise that in itself doesn’t tell us whether Gandhi was kitted out for that age, but Jesus’ illustration to Nic about the snake on the pole in the desert does indicate that his death was as much the issue as his life was. Not simply the manner of it, but what it would achieve for those who looked to his death for salvation.

    Cheers mate – good to-ing and fro-ing!

  25. The Nazi’s loved Billy Shakespear’s Merchant of Venice… might not be good to think of anyone like that. 😉

    Steve when you wrote,

    “Because the Age to Come is the Spirit Age and only spirit can inherit it.”

    Where you being poetic or duelistic? I’m sure your not a Liberal who thought Jesus was teaching Hellenistic philosphy (or gnosticism) about why creation (ie. dust from which we are made, our bodies) is bad are ya?

    “it’s not simply a question of goodness, but a question of whether our very being is kitted out for the age to come.”

    totally with you here. Maybe kitted into the inbacking age to come 🙂

    I think it’s a question of what Jesus meant with the term ‘kingdom of heaven’ (only used 3 times in John’s gospel). More comman “zoein aionian” often translated “eternal life”. I think a better translation would be “Life of the Age to Come”. So we don’t fall into thinking we’re going elsewhere (instead of biblically heaven coming here).

    Not sure about Gandhi, trying to work out my own salvation and and if what Christ has done in the cross is seen in my own life. 🙂

  26. On my day off my spelling get’s sloppy too

    apologies to Gandhi i knew there was an “h” in there somewhere.

    Point taken on who he is taking a shot at…if it is at mainstream Christianity. Ought not he bear the weight of his own critque. Faith in Christ is the tree which bears good fruit…not faith in Christian values (even sermon on the mount ones). Christian good works flow from faith in the Risen Lord Jesus…. Faith comes first, good works follow. I expect to see truth and life go hand in hand. Faith gives birth to good works not the other way around. Gandhi’s numerous good works don’t flow from faith, if he refused Jesus Lordship…taking on Jesus’s ethics isn’t sufficient…

    my thinking is blurry from my day off

    have mercy!


  27. Gav, Gandhi’s faith was in Jesus. He followed Jesus life, saying that following Jesus teachings isn’t enough is completely discounting the person who did the teaching. Gandhi saw in Jesus the divine, ofcourse that would mean something different to someone raised in a hindu culture, however, it was Jesus actual life that Gandhi aspired to, and therefore studied his teachings and his life in order to follow him. How strange that we exalt making worthless platitudes of worship, yet claim as not enough the surrender of ones life. What is true worship? I remember something about a living sacrifice being our reasonable worship, Gandhi did that better than any Christian I have ever met. He rejected a religion that was not true to Christ, and instead followed it as well as he could, sounds more like Luther and Calvin to me.


  28. Rev, Gandhi writes in his autobigraphy:

    “my difficulties lay deeper. it was more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate son of God, and that only he who belived in him would have everlasting life. If God could have sons, all of us are His sons. If Jesus was like God, or God himself, then all men were like God and could be God himself. My reason was not ready to believe literally that Jesus by his death and by his blood redeemed the sins of the World….” and so on….

    I am not sure his faith was in Jesus…


  29. Rubbish John! Learn your 16th century history!

    Sound much more like the anabaptists than the Magisterial Refomers with military pimps! 😉

    (jokes everyone… heaven forbit we hold the politics of Calvin and Luther up to the light of Christ’s commands.) 😉

    ok, I’m being naughty. I’ll stop now.

    Besides, theocratic police States aren’t that bad. 😉 oopps.

  30. Gav I’ll blog about this in 2 weeks but you’ll have to wait. 🙂 But Gandhi’s objections wheren’t to a New Testament context understanding (he didn’t know it!) but popular (de-historised) conceptions of these terms.


    Gav just bring up he frank his own pee!

    …check mate.

  31. I am not up on Ghandi so I’m a tad lost.

    Are you saying Ghandi was a Jesus follower, called Jesus ‘Lord’ and oriented his life around his commands? (In our terms a ‘Christian’?)

    I see Christianity as simply the system we invented to try and organise, systematise and institutionalise a movement. (Shit happens…)

    So I don’t care if Ghandi was a ‘Christian’ or not. I have no problem believing that people can be be part of the kingdom and be outside of Christianity.

    But I read conflicting evidence as those in the know describe Ghandi’s life.

    To use a local example – my friend Grendel – who will probably read this 🙂 – is by his own admission a person who would ‘behaviourally’ pass for a Christian in public, but is actually an atheist. I believe he would have respect for Jesus and see him as a man worthy of emulation. In many ways Grendel is more Christian than some Christians…

    So is he a Christian too?… (or whatever term you prefer to use)

  32. BTW Gav – I don’t think post-modernity is the enemy any more than modernity, or pre-modernity

    Each era brings opportunities and dangers so I tend to believe we just need to be alert and savvy enough to know what’s what.

    Will email re coffee

  33. Hi Jarrod

    Not dualistic all all buddy! The spirit age is more real than this age, Judaism certainly thought so, so not doing the Hellenistic thing. When we think Spirit-age we are inclined to fall into the dualistic trap on the basis of our western philosophy etc. The Great Divorce is the best I have read on this issue of being “more real than real.”

    When Jesus said flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom he was’t taking about our physicality being left behind and our spirits wafting onwards and upwards like a piece of cling-film in the wind. However there must be something about our nature that is not kitted out for the age to come that needs transforming, otherwise the age-to-come is only the old Liberal line of the world getting better and better.

    I certainly don’t think we’re “going to heaven” either. Rob Bell put it great when he asked “what are you going to do when heaven comes crashing down onto earth?” In the age-to-come I’m looking forward to snow and seasons, friendships and new encounters, travel, learning, making things without the frustration of them breaking down.

  34. So how did Christ say the kingdom of God is here, if flesh wouldn’t inherit it? I think we are playing with words here, the kingdom comes in the flesh as Jesus was in the flesh. However, it is a spiritual kingdom that gets walked out in the flesh. I do believe that the world does get better when Christians walk out the kingdom, Rome was getting better, China got better, ect. When the people of Jesus stop making life about getting to heaven, and start living the kingdom in all its awesome counter cultural glory, the world is transformed. Now will the kingdom someday take over the entire globe and welcome CHrist’s return? Or will Christ put an end to the suffering and bring the Kingdom to it fruition? I am not sure, but I know which one I am going to live like, and which one I am going to pray and hope for.


  35. Hammo, the word Christian has a certain meaning which may or may not reflect the fullness of what you want it to mean depending on who is hearing it, and who is saying it. Many people ask me what time our mass is? Well I don’t have mass, but to many people, Christians have mass. And of course there are many different things that prove this, many are very much uglier than my example. So the question with Gandhi wasn’t was he a Christian, he most certainly would not have called himself a Christian. But did he find life, in the life of Jesus? Yes Did he say that Jesus transcended humanity? Yes Did he follow Jesus in his teachings and lifestyle? yes again. Did he belief in substitutionary atonement, the trinity, the incarnation ect. ? no he did not. But he did believe that Jesus was to be trusted enough to follow him. Do you believe in the five tenets of Calvinism? Or the Pentecostal doctrine of the post salvation infilling of the Holy Spirit? Or the doctrine of transubstantiation and the correspondent infusion of grace? So I ask, who get to decide which orthodox doctrines are required? and why do they not include orthodox actions to go along with that?

    Now I would again question whether Grendel, who I trust will take me to have a wonderful coffee or twenty, when I visit in November, would have not problem living up to a “Christian” behaviour. It really isn’t very hard, don’t swear, don’t cheat on your wife, try and be a decent person, and buy as much comfort for this life as you can afford. But that is not what Jesus taught, Gandhi actually lived Jesus teachings, Gandhi lived in poverty, he gave his life for the people of India, he practiced meditation on scripture, he suffered greatly ending oppression, restoring people to each other, ect. Now I hope dear Grendel will not be offended that I do not find him quite as saintly as the Mahatma, but I do not believe anyone who loves coffee as much as Grendel can be far from the kingdom of God 🙂


  36. Hi Jarrod and all. Firstly, Rolf Harris drank (?drinks) his own pee as did a wife of a Dr I know. She died early of cancer(!)

    I am startled by anyone being able to say about Jesus ‘he belongs not solely to Christianity’. I can’t even imagine saying Jesus belongs to anyone. The universe belongs to Him!!! It is less of an absurdity to say, ‘Australia belongs to me’ than to submit Jesus to anything else. No matter how noble our ideals, if we ‘submit’ Jesus and His way to our own we are going in the wrong direction!! Christianity is a drop in the ocean that is Jesus.

    Where is Gandhi now? He is submitting to Jesus. I hope he is happy about this!!

    love to all and thanks for sharing your thoughts and journeys, Toby

  37. Hi rev

    The difference between flesh and spirit isn’t one that I make, it’s one that Jesus draws a distinction between. It then becomes something that is key to everything Paul says about the state of humanity. “Flesh” doesn’t mean physical human, and “spirit” doesn’t mean soul, it means two different states of being fully human – one that is given over to death by sin, and one that is brought to life by the Spirit. I don’t mean to be rude here rev but these are fairly foundational issues in the Bible that are critical to any understanding of eschatology and what life in its fullness means. I feel you are setting up a strawman, as if the only options available are noble living in the present age compared with other-wordly disregard for this life. I am, in the spirit, living life in this age on a trajectory that the parousia is going to spectacularly validate. Jesus’s return will establish forever the pattern of life we are choosing in this age.

    I can only reiterate that I do NOT mean the difference between a real life on earth and a vague life in heaven. Spiritual life is MORE real than flesh life precisely because it is the life we were created for. I’m all for living life here and now and making things better on this earth, but NO WAY is that my hope. Eschatologically there is so much more to it than simply making things better here. The creation is groaning waiting for the redemption of the sons of God. Isn’t that your ultimate hope too?

  38. yes that is my hope, and I am not sure how that is going to come about, but it is my believe that the end of time redemption of the future, comes crashing into the present as we live out the kingdom, in the power of the Spirit here and now. Jesus was our example, and he spent his life restoring the poor and the marginalized back into community. Coming against the powers, that oppressed people. Standing against religious dualism of the pharisees. Advocating the way of nonviolent resistance to evil. Ect. This was Jesus way, and if we are to follow Jesus, it is very important that we understand Christ come in the flesh, and in turn Christ come in the flesh in ourselves.

    I would guess that we are actually not too far off from believing the same thing, my eschatology is a bit looser than yours, as I am not sure what happens as I am no dispensationalist. However, I think we need to be very careful, as the spirit of this world likes to separate spirit and flesh, and turns into this idea that is best shown in the approach to the sermon on the mount which says, “well this is talking about the coming kingdom, but Jesus shows us an impossible standard to convict us of sin and make us long for the future, not expecting us to live it out, we are to be reconciled to the kingdom in our spirit, and someday we will have it here” Whenever we translate a teaching into our own time and culture we must do it with an understanding of the dominant cultural voices, and in this case the two kingdom myth is too dangerous to be vague about. In the sheep and the goats, Jesus makes it plain that in the future restoration of all things, it is the actions we make with our body that will justify our faith or “spirituality”.


  39. Hey rev

    Totally with you on the Sermon on the Mount thing. The erroneous reading you mentioned seems to be a classic case of eisegesis rather than exegesis. It fails to take into account the basic exegetical principle; What must it have meant for the original hearers first? Only then do we conclude what it means for us now.

    That Jesus was addressing it to his first community, not the crowds in general, is highly significant. We’re called to be communities that live that now – and we do so because we have in the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Jesus!

    And btw – you’re right, we probably aren’t too far apart eschatologically!

  40. “otherwise the age-to-come is only the old Liberal line of the world getting better and better”. It’s as much cosmological as societial (or personal

    Totally with you here Steve. John (Rev) I think what you raise about Jesus teaching first (but not only, but openly) to the new Israel, his disciples, moves us beyond the “better and better” (or worse and worse) because it bring to the front the church as the first ‘beachhead’ of the Reign of God now.

  41. “Who is Luther or Calvin?”

    Gav I don’t know you so I’m not sure if your serious (or you left off the smiley face) but Calvin and Luther are incredibly important figures not just in church history but the history of philosophy in the West.

    I was having (a playful) dig but if your not familiar with them they are very important to get a handle on. Most people unknowingly read the New Testament through the context of Calvin and Luther and not the context of the diversity of Judaism in the first century under Roman occupation through with Jesus and Paul lived.

    After gaining a deep appreciation for Calvin and Luther’s intellectual contributions to theology and Western philosophy I think it’s also important we don’t create a hagiography of them and understand the shadow side of their legacy.

    It’s important that our allegiance is to Jesus as Lord not any theologian. Therefore we should be prepared to move beyond the understanding in the 16th century if it conflicts with what we are learning about what the Scriptures meant to the early Christians in the 1st and 2nd century.

  42. I’ve been thinking about this debate for a while and have come to some sort of conclusion.

    As disciples of Christ our role/task/calling is to follow Christ. Christ alone and no one else. Paul outlines this in 1 Corinthians.

    We don’t follow Ghandi, yet perhaps he can lead us to Christ. Whether he is saved or not, and whether he will be with the sheep or goats is not my concern and I couldn’t determine his status even if I wanted to.

    Some may consider it blasphemous that Jarrod looks to Ghandi as an inspiration on hwo to live a Christ-following life, but that’s his prerogative. If looking to Ghandi (but you’ll notice that Jarrod does not only look to Ghandi, and he does not look to Ghandi for redemption) helps one become a “better” follower of Christ then so be it.

    Perhaps it is indiciative of somethign we should be addressing that one of the people who most took Jesus’ words seriously is outside our Christian tradition.

    And ultimately we must remember that God used a donkey to speak for him. So he’s obviously not all that fussy about who he chooses to be his mouthpiece when we need to hear something!

    Anyway, that’s my opinion.

  43. Re the nature of the future:

    “Scientists suspect… on the basis of mathematical calculations, that our universe containis ten dimensions.Beyond the observable four in which we live are six additional theoretical diomensions that physicist Michio Kaku calls hyperspace. The word hyperspace means ‘over, above or beyond the present dimension.’ If these higher dimensions actually exist, the implications are potentially mind-boggling.” – (George Otis Jr, The Twilight Labyrinth.)

    One of the implications I like to think about is, what if God exists in all ten dimensions. And what if in the garden of Eden, we also experienced the ten, but that our expulsion from ‘the garden’ was God limiting us to just the four dimensions of time and space. (Kind of a damage control, due to our general collective rejection of God.)

    So perhaps the Kingdom of God /of Heaven /Life-of-the-Ages is here now but we only experience it in four dimensions, but we will one day (from our perspective ‘in the future’) experience it in all ten dimensions again.

    That means the here and now is still part of the ten, but there’s so much more to come. ‘More’ that we’re currently not equipped for. We can’t even imagine it. But we have glimmers of those ‘more’ dimensions, and we call them collectively “spiritual.”

    In my mind, this makes sense of both the now and the not yet: Heaven coming on earth, means the ten dimensions re-opened to us. It explains the continuity with this world as we know it. It also explains the spiritual ‘something other’ that we need to be born into. Plus it explains my current experience of the spiritual (as through a glass darkly) which then we shall see face-to-face.

    I may be wrong. But it illustrates how there may yet be explanations for the paradoxes we grapple with in Scripture. (eg. does this world burn in the end, or is this where heaven will be?)

  44. Yeah Lance buuuuuttt….

    What Jarrod is doing is provoking us to think and explore faith thru a different lens – that of someone who took Jesus more seriously than most Christians but who most would not consider a Christian.

    I think we need the stirring to help us see our blind spots and to challenge our theology.

    Its certainly getting a converdation going!

  45. Part of my concern with this kind of debate is that often it draws almost exclusively from the gospels and ignores the rest of the NT. I’m of the camp that says all Scripture is God-breathed. I don’t hold that, as inscripturated (and that’s a very important caveat), the words of Jesus are more authoritative than Paul’s or Peter’s or whoever’s.

    As I understand Paul, salvation comes from confessing Christ as Lord and believing God raised him from the dead. And yes, it is evidenced in a life lived in obedience to Christ. I have no idea where that leaves Gandhi.

    Does this nuance things or am I missing something?

  46. Alex, I would say that a conversation where the majority of scripture quoted being from the gospels is in the minority compared to the epistles. Especially with people from an evangelical tradition.

    I understand your point about not limiting ourselves, but I’m enjoying this interaction (mostly!)

  47. I am sick of people basing all of their theology on Paul’s letters and forcing Jesus to fit into their preconceived ideas about Paul. It should be the other way around. Are all scriptures God breathed? Of course they are, but how do you interpret scripture? It is my opinion that we must interpret all scripture through the lens of Jesus, as He is God in Flesh, Alpha and Omega and the one we are supposed to follow. Therefore, I believe we start with the life, and teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus, and everything else must fit into that. If Jesus was really the exact representation of the Father, if Jesus wasn’t lying when He said if we have seen Him we have seen the Father, then He is where we start.

    With Christ as the center of our faith, and our understanding of scripture, everything else comes alive and into perspective. Paul expects us to do this as he says that it is all rubbish besides Christ anyways, and tells us that he has determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. This is truly Christian biblical interpretation.


  48. Jesus said He was the way the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father, except through Him.

    By all reports Gandhi wanted a bet each way….While truth can come from all different places, and people’s lives might inspire us…..if they don’t follow Christ, what sort of an example are they, if indeed Christ is what it is all about?

  49. ” I don’t hold that, as inscripturated (and that’s a very important caveat), the words of Jesus are more authoritative than Paul’s or Peter’s or whoever’s.”

    what is scripture though? Paul said all scripture is God breathed…was he talking about himself? :-p

    Jesus must be the lens through which not only the bible is interpreted but all of life. You cannot take Paul’s teaching or even any OT stuff without first submitting it to Christ….otherwise we could justify wars or the death penalty….oh…

  50. Roo what’s wrong with “justify wars or the death penalty” there is a very strong Christian tradition of this in recent history 😉

    Why if you keep taking Jesus to be authoritative that could challenge everything in society that doesn’t look like the kingdom! 😉

  51. G’day Mark,

    Wondering how you understand “submitting yourself to the authority of Jesus?”

    G’day Alex,

    I was wondering what’s your take on the God breathed Scriptures witness to being the Word of God?

    I was also wondering who do you think Paul says in his writings is authoritative for us?

  52. Hamo,

    Who took Jesus more seriously than Jesus? Remembering your comment about “Christianity 101”, have you mastered your following to Jesus to the point where you’re bored with him?

    One of the main questions that is developing for me in this discussion is whether there is a righteousness apart from an intimate relationship with the Living God? Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

  53. “have you mastered your following to Jesus to the point where you’re bored with him?”

    Were you kidding Lance?…

    My earlier point was that looking at Jesus thru a different lens might actually provoke us to follow him more. No – I’m not bored.

  54. Yes but if you read the sheep and the goats, there is no mention of lordship, only who realized Christ in the lives of others. Now that one scripture should not be the ultimate authority, however, Jesus lays out a way in which we are to live in the sermon on the mount, and at the end says that those that put his words to practice are like those that built a house on rock, while those that just hear them are like a man who builds a house on sand. So again Jesus says practice is more important than understanding. And then again Jesus says to go forth and make disciples teaching them to “obey, everything I have taught” as well as be baptised. Now is it too much of a stretch to suggest that many many Christians that I have met or heard about have been baptised, but are far from obeying everything Jesus taught, while Gandhi was not baptised, but goes much further in obeying than any Christian I have met.

    We also wind up with a very simple solution, let Gandhi show us how to live Christ like without the trappings and excuses of Christendom, but look towards others like N T Wright for theology. It seems that Christians are so willing to except crap lives from their theologians, but are not willing to bend at all for those that practice pure Christian love, but have mixed up theology. If belief is more important that practice, I sure don’t see that in Christ teachings.

    I look at it this way. I love cricket, and particularly slow bowling. I have recently taken up the game and have not much skill and no heritage to look back on. Shane Warne is the best wrist spin bowler in modern times and maybe forever. I try as hard as I can to emulate him, I practice his deliveries. I study the way he set up a batsman. I do all I can to mimic him on the cricket pitch. But the guy is a total idiot, and I have no respect for him at all once he walks across the rope. Now is that so hard?

    Now of course I am not saying Gandhi is crap in theology, but I do say his theology was shaped by his negative relationship with a Christianity that had mostly forgotten Christ. But his love for Christ, and his practice of following Christ’s example should be an inspiration to us all.


  55. i was at taronga zoo recently, admiring the view that the goats have across the harbour. Then wandered around the corner, and there was a pen of ‘sheep’ that looked a hell of a lot like the goats….i think the sheep were from the middle east somewhere….

  56. “Alex, I would say that a conversation where the majority of scripture quoted being from the gospels is in the minority compared to the epistles.”

    Fair comment Gaz.

    “what is scripture though? Paul said all scripture is God breathed…was he talking about himself?”

    A fair reflection Roo, but I’m settling for ‘yes’.

    “I was wondering what’s your take on the God breathed Scriptures witness to being the Word of God? I was also wondering who do you think Paul says in his writings is authoritative for us?”

    Jarrod, not sure what you mean by the first question. I’ll try some responses. I take a fairly conservative Evangelical in my view of Scripture. I follow a literary-historical approach in exegeting it. I view it all as inspired, but needing to be interpreted in context.

    What does Paul say that is authoritative? That’s an issue of hermeneutics, exegesis and all that fun stuff.

    More to the point, I think, is how we approach the gospels. I resonate with Rev’s comment on making Christ central in our approach to Scripture. But Jesus didn’t write the gospels, his followers did. Paul didn’t make up ‘his’ gospel, he received by revelation from Christ.

  57. Alex, I’m not sure if you’ve read “Reframing Paul” by Mark Strom but it’s worth a look.

    One comment he made has stuck with me and influenced my comment. “We have looked at Jesus through the eyes of Paul, when we need to read Paul through the eyes of Jesus.”

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