Randall McRoberts

As if the Jesus of the Gospels is Alive

When I was an atheist (largely for what I thought were scientific reasons), one of my central (albeit nonscientific) objections to believing anything about Jesus was that eighty percent of people in my country claimed to be his followers, yet most of them apparently lived as if it made no difference for their lives. In an effort to be provocative, I might ask whether western Christians’ frequent way of believing the resurrection is as consistent as most non-Christians’ way of disbelieving it. Much of western Christendom does not proceed as if the Jesus of the Gospels is alive and continues to reign in his church. In practice, a gulf remains between their affirmation of Jesus’ resurrection and their living as if he is humanity’s rightful lord, so that a theological affirmation does not translate into their experience. Their “faith” constitutes mere assent to a proposition, rather than sharing Jesus’ resurrection life as depicted in Paul’s letters. Likewise, their devotional prayer to God often has little emotional connection to the Jesus of the Gospels; the experience of the early church that connected the Synoptics and Paul is not always their own experience. The experience of Christianity in some other parts of the world is more wholistic; indeed, in many locations Christians even show great interest in Jesus’ example and teachings.

Craig S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 384–385.

Randall McRoberts
rmcrob@rmcrob.com