Jesus Stories (#3)

People want the fruit without the root.

fruit root

It felt like déjà vu.

I was reading The New York Times in 2015 yet I was having flashbacks to the 1980’s and 1990’s.

“Christ IS Christianity” was one of my handouts. I was asking students

“What do you need if you want to start a religion?”

The responses came fast and furious.

“You need a priest!”

“What about having a place to worship?!”

“A book! You need some writing that tells what to believe in!”

“Heaven! There has to be a place, a hope after earth!”

One after another students chimed in.

“Great ideas! Wonderful responses! Each is important!” I concluded the laundry list etched in chalk on the board.

“But let’s think about the big picture. Here are two more questions.”

“Why do we need a new religion?”

“And what makes your religion different than all the others?”

Musing looks, pondering nods met my queries.

“So let’s apply the questions to Christianity,” I began.

“What need do we have for Christianity? And how is it different?”

At the end of our renewed discussion students began to think not about the process of belief but the person of belief.

The real issue is “Who is Jesus?”

So when I read Alana Massey’s article this past weekend, I found myself going back in time, revisiting class discussions with high school students. My students would have loved to interact with Ms. Massey’s thinking.

The title by itself—“How to Take Christ Out of Christianity”—would have been met with a title wave of response.

I can hear their questions now,

“How can you take the person out of the belief meant for Him?”

“Why does anyone think they can ‘take out’ what they didn’t ‘put in’?”

“Hello! ‘CHRISTianity?!’ Isn’t this obvious?!”

They would have taken issue with phrases like

“Cultural Christian” I can hear someone in class now asking the appropriate question, “How can being a Christian simply be ‘cultural’ without the ‘historical’ much less the ‘supernatural’?”

“Spiritual but not religious” Some other teenager sitting behind a desk would have asked, “From where did your need for something ‘spiritual’ originate? Isn’t your ‘spiritual’ just another way of saying ‘I need community’?”

They would have gone on & on. Read the article for yourself. Posit your own questions.

I was riding in my car up to Grand Rapids earlier this week with my friend Matt Beauchamp.

We were discussing similar themes that run through Ms. Massey’s article.

But Matt shoots straight and is a no-holds-barred kind of guy.

“People just choose whatever is convenient, whatever suits them,” he began.

“Sure, you can say ‘there is no God’ and live your life the way you want. But don’t come at me saying ‘your God is your crutch.’ My response is always the same. ‘If you live your life on your terms you end up being your own crutch. How’s that working out for you?!’”

“How’s that working out for you?!”

That is the question for Ms. Massey and those who think they can extricate themselves from the cultural soil of Christianity. Because at the end of the day

You can’t have the fruit, without the root.

Classroom stories began to flood my mind after I read Alana Massey’s article from 1 May 2015 Washington Post, “How to Take Christ Out of Christianity.” 

This is the third & final story in response to Ms. Massey’s views of Jesus and The Church.

Jesus Stories #1   Jesus Stories #2


Dr. Mark Eckel cares deeply about Ms. Massey’s comments because he has encountered them over and over again in his 30+ years of teaching.

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One comment

  1. People want to have their cake and eat it too while denying that the cake even exists. Atheism can never be compatible with Christianity. Atheism, at its very heart, denies what is at the very heart of Christianity–GOD. It is antithetical to Christianity.

    No branch of Christianity, be it Messianic Jew, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant has ever denied the existence of God or the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christianity’s entire foundation is built on those three assertions.

    Christianity is a relationship of obedience, love, and worship with the living God, Jesus Christ, who died for sin and was raised and will come to resurrect those who have fallen asleep. The Church is not just some community that helps people cope with “the hard knocks” or offers food to people using pantries. There’s no need to “cope” with the hard knocks if the Holy Spirit of God dwells within you and gives you shalom in every matter of your life. The Church is the chosen people of God, ransomed and bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28), purposed toward furthering the Kingdom of God, bringing glory to Jesus Christ, evangelizing to the lost (Matt. 28:18-20), and worshiping God.

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