Would Jesus Have Written a Book?
This was a question I pondered recently. Of course, the query is utterly pretentious. I just as well might have asked, “Would Jesus have used Twitter?” The question is an anachronism because it removes Jesus from His historical context.
Still, I wonder. Writing a book is perhaps the ultimate act of hubris. By writing a book one must assume that she or he has something vitally important to say to others. And the publisher, in making the author’s words available to a broader audience, is complicit in this arrogant act.
The danger in publishing anything, of course, is that of supplanting Christ in the hearts and minds of readers. This is always a very real possibility. I am far from being an authority on the life of Christ, yet I have just written a book on His example. Two things moved me to write it. The first was the conviction that a restatement of the Christianity versus Christendom debate was overdue, and the second was the fact that I just recently became aware of those sixteenth century disciples whose radical commitment to Jesus (even unto death) merit one’s admiration and gratitude.
I have ventured to ask what I think are radical questions about Christian discipleship – questions that were raised with ruthless clarity 450 years ago by the Anabaptists. It has seemed to me a very unfortunate thing that their views have been swallowed up in traditional Christian thinking. You tend either to believe ill of them, or to believe good. One’s judgment of the Anabaptists is settled too often by one’s prior attitude toward them. I devote a chapter in my book to the Anabaptists because I believe their views ought to be familiar to any serious reader of Scripture.
I hasten to say personally that I do not think that the Anabaptists were perfect. The one thing that is perfectly clear about Anabaptist theology is that it regarded discipleship as central rather peripheral. It is, indeed, a catastrophic correction of what for centuries had been passed off for genuine Christianity. Without doubt the Anabaptist message of scandalous obedience deserves a re-hearing today.
Would, then, Jesus have written The Jesus Paradigm? The answer, of course, is no. Jesus has already written the book on the subject – all 27 of them in fact. And He assigned the authorship to such men as James and John and Peter and Paul. That should not surprise us. At the incarnation Christ emptied Himself, not of His Godhead, but of any desire to focus attention on Himself at the expense of others (see Phil. 2:5-11). In thus making Himself “of no reputation,” He lays bare the Jesus paradigm as no earthly author ever could.
July 13, 2009
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.