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A dumb question I have been meaning to ask

A dumb question I have been meaning to ask

I have had question on my mind for a few weeks that I have only recently decided is worth asking.

Is it important that we speak compellingly about Jesus?

The answer might seem obvious. Of course, as a Christian church, we need to speak compellingly about Jesus.

And yet, I don’t hear that many preachers–even good ones–speaking compellingly about Jesus. I don’t know of many dioceses in which Episcopalians are being taught to speak compellingly about Jesus, and even when people say that we need to preach the Gospel, I experience this as a call to spread certain values, rather than as an invitation to figure out what Jesus was up to.

I am not an evangelical. And I understand the contemporary seekers might not immediately be interested in a set of Christological propositions. I am aware that the Bible has been used as a club against minorities and marginalized people of all kinds. Still, if we aren’t offering people a deep and abiding encounter with Jesus, then I don’t understand what we are up to as a church. To my ears, we don’t sound like a church that takes this encounter as its reason for existing. But perhaps I am wrong about our purpose, or am not listening to the right people.



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Bruce Calvin

Jim and others,

I was intending to reflect the kinds of language, questions and contexts that I hear people using. So that people who use the singular name of ‘Jesus’ seem to be different than people who use other words or phrases. Does that refect an ‘academic theology?’ I cannot say, since I cannot separate myself from my training.

I think Susan raises a different point. In the GLBT community, of which I am a member, the act of reclaiming the name of ‘Jesus’ contradicts the voices of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. In the context of a Gay Pride festival, anyone wearing a tee shirt with an ‘icon of Our Lord’ is confronting the negative images many GLBT folk have of Christianity. It is a powerful kind of evangelism by saying the negative messages are wrong, and Jesus welcomes all.

I find I keep turning back to what Verna Dozier said, that it is not about worshipping Jesus but following Jesus. Compelling preaching about Jesus leads me to understand and apply what Jesus said and did in my everyday, ordinary life.

Bruce Calvin, M.Div

Adam Spencer

How different would our conversations about structure, governance, budget, mission and ministry be if we started with trying to discern “What might Jesus do and have us do?” rather than ending with theological justification of what WE would like to do…A perfect science? Hardly. But I hear very little Jesus in The Episcopal Church’s wrangling over Conventions and budgets…

Chris Arnold

Not only is there a need to speak compellingly about Jesus, but there is a need to make that crucial link between the listener and the saving work of Jesus. I don’t agree with much that our evangelical brothers and sisters profess, but they’ve got that part right: they are comfortable with saying “you, you, and you *need* Jesus.”

Susan Snook

Thanks for this, Jim. You inspired me to write a new blog post:

Blessings, Susan Snook

Claire Carter

A great sermon in my church mentioned that people are very comfortable when we talk about God, but so much less so when we talk about Jesus. Because having Jesus as a savior means you have to do something, you have to change. You have to give up your agenda and follow his.

I thought that was a great observation.

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