From NT Wright's Simply Jesus, Chapter 1
"Many Christians, hearing of someone doing "historical research" on Jesus, begin to worry that what will emerge is a smaller, less significant Jesus than they had hoped to find. Plenty of books offer just that: a cut-down-to-size Jesus, Jesus as a great moral teacher or religious leader, a great man but nothing more. Christians now routinely recognize this reductionism and resist it. But I have increasingly come to believe that we should be worried for the quite opposite reason. Jesus--the Jesus we might discover if we really looked!--is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we--than the church!--had ever imagined. We have successfully managed to hide behind other questions (admittedly important ones) and to avoid the huge, world-shaking challenge of Jesus's central claim and achievement. It is we, the churches, who have been the real reductionists. We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself."
It's good to know as much as possible about Jesus, I'm always keen to learn more - about his nature, his teaching, his history.
But good as that stuff is, knowing about him is not the same as knowing him. I want to know about him, but I also want to know him.
What can I say...Wright is right. :-) And shame on us for our "historical" Jesus...that does not resemble Jesus who encounters us in the Scripture and by His Spirit is present even now.
Bill, please excuse my lack of understanding of a couple things in this quote. What, according to the former Bishop, is/was Jesus' central claim and achievement? Additionally, how is "victory of the cross" to be understood to mean? Thanks and blessings on you and yours.
Brian, I'm still finishing the book, but I suppose Wright answers your question near the end of this very quote.
The Kingdom of God... the cross... and Easter.
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