Christians Who Don’t Believe In Jesus?
In the earlier Apprising Ministries piece Ken Silva Answers Philip Clayton I told you that in his post SHOULD the church adapt to a post-Google world?, over at his personal blog Clayton’s Emergings, process/progressive theologian Dr. Philip Clayton had specifically discussed me as a critic of the recently concluded Emerging Church conference Theology After Google (TAG). You may know that Clayton is among those currently cobbling together a new upgraded version of Progressive Christianity—Liberalism 2.0—aka Emergence Christianity.
This new progressive Christian theology is what A New Kind of Christianity, the new book by Brian McLaren, begins to attempt to lay out systematically. TAG was the first major attempt to mobilize Emergent Church troops to start using new social media in an attempt to help with Clayton’s goal of Transforming Theology; in fact, Transforming Christian Theology (TCT) is the title of Clayton’s current book. Concerning Clayton’s work McLaren asks:
How can Philip Clayton make the idea of big-tent, progressive Christianity so believable and attractive that one can imagine Evangelicals, Charismatics, Mainliners, and Roman Catholics having a meal and joyfully discussing it together? (Online source)
As a matter of fact, the foreword to Clayton’s TCT was even written by Tony Jones, progressive theologian in residence at the Emerging Church of his universalist pastor Doug Pagitt. In that prior piece by Clayton, which I mentioned earlier, he begans by telling us “the big ‘Theology After Google’ event” has come to an end; but says Clayton, “this major conference wasn’t really about Google” nor in “one sense” was TAG “even about technology.” He saw it as being “about two questions: should the church adapt to the rapidly changing world around us? And, if so, what precisely should we do?”
Then Clayton continued:
Well, imagine the alternative. Indeed, there’s an easy way to see it up close and personal: just go to the websites of the critics of the Theology After Google (TAG) conference. Ken Silva called the TAG conference a “heresy fest” and, later, “nothing more than a warped and toxic twisting of the actual Christian faith.” You — each of you, each reader — has to decide for himself or herself. I encourage you to go to Ken’s blog and read it with an open mind. (Online source)
During an exchange in the combox, both of us doing theology while using some of the new social media, one of Clayton’s followers addressed me about “dominant emphases in evangelical vs. progressive theological reflection.” So I went to the heart as to why there can never be agreement between a Bible-believing Christian minister like myself and a progressive/liberal one like Clayton. In showing the contrast, I used Marcus Borg, whom I do respect for his willingness to go on record with his beliefs where so many others with similar views choose instead to use Humpty Dumpty Language.
As I pointed out at Clayton’s blog:
I guess what I’m trying to say is, a progressive e.g. like Marcus Borg, and one such as I who holds to the historic Christian faith I alluded to before, can never have unity. We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a “big tent” Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.
That said, there’s nothing even in Reformation theology that precludes caring for the good of our fellow man. Without arguing I’m simply stating that my point is, as I see it, we don’t need to jettison proper Christian doctrine even in an “after Google world.” (Online source)
Later, while speaking to another commenter, Clayton addresses my comment but doesn’t speak directly to me as he says:
In a sense, it’s MORE valuable because we are wrestling together with hard questions of what it means to be Christlike today, even though we don’t agree on all the details.
For this reason, it makes me sad to read above, “We don’t believe in the same Jesus; so as admirable as it is to try and make a ‘big tent’ Christianity to include us both, in the end, it ceases to be Christian.” I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site. (Online source)
This is when I asked Dr. Philip Clayton the following question, to which he’s never responded:
To be clear, I said of a liberal/progressive like Marcus Borg: “We don’t believe in the same Jesus.” And you said, “I don’t think that would be the impression of the neutral observer on this site.”
So this neutral observer would think that someone like myself who holds to the full Deity of Jesus Christ, in addition to His full humanity, and Marcus Borg who believes Jesus was simply a man, believe in the same Jesus? (Online source)
Attempting To Eradicate Who Jesus Actually Is For The Sake Of Pleasing Mankind
Since Clayton’s still not responded I feel led to use this issue as a teaching to further illustrate the futility of attempting to pass off as Christian this new version progressive theology, which Clayton and the Emerging Church 2.0 are now attempting to spread throughout mainstream evangelicalism. In the new articles The Emerging Church And The New Progressive Theology On Christ and The Emerging Church And The New Progressive Theology On Other Religions I’ve begun showing you that Liberalism 2.0 is virtually identical to the original Cult of Liberalism.
And now let’s look quickly at the “Jesus” in whom progressive theologian Marcus Borg believes. First we take Borg’s view that Jesus is a, but not the, “decisive revelation” of God:
To be Christian means to find the decisive revelation of God in Jesus. To be Muslim means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Koran. To be Jewish means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Torah, and so forth. I don’t think that one of these is better than the other. You could even say they are all divinely given paths to the sacred. To be Christian in this kind of context means to be deeply committed to one’s own tradition, even as one recognizes the validity of other traditions. (Online source, emphasis in original)
Borg begins by telling us at his website A Portrait of Jesus that Jesus never even said what I quoted above in the opening text; Borg believes that, “The titles of Jesus (son of God, messiah, light of the world, etc.) are not found in the earliest layer of tradition and are not part of self proclamation of Jesus.”  Further for Borg, “Jesus is an epiphany of God, a manifestation of the sacred, the decisive disclosure of God.”  And finally in his book Jesus, while answering his own rhetorical question asking whether Jesus was “God,” Borg emphatically states, “No.” 
In an earlier piece called Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?, using the old TV game show To Tell The Truth as a backdrop, I personalized the “Jesus” of a number of non-Christian cults and religious traditions as if they were a guest signing in before the panel. Now I give you the “Jesus” ala Marcus Borg and classic liberal/progressive theology as he introduces himself to you:
I am the Jesus of today’s liberal theology of inclusive, politically correct, universalism. I am only a human man. I was not born of a virgin, nor did I actually rise from the dead. Unfortunately as a Jewish Rabbi, I attracted such devoted followers that even after my death they wanted to keep my spirit alive so to speak. And so they went and built this elaborate theology around me, which is largely based on the writings of that rascal Paul. Sadly, they ended up making me into a god.
I taught that the most important thing we can do is to love one another. You see, that’s all that matters because we are the brotherhood of man. No one should ever criticize what another person honestly believes about God. After-all, we are all God’s children. And even though we may take different paths of religion in this life, as all religions please God if they are sincere, in the end we’ll all be with God because everyone is going to be saved. Man is too good to be condemned and God is too good to condemn him. As long as you love one another it really doesn’t matter to God what you believe about him. He’s just delighted if you believe in him.
And so, “don’t worry; be happy.” You need to feel good about yourself. Every religion reserves a place for me as I’m the most popular Jesus because I’m not going to make any demands of you. The only choice believing in me requires that if you are going to follow my teachings you will have to look at the Bible as being the same as all the other religious literature. You don’t really need to be any more concerned with the Bible than you would be with any other religious teachings. Although it does teach some truth about God, the Bible isn’t any more important than any of the other holy books of other cultures. I teach that all of them contain a way to God and that all religions eventually lead back to God; so, I’m not exactly clear on why I had to go to the cross.
Following is Christ Jesus of Nazareth of biblical revelation in whom I personally believe:
I am the Jesus of the historic, orthodox Christian Church, which I purchased with My Own blood. I Am the one true and eternal God incarnate—God the Son—second Person of the blessed and Holy Trinity. I am the very Creator of the entire universe and the only Savior of hopelessly lost mankind. There is never a time that I did not exist as I am the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
And in the fullness of time I was born of the Virgin Mary and clothed with human flesh. Then while on My planet I lived the sinless life necessary of you to come and be in the Presence of God the Father. In My Father’s will and for His glory, I willingly sacrificed My perfect life for yours, and shed My blood on the Cross as an offering for the sins of all who will be regenerated by God the Holy Spirit; who believe in Me.
I bore the wrath of Almighty God that you deserve and as I died in your place I said: “It is finished.” I was buried, but on the third day, I rose again from the dead in the same Body so that you could know that I am the One I claim to be. Now you can trust in Me because by My resurrection you know that I am able to save all those who by God’s grace alone, place their faith alone, in Me alone. I say that in all the universe there is only one God; you are not Him, nor will you ever be.”
In closing this out, for now, I am someone who believes that Jesus Christ is God the Son, at the same time fully God, and fully Man; and Marcus Borg is someone who believes Jesus was simply a man, albeit a son of God. And so, I now ask again; this time in public: Dr. Philip Clayton, do we believe in the same Jesus?
1. http://www.aportraitofjesus.org/lens.shtml, accessed 3/22/10.
2. http://www.aportraitofjesus.org/posteaster.shtml, accessed 3/22/10.
3. Marcus Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary [New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006], 136.