Jesus and the Exclusive (Yes, NOT Inclusive) Gospel

Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries)                Image via WikipediaThis is kind of a follow up the the previous C.S. Lewis quote, mentioning that Jesus' message wasn't Good News for everyone and that it caused people to be angry or addition to leading to adoration in many as well.

We have this thing about Jesus, assuming that he's such a "big tent" kind of person that all persons are not only welcome to come along for the ride but that they are happy to join him.  Not so.  We can see clearly from Scripture that his message rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.  It rubbed them so wrong that they killed him.   Therefore all of our talk about the inclusivity of Jesus really is shallow.  While all persons are invited to follow, the life-change required was too much for many.  They could not follow.

Anyway, this is on my mind today and Allan Bevere, in a blog post, has fed me this morning.  He has a quote from Markus Bockmuehl's article, "The Trouble with the Inclusive Jesus."  I consider myself a pretty "inclusive" guy, cringing at some of what I hear from the more neo-Calvinist camps in Evangelicalism.  But, I need to hear what Bockmuehl wrote today.

However one parses the exegetical particulars, Jesus of Nazareth is (as Richard Hays puts it), not only the friend of sinners but also the nemesis of the wicked. Another way of putting this is to say that Jesus of Nazareth includes a remarkably wide diversity of the marginalized, yet he also marginalizes an uncomfortably diverse range of the religiously or socioeconomically included. That necessarily complicates any discussion of Jesus' "universalism" or "inclusiveness": Jesus, like Paul, appears to envisage the saved as well as the unsaved or the not-yet-saved … Our problem, then, is that the apparent smoothness and attractiveness of the "inclusive Jesus" hypothesis are acquired at a very high moral price. As we have seen, the structure of the argument typically follows the familiar liberal departicularizing of a Jesus who takes his stance over against the Judaism of his time: Jews were narrow, ethnic, culturally conservative; Jesus by contrast was universal, inclusive, and welcoming without exception. (p. 14, 17).

Bevere summarizes some of this thought quite well:

Current accounts of inclusiveness are indebted much more to modernity than they are to the New Testament. Richard Hays words need to be heard: Jesus is not only the friend of sinners but he is the nemesis of the wicked. The issue is not the truly inclusive nature of the Gospel, but the imposition of a broad and shallow modern inclusivism that does indeed come at a high moral price. Bishop William Willimon reminds us that during his ministry Jesus drove away more people than he attracted.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if Jesus would drive me away, too...if I paid closer attention to the call he makes on my life.

Thank God for grace.

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