What Jesus Meant
That’s the title of Gary Wills’ latest book. Wills is a Catholic and a Pulitzer prize winning historian. He says the standard question “What Would Jesus Do?” is irrelevant. It’s more important to figure out what Jesus meant.
Wills says “We must ask what Jesus meant by his strange words and deeds.”
Wills has been a political chameleon. He used to write for William Buckley’s National Review. Later, during the Vietnam era, he turned against the war and joined the New York Review of Books.
Most Christians will be offended by something in this book. The church hierarchy probably won't agree with “Jesus did not come to replace the Temple with other buildings, whether huts or rich cathedrals.”
Liberal/humanitarian Christians won’t be happy with “Jesus does not work miracles from humanitarian motives.”
The Christian Right, especially their “leaders” who’ve become so powercrazed lately, will not be happy. Wills says “if they want the state to be politically Christian, they are not following Jesus.” Take that, Dobson/ Robertson/ Wildmon.
The Pope undoubtedly doesn’t want to hear that he, “like his predecessors, is returning to the religion that Jesus renounced, with all its paraphernalia of priesthood.”
Wills says the Gospels are “a deep threat to the institutional church,” since Jesus opposed “just about every form of religion we know.”
He praises Jesus as a “radical egalitarian,” a proto-feminist and a subversive who “was never afraid to speak truth to power.” He disputes the popular “Christian” view that sex is somehow “unclean.” And he delivers a blow to the Dobsonites (pardon the pun): “Those persecuting gays are persecuting Jesus.”
Wills describes Jesus as mercurial and unpredictable; not the bland one-dimensional person usually portrayed. He gives a new translation to one of Jesus’ teachings: “If one coming to me does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and his children, and his brothers and his sisters ... he cannot be my follower.”
Now there’s a new twist on “Family Values.”
With so many people claiming they talk to God, and millions of Christians “knowing” exactly what the Bible means (and how to use it as a club), Wills’ new book might shake things up a little.
cross-posted at Bring It On!