30 October 1995

Killing Christ

One of Humanity's Favorite Pastimes
1991 - 1995
He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth will proceed by loving his own sect of the church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all. — S. T. Coleridge: Aids to Reflection, 1825


Naked Church

The attribute of Zen Buddhism that I admire most is that it has no dogma (no predigested formulation) that its followers must accept. Zen adherents claim that Zen is Enlightenment, which is simply the constant, direct awareness of reality. This awareness is claimed to be so much clearer than the communal experience of reality we share in daily living that it is beyond language to describe. "He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak," is a standard Zen saying. Moreover, because Zen attempts to bridge the gap we Westerners feel between the self and God, Zen devotees venerate the Buddha, but they do not worship a personified god. Zen is very lean, without most of the trappings that we in the West usually associate with religion. Zen embraces concept of reincarnation and the practice of meditation (which is just discipline for awareness) but neither of these is essential to Enlightenment .

The central symbol of Zen is the Buddha. Tradition has it that he became so completely enlightened that he perceived and participated in the divine unity of all things in all the universes. He taught disciples, who then taught others, so that all beings might become enlightened. The symbol of the Buddha is used to spur students on to greater effort so that they, too, might become Buddhas.
The Christian Church, on the other hand, has lots of dogma, and confuses that dogma with the central symbol of Christianity, namely the event of Christ, the incarnation of God as a human being, his birth, life, death, and resurrection. I sometimes imagine the Church (all of it, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, LDS, you name it) to be a woman (the "Bride of Christ") standing in front of the Cross. She takes off her clothes (dogma), hanging them on the Cross until the Cross is hidden, and she is exposed. She then demands that we worship her clothes instead of the Cross beneath them. Our attention, however, is focused on her. In her worst instances (some televangelists, for example) the Church spends most of her time asking for more money so we can watch her strip again. My point is that dogma tells us much more about the Church (exposes it) than it does about God (covers Him up), and draws our attention away from God and toward the Church. To put it personally, any statement you make about God tells as much or more about you than it does about God. To put it bluntly, dispensing dogma instead of Grace (God's Love as discussed below and in a previous essay) is pornographic, and worshipping dogma instead of God is idolatrous.

This dogma is often based on telling people that they are somehow bad, that they have always been bad, that they get this badness from some ancient crime committed by their ancestors, and that they themselves can do nothing about it, except ask an angry, abusive parent of a god to make them clean and good again, like he originally made the ancestors. This is what psychologists rightly call "magical thinking" when engaged in by little children. When this dogma is conveyed to children it is a form of child abuse, aimed at using their own natural egocentric thinking and their primal fear of rejection to coerce their behavior. When it is conveyed to adults it is often an attempt to trigger the shame response in their "inner children," as John Bradshaw[1] might put it. It is based on an interpretation of the Genesis that I think is sinful, and perhaps even evil.[2]

But it is comfortable. It is easier for the inner child in each of us to live with childish shame over some magical condition, than it is to live with adult guilt for the way we lead our lives. We're used to shame - we've developed adaptations to it - so we cling to it in order to shield ourselves from the guilt we earn each day. Thus it is that many Christians can be permanently ashamed and hypocritical at the same time, and that they seek to make converts by projecting their shame onto others.
Another part of dogma is a set of rules for behavior and opinions to be accepted. The rules and opinions are dispensed by most Christian clergy, who play to an audience that is hooked on them, and that would sack a preacher who refused to satisfy their addiction. You see, it's much safer to measure one's imagined godliness against rules and opinions than it is to risk opening oneself to encounter with the Divine.

This practice of substituting dogma for awareness is very old. The Pharisees, the leaders of the church in which Jesus preached, hated the way Jesus challenged their dogma concerning the Sabbath, diet, cleanliness, and their usual practices of prayer and fasting, and feared his ability to draw crowds. So they measured him against their dogma, found him to be one of "them" rather than one of "us," and had him killed as a dangerous heretic (which was idolatrous because, given the choice between their dogmatic idea of God and God, the Pharisees chose their idea). After Jesus' ministry, the newly formed Christian Church continued the Pharisee's pattern of using dogma to distinguish between "us" and "them," as antagonism between Christian and non-Christian Jews intensified until Christianity became a separate religion.[3]

Labeling someone as "not us" is a common human behavior, called pseudospeciation, which means convincing oneself that someone or some group is less than human. "They" become the incarnation of the dark side of our own personalities, all the things we don't want to be. We declare them to be fair game to oppress and kill (thus we deny the existence of what we hate in ourselves by killing it in someone else). Pseudospeciation is a necessary precursor to group violence, such as genocide, lynching, gang-rape, gay-bashing, and war,[4] and it is one of the primary abuses of dogma. By using dogma to determine who is out, we reassure ourselves that we are in.

Dogmatic Christians of today pseudospeciate people into two classes, the Saved (us) and the Lost (them), despite clear scriptural statements that such a determination is the sole prerogative of Christ, who was Himself the victim of such judgments. Since dogmatic Christians direct real hostility against their chosen "thems" (I have only to remember abortion clinic bombings, statements like, "God doesn't hear the prayers of a Jew," or their opinions regarding gays and lesbians for examples), I see only superficial differences between them and the people who called out for Christ's (legal enough by the standards of the day) execution.


Bad News

Of course, labeling dogmatic Christians as Christ-killers may be justifiable, but it is incomplete. Just as in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, there are many killers in this mystery.[5] If you think you differ in any important way from the people who killed Christ, what would you have done differently had you been there at the time - even knowing what you know now? Remember that Peter, the Rock upon whom the church was founded and who recognized Jesus as the Messiah, denied even knowing Jesus when the going got tough. That was humanity's best effort. Everyone around was either working for Jesus' death, calling for it, or passively allowing it to happen, except for the two robbers who were crucified with Jesus — the only people in this tableau that knew they had done something wrong.

Today, most folks are in the passive group, above, as evidenced by the Holocaust. It took very few people to kill the Jews, but it took the indifference or inaction of nearly everyone (including Americans with our then restrictive immigration policies) to let it happen. The church, however, had been in the second group, as a family friend reminded me recently. "I grew up in Germany," he said, "and one day a priest said of me to my friends, 'Don't play with him! He is a Jew, and his people murdered Christ!'" By acting like the Pharisees, by playing the "us versus them" game of pseudospeciation, the Christian Church fingered the victims, and set the stage for six million reenactments of the crucifixion.

And with all this, the Church still lies about who killed Christ. Either the church is vague about the question, or it teaches that the Jews did it, but we forgive them, or it still teaches that the Jews did it, period. The truth is that nearly every human being lives as if he or she would have aided, abetted, assented to, ignored, or otherwise done nothing to prevent the execution of Christ. The Jews were, as always, simply the Chosen People - in this case, the people God chose to be present at the time. (To anti-Semitic Christians, I point out that originally there were no Christians who were not Jews, that it took extreme action on God's part to convince Peter to allow non-Jews to become Christians, and that the Covenant relationship between God and Jews was not necessarily nullified by the event of Christ - it was enlarged to include the whole world. You can look it up in the book of Acts.[6]) Until the church unflinchingly teaches that reality in both sermon and confessional liturgy (an example follows this piece), it is giving aid and comfort to anti-Semitism, especially as it festers anew in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and the United States. It is aiding Christians in their denial of their true relationship with Christ, thus enabling them to continue blissfully crucifying Him. Until the Church confesses, the Bride of Christ is playing the harlot to Christian self-righteousness. (Yes, the Church as whore, an image Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea used in their day.)

The pastor as leader may say, "I can't preach that any mirror will show you a crucifier. The people just aren't ready to hear that yet." They never have been ready - that is the scandal of Christianity. Perhaps it is the role of the pastor as prophet (in the Old Testament sense) to tell them anyway. Besides, without that bad news, the pastor as minister can dispense "feel-good" talk for those of "us" who want to pretend we're not "them," but the pastor as preacher cannot really deliver the Good News - the Gospel of unasked for Forgiveness, of Love, of Grace.

There is a tremendous tension between the bad news and the Good News about ourselves and the Divine. For example, Luke 3:23-38 claims that Jesus descends from God through Adam - hinting that we, the people, are the sons and daughters of God. Can you imagine a pastor saying to the parents during a baptism, "God has given you God's child to cherish and raise as your own?" Or to the bride and groom during a wedding, "God has given you God's son/daughter to love as your husband/wife?" The Good News is and has always been incipient in us. But God as Jesus made it an event, to which we humans, the Children of God, responded by murdering our Brother, the Son of Man, because we didn't recognize him as one of "us" when he challenged our beliefs and actions.

That is, while we love Christ for his "feminine," nurturing, healing qualities, we would have crucified him for his "masculine," challenging, prophetic ones.[7] The large-eyed, passionless, obviously harmless Christ of popular imagination, portrayed in movies like "The Greatest Story Ever Told," is merely a comfortable image that many of us use to convince ourselves that we would never have wished him ill - instead of killing him in our hearts, we castrate him, and worship the resulting idol.[8]



Now if the Crucifixion is the Divine Indictment of us all as crucifiers, either through intent or neglect, the Resurrection is the Divine Reconciliation. Consider that the Apostles themselves had contributed to Jesus' execution by abandoning him, and at his death began to abandon even their belief in him and his teachings. And then, impossibly, he is back, telling them the adventure is only beginning, and enabling them to be a part of it. Not even their worst deed can keep Jesus from returning to love them so much that they go on to love others out of the sheer abundance of love. The Resurrection is Forgiveness through Love. Not forgiveness on condition that the Apostles, or you or I, believe or act a certain way - it is Forgiveness. No conditions, no qualifications, no limitations, not even adjectives. It is the reaching of the Divine into our essential Divine ("breath of God" - Genesis 2:7) nature.
This orthodox idea[9] contrasts with the popular idea of Christianity as an "if-then" proposition: "If I do this and believe that, then I will be acceptable to the Lord." For me and many others it is a "because-therefore" statement: "Because God accepts me therefore I am able to accept you."

Which is what many Christians seem to be missing. They want to pretend that somebody else killed Christ, because they're too ashamed to face it - because this Resurrection stuff just isn't real to them. They use the dogma as a little test to reassure themselves that they are part of the in-group, while everybody else is out. In this way they treat Jesus Christ as their intellectual property, worshipping what they expect of him, crucifying what they don't, and not letting anyone else have him. They criticize Jews and Muslims for having difficulty with the Divinity of Christ, while they themselves have difficulty with the Humanity of God[10] - difficulties which are two sides of the same coin. In other words, Christ is as big a stumbling block for Christians as he is for anybody else.

By difficulty with the Humanity of God, I mean that many Christians won't let God as Jesus be human. (There is an official name for this heresy — docetism.) They can't stand to think of Him doing human things like having sexual feelings or experiences, or even defecating (which is why I sometimes call them the Church of Christ, Constipated). In this manner they keep God far away, up in heaven, so that they can ignore the way they would have reacted to Him. To put it baldly, Jesus would strike most of us (as he struck his mother at one point) as a nut if he showed up as an ordinary person today. We would keep throwing him in jail for disturbing the peace, trespassing, loitering, and holding unregistered parades and demonstrations, and we would probably do him in again.

If this sounds far-fetched, think of the personality quirks of the two most obviously saintly men of modern times — Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom had difficulties with their sexuality,[11] both of whom spent time in prison, both of whom were assassinated because they might have kept people from fighting. We associate them with their crusades to illumine particular blind spots in human nature, which we may or may not share. But whatever blind spots we do have, those are the ones a figure like Jesus would challenge, and we in general would react badly (particularly if he started kicking over the pews in our churches).

The point is that we Christians could well stand to be humbler in our words, thoughts, and dealings with people of other religions. We are not sole owners of Truth, which only we can dispense, and only with our own set of words and symbols. I think whoever experiences Unconditional Love as an abiding Presence knows the Love of Christ, whatever he or she calls it. Who experiences that Love can communicate it, and feel confident that all truth is part of God's Truth, however he or she speaks of it, or acts it out. He or she can also feel humble in that no truth is all of the Truth.

In any event, rather than face God, or any other uncomfortable Truth, the Church clings to the abuse of dogma .[12] A lot of people, even angry, self-aggrandizing, control-taking people, can measure up to that. They think they're emulating God. But God showed up as an ordinary person, who was loving rather than dogmatic, and empowering rather than controlling. Two thousand years later the dogmatists are still trying to cover him up. They even argue among themselves concerning which pile of clothes is the right one. If they knew they were naked, they would be ashamed.


Parting Company

He sat at table leading his friends in a Seder , a combination banquet and religious celebration. Some of what he and his friends said and did may survive to this day in the Haggadah , the little book of prayers and hymns Jews use at Passover. The man himself had no Haggadah, because it would not be written until a generation after his death. Still, one can imagine the blessings, the recital of the story of the Exodus of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the wine, the meal, the good fellowship, the children's games, and the songs.

At one point the leader breaks bread - matzoth, because no yeast-bread is consumed during Passover in memory of the Israelites having no time to let their bread rise when they left Egypt. He hands the pieces to all present and asks them to remember him whenever they eat the Passover matzoth, to remember that they draw spiritual nourishment from his presence. After the dinner and the hymns he takes the extra cup of wine - perhaps the one left in hospitality for any stranger who might come, and which would later be called the cup of Elijah - and passes it around for all to drink. Again he asks them to remember him whenever they drink wine at Passover, to remember that their life is in him, and to remember his sacrifice. It is the last time he will celebrate Passover, for tomorrow the Romans will arrest him and, at the urging of the priests, put him to death. And every one of his friends will, in their own way, betray him.

He was the leader of yet another religious revitalization movement within Judaism, which was simmering with such movements.[13] Israel was again under the domination of a foreign power, Rome, the new Babylon, and people thought that only a return to the true faith would induce God to free them. But Christianity, the movement founded by the charismatic faith-healing rabbi of this Passover story would grow beyond Judaism to absorb and become influenced by the entire Graeco-Roman world.

Before that happened the Jewish revolts against Roman oppression in the first and second centuries triggered waves of persecution. The Christians, who by this time included Greeks and Romans unfamiliar with Jewish customs, made as great a distinction between themselves and Jews as possible, in order to avoid being persecuted with them. As a result Christians and Jews were persecuted separately rather than together, and developed a mutual animosity. What began with Romans persecuting Jews and Christians together proceeded with Jewish Romans like St. Paul persecuting Christians and ended with Roman Christians persecuting Jews. Christianity had forgotten its roots in Judaism and had fallen into the error of playing religion as a team sport with Christ as its mascot, rather than its Captain.

As this parting of the ways deepened, Christians celebrated a complete agape meal, or "love feast," for which they were accused of having orgies, but forgot that their meal originated in the Passover Seder (for which the Jews, who prized red wine for the occasion, were accused of drinking blood, even though consuming blood is strictly forbidden by Jewish dietary laws). Then the meal itself was discarded as the Church grew too big for it, leaving only the Communion wine and wafer, and a prejudice by which Christians would prove themselves crucifiers like everyone else.
I think it's time for Christians to find out what the Last Supper was like by getting friendly enough with Jewish families to get invited to their Seders once in a while. After all, we were once one community, and we hope that one way or another we will be again. Seder is an experience that must be lived rather than described, and a very important part of it (a religious requirement, in fact) is to have a good time. It might also teach Christians a thing or two about "family values."
Of course, if it goes against your belief, don't do it. On the other hand, some of my Catholic friends occasionally take one of my Jewish friends to Synagogue. I think I'll go myself - it's been a long time.


Eating J.C.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has Brutus say, "Stoop, Romans, stoop, and let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords: then walk we forth, even to the market-place; and, waving our red swords o'er our heads, let's all cry 'Peace, freedom, and liberty!'" The idea is for the conspirators to go before the public to give their reasons for assassinating Caesar.
Now as Christians, we don't symbolically wash our hands in Christ's blood - we drink it in the form of wine. We symbolically eat his body in the form of bread, too. It's appropriate. As I've stated elsewhere, the human condition is that we crucify - among other things, we tend to perform overt and subtle acts of group violence, to aid them directly, or aid them by ignoring them. We do it by distinguishing compulsively between "us" and "them," because we find it easier to know who we are not, than who we are. In our willful ignorance we all tend to crucify Christ. Symbolically eating our Victim is a good way of reminding ourselves, of confessing, that we do so.

The standard Church imagery of Communion is that of Mother Church feeding her children, Shepherd Jesus feeding his flock the "Bread of Life," and all that. The nourishment imagery serves to remind us that we exist only by the power of God's Grace. And it is true that Christ, acting out the Divine generosity called Grace (which is the Forgiveness of Sin), fed his disciples both before and after they deserted him at his trial. After all, what better sign of forgiveness than a meal? The disciples abandon their leader in his hour of need, and he treats them to breakfast. But the Church also teaches that by taking the elements of Communion, we invite the Holy Spirit to enter our souls, to animate us, to make us new beings (to make us more than crucifiers) - just as cannibals eat their victims to gain some virtue, such as strength or courage, from the deceased. What started out as
 Rabbi Jesus celebrating Passover has become the ritual cannibalism of our God.

I take Communion. I think it good for us Christians to remember our nearness to being crucifiers and cannibals, and that we live not by bread alone, but by the Word of God. And that so great is God's Love that, as Jesus, he gave up his body, blood, and Spirit for the redemption even of his murderers.


In God's Name

One of the worst things the church ever taught was that Judas was a particularly bad man. I think he was a religious person just trying to be good, and that he was a little willful about it. He just distorted his perception of reality a little bit, so he could be a little more comfortable with it. Interpreting him as singularly evil makes us a little more comfortable with ourselves, which makes us a little more like him. Imagine the poor fellow set in our own times, visiting his analyst:

A: I understand that you've been, umm... uncomfortable in your faith, lately. Can you tell me about it?
J: Yes. Well, I've been going to this new church lately. We're so new we don't even have a building. We meet in people's houses, or even outdoors, to listen to this new preacher in town.
A: And how's that been for you?
J: It was good, at first, but then things started to go wrong. I should never have gotten involved.
A: Are you feeling ashamed of your involvement with this person?
J: Oh, no! He's a man of God, or at least he means to be. But now he's doing things that hurt the church, and he won't listen to me when I tell him what the problem is. He needs to change direction, or find another kind of ministry.
A: How is he upsetting you?
J: Well, he preaches humility, but he's actually very arrogant. Yesterday he walked into a real church like he owned the place. He insulted everybody there, including the pastor, and then he attacked some vendors in front of the church. I don't know why, maybe he thought he saw someone selling drugs. Anyway, he started to get violent. And this from a guy who preaches love and peace. For the first time, I was afraid of him. And embarrassed, too. I mean, if I keep hanging out with this guy, people will think I approve of that stuff. He's out of control. Who knows what he might do next?
A: So you think this man might be dangerous.
J: Yeah, and not just physically, either. He claims that he preaches the truth, but it's not like anything I heard in church when I was growing up. He doesn't respect what people have been taught.
A: Were you able to share your concerns with him?
J: Yes. Not about yesterday, but about the other things. He's always off on some crusade, you know. He's trying to start up "ministries" to street people, hookers, people with gross diseases, and stuff like that. I mean, that's all well and good, but look. Hookers choose to do what they do. They need to get their own act together before we help them. Otherwise, what's to stop them from taking advantage of us? And besides, what about us? What about our needs? We're the church, and our contributions keep it going. And if our needs aren't being met, the church will wither away, and so will all those ministries. And then what has he accomplished? Besides, given the people he hangs out with, and the fact that he doesn't seem to have a wife, I wonder about his morals. I mean, it just isn't right for a man his age not to be married.
A: How did he react when you told him these things?
J: He wouldn't give me a straight answer. First he mumbled something about people who don't have anything losing what they've got. Then he stared at me and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."
A: How did you feel when he said that?
J: Hurt. It's like he's taken my church away. He brought us together, but now he's tearing us apart.
A: So, you don't feel you can talk about this with your friends.
J: Not very many of them. They're too busy trying to figure out who he'll put in charge when he finally moves on. So they really buy in to all this stuff. They even egg him on sometimes. They're under his control.
A: When he said, "You gotta do what you gotta do," you said you felt hurt. What do you think he meant by that?
J: I dunno. It was almost like he was daring me not to go along with him. He's manipulated the church into backing him up no matter what he does, and he was daring me to do anything about it. He wasn't trying to convince me anymore, he was just going to go ahead, and my opinion didn't matter.
A: And that made you angry?
J: No. Hurt, like I said. And concerned. For him, and for the church. He thinks he's accountable to nobody, but he has to be accountable - we all do. He has to be accountable to the church, the "People of God." We have to hold him to account.
A: You're not thinking about anything drastic, are you? You seem pretty worked up.
J: Me? Never. I've learned more about grace from that man than anyone I've ever met. I'd never want to hurt him. I mean, that's why I don't say anything to him about these things in front of the others. But he really needs something to bring him to his senses. Like if he was in the slammer for a few days, where the real clergy could talk to him, and he'd be forced to listen, for a change. And it could happen, you know. There are people who want to charge him with assault for what he did yesterday. It's not like anything really bad would happen to him, you know. It might even do him and everyone else concerned some good.

When faced with conflict between what he knew a preacher should be, and the reality of who his preacher was, poor Judas didn't hesitate to choose his idea over his preacher. He turned his preacher over to the ordained clergy and the police. The preacher even made it easier by seeming to reject him. But how do you tell the truth to someone who insists on lying to himself, even about his own feelings? Or as Pascal put it, "People never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."[14]

If it isn't obvious in the above dialog, the preacher is Jesus, as Judas might perhaps have seen him. The assaultive behavior of the preacher is Jesus' stand at the temple in Jerusalem. The seeming heterodoxy is the crime of which Jesus stood accused by the church leaders of his day. The "ministries" mentioned are the Biblical ministries of Jesus to the poor, prostitutes, and lepers (people with AIDS in our day). The bit about people who have nothing losing what they have is one of Jesus' parables, which I take to be a pronouncement against the "scarcity model" — the idea that there are not enough spiritual resources to go around. Finally, "You gotta do what you gotta do," is my rephrasing of "What you must do, do quickly."

Did you find yourself sympathizing with Judas? It's easy to be like him, especially when we try to make everyone else as good as we are.
To be more blunt about it, most people who call themselves Christian would have been outraged at the actions and the teachings of the historical Jesus. Most certainly they would profoundly distrust and dislike Jesus if he came again, not with "Power and Glory," but as he came before, as an ordinary person, and preached the same message in modern language. As evidence, many of the comments of my friend Judas, above, are taken (only slightly out of context) from real churchgoers in the process of ousting their pastor.

The Gospel is not a conservative message. It radically challenges the church, society, and the individual. It is so challenging that, like a good Zen koan (riddle used in instruction) it doesn't even make sense in literal interpretation. Continually rationalizing the Gospel to affirm past or present practice in church or society is hypocrisy, and I suggest that this hypocrisy is responsible for "unchurched" being the largest denomination of faith in America.

This hypocrisy is possible because many Christians mistake the Bible for the living Word of God. But the paper is made from recently killed trees, and the ink is made from coal that came from forests that died 200 million years ago. I think the Bible is more nearly the dead word of God, and the covers are its tomb. Many people open it up - roll away the stone - and think, act, preach, and proselytize with the corpse they find there. They think its stories are about somebody else, long ago and far away. The hard stories like that of Judas the sincere churchgoer, or the ironic ones like that of Tamar and Judah. But if you find only the story of your relationship with God in the Bible, you will find the tomb empty. And the living Word will find you.


  1. John Bradshaw, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Bantam Books, New York, 1990.
  2. I offer my own speculations on the meaning of the Fall in Genesis in Reviving a Dead Language at this site.
  3. In fact, as any knowledgeable Mormon will tell you, the institution of paid professional priests and pastors is (in form if not content) a continuation of the priestly Judaism under which Christ was crucified. Judaism gave up its priests after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Since then Jewish religious leaders have been called Rabbis, a title which was applied to Jesus in his lifetime. Moreover, the Talmud seems to me to show signs of cross-fertilization between developing Rabbinic Judaism and early Christian ideas.
  4. For more on pseudospeciation see Anthony Stevens, The Roots of War: A Jungian Perspective, Paragon House, New York, 1989. I bought my copy at West Point.
  5. Henry Sloane Coffin hinted at the solution in the first chapter of his 1931 book, The Meaning of the Cross (reprinted as "What Crucified Christ?" in A. M Eastman, et al., eds, The Norton Reader, 4th ed, W. W. Norton, New York, 1977). See also What Crucified Jesus?, Ellis Ruskin, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1984.
  6. Acts 10. See also Marcus Borg, Jesus: A New Vision, Harper and Row, New York, 1987, especially Footnote 30 on page 188.
  7. There are even experimental studies of some of the ways in which we crucify. You might consider taking a look at Stanley Milgram, "The Perils of Obedience," in The Norton Reader, (also his book, Obedience to Authority, Harper and Row, New York, 1974) or accounts of Philip G. Zimbardo's 1971 experiment in "depersonalization" at Stanford University, the 1964 "Kitty Genovese incident," and Muzafer Sherif's "camp experiments" in freshman psychology textbooks (such as James V. McConnell, Understanding Human Behavior, An Introduction to Psychology, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, 1982 Ñ particularly chapters 25-27). See also William Hazlitt, "The Pleasure of Hating," reprinted in 50 Great Essays, Bantam Books, New York, 1971. Thus, I do not take the Germans to be singularly evil because they sold out to Nazism - there is ample evidence to suggest that they realized a potential in us all.
  8. I think that the hoopla over "The Last Temptation of Christ," was a battle between competing idolatries to the extent that protesters objected to the film's particular portrayal of Christ, rather than to the idea that Christ be portrayed at all.
  9. Orthodox in terms of Protestant theology Ñ as defined, for example, in The Book of Concord, translated by Theodore G. Tappert, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1959. It contains English translations of the founding documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, dating from the 16th century.
  10. Karl Barth, The Humanity of God, John Knox Press, Atlanta, GA, 1960.
  11. See Eric H. Erikson, Ghandi's Truth, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1969, and David J. Garrow, Bearing the Cross , Vintage Books, New York, 1988.
  12. And yet, dogma has its value. I shudder to think what obstacles might have been placed in my path of faith had the Church not prevailed against the classic heresies. Rather than criticize dogma itself, I criticize our sometimes idolatrous attachment to dogma in preference to God.
  13. Marcus Borg, Jesus: A New Vision, op. cit.
  14. Also St. Paul, "...where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side." (Romans 7:21, The New Jerusalem translation.)