The Christian Jesus “deserves a demotion, to be taken down from the altar of divinity and regarded as human,” says Rev. David Galston, ecumenical chaplain for the Anglican, Presbyterian, United and Unitarian churches at the Brock University Faith and Life Centre.
In his new book, Embracing the Human Jesus-A Wisdom Path for Contemporary Christianity, Galston argues that for Christians to be true followers it is “sadly almost necessary to leave the institution of Christianity and rediscover the relevant human Jesus and his wisdom.”
He suggests that it is time for Christianity to move away from the version of Jesus as the divine, apocalyptic prophet who will clean up the world in the end times as the Son of Man and move towards a Jesus who was human like the rest of us, with wisdom and insight to share.
The soft-cover book, published by Polebridge Press, “focuses on the humanity of Jesus out of respect for him,” says Galston. “I can’t imagine that Jesus would be happy with the way he’s regarded today. Jesus has been hijacked by extremists. In general, all religions have been hijacked by extremists.”
Galston says the integration of heart and mind has always been a part of Christianity. What’s changed, he adds, is that our contemporary understanding of the world is much different than that of antiquity when the Bible was written.
“Jesus was a first-century Galilean Jewish peasant and his life and voice belong to that time. We don’t live in that era and our lives have a different context.”
Despite the passing of centuries, Galston believes that the wisdom of Jesus as a human being is still relevant. “The wisdom tradition is secular, it is humanist. It breaks free of the confines of institutional religion. There is a need for humanity to grow up religiously with a contemporary knowledge base.”
Recognizing the historical, human Jesus can be liberating, says Galston, because followers encounter someone who is realistic and relevant, allowing them to find a new way to move forward.
“If Christianity cannot come to grips with itself as a human creation, then I can’t see how Christianity will have any relevance. There is no answer in the sky. The answer lies in our collective histories and cultures and humanity.”
There will be a campus launch event for the book on Nov. 14 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Community Meeting Place (R208) in DeCew Residence. The Faith and Life Centre will provide refreshments.