Andrew Sullivan thinks Christianity is in crisis. I think he’s confused the Christian gospel with some version of a Jesusy-neo-Buddhism.
I'm sure this article resonates with many people hungry for deep and authentic spirituality and maybe even seekers struggling to find a coherent example of faith, but this points to a journey without a destination. This is a version of a gospel that's a vision of the human condition and God's eternal purpose misses two of the core revelations of God in Christ. It's a perceived remedy for personal piety that cuts out the man and the mission in an attempt to retain the message of Jesus.
In my opinion it's a Twinkie — promises substance and sustenance but is full of fluffed creamy air and empty calories. And like its golden tongued shaped pastry it will always be offered (and always has) on the the proverbial shelf of human spirituality consumerism. People have been tempted to present a version of Jesus that severs one or two of his purposes in his incarnational life, but upon closer examination or after practice, one finds it falls apart and doesn’t support a healthy Christian life.
I'm quite amused and befuddled at the hybrid of humanism and asceticism that Sullivan offers up as a authentic 'way' of Jesus while missing the 'truth' and 'life' of our Lord.
The outcome is less Apostolic Christianity as much as a kind of Neo-Buddhism with which could be summed up in these three points from Sullivan's article:
1. He believed stripped of the doctrines of the incarnation, resurrection and the various miracles, the message of Jesus was the deepest miracle.
2. The cross itself was not the point; nor was the intense physical suffering he endured.
3. The point was how he conducted himself through it all — calm, loving, accepting, radically surrendering even the basic control of his own body and telling us that this was what it means to truly transcend our world and be with God.
A Jeffersonian/Franciscan vision of a spiritual walk for today? Really? His portrayal of Francis's faith would send the majority of spiritual seekers running. Hating oneself for sleeping with a pillow? Say what? We're going to abandon a fraudulent prosperity gospel for a return to self loathing, a naked whipping of oneself and extreme self renunciation type of faith instead?
In the end, Sullivan espouses a version of Jesus that looks like a bumper-sticker slogan that fits more on back of a Volkswagen than in a church. But maybe that’s what he’s going for a ‘Christless message and a churchless faith’ but that isn’t historic Christianity. It makes for a good humanistic philosophy but not a faithful representation of the way, the truth and life of Jesus or the God-man, his mission or his message.
In some people’s opinion, it may be good, but I don’t think it’s good enough. There is much more to the biblical gospel.