There is no room for a supernaturally neutered Christ,
argues Peter Sara in response to an earlier ''Faith and
Ian Harris' extreme makeover of Christianity (Faith and
reason, ODT, 14.12.12) had a number of difficulties. Chief
among them was the idea that the divine can be taken away and
still allow naturalists like Mr Harris to call the result
Christian, or as he puts it, secular Christian. In a
nutshell, he argues that the supernatural underpinnings of
the Christian faith have had their day; that not only is the
divine God dead, he never was alive in the first place.
A good question is: what would Jesus have to say about this
idea? If we accept the Gospels as the primary record of what
Jesus actually said and did and why, we very quickly see
there is simply no room for a supernaturally neutered Christ.
Central to his teachings was who he was, and what his life
and mission was all about. In a nutshell, he said he was sent
from the Father (the Divine one) to show humanity that God
loves them and cares for them; that the divine Father is in
Jesus and Jesus is in the Father.
The gift of divine nature and eternal life are available for
all who would receive them. The mission of Jesus was to save
mankind from sin and death. His sole credentials for this
astounding rescue operation were his divinity. Take away the
divinity of Christ and what you have is someone completely
off their rocker. The Bible tells us that God became human so
that he could complete his loving plan to end the tyranny of
the fear of death, and to show mankind what God was like. He
is just like Jesus.
Conscious that his earthly mission was very short, Jesus
promised his followers that when he returned to be with God,
the Holy Spirit would be sent in his place by whom he, Jesus,
would fulfil his parting promise that he would be with them
If we humans ''sweat it out on earth'', the Helper is
alongside us. For the Christian (not the secular kind), the
Helper actually takes up residence in the spirit of that
person as a seal or guarantee of the investment of the divine
nature and of eternal life. That divinity is from without,
not within. The locus of the divine is now shared. Through
the divine Son, Jesus, mankind is offered to take up divinity
in Christ, through the power and working of the Holy Spirit.
That is why a Christian is someone in Christ.
The secular Christian is one who wants some of the religious
trimmings of faith, such as nice churches, an identification
with goodness in some way and a sense of belonging, while
eschewing the supernatural aspect altogether. Some have gone
further with the definition and coined the term atheistic
By biblical definition, at any rate, the two cannot lie
together in the same bed. Getting rid of God is like throwing
the baby out with the bath water, as well as the bath.
Secular Christianity is like decaffeinated coffee or
no-alcohol beer. Secular Christianity is actually
Christianity without Christ. Without Christ, the Son of God,
there is no Christian at all.
Jesus is a package deal. Take him as he is, for who he says
he is, or not at all.
Peter Sara is a member of the Dunedin Elim