The Real Christ: Foreword

Our modern civilization with its addiction to money and power has left so much unaddressed; our need for beauty, for poetry, for art, for mystery and dreams, to find love, the meaning of life, for personal contact with God. The rush of modern life has left each of us with the niggling conscience that this is the sort of life we want to have, indeed, that we ought to follow. But not only do we not follow our conscience; we don’t know where to find something, some philosophy, some religion, which somehow synthesizes all these needs together. People today- young people especially- are so often asking the ultimate questions, looking for the right things, but in the wrong places. The metanarrative of modern art, in all its forms from movies to songs to novels, records the distraughtness of humanity, our malaise, the hidden longing for deliverance and redemption which there is not far beneath the surface of us all. But with all due respect to the forms in which this is expressed- the fineness of the art, power of the wordsmithing, the screenplay... modern men and women are groping like the blind in search of a wall of support, desperate for some familiar guide towards the true path. The self-introspection of internet blogs, humanity's increasing preoccupation with itself, is the result of a failure to find that path. They rage in vain against a society which has lost its spiritual roots.

But I’m bold enough to suggest that in God and in His Son Jesus, as the Bible reveals them, stripped of all the theology of men, the accretions of nominal Christian culture… we find just what we need and were unconsciously looking for, even longing for, all our lives. I can only say ‘taste and see…’. For all other commentary or persuasion would be bathos compared to the real Christ and the real God as they truly are.

To write a book about the Lord Jesus Christ is not to be approached lightly. The more one comes to know Him, the more cautious one becomes to ensure that we speak and write of Him with an appropriate honour and correctness in every sense. Given the frailty of human understanding and how we labour “under the tyranny of words”, this has thrown me back as never before upon the Bible as God’s word; seeking to underpin all I may think and say and teach of the Lord Jesus in the words of God rather than of men. If this task weren’t so crucially important, I wouldn’t have attempted it. But quite simply, the Bible predicates the life eternal upon ‘knowing Christ’. Therefore understanding Him assumes a vital place in human life, both now and eternally. For as Paul succinctly put it: “To live is Christ”.

And so I set out in Part 1 to analyze Bible teaching about the nature of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus. At times I pause to bring out the practical importance of these matters. And then in Part 2 I seek to build upon that foundation, in considering who Jesus was as a person, as a character, attempting as it were an archaeology of an ancient personality. I do this because He is now the risen and exalted Lord of Heaven and earth, and His spirit of being and living, His way, His personality- is very much alive today. And we are called to be like Him. He wasn’t a Divine comet that sped to this earth for 33 years and then zoomed off again. He was truly one of us, not a puppet, no actor on a stage, but the ultimate human hero- who not only saved us, but set us the ultimately true example, an image to which we should conform ourselves. His path to glory is very much our realistic example.

All through this enterprise, I am keenly aware that I am at odds with popular Christian theology about the Lord Jesus. In some ways this book is a deconstruction of Trinitarian dogma, and the notion that the Lord Jesus somehow pre-existed His birth in a personal form. But that’s done from a motive of wanting to present the real Christ in all His transforming power, which I believe He is somewhat robbed of by false theories about Him. The mission of true theology, true understanding, is the radical transformation of human life in practice. And this is what I’m about, rather than deconstructing one school of thought for the sake of it. And so in Part 3 I consider how the real Christ was lost to the creeds of a corrupted Christendom; and in the Appendix I consider Scriptures which have been wrested to this end. It may come as a surprise to some to realize that what I’m teaching is not in fact unique to me by any means, but many others from various backgrounds have come to the same conclusions. And so this volume references those writers- not because they of themselves are any ultimate authority, but to provide a comfort zone to those whose hand may shake a little in signing up to a position on Christ which they may (wrongly) perceive is shared by virtually nobody. But ultimately, the Bible as God’s word is our basis of appeal. We may stand with our backs to the world, but we must let God be true and every man a liar. I am no great fan of Martin Luther, but I can say with him: “Here I stand, I can do no other”.

Finally. Pray for guidance on this subject. Try to come to the Bible as if for the first time, a ‘born again virgin’ in spiritual terms, with a second naivety; give each Divine word its true weight, meet it as if it’s totally unknown and unfamiliar to you, stripped of all the background assumptions we tend to bring with us to anything we read, the freight we attach to words we assume we have long ago understood. Along with you, I try to do this; and I hope you can do better than me. For it’s not easy. But if we can achieve even something of it, we will then ‘meet Jesus again for the first time’. The real Christ will make us real people, humanity as God intended, and thereby real Christians, assured of the eternal life that is in Christ and which will be revealed at His return to earth, when His resurrection shall become ours.

Duncan Heaster

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