“Jesus as Jewish is probably the most essential (and dangerous) idea that I can think of.” This recent comment from Rice University professor and blogger April DeConick reminded me of statements from three other thinkers.
In the 19th century, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted, “The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist.” He further concluded that through the centuries, millions have "sought little by little to cheat God out of Christianity, and have succeeded in making Christianity exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament” (The Fatherland, 1854-1855, X).
In 1910, the English author G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried” (What’s Wrong With The World, 37).
Toward the end of the 20th century, the French theologian, lawyer and sociologist Jacques Ellul said: “We have to admit that there is an immeasurable distance between all that we read in the Bible and the practice of Christians” (The Subversion of Christianity, 7).
These writers were simply recognizing a contradiction that has characterized what became official Christianity from the time it left its first century moorings. Their observations provide a backdrop to the award-winning video, Cheating God out of Christianity.
The authentic followers of Jesus certainly lived a different way than most professing Christians today. When we examine the New Testament record without the filters of subsequent denominational teaching, we discover a body of believers whose practice is largely unfamiliar.