Stop Trying to Edit Jesus

Dan DeWitt | December 16, 2016

Not long ago I visited Monticello, the famous plantation where the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is buried. Jefferson would’ve loved Tom Krattenmaker’s new book, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe. He authored one similar to it.

Jefferson cut and pasted portions of the Gospel accounts, carefully avoiding all supernatural references and claims. His final product, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, is often referred to as the “Jefferson Bible.” It offers a Jesus-minus-the-miracles Christianity, a Jesus devoid of divinity.

Journalist and author Tom Krattenmaker revives Jeffersonian editing. His book offers a secular vision for incorporating Jesus’s example into a humanistic framework.

The main problem for such a task is that it’s self-refuting. In the end, you don’t really get Jesus, and you don’t really get humanism either. Human flourishing dissipates in the light of relativistic morals, a point Krattenmaker even recognizes. He argues we must embrace existential values not grounded in reality: “Even if everything is relative, there is value, I have seen, in going all in on a principle and commitment as if it is the final word.” He later restates this notion: “It’s my wager that if we pick our…

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