A Secular Jesus-Follower?

Can one be a follower of Jesus and still be a secularist? How is Jesus perceived and understood by those who are outside the faith? What does such a person have to teach us about evangelism and the way we present the unique Christ in the modern world? Fascinating essay from a USA Today columnist, Tom Krattenmaker.

Krattenmaker is an avowed secularist, the author of Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower. He was raised a Catholic, but dropped out as he grew to maturity. He rejected the church and her teachings, but always found himself fascinated by Jesus. He just couldn’t shake him from his mind. He explains that he doubts God’s existence, and doesn’t believe in Jesus’ saving actions on the cross. For Tom, there is no forgiveness necessary, no eternal life in heaven, no resurrection, no need for church attendance. He rejects the religious claims in Christianity, but believes Jesus is the answer if people would only know him and engage him and seriously follow him.

“In the pantheon of philosophers, prophets, teachers, artists, and moral exemplars, and sages from the ages, one stands out for me as a particularly promising figure for our time. He is a figure of unusual wisdom and deeply moving strangeness who calls me to reconceive the orientation of my own life and the manner in which I engage my fellow humans. His story compels me to access my often-reluctant generosity and pull myself out of my self-centered worries and obsessions. His example has motivated me to befriend people in all manner of categories that are not my own – Muslims, evangelical Christians, LGBT people, and so on – and sympathetically tell their stories on the op-ed pages of the nation’s largest newspaper. This figure’s inspiration has changed the way I treat the supposed nobodies whom I could easily get away with mistreating. His message and manner, I find, address our culture’s maladies and malaises amazingly well, as they do my own. I do not claim there is only one figure or source from whom we can learn and draw inspiration, who we can emulate. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and others have much to offer, and this is not an either-or exploration we are going on in this book. But one figure stands out. That figure is Jesus.”

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