Generous Orthodoxy  

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blind boy, living Lord

A powerful testimony was given on NPR this Saturday morning, one that only a blind African-American could get by with on that wonderful but relentlessly anti-theological radio station (by "anti-theological" I mean to include Krista Tippitt's program on religion, an exercise in anti-theology if ever there was one).

One of the "Blind Boys of Alabama" gospel group was asked by a rather smug interviewer how he felt about the fact that his audiences now were much more secular than they were when the group started 70 years ago. The "blind boy" (now in his 70s) said, so beautifully, that he just wanted to "put out seeds." He said that he was just putting seeds out there, and sometimes, he said, God touched people through the music of the group. He wanted to let people know "that Christ is alive, and that they can have hope in Him." What could be more "gospel" than that?

The "Christ is alive" message is largely missing from much of the Christian preaching and teaching we hear today in the mainline churches. Will Willimon writes:

"I simply do not understand how the current search for the 'historical Jesus,' at least as it is represented by the Jesus Seminar and its aftermath, is much of an advance...All attempts to reconstruct a 'life of Jesus,' or 'the essential Jesus,' or the 'real Jesus' tend to begin with an assumption...that Jesus is dead." (from Conversations with Karl Barth About Preaching, Abingdon Press, 2006, p. 45)