“What would Jesus do? “ Is a question my mother taught me to ask even as a little girl. It is probably a simplistic way of doing theology but it begs me to consider the choices in front of me in that decisive moment. As I have read through the text for this week, Theology: A Very Short Introduction, I have a new appreciation for that question. It not only calls for the individuals’ responsible action in light of Christs’ teachings but He is in turn identified with that situation or issue and is able to intervene helping us make the right choice.
Ford states, “Jesus is not believed to be restricted to the first century but to be alive and communicating in diverse ways century after century.” This, to me, makes Christian theology so much more vibrant and dynamic. It is not only restricted to the past with a historical or mythical ‘god’ whose relevance to the present times is ambiguous, but it is about a great God who is both “transcendent and immanent” (Ford 2000). Therein lies great hope for those of us seeking answers to life’s ultimate questions for Christ Himself becomes the answer in new and recurring ways.
The Christian faith becomes versatile as it “continually reinterprets its founder in new setting and finds in those settings inspiration for new ways of portraying him” (Ford 2000). Take for instance the case of ‘Dalit Theology’. Arvind P. Nirmal, a major proponent of Dalit Theology writes, “To speak of a Servant – God, therefore, is to recognize and identify him as a truly Dalit deity. For Dalit theologians, Jesus is the ultimate Dalit, the servant God whom God reveals. The Gospel writers identified Jesus with the suffering servant Isaiah. Since service of others has been the privilege of Dalit communities in India, the Christology of a suffering servant is very much relevant in Dalit Christology.”
Like Dalit theology which “emerged out of the conviction that theology should be rooted in the context and, in the Indian situation, as a conscious reflection of the oppressive situation of the Dalit” (Athyal), there are other such theologies that have emerged interpreting the teachings of Christ and the identification of Christ Himself in terms of unjust economic, social or political conditions. While these theological thoughts are debated, they beckon us to give credence to the fact that, people, whether a woman, a child, or an acitivist, are doing theology as they seek a God who can identify with them in their social, cultural, and political climate, time and space.
“What would Jesus do?” The question now posits that the Christian faith offers the best answer to life’s questions and choices in Jesus Christ for HE can identify and intervene and He does. Whether caught in the dilemma of making an ethical decision, or encountering social injustice, a disadvantaged person, an environmental issue, religious conflict, or the challenging trends of the postmodern culture, I can refrain from the rhetorical responses of Christian goodness and move to a deeper understanding of ‘Godliness’. And each time I do so I rediscover Jesus, the Great God, in a new and fresh way.
Athyal, Jesudas M. . “New Challenges for Dalit Theology.” Jesudas M. Athyal. http://jmathyal.tripod.com/id1.html (accessed October 11, 2012).
Ford, David. Theology: a very short introduction. 1999. Reprint, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.