Jesus Without Religion: What Did He Say? What Did He Do? What’s the Point?
By Rick James
According to Wikipedia, Rick James is a Motown legend of the late 1970s, celebrated for his illicit leisure activities and obdurate hair braids.
Never schooled in the art of funk rock, the author of the latest IVP Likewise book Jesus Without Religion nevertheless answers to the name Rick James.
Rick James, publisher of CruPress, has a word for the unceremonious, anything-but-orthodox student who wonders if there might, after all, be something to Jesus.
For readers of this sort—those uninspired by nuanced theologies and intricate church histories—James leaves off traditional religion. He aims to relate the gospel colorfully, using contemporary cultural wares to make a statement:
Genre is everything. The merit of the phrase ‘eggs, chili powder, prune juice and Captain Crunch’ can only be assessed by learning whether the genre is that of a grocery list, a poem or a recipe. It’s a coherent grocery list, a lousy poem and a vile recipe.
To understand a particular section of the Bible, you simply must identify the genre . . .. Jesus’ . . . explanation for speaking in parables . . . is similar to the rationale behind a poem. The shocking truth is that Jesus doesn’t want everyone to understand him . . .. The parables are a dog whistle, piercing to the faithful but muted to the masses.
The end result—if Rick James has pulled it off—is simply Jesus. What he said. What he did. What it all meant.
And maybe it isn’t new-wave funk, but it does have a point.
For more on Jesus Without Religion and Rick James see www.ivpress.com.