God can fully be known in Jesus and through the Christian Gospel. But we have a tendency to mute or dial down the parts we don’t like – the parts that are harder to take. The irony is that we lose appreciation of the pleasant parts as well. We need reminders of Jesus – the entirety of who he is and what he’s done.

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Your own personal Jesus,

Someone to hear your prayers,

Someone who cares.

“Personal Jesus”, Depeche Mode, 1989

 

 

The rationalists pictured Jesus as a preacher of morality, the idealists as the Ideal Man; the aesthetes extolled him as the master of words and the socialists as the friend of the poor and as the social reformer, while the innumerable pseudo-scholars made of him a fictional character. Jesus was modernized. These lives of Jesus are mere products of wishful thinking. The final outcome was that every epoch and every theology found in the personality of Jesus the reflection of its own ideals, and every author the reflection of his own views.

Joachim Jeremias (1900-1979)

 

 

And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. 

Article 20 of the 39 Articles of Religion (Anglican), 1563

 

 

Unless we come to grips with this terrible doctrine, we will never even begin to understand the depths of what Jesus did for us on the cross… . When Jesus was cut off from God, he went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. And he did it voluntarily, for us. 

 

If we play down harsh doctrines, we will gut our pleasant and comfortable beliefs too.

Timothy Keller