My personal deconstructing process has spanned sixty-five years. For much of that time, the journey wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing but instead happened through a series of smaller events. Here are some examples:
- Because of my motorcycle accident, I had to wear a full leg cast for a year and stay close to my orthopedist over the summer of 1958. One of the seminary professors asked me to do research for him that entailed going through the Old Testament for passages relating to the Jesus found in the synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew, and Luke. It was fascinating. I found so many references that I started to wonder if Jesus had been invented. This triggered my quest for the historical Jesus. Later, it became the thesis for my doctorate. That search is still going on.
- More deconstruction was inspired during the 1960s with space exploration. No longer were we dealing with just nine planets but now with up to two to four trillion different galaxies in the universe. Space exploration made me realize my concept of God as Creation had to include the universe and maybe something beyond my comprehension. I had to switch to saying, “I’ll explain Creation/God right after I explain the universe.”
- In 1962 the French government offered me a full scholarship to attend the University of Strasbourg in France to work on my thesis in 1963–64. Dr. Trocme, my tutor at the university, embraced my thesis, and without any church interference, I was able to work on the Jesuses found in the Gospels versus the historical one.
- Another door opened. We left Hawai‘i in 1975 for better educational opportunities for our deaf and blind but bright daughter. However, the diocese in Los Angeles was not welcoming, so I did secular work for my paycheck but church work on the weekends. I didn’t have any constraints on being able to think way outside the box.
- In 1985, the Westar Institute had over two hundred Biblical scholars designing the real Jesus, and when it published its findings in 1998, I became a disciple. Even though the word deconstruction had not been part of my writing, that was exactly what I was doing.
- I suspect it was about fifteen years ago when a light dawned on me: Creation does not have Sons, so Jesus lost his title “Son of God, who died for our sins.” With this, all the theology of the church disappeared because it was predicated on a God who lived above the third firmament of the flat earth. No more Immaculate Conception, Virgin Birth, Original Sin, Trinity, literal Resurrection, Ascension, and a lot more irrelevant ideas.
Now I see, very clearly, who the historical Jesus was: a Jewish messenger whose unconditional love (agape) would radicalize and transform the world and universe.
Who is this guy Jesus? Stay tuned.
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash