A 3 year anniversary note from founder Eric Alexander about some of our most common reactions to Jesism.
Over the past three years since Jesism was first created, I have had the first-hand thrill of seeing how a diverse theological and cultural populace around the world have reacted. When Jesism was first created, a certain realm of responses was not only expected, but it was sought after. A primary reason for the name and the concept was to expressly open a few paradigms and get people’s attention, and that it has certainly done. Below are a few of the macro-type reactions we’ve gotten over the past few years. Do you fall into a particular category listed?
1) Excitement and Enthusiasm. It has been rewarding to get feedback from so many who seem to completely understand what we’re doing here with Jesism. They read it and they get it. They resonate with the 9 Guidelines and they see the potential in what it can do for the overall Jesus movement. They get that it’s not a new sect or religion, but instead a paradigm / philosophy that can be overlayed to Christianity or any other path. Those responses have by far been the predominant ones and it has helped the Jesism team to remain focused and interested in continuing along the journey.
2) Non Interest or Moved Beyond. Another group at the opposite extreme of the spectrum are those who have progressed so far to the edges of Christianity that they no longer even resonate much with Jesus, historically or mythically. They tend to like the concept and the guidelines of Jesism, but they have no real interest anymore in anything Jesus related. They still hang around progressive Christian communities, but mainly as a cathartic outlet to complete their deconstruction as they explore what lies beyond.
3) Resistance to anything that doesn’t seek to save the term “Christianity.” Particularly in the elder crowd or those who were entrenched in the church as pastors / pastors kids, we have seen a strong interest to save the term Christianity, and they have offered feedback that Jesism seems to be competing with that. As the founder of Jesism I can say that I keep a foot in each camp on that. Sometimes I pull Christianity along to progress (and this is something I focus on particularly as a board member of ProgressiveChristianity.org and editor-in-chief of ProgressingSpirit.com). However, my main goal in life isn’t to save the term or the religion. It’s to help those who have some connection or paradigm within Christianity to relate better to the most beneficial messages and examples of Jesus, while also helping integrate other tangential spiritual teachings from other paths which are often ignored or blocked within most expressions of Christianity.
4) General Fear of Change. There is a group who seems to want to go the direction of Jesism, but their paradigm just won’t allow it yet. There is still something too extreme to them about not being explicitly in the traditional Christian sandbox, and some of the guidelines still feel a little challenging. At Jesism we don’t care much if people change their labels or terms. We are perfectly fine and glad if people keep referring to themselves as Christians who are also “Jesists.” The goal of Jesism isn’t to create a new religion or do away with Christianity, it is to add a layer on top of it that can usher in a new understanding that we think can make the world a better place, individually and collectively.
5) Complete bewilderment. And lastly, many folks in this category seem to get the 9 Guidelines and like them quite a lot conceptually, but they cannot for the life of them understand why I / we continue to care. These folks tend to have never been entrenched in the Christian paradigm (besides maybe half-heartedly as young children) and may tend to be more about atheism, humanism, or some other type of spirituality that is not Jesus-centric. They see organized religion as a hindrance (especially American forms of Christianity) and sometimes they have become quite evangelical about their new thing, so it feels foreign to them to have a layered and nuanced concept where multiple ideas can be of benefit, especially from the roots of the Jesus tradition. They also don’t tend to understand the concept of progressive Bible interpretation and can only view Jesus from the contemporary fundamentalist-evangelistic viewpoints. Or sometimes they are just so burnt out on anything “Jesus” related that they simply have no interest or bandwidth to discuss anything coming from that arena.
So these would be the five general categories of responses we’ve seen. Did you feel yourself more heavily represented in either particular category? As Jesism continues to grow as a concept I remain very curious to see if these five memes continue to hold true. The comments are closed on this page, but if this was shared on a facebook page that would be a great place to share your thoughts.
– Eric Alexander