Scholars are casting new doubt on the divinity of Christ - and even
wondering if the church would be better off without Him. Also featured in
Maclean's: Absolving green guilt and Andrew Coyne's argument for
abolishing the tip. And, be sure to turn to Maclean's for Barbara Amiel's
TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - "Whom do men say that I am?" Even during his
lifetime, Jesus's followers had differing answers: he was a rabbi with a new
approach to Jewish law; he was the rightful claimant to the throne of David.
It took more than three centuries of violent contention, suppression, and
historical contingency before answers emerged that still define mainline
Christianity: Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God and the Virgin Mary, both
fully divine and fully human; crucified for our sins, he rose from the dead
and will come again to judge humanity.
The newest views of Christ that are emerging - activist, politician, not
very Christian - are hard to square with the Bible. Now some believers are
even arguing that the faith might just be better off without him. Modern
historians, searching for the Jesus of history, have already swept away the
miraculous elements, including the whole of Jesus's childhood. No virgin
birth; no wise men, no heavenly choir of angels at the stable manger, no
debating the elders at age 12. One group of scholars, Maclean's reports, is
sure that Christ spoke less than a fifth of the words attributed to him. Now a
controversial Canadian pastor, in a new book set to rock the church, is
arguing that Christ was not as inspiring and revolutionary as we believe him
to be, and it's time to move beyond him. Christ taught acceptance of
oppression and derided those who disagreed with him, she says, and even his
moral teachings were flawed. To try to act in the way he advocated would mean
abdicating the responsibilities we have to one another. The world has changed,
she argues, and his words don't make sense any more. "Why do we need a
'revolutionary' voice from two millennia ago? We have fabulous ideas of our
Absolving green guilt
Guilt is a powerful tool. Almost daily we're bombarded with evidence of
our contribution to climate change. Flown lately? You unleashed more than a
tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Drive a car? That's six
more tonnes. Short of curling up in a ball on the floor, what's a guilt-ridden
consumer to do? Go shopping for carbon offsets, of course.
Hundreds of carbon offset providers have sprung up in recent years as
middlemen between those looking to make up for their environmental
indiscretions and projects that reduce greenhouse gases. At least, that's the
promise. As carbon offsetting grows in popularity among business leaders, some
environmentalists worry the practice is making matters worse, since it tempts
wasteful westerners to crank up their lifestyles with a clean conscience.
What's more, a closer look at some offset programs reveals that a large chunk
of the money consumers think is going to carbon dioxide reducing projects is
actually eaten up by expenses and salaries. Maclean's asks, where's the money
Tipping is evil
Suddenly everyone from the Starbucks barista to the dog walker has his
hand out. Blame the decline in shame. In this week's Maclean's: Andrew Coyne's
argument for abolishing the tip.
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