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The Problem with Christ: Why we don't understand Jesus, His enemies, or the early Church Paperback – August 8, 2013
About the Author
Christopher Gorton earned his B.A. In science education, with honors, from the University of Central Florida in 1988. In 2005, after a number of years as a popular science teacher in the high-tech vicinity of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, he moved with his wife Joya, and the youngest four of seven children to an isolated Costa Rican community, to be salt and light. There, learning to read his Bible in Spanish ignited a desire to understand the New Testament in its original tongue. Now he seeks to serve his Lord, and share the truths he has discovered in His own journey. He may be contacted through his blog RadicalFish.net.
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The bulk of the essay is an examination of the word "Christ". Gorton delves into various translations and texts, including the Septuagint. But the waters never get too deep for the average reader. Gorton tips off the reader at one point with this line: "What follows is easily the most technical part of this book, and I ask your indulgence as it may be tedious. However, even without any previous training in New Testament Greek, you should be able to understand the gist of what follows." Honestly, it wasn't all that tedious. After the analysis, Gorton proposes a couple of practical changes a Christian can make.
For me, the analysis was the best part. I think that pastors and intelligent Bible readers will enjoy the essay more than others. I don't think anyone will agree *entirely* with Gorton's methods or conclusions, and that's part of why I liked this essay so much. Gorton is earnest in his argument, yet extremely humble: the perfect partner for intellectual dialogue. I'm tempted to buy a copy each for a couple of the lay leaders at my church just so I can discuss this book with them.
For a small price ($4.99), you get a small book that is in ways reminiscent of the likes of N.T. Wright (as in, How God Became King) and Peter Leithart (Between Babel and Beast). At other times Gorton's writing evokes the scrappy offensive of David Bercot (Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up).
Gorton's essay isn't merely enjoyable. It's compelling. Even though you might choose to disagree with some of his conclusions, his analysis of Christ will probably move you to re-examine your loyalties and invite you to a stronger commitment to Jesus Christ. Gorton at one point proposes, "We must begin to reclaim the integrity of the message of our scriptures. In other words, we must, beginning with ourselves, deliberately undo the violence that has been done to the Word by the veiling of Jesus' kingship." In his introduction (which I would recommend that you read as an epilogue) Gorton invites the reader to pray his way through the essay in an effort to have a clear picture of The Truth. From such practical advice, one can see that the title ("The Problem with Christ") does not aim to persuade the reader away from Biblical Christianity. Quite the opposite. In fact, one sentence I highlighted in my Kindle was this. "When we shy away from seemingly difficult Biblical passages or concepts, we provide our enemy with an opportunity."
See also Gorton's blog, radicalfish.net
My only complaint with the book is that I am not sure this point needed 110 pages to explain... He made the point pretty clearly by page 20, and even those pages could have been summarized down a little more.
Essentially, this is a great idea that would make good for a good single chapter (about 10 pages) in a longer book on Jesus and the Gospels.
Don't worry, Gorton is not undermining any of the orthodox views of who Jesus/Christ is. Rather he contends that there is a much deeper meaning in the original use of the word "Christ" than what is usually understood today, and that it has important implications for how we understand the Gospel, the life and work of Jesus, and the mission of the church today.
And don't be discouraged by the semi-technical discussions you will bump into as you begin the book, and the apparent "bunny-trails" that seem to lead away from the main discussion. Stick with the author, as all discussions and trails are important ground-work for the main premise, and your wading through the first chapter or so will be rewarded when you finally get to the more important arguments.
Gorton's writing is at times scholarly, but his informal, captivating style makes it possible for anyone to follow his word studies, even when he delves into Greek grammar and other linguistic topics.
I hope you will read this book and consider seriously the premises it sets forth. Your understanding of the Gospel and your commitment to Christ will be challenged by it.
Long live the KING!
I love the Nathaniel story! I can't help but be thrilled as Nathaniel encountered a Man of such astounding ability that He could be nothing less than a King.
I hope that the author publishes a sequel. Perhaps a devotional book that draws daily inspiration from specific Bible passages that use the word "christos". That would be really exciting!
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