Jesus was a heretic.
I now have your attention, for how can a Christian theological educator and church leader have the audacity to claim that Jesus, the eternal Son of God made flesh, is, in fact, a heretic?
Let me explain.
Jesus was a heretic in that his proclamation and enactment of the rule and reign of God challenged the established 'orthodox' theology of the time by renouncing violence.
He questioned the perceived wisdom and myths of the age, which declared, 'This is the way it was, this is the way it is, and this is the way it will be.'
Jesus was radically countercultural as he confronted the deep mythic structures and cultural encoding of his era that made holy and glorified the 'myth of redemptive violence.'
When Jesus articulated and embodied the love of enemies , he committed heresy by undermining both the violence of the state and the violent revolutionary claims of his contemporaries.
Jesus is still a heretic in that the kingdom he lived and died for undermines the collusion of the church in state-sponsored violence and challenges the very notion of the ‘just’ war. To take up the cross is to lay down the sword, requiring that the church can no longer authentically claim his name while acting as chaplains and cheerleaders for any conflict complicit in the intentional and deliberate killing of combatants or civilians.
In a world where the myth of redemptive violence holds sway as one of the mythic doctrines of contemporary society, Jesus remains a heretic who calls to us, saying, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news!