In the book trailer below for Selling Water by the River, author Shane Hipps offers an analogy that seems lovely at first and does have some truth in it but which I believe is problematic in several ways.
The trailer echoes a very popular idea these days: that Jesus does not belong to Christianity alone, that his spirit can live in non-Christians, that he can be known and experienced outside the church. This all stems from a belief that Jesus did not intend to establish a new religion, that Christianity was invented after his death by a group of people who did not understand his message and who wanted to claim him as their exclusive possession.
I think some people wonder why I post controversial videos like this, or art pieces, or quotations. “You’re just giving him the publicity he wants and contributing to higher book sales,” people say. It’s because I like to engage with the culture, and culture manifests itself strongly in books and art. When a publisher pays money to acquire, develop, and produce a book, it’s because they know that it will have an audience—it’s relevant, it addresses questions that people are asking. I don’t like to shrink away from ideas that I disagree with; I like to consider them—critically, of course, but with an open mind—and use them as an opportunity to deepen my own thoughts on the given topic, so that if and when others confront me directly with these ideas, I will have a response to give. It doesn’t bother me at all that so-called “heretics” profit from the conversation that springs up about their latest work. Because it is in the marketplace of ideas that truth will emerge.
So, what are your thoughts on the wind analogy and its implications? Perhaps you could respond to some of the questions Hipps poses in the trailer: “Where do we get the idea that Jesus binds himself to a religion?” “What if Jesus could do his work with or without a religion?” Does Jesus regard Christians with special favor?
I’ll share my thoughts in a later post.