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13.7.02

I got one of those exhilarating feelings of having a sort of intellectual breakthrough today. Not a sort of "Eureka!" where I had the answer, but more a feeling of having the materials in my head to put together something meaningful. I had to go to the Italian dinner at the house soon after, so through the whole meal (one of the best I've ever had, incidentally) my mind was swirling and keeping me from concentrating. I still haven't put everything together, and it may be that my thoughts turn out to be incomplete or nonsensical. I don't know if I'll write everything here -- I feel much freer to critique things than to affirm them in a public forum. I may work things out privately, then let elements show through here. And it may be that I'm totally overbilling the significance of what will come. I'll start with one thing that I seem to have a somewhat better grasp on.

I think that if some evangelical/fundamentalist asks me if I've accepted Jesus as my personal savior, I can say "yes, but that doesn't mean what you think it means."

I think the key word here is "personal." To say that Jesus is one's personal savior is to say that the New Testament Jesus-mythos in some way speaks powerfully to you in your particular context. And that implies that there are other traditions, other spiritual paths (including a non-spiritual outlook) that could also speak to a person in a powerful way. Different contexts require different messages. To say that everyone should have Jesus as their savior, or even to tell one person that, is to destroy the personal nature of his savior-hood. It becomes a depersonalized, one-size-fits-all approach. And in not being tailored to particular people in particular situations, it loses its deep connection to the person -- and therefore its salvific power.

To be a savior, Jesus must be personal. And to be personal, he can't be universal.

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