A clarifying moment….
It would be interesting to hear a Unitarian Universalist perspective on this. Is the issue that liberal Christians still grant Jesus a ‘most favored person’ status? If one removes that barrier, by making Jesus just one dish in a smorgasbord of opinions on how to live ethically, would the divide lessen? I certainly don’t think Jesus was MORE special than any other leading sage of history. He was certainly a victim of his time–poor, possibly illiterate, prone to be mistaken as we all are. Yet when he sticks his middle finger to the injustices of the Empire, I cheer! What atheist wouldn’t?
I think there will be a problem as long as Christ is the center of the CHRISTian church, and as long as non-believing or “differently believing” clergy center their message around him – and subtly or overtly mislead their congregations about him.
I don’t see how Christian churches get around this. Unitarians do it by not focusing on the teachings of Jesus or any other single prophet, wise person or philosophy.
I’ve been thinking of it as more a historical notation…. and that may be largely due to Thich Nhat Hanh, who counseled people to dig into the depths of their own tradition and add in other strands, rather than try to become Buddhist, or whatever. [“Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers”] So I think of my position as — having grown up in a Christian tradition, I’m part of the transition out of the Constantinian/Theodosian version that Andy describes and into more of a universal community