Jesus’ name and his title

In “There’s just something about that name” (Feb. 11), James E. Brenneman wishes Anabaptists would identify themselves as Jesus-centered rather than Christ-centered. I affirm his intent but question his conclusions. He laments the ways Christ-centered language has been used to justify antisemitism, nationalism, the mistreatment of marginalized people and other violent and unjust attitudes and behavior. I echo this lament but am puzzled by his prescription.

My reading of the Gospels leads me to conclude Jesus was essentially Christ-­centered. Better said, he was kingdom-of-God-centered. A prescription for the ills Brenneman chronicles needs to be rooted in the first-century longing for Messiah (the Christ). Among Jewish hopes for the Messiah were expectations of a warrior king who would restore Israel. Jesus aligned himself instead with the prophets who anticipated the kingdom of God as a reign characterized by good news to the marginalized and a renewed commitment to embody peace and justice.

Jacob W. Elias, Goshen, Ind.

 

Brenneman might be able to provide further insights into how the early Christian church morphed from faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus into an institution that enforced a Trinitarian doctrine with scant reference to his heritage. The Book of Acts and Paul’s writings portray this more primitive faith, while the Gospels, written later, show evidence of the narrative subtly altered to be more evocative of a Christ figure. Was that because most of the new converts beyond the first decades were Gentiles? Is there something more patriarchal about Christ imagery than in the compassionate figure of Jesus?

Karl Dick, Waterloo, Ont.

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