by S. M. Hutchens
In the December 23, 2016 New York Times online Opinion Pages, Peter Wehner, a member of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, wrote a piece titled "Humanizing Jesus," in which he did his Christmas best at bringing the Lord down to earth for the consumption of the people—a pious exercise, to be sure, for the teaching of the Christian faith is that this was precisely and literally what he came for. This struck some of my correspondents, however, as a suspicious operation, for many of us have spent a good deal of time in our churches attempting to save the Lord of heaven from being treated as common earth—Jesus our ol' buddy, the best guy we know, qualified above all others for the honorary presidency of the Possum Lodge International.
There have always been opposing, and I think necessary, tendencies in the church to emphasize the Lord's exaltation or humiliation. Both answer to reality and human need. Where one impulse is felt to be lacking, the other tends to assert itself. Where the refulgently fearsome King is emphasized, the gentle and approachable Jesus follows; in the wake of Pius IX, Thérèse of Lisieux; in the home of the powerfully ordered Puritan spirit, all sorts of subjective arrangements with Jesus.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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