James Carroll – Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age

Christ ActuallyI have just completed reading James Carroll’s latest book “Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age” for the second time. I know that I will read it many more times as I continue my own work of articulating an understanding of Jesus for the 21 century. Carroll’s way of exploring Christianity has always been enlightening and refreshing because he has the courage to question the tradition from the vantage point of someone who has lived the tradition with passion. Carroll is former Roman Catholic priest who now serves as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University and is a columnist for The Boston Globe, whose books include:  “Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews,” “American Requiem: God My Father,” and the “War That Came Between Us, Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War,” “Toward a New Catholic Church: The Promise of Reform,” as well as eleven novels. 

Carroll’s critique of Christianity is infused with a sense of responsibility for the ways in which our anti-Jewish texts have misremembered the story of Jesus. His exploration of first century history points to the profound influence of the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.  upon the way in which the gospel-storytellers crafted their accounts of Jesus for their late first century communities.  Insisting that we must measure everything we say about Jesus now against Jesus’ Jewishness, Carroll asks a compelling question: “What if the so-called divinity of Jesus lays bare not so much the mystery of God as it does the majesty of what it means to be human?”  Carroll sees that the divinity of Jesus in some way suggests the Divinity in which we all participate. Carroll’s work is a must read for those of us who are working to articulate a 21st century Christology!

The video below was recorded at First Parish in Cambridge on Wednesday, December 10, 2014