“Everything Jesus did he did as a human. Everything.”
These words from Metropolitan Mar Chrysostom to Leonard Sweet summarize Len’s newest book, Jesus Human: A Primer for a Common Humanity. Len seeks to move away from language like “spiritual formation” to the more holistic (and biblical!) “new humanity.” In other words, Jesus doesn’t make us more spiritual; he makes us more human.
Of course, this theology did not originate with Sweet. Paul calls Jesus “The Second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:42–49). Just as we have born the image of the man of dust (Adam), so also we must bear the image of the man of heaven (Jesus; 1 Corinthians 15:49 ESV). Jesus isn’t just fully divine; he’s fully human and becoming like him is becoming truly human—human like we were intended to be human.
This view of theosis has implications for the mission of the church. Other religions offer views of “the true humanity,” some of which intersect with Christian thought. Sweet presents an “abecedarium” of what a Jesus human looks like, borrowing concepts from science, philosophy, and the world religions. He writes:
“Christianity’s chief concern and apologetic agenda in the twenty-first century may lie more with the flourishing of the defiantly humane, than with what it means to be Christian.” (Leonard Sweet, Jesus Human, 30)
Jesus Human is Len at his best. Like always, his finger is on the pulse of the culture and he prescribes remedies the church has long possessed but recently neglected. He is the people’s church historian.
I typically grimace at attempts to harmonize Christianity with other faiths. To me, theology starts with Jesus’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” From there all roads diverge to dead ends. But Len is careful and unapologetically Christocentric. After all, you can’t be a “Jesus human” apart from Jesus. There are intersections between biblical wisdom and that of other faiths and “all truth is God’s truth.”
I agree with Len that the world is looking for a beautiful way to be human. That vision is only realized in Jesus. May we all become Jesus humans.