Common Sense Christianity by C. Randolph Ross
C. Randolph Ross has a degree in analytic philosophy from the University of Virginia and has spent time in theological studies at Yale Divinity School. After seminary he has served full time in a United Methodist parish in upstate New York for five years, then spent part time work in churches while holding down secular administrative work spending ten years wrestling on the issues which have produced this book. Published by Occam Publishers, Cortland, New York, 1989, copyright by C. Randolph Ross. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
In this section I put forth my proposal for a new interpretation of our faith that is in keeping with both the message of Jesus the Christ and our common sense. In Chapter Ten we pursue the theme of Jesus as the functional Christ, as he through whom we focus our understanding and faith, he whose life and message are central to the way we choose to live. We see that this is not only indisputable, but also that since Jesus is the answer to our deepest question -- the question of meaning -- this is also to claim for him the most that could possibly be claimed, a special role that can only be called sacred.
In Chapter Eleven we prepare for our discussion of God. We ask whether our common sense allows for this at all and demonstrate that in spite of a few extremists, it does indeed. Then we look at the straightforward rules of language for talking about God or anyone else, and at what kind of verification is appropriate.
In Chapter Twelve we finally talk about God. We note some wondrous aspects of reality that point towards God -- we are not looking for a magical "proof" -- and we describe how we can speak of God acting. We briefly address a few questions about the nature of God before suggesting a few images that might help to communicate our understanding of God.
In Chapter Thirteen we are then able to consider the question of Jesusí authority. We put forth several reasons which support the choice of Jesus of Nazareth as our compass, but we recognize that in the final analysis it is a question of values, of the heart.
In Chapter Fourteen we begin a look at some more traditional doctrinal themes to see if we can offer a positive reconstruction for their use today. We conclude that we must continue our use of the concept of "sin", but that the ideas of "original sin" and "salvation" are too tied up with an unchristian view of God and must be discarded.
In Chapter Fifteen we continue reconstruction by proposing the category of Christian Myth as a positive category for those aspects of the Christian story which exemplify or reinforce Christian values but which can no longer be taken as true. There is no reason for this to be seen as a negative classification. We then look at various aspects of the Jesus story to see what would qualify.
Then we move on to Part Four, a consideration of the real stumbling block: living as a Christian.