February 1, 2013

Shane Hipps’s Mystic Jesus

Shane Hipps_Shane Hipps.com_130201 Large

Although Shane Hipps, a former teaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids calls himself a Christian, he is not convinced that makes him “any closer to Jesus than a Muslim.” He explained this view to Relevant Magazine in January 2013 as he discussed his new book, Selling Water by the River a Book About the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way. Hipps is featured in the January/February 2013 issue of the popular magazine targeted at young Evangelicals.

In another recent interview with Homebrewed Christianity, Hipps claimed he is “refocusing part of the Christian narrative … what I’m talking about has very significant, significant implications for the way we might practice our religion if we understood these things.” And in a December 2012 article, he wrote: “Just because Christianity claims Jesus as its own does not mean that Christ automatically claims Christianity as his own.”

Hipps told Homebrewed Christianity that Jesus’ teaching on eternal life has “been misrepresented and misunderstood by nearly every tradition in Christianity,” as Jesus talks about the subject “in the present continuous subjunctive tense, not the future tense.”

He explaned: “Jesus comes in one sense as a mirror. He has lots of functions, but this is one of His most overlooked functions that He actually has the power to connect us to the thing within us, that’s already there but we are anxious about that we can’t seem to see, taste, touch, or feel, but that when we do make contact, everything makes sense. All the questions go away, all the worries go away … there’s a deep sense of connection, fulfillment, peace, joy, heaven, forgiveness, salvation, liberation, whatever that is.” Hipps emphasized that “[Jesus] did that while he was alive, He didn’t even have to die to help us with that.”

Hipps briefly acknowledged the commands to “proclaim the name of Jesus which [are] throughout the Bible,” but added:“Just because it’s the name given to you to proclaim … does not mean that He needs us to do His work in the world.” And it’s “that kind of humility … I’m most interested in,” the author said, claiming Christians ought to “hold that kind of humility and still remain devoted to [their] religion.” He rhetorically asked, “What on earth makes us think that just because we bear His name, that we somehow have a corner on the market of Jesus in the world?”

Although his theology is far from orthodox, Hipps said “there aren’t a lot of people debating my book because it doesn’t fit in categories people debate.” This is likely because he used “language patterns that are designed to allow people on the right to have access points, and I deliberately walked around the issues that would have disqualified me in their lives.” Referencing former Mars Hill pastor Rob Bell’s controversial book, Hipps explained: “It’s not like Love Wins where Rob just went out and like crammed something in their face, this was a different strategy.”

Hipps’s new book has been endorsed by key figures within Emergent Christianity such as Brian McLaren and Phyllis Tickle, but he is trying to make inroads with conservative Christians. Clearly though, his message more closely resembles mysticism, with Jesus as the connection point to a divine presence, and the Church as a convenient, but superfluous institution.


  • Tim Vernon

    I think Homebrewed Christianity is a good name, because it sure can’t be confused with the real item.

    When are these people going to get the message: You can’t “proclaim Jesus” while you’re in the groveling multiculti pose.

    • cken

      Do you really think what Jesus taught was anymore profound or spiritually true than what Buddha, Zarathustra, or Isis and Osiris taught?

      • Ben Welliver

        Since Isis and Osiris didn’t exist, hard to know just what their “teachings” were.

        Btw, no, the Council of Nicea did not compile and edit the Bible. The list of inspired New Testaments books wasn’t finalized till 40 years later. The Council met to settle some serious theological issues, not edit the Bible.

        Here’s the right sequence:
        1. think first,
        2. then speak.

        Stupidity combined with an eagerness to speak cause serious problems. Saying that Jesus and Shane Hipps are on the same level has to be one of the stupidest things I ever read.

      • Mark

        Jesus no more spiritually profound than made-up gods?? Perhaps uninformed non-Christians may think this, but is this kind of intellectual and spiritual laziness now infiltrating Christianity?

        From Wikipedia: Osiris was “an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.

        Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the Earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut.”

        I’m thinking Osiris took after his mother.

      • http://reformedpastor.wordpress.com/ David Fischler

        Yes. Next question?

        • cken

          @ Ben, Mark , and David
          I didn’t say Jesus and Hipps were on the same level, rather they are both delivering a similar message in a way their intended audience is most likely to understand.
          As to Isis and Osiris being made up, there have been many names and characteristics given to God throughout history in an attempt to understand what God is. Is God Jehovah or Allah and what exactly is God. We really don’t know so we try to explain God in ways the limited human mind can comprehend. For example is God within or without or both.
          The point is, the spiritual essence of the message has been around for as far back as we can tell. Love God (by whatever name) do his will and love your neighbor.
          The Egyptian prayer that was taught to be offered to Isis at the first level of heaven so you could get to the next levels has been in existence at least 4000 years, and is almost exactly the same as the ten commandments.
          Finally the question i have been asking since I was about 13; if Jesus was God on earth where was the ubiquitous God during that period. If your answer is He was the son of God then He had to have been created before entering Mary’s womb. Was he created before the Heavens and the earth also?

      • Mark

        The obvious implication of your prior post was that Jesus’ spirituality was no more real or profound than that of made-up gods like Osiris or Isis.

        In case you are unclear on the matter, Jesus was not made up, He was (and is) real.

      • J P Logan

        Don’t you love this squishy “all religions are the same at heart” hogwash? I wonder if the Jews in Israel think they worship the same God as the Muslims, since the Muslims’ God instructs them to kill infidels, meaning all non-Muslims. If they succeeded in that goal, then there would only be one religion left, so “all religions are the same” would finally be true. Is that what cken has in mind?

        I wish we could get some intelligent liberals on this website, ones that could actually engage in debate. When someone lumps Jesus in the same group with two non-existent Egyptian gods, then quotes Dan Brown’s fiction as if it was history, that doesn’t exactly, that doesn’t exactly give the gray matter a workout.

      • Mark

        I concur, but it’s hard to find a liberal these days who is both honest and intelligent. That’s just where modern liberalism has gone.

        Unfortunately, because too many people have been asleep at the switch, these leftists are now in power, doing their best to finish the job they started in the 60’s: destroying the institutions and traditions that made America what it is (or was).

  • http://pastorjim2882.wordpress.com pastorjim2882

    I’m not sure wht he does with the verse that says. John 14:6

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

    • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

      He understands the context and how people who rip that single verse out in a sense of smug superiority actually end up perverting the gospel.

      • Sandy N

        If you don’t think Christ is the way to salvation, why call yourself a Christian? And if you think all people will be saved, why be a Christian? If everyone’s going to make it to heaven, the best deal would be for people to live totally selfish lives, abuse and use everyone they meet, and be confident they were going to make it to heaven. Maybe you’re saying that’s OK.

        Btw, you using the term “smug superiority” is pretty darn ironic. You obviously look down on Christians who actually believe in something. It’s people like you who “pervert” the gospel by stripping it of all meaning.

  • Austin

    Wondering where the Nicene creed and historical expressions of Christianity fit into the ‘home brewed’ version.

    • cken

      The council of Nicaea compiled and edited the Bible. Why is Hipps’s version any more home brewed. He is simply doing what Jesus did, expressing spiritual truths in a way most easily understood by the intended audience.

      • David Fischler

        You need to stop treating Dan Brown as an oracle.

  • Gabe

    This is absolutely pathetic. This guy is spouting off Eastern mystical nonsense that is so ridiculous that it makes Deepak Chopra sound lucid.

    “He actually has the power to connect us to the thing within us, that’s already there but we are anxious about that we can’t seem to see, taste, touch, or feel, but that when we do make contact, everything makes sense.” Seriously? Does this guy not know Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?: We don’t need Christ to awaken some sleeping deity within us, we need Christ to save us, to remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh, and let us truly live. The pervasiveness of Eastern religion creep into this postmodern “Christianity” is truly astounding.

    “Just because it’s the name given to you to proclaim … does not mean that He needs us to do His work in the world.” Unless you viciously violate the meanings of words in some post-modern language trick, this sentence is non-sensical. If Christ is the one we are to proclaim, then proclaim Him we must, in obedience to Christ’s final command on the earth before He ascended.

    No surprise that this travesty was endorsed by someone who has so twisted the faith like McLaren. When the wolf in sheep’s clothing purposefully reveals himself, those who are deceived are without excuse.

  • Mark

    More egomaniacal, self-styled illuminati reinventing the wheel. They don’t know they are re-plowing fallow ground because they haven’t disciplined themselves to study history.

    We know the drill: the world began with them. Their thoughts have never been thought before. Blah-blah-blah. Give me a break.

  • Pingback: Thoughts on Book Review: ‘Rob Bell and a New American Christianity’ « The Mystery of Christ

  • cken

    We are on the precipice of recognizing the universality of spiritual truths which existed many millennium before Jesus. It’s almost ironic how many Christians quote I am the way the truth and the life without understanding what it means. Aside from the fact it was the mantra of the Nazarenes, The phrase needs to be broken down and yet kept in context with the rest of Jesus’ message. Jesus showed us the way, he spoke the ancient truths, and he lived the life. It is up to us to go and do thou likewise. Are we, or are we skating by by saying Jesus died for my sins, I accept that, now let me live my life.

  • http://realclearpolitics.com Forgiven Sinner

    If Jesus didn’t die and rise again, then nothing else that He did has any relevance whatsoever. Contrary to this pastor’s self-annointed place in the world of theological discussion, serious people don’t debate this book because no one who is concerned about biblical truth and the Word of God will read it. These guys offer nothing but jumbled, pseudo-intellectual mush that is theologically bankrupt and biblically flawed. Biblical truth stands on it’s own, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. 2,000 years of truth doesn’t need new spin.

  • Rottweiler

    If it walks like a Gnostic.. talks like a Gnostic…

    • http://Pryor Walt

      I agree with you. There is nothing new under the Sun; Son? The rise of these anti Jesus, anti God, movements is very telling, in these times. Seems to me God is Polarizing us, on one side or the other. There are only two sides in the World. God, the Trinity and Satan. By our words we are saved, by our words we are condemned.
      Really is disgraceful to even compare Islam, or any other man made religion to one given from the Great Creator God. Islam is the Polar Opposite of Christianity in every way. Islam has no tolerance, no love, no heart. It was created by Mohamed to compete with Judaism. Most Ironic is Mohamed used the Old Testament as a basis for Islam. So iit is a counterfeit Jewish religion. They hate the Jews so deeply. Almost comical.

      • cken

        Can you name a religion which isn’t man-made?

      • http://benswoodruff.blogspot.com Ben Woodruff

        “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22–24 KJV). He said “the hour cometh and now is” because He started Christianity, which has always been the true religion of God. The religion which the one, true God has given to mankind is not man-made. God alone made spirit and truth, or rather they come from Him, and so no man has made the true religion that comes from God Himself. All other religions, which are all man-made indeed, fail to worship God in spirit and truth. Instead, they choose man-made rituals, voluntary humility and worshiping of angels or other spirits (Colossians 2:18), false prophecies (1 Kings 18), baking cakes to the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18), and even burning their children in fire (Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5), etc. The examples in the Bible of comparison between false, man-made religion and the God-given religion of Jesus Christ go on and on, and you are going to utterly fail if you continue to try to blur the line or confuse the faithful. The Lord rebuke you and close your mouth, cken. For thirty days, I will pray of the true God, even the Father of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, that you will not be able to speak until you repent of your sins and accept the truth. Even as Paul’s eyes were shut, your mouth will be quiet. Even in love will I pray these things, so that you might be converted to the true gospel of salvation, rather than the way of error.

  • Fr Shane

    Cken,
    With all due respect, you are interpreting the subject from a completely pagan world view, not a biblical one. The point you try to make is the very opposite of why the religion of the Hebrews stood in stark contrast to the entire ancient near eastern world. It is a pagan world view, and that ultimately of all man made (and man reflected) religions that says, “we really don’t know who God is so we try to explain him with our limited understanding”. The result is almost always a god that is the reflection of our own personalities…a god who, by golly gee, thinks,acts, holds the same values, etc as I do. In other words, a god made in my image. All religions may be grasping for truth and and places certainly due take hold of certain spiritual principles that are in line with that of ultimate reality. But what shaped the Hebrews was exactly the opposite. They weren’t trying to define god…God defined Himself. It was God who who was revealing himself, revealing His character, Heart, and intentions and through it all ultimately revealing who broken humanity is. This found its climax in the revelation of the incarnate Son of God who in His face we see the glory of God. He shows us who He is. We do not define who he is.

    • cken

      The simple truth is no one knows who or what God is or what “He” is made of. He is beyond mans comprehension or imagination, so we assign characteristics to Him in a feeble attempt to understand.
      “Son of God who in His face we see the glory of God.” That is a nice cliche, but if you analyze it on it’s surface it has no meaning, as none of us has ever seen His face, so it can’t be persuasive.

      I should qualify that I believe in God and actually think we underestimate Him. I believe in Jesus and that his teachings are meritorious even if some of the story has been embellished. Although having had God perform several miracles on me without which I wouldn’t be among the living; I never diminish the power of God or prayer.

      • http://bl1ndcre8ivity.wordpress.com bl1ndcre8ivity

        The Bible indeed says that no one has ever seen God, but you ought to consider this verse: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him” (John 14:7 KJV). By saying that the Word of God is embellished you are basically putting your own understanding above the obvious reading of the scripture. Jesus isn’t just “meritorious,” nor are His teachings. You can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe. Either accept the wine that Jesus gave believers (belief in all that is written about Him), or else admit that you drink a mixed wine, full of lies and abominable things.

  • http://benswoodruff.blogspot.com Benjamin Woodruff

    cken sounds sort of like a freemason, to be honest. Two things:

    1.) Insulting people’s intelligence doesn’t seem very helpful to anyone’s cause. Why not just let scripture say it for us, if possible? It usually is possible and better than harsh words.

    2.) 2 Timothy 2 is a good chapter to read. The whole thing is wonderful obviously, but this part works for our purposes:

    2 Timothy 2:14–17 KJV
    14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
    15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
    17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

    By the way, the last part of verse 14 doesn’t seem to me that we need to change the scripture (as Hipps seems to be doing) to benefit our own message, some ancient mystery religion’s version of truth, or the sensibilities of non-believers. It seems to me that it means to not argue over words (epistemology) in vain, like if it doesn’t help your work in converting souls.