This beautiful book brings tremendous balance, wisdom, love and authenticity to the painfully polarized discourse on Jesus. It brings tremendous heart and insight into a truly healing way forward transcending this destructive polarization. A way forward that seems more deeply and closely connected to the true heart of Jesus’ fundamental teachings, message and example. The Jesus Paradox, as presented in the book, builds a bridge between the ancient mystics and post modern Christians.
An extraordinary discovery and groundbreaking gift to Western readers!
I loved this book for its vision and passion and found the negative review I saw totally off base. Amos Smith is clearly writing from the point of view of a pastor and deeply reflective student of Jesus and ancient mystic Christianity, rather than an academic scholar removed from the subject. The author speaks with deep passion about his discovery in the writings of the ancient Christian mystics of a unique spiritual truth with the power to transcend our limited conceptual dualistic tendencies to require Jesus to be either Divine or human in conformity with the limits of our intellectual mind’s capacity to hold something that is profoundly beyond conception. How could the Divine mystery of the “at once God and human” nature of Jesus not challenge and fundamentally rock our limited concepts? The critical reviewer resorts to name calling in a manner that makes me wonder if perhaps it is this fundamental challenge to our dualistic conceptual frameworks that is making him bristle. It is easy to label as “slick” a well-articulated point of view that we simply disagree with.
The negative review labels The Jesus Paradox a “21st Century Gnosticism”. The Jesus Paradox is the author’s reference to “Miaphysite”, the root mystical theology of the Oriental Orthodox tradition from Ethiopia, Egypt, Armenia, etc. So then what of the millions of members of the Oriental Orthodox tradition, are they “21st century Gnostics”? There are plenty of great books such as “The Roots of Christian Mysticism” by Oliver Clement about the Christian mystics of the Patristic era. A close analysis of these writings was clearly not the main point of this book. The author’s groundbreaking main point in this book, is clearly to recover the root mystical theology of Miaphysite: the Jesus Paradox, the transcendent wisdom of ancient Christian mysticism. Making the mystical theology of The Jesus Paradox accessible to Western readers is an extraordinary gift!
I hope that Amos Smith does a Ted Talk on The Jesus Paradox, for this is an idea that truly matters!
This is an excellent book for Christians who want to better understand and more deeply appropriate the most basic and profound mysteries of the faith. In theology school, I studied the early councils of the church and the Nicean creed but I could not appreciate the profound struggles of the founders, until I read this book. Perhaps the book will affect you as it did me. It deepened my appreciation of the faith and helped me find new poetry to express my life experience.
The mind we need!
This was a great insight into the mind we really need to heal the church for the good of the world.
Wow! Very powerful book! Opened me up to a new way of thinking about my faith. I will now re-read it, including the appendixes. This book has opened up a new world for me to enter and explore for the rest of my earthly life. This non dual path will make me more whole. I will share with others.
I found “Healing the Divide” to be an insightful and educational commentary on the divide between two Christian perspectives: the fundamentalists and liberals.
What resonated for me was his extensive discussion of the role of paradox regarding the nature of the Divine. (I was 2/3 of the way through the book thinking the title was “Healing the Divine.) Amos specifically focusses on the paradox within Christian theology of Jesus being both human and divine, even labeling it “The Jesus Paradox.”
Amos Smith provided a much-appreciated context of this paradox by describing the linguistic roots of early Christian thought found in the Greek concept of Miaphsite: “one dynamic united nature.”
Amos’ use of paradox connects with me because when writing “Exploring the Gap between Science and Religion” I found myself exploring paradox to be a useful in understanding the universe around us. I label it as the “Paradox Principle of Reality.”
On page 17, Amos provides a quote from author Thomas Keating that concisely expresses the connection between “Healing the Divide” and “Exploring the Gap between Science and Religion.” It is this:
The great truths can only be expressed in paradox.
— Thomas Keating.
Healing The Divide is thought provoking and belief challenging.
I was interested in this book the moment I heard its title. I have been attracted to ancient Christianity since I was introduced to the writings of the ancient fathers nearly a decade ago. I am particularly drawn to the writings of the desert fathers and the Christian mystics, so I was excited to get my hands on Healing the Divide. Continue reading
So far I’m halfway through it and finding it fascinating. This book is not a quick read; you need to read a chapter and then stop and think about it. Sometimes I’ll question something and go back and read it again, and then I truly understand it. Whether you’re clergy or a lay person, if you want a deeper understanding of Christianity I highly recommend this book.
The first thing to understand about this book from the start is that it is not a scholarly examination of the texts written by the Alexandrian mystics, though it will make you want to go to those texts, or return to them if you are already familiar with them; but there are a number of fairly in-depth appendices and an extensive glossary which fill out a lot of the history and terminology. Rather, it is a wake-up call to Christians of all stripes to look again at the Person of Christ, to reject our dualistic understandings of the Incarnation, and to return to the way major Christian thinkers in the first centuries of the Church saw Jesus, and to find there a vision which is capable of uniting different denominations, recognizing, maintaining and creating real continuity between ancient, modern and post-modern Christianity.
Healing The Divide is something like a spiritual handbook to accompany you as you read the Alexandrian mystics for yourself, and touches on many different issues, theological and practical. There are questions at the end of each chapter for those who want to really study, but it can also be dipped into more informally, once you’ve got the basic argument. Smith I think correctly diagnoses what’s wrong with so much that passes for Christianity today, and nobody gets a free pass, yet he is never cynical and always hopeful that real transformation is possible; indeed, that is what this book is for. For myself, I am someone by nature liberal (perhaps a stereotypical member of the Church of England!), but have become unsatisfied with my approach to Jesus, which has largely consisted of trying to fit Him into structures created by what I take to be the best available historical reading of who He was – itself an endless scholarly minefield where no final agreement is ever going to be likely. I’ve come to see this view as a fatally flawed and narrow approach, and Smith’s book has helped me to see what an impoverished Christ I have been making do with.
The unified, mystical understanding of Christ as elucidated by Cyril, Athanasius and the other Alexandrian mystics is infinitely richer than this wishy-washy liberal Jesus, the fluffy New Age sage, or the rather fearsome creation of the fundamentalists, all of which Smith rejects, or at least relativizes. The Jesus Paradox (as Smith calls it, the technical term is Miaphysite) also has the benefit of being undeniably far more ancient than any of these, and has been carried through the whole of Christian history in the theology of the Oriental Orthodox Church.
One quote which for me cuts through so much ponderous theological musing I’ve trawled through over the years in an attempt to get to grips with the words in the creeds, and which illustrates neatly the difference this mystic understanding of Christ makes, was this from Athanasius:”How is the Son equal to God?” “Like sight is equal to the eyes”.
In Healing The Divide, Amos Smith’s fresh perspective preserves the integrity of the Christian mystical epicenter from contamination from both The Christian hard right and the sometimes rudderless new age.
This is a foundational work written in a style that will be respected by scholars–yet easily accessible to ordinary Christians and would be seekers. The Jesus Paradox revealed in Healing The Divide is needed for the foundational reform and reformulation of the Christian message.
Read Healing The Divide, and eat the mystery. It’s a check-up call to your identity and mission.
Healing The Divide makes an excellent “Who is Jesus?” book study. It was broad enough to engage the whole spectrum of angles on Jesus present at the study!
This is the most balanced treatment of Jesus I have ever seen. Maybe this book can alleviate the polarizing madness afflicting Western Christianity today.
Amos Smith writes about the incarnation with great enthusiasm. His work is commendable!
This is the clearest and most accessible treatment of Oriental Orthodox Christology I have seen by a Western author.
This book is written by a Contemplative Mainline Protestant, forwarded by an Evangelical, with an afterword by a Progressive Catholic. And it’s about Oriental Orthodox Mysticism! That’s a new breed of ecumenism!
This is an amazing book! In a time when there is so much polarization about Jesus, here comes a book that provides the definitive balancing act, showing Jesus as the ultimate paradox and mystery.
Amos Smith has combined his pastoral love of people with his scholarly wisdom…
While appreciating the ancient mystics and their contribution to Christian thought, Amos also challenges us as Americans to find and follow the true Christ. This is a book worth reading more than once.
Healing the Divide is the first book to make Jesus’ paradoxical essence, as understood by the Desert Fathers (and Mothers), accessible to general readers. Although largely unknown to the West, the early Christian mystics gave a coherent tapestry of teachings on the Jesus paradox. Highly recommended!