Jesus of Nazareth, Revolutionary Socialist: An Interview with Obery Hendricks
Obery Hendricks, Jr. is an ordained minister, a Ph.D. biblical scholar teaching at Columbia University, and has reached people around the world with his writing and preaching about the Gospels. He currently holds the role of Senior Distinguished Fellow for Faith and Political Economy at The Democracy Collaborative. Hendricks’ roots in the Christian church run deep: a grandfather was a Presbyterian elder, several uncles were Baptist preachers and deacons. Hendricks’ mother and father held respected positions in their beloved church.
Yet he feels a kinship with the many young Americans today who are avoiding the sanctuaries and pews of their childhood. In his teens, Hendricks too turned his back on all of it.
“I was raised on the bland Jesus of Sunday school, the meek, mild Jesus who told us, in a nice, passive sentimental way, to love our enemies, and who assured us that we need not worry about our troubles, just bring them to him,” he wrote in his landmark 2006 book, The Politics of Jesus.
In an interview last month, Hendricks lamented that this is still the way Jesus is portrayed in too many settings. “I think young people today are really turned off by a bland, socially irrelevant Jesus,” he said. “The new activist generation does not have any use for that Jesus.”
Neither did Hendricks. But then, as a young adult, he re-read the Gospels and discovered something he was never taught in Sunday School. “Jesus of Nazareth was a political revolutionary,” he wrote in The Politics of Jesus.