|Cupitt, D. (1972), 'One Jesus, Many Christs?', in Sykes, S. W., Clayton, J. P. (eds.), Christ in Faith and History, Cambridge Studies in Faith and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 131-144, [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL:'https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28120070/pluralist/learning/relthink/onejmanycs.html'. [Accessed: Wednesday January 02 2013, 19:51] (Do the last bit yourself: this is when it was first uploaded) .|
Among men of religion the prophet Mohammed is one of the most clearly remembered. He was a man who, after considerable spiritual struggles, emerged as a passionate and eloquent prophet of the one God in his middle age. He had great practical gifts as warrior, organizer and statesman, but above all he was a man of God. We have this fairly distinct picture of Mohammed even though the first biography of him, by Ibn Ishaq, was not written till over a century after the prophet's death, and the various biographical traditions about him obviously stand in need of critical sifting. We have this distinct idea of Mohammed, even though the details of his biography are not central to the faith of Islam, but belong to the secondary material, the hadith. Through thirteen centuries Islam has been remarkably constant, and has always 'projected' a pretty constant picture of Mohammed. Critical sifting of the biographical traditions about him has not radically changed this picture, and there is considerable agreement about Mohammed among scholars. Perhaps it is just because it has never wished to worship him that Islam has never had any very strong interest in idealizing its picture of Mohammed.
The situation with Gautama, the Buddha, is rather different. The canon of sacred writings is very large and rather late. The tendency to make the Buddha himself the object of worship, or at least an instrument of contemplation, has distorted thc picture of him. For example, it magnified his birth, changing his father from a minor chieftain into a great king: and in the familiar iconography his beatific expression bears no trace of the struggles of the historical man. Piety has idealized the Buddha; but nevertheless it can be said of him too that we have a fair idea of the kind of man he was, and of the issues which conccrned him. He asked, what is man? What are the causes of suffering, and how can it be escaped?
What is the final good for man, and how can it be attained? We know fairly well what answers he gave, and Buddhism too, in spite of the idealization, has projected a fairly constant image of the Buddha.
With Jesus the position is much less clear. He has been more intensely and directly worshipped by more different kinds of people than any other man, and this worship has blurred him. As we can faintly distinguish the historical Buddha beneath the smiling benignant Buddha of piety, so Christians have distinguished the Jesus of history from the divine Saviour of the developed ecclesiastical faith. But the truth is much more complex. Buddhist iconography projects one dominant image of the Buddha, but Christian iconography has projected a great number of images of Jesus: there was the shepherd-teacher of the first few centuries; the Christos pantocrator of the period dominated by Byzantium; the twisted, naked crucified man of the later Christendom period; and there have been many others. From the very first the 'theologizing' of Jesus began to erase his human features, so that even though substantial, early and detailed books about him (which have the form of biographies) are at the centre of the canon of sacred writings, the figure of Jesus himself has remained enigmatic and capable of very diverse interpretations. He has been seen as moralist, prophet, apocalyptist, hero, redeemer, priest and king. Men of the highest ability who have read the gospels afresh very closely have reached conclusions about Jesus much more varied than we could find in the case of Gautama or Mohammed.
The fact of varied interpretations of Jesus is notorious, and it has been said that everyone who writes a life of Jesus sees his own face at the bottom of a deep well. This is too simple, for while there is undoubtedly distortion, it is of more than one kind. We should first distinguish positive from negative distortion. Positive distortion occurs when the reader projects upon Jesus an ideal self-image. George Bernard Shaw, in his Preface to Androcles and the Lion (1915) described Jesus as a 'highly-civilized, cultivated person', a Bohemian socialist. William Blake, in The Everlasting Gospel (1818) portrayed Jesus as proud, independent and mocking.
Tolstoy, in his later writings, saw Jesus as the same relentless moralist of altruistic love that he was himself. These are examples of positive distortion: negative distortion occurs when the reader discerns in Jesus all the qualities which he repudiates. Thus Nietzsche, in The Antichrist (written about 1888; published 1895) saw Jesus as something between an immature adolescent and a hypersensitive psychopath - Dostoyevsky's Idiot. The poet A. C. Swinburne in his Hymn to Proserpine (from Poems and Ballads, 1866) sees Jesus as a morbid ascetic who immolated himself before a cruel dying Father-God. Both men in a way projected upon Jesus their own traits: Nietzsche was inclined to be a solitary valetudinarian, and Swinburne had sado-masochistic inclinations, if one may be forgiven the vulgarity of so categorizing them. But the point is that if they projected upon Jesus traits which were present in themselves, it was not as ideals to be pursued but as vices to be spumed.
A second distinction, cutting across the first, must also be made between two other kinds of distortion. Some writers, like Seeley and Renan, assimilate Jesus to the spirit of their own time, making him exemplify and authenticate the ideals current in their own society. Other writers, of whom Kierkegaard and Schweitzer are examples, emphasize the strangeness of Jesus, and make of him a stick with which to beat their contemporaries. They see Jesus as a corrective to the spirit of their own time, emphasizing that he lived by values unknown or abhorrent to most people nowadays. Schweitzer attacked some of his predecessors for positive distortion very effectively and has had great influence. His own corrective distortion is perhaps associated with his decision to go to Africa. At any rate, he and such later writers as Rudolf Bultmann and R. H. Lightfoot have tended to disseminate the opinion that the truest account of Jesus is one which says that he was an eschatological prophet, that we do not know a great deal about him, and that what little we do know is very strange to our ears. A rough generalization has gained currency to the effect that nineteenth-century pictures of Jesus were assimilatory and suffered from positive distortion, whereas twentieth-century pictures of Jesus are corrective and much more soundly based on scholarly
study of the texts. I have already given sufficient reasons for thinking that generalization is too crude and question-begging. It would be nearer the mark to say that in nineteenth-century religious controversy all four kinds of distortion are richly in evidence; whereas in the present century, a time when Christianity has been on the defensive, and whose history has been ugly, corrective distortion has been more popular in theological circles. But positive distortions can still be found, as when Jesus is portrayed as a revolutionary nationalist leader.
Again, as we may contrast the historical Buddha with the Buddha of piety, so we may contrast Jesus with the Christ of later Christian piety. But since the French Revolution the climate of opinion has tended to be critical, humanist, anti-authoritarian and anti-ecclesiastical; so that the contrast between Jesus and the ecclesiastical Christ has generally been made to the latter's disadvantage. It is said that the Christ of Christian iconography - whether as represented in pictures or in theological formulae - is abstract, inhuman and antipathetic. A good and unfamiliar example of this complaint is to be found in H. G. Wells' First and Last Things. (1)
In reaction, many theologians (including Kähler, Tillich, Bousset, Bultmann and Barth) have nevertheless asserted that the Christ of Christianity, the preached and worshipped Christ, is the 'real' Christ and that the historical Jesus is a figure of no particular religious interest. The difficulty with this is that there is no single preached Christ. More recently there has been a swing back, and efforts have been made to define the relation between Jesus the eschatological prophet and the Christ of the early Christian preaching.
All this is an oft-told tale. My purpose in recalling it is simply to point out a paradox. More than any other religion Christianity has revolved obsessively around one particular man: it has loved him, worshipped him, meditated upon him, portrayed him, and sought to imitate him - but he slips away. Recently I heard someone essay the generalization that Islam is a religion of victory whereas Christianity's central imagery is of suffering and defeat. Yet the crucifixion of Jesus has not always and everywhere been seen as of
(1) First and Last Things (1929), pp. 70ff.
central importance and even where the cross has been prominent it has been seen in many different ways. In the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood Jesus crucified is seen as an enthroned prince, and as a hero in battle: he is utterly different from the tortured hideous figure of Grünewald's altarpiece at Isenheim. It is true that for much of its history Christianity has been a religion of salvation from sin, especially in the West, and Jesus has been seen as the divine redeemer who procures for us the forgiveness of sins. But this has not always been so, and especially in recent times there has been a marked swing away from the ideas of God the almighty and reproachful Father, the guilty sinner, and Jesus as mediator. There is at present more emphasis on Jesus as the pioneer of faith.
This great diversity of Christianity is partly the result of its having flourished in so many different cultures. At least five may be distinguished. There was Jewish Christianity; the Christianity of the ancient churches of countries like Syria, Ethiopia and South India; Eastern Orthodoxy, which grew out of Hellenistic culture; Latin or Roman Christianity; and the Protestantism of northern Europe. Within the remains of these older forms there perhaps exists in germ a sixth and new form of Christianity adapted to the global scientific culture which has been emerging in the last three centuries. Only Buddhism has found expression in a comparable variety of cultures.
But the image of Jesus is perplexingly vague and blurred. It is not surprising that theologians have wanted (rightly or wrongly) to clarify and stabilize it. They have had little success, and their close study of the New Testament has only made matters worse. For by now the critics distinguish several different accounts of Jesus which can be discerned within the New Testament itself. Here are some of them, in broad outline:
Jesus himself was - and saw himself as - an eschatological prophet who proclaimed the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. He did not make 'claims' for himself: he did not claim divinity, he did not claim to be the Christ, and he did not even call himself the Son of Man. But he did regard his own work as helping to usher in the Kingdom of God, and, whatever was to
happen to him, he hoped to be vindicated by the Son of Man at the end of time.
The second interpretation of Jesus is that of the earliest Palestinian Christianity. It began with the baptism of the man Jesus, and described his ministry as a prophet and servant of God. After his death he was, in his followers' eyes, vindicated by God. He now waits in heaven, and his followers gather a band who wait on earth, for the time when he shall return as himself the Christ, the glorious Son of Man. When he comes thus, the present historical 'world' or 'age' will end.
The third interpretation of Jesus developed among the Greek-speaking Jews of the diaspora. Jesus is thought of as sent by God to be, during his life on earth, Son of David, Lord and Christ. At his exaltation he begins a period of heavenly reign over his church below which will culminate in the parousla. The fourth interpretation of Jesus was that which appeared in the Greek world. The Gentile world longed for deliverance from sin, suffering and death. It was told of a pre-existent one, God's Word or Son, who descended to earth, became incarnate, defeated the demonic powers in a titanic struggle which ended his earthly life, returned in glory to his proper home in heaven, and now heads a new order of humanity which will be consummated in him.
Here, then, set out in a rather schematic way, are four very different accounts of Jesus to be found in the New Testament, which itself arose from the interaction of different cultures. Since the New Testament itself exhibits the translation of Christianity from one culture to another it is surprising that so many Christians are sceptical about whether Christianity can be so translated in our own time. And the development did not stop there, but has continued ever since, as Jesus has been ever more elaborately mythicized, demythicized and remythicized. Though the Christian tradition has almost constantly affirmed the reality of Jesus' manhood, it has with equal regularity idealized away, recovered, and then idealized away again his human characteristics, rather as in eastern Europe icons are effaced by pious kisses, repainted, and effaced again.
As there has been a long line of books attempting to isolate and define 'the essence of Christianity', so a great deal of ink has been spilt in endeavouring to give Jesus a clearer and more determinate outline. Indeed the 'quest of the historical Jesus' was undertaken in the hope of finding in him the essence of Christianity. Jesus is an example of the ancient philosophical problem of identity and change: it is hoped to distinguish the substance of what he is from the accidental dress in which various ages have clothed him. Surely if Christianity is one religion, and not many religions, it ought to be possible to say something about the one Christ in whom all Christians have in their different ways believed? Tradition has counted for a great deal in Christianity, and Christians have generally wished to affirm that they believe in the same Christ as St Paul believed in, and believe in him in the same way.
But Christians have been exceedingly diverse. An immense variety of ideals of character have been ostensibly based upon the example of Jesus: an historical man who lived only one life has been made the exemplar of a great range of different forms of life. Jesus has been declared to be a model for hermits, peasants, gentlemen, revolutionaries, pacifists, feudal lords, soldiers and others. Even if we restricted attention to the religious life of men in the Latin West alone, the diversity is great among the ideals of Benedict, Francis, Bruno and Ignatius Loyola.
One solution has been to recognize this diversity and generalize the notion of Christ. That is to say, the term 'Christ' is understood to denote an abstract principle of moral perfection, or of harmony with the divine, of which Jesus is one concrete and perfect instance but which may become concrete in other lives in a variety of different ways. Thus there may be a rough 'family resemblance' among all the actual Christ-lives, which justifies us in predicating 'Christhood' of them all, but they need not all closely resemble the life of Jesus himself. The traditional doctrine was that there is and can be only one Christ, namely Jesus, in the same way that there is and can be only one divine being, namely, God. So just as 'God' is both a predicable term and the proper name of an individual, so Christ is both a predicable term and the proper name of an individual. The result is that there is only
one concrete way of being Christ-like, namely Jesus' own way. But this traditional and very 'strong' doctrine of the unity of Christ fails to explain the extraordinary variety of the Christian tradition. The historian notices how differently Jesus has been seen at different times and places, and what a variety of life-styles have been ostensibly based on his example: and the theologian must ask himself how the individual characteristics of the historical Jesus can be reconciled with the host of life-styles which he has been called upon to validate and exemplify.
Thus there has been a strong inclination to detach Christ from Jesus, or at any rate to change the logical knots by which Jesus and Christ have hitherto been tied together to make the complex entity 'Jesus Christ'.
A striking example can be quoted from Florence Nightingale. In her book The Cause (1929), Ray Strachey printed an extract from an unpublished confessional work by Miss Nightingale on 'the Woman Question'. She writes about the theological problem created for her by the extraordinary disabilities of women in the 1850s, and she sees herself as 'Cassandra', the prophetess of 'a female Christ, who will resume in her own soul the sufferings of her race'. Florence Nightingale was a Christian, but the position of women in her time was such that the full humanity of women was denied by society with, it seemed, the approval of the church. Jesus was a man and in Florence Nightingale's day hardly a man alive could understand what women were aggrieved about. The intellectual stress she suffered separated 'Jesus' from 'Christ' in her mind, and she became one of the first Christians to formulate the remarkably original idea of a female Christ.
Another way in which Christ could be detached from Jesus was through reflection on the limitations of our historical knowledge of Jesus. For Kant the idea of Christ was a priori: the term 'Christ' denotes the idea of moral perfection realized in a human being. We may find reason to judge that Jesus instantiated this concept historically; but such an historical judgment can never be more than probable, whereas we know with certainty what is really important to us, that moral perfection can be and must be realized in our lives. Thus for Kant the moral force of the Christ-idea is
independent of any claim that it has been embodied historically in Jesus. When the possibility that Jesus had nevcr lived was put to Tolstoy he said the same. (1)
For Hegel the term 'Christ' signifies the ideal union of human and divine spirits - a goal to which the entire historical process moves. The connection between Jesus and Christ is contingent, and certainly not exclusive.
So it would seem to be possible for people to experience a religious longing for a Christ, and the moral power of the Christ-idea, apart from any specific and exclusive claim that any actual man, such as Jesus, is the one and only Christ. One of the best examples is the Sufi doctrine of the Perfect Man. The Perfect Man somewhat resembles the idealized Adam of the rabbis, or the Heavenly Man of some ancient gnostics. He was the self-revelation of God, his visible image: he could be called the final cause of the universe, and the expression of God's will to be known. He could be seen as embodied in the Prophet, or the saints of Islam: he could also be seen in woman. R. A. Nicholson states that 'Ibnu'l-'Arabi went so far as to say that the most perfect vision of God is enjoyed by those who contemplate him in woman'; and Rümi speaks in a similar vein. (2) The Perfect Man is in fact a schema - the notion of a human being perfectly responsive to God and so a revelation of him - a schema which different believers may apply and use in different ways. Its religious value and efficacy is not thought to depend on the claim that it has been embodied once for all in one particular person.
Our argument so far suggests a reason for the vagueness of Jesus. In the Christian phenomenon as a whole, 'Christ' has meant so many different things, and being Christ-like has meant so many very different ways of life, that talk of Christ must either break away from any exclusive association with Jesus of Nazareth or be severely pruned back. The first alternative was chosen by the
(1) Aylmer Maude, The Life of Tolstoy: Later Years, World's Classics edition (1930), p. 51. For Kant, see Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Harper Torchbook edition (1960), pp. 54-60.
(2) R. A. Nicholson, Rümi (1950), p. 44. 'Ibnu'l-'Arabi (1165-1240) was an Andalusian, and the principal systematic thinker of Sufism. Jalalu'l-Din Rümi (1207-73) was a Persian, and founder of the Mevlevi Order.
idealists, who made of Christ the general principle or pattern of relationship between the human spirit and the divine: a pattern which maybe was exemplified in Jesus but which may equally be exemplified in any number of other men. The second alternative was to try to fix the historical Jesus and use him to cut back the luxuriant growth of ecclesiastical Christianity. Christianity would be reconstructed on the basis of the Jesus of history, and in the process drastically simplified and clarified. The range of possible ways of being Christ-like and talking of Christ would be narrowed sufficiently for Jesus to be able to hold them together.
A liberal Christian who is told that the quest for the Jesus of history has failed finds himself wondering where he shall find his starting point. What is Christianity for him? Critics of Christianity sometimes try to play fair by defining at the outset what it is they propose to attack. And they discover that whatever they say Christianity is, someone will dispute the definition. The liberal Christian is in the same difficulty if he tries to say who Jesus Christ is, and what he means by the unity of Christ and by the finality of Christ.
We do not escape the difficulty if we turn to consider, not the historical Jesus himself, but the doctrinal propositions about him which have long been thought to constitute the differentia of Christianity. Four of these might be that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was and is both divine and human (or that he is the Son of God), that by his death the forgiveness of men's sins has been procured, and that he rose from the dead. Each of these propositions seems at first sight tolerably clear and definite (whether it be thought true or false): but as soon as we begin the study of the history of Christian theology it becomes apparent that none of them is anything of the kind. There is no such thing as an orthodox christology, even though for purposes of church government it has often been claimed that there is. There is not even any such thing as a New Testament doctrine about Christ. As soon as you try to state it you are at once obliged to admit that your statement is interpreted rather differently by different New Testament writers. I doubt if you could write down any statement about Christ to which St Mark, St Paul, St John and the writer
to the Hebrews would demonstrably have assented in precisely the same sense.
For example, the early Christians certainly held that Jesus was risen, but exactly what they meant by this is a matter of considerable and even acrimonious controversy. Did they mean that his corpse had revived in the grave, walked out of it again, and thereafter been physically seen by his disciples? Did they mean that at their meetings to break bread they had enjoyed visions of him while in a state of ecstasy? Did they mean that they had pored over the Old Testament and were now announcing, in the prophetic manner, that the God of Israel had approved the work and exalted the person of his servant Jesus? Did they mean that a divine man had descended from heaven, sojourned awhile on earth, and was now returned to his proper home? I have elsewhere argued for one of these opinions, (1) but I am bound to admit that some early Christians may have held one, and some another. I cannot assume that they all held the same opinion, when they manifestly speak about the resurrection in different ways.
Thus the diversity of Christianity is such that it is hard to see how a clear agreed picture of Jesus himself, or an agreed list of basic christological assertions, could be settled upon. One is bound to ask, how strong is Christian interest in the unity of Christ?
In the West people are used to the idea of visibly distinct religious communities. Christians sing 'One Church, one Faith, one Lord', and Judaism and Islam too have historically been hard-edged communities. A man was in no doubt to which he belonged. Westerners find Hinduism hard to understand precisely because it lacks such clear frontiers. To understand Hinduism one might invoke the famous disagreement between Socrates and Wittgenstein about universal concepts. Socrates thought that the prerequisite for rational enquiry in such fields as ethics was to establish clear and distinct universal concepts from which 'syllogizing' could begin. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, considered that the meanings of many important universal terms
(1) Christ and the Hiddenness of God (1971), pp. 138-67. For an authoritative recent discussion of the resurrection, see C. F. Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament (1970).
were not clear and distinct, and used the metaphor of a family resemblance among a class of individuals.
Similarly, our Western idea of the unity of a religion has in the past been Socratic, and the search for the essence of Christianity has been rather like Socrates' quest for exact definitions. But in Hinduism such a thing is plainly out of the question. What we find is rather a family resemblance among a large body ofreligious doctrines, cults, and movements.
Are we all moving in the direction of Hinduism? The religions used to be geographically distinguished in old atlases, but nowadays there are at least some adherents of most major religions in most countries. For centuries the influence of Jesus has by no means been confined to Christianity. For example, Tolstoy discerned in the gospels a repudiation of any exercise of coercive force. Gandhi picked it up from Tolstoy, and Martin Luther King picked it up from Gandhi. A religious idea twice moved across traditional religious frontiers within fifty years.
We may now tentatively suggest a few lines for further reflection. In the first place, as an historic organization Christianity, with its hierarchy and its discipline, had an almost military idea of its own unity. The slogan 'One Chuch, one Faith, one Lord' well epitomizes this, and in the ecumenical movement one can discern a nostalgia for that past ideal. Nevertheless it is in irreversible decline. Christianity is rather a family of monotheistic faiths which in various ways find in Jesus a key to the relation of man with God. It has and will continue to have almost as much internal diversity as Hinduism.
Both the unity and the diversity are important. It is important that the various forms of Christianity should maintain relations with the gospels, and that in each the Christ who is believed and preached today should interact with the Jesus who dimly emerges from the study of the New Testament. This common endeavour consolidates family ties.
But the study of the gospels has itself shown that Jesus' mission was not to draw attention to himself, or to promulgate doctrines about himself. He was a signpost, not a destination. He pointed men to God and told them about the claims of God and the
nearness of God. His own career ethibited what it is to believe in God. To be a Christian is in one's own way to be stimulated by him to become engaged with the reality of God. It was always a mistake to make Jesus himself the direct object of worship. A good many forms of Christiaiiity appear at first glance to fall into this error, and Jews and Moslems have rightly protested against it, as being incompatible with monotheism. But on closer examination one notices, for example, that in the historic Christian liturgies prayer was and is addressed to God through Christ. Official forms of prayer directly addressed to Christ or to the Holy Spirit are always uncommon, and for the most part late. Christianity has for the most part been a form of monotheism guided by Jesus seen as Christ, and if this were more generally understood relations between Christians and members of so-called 'other faiths' would be easier.
So I suggest that the problem of the one and the many in the Christian tradition - and particularly in the figure of Christ - is becoming a little easier. Modern study of the gospels tells against the opinion that the purpose of Jesus was to create a highly-unified cultus of himself as the divine Christ, a cultus definable in dogmatic formulae, and maintained by a sharply-defined church community. Jesus' legacy to mankind is rather an urgent appeal to each of us to acknowledge above all else the reality of God. I call him Christ insofar as I respond to this summons and find in the gospels the pattern or shape of what it is to obey it. But the way he is Christ for me may be very dliferent from the way he is Christ for some other person, and (if I may speak crudely) he himself is not troubled by being many Christs, or Christ in many ways. Nor is he in the least concerned about the disintegration of the 'One Church, one Faith, one Lord' ideal. It was not followers in the Way who themselves invented the term 'Christian', and it is arguable that it is almost as serious a misnomer as 'Mohammedan' or 'Wesleyan'.
So I agree with the liberals that, in a rather loose way, allegiance to the historical Jesus holds together the various forms of Christ-ianity. But we do not know enough of him to use him to prune back the variety of styles of faith and life which have stemmed
from him So I agree with the modernists in valuing that variety. Jesus' mission was not to create a cultus of himself as divine Christ, but to point away from himself to God. Hence his elusiveness, symbolized by St Mark in the so-called 'messianic secret'. God can be believed in and served in as many ways as there are people. In the Christian tradition Jesus is the paradigm of faith, but that paradigm may be re-enacted in a great variety of ways, and we need not labour to reduce their number.
In my view this is one of Don Cupitt's best writings, and leads on to his highly useful Cupitt, D. (1979) The Debate About Christ, London: SCM Press. Both are considerably better than his more recent Cupitt, D. (2009), Jesus and Philosophy, London: SCM Press, which made the error (bizarrely for a liberal postmodernist) of trying to define a Jesus by his sayings, some of which are in the Gospel of Thomas, stripped of Jesus's eschatology and motivation, and in the line of the Jesus Seminar voters.
There is considerable doubt whether one would write now about Muhammad in quite the same way, if one takes the view that Islam formed at the time of the Arab expansion rather than before. Cupitt only hints at this above. There is a lack of archaeological and early documentary support for an earlier Islam formation than which was demonstrable with the Arab expansion (there is the internal 'evidence' of moving from general visions to organising visions within the Qur'an's time-order). Nevertheless it soon formed into a rather unitary explanation: it just might in origins be beyond history rather than Muhammad being so historically more secure.
Of course there are too many commas in this book chapter and there's the old mankind bias, and for me too many zeds, but this is trivia. I like the lack of footnotes: I'd have none.
If "Christian" is a misnomer, then we move to something like Daphne Hampson's Western Religion tradition, though she regards it as generally theistic and this itself might be problematic. Hampson, D. (1996), After Christianity, London: SCM Press. The difficulty for those who argue that the credal Church is ethically bankrupt but retain Christian belief is what Christian belief exactly they retain or indeed whether there are varieties of ways not to be reduced in number which manifest as part of Western spirituality.
Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful