“Give Me Jesus:” A Reflection on Benjamin L. Corey’s Undiluted

As I read Undiluted by Benjamin L. Corey, I kept hearing an old African-American spiritual in my heart:images-6

              Give me Jesus, give me Jesus,

              You can have all the rest,

              Give me Jesus!

This book written with passion and intensity is one that evokes and echoes that longing of Spirit that followers of Christ so often feel as they wend their way on the pilgrimage of faith, as they find that way clouded and cluttered with some obstacles and diversions, often religious ones, that seem to come from somewhere other than the heart of Christ.

I have many points of connection to this author, even though our locations are miles and years apart from each other. We have attended the same seminary in different eras. I can with honesty say as he does in this blog, that I am “formerly fundie.” In the early years of my family life, we hosted and welcomed a house church in an effort to live more closely to the heart of integrity of the gospel. Corey’s personal journey, as he wrestles with the tensions of being Church in systems that seem to contradict the clarity and simplicity of Jesus’ person, teachings and example, are compelling and poignant. I am touched by his candor and truth-telling.

His path out of fundamentalism takes a different trajectory than mine, but I was deeply grateful to see that his focused search for what was essential to the heart of Jesus has taken him into an unabashed commitment to both justice and love as it is commanded and demanded by Christ as they manifest themselves in specific issues that confront those of us in the United States right now—poverty, hunger, gun violence. He calls us to confront and to struggle with the meaning of being a follower of the Jesus way without denying or softening the difficulties that are part of that enterprise.

The sermonic parts of the book were less compelling to me than the narrative portions. Also, I found myself feeling sad that the Church of Jesus, that was such a home for my journey in pointing me to God-in-Christ, felt so cheap and alienating to him. However, I continued to be grateful for his willingness to be candid and to keep looking, searching, deepening his love of Jesus, and sharing that search with others.

This book offers a strong, provocative word for all of us on the Way together. Oh, give us Jesus!



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