A New Kind of Christianity: A Catholic convergence

My sense is that “what is trying to be born” in the pregnant Christian faith will involve a convergence of Roman Catholic, Evangelical/Charismatic, and Mainline Protestant Christians (along with, I hope, some Eastern Orthodox as well). That’s why I pay special attention to notes like this one …
As usual, I remove names for anonymity.

I am a retired Catholic priest and I never thought I had much in common with Evangelicals, except perhaps Jesus, and that briefly! Then, while I was driving this morning, I heard the report on your book on NPR for March 26, along with some of the rather strident theological opposition, and immediately my ears pricked up and I found myself thinking, this guy is onto something.

Even though I have not read your book, some of the material discussed in the program was quite similar to ideas I had been jotting down myself over the last year or so with the hope of producing a paper for possible publication. The way I sum it up is that Christianity has been operating on a flawed paradigm for a long time, thanks to St. Anselm and his doctrine of the redemption. I can’t tell you how it makes my blood boil when I hear Christianity reduced to “Jesus is my personal saviour and died for my sins”. I call this “God as Shylock” theology, and unfortunately it is prevalent not only in conservative Catholic communities, but even more so among Protestants. Actually, I believe that it is totally contrary to the God revealed by Jesus in the Gospel.
I can understand how Jesus’ death can be interpreted as sacrificial and he can be identified as a victim who suffered without objection, but his death resulted not from any willful intention on his part (he tried to avoid it as much as possible) but from his dedication to his prophetic message and his refusal to compromise it.
The primary meaning of Jesus, it seems to me, is to reveal the Father and to summon mankind to lives that reflect and respond to the Father’s love as exemplified precisely in Jesus. This is indeed far from the blood and guts, “pound of flesh” theology that has characterized Christianity for centuries. It emphasizes the primary motivation of Christianity to be love rather than reward, response now rather than concern for eternity.
I just wanted to share that with you because I think you would agree. In addition your thinking and those of others like you (I hope there are others) gives promise of a better ecumenical future in which such ideas can be shared and discussed instead of the wasteland that I believe ecumenism to be at present.
I’m sure you are well aware that Catholicism has been expert at expressing its beliefs in doctrinal formulae throughout the centuries. In my thinking, a lot of these formulae have become archaic and unintelligible to rank and file Catholics, and desperately need updating in the light of how science, Christianity and the world have evolved, and these are some things I am also going to explore more in the paper I hope to write…
As far as the question of salvation without Jesus is concerned, this question was addressed by the Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council in its decree on Non Christian Religions. I was in the seminary during the Council and it often bothers me that Catholics in the pew today don’t seem to have a clue about the possibility of salvation without Jesus. Apparently Evangelicals believe it to be an impossibility – that is of course if we can get to an understanding of what that word “Salvation” really means!!

Those who have read my new book (or earlier ones) will see that many of us are coming independently to the same questions … and ways forward.