At famously left-wing, progressive Swarthmore College — an elite Pennsylvania school where pro-Palestinian students once demanded a ban on a hummus brand due to its alleged ties to Israel — a course is being taught that examines Jesus as gender "nonbinary."
What are the details?
"Radical Jesus" is listed on the school's website as an introductory religion course. The professor who teaches it is Mark Wallace. A Swarthmore article about his recent book "When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World" indicates Wallace considers his Christian animism a "baseline sensibility" — and that he applies it to his "Radical Jesus" course, in which he "leads sessions on Jesus as an animist, alongside examinations of Jesus as a political revolutionary and nonbinary in a gender sense."
The Swarthmore article added that Wallace views Christianity as "an Earth-based spirituality — including holy plants, sacred animals, and hallowed landscapes — not [as] an otherworldly, heaven-bound religion."
"There you'll see a rich environmental ethic, not a religion about a God who is distant and abstract and invisible, up there in the sky somewhere," he said in the piece. "It's a way of rethinking Christianity as a way of life, consistent with the cultures and spiritualities of Indigenous peoples."
Campus Reform asked Wallace for further details on the notion of Jesus as gender "nonbinary," and the outlet said he replied that "gender is fluid or socially constructed" and also sent Campus Reform his "Radical Jesus" syllabus, in which he instructs students to "learn to identify oneself and others according to preferred pronouns" since the practice "shows respect for others, as does the willingness to experiment with gender-nonconforming language for terms such as 'God' or 'the sacred.'"
Indeed, the "Radical Jesus" syllabus indicates the course's first session is titled, "Confused? Jesus offers clarity — or do they?" as opposed to "does he." And the week 3 session is focused on the "nonbinary Jesus."
The outlet also said Wallace pointed to a passage in fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark regarding a bleeding woman who touches Christ's garment and is healed. Campus Reform said Wallace insisted the power that flowed from Jesus was an "internal flow" reacting to the woman's touch.
"Jesus is female-like because he flows or leaks," Wallace explained, according to the outlet. "We can say, then, that Jesus is gender-nonconforming, doubly-gendered, or not traditionally male in these and other passages." Campus Reform also said Wallace referenced Matthew 19:12, in which Jesus says some men have "made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."
Campus Reform noted that it asked Darrell Bock — Dallas Theological Seminary's senior research professor of New Testament Studies — about Wallace's claims, and the outlet said Bock contested them.
As for the bleeding woman, Bock agreed with Wallace that "the thing that 'flowed' was [Jesus'] power" but that it "had nothing to do with His gender but His access to the power of God," the outlet noted
Bock added to the outlet in reference to the "eunuch" verse in Matthew that Christ was using a "figure of speech here. It is not making themselves literally a eunuch, but accepting celibacy as a way to be dedicated to the kingdom."
Campus Reform said it contacted Swarthmore for comment but did not receive a response.
Swarthmore also offers other religion courses along the lines of "Radical Jesus," including "Is God a White Supremacist?" and "The Queer Bible."