I'm getting a head start on Mark Allan Powell's Loving Jesus, for an upcoming online discussion group (see link above).
Powell's thesis is that we Christian mainliners need to reclaim the concept of piety -- not a wholly subjective, "my imaginary friend Jesus" type of piety, nor an embrace of Church-Ladyish moralism that often passes for piety these days, but what he quotes Paul Ricoeur as calling "a second naivete" -- an acknowledgement that our Christian faith is a heart thing as well as a head thing, grounded in an external reality of the historical Jesus but also in our experience of...well, of falling in love with the Christ who has chosen us and called us into relationship, and who lives in us and through us in the context of the faith community.
So far Powell is something of a challenge to me; as an alumnus of the "Jesus freak" movement of the 70's, he and I don't quite see eye to eye on a number of issues (like church music). But I liked this passage from his book, critiquing the mindset that my own pastor likes to refer to as "me and Jesus under the blanket with a flashlight":
American piety drifts toward a cariacature that I call "the image of the Microscopic Jesus." According to this model, I invite Jesus to come into my life. He accepts my invitation, and then I have a very tiny Jesus inside me (sitting on that throne in my heart) -- he has, in essence, become a part of my body, and I can take him wherever I go. The Bible, however, offers us a different image: Jesus invites me to become a part of his life. I accept his invitation, and makes me part of his body, taking me where he wants me to go.
I'm thinking this is going to be the catalyst for some good discussion.