Passion, in its terribleness and beauty, its grief and ardour, is built in to the human condition. You don’t need religion to find the presence of passion ‘marking’ human existence. So, passion is something people ‘already know’ from their own experience, their own struggle with existence.
However, this passion that already is known by people [even if they flounder in expressing it], is a dilemma to them, something they want and resist, and if they truly embrace it, then it throws them into a deeper predicament as they try to live it in the existential arena of the world.
Christ, as the divine-humanity, embraces this human paradox, joins it, suffers in it, and becomes decisive at the point where humanity’s passion fails. This is why St Paul says of Christ that ‘because he himself has suffered and been tempted, so he is able to help those who suffer and are tempted.’ Christ takes human passion through death and hell, and brings it to the other side, into a new living fire for the world, a fire that redeems everything it seizes hold of in its love.
Thus, Christ divinely validates, or confirms, our human passion, but reveals it to us at a deeper level, and brings us through its crisis and failure to a point of redemption of its potential that changes it at source into an active force — ‘hayah’ in Hebrew — for redeeming all the world.
In this sense, Christ does not appear as a deus ex machina, an arbitrary religious ‘extra’, dumped on top of what we are and what we suffer from.
Rather, Christ comes to us as involved in our dilemma, as addressing it, and resolving it– thus blessing even its dark and hell, let alone its risen power. He confirms what we are, reveals our predicament and possibility to us, and takes us ‘all the way’ through it.
No other spiritual or religious reality can join and suffer with us in the human dilemma, nor take us through it to the far shore. That is the uniqueness of Christ, the specialness; yet paradoxically, that very extremity confirms, validates, blesses, all that went before which made any contribution to this path of passion, the ‘hard road’ of the Daemonic God.
So Christ blesses people of no religion who struggled on this path, and Christ blesses all religions which struggled on this path; what he ‘adds’ to these non-religious and other religions is ‘here’s the way to take it all the way.’ He is what they were looking for, as the crucial element needed to ‘get through’ the narrow straits and even the horrible finality of crashing into the wall.
If the church wants to bear witness to the universal, enworlded and historical, redemptive mission of the Christ– fine.
If they try to put their brand on this, or their flag on this, or put themselves in the way of this– making acknowledgement of their status a prerequisite for this– not fine.