Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Promiscuously Permissive, User-Friendly Jesus

It is odd that we have made even Jesus into such a quivering mass of affirmation and oozing graciousness, considering how frequently, unguardedly, and gleefully Jesus told us that we were sinners. Anyone who thinks that Jesus was into inclusiveness, self-affirmation, and open-minded, heart-happy acceptance has then got to figure out why we responded to him by nailing him to a cross. He got there not for urging us to "consider the lilies" but for calling us "whitewashed tombs" and even worse.

Yet it is perhaps not such a mystery that we have attempted - Scripture be damned - to produce a promiscuously permissive, user-friendly Jesus. ... Our situation is that we view our lives through a set of lies about ourselves, false stories of who we are and are meant to be, never getting an accurate picture of ourselves. Through the "lens" of the story of Jesus we are able to see ourselves truthfully and call things by their proper names. Only through the story of the cross of Christ do we see the utter depth and seriousness of our sin. Only through this story that combines cross and resurrection do we see the utter resourcefulness and love of God who is determined to save sinners (Romans 3:21-25).


The Underground Pewster said...

"...why we responded to him by nailing him to a cross."

"But," I have heard some protest, "that was because of those narrow minded, legalistic, Pharisees. They were so much like those self proclaimed 'orthodox' of today." "Surely, we would never do such a thing today, and certainly Jesus would not call us whitewashed tombs."

Or would He???

plsdeacon said...

How someone can actually read all the Gospels - with Jesus' multiple condemnations and statements that we will be judged by how we live and that few will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and determine that Jesus was mostly interested in "inclusion" is beyond me.

I think the basic problem comes down to a faulty anthropology which sees men and women as "good" in their current state. Thus, there is no need for a Savior nor for a Lord. (faulty Soteriology) They only need a guru or helper on the way. (faulty Christology) Thus, Jesus does not have to be divine and his sacrifice on the cross is reduced to an example of the badness of those in power and of political/religious conservatives.

Since Jesus is not fully divine and fully human (or no more divine than we are - as we all have a "spark" of divinity in us, Jesus just understood it better), then (they reason) the Church also is not more divine than the local Rotary Club or Habitat for Humanity. (Faulty Ecclesiology). Thus, we can remake the Church to suit ourselves and our good desires - and all our desires are basically good.

The Truth is that we are sinful and fallen creatures who are in need of a Savior and a Lord. That person is Jesus Christ who is fully human (and thus one of us - to redeem us) and fully divine (and thus with out sin and able to pay the price for our sins and to defeat sin and death). Thus the Church, as the Body of Christ, is both fully human and fully divine and we change the Church at our own peril.

Phil Snyder

jwmartens said...

"And gleefully Jesus told us that we were sinners": can someone show me where Jesus showed glee when he condemned sin or sinners?

Bryan Owen said...

jwmartens, you've highlighted the only part of this quote I find questionable. Perhaps the closest Jesus comes is in his diatribe against the scribes and the Pharisees?

jwmartens said...


I thought that Matthew 25 might be the only possibility, but even there Jesus' heart goes out to the "vipers": v.37: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" That maternal imagery suggests pain for the sinners not glee. I should say that I get the basic point of the entry, and I think he is right, but that word "glee" just struck me as out-of-place.

Bryan Owen said...

An excellent point, jwmartens. Applying the word "glee" to Jesus' denunciation of sin in general, but also to his denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 in particular, would almost suggest schadenfreude on the part of Jesus. And as one blogger notes, schadenfreude means taking "malicious pleasure in the misfortune of others." Thus, schadenfreude is a spiritual sin.