Hearty Heresy

My Jesus Is the Real One, Not Yours
March 3, 2007, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Christianity, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Spirituality

Or so said Mel Gibson about his Passion of the Christ. I could say a similar sort of thing, I guess, as I continue with my Lenten discipline of reading Stephen Mitchell’s Gospel According to Jesus once a day. Of course, I’m not directing a movie (with zillions of pre-screenings in church basements)–I’m just writing a blog. And, while I’m sure that “my Jesus” is different from everyone else’s (just as everyone else’s Jesus is different from everyone else), I’m not claiming that mine is the real one. As a heretic, though, I gravitate toward the image of a rule-busting Jesus, which is what Walter Wink presents in his work.

But before I get to Wink’s nonviolent activist Jesus, I’d like to share a couple of articles I’ve found that have helped me get a grip on the various versions of Jesus around today. The first is called “From Gentle Jesus to Macho Messiah,” by David D. Kirkpatrick. Originally published in the New York Times, it’s a great overview of how Jesus has changed over the years. Here’s a quote:

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, calls the warrior Jesus of the Left Behind novels a healthy corrective, reminding people that Jesus is judgemental as well as merciful. “The fear of God is a worthy emotion,” he says.

He argues that the wrathful Jesus in the book series is an antidote to what he calls “the effeminate Jesus” that has sometimes prevailed in the culture. “In our stained-glass windows and our popular culture, Jesus is a kind of marshmallowy, Santa Claus Jesus, which is not at all in keeping with the Gospels,” he says.

The other article is so good it’s been published twice in Slate magazine as well as in a book. It’s called “Your Own Personal Jesus.” Written by former Slate staffer Christopher Suellentrop, it covers a half a dozen or so views of Jesus in contemporary American culture, from the Manly Messiah to the Party Jesus. He ends with a designation I like to use, the Living Jesus, but he applies that to the Jesus Paul encounters. I’d call that Jesus the Risen Christ. And I think Jesus’ message would have been better off if Paul would have had a spiritual director who had told him, “If you meet the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, ignore him.”


3 Comments so far
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What is it you don’t like about Paul? I tend to think most of the damage was done by Constantine and Augustine distorting Paul.

Comment by ganes

Here is what I view as the core teachings of Jesus…

Teachings of Jesus


Comment by roopster

There’s a lot I like about Paul–his energy, his commitment, his writings when he was at his most expansive. But he founded a religion ABOUT the risen Christ (admittedly a Christ who was originally to be found within the believer), whereas I’m interested in the religion OF the living Jesus. Constantine and Augustine were using Paul’s material when the made things worse.

To the NEW Paul–I love your list of the teachings of Jesus. They are almost exactly the same ones I would put forth. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus should be measuring himself or herself using those words. Thanks!

Comment by heartyheretic

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