A reason to get out of bed every day of your life!

God created us in His Image (Imago Dei); we recipricated… the issue of what theology we’re telling ourselves.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
~The prophet, Micah;  6.8

Contrasted….

In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

~Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, & Neo-reformed movement, Seattle Washington

 

I take unbelievable exception with this quote and posture – to the point that it is heretical, scandalous and demonic.  It has bothered me to the point that I am writing this – one of two times in many months.  I’ve been on a sabbatical from writing.  But, this is so egregious to what the Word of God calls His people to, that I cannot remain silent.

With this said, I would like to have a civil, respectful, and respectable conversation.  I’m, very, very concerned about the theology we in the west, particularly the USA, are shaping for ourselves.  We’ve confused what it is to be a believer, and what it is to imitate Christ, and we’ve even begun to shape a Jesus that doesn’t resemble the Biblical narrative and historic context we’ve had for 2000 years.  We’ve begun shaping a Messiah who stands proudly, tear in his eye, as he watches the Roman Legions, oops, US Military, march off to some foreign place we can’t pronounce, to “protect our freedoms” and “way of life”…as Americans…  but it looks more like our national interests ($) and our low prices.  We slowly shift what it is we’re doing in the world, what and how we live in our own world and who is the Christ.

Two articles, I want to share with you:
1.  DJesus Uncrossed: Tarantino, Driscoll and the Violent Remaking of Jesus in America, by David Henson
2.  SNL’s ‘DJesus Uncrossed,’ Mark Driscoll, and the American Worship of Satan, by Adam Ericksen

Some of you will not like the articles.  I’m not asking for quip insulting responses.  I’m asking for conversation – dialogue and a critique where we wrestle what we believe, whom we actually follow and if there is some real business we need to do during this Holy Week culminating in Easter this Sunday.   I find their articles right on target.  I think they say quite well how we’ve wavered from what it is to follow Christ, and made a Rambo Jesus out of the Lamb of God.  I think we’ve modified the character of God who desires no one to perish – not a war lord punishing the vanquished with extreme prejudice.

I’ve included both articles here.  You can access the TV sketch mentioned also.  The sketch is satirical, but also offending and obnoxious, but they do nail an attitude that is creeping into how we view being a saint, and it is often masked behind being an “American”… where the holy more of individualism, and “my rights” over ride Biblical commands of humility, turning the other cheek (cause we all know Jesus wasn’t speaking literally) and self sacrifice.

These two articles are provoking and poignant.  I ask you to read each, watch the video, and then ponder a day or so, before responding.  BUT I do invite you to respond and participate in an adult conversation where others are respected and the goal is to imitate Jesus, not defend an American ideal, which is a-Biblical at best, and possibly (?) un-Biblical?

Here are the articles:

Article One:

SNL’s ‘DJesus Uncrossed,’ Mark Driscoll, and the American

Worship of Satan

Whenever I talk with people about Jesus and nonviolence, a curious thing happens. Someone will inevitably raise his hand (and it’s always his hand), call me a wuss, and then accuse me of making Jesus-Christ-Our-Lord-And-Savior into my own wussy image.

Screenshot of SNL's skit, DJesus Uncrossed. From Hulu.com

Screenshot of SNL’s skit, DJesus Uncrossed. From Hulu.com

 

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and arou

First, the accusation that I’m a wuss is totally true. No one can surpass my wussiness. I run from confrontation, and if I ever get into a fight my money is on the other guy.

Now, to the second accusation that a nonviolent Jesus is a projection of my own wussy imagination: That is false and, in fact, the reverse is true – a violent Jesus is a god made in our own image. As a self-professed wuss, I would love a bad-ass-machine-gun-toting Jesus who violently defends me against my enemies. I want the Jesus depicted in Saturday Night Live’s sketch DJesus Ucrossed. (A sketch satirizing Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.)  As David Henson brilliantly states in his post “DJesus Uncrossed: Tarantino, Driscoll and the Violent Remaking of Jesus in America,” the sketch “pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names.”

David goes on to quote Mark Driscoll, a megachurch pastor from Seattle whose theology of hate has had a major influence on American Christianity. Driscoll states,

In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

But there’s a big problem for Driscoll and all Biblical inerrancy believing Christians who quickly go to Revelation 19:11-16 to proof text a violent return of Jesus. If they’re going to honestly hold to Biblical inerrancy then they have to deal with that nagging passage in Hebrews that insists “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Hebrews continues, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”

It is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by violence. The point of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is precisely that the Christian version of God Incarnate was beaten up, crucified, and killed by human hands. As James Allison says in his course The Forgiving Victim, “there is an angry divinity in this story, needing sacrifice, and it is us.” Jesus returned, not to enact violent revenge, err, justice against his enemies, but rather to offer God’s grace, peace, and forgiveness to those who betrayed him. Anything else is a strange teaching that Hebrews warns against.

But let’s take it a step further than “strange.” Jesus’ disciples had a lot in common with Driscoll and much of American Christianity. They protested when Jesus began to act like a hippie, diaper-wearing, halo Christ that they could beat up. Jesus said that he would have to suffer and be killed. Then Peter rebuked Jesus, “God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). Peter, apparently, didn’t want to worship a guy he could beat up, either.

Jesus, never one to mince words, replied to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

The word Satan has two meanings: Adversary and Accuser. Please notice the distinction Jesus sets out between “divine things” and “human things.” Satan is the human thing, the human desire to accuse one another, to cause suffering to others rather than endure it for others, to kill others rather than be killed for others. Satan divides humanity into warring camps of “us” and “them.” When we do this we become adversaries and hurl satanic accusations against one another, all too often in the name of God.

When Christians use Jesus to justify violence by dividing the world into us and them, we no longer worship Jesus. We worship Satan.

Jesus, the One who calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, the One who offered peace and forgiveness to those who betrayed him, is the same Jesus yesterday and today and forever. Still, what should we make of that passage in Revelation? What we need to know, contra Driscoll’s violent fantasy, is that Jesus does not carry the sword in his hand. This is Revelation’s symbolism at its best, because the sword comes from his mouth. The sword that Jesus carries is the spoken Word of God. There can be no doubt that a day will come when Jesus will judge the world with that sword. His words of judgment will cut through our lies, hatreds, and betrayals. The Word of God will pierce our souls with words of forgiveness that embrace everyone, including our enemies.

Will we resent God’s forgiveness? Will we continue to make accusations against one another? In the face of God’s universal forgiveness will we continue to demand violent justice against our enemies? If so, we risk damning ourselves to a satanic hell of our own making.

The only way out of the possible hell then is to follow Jesus by practicing nonviolent forgiveness now.

(For more on Satan, listen to this great discussion called “the satan” between Michael HardinBrad Jersak, and Raborn Johnson in the Beyond the Box podcast.)

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation, where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamericksen.

 

Second Article:

DJesus Uncrossed: Tarantino, Driscoll and the Violent Remaking of

Jesus in America

No doubt, a lot of people are upset, or are going to be upset, about Saturday Night Live’s recent skit “DJesus Uncrossed.” The two-minute sketch lampooned director Quentin Tarantino’s penchant for turning tragic history into gory revenge and imagined what Tarantino might do with the crucifixion and resurrection. (Have they been reading my blog?).

I’ve already heard some rumblings of anger at the skit’s treatment of Jesus, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned into a full-blown manufactured firestorm of outrage.

But you won’t hear any complaints about the sketch from me (and many others).

That’s because even though the sketch satirized Tarantino, it also said something quite profound and revealing, if unintentionally, about how Americans have remade Jesus in our own violent images.

Because, if truth be told, we’ve been trying to uncross Jesus for decades in this country, long before SNL got their pens into him.

We have tried to arm him with our military-industrial complex, drape him with our xenophobia, outfit him with our weapons, and adorn him with our nationalism. We’ve turned the cross into a flagpole for the Stars and Stripes. We have no need for Tarantino to reimagine the story of Jesus into a fantasy of violent revenge. We’ve done it for him. We’ve already uncrossed him, transforming him from a servant into a triumphalist who holds the causes and interests of our country on his back rather than brutal execution.

The SNL sketch reveals the paucity of American popular theology with its camouflage and flag-draped Bibles that segregate the story of God for American patriots only. It pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names. And maybe the names of a few godless Democrats. Definitely the Muslims. And the atheists. And the … I could go on.

In fact, DJesus Uncrossed kind of reminds me of the Jesus who appears in Revelation (or at least how he is understood in pop theology and throughout a fair amount of Christian history).* He returns, riding a war horse. He is armed with a sharp sword for a tongue with which to destroy the nations. He is harboring a righteous rage that’s been smoldering for quite some time. And who came blame John of Patmos for envisioning Jesus in such a way after all he and his fellow Christians had been through?

It’s human to imagine divine vengeance.

It just isn’t Jesus, though. And seeing the vengeful Jesus of Revelation roll away the stone of the tomb and exact bloody revenge on the executioners he had just asked God to forgive three days prior should jar us.

But this vengeful Jesus of Revelation is the one many of us prefer. The one who gets even. The one who finally settles the 2,000-year-old score. The one who, at last, gets to send the unbelieving, unrepentant masses off to an eternity of torment in hell. It’s the Jesus someone like Mark Driscoll seems to worship: “In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This, of course, sounds a great deal like a certain group of Roman soldiers who mocked Jesus, calling on him to man up and come down and uncross himself. It’s enough to make one wonder whether all this time, it has been DJesus that Driscoll has been worshipping rather than Jesus.

In the end, whatever the fallout from the skit, American Christianity didn’t need Tarantino or SNL or anyone in Hollywood to think up something as absurd and as base and as hysterically inaccurate as DJesus Uncrossed.

We’ve already done that for ourselves.

Say what you will about how offensive SNL’s sketch was. Our popular theology is more so. Because we should know better.

But satire reveals truths that are hard to hear. That triumphalist Savior many of us worship? He more resembles the sword and gun-toting DJesus who brings righteous vengeance than the prophetic vagabond foot-washer Jesus who preaches liberation and love of neighbor in the Gospels. The Savior we have created in our own violent images seems more like a character of a Tarantino film than the one at the heart of God’s story of eternal love.

The truth is, deep down, I suspect we like DJesus the Uncrossed better than Jesus the Crucified. It’s the same reason why we like Tarantino films as opposed to actual history.

In the wake of horror, we like revenge.

In the aftermath of the unspeakable, we like scores settled.

And we like justice, but only in the name of our God, Retribution.
Update: I thought I was clear in the post that I was engaging with American pop theological understandings of Revelation a la Driscoll and that I was critiquing the militant and vengeful understandings of Jesus through the lens of Revelation. It should also be noted that the vengeful and violent Jesus has been the common understanding of Revelation for much of Christian history and it is important to challenge the myth of redemptive violence it helps to create. But based on the enormous feedback I’ve received (some of it via links that framed my post in different terms), I could have been more clear that there is work offering different intepretations. I have added a line in the original post that I hopes clarifies things. I don’t want a side point and rhetorical strategy to distract from the primary point of the post nor to sidetrack the discussion into the symbolism and style of apocalyptic literature. We could spend a semester on that.

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation, where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamericksen.

 

 

Now that you’ve waded through this, may we stop and read the Counsel of God – no one else.  May we form our conviction of what and whom we follow from what God tells us, only?  May we then wrestle with the church, faith and kingdom we call home.

One response

  1. The kingdom Americans call home has commonly been connected with the kingdom they see in the bible; unfortunately, that kingdom is the kingdom of Israel, not Jesus’ kingdom of heaven (God). Thus Joshua rather than Jesus–or a Jesus in the image of Joshua–is the kind of leader that will make our nation God’s promised land (at the expense of those already in the land, and other enemies outside the land). And too many read Revelation through the eyes of the Old Testament, again preferring that context over Jesus and the N.T.

    28 March 2013 at 10:29

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