For many years, there has been an argument common in theologically liberal circles…that Paul came along and corrupted the original message of Jesus.
These people like the teachings of Christ, or rather we should say ‘some’ of his teachings and yet they reject the teaching of the later epistles and the rest of the apostles commissioned by Jesus who (more or less) gave us the New Testament.
This movement, sometimes called Jesus-ism is gaining a new lease on life with the current debate over homosexuality in our culture. Many have heard the argument that Jesus never condemned homosexuality and indeed if you comb through the Gospels you will not find Jesus making a reference to it. Some then suggest that his message of love would sanction same-sex relationships.
Then they go further and I am now hearing in some mainline ‘churches’ the suggestion that Jesus and John were engaged in a homosexual relationship. This too is nothing new. Even James I of England (the one who commissioned the translation which would become the King James Bible) who was at the very least bi-sexual made the argument in order to defend his perversions.
The argument is partly based on a misunderstanding of the passage in John 13 wherein the disciple (John) is leaning on Jesus’ bosom. As Americans we have a hard time understanding foot washing, or why people in other cultures kiss when greeting or why in many cultures it’s perfectly acceptable for two men or women to walk down the street arm in arm. We interpret physicality with sexuality. We can probably thank the Puritan legacy for this. In many other cultures it is simply not so and in fact can be quite a hurdle for many Americans to get over when visiting or living abroad. I remember chuckling watching American men quite eager to kiss Italian women on the cheek but then turn green when it was time to kiss male friends.
I’m more ‘Japanese’ inclined myself. I like bowing and don’t even like to shake hands…but I’m hardly going to mandate it and I’m certainly going to be careful not to read my own ideas and notions into the text.
The argument that Jesus was a homosexual has always been around, but I’m starting to hear it enter mainstream circles and now with a growing number of openly and self-identified homosexuals who also claim to be Christian, it’s going to gain steam. In the past it was considered a real fringe position. That’s what’s changing. I think in short order it will become the culturally orthodox position vis-à-vis Jesus. At last the milquetoast ‘Jesus’ so often depicted in so-called ‘sacred’ art will be realized.
Before long, Jesus will be championed as a gay messiah, and I’m sure there will be a Hollywood movie to go along with it.
And the Dominionist Church will make a fool of itself in protests and political tactics to counter it.
We have to humble, but we cannot back down on this.
Jesus clearly sanctioned and ratified the Old Testament. They cannot escape that. And, in addition he clearly declared that He alone is the Way of salvation (John 14) and in the same passage promised the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles in terms of teaching and remembering.
They say they love Jesus’ teachings, but Jesus talked more about hell than he did about heaven and he clearly declared over and over again in the Gospels that He was God in the flesh.
If His words have been perverted by the creators of a perverse ‘christianity’ or if the Apostles lied etc… then Jesus failed. I don’t know about you but at that point I would have no interest in following such a Jesus.
Theological Liberalism (not the same as the political variety) has sought for over two hundred years to deconstruct the Bible. Believing it to be a merely human document they have sought to scientifically dissect it and in the end they’re not left with much. Rather than display the simple integrity to declare they no longer believe, and shut down their churches and universities, they have perpetuated their secular humanist religion while maintaining Christian symbols and verbiage.
Sadly in many conservative Churches adherence to conservative theology is equated with conservative politics, i.e. the maintenance, preservation and restoration of Christendom. In the United States this is all read through a Capitalist and Nationalist lens.
Christendom itself a perversion of Scripture also has many difficulties with the teaching of Christ. The Kingdom ethic given to us by Jesus was largely decimated by the legacy and parallel ethical structure given to us by Christendom. Christendom the application and fruit of Dominionism taught the Church to lay up treasures on Earth, to build an empire and call it the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s little more than a baptized Babel.
Consequently and oddly there are many in Bible believing Churches that are actually somewhat hostile to a literal reading and application of Christ’s words. If you try and suggest the Sermon on the Mount is to be lived and applied… they’ll get angry with you and call you a fool.
Isn’t it odd?
And yet we now have these unbelievers masquerading as Christians who can read the Gospels and history and can see it too! They can see the hypocrisy in Church history. They can see the Church embraced power and enforced orthodoxy by the sword. They can see that American Evangelicalism has no gospel other than political power.
They can see that most conservative Bible-believing Church’s have no interest in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.
And so in many ways they view themselves like Reformers… recapturing the true Christianity.
Both sides are wrong. The one side has no gospel whatsoever, it’s nothing more than baptized humanism…the other side buries the Biblical Gospel (which they claim to love and follow) under a host of doctrines and baptized evils.
In the end I’d rather be with the latter than the former, but that isn’t saying much. It’s enough to make you want to go and crawl into a corner and hide under a blanket.
But we can’t do that. We have to recognize that we’re not fighting a one or even two front war. It’s multifaceted and very complex…and yet somehow simple.
Humanly speaking we will not only lose, we will be trounced.
And yet that’s a comfort. For as we are slaughtered, we are more than conquerors. We have already been told that we will suffer persecution if we would follow Christ. It’s no child’s play to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
The answer is not to turn to political machinations, to try and use the force of law through the judiciary or to turn to threats. The answer is to bear witness and demonstrate our love of Christ and our love of the brethren, for by it the world will know we are the children of Christ.
We have to stand for the truth and we must reject gospels of world-accommodation whether it be a gospel that celebrates sexual lust, or one that celebrates a lust for pride and power.
There’s a storm coming and we will see many faithful brethren fall (through accommodation and capitulation) and others will draw the sword and seek a path of blood… remember all power is violence in the end.
Both compromises are forms of apostasy.
But don’t be surprised to meet hostility when you sit in a Bible believing Church and suggest we should take the words of Jesus seriously.
And you will meet the same hostility when out in the world and you quote Paul the apostle commissioned by Jesus to bring the words of life to the lost world.
The gospel is an offense. Anyone who tries to make it otherwise is preaching a false gospel and that includes those who believe the gospel is a path to power. We can all see through the tacky prosperity types, but the Rushdoony’s, Olasky’s and Al Mohler’s are in the end, no different. The message is the same, they’re just a bit more sophisticated, less individualistic, and have thought about the issues in deeper and broader terms.
May we glorify our Risen King as we await His return.