Sure, in the Gospels — written decades later by devoted followers — Jesus is portrayed as perfect and sinless, an innocent, spotless lamb. But that’s not what it looked like at the time. He was executed because he was a thug who deserved it — a seditious vandal who knocked over tables, blasphemed, and threatened to destroy the House of God. Jesus died in disgrace. Disgrace is a vital weapon for the Powers That Be. It’s their main tool — perhaps even more than physical violence — for ensuring that they remain the Powers That Be. Innocent? He was a violent thug — a vandal who threatened to tear down a House of God ☀
What Love Looks Like: A CONVERSATION WITH TIM DECHRISTOPHER BY TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS ☀
- TERRY: A while back I was reading Albert Schweitzer’s book on historical Jesus. Do you see Jesus as a historical figure in terms of leadership?
- TIM: Yeah, I do view him as an example of a revolutionary leader.
- TERRY: How?
- TIM: Well, he was saying very challenging things both to the people who were following him and to the dominant culture at the time. And it led to some radical changes in the way people were living and the way people were structuring society.
- TERRY: What would you view as the most radical of his teachings?
- TIM: Turning the other cheek, I think, is one extremely radical thing. That, I think, is his powerful message about civil disobedience. And the other, which might be even more radical, is letting go of material wealth. That’s so radical that Christians today still can’t talk about it. I mean, he said it’s easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven. And he told his followers to drop what they had, to let go of their jobs, to let go of their material possessions. Even let go of their families. If they wanted to follow him, they had to let go of everything they were holding onto, all the things that brought them security in life. They had to be insecure. That’s pretty radical.
Jesus rejects tribalism, literalism, group identity, specific religions, and gatekeepers as well as his Jewish identity. Jesus Was Not a “Bible Believer” let Alone an Evangelical ☀
As an ultimate fuck you to rule-keeping scripture zealots everywhere, Jesus hung out with whores. Embracing whores was a double rebuke to the Jewish scripture-thumpers because it put Jesus on the side of the pagan, prostitute-condoning Roman occupiers and made him a traitor in the culture wars of the day. Yet, the anointing of Jesus by a prostitute is one of the few events reported in all four gospels. As Jesus blessed and defended her, Matthew’s gospel says the disciples “were indignant” while Luke describes the woman who did the anointing as “a woman in that town who lived a sinful life,” which is a coded phrase for a filthy hooker who is certainly not one of us. Jesus’ embrace of a woman from an enemy tribe in a culture where tribal belonging was paramount distressed both his followers and enemies. His attitude to the “other” was as incomprehensible as if he’d blurted “E=mc2 is the equation of mass–energy equivalence. Jesus Was Not a “Bible Believer” let Alone an Evangelical ☀
The stories about Jesus that survived the bigots, opportunists and delusional fanatics who wrote the New Testament contain powerful and enlightened truths that would someday prove the undoing of the Church built in his name. Like a futurist vindicated by events as yet undreamed, Jesus’ message of love was far more powerful than the magical thinking of the writers of the book he’s trapped in. In Jesus’ day the institutions of religion, state, misogyny and myth were so deeply ingrained that the ultimate dangerousness of his life example could not be imagined. For example his feminism, probably viewed as an eccentricity in his day, would prove transformational. Jesus believed in God rather than in a book about God. The message of Jesus’ life is an intervention in and an acceleration of the evolution of empathy. Jesus Was Not a “Bible Believer” let Alone an Evangelical ☀
Jesus certainly was not a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity that’s used as a trade-marked product to sell religion. Jesus didn’t take the Jewish scriptures at face value. In fundamentalist terms, Jesus was a rule-breaking relativist who wasn’t even “saved,” according to evangelical standards. Evangelicals insist that you have to believe very specific interpretations of the Bible to be saved. Jesus didn’t. He undercut the scriptures. Jesus Was Not a “Bible Believer” let Alone an Evangelical ☀
Jesus is at the border of the United States and we are expelling him. So, why do we keep expelling Jesus? Because we don’t actually believe in him. We don’t believe that in Jesus God is setting the world right by showing us that there is a divine unity of love that unites “us” and “them.” We actually think Jesus was wrong when he revealed that in God’s economy there is enough love and bread and fish and water and housing and money and food and healing and forgiveness and reconciliation for everyone. Jesus Is at the Border ☀
Jesus’ anger and intolerance were directed at the religious elite, not sinners. Actually Matt Walsh, Jesus did care about being nice and tolerant…and so should we. ☀
The religious question of modern times is: ‘What may I hope for?’…The universal question about the future concentrates here on the question of the ‘coming one’ who will turn calamity to wholeness of salvation and lead people from oppression to freedom. When Jesus shows himself to be the coming one through his gospel to the poor, his healing of the sick and his forgiveness of sinners, and when he is believed in and known as the coming one by those people who are affected, then the whole future of salvation and the kingdom of freedom must be expected from him…There he reveals himself as the Christ because he makes present their true future… Moltmann ☀
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