Why I’m calling Jesus names

I’ve kicked off my new year’s resolution to have a more vibrant faith in style: I released a new book … Continued

I’ve kicked off my new year’s resolution to have a more vibrant faith in style: I released a new book in which I call Jesus “dirty” and declared him a “capitalist,” all in the first two weeks of the year.

I genuinely believe in both, and people are in a tizzy over it.

Every kind of Christian you can imagine has accused me of heresy, atheists galore have charged me with a kind of delusion that they must know suspiciously well, and I’ve even received multiple, curious emails from people actually claiming to be Jesus.

Those are my favorites.

These Jesuses seem much more opinionated than the original one.

Among evangelicals, it’s not all that controversial to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, took on the sin of the world (became dirty) and rose again so that the world could get cleaned up. We call that “salvation” in our religious speak.

What is controversial to some is to say – as I have also done – that Jesus had to actually do everyday human things, like go to the bathroom.

Since 451 A.D., professing Christians of Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic persuasions have all agreed (which is quite a feat in itself) with one another that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. Yet, it seems that we’re far more interested in the divine part of the conversation than the human one.

I believe it’s in Jesus’ humanity that we find the integration of our faith and everyday life. This is, after all, the perennial struggle of the religious person – to discover “how all of this is relevant to my everyday life.”

In exploring the human side of Jesus, we contemporize his life and teachings, and I believe you can do so without jeopardizing traditional, Christian ideas of right thinking and right living.

I believe that Jesus had lots to say about the things we face everyday-our challenges and struggles, our sins and follies-and he had quite a few opinions about how we should treat others and think of ourselves.

Basically, I’m trying to rescue Jesus from what religion has done to him.

Religion has whitewashed his edginess, walled him up in stuffy sanctuaries and generally robbed him of all personality and humanity. Many Christians today worship a petrified Jesus painted only in one dimension on a wall or in their minds.

That’s why, this year, I’m encouraging people to read the Gospels again, to discover the dirty God for themselves…but to do so through the lens of Jesus’ everyday-ness, and to do so with an open mind.

We live in a culture where everyone has an opinion about Jesus. He’s easily the most famous person in history, but more often than not, our opinions about him are inherited from others. I think it’s time we went to the original source, and when we do that, we’ll discover all kinds of interesting and relevant things that Jesus had to say about truth and relationships, politics and faith and even how to handle money (or debt). We’ll find the compassion that Jesus had for people whose sin made them the subject of ridicule and rejection, and we’ll find his wonderful sense of humor and way with sarcasm.

We’ll also find ourselves believing controversial things, if you believe in Jesus.

After all, they didn’t crucify Jesus because he was a cute, little self-help teacher. They crucified him because he was saying the types of things that got you killed in the first century.

It will always be controversial to believe in Jesus, and to live what he tells us is right.

Thankfully, we live in America whose plenary freedom is that of speech and religion. It grants us the opportunity to be peacefully misunderstood but heard, and the opportunity to be disagreed with but accepted.

Sadly, it seems that too many people have gotten their information about Jesus secondhand and some have forgotten that in America everyone has the right to preach what they will.

Even evangelicals.

Johnnie Moore is the author of a new book on the “humanity of Jesus” called “Dirty God” (#DirtyGod). He is a Professor of Religion and Vice President at the nearly 100,000-student, Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM. The opinions expressed are solely those of Johnnie Moore.

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  • WmarkW

    Jesus was not a capitalist. He was an apocalyptic who believed the world would be destroyed in few years, and that the living population should prepare itself for the world to come by giving everything away to the poor.

    >Basically, I’m trying to rescue Jesus from what religion has done to him.<

    I doubt anyone associated with Liberty University is going to come close to any such thing.

  • PhillyJimi1

    Jesus was a Jew. He taught the Jewish faith or a varation of the Jewish faith. Paul won the battle to incorporate Jesus the Jew and changed his brand to today’s Christianity in order to market it to the Romans.

    Johnnie Moore should tell everyone to in order to follow the real Jesus you should become Jewish.

    Of course everyone invents a version of Jesus in their head and only hears what they want to hear. When you allow yourself to step back and examine the whole zombie savior story it is just really bad fiction even for 2000 years ago.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    “That’s why, this year, I’m encouraging people to read the Gospels again, to discover the dirty God for themselves…but to do so through the lens of Jesus’ everyday-ness, and to do so with an open mind”.

    And when reading remember that He claimed pre-existance, He clamed to be God. What was He?

    Was He a liar? He forgave sin and no prophet can do that. Jesus Christ and God the Father are one. Within the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

  • Catken1

    There’s also the possibility of “mistaken, misinterpreted, or had his legend added on to later.”
    If they can tell stories about Davy Crockett, a known human being and a far more thoroughly-documented and more recent historical figure, that have him wrestling a malevolent Halley’s Comet, then it’s not out of the bounds of reason to believe people told tall tales about Jesus, too, and some believed them.

    And anyone can CLAIM to forgive sin.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    @Catken1
    Thats true, but Christ is different, when you are “born again” in your heart, truly accepting Jesus as your Lord, the Holy Spirit will come into your heart and you will know God is real. Jesus is Lord.
    Davy Crockett can’t do that.

  • Alliemeohmy

    Jesus needs rescuing? Really? I mean, really?

  • Alliemeohmy

    And, what did Jesus say to Peter when he tried to “rescue him” in the garden?

  • Secular1

    Yep you are indeed right, when you willfully suspend your skepticism then even “Invisible flying pink unicorns” become real, and Sathya Sai Baba was also dog incarnate.

  • Secular1

    In the spirit of, what the author calls of everydayness of jesus, this whole article is a bucket full warm scat.

    “Since 451 A.D., professing Christians of Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic persuasions have all agreed (which is quite a feat in itself) with one another that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human.” Really? We did not know that Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic existed in three distinct groups sinec 452 AD.

    “I believe that Jesus had lots to say about the things we face everyday-our challenges and struggles, our sins and follies-and he had quite a few opinions about how we should treat others and think of ourselves.” Of course, I don’t just believe, I am as positive as the sun rising in the east
    tomorrow, that the historical Jesus had lots to say about everyday things. But none of that is documented any more than the crap he supposedly said and done which is not in the everyday stuff. So, are we to buy into new fables this idiot is going to makeup about Jesus’s everyday scat? I am sure that there will be some who will, but hpw does whatever this man conjures up is of any consequence to any one other than himslef, his family and his upcoming book publisher and those fools who are going by another tome of filth and unmitigated gall.

    “Religion has whitewashed his edginess, walled him up in stuffy sanctuaries and generally robbed him of all personality and humanity. Many Christians today worship a petrified Jesus painted only in one dimension on a wall or in their minds.” Oh! yes, he is very right the Jesus is all made up.

    “We live in a culture where everyone has an opinion about Jesus. He’s easily the most famous person in history,” Jesus is not a person in history but a mythical person as much as Hercules, or Rustom, or Majnu.

  • DavidJ9

    Radical evangelicals reject what the gospels tell us Jesus taught. Affiliation with Liberty University is clear evidence that one has rejected the teachings of Jesus.

  • DavidJ9

    Religious leaders have been making gods in their own image since time immemorial. There is no reason to think that any religious leader has ever been correct.

  • S8thRd

    What a fake “controversy!” Sounds more like a plug to sell books. Are people really threatening your freedom of speech because you pointed out that Jesus went potty? Come on!

    So other people are getting infomation about Jesus “secondand,” but you are not?

    Jesus needs no “rescuing from religion.” There are no doubt some simpletons and wackos out there, and I believe that some have sent you e-mails, but nothing you are saying departs from mainstream Christianity in the slightest.

  • ckw

    If you could rescue Jesus from what religion has done to him, maybe religion would get back to following what he taught as opposed to following their man-made dogma.
    Christianity needs to stop ignoring the soul.

  • ckw

    And no reason to believe they have been incorrrect. It’s the image thing that’s messed up. Mostly because humans are only capable of imagining in three dimensional reality, and things which are sentient.

  • ckw

    There seems to be ample evidence Jesus actually lived. Whether he was real or mythological is rather unimportant. The mere fact that any mythology remains alive in our culture is because it contains an unassailable element of truth. We should spend our time looking for the commonality of the truths contained within the various myths. If truths and facts were readily apparent to all, there would be no need for stories to convey their meaning. Unfortunately we always have and still do live in a world where truth and fact are not exact, but rather they are subject to opinion and interpretation.

  • ckw

    If Jesus and God are one; where was God when Jesus was here on earth. Does anybody really know what the Holy spirit and the soul are. If we are all sons of God and Jesus was the son of God how exactly are we different from Jesus?

  • ThomasBaum

    Like the old saying goes: “God created man (humanity) in God’s Image and …., and man has been trying to return the favor ever since.”

  • Secular1

    “The mere fact that any mythology remains alive in our culture is because it contains an unassailable element of truth.” What does that mean, ckw. The myth being alive in “OUR” culture makes it have some truth in it? or does that attribute extend in case of teh myths of other cultures too? And, what is an “unassailable element of truth”? Why labor so much to maintain a myth as a truth, if all you can claim is that there is an element truth and the rest is just bogus? Why should we spend our time looking for the commonality of truths within myths, at all? If i cand tease out the truths in myths out of a mountain of horse manure, why do I need teh myths in the first place? I can go with truth to begin with.

    Take your myth of Sodom & Gomorrah, I ponder over it and i can find not shred of truth in that. Right at the outset, the guy being saved is Lot. This guy thinks giving up his daughters to mobs was the most pious way to protect some strangers. Then he goes on to bed his own daughters. The god is so vindictive that just because Lot’s wife is curious, turns her into salt. So being curious is bad is the unassailable element of truth, I suppose. No thanks for that kind of truth.

    CKW, THIS IS SRUOID, NO, NO, DOWNRIGHT EVIL.

  • SimonTemplar

    I agree with Moore’s call for people to start reading the Gospel again. I think his assessment the where most Americans get their understanding of Jesus is correct. This is true not only of Jesus but of a lot of things. We read a tweet on a given subject and suddenly we’re experts. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that many people with opinions about Jesus have never actually read the Gospels.

    I guess I understand Moore’s use of “controversy” to try to cut through the fog and draw fresh attention to Jesus. I just just hope it has the desired effect of actually causing people to read and think about the Jesus of the Gospels.

  • SimonTemplar

    @ secular1,

    Jesus is not anything like Hercules, Rustom or Majnu, in that unlike Jesus created a movement (the Church) which has impacted the world and persists to this day. The other three did none of that. In fact I suspect that few have ever even heard of the last two.

    The italicized text at the end of the article says, “The opinions expressed are solely those of…” If only your posts ended with the same disclosure.

  • SODDI

    Here’s a good and accurate description:

    “LARGELY MYTHICAL”

  • ThomasBaum

    ScottinVA

    You wrote, “Jesus is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity.
    He is God Himself, who condescended to become one of His own creatures in order to pay the price of our guilt for us.”

    You write this but do you believe it?

    That Jesus, Who said, “It is finished” which translates as PAID IN FULL, paid the price of OUR guilt for US.

    You then wrote, ” while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are persons, each being a “He”.”

    I can see why you would say that Jesus is a He since He became a male member of the human race but why would you claim that the Father and Holy Spirit are also He’s?