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Nobody Hates Jesus

October 19, 2008

Jesus is not the exclusive property of Christians. Polls reveal that Americans of all faiths view Jesus “overwhelmingly in a favorable light” and that he has “a strong hold on those with no religious training.” Amazingly, nearly half of the country’s non-Christians believe that Jesus was born from a virgin and raised from the dead. Here atheists and Buddhists are active producers and consumers of images of  Jesus, who in many respects functions as common cultural coin. Talk to a Hindu and she might tell you that Jesus is an avatar of the god Vishnu. Ask a Jew and you might be told that he was a great rabbi. In a bestselling novel from 1925, Bruce Barton described Jesus as The man Nobody Knows. Today he is the man nobody hates.

– Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, 11

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. scaryreasoner permalink
    October 19, 2008 10:04 pm

    Meh. The first time I read the Bible the thing which was the most surprising to me is, as the Bible described him, just how much of a complete dickhead Jesus was.

    Really.

    He has quite the reputation as this awesomely nice guy. Read the Bible. REALLY READ IT.

    Jesus was a dickhead,

  2. October 20, 2008 6:08 am

    I’ve really read the Bible and am curious what passages make you feel like Jesus was a dickhead? He certainly was short and judgmental of the religious right of his day, the Pharisees, who made God out to be a hard taskmaster instead of a just and loving Creator.

  3. spiritualway permalink
    October 20, 2008 7:49 am

    Scaryreasoner

    I would be interested in how your “reasoning” got you to your description of Jesus from REALLY READING THE BIBLE!

    I myself do not ascribe to much of what the modern 21st century church based Christianity portrays as Jesus’, but by reading the Bible especially the Gospels I have not remotely reached your “reasoning”!

    Please comment further on your “reasoning”.

  4. October 20, 2008 8:05 am

    Sure.

    In the Gospel of Mark, the oldest and source Gospel for Luke and Matthew, Jesus is described, not as a dickhead, but as someone who healed, cast out demons, fed the poor.

    In chp 2-3 he heals a leper, overturning his social disgrace and physical discomfort. He heals a paralytic, a man with a withered hand, and so on.

    In chp 7 he overturns the Pharisees legalistic practices who “saw that some of his disciples at with hands that were defiled, unwashed.” The Pharisees had introduced washing rituals that went way beyond the requirements of the Torah, cultivating a “tradition of the elders” that became a kind of second law for people to keep. Jesus rebukes these legalistic practices and tells them that God wants their whole devotion (mind, affections, body): “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘ This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

    Far from being a dickhead, Jesus was a compassionate, truth-telling, grace-promoting messiah. One who cared more about the heart of a person than jumping through legalistic hoops.

    Hope that helps

  5. ChipG permalink
    October 20, 2008 11:15 am

    Jonathan, I think that the third commenter was asking for thoughts from the first, but you make a good case.

    What does occur to me is that you could read some of the actions of Jesus and take offense, especially if you read it with no context for the culture and religious activity of the time:

    – He cleared people doing “legitimate business” out of the temple, with a whip no less.
    – He called people names like “a brood of vipers” and “blind guides.”
    – One of his supporters was even jailed for objecting to an adulterous relationship of one of the leaders.
    – He asked people to give their very lives for his cause–and promised them that it would be taken literally and that they’d be persecuted and killed.

    Not very “nice” in the modern, tolerance-loving sense of the word. If you see him only as a man with a death wish who is taking others along for the ride, you could view him quite negatively.

    The interesting thing in relation to scaryreasoner’s note is that Jesus was very much in defiance of the unjust, unscrupulous authorities of the time, something that I suspect scaryreasoner is as well. He associated with the unpopular and the outcasts who needed love, such as prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers, despite being ridiculed for it. Also things that I think scaryreasonaer might appreciate.

  6. October 20, 2008 12:18 pm

    So true, Chip. I just didn’t have time to address all that, and you did so very “nicely”. Thanks!

  7. spiritualway permalink
    October 21, 2008 1:09 pm

    Yes I was addressing the first commenter, not the poster! But some of ChipG’s comments are interesting. From a cultural and religious background of those times perspective, some of Jesus’ actions and sayings were “radical”! I was asking scaryreasoner why he would come to the conclusion of defining that “radicalness” with what seemed to me to be very derisive language. Possibly I am missing totally the point!

  8. October 21, 2008 1:44 pm

    Sorry for misinterpreting you, Spiritual Way. I agree. Regardless, it is interesting how much people not only tolerate Jesus but like him, when their perception of him often includes his demands to take up a cross and follow him!

  9. Jeff permalink
    October 24, 2008 4:06 pm

    I just checked out scaryreasoner’s blog. It seems he’s irritated that people still believe in God.

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