My bride and I are teaching a CCD class of fifth and sixth graders. The kids are a joy: inquisitive and bright. One of the topics last evening was the Trinity. When we came to Jesus we described him as the Son of God. One of our students later asked if Mary was the only human conceived without sin, what about Jesus. I replied that Jesus was also conceived without sin, but that we could never encompass Jesus just among humans since he was both God and Man. My bride then quoted Scripture: “A Man like us in all things but sin.” The great question for all of us remains that one posed by Jesus twenty centuries ago: “Who do you say that I am?” Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, at his blog, Midwest Conservative Journal, attacks one of the most common mistaken answers to that question by contemporary leftists:
You know what would be awesome, asks New York Times
über-douche columnist Nick Kristof. If Christians didn’t have to believe a bunch of stupid rules and stuff:
One puzzle of the world is that religions often don’t resemble their founders.
I now officially have a bad feeling about this.
Jesus never mentioned gays or abortion but focused on the sick and the poor, yet some Christian leaders have prospered by demonizing gays.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow WAY down there, cowboy. “Demonizing gays?” Really? You really want to go there, Nick? News flash. For 2,000 years, Christians taught that homosexual activity was a sin. There, I said it. And if you think that telling someone that his alcoholism is destroying himself and his family or suggesting that maybe he might want to think about not doing his best friend’s really hot and quite underage daughter on a regular basis is “demonizing,” then yeah, guilty as charged, Nick.
It’s what actual Christians are supposed to do.
By the way, Nick, if you’re interested, here’s a partial list of other stuff that Jesus “never mentioned.” Genocide, overdue library books, racism, recycling, fracking, using fossil fuels, running with scissors, Mohammed, nuclear war, jaywalking, preventing global warming, preventing global cooling, preventing global lukewarming, the “human right” of men who claim that they’re women to use women’s rest rooms, Donald Trump, “Islamophobia,” Whole Foods’ criminally-excessive mark-up, why anyone anywhere thought Seinfeld was funny, gender pay equity, Hillary Clinton, the inanity of Twitter, the fact that über-airhead Maureen Dowd still has a New York Times column, “homophobia,” the fact that St. Louis doesn’t have an AHL team while Chicago, Toronto and San Jose do, suicide bombings, political corruption, “transphobia,” the University of Oregon’s football uniforms, driving while intoxicated, blogging while intoxicated, putting free tampons in men’s bathrooms, the NFL, etc.
Do you see where I’m going with this, Nick? Of all the weak arguments in the leftist Christian arsenal, the “Jesus never said anything about it” dodge is pretty much the single weakest arrow in their quiver. But Nick’s not worried. Because he’s got some serious Christian firepower backing him up.
“Our religions often stand for the very opposite of what their founders stood for,” notes Brian D. McLaren, a former pastor, in a provocative and powerful new book, “The Great Spiritual Migration.”
“No wonder more and more of us who are Christians by birth, by choice, or both find ourselves shaking our heads and asking, ‘What happened to Christianity?’” McLaren writes. “We feel as if our founder has been kidnapped and held hostage by extremists. His captors parade him in front of cameras to say, under duress, things he obviously doesn’t believe. As their blank-faced puppet, he often comes across as anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, anti-immigrant and anti-science. That’s not the Jesus we met in the Gospels!”
McLaren is as much of a Christian as Oprah Winfrey. Nick’s piece just gets dumber and dumber so I’m going to bail out now. But I’ll leave you with the fact that while there are a lot of sins that Jesus never directly mentioned, there were quite a few sins that He did mention. And none of that latter group of sins, Nick, will sit well with Millennials.
Take adultery. According to Jesus, adultery is not just bumping uglies with that hot woman you’re not married to. If you see a woman in the grocery store, say, and you think, “Boy, what I wouldn’t give to be able to hit that” then congratulations. You’re officially an adulterer.
Murder is bad? So is being angry with someone.
Just can’t keep your eyes off this really hot divorced chick one pew over? Not such a hot idea.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
That’s the real Jesus, Nick. Not the one that people like you and Bri-Bri invented to deaden your consciences.
Go here to read the comments. CS Lewis in The Screwtape Letters put the search for the “real” Jesus in its place:
You will find that a good many Christian-political writers think that Christianity began going wrong, and departing from the doctrine of its Founder, at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a “historical Jesus” to be found by clearing away later “accretions and perversions” and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold.
In the first place they all tend to direct men’s devotion to something which does not exist, for each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new “historical Jesus” therefore has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleans, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts, in every publisher’s autumn list.
In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their Historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a “great man” in the modern sense of the word—one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought—a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men’s minds from Who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement between His teachings and those of all other great moral teachers. For humans must not be allowed to notice that all great moralists are sent by the Enemy not to inform men but to remind them, to restate the primeval moral platitudes against our continual concealment of them. We make the Sophists: He raises up a Socrates to answer them.
Our third aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped. Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan, and finally a distinguished character approved by a judicious historian.
And fourthly, besides being unhistorical in the Jesus it depicts, religion of this kind is false to history in another sense. No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into the Enemy’s camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had—and sin, not against some new fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a “great man”, but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The “Gospels” come later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.
The “Historical Jesus” then, however dangerous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged….