Because Jesus Is a Megalomaniac?

After chastising what he calls “Liberal Theology” (whatever that means), Mr. Wilson here propagates the unbiblical (I say “unbiblical” because it’s not found in the bible) myth that disagreeing with a certain view of how Jesus presented himself is what got the Pharisees into such hot water (see the convo here for context). But that ignores the entire focus of Jesus’ ministry. It had little to do with himself and everything to do with showing a new way – a way that was actually contrary to dominant and oppressive religious, political, and economic pressures.

This statement brings us to another problem: Does God need us to understand something about God in order to be saved? Not agreeing with this view – whatever it may be according to whoever is defining the parameters – is a guarantee that we deserve hell. Agreeing with “the things he said about himself” is like winning the trivia contest, only with the extra bonus that you don’t burn forever in hell after you die. Heck, your name may be put in a special drawing and Jesus will personally come and get you before he burns up the rest of the world.

Or maybe Jesus is a short-tempered jerk who only wants to be around people who agree with him about who he is?

I just don’t think that any of this is consistent with the Jesus we see in the Gospels. Not even when he’s cursing out the Pharisees in Matthew 23.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
Bodhisattvas

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.*

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.** (NIV)

I don’t think Jesus cares if you agree with him or not. He doesn’t have the fragile ego that I do. But he’s pretty ticked – at least here – about putting extra burdens on the people, about ignoring the hurt of the people while puffing ourselves up.

Can that Jesus be my Jesus? I like him better; he seems more divine.

——————————————–

*This section can be updated to talk about theological conclusions built on Sola Scriptura, which is built on a way of understanding God primarily through reading the Bible, sans much cultural context – a very dangerous way of viewing the Living God in any case. But in this, the Bible is elevated over the God that makes the Bible holy.

**I like to think that my questioning of my contexts, and particularly patriarchy and capitalism and their effects, as they have and continue to influence me is a way to clean the cups full of greed and self-indulgence. But that may be a bit generous to my self-indulgence…. 😉

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