Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Christianity versus Jesus

Could it be that Jesus just isn't good enough for the Christian world as a whole? Thank you Brant Hansen of Palm Beach FL for not prosecuting the Monks of unChurch Abbey for stealing this article off your website. And shortening it. And altering it. I knew he'd is what he wrote, more or less:

Dan Kimball wrote a great book called "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church". Or I suspect it’s a great book, but I haven’t read it. I don't think I need to, I get it: People outside the church think Christians are judgmental, simplistic, etc. etc. But Jesus? He's challenging and revolutionary; fascinating and insightful; mind-blowing and mysterious.

After working in both mainstream and Christian radio, I think I'm ready to write my own book based on many encounters: "They Like Church, But Not Jesus". Based on my observation, Jesus is simply not the most influential guy around church. He ticks Christians off.

I've been corrected many times by Christians – after I quoted Jesus verbatim! On the air it goes like this:

"You know, listeners, all the commandments can be summed up with ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus said that, and..."

Ring-ring! Ring-ring! "Hello, welcome to the Morning Show. You’re on the air!"

"You forgot something: You have to Evangelize.", Jesus stands corrected.

Ring-ring! Ring-ring! “Hello, welcome to the Morning Show. You’re on the air!"

“Brant, it doesn’t matter how much we love and coddle sinners if we fail to stand against the tide of cultural decay in America.”

Well. Strike two for old Jesus.

Ring-ring! Ring-ring! “Hello, welcome to the Morning Show. You’re on the air!"

"Well, it's not quite that simple. You see, because that was the Law, and now we’re under grace..."

Rats. Three strikes and Jesus is outta there.

You see, we actually talk about Jesus quite a bit on the show. In fact – and I've been around a bit, including doing mornings at the single most-listened-to contemporary Christian music station in the country – I've never heard a show that talks more about Jesus himself. I think we're doing something kind of experimental. If you're in Christian radio, and you’re reading this, and you're doing the same thing – that's cool. I just don't get out enough.

So, more Jesus...but less Christian. How can that be? I'll connect the dots for you: The things Jesus said, the way of life he gave us, his themes and priorites -- they're simply don't seem very...Christian.

If we were to sprinkle in some more "hey-I'm-on-your-team-here" insider terms, or talk about how America is under attack by (you name it) or just stick to quoting Paul, even -- problem solved. Now that's Christian! But all that Jesus talk? Mmm – not so much.

I know you think I may be exaggerating, but I'm not. Not in the least. Today, I read the part where Jesus told us that when we're praying, we shouldn't babble on "like the pagans do". I got three very Christian emails of protest, citing scripture to rebut Jesus. No big deal, but – just so you know – it happens all the time. Real conversations, with learned Christians, and real objections to stuff Jesus said. People do love the Bible, but this Jesus guy just rubs them raw.

Jesus makes for great radio, but not great “Christian Radio”. But I want to convey how remarkable Jesus is. How smart he is. How he understands our nature. How infuriating he can be to those in power. I want to subvert a culture that turns the church into an incredibly expensive and remarkably harmless spectator sport. I want people to understand the revolutionary love of Jesus.

It’s an interesting paradox of my job: If I focus a lot on Jesus, I upset a lot of Christians.

This article is shamelessly swiped from Brant Hansen, nationally syndicated morning show host. Visit his blog site, Letters From Kamp Krusty, where it appears under the title “Can Jesus and Christian Radio Coexist?” There you can read it in original form, the way it was before I cut it down by half and made it sound as if I wrote it. But don’t tell him I stole it and altered it!


Jan Kelley said...

i do not condemn you Joe B. I view this action (the copying and editing of this man's message and presenting it a your own) as a desire from you to demonstrate your love of the Lord with all of your heart, mind and soul. I see it as you attempting to "sink" His (Jesus) message in to the heart and soul of your "neighbor" so they can "know" this Jesus as the One He is and can experience a truly "changed" life that is more easily possible if your neighbor can get past all of the "Church stuff" and get to the "words" of the Master. I get nothing but "love" from this message....Amen

Joe B said...


Take that Brant Hansen, big-time radio christian celebrity!

I actually e-mailed him. I think I hear his lawyers' helicopter circling overhead...

Joe B said...

The Kingdom of God is like a field where the enemy plants tares among the wheat. It's like a dragnet that pulls up all kinds of fishes in the same net. Its like flour with yeast blended in.

It should be no surprise when there are false Christians among the people God, it's no surprise when they consider themselves Christians, and it's no surprise when they consider themselves better Christians than Jesus.

What is perpetually startling is that the False Ones end up defining the outer appearance of the Gathered Ones, the ekklesia. (You know, like the yeast/leaven determines the shape and size of the loaf.) The ambitious and the officious clatter to the front of the herd and sit in judgement of both sheep and shepherd. Fleece a sheep, stone a prophet, crucify a savior. Stuff happens.

BUT! These parables tell us two things loud and clear: (1) Jesus is not surprised or alarmed, he saw it coming and he's got it under control. (2) It is God's problem, and we're neither qualified nor authorized to sort them out.

So what's a sheep to do? We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourself.

That's the better end of the deal anyway.

Jan Kelley said...

on reflection........this is really so sad. We just dont "know" Him. We know lots of stuff.....important stuff....but we just dont know Him. We are so caught up in the "fight" that we have forgotten that the One we are fighting "for" has told us to "love" and to leave the sword alone. We have stopped listening to Him. We are so busy defending Him (The faith)that we have taken our focus off of Him & His words & who He is, and put the focus on us and how well we are doing in the "fight" for our Savior. We dont know Him. How sad.

Rennar Hoelsk said...

You may sound harsh to say that this sounds like a case of fals Christians. But I think its right.
Jesus teld the frightening story of people who come before the judgement thinking they had done God a great favor, but God say "away from me you evildoers"

His answer to them is a very surprising quote Ps 6:7-11 says: "I am wearied with sighing; all night long tears drench my bed; my couch is soaked with weeping. My eyes are dimmed with sorrow, worn out because of all my foes. Away from me, all who do evil! The LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my prayer; the LORD takes up my plea. My foes will be terrified and disgraced; all will fall back in sudden shame."

This saying of Jesus identifies him both as Judge and as the intercessor, but now finished with suffering for the evils of others.

Read the saying of Jesus in Matthew 7: 15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you who do lawless.' Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The people he condemns look just fine in their sheep clothes, and they have spoken in God's nome. But the words are empty because they have no fruit.

They talk bible but the do not follow Jesus!

Sorry the long bible study.

Eutychus said...

Amen to the Rennar-Meister. Good point.

Brant Hanson sort of said in his article it's the part about loving the neighbor that sets these people off against what he says on the radio. The fruit is fulfilling the law of love, and being fruitless is having "Christian" religion without Christ's "revolutionary love."

Fruit. It's food and its seeds, right? It reproduces life after its kind, and it nourishes the one who releases the seeds by eating it.

I guess "Fruit" is the reality-of what doctrine is the talk-of. It's all about the life of God coming into the world through Jesus. Whoever isnt bringing life into the world gets burned up with the deadwood. (Did I read that here at unChurch?)

By the way, Joe B mentioned the parable of the tares. But i bet you dont know what tares are. "Tares" are actually real wheat, bt they are wheat that does not bear fruit. It takes up space, and it stands there looking like it belongs there, but it's got no grain on it. I was told it even grows taller too, since it doesn't do the work of fruiting. In the parable the workers ask "hey, should we go weed out the tares?" The boss tells them no, but not because they cannot tell the difference (it's pretty obvious really.) No, he says "if you pull up there tares, some of the good wheat may get uprooted." He says just wait til the harvest and take it to the threshing floor where you basically beat the heck out of the wheat stalks and knock the grain loose. What's left is straw (chaff), which is burned up as waste. So the fruit continues in new life, but the chaff is destroyed. Bummer for them.

Speaking of long bible studies.

Joe B said...

Dang, that was interesting. I looked it up on cause I wasnt sure:

A. 1. any of various vetches, esp. Vicia sativa.
2. the seed of a vetch.
3. Bible. a noxious weed, probably the darnel.

B. 1. the weight of the wrapping, receptacle, or conveyance containing goods.
2. a deduction from the gross weight to allow for this.
3. the weight of a vehicle without cargo, passengers, etc.

1300–50; ME: vetch; akin to D tarwe wheat
1480–90; MF: (akin to ML, It, Pr, Sp, Pg tara, Sp atara) ≪ Ar ṭarḥah what one throws away, deriv. of ṭaraḥa, to throw away.

I found the "Bearded Darnel" theory in online bible studies, a grass that looks like wheat n juvenile form. I also found an agriculture prof who says that it is real wheat but infected by a virus that makes it fail to seed. Is Eutychus an Ag professor by chance?