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Monday, 21 July 2014

A declamation of John Fugelsand.

Will Christians please stand up for the REAL Jesus.

A little while ago I saw a quote from John Fugelsand (a comedian and actor) posted on Facebook. It  was labelled, "an amazing rant", and seemed to be both "liked" and applauded by a number of people. On the surface, it looked fairly benign. Further examination however, reveals a litany of inaccuracies and populist viewpoints.

Here is the quote as printed in the Huffington Post. Which also quoted Fugelsand as saying "God is a sociopath". A statement I have a great deal of trouble with. For now I'll just deal with this one and examine it a piece at a time.

"Jesus was a radical non-violent revolutionary who hung around with Lepers Hookers and Crooks.
Wasn't American and Never spoke English.
Was anti-wealth, anti death penalty, anti public prayer (M 6:5) But was never anti gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control and never called the poor lazy.
Never mentioned torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a Leper for a copay.
And was a long haired, brown skinned, homeless, community organizing, anti slut shaming middle eastern Jew."

"Jesus was". The first two words are troubling. They put Jesus firmly in the past tense, which can only really apply to certain life events, i.e. He was  born in Bethlehem. He was crucified. To apply the past tense to his character and views is to suggest that he changed. The correct view of the nature and character of God is that he is "unchanging". Mal 3:6. To say "Jesus was" is to consign him to history. Just another good man, like Ghandi or Mandela.

"Radical non-violent Revolutionary". No, wrong again. One people group of the time that were keen to align themselves to a messianic figure were the Zealots. They sought a violent overthrow of Roman oppression. At no point did Jesus align himself with their cause. As for non-violence, well he did make that whip and made a mess of the corrupt money-changers' trade.

"Hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks." No, an incorrect point of view. Yes he did go to the home of Simon the Leper, Matt 26:6 and Mark 14:3. It is most probable, however, that Simon was a leper that had been healed, most likely by Jesus. Under Jewish Law, as a leper, he would have had to live outside of the community, away from his family, definitely not in his own house. Visiting a leper would have made Jesus unclean and excluded him from temple worship. Simon is identified as "the leper" in the same way that the other Simons were identified, "the sorcerer" "the zealot" "of Cyrene" and "Simon Peter". It is the same for the numerous Marys we encounter. The correct view here would be that these groups of people sought Jesus out, underwent a radical life change, and then followed him. Jesus in no way ever condoned their continuing to be "hookers and crooks".  The only exception here would be Judas Iscariot. Jesus knew full well his corrupted duplicitous heart, but knew also his key role in the greater plan.

"Wasn't American and never spoke English". At the risk of sounding juvenile here. Well d'uh, nice going captain obvious. At this point in history neither the English language nor the USA existed. I get the point though, this is an attack on the American church, rather, the more fundamental side of it that claims to be the sole arbiter on all things Biblical. So he's not being pro Jesus here, he's attacking his church.

"Anti wealth". No. A reference to the rich young ruler, the camel through the eye of the needle. A common assumption. But wrong. The full context is the position the acquisition of wealth takes in your life. If you have riches only for your own sake, then you live selfishly. This is a point made very clearly throughout the Bible.

"Anti Death Penalty" This comment is tied to the "Anti Slut Shaming" comment at the end. Wrong again. Jesus could not countermand the laws of God. The very same laws he exhorted others to obey.
What he did was demonstrate what grace looks like, he places mercy above judgement, remembering that he will act as judge in the end. Until then his mercy is available to all.

"Public Prayer". Wrong, Jesus himself prayed publicly on many occasions as well as privately. What Jesus warned against was false piety. A self righteous religious expression that was performed solely for the approval of others.

"Torture, tax cuts and copays." Coupled with public prayer, this is a political statement. It has nothing to do with Jesus. While I am not familiar with the term "copay" I gather it is some U.S Medicare/Obamacare arrangement. Yet when Jesus healed the Lepers he commanded them to show themselves to the priest, and make the sacrifice that the law requires for their cleansing. Sounds sort of like a medical examination with a payment attached to it?

"Anti-gay, abortion, birth control". While these were not current topics in the time of Jesus' ministry, it draws on a weak assumption. Just because Jesus did not address an issue, that does not mean that the rest of the Bible, (the other 62 books) doesn't either. There is a proper theological process for interpreting scripture. It was ignored, in this well rehearsed poorly researched statement.

The final section is a bunch of fairly obvious, needless statements, a couple of points he finally gets right. Jesus was a middle eastern Jew.
I do take issue with the "anti slut shaming" part of it. Jesus would never have used such a derogatory term. It says more about Johns view of the adulterous woman than it does about Jesus. Jesus offered her forgiveness, not harmful insulting labels.

In the end, these views offer us a politically correct Jesus, the Jesus people are comfortable talking about. These are incorrect assertions based on ill-founded assumptions. There is very little of anything by the way of truth here.