Sep 19 2011

The Gentle Jesus Myth

Category: humor,theologyharmonicminer @ 5:55 pm

Not that Jesus isn’t gentle.   He certainly is.  But He isn’t ONLY gentle.

My latest post at Renewing American Leadership is up.

It’s called “The Gentle Jesus Myth.”

There is a little humor in the situation regarding the photo they put up.  It isn’t me.  Instead, it’s this guy.

This is not harmonicminer

Who is this guy, you may reasonably ask?  Well, he’s one of the stars of the original Jurassic Park movie, in the role of the mad scientist, if memory serves.

Oy vey…..  I’ll be trying to get them to change the photo to reflect my own inestimable physical beauty.

This is harmonicminer

I suppose I can understand the confusion.


It’s possible that the ReAL website will have changed the photo by the time you read this.  I’m sure it was a practical joke or something.

And I’m laughing about it.


UPDATE:  as of Sept. 20, ReAL fixed their post to show the correct photo.  I’m almost sad about it.  It was really pretty funny.

13 Responses to “The Gentle Jesus Myth”

  1. anthony says:

    I think one of the reasons people confuse God in the old testament versus the new is that it is easy to take the whole thing out of the proper context. The old testament covers many thousands of years, while the new testament is really only one generation.

    Over thousands of years the highlights tend to stand out, and judgements passed with violence tend to stand out as a highlight. An example I give people on this is if someone were to harm your wife or children whom you love would you not jealously defend them?

    The devil motivates and compells those who are subject to him to harm Gods people in cruel and wicked ways because he knows that is the best way to cause pain to the Lord. He is slow to anger and the most forgiving and understanding God we could ever hope for but he does act in any and all ways that he can and holds proper judgement when a case is given into his hands.

    This is seen many times in the old testament. Some situations dont seem clear because alot of details arnt really given. But in all situations where you are given a larger perspective his judgements are unbelievably fair, so I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt on those situations that seem less clear.

    A good example of a “harsh” judgement that we can see more clearly is with freeing the hebrews from Egypt. Notice God acted when he “heard their cry”, sent a messenger that could listen and submit to him, and compelled pharoah to choose to let them go. What shocks me the most in that story was that the plague that loosened his grip was determined by the pharoah himself. God judged him with the same curse he was about to do to the hebrews. God’s judgments are fierce indeed, but only surpassed in that by their utter perfection.

  2. Noelle says:

    Okay, I belly laughed out loud when I saw the article with the ‘mad scientist’ picture on it. I agree that people have a wrong idea of who Jesus is, but I think that’s because we have painted Him in our own image over the years. This Jesus seems to be a very Western impression of who Jesus is. It goes back to really reading your New Testament in light of the Old Testament. There are so many references to the Old Testament throughout the New, it’s hard to fathom how people miss it. But in many churches, the Pentateuch is never really studied in depth. I had the pleasure of going to a church where they systematically broke down Exodus through Deuteronomy and showed God’s compassion and mercy in even the seemingly insignificant laws that involved other people’s property and animals. This did much to broaden my understanding of the culture Jesus was raised in. I do disagree with you about the original diet of animals and people. The text of Genesis says that the fruit and vegetables were given as food until the Flood. After the Flood, animals were okay to eat. I wouldn’t say that no one ever ate meat because once the Fall took place, everything changed. But it wasn’t part of what God gave for food until after they landed on dry ground. Then you have Peter’s vision in the New Testament and numerous passages about food being a liberty. If death was a consequence for sin, particularly the spilling of blood, I doubt God really created us to eat meat. However, He has ordained it as good now, so we can eat without guilt. I think it’s a liberty, a liberty I really enjoy…especially a filet mignon or prime rib! =D When He remakes this world, I think it will go back to the original created order, which is why the Bible has the lion and the lamb analogy, and the child and the asp. Our former impressions of what the world was like will be renewed. Even if I’m wrong, we’ll really enjoy whatever cuisine God chooses to give us. And I don’t think eating vegetarian, vegan, carnivore or omnivore makes anyone more holy. As for the ‘gentle Jesus’ crowd, I would ask them to explain why people become so terrified whenever they see Jesus in His glorified state. =) I love your observations!

  3. tonedeaf says:

    Great article, who wrote it?

  4. Scott says:

    HA!!! Not so much “mad scientist” as “foolish millionaire who hired top scientists to do his misguided bidding”.

  5. harmonicminer says:

    Hugh Ross has some interesting viewpoints on vegetarianism vs. eating meat in Biblical history, in The Genesis Question.

    Essentially, he thinks that with lifespans of nearly 1000 years, God thought a vegetarian diet was best, but after the Flood, when lifespans were limited to around 120, eating meat seemed just fine to Him.

    Further, the notion of whether or not animal predation existed before the Fall is dealt with here:

  6. innermore says:

    When you say Gentle Jesus Myth, I think you are talking about Myth in the sense of a traditional story that explains social behavior. In that vein, couldn’t you criticize the Warrior Jesus Myth, too? And, since you say the Gentle Jesus lefty crowd insists on looking at Jesus only that way as an excuse to promote pacifism or socialism. Don’t you think some of those Warrior Jesus rightys might be doing the same thing as an excuse for banging their drum for war-making and imperialism? AND SO: if we’re going to be making high-minded excuses, wouldn’t we prefer the ones that excuse the better behavior over the worse? I guess the judgment on that would be: how much good virtue lies in bad behavior and vice-versa; and then, which has the most? Follow me? I don’t have an answer to that one, I’m getting dizzy.

    I think you are trying to teach Discipline, with a capital D. I understand a Godly life requires it. But you seem to be confusing Discipline, which is training, with righteousness, which is the result of this training, and by its own definition must end and be replaced by righteous living.

    I would assume that most people, except gamers, are naturally more comfortable with gentleness than with harshness; comfort more than suffering. I would also assume that incidents of goodness, kindness and peace are more common and frequent these days than they were in ancient times (kumbaya burp coming on). Certainly there’s always going to be a time for war and “sacrifice” while we’re on this earth. But I think the name of the game here is to lessen its frequency somehow, or else the instantaneous bliss of heaven may come as too much of a shock.

    I hope you’re not encouraging the more cranially muscular among us to go out and do something heinous in the name of Old Testament Balance; as opposed to encouraging them to go out and do nothing in the name of New Testament Balance.

  7. harmonicminer says:

    There isn’t an Old Testament Balance and a New Testament Balance, there is only a biblical balance which takes both as truth, and seeks perspectives that don’t deny the truth in one for the presumed truth of the other. Jesus absolutely, positively, did not ever do that, though he extended some older biblical principles, occasionally applied them in new ways…. but He was very vocal about NOT doing away with the OT’s basic principles and historical understandings of God’s nature.

    For the rest of it, I really can’t quite tell what you’re saying, Innermore. You have a way of suggesting that I’ve said things I haven’t, and then railing against those things….. straw man is the term, I believe. So I won’t be trying to respond in detail.

    You seem to have missed the main point: which is a balanced view of the Trinity derived from understanding that it existed already in the Old Testament, and Jesus was not contradicting the Creator God of the OT…. which removes from consideration interpretations of NT scriptures as if the OT doesn’t exist or is false in some way.

  8. innermore says:

    Seeking perspectives concurrently from Jesus’ Law and Moses’ Law achieves more confusion than “biblical balance”. It may be best to utilize one at a time. New and old truths, New and Old Testaments, weren’t meant to be compared. They mostly just contradict each other if you do. That’s because of the obvious time element. Most of us are currently living in the New Covenant era, not the Old. No comparison can be accurate (or useful) unless you had a time machine and could simultaneously live in both.

    Theological opinion historically varies widely on whether Christian Law “replaces” or “completes” or “fulfills” Mosaic Law. Depends on which church you grew up in I guess. But none of this means to ignore it or deny it, as far as I can tell.

    Jesus disagreed with much of Jewish tradition, but he never rejected it. He did attempt to expand the narrow concept of the OT Yahweh of Israel: particularly regarding God’s use, and humanity’s procurement, of power. The OT Kingdom of Israel was mostly about the Providential confiscation of land and the subjugation of people. The NT Kingdom of Heaven is mostly about the Providential subjugation of want, and the liberation of people. Advantages and drawbacks definitely exist(ed) in both applied ideas, depending on the circumstances.

  9. harmonicminer says:

    These two sentences are appalling. “The OT Kingdom of Israel was mostly about the Providential confiscation of land and the subjugation of people. The NT Kingdom of Heaven is mostly about the Providential subjugation of want, and the liberation of people.”

    I’m sorry I don’t have time right now to respond in detail. But God did not change. Morality did not change. God’s desire to give us a way to cope with the effects of the Fall did not change. Your summary turns Salvation History into largely a political and economic thing, and misses the main point of it, namely, how humans can deal with sin, their own personal sin, not just the sins of others.

  10. innermore says:

    Correct. On your level: God, Morality, and Salvation given to us did not change, we did. On another level: God IS change, as well as morality and salvation. Watching God change is like seeing new facets of a diamond as it turns. Why is that so scary of a thought? Kinda exciting to me.

    For obvious reasons, all of these spiritual things could only be partially introduced to a primitive hostile fear-ridden world at first, depicted in the OT. I’d like to think civilization continues to progress from those horrible times, as well as God’s revelation.

    I was not summarizing Salvation History. I was summarizing a short segment of the ever-changing environments by which more and more Salvation is brought to light. Pentecost was originally a Jewish celebration of the giving of Mosaic law. Today it commemorates not a written, frequently re-interpreted book of sectarian truths, but a universal spirit. A Spirit of Truth for all.

    The Kingdom goes beyond worldly Old and New Testaments. The Life, as Jesus taught it (not necessarily Paul or the Church Fathers), was meant as a strictly personal and private communion with a Spirit of Truth. It wasn’t a “public” religion: with its primitive amulets, bells, whistles, holy books and sacraments. But a free and humble true religion of the soul. Christ’s “doctrine” (Tipitaka/Shruti/Bible/Quran) was supposed to be an ongoing collective life-experience, written in the hearts of his followers. Not chiseled in stone by an enlightened few, and paraded like another idol.

    Is it always helpful to compare the Jesus in your heart with the Jesus in your Bible? Is it a means of finding some kind of higher faith, or just an indelible excuse for caustic partisan behavior, like it looks in this case?

  11. harmonicminer says:

    Hmmm… everything you said, innermore, might make sense if not for one tiny point. Jesus existed in history. The Bible reveals history, as well as moral and theological truth. So yes… what matters most is NOT my subjective experience of Jesus (or yours, for that matter), insofar as that subjective experience diverges from the historical teachings of Jesus. And HE taught the Old Testament, and valued it. There is no conflict between the God of the OT and the God of the NT. There are differences of focus.

    I have no idea what this phrase means to you “Christ’s “doctrine” (Tipitaka/Shruti/Bible/Quran)”. Are you trying to suggest some parity? Some “all faiths lead to Christ or God” or something of the sort? Or what?

    What do you mean that “the Life” wasn’t a “public religion”? It was the very essence of “public,” based on history known to all, with open sources of teaching, no authoritative-in-its-own-terms priesthood, only teachers who had been there and seen that.

    How do YOU know that Christ’s “doctrine” wasn’t intended to be written down and taught as Truth? Who told YOU? Do you think you’d know anything about it if it hadn’t been written down?

    What, exactly, is the Spirit of Truth as you use the term?

  12. innermore says:

    Wow. I feel so successful when I get a 3-lettered Hmmm out of you.

    BTW I did very much enjoy your article. I used to draw mustaches and goatees on all those cute little animals, among other Sunday School lesson booklet defacements. My only real objection however, to your analyses, is that herbivores are at least as much predators as carnivores. They just brutally kill lower life forms (plants) instead of animals. Why, they cut their bodies to pieces and boil them alive for petes sake! I tease my vegan wife about that all the time.

    I don’t know where I was denying the historic Jesus in anything I said. I did not intend to leave that impression.

    So yes… what matters most is NOT my subjective experience of Jesus (or yours, for that matter), insofar as that subjective experience diverges from the historical teachings of Jesus.

    Divergent or not, my subjective experience doesn’t matter a hill o beans to anybody. ‘Cept me maybe; and I absolutely never thought it mattered more than its source. Sorry if my overly zealous expression of it caused you to think otherwise.

    Your Gentle Jesus Myth thing reminded me that Christ’s message was meant to be taught and lived as truth. But that message ended up mainly being mythologized and written down. It’s not a totally bad thing. But relying solely on the medium of written word to retell Christ’s parables has always bothered me. Ironically, I READ in the Bible that Jesus frequently became indignant when his Father’s stone-etched Word deified the stones more than the words; further enabling the abusive rule of the authoritative-in-its-own-terms Jewish priesthood. Watching this, surely Jesus must have realized his teachings would someday also be inevitably chiseled into this same mythological religious script (“public religion” or the ol’ Tipitaka/Shruti/Bible/Quran grind I call it). Since occasional persecution and suffering lie in wait along this path of religious evolution, Jesus wanted to try and minimize the inescapable mythologization of “The Life” as much as possible.

    My contention is that this was largely why Jesus discouraged, even admonished, those who would record, or make public his teachings and actions (especially his miracles). Beyond doing it to avoid trouble at the time, I think he also wanted to at least lessen the probability of every little thing he did or said becoming legendary, iconic or sacramental in the future; y’know, like the Shoe Followers in the movie Life Of Brian.

    This might partly explain why Jesus’ life and ministry was so brief historically, compared to other religious revolutionaries. Why no historical artifacts or independent accounts of his life and ministry have been found. Or why only 2 (1 and a half?) sources exist for the conical gospels. If Jesus thought it was so important that his teachings later be canonized in order to unite his future Kingdom On Earth, I would assume he would’ve at least kept his own diary. All this is pure speculation of course, as little specific proof exists in scripture; which could logically bare out my little theory.

    Possibly another limited solution to unwanted fame was Jesus’ emphasis on personal Communion and good conduct, more than theology or worship. THIS “public religion” (unlike all the others) was gonna be about what Jesus did and said, more than about Who he was. He told his people to go out and live it, more than go out and mythologize it, deify it or publish it. And that’s precisely what his followers did, at first. Your “no authoritative-in-its-own-terms priesthood” and “only teachers who had been there and seen that” idealism definitely thrived in the early church. But thanks partly to Gutenberg and Steve Jobs (RIP), Christendom today ignores and denies the value of oral tradition in favor of a more and more idolized, corruptible, written tradition; and for the same typical reasons most of the rest of the worldly religions have done it.

    This is why my eyes roll when I hear that what this or that group does or says is agreeing with, or denying the OT myth more, or less than the NT myth or whatever. The judge in these situations is sounding more and more like your classic authoritative-in-its-own-terms political priesthood to me. Yet, it all seems a little petty and immaterial. There was supposed to be more to “The Life” than just written-in-stone, countlessly re-translated re-interpreted politicized infallibilized myth.

    I could go on and on about the Spirit of Truth, too. But I’m sure by now I’ve given you plenty of fodder to slap me upside my head. So I shall shut my trap. Try John 14 for starters.

  13. harmonicminer says:

    Innermore, you said,

    “He told his people to go out and live it, more than go out and mythologize it, deify it or publish it. And that’s precisely what his followers did, at first. Your “no authoritative-in-its-own-terms priesthood” and “only teachers who had been there and seen that” idealism definitely thrived in the early church. “

    How do YOU know this? Since the written record is mythology and everything.

    More comments could be made… but start with this.

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