Weblog of Jesus Stirs Controversy Among Faithful

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : January 10, 2008

Christians have always had a strong presence in the blogosphere. Once the practice of the young, blogging has grown among older Christians–including many clergy. But in December an unexpected religious celebrity entered the blogging fray: Jesus Christ. And his sacred presence is causing a stir among his most ardent followers.

His first post, titled “Love Your Enemies,” upset many evangelical leaders. In that post, Jesus issues a provocative call to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In what can only be assumed to hyperbolic speech, Jesus encourages his followers to let assailants hit them a second time.

One commenter, Rev. Kreyton Smith, director of the Americans for a Stronger Family, remarked: “What would happen if Christians were to take this seriously! I could never, in good conscience, proclaim this message to my flock!”

In a post that warns of the perils of wealth, Thomas Stern, National Coordinator for the Southern Assemblies for Christ, issued a thinly-veiled threat: “Are you trying to drive people away? If you keep talking like this, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

Pastor Kendrick Villa, well-respected conservative evangelical blogger, believes that Jesus is going too far. In a press release he wrote: “I appreciate what Jesus has done for us. His death is essential to our eternal happiness. But some of his teachings simply detract from the true nature of the Gospel. It pains me to say this, but Jesus is still teaching out of the Law and needs to embrace a Gospel of grace.”

Pastor Villa isn’t alone. A swelling number of evangelicals have grown disillusioned with the harshly demanding teachings of Jesus. In a coordinate effort, many are working to keep the more controversial teachings of Jesus quiet. Instead, many opt for a Gospel that is simpler.

“I prefer a gospel that is streamlined, one that fits in a little pamphlet,” says Christian tract publisher Edward Muehler. “I know that Jesus has a lot to say about things like poverty and peace, but these things distract from the true nature of the Gospel: freedom from personal sin and hope for the afterlife.”

Not all evangelicals are so quick to sideline Jesus. Some find the ethical teachings of Jesus encouraging. At a recent youth-rally, Jeremy Beason–a student organizer for Sojourners Magazine–stated: “Jesus’ teachings are fresh, man. He is so accepting and non-judgmental. His offers a gentle path in a harsh world.”

When asked his opinion about a recent post in which Jesus tells the inhospitable to “…depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” Mr. Beason had no comment.

Jesus isn’t making things easier for himself. When this reporter asked Jesus to justify his provocative teachings, Jesus mysteriously responded: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

In a recent e-newsletter, Jesus attempted to clarify further, but confused many of his proponents with strange stories and abstract references to the “Kingdom of God.” Such confusing rhetoric led one woman, longtime supporter Mary Garcia, to remark: “Sometimes I wish he’d just say what he means. I love the man, but he certainly doesn’t make it easy for the cause, you know?”

Mark Van Steenwyk is the general editor of Jesus Manifesto. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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  • Rev22: Whoever Is Thirsty, Let Him Come » Weblog of Jesus Stirs Controversy Among Faithful

    January 11, 2008 at 10:03 am

    [...] Did you hear?? Jesus has now entered the blog world!! [...]

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