10 Reasons Jesus Would (Probably) Be An Outcast In Today’s Church

jesussaves(Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr)

I have a confession to make.

I get easily distracted in church, especially during the sermon.

Maybe it’s undiagnosed ADHD or maybe it’s just because I’m a theology nerd, but sometimes, ok, a lot of times when we stand up to read whatever scripture the pastor is preaching on that Sunday, I sit down and immediately start reading the surrounding verses because I want to know what else was going on before and after Jesus said those handful of words we just heard.

My pastor does a pretty good job of providing context when he preaches, but I just can’t help searching for more. And then inevitably I stumble upon a passage that never really caught my eye before and it in turn causes me to start seriously rethinking things I’d always assumed about Jesus. So, then I’ve gotta keep reading to see what else I may have missed. And then before I know it the service is over and I’ve unintentionally read the entire gospel of Matthew.

I do feel bad about my ecclesial ADHD (sorry, every pastor I’ve ever had), but the more I go back and actually read what the gospels have to say about Jesus, the more glaring discrepancies begin to appear between that Jesus and the Jesus of our collective popular imagination. And then the more I think abut those discrepancies, the more I’m convinced that the Jesus of the gospels would (probably) be an outcast in today’s Church.

Sure, he would still have some followers, but when I look at what Jesus actually said and taught and believed and did and then compare that to many of the typical characteristics of “successful” churches, celebrity preachers, the mega-popular Christian literature that has come to define our collective theology, and the things we all say are Christian and do in the name of Jesus, that gap between the Jesus of the gospels and our version of Jesus today gets wider and wider.

So, while I’m sure there are many others to add to the list, here are 10 reasons I think Jesus would have a hard time fitting into today’s Church.
 

1. He wasn’t always clear in his teaching 

We love our 3-point sermons and having fancy graphics with everything spelled out for us so we can leave church knowing exactly what it is we’re supposed to believe and not have to bother with any unnecessary thinking later. And that’s to say nothing of our addiction to holy one-liners we can tweet out or turn into Facebook memes. They’re like the Christian version of crack. Real life may be complicated, but we demand a simple faith.

However, as much as we love to reduce Jesus’ teachings down to easy to digest one-liners, his teachings were rarely as clear-cut and singular in meaning as we like to believe. Jesus loved speaking in parables and if there is one thing every one of his parables has in common, it’s a touch of the opaque. Jesus’ teachings require reflection and interpretation, even the seemingly straightforward ones. It’s almost like he intentionally avoided giving us the easy, dogmatic answers we covet so much because he knew that life is too complicated for one-liners. Unfortunately, we’re too addicted to over-simplification and holy one-liners to welcome a teacher like Jesus into the Church today.

 

2. He denounced violence

You only have to look at the recent controversy over the American Sniper movie to see how divided the Church is over war and the use of violence. For huge swaths of the Church in America, killing the enemy to protect the innocent is nothing short of a holy calling. And yet, not only did Jesus denounce the use of violence time and time and time again, but when the moment arrived to defend the most innocent person in history – himself – he didn’t fight back and even went so far as to prohibit his disciples from coming to his defense. That sort of response to violence today will get you denounced for not being manly enough and/or branded a naive coward for not understanding how the world really works.

 

3. He didn’t fit neatly into either a conservative or liberal camp

Part of the reason we crave over-simplified one-liners and clear-cut answers is that we want to know who’s with us and who is against us. But Jesus had a tendency to waiver between being what we might label today as “conservative” and “liberal” positions. Sometimes, he would affirm ancient teachings and traditions, but other times he would blaze a new trail saying and doing things that made his conservative peers angry enough to crucify him. Without pandering to one side of the aisle and denouncing the other as godless heretics, Jesus would be a teacher without a following because we don’t seem to have much space in our churches (whether conservative or liberal) for folks who don’t think and act just like us.

 

4. He was unabashedly religious

We love to talk about Christianity being a relationship not a religion, but we as long as we continue to believe in a God, pray to that God, sing songs to that God, participate in rituals commanded by that God, and attend organized worship services in honor of that God, we’re always going to be religious people. But that’s ok…because Jesus was religious too. Yes, Jesus was critical of the sort of blind obedience to ritual and sanctified legalism that leads to people being ostracized and oppressed, but as a faithful Jew, Jesus was unabashedly religious. Not only did he go out of his way to maintain Jewish religious traditions (like going to the synagogue and celebrating Jewish festivals), he even added a couple of religious rituals of his own: baptism and communion. That sort of warm embrace of organized religion is anathema to much of the American Church today, particularly evangelicalism.

 

5. He didn’t believe in biblical inerrancy 

Biblical inerrancy (or the belief that the Bible is perfect in every way) might seem like a secondary issue for some folks, but for many people in the Church today it’s a non-starter. If you don’t believe the Bible is perfect, not only do you not stand a chance of being the pastor, you’re probably not gonna be welcomed in the pews either. But Jesus didn’t share this modern view of scripture. We know this because you can’t go around saying things like “you have heard it said….but I say….” (i.e. correcting the Bible, in this case the Old Testament) if you believe the Bible was perfect to begin with. Even if you’re God and have the authority to make those sorts of changes to scripture, it’s still an acknowledgement of textual imperfection that needs to be corrected. But if Jesus were around today and had the audacity to continue preaching “you have heard it said….but I say….” the Church would brand him a heretic.

 

6. He’s wasn’t always a nice guy

Being a nice guy or at least being perceived as a nice guy is almost a prerequisite for success in the Church today. That really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, as the old saying goes, people don’t buy stuff from folks they don’t like. And given that we live in an incredibly sensitive society where we being offended is a national pastime, if you’re not smiling at least 70% as much as Joel Osteen and constantly being heard telling folks how wonderful they are and how awesome their lives are going to be, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to find much of a following in the church today.

But as much as we like painting pictures of Jesus with a warm smile on his face, he could sometimes be kind of abrasive. Not cruel, mind you, but not always warm and fuzzy either. In fact, he could be very critical of others, particularly other people of faith. Case in point: his relationship with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Teachers of the Law (and even at times, his own disciples). Yet, without fail, whenever one Christian criticizes another Christian (or the Church in general) in public, folks come out of the woodwork (especially on the Internet) to condemn the one doing the criticizing for creating bad PR and destroying the unity of the Church. Just imagine the thrashing Jesus would get online if he proclaimed his famous woes against pastors and churches today.

 

7. He was anti-materialistic

Paul said that we all have different spiritual gifts, but one gift we all seem to share in common today is the ability to bend over backward to justify our materialism in the face of a savior who said things like “do not store up treasures for yourself on earth” and “sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” Some of the most “successful” preachers in the church today are those that either explicitly or implicitly sanctify our love for stuff. But it’s hard to fill arenas or build a megachurch when you’re telling folks that not only does God not want them to be rich, but following God will actually make their lives more difficult and decidedly less filled with stuff.

 

8. He was homeless

I know this might sound odd, but think of the way we treat the homeless folks living among us today. They’re essentially second-class citizens we go out of our way to ignore, look down on with pity when we’re forced to think about them, and give no place of leadership to in the church. After all, how can you be trusted with the responsibility of leading a church if you’re not responsible enough to hold on to your own house, right? Plus, aren’t most homeless people at least a little crazy? And yet the one to whom we entrust our eternal destiny was a homeless guy. It’s a tragic irony that only really sinks in when you try to think of the last time you remember a homeless person having any role in your church other than just being another charity case. In other words, Jesus would have no place in today’s Church because we’d just pass him off to a homeless shelter.

 

9. He cared less about what people believed and more about how they lived

We’re a Church obsessed with converts both because we think numbers indicate success and because we’re convinced that believing the right things is the key to eternal life. Which is strange, when you think about it, because as James said, even the demons believe and shudder, buy would any of us consider Satan to be a faithful Christian? However, since the time of Martin Luther, we’ve becoming increasingly convinced that our beliefs alone will save our souls. And yet, while Jesus certainly called people to faith, he was equally clear that “not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” because how we treat the least of these is ultimately more important to him than our confession of faith. But that sounds way too much like salvation by works for Jesus to be accepted in the Church today, at least among Protestants.

 

10. He loved the wrong people

There is probably nothing Jesus is more well-known and beloved for than his embrace of outcasts. He didn’t just say he loved people, he actually loved them through his actions. But as famous as Jesus was for embracing people, we in the Church today have become just as infamous for those whom we refuse to embrace. It’s a reputation we hate, but unfortunately is all too often deserved because whether we realize it our not, we spend far more time arguing about who’s in and who’s out than we do embodying the boundless love and grace we claim to cherish so much. With his affinity for embracing people his faith community had deemed sinners and commending the faith of people his community wanted nothing to do with, we would quickly and passionately bid Jesus farewell today.

 

Those are my reasons why I think Jesus would (probably) be an outcast in today’s church. What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments section below.
 

56 Comments
  • Alan Christensen
    February 5, 2015

    Good list! I have a few random thoughts:
    Certainty is comforting, and it definitely seems to sell better in the religious marketplace than living with ambiguity, but I think Christians need to appreciate the ambiguity of many of Jesus’ teachings and cut each other a little more slack.
    If we had the Gospels but not Paul’s writings, I think our view of salvation would be much closer to what Evangelicals tend to deride as “works righteousness.” Yes, there are good reasons Paul’s letters are in the NT, and belief is a Gospel theme (especially in John), but Jesus seems to think there are things you have to do beyond reciting a Sinner’s Prayer to be part of the Kingdom.
    Not only would Jesus hang out with the wrong people, he’d probably insist on bringing them to church. Horrors!

  • Nathan Mack
    February 5, 2015

    My wife and I were discussing #10 following our Bible Study last night. In reference to Revelation 2:13 (not denying their faith), the leader suggested it was important to not worry about offending people with the Gospel of Jesus. That’s all fine but, given the demographic of the participants in the study, it actually meant “Don’t back down from you socially conservative views, no matter how much you’re told to be politically correct.”

    My wife and I discussed what we thought was actually offensive about Jesus’ life and teaching. He wasn’t offensive because of the things he hated and sought to eliminate through legislation, but rather He was offensive because He loved the wrong people, spent time with the wrong people, and claimed Himself as king.

  • Phillip Waite
    February 5, 2015

    Regarding #1 – not only was He not always clear in His teaching, He was often more interested in other people’s interpretations (Luke 10:26) than what might be considered the “standard” or ‘accepted” interpretation. He provided a lot of lee-way for personal interpretation and application of both the scriptures (the O.T.) and His parables (the N.T.).

    .

  • Ryan Robinson
    February 5, 2015

    Another simple one: he had brown skin.

    • Jeremiah Christian
      February 6, 2015

      Jesus was a Jew. Not an Arab. He may have had a tan for being outside all the time. But Jews are decidedly white. We don’t have to be ashamed or proud of this.

      • dogen
        February 6, 2015

        Jews and Arab’s are genetically the same in the middle east. Jews in Israel are darker skinned that you might think.

      • Ina Plassa-travis
        February 6, 2015

        I think you’re missing the entire Sephardic branch of the family…who are MUCH darker than us Slavs, and prone to amber-gold, rather than espresso-brown eyes.

  • pastordt
    February 5, 2015

    Great list, Zack. Thank you. I especially loved #1!!!

  • Rebecca Erwin
    February 5, 2015

    These are all things I’ve been saying since high school…in the 80s.

    • suzette macey
      December 19, 2017

      Wonderful. And Rebecca, I too have been saying these same things for many years.

  • Justin Kenley
    February 5, 2015

    I normally do not comment on blogs such as these, but I feel something must be said. Where are you basing all of these arguments from? Brother, I encourage you, if you are going to make such rash claims about our Savior Jesus Christ, then at least offer some Scripture in your defense. There is nowhere in this article that you ever provide Scripture to back up these allegations about our Lord.

    Consider your first point, while the parables were sometimes difficult to understand, it was not Jesus’ mission to confuse the people. We see in Matthew 13 after Jesus teaches a parable he later clarifies it to his disciples! Your second point referred to Jesus not fighting back against the people coming to crucify him. My friend, this was not an act of peace by our Lord, but rather an act of Sacrifice. Jesus did not come to survive on this earth as long as he could. No! Jesus came so that he could pay ransom for our sins (John 3:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 1:18-19). My friend, and anyone reading this, the main reason Jesus did not fight back was not to make a statement of peace. No, He did not fight back because it was the time appointed by the father to make atonement for our sins. It was a beautiful sacrifice.

    While frankly I wish I had time to discuss every point on your list (however I would agree with you that Jesus loved the outcast), the last one I will make note of is your point #5. Jesus quoted the Scriptures throughout his entire ministry! In fact, He claimed that He was the fulfillment of those Scriptures. You have taken out of context Matthew 5, Jesus’ sermon on the mount. You quoted verse 21-22, “you have heard that it was said… but I tell you…” My friend, read verses 17-20 of the same chapter! If Jesus was going to make a claim about errors in the Bible, this was His chance! However, Jesus says that He comes to fulfill it! All He is simply doing in verses 21-22, 27-28, 31-32, and 43-44, is that He is saying that following the Law is a heart issue as much as it is physically doing things (Luke 16:15). And finally, if you are going to make the statement that Scripture is flawed, how then do you answer 2 Timothy 3:16, where it says “All Scripture is God- Breathed.” Or would you say that this is simply a portion where the Word is flawed?

    I’m sorry for writing such a long post, but Brother Zack, and any brother or sister in Christ that may read this post. We must align ourselves with the Word of God. It is not wrong to have an idea about who Jesus was and explore that idea, but we must be able to go to Scripture and see if it is Biblical. The Word of God is our measuring stick, and it is far, far greater than any opinion I may have. I write this out of love. I hope that is evident, but I also write it in defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you read this, I hope you understand my intentions, and I hope you exam the Scriptures for yourself to test what I have said.

    • Philip Mills
      February 5, 2015

      You seem to imply that Jesus was not against violence. I think you will struggle using Jesus, His teachings, and His life to make a pro-violence argument. I may be missintrepreting what you were trying to do with that comment, if so sorry.

      • Micah
        February 8, 2015

        Well, the logic is straightforward. “Love your neighbor” doesn’t mean “unless somebody is going to use force against them.” Historically, the church has said that the use of force is appropriate for defending the innocent.

        Of course, very few of the conflicts in the past 50 years can qualify as defensive or just wars, but that doesn’t invalidate the idea.

        • Philip Mills
          February 9, 2015

          I agree that historically the church has created really thought out systems and processes for the assessment of a ‘just war.’ My sense/feeling/belief is that those are constructs of the church and less a part of the teachings and discipleship of Jesus. I struggle to find op outs or opportunities in Jesus teach where we can choose to not love.

          And there are loads of good reasons why those systems developed, including the rise in power of the Christian faith. Like many however I worry that the power that comes forces Christians into a conflict between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of this world. When the Church assumes power as a Kingdom of this world I think it is ultimate forced to compromise it’s views on the Kingdom of God to allow it to function as a Kingdom of this world and out of that reasonable and nessecary comprise comes just war.

          At least that’s how it appears to me looking back on the history of the church and the writings that promote just wars. It seems to me to start with a compromise necessary to maintain worldly power.

          But this is drifting from Zacks post. I’d be interested in your thoughts but in the interest of not clogging Zacks comments probably won’t respond. If you’d like a response you can shoot me an email or a tweet.

          • Micah
            February 9, 2015

            Nope, I need to move on as well. I’m in broad agreement with you on these things, although if we were in the same room it would be fascinating to get into details. Ah well. Be warm and well fed.

    • Jessie MacIntosh
      February 6, 2015

      I don’t think that Zack was “making allegations” about Jesus, thus I’m not sure why you are so chiding about the lack of verse citations. His indirect references were clear enough to me to know where to find the scriptural basis.

      That said, I am inclined to agree with you about Jesus’ outlook toward scripture, at least to the degree that Christ perceived the older scriptures of His day as being incomplete rather than in error.

      However, regarding the issue of violence, I feel that you, Justin, missed the point that Zack was making regarding Peter’s attempt to defend Jesus in the Garden. Yes, you are right that the events needed to proceed for His act of sacrifice. However, that doesn’t change the fact that He did rebuke Peter for taking up a sword and striking another. There is a fine line in these matters, for we should also note that when the Roman Centurian requested Jesus’ help the man was not condemned just because he was a professional soldier. Likewise, driving the moneychangers out of the Temple was not done in a very peaceful method.

      But back to the beginning point: Zack wasn’t making allegations about Jesus — he was making allegations about the behavior of the modern church as demonstrated in far too many congregations.

    • Ina Plassa-travis
      February 6, 2015

      your intention was to share with us how well you know your chapter and verse…and in doing so, you kinda proved how little attention you pay to anything besides your particular copy of scripture (which sounds like it’s based on a Protestant Text?) because you devoted so much work to contradiction a point that he did not make on a paragraph you seem not to have read.

  • Micah
    February 5, 2015

    Hmm. While I agree that “the doctrine of inerrancy” would be an anachronism, I think you’re overstating your case in #5. Jesus doesn’t claim that the OT contains “textual imperfections that need to be corrected,” he claims that they are out of date. Some OT commandments did not fully encompass God’s moral vision “because your hearts were hard,” Jesus says in Matt 19.

    He’s not claiming that the text (which he calls “the word of God” in several places) was incorrectly transmitted, but that it did not fully express God’s character because of the recipients were not yet ready to understand what it was that God really wanted.

    • Star Ted Withamouse
      February 5, 2015

      If this is true then is it possible that in translation from Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic into English many English Bibles have become errant if the translators also were not ready to understand as well? Especially in those Bibles that are thought translations, not word for word translations? Perhaps one of the points Jesus was trying to get across was that we may never fully be ready to understand everything, yet many of us like to pretend that we do.

      • Micah
        February 6, 2015

        Heh. The Bible Jesus and Paul used was the Septuigant… a “thought-for-thought” translation if there ever was one. And certainly there are errors in translation. But I’m not certain I understand your larger point, at least not if you’re disagreeing with me. But I probably didn’t explain myself well either.

        What I’m trying (and perhaps failing) to say is that while Jesus did not ever use the term “inerrancy,” which is a modern construct that would have been anachronistic to him, neither did he ever indicate that the text contained “textual errors that needed to be corrected,” as Zack is claiming here. On the contrary, he frequently refers to the Old Testament as “The Word of God” and regards it as accurate and authoritative, if now outdated or outmoded.

        The logic of “But I say to you” is that the Old Covenant has been irrecoverably broken (see Ezekiel) but that God is instituting a new Covenant. With the new Covenant come new commandments (see also: Sermon on the Mount), new modes of worship (see also: Samaritan Woman), new cleanliness rituals (I think Zach missed on #4, here), and so on.

        To say “Jesus thought the text was incorrect” is to massively miss the point of what Jesus is doing in the gospels.

        • Philip Mills
          February 6, 2015

          While it may be true (I don’t really have thoughts or opinions on if “Jesus thought the text was incorrect”) that Zack has missed some of the point. I think he does hit the nail on the head for the large point here.

          The inerrancy belief of scripture wouldn’t allow a pastor to manipulate and reinterpret scripture the way Jesus does. Moreover the idea of a “though for thought” translation would send many into hysterics. The way we as north Americans interact with the Bible would put someone like Jesus on the outside. I think that’s his point here.

          • Micah
            February 6, 2015

            Discus has eaten my comment twice now. Frustrating. Short version: sure, but the way Jesus used the Bible is an outflow of his claim that HE WAS GOD and thus had some unique authority on the subject of What God Meant. Maybe we should add another point to Zach’s 10-point list.

            #11. Jesus Claimed To Be God

            One of the truly distinctive things that set Jesus apart from other teachers was his claim to be incarnate diety. This would NOT go over well here in modern America! If there’s one thing that people in American mega-churches are especially intolerant of, it’s people claiming to be God. Seriously, give it a try sometime. Walk into an elders’ meeting and claim to be God. They won’t give you the time of day; they’ll probably call the police!

            It’s difficult, when we look at the ministry of Jesus, not to see the many times and ways he claimed deity for himself. Above everything else, this is what earned him the enmity of the conservative religious faction that killed him. Yet try to find a church in modern America that gives ministry positions to someone claiming to be God. You’ll never find one. Like the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day, modern American Christians are more likely to use the “heretic” word to describe someone who self-identifies as deity.

          • Philip Mills
            February 6, 2015

            I agree Jesus does get some lee way on speaking for God.

            That said it is common and, in what I’ve read/been taught, for the Jewish community to ‘play’ with the scriptures the way Jesus did. The proof texting and dissection of individual words is a far more Chrsitian, possibly evangelical, practice and many not be to our benefit. The idea that scriptures have one specific mean that we must pull from them and that is the single and only truth to be found would not have been cultural to the writers of the scripture.

            I worry that the inerrancy that is taught stunts our ability to see the possible scope, impact, and at times criticism the scriptures should have on our lives. Our cultural inability to reinterpret the scriptures and to, like Jesus did for the Jews, see the depth of love that those before us couldn’t see I think keeps us from seeing a fuller picture of God.

          • Micah
            February 6, 2015

            Well that’s certainly a fair point. But “inerrancy” isn’t the problem there, it’s the grammatical-historical interpretative method, which is a descendant of German higher criticism efforts of the last century. Even people (like Zach) who don’t believe in inerrancy mostly use this method of interpretation.

            It’s certainly not the only way to read the Bible, though, even in light of historic Christianity. In the second and third century, allegorical readings of the text were very much a part of the orthodox ((little-O orthodox, not big-O orthodox) Christian faith. Take a look at the Epistle of Barnabas sometime. It’ll make your head hurt.

        • Star Ted Withamouse
          February 6, 2015

          I’m not disagreeing. It was mostly a question based off of you mentioning that the recipients were not ready to understand what God fully wanted. I basically just has a rhetorical thought in my head that perhaps that works on an individual basis as well as a cultural one. To make it more clear, my thought is that in translating to English texts is it possible that the translators may have also not been ready to understand God at this point in their life, and thus in creating the translation they may have added…mmm, we’ll call them slants; their own takes on what they perceived was meant. I’m not so much addressing the legitimacy of the scriptures so much as the fact that the original texts are probably much more accurate at conveying what was truly meant. In rereading your post mine doesn’t really tie in all that much to it as much as I kind of just had a domino effect thought from it.

          • Micah
            February 7, 2015

            Ok, I see where you’re coming from. Good thoughts.

  • Philip Mills
    February 5, 2015

    I think Jesus was also far more interested in the present than most of us are. so many people have an escapist type of faith. One where we struggle through this horrible life to finally get the goal of heaven. Jesus was immensely interested in peoples lives, right here, right now. His redemption, restoration and fullness of life started immediately.

    Brian Zahnd mentioned in a tweet (paraphrasing and extrapolating) that when people say that are a Christian what they mean is they believe they are going to heaven not they are trying to live like Christ did.

    • Mike
      February 7, 2015

      Well said, Philip! I would like to quote you on Facebook with your permission.

  • sonje
    February 5, 2015

    Can I just point out that there are possibilities other than “liberal” and “conservative”? In fact, “liberal” and “conservative” are both varieties of liberalism (in the political philosophy sense of ‘liberalism’) and neither would have been possibilities for Jesus.

    • Micah
      February 7, 2015

      Yes, please! Please continue to point that out.

      • sonje
        February 8, 2015

        I didn’t expect that gracious reply. I will 🙂

        • Micah
          February 9, 2015

          Not enough people are making that (most excellent) point. Keep doing it!

  • Scott C
    February 5, 2015

    Zack:

    God bless you, first of all I must commend you on a wonderful blog and a compelling discussion. I love what you are doing and I hope to deliver similar discussion-worthy content of my own in the near future.

    Okay, there are a few things I think you over-stress or take too far. Here is what you said regarding inerrancy: “Biblical inerrancy (or the belief that the Bible is perfect in every way) might seem like a secondary issue for some folks, but for many people in the Church today it’s a non-starter.” I must take exception to this. I understand the point you are trying to make, but the problem is that biblical inerrancy does not mean nor has it ever meant that the Bible is perfect in every way. The doctrine of inerrancy says that there is no error in the original autographs as penned by the original human authors. We do not need to know who those authors were nor do we need to have the originals behind glass somewhere to affirm this belief. When coupled with the doctrine of inspiration, we further affirm that the many copies of manuscripts in our possession is sufficient for the Lord to communicate exactly what He wants us to know. Whether one believes these doctrines or not is another discussion, but to misrepresent it by saying that it means the Bible is perfect in every way is, with respect, irresponsible.

    Secondly, when Jesus used the words, “You have heard it said…” He was not talking about Scriptures as much as He was talking about how Jewish teachers of His day misrepresented what the Law said. The entire Sermon on the Mount is about a Jewish rabbi re-training twelve repentant Jews about what the true meaning of the Law was all about and He did so in front of the very men who were responsible for the false teaching in the first place. You suggest that Jesus is correcting the Bible and that is just not accurate.

    For the record, I do agree that many within the church might brand Jesus a heretic for a lot of reasons, but I do not agree at all with the notion that Jesus saw Scripture and the Law as imperfect or need of changing. Quite the contrary, He believed in it enough to teach it properly at the risk of incurring the wrath of the Jewish power structure.

    Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in this discussion. God bless, Zack!

    • Philip Mills
      February 6, 2015

      Your definition for inerrancy may be correct, I honestly don’t know. I do know however that for the vast majority of Christians I speak with they understand the doctrine of inerrancy to mean the bible is perfect in every way. I think Zack is writing to/speak in the language of a community that when they say inerrant they mean perfect as it stands.

  • renee
    February 5, 2015

    I don’t where it is that says Jesus was always homeless. He had parents he may have decided to preach from place to place with no home. But why wouldnt he have had a home?

    • Jessie MacIntosh
      February 6, 2015

      Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

  • Danny
    February 5, 2015

    Wow! Worst article ever!! The author makes some crazy oversimplifications, reads way too much into various ideas and makes some unbelievable claims that quite simply made my jaw drop with his cheeky assumptions. Normally, for a well written article (of which I read many being a grad student in a theological school) I would offer up a well written response addressing the various points he made, but in this case this article is so wrong on so many places, that a reasonable response would only add to the amount of wasted time I spent reading this. Then again, this is the internet, where anyone can write whatever they choose and sound legit.

    However, I will do one thing. I will address some glaring issues in point form (this article unfortunately does not deserve a well written response) to demonstrate that I’m not just making baseless criticism:

    – Saying that Jesus believed in Biblical inerrancy would get you a glaring F in any exegetical course. Prime example of reading modern views into ancient narratives. And for the record, Jesus didn’t “correct” the word of God, he clarified it’s meaning.
    – Jesus was homeless? Jesus was homeless?!?! I didn’t know whether to laugh or shake my head in disbelief. I assume you must not be familiar with the biblical narrative?! Oh geez! He lived in a home for the first 30 years of his life! He was a travelling rabbi who stayed in people’s homes throughout his ministry! Saying Jesus was “homeless” is tantamount to saying Billy Graham was homeless during his ministry cause he stayed in hotels wherever he went.
    – He cared more about what we do and less about what we believed? This one is so terribly misinformed, but the amount of effort it would take to correct this is futile. But let me give you a grade 2 education: Jesus’ entire ministry was focused on teaching people what mattered (i.e.: what to believe) and not just what they should do. This is classic modern humanist worldviews being read into the narrative.

    Basically I will say this: Mr. Hunt, while I don’t doubt your sincerity in your views, your understanding of the biblical text (biblical exegesis and hermeneutics) is sadly lacking. While it might convince the more novice, uninformed reader, it is painfully misinformed for someone who has a more sophisticated understanding of the bible. If you would like to be taken seriously as a Christian thinker, I would recommend more biblical training or study to correct your theological fallacies.

    • Darrick
      February 5, 2015

      Wow. Did you have your chest puffed out the entire time you wrote that? Arrogant much?

    • Lurker
      February 6, 2015

      The bible. Read it:

    • Philip Mills
      February 6, 2015

      Your points may be right. Your hermeneutics and exegesis may be better, but to be honest it’s impossible to get by the rude, arrogant and belittling tone. You don’t need to agree but it does make it hard to trust your interpretations and assertions when you come at it with an attitude like this.

      At least for me it does.

      • Eve
        November 19, 2015

        We all cast stones at each other at this point.

  • Sue Zbell
    February 6, 2015

    Don’t think the Jesus that said that if you want to preach w/for/me, sell all your worldly goods and give the money to the poor would care much for the “give your money to god; send your check to me” crowd that must surely infest every religious organization on the planet.
    Whether or not there is any god(s), religion, every flavor of it, is a man made power tool fueled by fear and need and greed.

  • Matthew Hand
    February 6, 2015

    Wow, #5 is quite a stretch. Kind of reminds me of a adolescent taking scissors to a puzzle piece to make it fit.

  • Calvin
    February 6, 2015

    I’d love to see you elaborate on number 8. The first century Judean culture was very differences from our own and traveling rabbis were not uncommon. Considering how solid hour other points are, I think you’re trying to make an important point in number 8. However, in that light, it’s lost on me.

  • Guest
    February 6, 2015

    #11. Jesus Claimed To Be God

    One of the truly distinctive things that set Jesus apart from other teachers was his claim to be incarnate diety. This would NOT go over well here in modern America! If there’s one thing that people in American mega-churches are especially intolerant of, it’s people claiming to be God. Seriously, give it a try sometime. Walk into an elders’ meeting and claim to be God. They won’t give you the time of day; they’ll probably call the police!

    It’s difficult, when we look at the ministry of Jesus, not to see the many times and ways he claimed deity for himself. Above everything else, this is what earned him the enmity of the conservative religious faction that killed him. Yet try to find a church in modern America that gives ministry positions to someone claiming to be God. You’ll never find one. Like the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day, modern American Christians are more likely to use the “heretic” word to describe someone who self-identifies as deity.

  • Dennis
    February 6, 2015

    Brother, I say this in love: you need more study of God’s Word!!! Let me correct some items for you:

    #1 – You are correct that Jesus was intentionally unclear in His teaching. But it was not to make us think of some complex message. He hid His message from those who did not want to know truth. (Matthew 11:15, Mark 4:9 just to list a few) The truths that Jesus taught are quite simple. But no amount of study can reveal the deep truths in scripture without the work of God’s saving grace in someone’s life.
    #2 – He was not opposed to ALL violence. (Matthew 21, John 2) But yes, we are to be peaceful in most situations.
    #3 and 5 – I think I saw somewhere you are a pastor. If so, I cannot image how you got this point so wrong. Jesus NEVER ONCE countermanded any law given in the OT (Matthew 5:17). He only clarified the truths behind those laws and corrected the distortions of the laws by the religious elite of His day. While radical in His day, His teachings are very much conservative today. Also, regarding inerrancy of the Bible, I agree. But again, Jesus never once corrected scripture, only those twisted interpretations by those for their own use.
    #4 – You are not correct here as well. Baptism was very much a part of the Jewish religion well before Jesus’ day. And communion comes from the Passover meal. Neither of these items was “added” by Him. They were repurposed for the glory of God.
    #8 – What church(es) do you attend. We have a number of homeless who are continuing parts of our church. You need to find a new church my friend.
    #9 – You couldn’t be more off. Yes, there are those who say they believe yet don’t live their lives accordingly. And there are others who don’t believe in Jesus who treat others as Jesus commands us. But the issue of salvation has never been an issue of whether you are a good or bad person. If that were the case, the thief on the cross next to Jesus would not have gone to Heaven. TRUE faith in Christ brings the correct motives for how we live and care for others. True faith in Jesus brings salvation. But faith without works dies. Works without faith are not credited toward salvation. (Study James)

  • Charles
    February 6, 2015

    To all of those who are offering to straighten out Zach, he is making you suffer angst much as Jesus did his his own peers. Were Jesus to have come to us rather than to his original audience, we would have killed him just as quickly, and with more elaborate justifications. Jesus was the ultimate change agent, to whom the most charitable of us would say, “Too much, too fast.” One side-effect of reading the Gospels is to recognize just how incredibly intolerable Jesus was to the religious establishment. (That’s us, as you know.) “A homeless man sponges off ignorant women and travels the roads with a rag-tag group of acolytes. Shows up at our church, marches to the pulpit and claims that the Bible says he was personally sent by God! He gets the unsophisticated rubes all stirred up with magic tricks and shows us no respect. Insults us in public, even! Hangs out with people who should be in jail, gets in the way of church discipline and says he can forgive sins! Literally stormed into our biggest fundraiser of the year and went crazy; ran everybody out of the church foyer with a whip! Where are the police when you need them? They better be on board when we get ready to hang this guy. It’s him or us, and it is certainly not going to be us.”

  • Bill Toogood
    February 6, 2015

    According to Matthew 6:5-6, He wasn’t real big on public prayer 😉

  • Ryan Wood
    February 7, 2015

    This whole article and everyone’s responses are pretty much moot considering God doesn’t exist.. and Jesus was just another religious man. His intentions seemed to be in the right place though… be a good person, help those less fortunate, distance yourself from the material. What people fail to realize is that heaven and hell exist on earth, and where you choose to be is up to you. But when you die you are worm food and will never again have a conscious thought, you will return to the oblivion from whence you came. Sad that life is pretty much meaningless… but the fact that it’s sad doesn’t change reality.

  • Scott Henry
    February 7, 2015

    “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the Earth?”

  • Scott Henry
    February 7, 2015

    “…nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

  • Gail Sztanko
    February 7, 2015

    After reading Zack’s post and many of the comments that followed it, I feel compelled to point out the New Testament we have today in its various versions/translations was “written” many years (fifty to eighty) after Jesus was crucified and is based on oral history as is the Old Testament. Each of the gospels was written by a specific writer for a specific group of “Christians.” The cannon (the texts included in our Bibles) was created several hundred years later. I am not very interested in the man-made Post Resurrection Jesus, but would give practically anything to be one of those sitting on a hillside in Galilee listening to the historical Jesus profess his belief in a loving, gracious, Creator/Heavenly Father. This very same Jesus who commands us all to “love one another” (John 13:34) and thereby create and sustain God’s kingdom here on Earth.

  • John P Darrow
    February 7, 2015

    One minor nit… the line about the demons believing and trembling isn’t Paul, but comes from James 2:19.

  • Tom Stricker
    February 8, 2015

    There is no way you can quantify what your audience (small as it is) is thinking or believing: “We’re a Church obsessed with converts . . .”, “We love our 3-point sermons . . .”, “It’s a reputation we hate . . .”, . . . . To me, this displays a kind of arrogance. How can you know what a vast, amorphous “Church” that you refer to is, what its identity is. Some believe the things you are condemning, no doubt, just by the law of averages, others do not. I am offended when you try to include me in a united Christian community that exists in your own mind but not in reality.

  • christian louboutin sale outlet
    January 11, 2016

    christian louboutin sandals

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *