Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Jesus of Our Own Mind

In these days of debates over health care or Obamacare (whichever side you rest on), something I've heard repeated over and over again is that Jesus would support health care. Some have even claimed Jesus was a socialist, and that His care for the sick and poor would be enough proof of this. On Facebook, responding to a friend's post about this, I entered a brief exchange with someone else over whether or not Jesus would indeed support free health care. He stated that he "completely disagreed" with my assertion to the negative, and said that from his studies Christ would indeed support a national health care system, even proclaiming that he had read the New Testament in the original Greek. I replied that I too had read the New Testament, and in the original Greek. As I had already quoted scripture to make my case, I asked, like Martin Luther did to his Roman Catholic accusers, that he convict me with scripture. He immediately backtracked, stating that he didn't really quote scripture, and when I pressed him further he began to simply argue that you could say anything you wanted about faith. In the end, of course, what all this meant was that he had simply invented a Jesus of his own mind.

This doesn't begin or end with politics, of course. On another website, I had entered a brief conversation with a girl who claimed that she didn't follow the Bible, she just sought after God "in her own way," and that all she had to do was follow Jesus. I tried to make her understand that all scripture was God-breathed, and asked her, gently, where she thought she was better than God. She took offense to that, saying that she had heard a voice that calmed her nerves long ago, and that she felt happier than she ever did before, and I had no right to judge. When I tried to bring her back to what I was talking about, she got more upset and ended the conversation. She did not want the true Christ because, in reality, she worshiped a Christ of her own mind.

These days it's popular to entertain a Christ of your own imagination, one who does not judge, who does not care what you do as long as you're OK, and through which any person can enter into heaven. Press these same people to quote scripture and they either cannot or they can only do so sparingly, and often out of context. Christ was not a series of proof texts or vague ideas - He was the very source of Divine Truth, and the Way to the Father, and in Him we have Life (cf. John 14:6).

I wonder how many people who use the name of Jesus to support left-wing beliefs and cite the example of His healings would likewise concur with His belief that marriage was identified as being between a man and a woman (Matt 19:4-5)? Or that there is only one true religion, as established through Him, and therefore not all roads lead to heaven (Matt 10:33; Luke 9:26; John 3:36)? Or that just looking at someone in lust was the same as committing the act of adultery (Matt 5:27-28)? I wonder how many looking at His healings would realize that they were done "so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matt 9:6), and that they were done to manifest His glory (cf. John 2:11), thereby proving His divinity? In fact, I wonder how many people name-dropping Jesus would agree with His own assertion that He was deity (John 8:58, 17:5)? The answer to all these questions is...probably very few.

Due to the fact that Christ is often associated with the word religion, people who follow a universalist and "open-minded" opinion of faith therefore believe they can, in essence, play with the teaching and beliefs of Christ as much as they want. The problem is that Christ is not only a vague word known as "god," but is also a historical figure. You cannot play with what He believed and taught any more than you can any other historical figure. If I went to an American history professor and began to make up stuff about what I thought Thomas Jefferson would believe in, he could readily disprove me with the writings of Jefferson and his colleagues. What am I to say to this? Could I say, "It doesn't matter, I can believe about Jefferson whatever I want." No, of course not. That would be inane. Likewise, it is just as inane, if not more so, to claim that you could believe whatever you wanted about Jesus, regardless of what eyewitnesses and His direct followers wrote that He said and taught.

The fact is, when we proclaim that we don't need Holy Writ and that we can believe what we want, we are saying that we understand God better than He does. Indeed, we proclaim judgment on affairs to the same God who told Job, "Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?" (Job 40:8). On the day of judgment we will all be judged before the throne of God (Rev 20:11-12), where we will stand before the glorified Christ and the legions of angels. Where, then, will our fictitious theologies be? Where will our man-centered, man-made thoughts be written? Will the Christ of our mind save us? Those who put their trust in their arm of flesh will find it to be broken and in shatters before the angels...but those who trusted in the true Christ will find themselves able to enter paradise with the host of saints.

There is only one Christ - the one who died on the cross, and on the third day rose again, and who ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. From Him we have forgiveness of sins and life after lasting. He is not a buffet to be dissected and picked apart, but a full Deity to be worshiped and magnified. He is true God of true God, and under no other name on earth can we be saved. Amen.