NYT's Stupid Questions Edition: What Religion Would Jesus Be?
In what should be a question with the most obvious answer in the history of questions, the New York Times recently queried, "What religion would Jesus be?" According to columnist Nicholas Kristof, "One puzzle of the world is that religions often don't resemble their founders." Comparing Christianity's long-held beliefs about sexuality to apartheid and hacking off the genitals of girls, Kristof complains that religions have turned their collective backs on the liberal agendas of their collective founders.
Leaving Islam and Buddhism behind, Kristof focuses his ire on Christianity as practiced by almost every single Christian in the history of Christendom because, "Jesus was a radical who challenged the establishment." Kristof is right, of course. Jesus was radical, but in the exact opposite way that Kristof believes.
Jesus was a radical because he surrendered his rights as God, took on the form and frailty of human flesh, and came to earth to die. And he did that because no human is capable of having a right relationship with God. Sin had to be dealt with. Jesus didn't come to earth to relieve poverty and suffering on this earth; he came to provide a way of salvation in order that those who place their faith in him will escape God's coming wrathful judgment and instead be ushered into the new heaven and new earth where there will be no poverty and suffering. That's what the Church calls "the gospel."
Kristof flips the gospel completely over, emptying it of all its goodness and effectiveness. He attempts to rescue Jesus from the Bible by turning Jesus into a leftist hippy who just wants everyone to love themselves and each other exactly as they are. The only sin that Kristof's Jesus recognizes is the sin of not embracing leftist ideology. That ideology includes the rejection of the belief that humans stand guilty before God and are in need of a divine Savior. For leftists, salvation is accomplished by humans for other humans. In other words, a man-centered religion.
To be fair, perverting Jesus into a leftist demands Kristof's question, I guess. However, that doesn't make the question any more honest. Forming a god into the graven image that liberals deem worthy of worship demands a bit of rhetorical chicanery, and the Gray Lady proved this past Sunday that integrity is subservient to their god of progressivism.
Directly answering the Times' question requires a mere ten words: "Jesus would be the religion that bears his name - CHRISTianity." Expounding on what that means, however, demands that Nicholas Kristof's errors and deceptions be revealed. To begin with, I wish that when the New York Times writes about Christianity, they'd interview an actual Christian. Instead, the Times' "Christian" source for the article, Brian McLaren, is a noted heretic, apostate, and enemy of Jesus.
McLaren first rose to prominence in the late '90s and early 2000s as a leader in the emerging church movement. Along with pastors and writers like Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones, McLaren helped create a publishing cottage industry that is dedicated to upending evangelicalism. In doing so, McLaren has systematically rejected long-held orthodox doctrines like the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Bible, the doctrine of God's wrath that will be ultimately realized by casting sinners into hell and, maybe most damning, the Bible's teaching that Jesus' death on the cross was a substitutionary death for the punishment of the sins of humans. According to McLaren, Jesus' death on the cross is merely an example of forgiveness while being unjustly tortured and killed. If humans will simply emulate Jesus, salvation will be achieved for all. Unfortunately, Jesus has been hijacked by the God of the Bible. McLaren actually believes that the Church's doctrine of God has been perverted by a highly flawed book and then further interpreted through a Hellenistic lens. Instead, we should interpret God by cherry-picking the things about Jesus that fit nicely within the leftist agenda.