This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

TYMUR Theology

There is, though, a form of Christianity far worse than just being a fan of Jesus.  There is the practice of using Jesus as an emblem or mascot or figurehead to justify your own agenda, even when that agenda is utterly contrary to everything Jesus was about.  This makes the image of  “Jesus,” detached from the actual teachings, life, and ministry of Jesus, into an idol.  

Like the infamous (and unsolved) Tylenol murders of 1982 (the FBI code name for which is TYMURS), this form of Christianity uses the name of Jesus on the outside of the bottle, but inside the capsules has been placed a deadly poison.  We accept something calling itself “Jesus,” but instead of the life he lived as attested in the gospels, we find ourselves poisoned by this toxic mix of nationalism, militarism, violence, fear, anger, greed, bigotry, exclusion, and rabid self-righteousness.  

The tragedy is that many people assume that this murderous and hateful concoction that oozes out of the capsules labeled “Jesus” really is what Jesus is about.  This is how Christianity is experienced by a large part of the world.  It is a Christianity that has nothing to do with Jesus, and everything to do with propping up, maintaining, justifying, and spreading the values of Empire.  It is a container with "Jesus," on the label, but refilled with something deadly.   

This practice is something we inherit from Christendom, which basically projected a false picture of Jesus whom it claimed to worship and follow.  In reality this “Jesus” was often a facade behind which stood the principalities and powers of, at first, imperial Rome.  As history wore on, different secular orders used the same tactic.  But they all have in common the use of Jesus’ name and image to justify acts and policies and ways of thinking that are radically contrary to what Jesus himself was actually about.

One example of this sort of thing happening today is found in the recent article in Harper’s Magazine called “Jesus Killed Mohammad.”

Here, journalist Jeff Sharlet chronicles the rise of evangelical “Christians” in the U. S. military. It becomes clear that, whatever these people believe, it has nothing to do with the Jesus Christ who is attested in the Scriptures.  They justify war, torture, conquest, bullying, and other things clearly out of the range of WJWD.  They have apparently made it an acceptable practice of bait Muslims in Iraq by spouting the motto, “Jesus Killed Mohammad!” (you can almost hear the infantile refrain, nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah) on their vehicles and spray-painting crosses on the walls of mosques.  

Christendom was always “Christianity with a fake Jesus,” and these military fanatics are merely a contemporary manifestation of a vile tendency that has a long history.  The Crusades and the Inquisition are the best known instances of this.  .

Christian faith is only maintained in its integrity by the persistent fact that we do still have the gospels.  And occasionally people bother to read them and listen to them... rather than use them in other ways — weapon, doorstop, credentialing device, litmus test, doctrinal checklist, etc.  

(This is why I have zero patience with people like Bart Ehrman, who make it their business to undermine the authority and integrity of the gospels.  Such projects may actually give aid and comfort to those who would utilize the gospels in their own projects of violence and bigotry.  I can think of lots of people who would love to hear that they may cherry-pick the parts of the gospels they like, and dismiss the rest.)

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