I have tried for the most part in the last year or so to avoid someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet syndrome. This has resulted in almost no blogs posts…
This post is sort of one of those posts. I saw a blog post linked to incessantly by some friends and many acquaintances and felt that I could no longer read it without comment. I know, I know. You are thinking “But Josh, you were doing so well!” I’m sorry. I know I should take time and be well reasoned, but these are all my gut reactions.
The premise of the original post is that there are 15 modified quotes of Jesus with the title “Things Jesus Didn’t Say.” I discuss them one at a time.
1. “For God was so disgusted with the world and you that he gave his one and only Son.”
True, Jesus didn’t say this. In fact, there is some debate as to where the quote from Jesus to Nicodemus ends and the apostle John’s exposition begins. But let’s assume that John 3:16 is a quote from Jesus own lips (I believe it is) and agree that the following verses are also a quote from him:
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name ofthe [f]only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, fortheir deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:17-21 (emphasis mine)
2. “I have come to bring you a new religion.”
Again, Jesus did not say this. Not even sure which quote was modified here because Jesus talked a lot about why he came (i.e. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Mt 10:34). My assumption here is that this is an attack on organized religion in the form of a church. I could go many ways on this but I thought the most frank was to go straight to most people’s least liked function of the organized church–church discipline:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Mt 18:15-20. Seems really organizey and religious to me…just sayin’.
3. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology.”
But he did say: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7:15-20). So they will know us by our actions, but those who are false prophets (the definition of bad theology) will not bear good fruit. It is our job as believers to be vigilantly attempting to discern what is good teaching and what is bad through a coherent framework of what Scripture says is good and is not good. This is usually referred to as…theology.
4. “If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers.”
But he did say: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Mt 14:6. So if it is disparaging to say that they are lies that lead to death rather than life, then yes he did.
5. “If you love me, you will regularly attend a church of your choice… within reason.”
There are so many things wrong here I do not even know where to start. He says that his presence is in our gatherings and commands us to gather, he warns us of false prophets, and tells us that the gate is narrow that leads to eternal life. If he is trying to get at the idea that denominations fight too much good job to him…every denomination feels that a different one fights too much and those who are non-denominational fight for “peace” the loudest.
6. “Blessed are the tithers for they shall be called the children of God.”
No, but he does say: ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Mt 6:19-21, 24.
7. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Heaven after the earth goes up in flames and is destroyed.”
But he did say: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4.
8. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor,’ which means the people with whom you attend church and relate to in your Christian sub-culture.”
This one actually makes a good point. We should love those who are outside the church by preaching the Gospel to them and speaking truth to them. We should love them by telling them that there is only way to reach God and become a part of His Kingdom.
9. “In my Father’s house there are a limited number of rooms. But no worries, there is plenty of room in Hell.”
But he did say: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Mt 7:13-14.
10. “The kingdom of God has come!… Well, not exactly. I mean, not completely. Let’s face it, the really-real kingdom comes after we die. Hang in there. It won’t be long.”
He did however say: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). As you delve further into the epistles you find a clear statements of the “already and not yet” of the Kingdom. But I am focusing on what Jesus has said.
11. “And you will know the truth and the truth will make you superior to all the other simpletons who never learned Greek or Hebrew.”
This does not even make sense. Without those who know Greek and Hebrew there would not even be English translations of the Bible for everyone to read. And unless he is talking about the academics who rarely darken the door of a church, most evangelical scholars I have met are surprisingly focused on the spiritual formation of those in their local congregations.
12. “You are the light of the world… well… in a sinful-filthy-scum kind of way.”
In so many words, no. He simply states that unless we have righteousness that “exceeds the pharisees” we will not enter the Kingdom (Mt 5:20). So maybe, just maybe, Jesus is talking about the power of Jesus to shine through us in spite of our sin, filth, and scum.
13. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a checklist of things to do and not do in order to remain in God’s favor.”
But he said “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt 11:28-30. Just to be clear, his “yoke” would be His commands, because they are not burdensome once you have understood the Gospel.
14. “For God so loved the world… you know like theoretically… as in, God loves the big ‘W’-world. But when it come to you specifically, there are quite a few things that would need to change for God to actually and specifically love… or even like… YOU.”
See number 1.
15. “He appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days and spoke about how to incorporate his life and teaching as a 501(c)3, and go into all the earth to build mega-churches in his name.”
This one actually makes a good point. I am not a fan of the mega-church model as it often (though not always) lacks the community that is essential to true discipleship and I am not sure what tax-exemption has to do with anything, but I am a fan of “rendering unto Caesar” as it were.