Jesus: The Latest Incarnation

Everyone knows that images of Jesus have changed over the years, centuries and millennia. Much like Doctor Who has featured different regenerations of its main character, and the show itself has been many different things over the years, one could perhaps usefully ask whether the “character” of Jesus in Christianity does not seem like it is that of a very old time lord who regenerates into someone slightly different in each (re)generation.

This thought was sparked not so much by IO9′s recent article on Doctor Who, but also by something a colleague forwarded to me. Advertising from a new church not far from Indianapolis ended up in his hands, and it started with the following questions:

MEN – DO YOU NOT FOLLOW JESUS BECAUSE YOU FEEL LIKE HE’S A GUY YOU COULD TAKE IN A CAGE FIGHT?

Women – Do you not follow Jesus because most of the men in your life have let you down, so why wouldn’t he?

The questions themselves are telling, but so too is the choice of fonts. The question addressed to men is written

So there are two obvious questions: First, do you think that most men in the Indianapolis area think that they could take the Doctor in a cage fight, and if so, do you agree that they are wrong?

But second, who do you think Jesus is turning into for the latest generation? There are probably multiple answers to that question, all correct for a certain constituency, and they would all be worth discussing.

To jump start the discussion, here’s an image that the colleague forwarded to me together with the advertising flyer from the church:

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  • Evan Hershman

    To answer the two questions:

    1) Most men think they could take the Doctor in a cage match. They’d be wrong. Why? Two words: sonic screwdriver. Anyone who’s watched the show knows it can do anything. I’m sure the Doctor would figure something out. Or he’d figure out some ridiculously clever trick to get you to drop the match altogether. Like he got the Silence to totally screw themselves at the beginning of the current season. Or the way he gets an entire alien battle fleet to take off just by giving a thoroughly awesome speech in “The Pandorica Opens.” As River Song put it, he’s made entire armies turn and run at his approach. So I doubt he’d have trouble in a cage match. :-)

    2) If the latest crop of “Christian” books popping up at my local bookstore are any indication, Jesus seems to be turning into the ultimate drinking buddy/guidance counselor/bodyguard/martial artist all wrapped into one. Seriously, if you can think of a problem, there is somebody out there who has written a book explaining how praying hard enough to Jesus will solve it for you. Two actual book titles I have seen: “Jesus, CEO” and “Jesus: The Greatest Therapist Who Ever Lived.” *nausea*

    Personally, I find the recent emergence of the “Jesus as cage fighter” image the most disturbing at all. I mean, the guy who said to love your enemies and turn the other cheek is now turned into a variation on a WWF wrestler? Give me a break. But I guess that’s what all too many men seem to want these days… a Jesus who will validate our cultural norms about masculinity rather than challenging them.

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  • Eric Thurman

    To the Tea Party set, Jesus is turning into an anti-tax, anti-socialist critic and an advocate for private property and an unfettered free market. Of course this combination of Christ and capitalism is not itself new: see Bruce Barton’s _The Man Nobody Knows_(1925), which imagines the Galilean peasant as a model for the modern business exec. Unlike Barton though, who focused mostly on (his construction of) Jesus’ personality, those who influence the Tea Party movement (ab)use Jesus’ teachings as well.

    See here for background: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4366/jesus_hates_taxes%3A_biblical_capitalism_created_fertile_anti-union_soil

    See here for related humor: http://teapartyjesus.tumblr.com/

  • Anonymous

    Jesus: Cage Fighter calls to mind the album cover for the Christian rock group, P.O.D.’s “Snuff the Punk”. Original: http://j.mp/po4f3h Re-issue: http://j.mp/nResGx

  • http://www.facebook.com/thatjeffcarter Jeff Carter

    sounds like someones been taking theology from Mark Driscoll…

  • http://morphed2fly.blogspot.com/ Nancy

    All of us humans have our version, even if we don’t admit to it….This  post made me wonder if I could type out a word picture of the Jesus held within my mind…I decided, I just don’t want to go there! If we are continually feeding on the Word of God and submitted to God’s Holy Spirit, our minds are in a state of continual renewal so the version of Jesus we hold will also be changing. This is a good thing!

    1 John 3:2

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    what kind of idiot follows a guy who can beat them in a cage match? “Wow that Brock Lesner looks like he is full of good ideas!”

  • http://bwsixteen.wordpress.com/ BWSixteen

    Jesus pounding Satan? Who would’ve thought. Nice use of the cowgirl position Jesus – ride that big devil!

  • Brock Lesnar

    BW -

    In Brazilian Jiujitsu and MMA Satan would be in the “guard” position while Jesus is in the “mount.”

    Now I’m not quite sure which martial art has this cowgirl position you speak of. Regardless, Old Scratch is in a tight spot.

  • Anonymous

    I do think there are lots of similarities between Jesus and modern science fiction characters. Perhaps we can have a series on the historical Dr. Who, he is certainly multiply attested.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Why does @beallen0417:disqus have to spoil humor by introducing mythicist idiocy into the discussion?

  • http://strawberryroan.blogspot.com Shanyn Mystic

    Response to the text – all caps for men. That is shouting and very aggressive.  Except for a few exceptions in scripture that doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know.  Soft italics for the ladies – ahem Jesus isn’t this romance novel husband replacement either.  

    Neither of these text ‘images’ nor the actual ‘poster image’ of the cage match reconcile well with the calloused hands and serving heart of the Jesus we know from the Bible, nor the Jesus who will return.  Nor even, of the Jesus prophetically claimed through the Old Testament.

    People are lazy and are much too deeply invested in their marketing to fill seats instead of filling hearts and lives. 

    • Eric Thurman

      Beg to differ, Shanyn, that the cage match Christ can’t be easily reconciled with the guy in the New Testament. What about the “king of kings, lord of lords” riding into war, complete with costume and props, in Rev. 19:11-21?

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  • http://bwsixteen.wordpress.com/ BWSixteen

    See my take on the image here: http://bwsixteen.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/pounding-jesus/

    • Brock Lesnar

      BW –

      LOL.


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