Jihadist Jesus Fake-Out

Bruce Gerencser shared this insightful quote from Brian McLaren’s book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope:

This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion… If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.

  • http://sandhilldiary.wordpress.com/ C. (sandhilldiary)

    The “Rambo Jesus gonna come back and /is he pissed/!” imagery of the second coming that I grew up with was one of the many narrow interpretations of Christian doctrine that I just couldn’t reconcile myself to. Things like that are what ultimately led me out of the church of my childhood.

  • Cynthia Schrage

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more. But there are certainly days when I feel like things are coming to such a place that I’d be glad to see Jesus b*tch slap some of these crazies around! Then I just have to calm myself down…

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      Funny comment. So I wanted to visit your blog, but clicking on your name does not show me anything about you — unlike WordPress and Blogspot. Darn.
      Anyway, fun comment!

      • Cynthia Schrage

        I wish this blogger (Attn: Mr. Exploring Our Matrix!) had a spot for web site. But if you’re interested, it’s http://aftertheecstasythelaundry.wordpress.com

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

          Thanks! I think you should be able to include that in your Disqus profile. Ironically, Sabio complained about there not being a place for a link to one’s blog, and yet when you click on his name, there is a link to his blog! :-)

          • http://aftertheecstasythelaundry.wordpress.com/ Cynthia Schrage

            You’re so cool! I only just started using Disqus, and hadn’t added that to my profile. So, we’ll see what happens.

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

              Much better, I think! But let’s see if Sabio approves! :-)

  • Mary

    That kind of mentality is really scary especially when combined with religious zealots who read into everything the signs of the end times, such as believing Obama is the Antichrist.

    These types of Christians do not believe that world peace is a possibility and in fact work against it at every turn. They seem to be itching for a fight. They believe that there is nobility in fighting “God’s Enemies.” God save us from these lunatics!

  • Susan Burns

    The apocalyptic fate of the world as seen by Christians is the reason we have 30% of the population stockpiling weapons.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Very good point: eschatological views, just like soteriological view can be used to create or re-enforce policy preferences and nurture dangerous minds. So, I guess progressive Christians can try change the prevalent theologies or ….

    Why must we struggle to make the Jesus of the Bible nonviolent when we have nonviolent models we know are real. The battle to make Jesus say what you value has gone on for 2,000 years. This struggle should be enough to tell folks it is time to move on.

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      Wow, I just realized two more negative things about “Disqus”:

      (1) If I want to look at the blog of a commentor, unlike on WordPress or Blogspot, I can’t just click on their name to find their blog. DisGust [sic] seems to want to keep us inhouse.

      (2) Once you click on a person’s name, you can’t get back to the post.

      Arggghhhhh — why do people use this comment system? Is it the only one Patheos allows?

      • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

        Oh, I saw, if the person set up the DisCus profile with their site, you can visit — as mine has. But # 2 seems to still be a problem.

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

          Why not just use the “Go Back” button?

  • Herro

    So the picture of Jesus as a second-coming-jihadistis wrong because it makes the first coming look bad? Sounds to me like the arguments of this guy suffer from his adoration of Jesus. Maybe Jesus just held views that are repulsive to him.

  • Straw Man

    Another perspective on the same set of facts: it’s objectively obvious that non-violence is not converting the world; the vast majority are pro various types of violence. Supposing that God is unsurprised by this outcome, why would He send his son to preach what is essentially non-violence?

    The “fake out” interpretation seems strained. A more plausible interpretation is to give mankind a full two millennia (or so) to demonstrate its complete refusal to embrace non-violence, at which point God says in effect, “You had your chance,” and puts a stop to the violence by overthrowing the system that perpetuates it.

    (Note that few conceive of an anti-authoritarian God. The idea that this entails a benevolent divine dictatorship is not at all foreign to the thinking of Jews or Christians in any century. Nor do most Jews or Christians conceive of a truly *pacifist* God. That is, they conceive of God as telling people to eschew violence, but He never showed any particular squeamishness about knocking some appropriate heads, nor, generally speaking, to his people using force when given no alternative. The ethic is not “nonviolence at all costs,” but rather, “as much as it lies with YOU, live at peace with all.”)

    • Beau Quilter

      Have you read Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Natures? He makes an excellent argument that (in terms of demographic statistics and other demonstrable measures) humanity is, in fact, becoming progressively less violent. Even the holocausts of the 20th century don’t make much of a dent in the statistical downward trend of humanity’s violent tendencies.

      The reason that human violence seems “obvious” to us is a measure of how far we’ve come. We are far more sensitive to violence than we were in ages past. It is true that we have more technological capacity for violence now than in the past with drone warfare and nuclear arms, but the fact that our rates of violence still trend demonstrably downward over time – in spite of our ability to kill more effectively – is again, a measure of how far we’ve come.

      • Straw Man

        I haven’t read it, but I’d be interested in knowing how the author gets at such trend information. I don’t subscribe to the idea that things are getting WORSE–that’s what everyone thinks, thanks to the “good old days” fallacy mentioned as early as the writer of Ecclesiastes. But I’d expect violence to be fairly stable over time, mostly because I’d expect human nature to be extremely stable over time.

        Jared Diamond commented that native cultures are not less violent than ours, despite our sylvan fantasies to the contrary. He cited in particular a series of interviews he did with some tribe somewhere, in which the men often died by violence, frequently in order to take their wives. The rates of violent crime only seem lower as a statistical effect of the much smaller populations involved.

        If there really is a measurable decrease, then before looking at the evidence I’d conjecture that it’s very tightly coupled with material prosperity. People aren’t hard-wired to be killers; they kill for REASONS. Bad reasons, we would say, at least if we believe in non-violence, but reasons nonetheless. And many of those reasons diminish greatly when people are on average well fed, clothed, housed, and generally have their basic needs and wants satisfied.

        • beau_quilter

          Yes, I’m a reader of Jared Diamond as well. His studies (especially in his more recent book, The World Until Yesterday) indicate that tribal societies are in fact, far more violent than western societies, most (with a few exceptions) living in a state of nearly constant warfare. Pinker draws the same conclusions from his data.

          Pinker also agrees with you, to an extent, that prosperity is one of the factors behind decreased violence, though it is by no means the only factor.

          Pick up the book if you’re interested in his sources. It is well documented; and though it’s had it’s share of criticism, it’s also been well-received by scholars. Most of the criticisms I’ve read never actually deal with his statistics. For example, John Arquilla claims that Pinker’s stats depend on battle-deaths and ignore the rising toll of noncombatant deaths, but that’s a false claim. I’ve read Pinker’s book, and he includes noncombatant deaths in great detail.


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