Everyone with any sense knows that we accept the acceptable words of Jesus and appropriate his unacceptable words in altered forms. That is, we use his sayings if they are agreeable, and we reject or theologically undermine the ones that aren’t.
Even philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek are aware of this trick. He tells the story of a conference he was at where he asked a Catholic priest what Jesus meant by “unless you hate your mother and father you cannot be my disciple” and the priest waffled and said he wasn’t prepared to answer such a difficult question. Žižek responded by saying, “Fuck you! You’ve had over 2,000 years to figure this out!” That’s because the priest, as representative of the church, knew that Jesus’ saying is too difficult to do. That is, Jesus redefined what family is and that unless we are willing to challenge our most precious ideologies (read “idols”), such as family, then we cannot follow him. Unless we free ourselves of our assigned and assumed groups and ideologies, we are not free at all.
Jesus was called a stumbling stone because he himself admitted that people would fall over things he said. Well, we just don’t want to do that anymore. Instead, the church uses Jesus in ways that secure, sustain, validate and endorse its own agenda.
I invite you to join our online community, The Lasting Supper.