Is Not Being a Jerk Central to Christianity?

Several things have converged on a similar theme. First, Jonathan Robinson shared a post by Richard Beck, and added this cartoon:

But in fact, the point of the post was more in line with this image which my sister sent to me. It has some coarse language, sorry, but the point seemed worthwhile enough when combined with a sense of sibling obligation that I thought I’d share it.

And both of those reminded me of this cartoon:

It obviously takes more than not being a jerk to be a Christian. But how many would agree that being a jerk and being a Christian ought to be fundamentally antithetical, even if being a jerk is combined in practiced with just about every ideology, trait, standpoint and belief/unbelief system humans have ever adhered to?

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  • Yme Woensdregt

    Frankly, while I have encountered my fair share (or more than fair?) of Christian jerks, and while there have been times I have been one as well, it is hard for me to fathom how one can reconcile being a jerk with the teachings of compassion, grace, and the greatest of all which is love with being a jerk. I have had too many Christians of other stripes tell me they love me and then proceed quietly to disembowel me (figuratively, thanks be to God) because I have disagreed with their understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It is time for us to agree that it is possible for us to disagree and still honour one another as people who seek to walk faithfully in the way.

  • Jason Staples

    Then again, when I have my students read the Gospel of Mark as though they had never heard of Jesus and write an essay on what they thought of Mark’s Jesus, most of them come back surprised, saying something to the effect of, “Wow, Mark’s Jesus was a real jerk.”

    • Chuck Grantham

      You’re Bart Ehrman in disguise, aren’t you?

      • Jason Staples

         Bart would find that idea pretty funny.

        • Chuck Grantham

          I’ve never faulted Bart’s sense of humor. Well, okay, there have been a couple of jokes….

  • Bob MacDonald

    Personally, I am a jerk, I spit nails, and I am filled with fury, violence, and bitterness. I mutter under my breath at those who programmed the creation of Indexes for a book! That’s why, maybe, I read the psalms – an antidote if I forget my desire to be in, my elitism.

  • angela

    funny, this is the first time i’ve looked at this blog in months because i was fed up with the superior, pompous, self-aggrandizing, general jerkiness of the posts.   is someone who trolls the internet and posts everything they can find to criticize about other christians, making snipy comments about how foolish it is to believe the bible– somehow a nice guy?  

    • Alex A Dalton

       See folks? Look at angela’s comment. She basically appears to think James is a jerk. I’m sure alot of conservative Christians would feel the same. I personally don’t think James is a jerk, because I don’t think he intends to come off that way and I’m big on motives, but that was my point…

      Often people who disagree strongly with others (particularly if they do so in a mocking or condescending sort of way), are perceived as jerks. Truth be told, this is *most* people.

  • Alex A Dalton

    I’m sure there were many that thought Jesus was a jerk. He seemed to have a very high view of himself and his role, demand that others follow him, feel as though he was speaking the words of God, make all sorts of moral/ethical demands on people, he gave very harsh critiques of the religious practices of others, he preached a whole lot of hellfire and brimstone – moreso than anyone up until that point, etc. Jesus’ ethic of love obviously includes a very harsh rebuke of what he saw as immoral, unjust, etc. There were also obviously alot of people that didn’t sit well with. We have a different view of love than Jesus would’ve had. As modern Westerners we tend to view love as open unconditional acceptance, but none of us actually practice that anyway. Jesus definitely did not practice this, and often condemned opponents to hell. This blog is mostly a critique (often through mockery) of opposing views. I’m sure there are many that think James is a jerk.

  • Glenn Peoples

    I think that even the condemnation of homosexual acts, the condemnation of abortion, and the view that women shouldn’t be pastors (and here I’m speaking neither for or against these, totally different point) – along with other unpopular things – if people believe they are correct, can be advocated without being a jerk. And for what it’s worth, telling Christians not to do these things, if people think that’s appropriate, is easily done in a very jerk like fashion (and I’m talking about interactions between Christians). Neither liberal nor conservative Christians have managed to corner the market on jerkiness.

    And yes – being a jerk to one another is definitely antithetical to the Christian faith, our best efforts to combine them notwithstanding.

    • LectorElise

      No they can’t. Advocating I go away because of my icky homosexuality, no matter how sweetly you phrase it, is the act of a jerk of the first order. Advocating for any limitation of human rights will always be an inherently evil act, and an inherently jerkish one.