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‘Half Jesus’

Isn't really Jesus at all.

February 27, 2023  0


Have you noticed the virtual flood of "Jesus" messaging going on these days almost everywhere? And you can bet that Satan loves every bit of it because none of it presents authentic Jesus — none of it. For example, the "He Gets Us" outfit is spending a billion dollars, including on the Super Bowl, to explain to us how Jesus "gets us" — like followers of Christ don't already know that.

Likewise, the streaming smash hit The Chosen, an ecumenical offering. Always beware that word, "ecumenical," when it comes to a mass audience. It really means "watered down so as few people object or are offended as possible," completely sidestepping the reality that the authentic Jesus is offensive. The Gospels go out of their way to inform us of that.

Then there's Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, who is also pounding the pulpit about the need for Jesus back in American life. "We Need More Pro-Life Christians Back in Office," the tweet says. Does that include so-called Christians who, on the one hand, claim to be followers of Christ, while, on the other hand, accept divorce and remarriage as well as contraception?

Then, of course, there was the very popular fad "What Would Jesus Do?" memorialized in rubber wristbands and T-shirts for a number of years. In short, "Jesus" makes a comeback every few years or so in American culture, and yet, somehow, American culture such as it is keeps getting worse. How is that possible?

Almost nothing worthwhile on earth comes without pain and sacrifice.

Well, the answer is going to offend a lot of people, but it's the truth. It's because it's not actually Jesus that keeps making a comeback. It's fake Jesus that keeps making a comeback — one that bears almost zero resemblance to actual Jesus. There is, in reality — aside from feeling like you're in on the fad or having an emotional reaction — not anything genuine about all these "Jesus" movements going on.

They have absolute zero staying power because they are nothing but fads. And fads with a history — older folks will remember the so-called Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The followers of that were called "Jesus Freaks," and they too wore wristbands and T-shirts to identify themselves. And I remember them distinctly because my brother Marshall — God rest his soul — who was seven years older than me, got all wrapped up in that for a minute.

That movement was the precursor of the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church, which began at Duquesne University and quickly transferred to Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in the early 1970s with its People of Praise community. That's the group, you'll remember, that Amy Coney Barrett was interrogated about during her Supreme Court nomination hearings. That larger movement was even memorialized in secular publications like Time magazine with its outlandish cover: "The Jesus Revolution."

And if you think all these more contemporary Christian rockers like Casting Crowns and Hillsong United are trailblazers, you are about 40 years behind. Yup, it was cringey then, and it's still cringey now. The point of this little trip down memory lane is to point out that all this Jesus stuff today has a long history and, most importantly, accomplished absolutely nothing substantive in the culture.

Within months, for example, after that performance at a Christian concert called "The Way," abortion had become the law of the land. So much for the Spirit sweeping over America — at least, the Holy Spirit. America, with its roots deeply planted in the heresy of Protestantism, has always been susceptible to the phenomenon of "fake Jesus," and it still is today. Large numbers of Catholics have gone along with this, so desperate for a seat at the cultural table that they would tolerate everything and fall for anything.

"Fake Jesus" naturally flows from the Protestant heresy because at the root of that heresy is an understanding that you are your own pope. Luther and all his theological descendants don't really object to the papacy per se, just who the pope is. Protestants are given permission to simply be their own pope — to invent their own theology through their own personal interpretation of Scripture — and all of that inevitably leads to their own "Jesus."

And since that "Jesus" — or perhaps better said, "Jesuses" — are their own creations, then they are fake. Sure, they bear  some resemblance to the actual Jesus. Every cheap knockoff of everything does, but in the end, that's all it is: a facsimile of the real thing. The evils facing modern man, in greater abundance, perhaps, than at any other time in human history, are very real, and the only assault that can be brought against them is the real Jesus.

This pandering Christ all over the culture — the One who "gets us" — is phony baloney. That He "gets us" is little else than an excuse for our sinning. "I'm gonna divorce my wife because that cute little thing over there — she understands me. She's my soulmate. Jesus 'gets me.' "

He who does not pick up his cross daily will be damned.

The Protestant heresy is alive and well in Catholic circles as well. The "Jesus" of the Jesus Freak movement, in all its latest iterations, would never damn anyone, never exact justice, never demand repentance."Cool Jesus, cozy Christ" never calls for anything greater, never summons forth from us the move to actual holiness.

All "The Chosen" Christ does is make an appeal to your emotions. And that's why you see nothing in these historical trends except emotional responses. There is no appeal to the intellect. No appeal to meditate on the divine truths, to plumb the mysteries of God, to completely change one's life and thinking and orientation.

Saint Paul says, by way of warning, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8) Just because a soul possesses goodwill does not mean that soul cannot be duped, nor does it mean it will be saved. Almost nothing worthwhile on earth comes without pain and sacrifice. Usually, comfort and "feeling good" don't even enter into the equation in the day-to-day.

Being understood, being comfortable — those are the rewards of the struggle, not part of the struggle. If they were part of the struggle, then where would the struggle be? Take these words to the bank, and not because Church Militant says them — we are only repeating them. If you have a problem with them, go see the Incarnate Logos and take it up with Him. He who does not pick up his cross daily will be damned.

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