I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian … October 4th, 2020

Our jaws dropped.

That was the frequent reaction from those of us who loved and listened to Jonathan Richard Cring. He said things we might have thought. Or said things we felt but had not put into words. Or said things that were too controversial to be said.

The funny thing was, when asked about that particular quality, he would pause, and then say, “Yeah, but when I think about the things Jesus said, I’m just a chicken-heart.”

This passage, taken from his 2007 book, Jesonian, illustrates the point. Both points, in fact.


Sometimes a word just gets worn out.

It has been squeezed into so many diverse jobs that it ceases to have any practical definition or application.

Such a word is “Christian.” I am a firm believer in the life, times and all the philosophies and claims of Jesus. But I have just come to the conclusion that Jesus would make a lousy Christian.

He was uncomfortable with ritual.

He hated judgmentalism.

Hypocrisy made him so mad that he became violent and whipped people.

He found it impossible to be dogmatic, saying, “Those that are not against us are for us.”

Let us think rationally. Christianity has committed too many atrocities and applauded too many fools to be taken seriously as either a word or a movement. Maybe when they first used the word in Antioch so many centuries ago, it was clever and pointed. Now, it is miserable and ambiguous.

Jesus dealt with an identical dilemma during his ministry—so many cults of Judaism existed that the only way he could separate himself from the platitudes of the day was to talk about the Kingdom of God. It was not only thematic; it became the headline banner for his ministry.

His philosophy was, “Call me a Nazarene. Call me a Galilean. Call me a healer. Call me a Kingdom teacher. Call me a wine-bibber, a glutton, a friend of sinners. Anything but a Jew.” And as atrocious as the word “Christian” has become, the phrase, “Judeo-Christian” incorporates an even greater, more insulting insipidity.

There is nothing wrong with being a Jew—unless you are supposed to be a Christian. And there is nothing wrong with being a Christian, except it has lost all its external meaning.

I can no longer look at the actions—or perhaps I should say inactions—of a stumbling religious system that parades itself as Christian and jump on the bandwagon. The term will never be pure again.

Facts are, we have abandoned many words in our society:

Prohibition

Nigger

Bull Moose

League of Nations

Segregation

Manifest Destiny

Indian

Slave

Midget

And “little woman”

Others that are soon to be abandoned in this humble author’s opinion:

The weaker sex

Time-out for kids

African-American

Asian-American

Or anything before American

Redneck

Pro-life and pro-choice

And “ideal body weight”

Jesus said, “By your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned.”

I do not feel justified anymore when I call myself a Christian. I feel condemned, cast into a pit with all the hackneyed representations of religious fervor or denominational deaths that wreak from the pit of meaninglessness.

There is a higher calling. I want to be spiritual enough to be a practical man. Do I need a name for that? I don’t know, but it sure isn’t “Christian”—and it is not Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic or any one of 350 other names. I do not want to become a demagogue on this issue—but the word just must go.

I knew Jesus before he was a Christian. What am I supposed to do with that information? Just look at the evolution the name of Jesus underwent in the history of Christian theology:

First, he was Jesus of Nazareth. Then the Son of Man. Then he was Jesus Christ. Then he was Jesus Christ Our Lord. A few more years pass and they add Savior to his title. Then, after Savior came King of Kings, followed by the Lamb of God, culminating in The Coming King.

Now, I may believe all those things about him, but they are not his name. His name is Jesus. He liked being Jesus, and throughout all my travels, I do believe that his name is still marketable. But the word “Christian” can evoke anything from apathy to rage.

Jesus doesn’t want to be a Christian. Dogmatic? I don’t know. But since he is not here right now, I thought someone should speak up for him.

Jesus does not want to hate homosexuals even if the majority of presumably moral people feel that way.

Jesus would not condone blacks and whites worshipping separately just because “they do it different.”

Jesus did not believe that women were supposed to be subject unto men.

Jesus did not believe in Children’s Church—he was constantly surrounded by the little tots at all times.

Jesus did not begin a praise and worship team—the egos would have destroyed his ministry.

Jesus did not preach against anything except the hypocrites who preached against everything.

Jesus would not steal money from widows to support his television ministry.

Jesus would not start a university to foster parochial thinking and provincial scruples.

Jesus would not advertise his upcoming crusade in the newspaper—where he would be walking on water.

Jesus did not bore his audience to tears with little anecdotes and meaningless homilies, leading to no change in people’s lives.

Jesus would not own a stained glass anything.

Jesus would not allow himself to be sucked up in the political fray.

Jesus would not condone a war as being “for the good of the people.”

Jesus would not allow women and children to be categorized as lesser citizens and objects for manipulation and control.

Jesus would not be comfortable just listening to organ music.

Jesus would suggest that choirs cease to sing if they must do it in a drone.

Jesus would not tolerate prejudice in the guise of racial pride.

Jesus would not be able to stomach theological discussion that did not lead to the relief of human conflict.

Jesus would refuse all titles extoling his goodness, just like he did with the young ruler.

Jesus would deflect all praise and bring focus on the faith of the people.

Jesus would chop up all the pulpits and make firewood to warm the homeless.

Jesus would ask us to give more of ourselves and our hearts, and less of our money and bonds.

Jesus…would refuse to be a Christian.

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