Editor’s note: Johnnie Moore is the author of Dirty God (#DirtyGod). He is a professor of religion and vice president at Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM .
By Johnnie Moore, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture.
You know the image. It’s the one where Jesus is walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God.
But despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God.
He was the “earthly” son of a carpenter, and life in the first-century was both more lurid and unfinished than our collective religious memory seems to recall.
To that end, I suggested recently to several astounded colleagues of mine that Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, perhaps even on the side of the road between Capernaum and Jerusalem.
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What tipped them over the edge was when I insinuated that Jesus, like almost every other human being living in the rural world in that time, might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two.
Someone said, “You mean that Jesus might have had severe diarrhea?”
“Yep,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I mean.”
It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head.
But, actually, the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think.
I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that’s one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly.
They could relate to him.
He was the teacher from a small town who knew and understood the economic insecurity that was common in the first century. Times must have been rather tough for Jesus at points in his life, for he even spoke of being homeless, having to sleep on the ground with no roof over his head.
He also knew what it was like to have his message rejected and how it felt to be misunderstood. Jesus was regarded with such little significance in his hometown that one of his critics once remarked sardonically, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Jesus eventually had to move to different city (Capernaum) because his teachings so infuriated the people living in his hometown that they drove him out of Nazareth and even tried to throw him off a cliff.
'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article
The real Jesus had dirt underneath his fingernails and calluses on his hands. He probably smelled badly from sweating profusely in the Judean sun on his long hikes to Jerusalem, and Jesus was, without a doubt, rumored to be a hypocrite or absolutely mad for all the time he spent with prostitutes and those afflicted with leprosy.
Not exactly have a clean-cut image.
He had a rather shady reputation.
Some people thought he was a revolutionary. The religious leaders called him a heretic, and others even accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton - in no small part because of the vagabond group of disciples he had with him. No serious religious leader of his day would have ever recruited such people.
For his core 12 disciples, Jesus included a tough-as-nails, bombastic fisherman (Peter), a chief tax collector named Matthew (the most hated popular figure of the time), an eventual traitor who was stealing money out of the offering bucket (Judas), a prolific doubter (Thomas), two jocks nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” (James and John) and Simon the Zealot, a member of a radical political party which believed in using violence to kick out the Romans.
Jesus was sarcastic, too.
He often snapped back at the Pharisees with a tone fit for late-night television, and in a terribly embarrassing moment for all those around him, Jesus even called these respected religious teachers “snakes” that were probably sons of “Satan.”
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That’s not exactly the behavior of a sweet, self-help teacher with a halo over his head.
It’s the behavior of a frustrated man who might also be divine, but sure knows how it feels for annoying people to get under his skin.
Christians believe that Jesus chose to be born fully human, too, but why?
Lots of theologians have laid out opinions over the centuries, and in their opining they have tried once again to hijack Jesus’ humanity by defining it in philosophical terms. I believe it’s simpler than the philosophy and church councils and centuries of argument.
The brilliance of Christianity is the image of a God, named Jesus, arrived with dirty hands.
Jesus came in a time period when Greco-Roman gods were housed in gigantic temples and portrayed with superhuman powers and with superhuman physiques. Gods were believed to be far away from people on their mountains or hemmed up in their sanctuaries.
Jesus arrived in defiance of this prevailing imagery.
Jesus didn’t come flinging lightning bolts from a mountaintop, or playing politics in Rome. He came to live in a typical Middle Eastern village called Nazareth that was home to a couple hundred typical people. He didn’t decide to brandish his power, but to spend most of his time with the powerless and disenfranchised. And when he started a religious movement that reshaped history, he did it in the most profound and anticlimatic way:
He let himself be killed, and then he busted open a tomb.
In Jesus we meet a Savior who understood the desire to sleep just a few more hours, and who had to control his temper sometimes. In Jesus we find a God we can relate to because he chose to relate to us.
He was the God who became dirty so that the world’s souls might be made clean.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Johnnie Moore.
I really appreciated this article ... in one community where I lived and attended church I checked out a series (a trilogy) of novels by Marjorie Holmes. One of the series was not available in the church library because Jesus fell in love with a woman and really had to make a decision: get married and not follow his divine calling or reject the earthly love and follow his divine calling. The librarian felt that Jesus falling in love and having "carnal" thoughts about a woman was sacriligious. I thought it showed a God who had to experience the full range of human emotions and thus truly understood how I "felt". Just like Jesus being hungry, getting colds, food poisoning ... being cold ... being hot ... feeling extreme emotions ...
Don't let demons (bootyfunk) arouse you. He believes Christopher hitchkins was a prophet.
This article is a disgrace to Christianity.
christianity is a disgrace to humanity and ethics.
Bootyfunk, What are moral and ethics are you using to judge Christianity? What are you comparing it to? Remember that Jesus has never sinned. Have you?
Nonsense! A very good article. Go and become Muslim if you want a pristine figurehead!
God Will Kill Everyone
"I will sweep away everything in all your land," says the LORD. "I will sweep away both people and animals alike. Even the birds of the air and the fish in the sea will die. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, along with the rest of humanity," says the LORD. "I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. For they go up to their roofs and bow to the sun, moon, and stars. They claim to follow the LORD, but then they worship Molech, too. So now I will destroy them! And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD's guidance or seek my blessings." (Zephaniah 1:2-6 NLT)
exactly. in revelations, jesus opens his daddy's seven seals and murders 2/3 of the earth's population via war, famine, pestilence, death, etc. loving and compassionate? only in some parts. btw, some of those people killed are children. only monsters can murder children and call it divine justice. sickening. but not like god didn't do it already when he flooded the earth and murdered all but one family. yep, god drowned babies. BABIES. disgusting. lot more people on the earth now to be killed than before....
Sound like a lunatic.
Not everyone will be killed.
There you have it, demons (bootyfunk) believing in scripture only when it suits their agenda(to turn humanity away from God). Fortunately Jesus has warned us of such tactics. Something He also experienced in the desert
Bootyfunk if you care about babies, go do something about the millions of abortions that occur daily. You don't give a rats! You're simply trying to imply that you understand the ways and thoughts of the almighty to mislead others. Read and accept the words of the bible in its entirety and then perhaps ill listen to what you have to say. Otherwise, go jump back in a pig and stay there where Jesus put you.
I beleive you have a mental problem.....i can't fathom the amount of simpletons on this blog, but you might be the worst!! You really in your ignorance believe all this bunk?!!!! You my friend need help and no Jesus can help you!
Wonderful article and a great way to begin the new year. Your story uplifted my spirit - oh, yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways. . .
So it is ok for CNN to post an artice that insults the Christian JESUS but will not post one that insults the muslim Mohammed. It is only because the christians will not rise at this to kill non-christians. I challenge the author of this article to write a similar thing about the prophet mohammed and for CNN to display it with his photo. silly!
I agree and noticed that same thing.
Christianity poses more problems in america than islam does. Thus it gets much more air time.
Insults Jesus? Did you even read the entire article? I thought it was a very touching and deeper appreciation for Jesus than we're used to. I didn't find a single thing about it insulting. It was clearly reverent.
Christianity is easier to attack by the media because its leader (Jesus Christ) begs his followers to respond with non violence. The media, because of the passiveness of Christianity, can have a field day poking fun of Christ and all Christians. I think it's funny how the media such as CNN wouldn't dare write an article like this against Islam.
I fail to see how this article was an insult to Christianity or Jesus. You and I both go to the bathroom and have both been sick to our stomachs. It's not an insult; it's just how it is. Choose to dwell on it or not but try not to go looking for fights when there aren't any.
'Insulting the christian Jesus' ??? Do you believe that little doves came and flew his by-products up to heaven? I find that notion way more insulting.
What Would Jesus Do?
Advocate child abuse and murder amongst many other cruelties.
Christians are always claiming, “he’s the lamb”, “our savior”, “the king of peace”, “the embodiment of love”, amongst the many other names they associate with a loving, merciful nature. Jesus a nice guy? Not in my book. Nor in any other person’s who is capable of compassion and rationality. Let’s examine who the hell the Jesus character really is. These verses will show not only is Jesus’ “loving” nature a joke but so are the Christians who worship him. Jesus’ real mission to come to earth:
Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has “come not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
Jesus says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace on earth! No, rather a sword lf you love your father, mother, sister, brother, more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. “The real beauty of this verse is that Jesus demands people truly love him more then they love their own family. I ask you how can we love someone that we can not see or interact with? Love is an emotion pertaining to physical existence not to faithful ideologies, yet God threatens you with Death just because your love for your mother maybe stronger than your love for him. Matthew 10:34
Families will be torn apart because of Jesus. “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." Matthew 10:21
Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. Matthew 5:17
Jesus advocates murder and death:
Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching. Matthew 11:20
Jesus, whose clothes are dipped in blood, has a sharp sword sticking out of his mouth. Thus attired, he treads the winepress of the wrath of God. (The winepress is the actual press that humans shall be put into so that we may be ground up.) Revelations 19:13-15
The beast and the false prophet are cast alive into a lake of fire. The rest of us the unchosen will be killed with the sword of Jesus. “An all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” Revelations 19:20-21
Jesus says he is the only way to salvation yet he purposely disillusions us so that we will go to hell:
Jesus explains that the reason he speaks in parables is so that no one will understand him, “lest . . . they . . . should understand . . . and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:10-15
Jesus explains why he speaks in parables to confuse people so they will go to hell. Mark 4:11-12
Jesus advocates child abuse:
Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” Matthew 15:4-7
Abandon your wife and children for Jesus and he’ll give your a big reward. Jesus asks that his followers abandon their children to follow him. To leave your child is abuse, it’s called neglect, pure and simple. Matthew 19:29
Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark 7:9
A few other things about Jesus:
Jesus says that those who have been less fortunate in this life will have it even worse in the life to come. Mark 4:25
Jesus sends the devils into 2000 pigs, causing them to jump off a cliff and be drowned in the sea. Clearly Jesus could have simply sent the devils out, yet he chose instead to place them into pigs and kill them. This is called animal abuse. Mark 5:12-13
Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing figs, even though it was out of season. Jesus must not be as smart as Christians would have us believe, for he was retarded enough to do something this silly. You’d think the son of god (god incarnate) would know that trees don’t bear fruit in dry season. Mark 11:13
Luke 12:47 Jesus okays beating slaves.
Moohamit, Jesus never tried to get family to hate each other. You are wrong.
Moohamit, sakeekee, anta khata jidn.
It is easy to see by your interpretation of the bible, you're about as smart as a box of rocks!
Your posts remind me of the devil that tried to temp Jesus for 3 days in the wilderness. That devil also can quote verses from the bible, but gave it perverted interpretations. Jesus was able to easily fend it off by quoting other verses from the Bible that contradicts the devil's interpretation, and thus present the verse in light of what they were intended to be.
I went to a huge christian church (Northpoint Church) that has 10,000 members in Dec. 2012 They were trying to raise funds to help victims of hurricane Sandy make it thru the winter. Goal was 1.5 million$. After 3 weeks of fund raising, the everyone ended up donating a 4+ million dollars. The church gave ALL of it away not only to homeless people afflicted by hurricane Sandy but also to various charitable organizations in the South East (homeless shelters, orphanages, kitchen for the homeless, red cross, etc). Throughout history I see these things happens from Christians and whenever calamity strikes a country, Christian organizations come to give help whether financial and/or in volunteer hours. Looks like a sharp contrast to what your opinions are.
Hi dummy, clearly you are moslem, and you know what, bible is about spirituality, and unfortunately, even though moslem "think" that they are spiritual, in fact moslem never be spiritual. Because moslem only interpret the scriptures literally and physically. You will never understand Word of GOD without Holy Spirit.
Every words in Bible have spiritual meaning. And it would be take long just to explain to moslem about Word of GOD.
Don't you interpret Bible same as you interpret quran.
But they can't seem to understand this....
Stephen Hawking: God didn't create universe OK
Hawling and Mlodinow have an opinon, but his view is by no means the slam dunk that is is posited as – not even all physicists agree with him. It is also flawed in terms of the conclusons he drew from it – logically and philosophically: Hawking and Mlodinow think that science requires it:
The scientific determinism that Laplace formulated is the modern scientist’s answer to question two. It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene (p. 30).
This argument is multiply confused. First, it is false that Laplacean determinism is the basis of modern science. Never mind the hordes of theistic scientists who affirm the reality of miracles; there are plenty of scientists, including Hawking and Mlodinow themselves (p. 72), who regard the indeterminism characteristic of quantum physics as ontic, not merely epistemic. If nature itself is indeterministic, then the determinism of Laplace, a Newtonian, does not hold. Even a complete set of nature’s laws will not fully determine the future. It’s easy to imagine all sorts of ways in which indeterminacy on the quantum level can be amplified so as to issue in macroscopic changes in the world
Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/hawking-and-mlodinow-philosophical-undertakers#ixzz2HEkRCGF6
CNN would never have an article like this about Islam. They are too afraid of what would happen.
Ironically, despite the man, many problems of modem islam, this isnt one of them. Muslims have no problem accepting that the prophet was both human, fallible, and dirty.
Gaunt, I do have a problem with thinking of Jesus as fallible. Jesus is God, Perfect and Holy.
C7, Jesus is not 100 percent god. Christ told followeres that even he did not know when the end would be 'only the father in heaven knows that'. If Jesus is one and the same, how could he not know what he knows? Some of those Mysterious-Ways I hear of no doubt.
And you are a dirty dirty journalist in need to wash his mouth with formalin
And you are non-thinking, brainwashed zealot who needs a nice, comforting lobotomy.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever! Every soul that seeks him will find peace!
Of course he was dirty. The man was just a primitive peasant. Religion is all just man-made BS and people who believe in that tripe are incredibly small-minded thinkers.
I have no problem with this CNN article – for I have never thought of Jesus to be any more or less a physical man than myself. Those who lambaste him today are no better than those who did so 2,000 years ago. I have great comfort and joy in knowing him as my Lord and Savior – in a spiritual world beyond this "corrupt" physical one. And I feel sorry for the millions of prideful souls who are "spiritually dead" – and have no future beyond the grave.
The Author is wrong saying: "Jesus was a rather dirty God." Jesus is God. Past tense is inappropriate. I dislike all the guess work and do not see why CNN always has articles demeaning Jesus.
The author clearly meant during His time on earth. How is this article at all "demeaning" to Jesus?? Dear God in heaven, if people would only understand that the Lord does not require you to spend your time here on earth busying yourself with taking offense for Him, we may get somewhere. When we apply our limited human characteristics & egos to Jesus/God, we are only exemplifying how little we understand. Do you imagine Jesus to be sitting at the right hand of His Father this Sunday morning being offended by this article??? Funny. I imagine Him to be smiling – happy to have His life thought of and considered! Contemplation about Jesus, about God and us as humans trying to figure it out one day at a time – isn't that the point?
Johnnie M. : Love This Article!!!!! I don't care what the other comments are, you have a new fan here. I will be looking for your book, Dirty God. 'Glad you got to post this on CNN in a time when I'm having trouble finding the truth on a lot of issues!
Jesus is king of kings, lord of lords....son of the living god
You wanna buy some beachfront in Oklanhoma? Man you are ignorant to believe that crap.
according to bible this GOD when was born he made his impure for 40 days
Exactly Jesus is the answer to all of us who are truly believe God will find peace and contented. There are all kinds of sin in this world and we have to put up our armor of God's shield and the sword(words of God) We are the fighter for God by standing on the words of God. there are enemies against us and we are supposed to be the lights to them.
Every knee will bow down to the King of kings.
Johnnie...a great piece to a point. You kinda lose credibility when you say that Jesus was a frustrated man who also "might be divine" ...which is absolutely true. Because how does anybody know that Jesus was truly divine. It's the difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world. The only reason 2,000 years later the believers believe this is because what was written down in some old book that was written for humans by humans. And nothing has changed. And most people in the world still don't believe that his charismatic revolutionary was neither divine nor the son of God, whatever God is, and people like yourself are still writing the same old stuff about fables and stories written so long ago claiming that he was divine and was the son of God. Truly amazing. But I guess we all need to make a living and rationalize our existences in some way.
OH how naive you are to think we were taught that Jesus didn't have to confront the same human problems and sensations as we all do. Why do you think Jesus washed the feet of other at the last supper? I think you are making up the fact the your associated didn't think Jesus had bodily functions or subject to diseases. If you aren't you are living in the ivory tower of ivory towers. Everyone who attended bible school as a Baptist would know the professions of each of his followers. They would know about David's betrayal of his office too, Moses leadership, and revelations. I don't know who you are writing to but it is not Christians. You must be inventing myths of all your own to justify your position.
exactly! I have no idea what "theologians" he is talking to that didn't think Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, lol. It is actually pretty comical. I think the author is the only one that had the idea that Jesus walked around with a pristine white robe and long flowing locks that never needed washing. LMAO!! The author seriously has to be trolling because I don't know one fellow Christian that thought Jesus didn't function like the rest of us humans. I guess this sort of thing makes him feel good though...like he is enlightening us small minded Christians. LOL... good one author!
Errr... my reaction to this is essentially, "No kidding". I'm not religious, or a Christian, but surely everyone understands that the current Western model of Jesus is an idealization in the image of the worshiper's ideal... right? Please tell me that everyone already knows this. PLEASE.
Of course, there are people who continue to think of Jesus as physically above us mere mortals, and cannot imagine him as other than the haloed, shining image dressed in pure white robes, every day. There are people with no imagination of any kind. But it does not hurt Christians one bit to be reminded that Jesus was also human. Whether one believes or not, Christianity is part of Western culture, and merits discussion. As to whoever her said Christians had been "coddled long enough" that is obviously a personal problem.
What's F point of you crappy article really? You need some attention and you know you will get it talking about Jesus!! right?
You are stupid
The author's opinion demonstrates his overall lack of the Bible and Bible history. His equating Jesus to God as a 'Christain' belief does not match the facts. This invention of 3rd and 4th century Roman leaders was not what was taught prior to that. It is an opinion peice however, and facts and accuracy are apparently not necessary for that.
Your stupidity is showing
Facts and accuracy are not present in the bible; it's overly-translated and retold mythological babble. Try Grimm's Fairytales.
If CNN refuses to post my comments I believe CNN owes me an explanation.
why do you think they owe you an explanation?
OK, your comments are to stupid to post.
You might have got a t-it stuck somewhere (word filter)
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.