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.
For the readers of CNN, I feel a shamed that these comment are here. Thinking this article was different, for a professor of religion, I would ask my self what religion and I think this article is a question for yourself. Yes GOD came as a man, also known as his son jesus and yes as a man who had feelings,emotions and every day needs, to fallow the rules of man and God.
And I still find myself thinking Jesus could have walked back to the Roman Courts or the Jewish Temple, or the Market Place and showed everyone his scares and asked to be killed again....That would have made a huge impact...
If Jesus had been put on the cross again by the same Roman Guards. who drove the nails in the first time...would they do it a second time....What our history would be if Jesus did this two times...then the city would have turned out to hear him speak from the Cross a dead man once already...hanging from the cross....Preaching of kindness to strangers and your fellowman...
And I still find myself thinking Jesus could have walked back to the Roman Courts or the Jewish Temple, or the Market Place and showed everyone his scares..
Many of us wonder why he didn't do that too. It would make the whole god/man/died for your sins thing easier to swallow.
Oh, wait, your god likes to "test" us by remaining unseen and unheard from. We are required to believe in magic and zombified "saviors" for which there is no evidence.
SMH @ some of these comments
Welcome to Trollville.
now that CNN picture is misleading, Jesus was a carpenter, not a pottery maker. Jesus never had to get his hands dirty, he chose his profession wisley
Lord, there are so many here that don't believe. But in time they will, bless them Father. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
By ending your prayer in an exaltation to the Egyptian sun god, I believe you have proved many nonbelievers' point for them.
@ Seyedibar Do your homework. The word amen has nothing to do with the Egyptian God Amun. Different etymology. I thought you guys were smart. I guessed wrong.
You'd be wrong. It traces back to sun god Amen-Re. The ancient Egyptians ended their prayers in the exaltation. The Hebrews picked this up along with most of their religious practices when Thutmoses II took Egyptian religion to the mediterranean. He was preserved as the character Moses, and his "god" Yahweh (JhVh) was the royal lineage that Egypt had supported in Canaan. It appears on over 300 seals and cartouches.
The lord says to end the prayer with "amen", take it up with him.
because the Lord you are speaking of was an Egyptian pharoah.
*ray: Then you obviously know nothing about non-believers...most of us followed your delusion and then we had our minds opened and left the religitard bubble. There is nothing to believe other than the fact that you've been brainwashed .
Jesus was a regular person like any other human being, however with certain qualities that most of us dont have today. Why glamorize him? he was just a human like any other prophet; having said that Jesus wasnt GOD.
of course He is God. Jesus is God's Son and heir of all things. All things were made by Him. He died for your sins, and rose again and lives. You hardly are showing any respect or appreciation for God's only begotten Son.
Anyone mention that Jesus was cool with slavery?
Or that the believed in a world-wide flood that we know never happened.
Nothing wrong with that!
Jesus understood that the world had slavery and that was man's doing not God's. Jesus didn't come to change the world system, not yet anyway. If you are a master or a slave Jesus commands both to be fair and sincere and understand well that both have a Master in Heaven they will be accountable to.
I believe in Thor. NO ONE calls Thor dirty.
Why did Jesus wear diapers. Did he have colitis?
Because he did not want his bottom to get cold...It is cold in the desert at night...
Asking some Christians to believe in Science is painful...even though they can not see the Magnetic waves all around us they still use the modern radio and TV....
Asking an evolutionist to believe in a supreme intelligence is also hard...even though they believe man evolved from lower life forms and we may not be the only intelligent life form in the Universe that is billions of years old...or that humans are just a link in the evolution chain...Who is to say we do not evolve into a supreme being in a billion years...a intelligent being that can travel through time and other dimensions...and be seen as Gods by those less evolved ....
A bit circle of Who can First the Chicken or the Egg....
it isn't necessary to invoke science against the Hebrew notion of God. Historical study does a fine enough job of discrediting it.
The way the humans are going, we will all be dead within a thousand years, perhaps sooner.
So, if "god" is just a highly evolved being, how many of them do you reckon there are?
Hmm the Jews followed the spirit of God at night a bright column of fire..a pillar of light.. and by day column of cloud and dust....
what is hard to believe about that....ever been drawn to Time Square by the bright lights.
First of all one "accepts" science and one "believes" in the supernatural. Facts and observing things that work repeatedly does not take belief. Also sounds like you are saying everyone should accept science and facts and believe in the supernatural. Why believe in something when there is no evidence, especially absurd claims, etc.?
Mitt Romney believes he will rule over his own planet and his wife will spend eternity having his children to populate the planet....
But to answer your question....maybe one for each of the countless numbers of dimensions...
And Science once accepted is changed with new discoveries....So is Religion....or at least how it is taught....Man reads the Bible and other Religious books and interprets that same book in different ways over the years...So how is Religion and Science really different?
It's a shame that ultra modern, smart, intelligent, sophicated, cerebral people believe in the lie called Evolution...
Scientists cracked the puzzle after discovering that the formation of eggs is possible only thanks to a protein found in chicken's ovaries. That means eggs have to be formed in chickens first.
God has to be formed in human brains first. Once you have that, then you can evolve a whole species of religious followers that ignore logic. Pointless article....why do we care still about this? We don't have articles like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug is DIRTIER than you think! No one cares to remember the people that actually have real positive and beneficial impact in this world.
It's a shame that ultra modern, smart, intelligent, sophicated, cerebral people believe in the lie called the bible...
So how is Religion and Science really different? Name me one thing that has dramatically changed for religion. Any religion. The difference I see is that Science enforces humility when your wrong because the only thing that can prove itself wrong is Science (from observation, testing, and more testing of actual data) The result only produces better science.
Religion on the other hand, is constantly proven wrong, like genesis, by science, and the only thing that we get is some rearranged personal preference of a belief. It's still faith, there is no hard data for God, therefore it is not testable and cannot accurately be changed based on observation. Science for the win, believe what you want.
But the faithful have their list of miracles, even modern day ones....which science ignores as proof....and even science has many questions they can not answer....
Bet: To them, it is not a lie
Up to the 4th century AD Christianity was divided if Jesus was born a common man or as the Son of God. In order to accept the Christian faith as a state religion Rome demanded unity on this issue. It was decided between the Christian bishops and Roman emissaries that Jesus has been divine since birth. The larger question is who Jesus really was. If he was a commoner who had a talent for preaching this blogger probably has it right. If he was the Son of God then there has to be a lot of explaining. Nowhere in the scriptures is Jesus seen as the Son of God by his contemporaries. I doubt Jesus himself would have agreed with this label. His idea was we're all divine, we just have to learn to live up to our individual divinity. He acted as a role model paying the ultimate price to make his point.
Jesus wouldn't have agree with this label? He referred to his Father in heaven. He gave us the Lord's Prayer.
"Nowhere in the scriptures is Jesus seen as the Son of God by his contemporaries." Both in Matthew and Mark's Gospels, Peter calls Jesus the Son of God, when he asks them who they thought he was so I guess you are wrong again.
There are many different branches of Christianity and they have different interpretations of Jesus. So what? The Gospel is very tough to live by and many people will water it down in order to think they are following his teaching (divorce and remarriage is okay, capital punishment is okay, etc).
" The Lamb is worthy– the Lamb Who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength. Honor and glory and blessing." Revelation 5:12
Jesus Christ is our Savior, Redeemer, Messiah, The Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and our Friend. Thank you Jesus, for dying on the cross for our sins...
free people do not need saviors. slaves do
Sin is such a broad term – to some people some things are a sin and to others the same things are not wrong at all.
So, if human sacrifice is the answer to our sinful ways, and our sinful ways continue, why don't we have more of it? It apparently didn't fully take the first time.
I'm sorry, "Correctlycenter", but "Christ is our Savior", "Redeemer", "Messiah", "The Good Shepherd", "Alpha and Omega", "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" are all elements of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
Lamb chops are yummy. I like them with olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
Hal – you stating that Messiah, King of Kings, Lord or Lords are elements of mythology doesn't make it so. Prove it. Jesus is not a myth. Not only is he referenced in the Bible, but he is referenced by independent sources of the time.
May God have mercy on the souls of the non-believers responding to this story.
Don't worry it's just a bunch of kids trolling along. Most will be back to School tomorrow.
Why should God punish those following their own path?
That only works on children.
@GAW: Because only children could see that you're silly!
nana: how do you expect non-believers to fear your "god-is-gonna-gitcha-blah, blah, fvcking blah"?
With a name like Hee Hee you could have fooled me.
@GAW: it's just that silly people make me giggle.
Well nana, if god gave them there reasoning mind, why would he not have mercy on them for using it? Was the reasoning mind a trap set by god to ensnare the unwary? Did your god really intend for us to go through life believing that the earth is the center of the universe and illness is caused by excessive bad humours.
May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with his noodly appendage.
I'm sorry, "Nana9999", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore "it" cannot have "mercy" on anything. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
You really can't see how arrogant and condescending you are, can't you? Typical holier than thou comment.
I find your lack of humility within your conviction pointless to logic and reason. This age old argument to believe or not to believe is important to discuss. The people who engage in terroristic attacks based on belief are just as warranted as you are. If you can provide testable data for why anyone should believe something, then it no longer is a belief and therefore no longer needs faith. You don't see the benefit in the argument because you choose not to think. What science is doing is understanding the world, what your doing is basically an argument from ignorance and preference.
I"f it's really true that the museum at Liberty University has dinosaur fossils which are labeled as being 3,000 years old, then that is an educational disgrace. It is debauching the whole idea of a university, and I would strongly encourage any members of Liberty University who may be here, to leave and go to a proper university."
The above article by Johnnie Moore is misleading as he himself is spiritually blind and his article is a good example how distorted things have become in society with the media as the main culprit.
For a better understanding we invite you to read the article ‘The Natural Body vs the Spiritual Body’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
Also, for a better understanding of the role of the media we invite you to read the articles ‘Influence of the Media’ and ‘CNN
Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website.
Johnnie Moore's reference and use of the word ‘God’ is also very misleading as he is spiritually blind and a follower of an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8). Please read the article ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’ listed on our website.
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).
There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44).
Why is there so much division amongst the religions of this world? Please read on.
It is articles like the one above and that are so readily displayed by CNN that is the cause of so much hatred and division. Just take a minute and reflect on some of the entries on this Blog and the hatred and immorality that are being conveyed.
The local media, including CNN, Fox and your local TV stations and newspapers are a very important element of social and political behavior, as society is shaped by what it sees, hears and reads and it is conditioned by the events that influence the mind of every person. You reap what you sow.
To allow anyone to be directed by public opinion is dangerous because most public opinion is the view of the media. If the media does not like something, their bias taints information getting to the public, and this forms public opinion. Public opinion is never based on research and facts. The public uses the media for its sole source of information and for this reason social behavior will continue to deteriorate and wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13).
The media does not provide accurate information on ‘Religion’ as it continues to ignore the truth and the history of deceptions (John 14:17). They only report how they want you to hear things. They have created the big chasm that now exists without offering any solutions.
Consider the truth about Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals and Christianity and all other religions and ask yourself the following question.
Are so-called Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Israelites and Evangelicals and all those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8)?
For a better understanding of the history of Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Christianity, and Judaism and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘The Mystery Babylon’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
The media also makes references to religion as it relates to political issues without any understanding. For example: Barack Obama’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and the god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8). For a better understanding of the spirit Barack Obama serves we invite you to read the article ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’, listed on our website.
All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as
confirmed in Revelation 12:9.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor 2:15).
Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).
Nice to see that the Gnostics made it to the 21st century.
BTW Heaven will be quite a lonely place since it appears that you are the only one going there.
circular logic fail
I'm sorry, "AvdBerg", but everything you have ever posted on the Belief Blog has been unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC EPIC FAIL".
This is an article about Jesus. Do you wish to be a desiple too?
What the heck is a desiple?
So if jesus was fully a man, and had a bowel movement, I would be justified in exclaiming, "Holy Sh!t!"
Facepalm and double facepalm
So if jebus was fully human Mary Mags took part in the holy bukake
That would be the appropriate response.
Yes, Jesus may have existed, but he was just a regular old human being. He had ABSOLUTELY no ties with a supernatural power nor was he capable of performing "miracles" since human beings are not capable of such things. Come on folks, accept it. Christianity is just another mythical belief system that hitched a ride on the coat tails of the Roman Empire and became super popular. It's just a myth.
It is a miracle that Jesus foretold that Christianity would be hijacked by its enemies. (Parable of the wheat and the weeds) 300 years ahead of time, but he also foretold that it would be possible to distinguish true Christianity from the false. You have half the story. Please do not give up on the asking, knocking, and searching because there is a wonderful Truth to discover.
I bet Muhammad was even more filthy, but the Communist News Network (CNN) wouldn't dare insult someone who advocates violence instead of peace and love...
It is hilarious watching you trolls whine and cry. The only reason they posted this article is to watch crybabies like you, who who can't take an opinion piece.
You Jesus fanatics aren't any better than your fellow Muslim fanatics. Not much of a god if this god of yours requires losers like yourself to defend it.
This is a really tiresome argument that can be debunked by the most casual read through of nearly any chapter in the bible. There's more than enough violence and hatred in the bible to stand up to anything in the Quran.
Typical ignorant American speaking about things you have no knowledge about. If you actually knew something about Islam and Christianity for that matter you would know that Islam is way more peaceful than any Christian teachings.
This may be one of the DUMBEST articles about Jesus ever, making me think that either A) CNN is desperate for real news or B) Christianity has really become THAT irrelevant in our culture... If anyone – writer or readers – gave a damn about what Jesus really was all about, they would stop focusing on whether or not Jesus had dirt under his nails and begin dealing with the things we as a nation are congenitally unwilling to face: that He wanted us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, return evil with good, forgive, and love... As long as we refuse to face the fact that we suck at those things, we will forever be content to argue whether or not Jesus took roadside bathroom breaks
Christians, and probably devotees of most religions, believe because others have believed for them. The signs and wonders are always comfortably off in distant, imperfect, history, and everyone fortunate enough to have seem them and believe because of them are long dead. Believers are actually only believing that someone once had a good reason to believe in whatever is at the core of their religion. The rest of their religious thought is not belief, but simply adopting what seems to have been believable at the time when people are believed to have had good reason to believe.
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.