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.
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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.
Absolute rubbish! Jesus was a man, if he existed at all. I find it hard to believe that people actually believe this ridiculous fabrication. Grow up, people! Start thinking and stop believing in the make believe.
Freedom of religion means we each can choice to believe in what we want...and others should respect that, or just leave them alone ...and no one religion should be forced on the rest of the country...
How do I know YOU really exist? Now you may know how God feels when evidence of His creation is visible to everyone...
What things do you take as evidence?
This is a long but VERY interesting debate – 'Is Jesus GOD?'
Jesus was a human but i do not agree to say he was dirty , we have to respect people believe even we disagree with them , I am muslium. However, I don't agree with this guy saying that Jesus was dirty nor I agree with his story either. we shall all respect all other believes
Hmm Paris is know for their perfume...because the city smelled bad and the wealthy carried small pieces of cloth covered in perfume or cologne to cover the smell of the streets and rivers..covered with raw sewage...
How is this a sign of disrespect? The author is a Christian saying that it is most useful to understand that Jesus was in human form and had bodily functions and the sanitary conditions of his time. His disciples knew him in this way as they were with him, and the author argues that it was his connection as a human that helped spread his word. It seems like a rather sensible argument to me.
Jesus is not, what you think he is, but hinduism fabrication created under the shadow of son of blessed Mary, to spew their hindu pagan hinduism, absurdities.
Pretty stupid article, huh? Imagine an omnipotent god with diarrhea – and why? so his beloved children can go to heaven. Assinine, to say the least.
Such a sad thing when a nobody writer and self proclaimed religious person uses shock and awe to disrespect the name of Jesus. You're appealing to the uninformed my friend – those who know scripture and study Christ knows he came to serve and didn't come in lofty surroundings – it was for a point. Your disrespectful form of writing shows your interest to only get published...shamefully its on CNN, which is a modern day TMZ news source for sensationalism.
I'm sure your myth is all upset how the world now knows he got the squirts. Sorry, that reality is a shock to you. I bet your mother poos too.
Ya, scripture is scripted by hindu's, racist's to spew their hinduism, absurdities to hind fool humanity into gentile ism, slavery bunch of hinduism, crap.
The world would be a MUCH better place if all of the idiotic religions originating in the Middle East ceased to exist. Human culture has voluntarily enslaved itself for thousands of years with belief in figments of their imagination. We've sent men to the moon and exploratory vehicles to other planets... it long past time for us to grow out of this infantile need to bow down to the false gods of the Middle East.
The Soviet Union tried outlawing all religions ...talk about boring...
Yes, b/c religion and belief in a god has only originated in the Middle East. #idiot
@Mehra, he didn't say that the god concept originated solely in the Middle East, just that that's the one he doesn't like.
Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer.
Science has made great advance in human history...like accepting the number zero,..and the existence of negative numbers..
Well Humphrey, you just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have no clue what science is...but that is hardly surprising.
Scientists and Atheists Don't Want To Know There's A God...
Want to hear something really funny? It is truly amazing to me how the world can gather together their greatest scientific minds, even invest in spending billions of dollars on things like the Hubble Telescope, Atom Smashers, Particle Accelerators, sending multi-million dollar spacecraft out into deep space to send back analysis information and images, etc. and then as a consequence of all of that, be able to come to the conclusion that billions of years ago the universe was formed from some Big Bang explosion (they theorize) – an explosion that no human was alive at that time and could ever have witnessed, mine you. Yet the whole world faithfully believes that nonsense despite how ludicrous it is….
My main point is that the world can do all of that and has no problem with doing it, and yet they can't seem to have the desire or effort to put those same scientific minds together and use the same scientific equipment and technology to resolve the mystery once and for about of whether Jesus Christ really existed. And note, Jesus Christ was not some nebular far out in deep space a millions miles away. He was a real man who walked upon this earth a mere 2000 years ago. Even worse, countless real live people saw him and talked to him, and real world history bears witness to that fact. There are also countless real world artifacts and records which point to and confirm his existence. Additionally, the whole calendar of man was flipped over from BC to AD because of him. Yet, despite all of that and despite all of that evidence, if you ask the nearest atheist you meet whether or not they believe Jesus Christ existed, they'll tell you in a heartbeat he was a myth and that there is no evidence he ever existed. LOL… Atheists are either in deep denial or they are some seriously deluded fools if they believe that nonsense…
My final point is that, the scientific community has no problem with researching everything else under the sun and in the universe, but when it comes to simply researching the existence of Jesus Christ, and proving once and for all whether God exists or not, they're not interested. Why is that you wonder? It's because they don't want to know the truth. They don't want to know whether Jesus existed. Because they're too afraid and terrified of the truth. Because the truth would undermine everything they believe in and all that other nonsense they've been spewing. The so-called scientific community would much rather spend all of their time and the world's dollars investigating and trying to prove that man came from an ape, to prove that the universe came from some imagined Big Bang explosion a billion years ago (no matter how ludicrous that idea may be), than to investigate and to prove and to believe in the simple fact that there is a God, that Jesus Christ is the evidence of that God, and that he was the Son of God and walked upon the earth a mere 2000 years ago. The world's scientific community could easily prove that once and for all if they wanted to (not for the benefit of Christians but for the benefit of atheists and unbelievers). But they don't want to…
There are some very, very stupid assumptions in that post. You should be ashamed to be that sloppy in your reasoning and your accusations.
Or you can not disprove the imaginary man in your head...
Many people, scientists and others, have studied the existence of Jesus throughout the years. They just haven't found any evidence...
1) Most atheists accept there was a historic Jesus (or maybe more than one), but just do not accept this was a got or a representative of a god. Some reject the history as entirely myth, but they are in the minority.
2) The US government is not a religious government and so can only invest in things which we have reason to believe, outside religious argument, will increase our quality of life. Although general knowledge is nice, researching all historical religious figures in the world would not be a productive use of national resources. Also see #1, very few people actually doubt the existence of a Jesus figure.
3) There's already a lot of research going on by archaeologist and historians. It's just not as much as in taking place for a cure for cancer. Every year new findings are published.
4) Research takes investment and we've already concluded government cannot be a major funder. That leaves industry...how would they make money off this?
One can be a scientist and still believe in God, just not in your fairy tale version.
Wow, talk about jumping to a conclusion. If it were an Olympic event, you'd have the gold!
"Their judgment is based on this fact. The Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their actions were evil. They hate the Light because they want to sin in the darkness." John 3: 18-20a...
HA and Im supposed to believe in god when theres no proof either what a sham i would rather believe in scientific theory than the assumption thats theres a man out there who controls all
Actually, despite your assertions, there is no evidence(outside of the Bible) that Jesus Christ was a real person. Also, the gospels are in conflict about the facts. Remember, wishful thinking doesn't count as evidence that there is a god.
I'm sorry, "Perfect Truth", but you post is riddled with unfounded assertions. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "A BOX OF ROCKS COULD BE MORE CONVINCING".
All this and he probably looked just like a contemporary Palestinian.
Belief in Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven...John 14:6
Hmm Joseph P. Smith said he was the only way to Mormon Heaven....Hmmm
I don't want to go to any place inhabited by the typical idea of the Judeo-Christian God. Such a being and the place he would design sound far too boring.
I'm not son of god. I'm human being like you. I helped old lady walk cross road, fed people, gave them inspiration, and tell night time story to children. Then sudden people called me god which caught Pontius Pilate's attention then arrested me and died on cross. Those people drive me to death.
Some Conservative Christians say there are no animals in heaven, because animals have no souls ..talk about boring not pets, no animals..no hunting or fishing...
Probably the most worthless article I have ever seen posted on any site, ever.
I think the valid point made here is that people were dirty then. It does completely disregard whether or not jesus was ever born...
Another atheist idiot from CNN.
Where did he say that he was athiest?
You might want to read the article and actually see who the author is.
Wake up, it's obvious the guy is an atheist trying to pass out as a religious man.
Time out . . . Johnny Moore is not an atheist, he is a pastor. More so he is my pastor. I think you are missing the main thrust of this article, it is not an attempt to degrade the image of Jesus rather to clarify it. A clear image of Jesus living an Earthly life does not diminish his Divinity, it accentuates his love and sacrifice.
Perhaps it should tell us something that there is no way to conclusively determine if he is a believer or not--or if anyone is.
@Unbelievable, I don't think you are understanding what this guys is trying to say.
Unbelievable – As a Minster, and a student working on my Master's Degree, How can you call Mr. Moore another atheist based on this article. If you can point out what was incorrect or out of line in his article. Jesus was born in a manager, we have people living on the street and under bridges. Jesus was a carpenter, prior to his ministry, the family business, if you can show me a carpenter without rough hands, I will eat my words. Yes, being human Jesus had to use the bathroom, and this is why in those times if someone greeted you by extending their left hand, that was a sign of disrespect. The article was not addressing Jesus as a dirty person of ill will, but addressing Jesus as a human being of the times in which He lived, when they did not rest stops along the highway. We as Christians must face the fact that Jesus was human and had to deal with the same bodily functions and feelings, He did turn over the table of the money changers in the temple. Unbelievable, think about what you are reading, because to call Mr. Moore an atheist was not based on knowledge of the Jesus I serve and worship, but on feeling
LOL!!! I guess if you can't dispute the content, you attack the person. Let me know when you have some facts. Until then we can all have a good laugh at your emotional hysteria.
> 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.
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Amen! People do not know that Jesus Christ fulfilled about 108 very specific prophecies concerning His appearance in the flesh some 2,000+ years ago. Check Psalm 22, Psalm 16:10, Ps 34:20, Ps 41:9, Ps 68:18, Ps 69:21, Isaiah 52:13-14, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2 and Daniel chapter 9. Still there are many more from Genesis to the Gospels. God bless...
I am actually shocked at the lack of respect here.
What is disrespectful? He didn't say Jesus sinned. Jesus was obviously perfect. That doesn't mean he didn't sweat, or didn't get frustrated. (Matthew 21:12)
I love this. Its so true. God became a man, Jesus, to relate with us and so we can relate with Him.
Also, most importantly He came to save us
CNN would never talk about Muslims or Allah like they do about Jesus because they would have to be in hiding for the rest of their lives.
Jesus is a Prophet under Islam and CNN best watch their backs.
That is because Muslims love and respect Allah and all Prophets and will not accept or tolerate disrespect. I am surprised that the people accept such comments to be made about Jesus.
what is your problem yarah ? you lok confused my friend but may be i can help
Sir, with all due respect, there is an opinion piece about the Muslim faith in the blog preceding this...so I am unsure what your point is.
If any of us could even show half the love Jesus showed his fellow humans, what ever his appearance was, the world would be a place of peace, love, and understanding . A place where war didn't exist, a place where children didn't die horrible deaths,a place where the wealthy run the planet, while others starve and suffer. It seems we learned nothing from his existence, and from reading some of these comments I would say we seem to be lost, and only will wallow day to day in our sick selfish worlds.God help us all to love one another, and keep the lessons Jesus taught in our daily lives.
That's what I'm saying. He lived 2013 years ago and tried to change things and got killed for it. He is still remembered for it.
People can be good without god's message. The truth is the majority of people who claim to be christian don't practice Jesus's message. I agree it would be nice, but more bad has been created by religion than good, that's just the truth bro.
You do realize that Jesus introduced the concept of the Christian Hell, correct? As bad as the Old Testament is, it took Jesus to come up with the concept of infinite punishment for finite, and mostly questionable, "sins". And remember that those "sins" include your thoughts as well... If you don't believe (and I mean REALLY BELIEVE, remember, he knows your thoughts so no lying here) and worship and obey his every amoral command, you will suffer eternal punishment. Yeah, this Jesus sounds like a great guy....
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”
Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270
And when you haters die what will you all be remembered for?... How about 2000 years from now
Be kind to the Spiritually impoverished, as you will be judged for how you treat the poor. Imagine a world without hope, love and faith.
Only a story like this could end up on a CNN "religion" page. Not a single bit written about the importance of Salvation in Christ. Stick to liberal twist CNN.....
Of course they won't, CNN is full of atheists morons working there.
Yeah, allowing officials from the leftist Liberty University to express their typical commie atheist views. ;)
I heard he was an adult Baby.
In the 1950 census 90% of Americans did not have indoor plumbing.
No, it was 27%...are you just making stuff up and posting it online for fun?
Maybe it was 90% of the GOP...
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