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.
Jesus was white. Because of virgin birth, the genes were not passed down to him, but a special set of white genes was passed down to make Jesus. He was also not Jewish by racial stock, because of the special genes that God made. Also, his body didn't decay when he was buried, that's why he could come back alive. He never really suffered on the cross either, because God doesn't really get hurt from physical wounds from the universe that he created. And Jesus and God are one.
I have to laugh at a minor league troll...... its a shame that a marvel comics movie isn't on somewhere. LOL
What genes did God give him than in your opinion. White Anglo-Saxon?
why would God give Jesus the same genes as his mother and father? That makes no sense. If that were true, then God would not need to have a virgin birth. He would just need to get a guy with the right set of genes that he created to have a baby with the right parent. And, of course, God being all-powerful, could achieve this.
However, God had a virgin birth. This means a special set of genetic material for the child. Also, I truly believe there was NO BIRTH AT ALL. That Jesus the Lord just appeared in a field out of THIN AIR. However, some people do not believe that this could happen because they claim that God does not have the power to create something out of nothing.
He was the king of the Jews ! He was like all them Jews and Arabs ! Still hung-up in the Middle East ! Lord will we ever escape the oil and gold and dimoand promise ?
And would you care to share with us the special Scriptural references that have convinced you that Jesus was white and was not Jewish, not actually born but simply appeared out of thin air? Luke and Matthew make a point of exploring Jesus' Jewish ancestry (in wildly contradictory fashion, of course, since they both made it up, with different agendas), and both have Jesus being BORN to a girl named Mary (not a virgin, by the way, this based on is a mistranslation of Isaiah from Hebrew to Greek).
Did I somehow miss the part about appearing in a field out of thin air?
If I accepted what you said and agreed with you, how would that explain the thousands of dead who were also ressurected after Cruxificion? The Gospels tell us that all the tombs in Jerusalem were opened and the dead walked through the streets. I just wonder if they looked like zombies or the walking dead, or if they were restored and looked like the did before they died, decomposed, turned to bones and such.
I call Poe.
Jesus was not born fully human. I irritates me that people keep saying that. If you truly believe in the story of Jesus, then he was half human and half... something else. Mary didn't get pregnant by a man. She got pregnant by an invisible force called the Holy Spirit. Half his genes would then be human, and the other half... not human. Personally that is way too Rosemary's Baby for me. I'll go on believing that Jesus had a human daddy like the rest of us. The immaculate conception is just a legend unless it can be proven some way other than from words in a book.
Uh – the whole point of Jesus was that he was fully human. Otherwise there is no redemption, according to christian doctrine.
The real freaky part is that he's now a zombie after rotting in a cave for 3 days.
The actual history of Christianity would disagree with you.
JJ, just don't forget that what He did, He did with your life and longevity in mind.
Did he have Levi's, Wrangler, or L.L. Bean jeans ? I gota know so I'll be in Southern Baptist fashion ! Were they Skinny Jeans ?
Immaculate conception is referring to Mary's birth, not Jesus'. Seriously, look this up.
What's this! You mean Jesus doesn't look like the blond haired, blue eyed Fabio look-alike that hung on our wall all through my child-hood? Next thing you'll be telling me is that he wasn't really born on Christmas day.
WELL, u racist gonna enjoy some parts of my conclusion: JESUS WAS BLACK, JEWISH, REVOLUNTIONARY AND IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO BATHE DAILY
Jesus and all of the people of that region were Semitic. Arabs, Berbers, Israelites are all from this Caucasian sub-group. Jesus was NOT black nor Nordic white like in the pictures. He most likely had features that Arabs have today. People always want to twist some portion into their belief and forget the bigger, MORE important picture of the whole story.
Jesus is God. God is purity. God is light. God created all the elements, including "dirt" Mr Moore. As the creator of the elements, He has power over all elements. If His son had dirt on His hands, and probably didn't shower because He came for one mission only, to save mankind from eternal death, that dirt you speak of has no effect on His Power, Charity, and Love.
A Christian chooses to suffer for the rest of humanity than to keep the body shaved, clean and perfumed.
Trust me a dirty homeless person has a pure clean soul than a wealthy person who only seeks to please the flesh, who works for cnn insulting Jesus in order to maintain an expensive mortgage, and luxurious car.
Look at the dirt on your soul, its disgusting.
So if Jesus were to spray you with his explosive diarrhea, you would consider that a blessing?
Jesus was also a man. How could he suffer on our behalf without experiencing everything that human beings experience?
If Jesus never had the runs, then he was not and is not capable of being our Savior.
And if God is purity, by the way, then God should go back to school. This world is far from pure.
I enjoy this article because it flies in the face of the popular Christian view which has nothing to do with Jesus. We as believers have become the same as the Jewish religious leaders of the day except we at least there hardness of heart was based on literary works. Christ came and flew in the face of the religious elite because he wanted to show that what they were focusing on was missing the mark. His focus naturally would have not been on outward appearance and cleanliness but that of the heart and soul. This author has revisited that. Now the same bold statement Jesus made with how he lived flies online in the face of Christians today. Have we learned nothing in 2,000 years? :(
Jesus is not God. He's God's son.
The views of Arius live on... :^)
Look up "Trinity".
He still has the deity from his Father.
A very Good article. Uplifted my spirit as well. Yes, Jesus relates more than we think. The fact that The Lord of the universe walked amongst men and lived like this is truly remarkable. By the way, Demons will be working overtime in response to this article. So be wary of their tactics to distort scripture and throw stones. Remember demons knows scripture as well and will do whatever it takes to mislead others and tarnish the Creator.
Why is this such a lightning rod? Did anyone else read this with an open mind? Anyone who believes in Jesus enough to be offended by this article ought to believe He lives today and might be trying to communicate with them. Let's not confuse respect with whitewash. It isn't wise to try to put God in a nice little box on a shelf of tradition with Santa and the Easter Bunny.
"Did anyone else read this with an open mind?"
Dude...you're talking about fundo southern baptists here. Whatever they have that passes for a mind is locked down tight.
may God has mercy in your soul, he who cleaneth all sins
May God have mercy on my soul! I am a believer and I need all the mercy I can get, don't give it away as a threat. You're wasting it.
I don't want God or anybody else messing around in my soul.
God can mess around with his/her/its.
Pride and arrogance are usually the issue for the gift of mercy.
Most Evangelicals have no clue about the actual history of Christianity. Before the 3rd century, many followers of Jesus didn't believe he was equated with God. Many others said you couldn't be a follower of Jesus if you weren't Jewish first. It wasn't until the war of ideology started between Athanasius and those that supported what eventually became the orthodoxy of modern christianity that the idea the Jesus was God even became accepted.
oops, I meant Arius, not Athanasius
Smart people with good reading comprehension can easily see that the Bible says that Jesus is God.
John 1:1 says that “the Word was God.” John 1:14 says that “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”
Apparently you don't really know what you are talking about. Rehash of theories that others have told you disguised and pretending to be accurate.
The history of Christianity does not dictate what Jesus is or is not. The pope also murdered many people. Thou shall not murder. Jesus defines himself in the Bible.
"he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? John 14:9
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?"
"Smart people with good reading comprehension can easily see that the Bible says that Jesus is God."
Uh – John was written long after the events it describes. It is a polemic against the many diverse views concerning Jesus and christianity that arose from study of the other gospels – of which there were far more than three at the time. Their subsequent editing – and purging – were done with the sole purpose of establishing a hierarchical church structure, and much of what's left is there because it drives that point home.
SixDegrees, I do not accept your idea that you are capable of deciding what pages of the Bible can be ripped out. I trust the book of John more than I trust you.
Smart people among us know that the New Testament is an elected collection of books determined by various Councils throughout the history of the Church.
That's always been the problem with Modern American Evangelicalism – which isn't Christianity. They think the New testament was invented by their pastors in MegaChurch.
I thought the Word was Bird. And Bird is the Word.
Haha I still find it hilarious that people still believe jesus existed. What a fantasy world we live in, if the belief in some made up zombie deity isn't bad enough then you have the holidays which are inspired completely by said zombie deity. Humans are so silly some times aren't they?
Haha and it amazes me that with all the evil in this world some believe demons are not on the prowl! Go and worship the tombs of Christopher hitchkens and other atheists if you desire. Let me worship The Lord of the Bible. Good luck to you.
Jesus most definitely walked the earth. The dispute is over whether he was the son of God or just some confused guy. You can't deny the awesome guidance that he provided to mankind.
So what if Jesus didn't actually exists. Let's say that he was a product of some guy's imagination. For me, that changes nothing really. What I like about Jesus is how he teaches us a kinder and more just way of walking through this world. Treat people with compassion. Don't worship money. Learn to forgive rather than seek revenge. Love others as you love yourself. If he isn't real, you can accept it as being a philosophy worth following. It is the message that speaks to me. If more Christians actually paid attention to that message and tried to live it, the world would indeed be truly transformed. Then maybe Christians wouldn't be hated so much. We are hated mostly because we are hypocrites. But, the lessons of Jesus (whether they came from God or from the mind of an ancient author) are indeed life changing if you allow them to be.
Religion is a big business nowdays
My reading material says cleanliness is next to godliness. That debunks any reading material Mr. Moore has in his opinions in this article.
Then Satan cheers every time you squat on a toilet.
Try to hold it in. Good luck with that.
Internal (i.e. heart and mind) not external is the point.
This article doesn't surprise me coming from someone who doesn't believe, nor has once ounce of common sense. Of Course Jesus had to pop and urinate! Of course Jesus picked His nose and yes, even passed gas.
But as usual, Perfect isn't perfect unless you can alter the thoughts of mortal men and women because again, You only want to prove if Jesus is real or not!
Don't worry, Your Santa Clause won't be bringing you anything next Christmas!
P.S. One more thing. Advertising that Jesus had faults? Should be banned just the same as advertising Jesus and God can't be shoved out there because your political correctness just can't go against someone's beliefs.
Does anybody understand what this guy wrote?
Honestly no, I think he is a bit upset and writing out of emotion.
Why should commenting on the"faults" of Jesus be banned? If taking a dump is a fault, then why did God create us in such a way that we have to do so? God blesses every dump ever taken by every living thing he or she or it created. If you are offended by God's creation, then take it up with God.
Seems to me this author is a true believer :-) When God became a man God learned what it is like to be human ? God changed from an angry, fearful, and vengeful God into a loving forgiving God ? Remember when God made a bet with the Devil over his faithful servant Job ?
Jesus was clean. Jesus died and rose again and all his wounds were healed except the ones to prove that he was the same person–the holes in hands. When he was buried, God said, "Jesus I will heal all your wounds, but let me leave the holes in your hands to show the people that you are the same person." This is because nobody would put holes in their hands to pretend they were Jesus. The disciples could not recognize Jesus' face, so they had to look or the holes in his hands. When you die and come back alive, you have deteriorated slightly. You would smell really bad and look really really messed up. But that is not true. Jesus was healed so he must have been extra clean. But why didn't God also heal the holes in his hands since God healed they decay of Jesus' body? To prove to the disciples that he was the same person since his face probably changed shape during the healing process. The lord truly works in mysterious ways!
Your logic is mysterious....
I took "holes in the hands" as the deep scarring etc from the crucifixion, I don't know that they were actual holes bud.
absolutely agree. the crucifixion wounds were allowed to scar. the decay from being dead and the other wounds on his face from the wihippings and beatings, however, were healed. God decided not to heal the three crucifixion stars.
This article is designed to do just one thing . . . degrade and diminish the image of Christ. When can we expect to read the dirty lifestyle of Allah?
Only on CNN.
There is only reason why many humanbeings born & living on earth want to diminish anyone else's beliefs, "FEAR" & lack of their own personal self esteem & respect as a humanbeing??? They truly do not appreciate whom they were born to be, thus making them or forcing them to want to create turmoil in lives of others???... There are so many "lost souls" living in our world whom have not & may never know whom they were born to be as an individual being? They have decided it's easier & too much work on their behalf to learn about themselves, & they have decided to rely on some other being on earth to tell them "whom they are" & "what they are to believe"in? That's what I call nuts & mental, allowing another humanbeing on earth to teach or force them into "whom" they're suppose to be or what they need to believe in? Those kind of humanbeings born on earth that want to be placed on a pedestal above others, truly believe they're all that? Those are the kind of people I call "lost souls"...They lack from personal self esteem, self respect, & will always try to diminish other beings on earth of our human own personal beliefs....There is no way or time in my life on earth, that I would give another humanbeing on earth "control" over me, especially when those that crave control have more skeletons in their own closets than I could ever have in my lifetime....I'll create my own closet skeletons, & will continue to refuse to allow another being on earth to make them for me...I am my only judge, & I have every right to fight against those that want to be my judge of my 1 life on earth....Thanks but no thanks you bloated minded, power control, money hungry lost soul freak elitists....All of my comment here tells you exactly how much respect I personally have for those in our government, no matter what party affiliation they belong to...In my eyes, they're all in the same category of extremists of craving power & control over others :(..I truly believe if we voted on term limits in government, we could see many changes, because those elected into government for many decades, would never be allowed to continue to build up their bloated elitists minds truly believing "they're all that"?????? Those in government truly believe they are our saviors, and it's only them that can make our lives better :(; My belief of those in our government, that's where all of our mentally ill citizens live & financially survive c/o the rest of us???? They've been getting away with it for years, & alot of citizens are still allowing them to do so????
You think Jesus is God, right? Allah and God are the same thing. Jesus is Allah, according to Christianity. According to Islam, Jesus is just one of several spokespeople gifted with the power to teach and create miracles. You are so ignorant about your own professed beliefs that it seriously amazes me.
He performed countless miracles to help convince non-believers, he carried the message of God's love for us, repentance and forgiveness and some where a CNN editor thinks there is any value in writing about the possibility (albeit an unprovable opinion only...) that Jesus was dirty living in the dust bowl of the eastern mediterranean?
Can't you guys do any better?
You're right. The irrefutable proof you have just provided has demonstrated clearly that he wore armani suits, was a white guy with a neatly trimmed beared and drove around in his rolls with his posse.
He had a F-150 ! Not a Rolls :-)
I forgot about his iphone 5 :-)
Jesus was indeed probably much as you describe him, with the singular exception of the busting open of the tomb. With that mythology your article serves only to cheapen his accomplishment.
Jesus was a boy born into a world where stoning women to death and crucifixion were the human norm. He wondered as to how the world got into such a condition. The article misinterprets his comment about finding no place to rest his head. He was speaking philosophically about the plight of man; that while birds have nests and other animals have their natural habitats, there is no natural place for the children of man to rest their heads. We must build shelters for them.
He himself was confused at an early age, as we all have been, by the imposition of religious teaching that depicted the character of God as one who creates and stands in charge of the gates of hell to give non-believers eternal physical life then to cast them into eternal physical pain. Jesus took this in and began to object to what had been written. He struggled to find the reason and the rationale to free his people from their compulsion to act in hideous violence against one another. He knew full well the risks, yet he stood to deliver his message. He was one of the first to die courageously for the cause of freedom for his people and for this we honor him. He was our beautiful brother. We dishonor him greatly when we attach to him the malevolence of the character of a creator of hell, a God that has never existed.
If God exists at all we can all see the decisions that God is making. It is from the decisions of God that we learn the truth about the nature of God. We have never needed a Bible or a Quran or a Torah or a teacher or a prophet or a messenger or a pope to see the decisions of God. We have only to open our eyes, to understand how dearly we are loved by a creator who is not malevolent, who understands our human condition, who despite our sad history continues to express faith, hope and love for us by these daily decision to create life in the form of innocent children and then to entrust them to us. We are entrusted with each other. How shall we respond to these acts of trust and love? Will we continue to force an image of a malevolent God into the minds of our children so that they continue to grow up to distrust and fight each other, to continue to deny rights to women and children in the name of the malevolent God? Or will we instead see that every one of them was educated in truth, that they were awarded full liberty of belief, and that we have taught them to love each other?
If God exists at all, you can erase your childhood prejudice by considering that she herself might choose to be female and therefore you can think of her as female and then by simply opening your eyes and observing the decisions of God, you will see at once that she is very beautiful and benevolent towards man.
Amen, brother. Enough of Jesus mythology. And enough of a Santa Claus God who "sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've ben bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake."
Chrisitianity and its true essence has been misquoted, misappropriated, misused by man, particularly so called religious leaders.
and remembr what Jesus said: "that which I do you can do, and even more."
Jesus maybe have been somewhat gritty....but surely not the hard working heavenly Queen of England. Her bowel movements If she is required to have any must be scented due to royal blood.
Many accept the belief that Jesus is "fully God and fully man". However, the Bible does not teach this, but as Jesus himself said that is he is "only-begotten Son of God" (John 3:16) and as Peter said of the Christ, that "you are the Son of the living God."(Matt 16:16) The belief of Jesus as "fully God and fully man" is Monophysitism ("one nature") that began around the 5th century C.E.
When Jesus walked the earth, he was fully human, being called "the Son of man".(Matt 8:20) It was necessary for Jesus to leave his heavenly position as Jehovah God's "master worker" (Prov 8:30) as his "only-begotten Son", to be born as a man, a perfect man (who never became ill, even touching a man with leprosy, Matt 8:1-3), in order to buy back what our forefather Adam lost for his offspring, the right to everlasting life on an earthly paradise.(Luke 23:43)
The apostle Paul identified Jesus as separate from God, by writing to Timothy: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all."(1 Tim 2:5, 6)
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