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.
jesus didn't let himself be killed...his disciples were on the look out and when they were approaching he said lets go there here...but then you have a contradicting narrative in john where he approaches judas and his crew...
no one knows who this jesus really was, it's time for people to stop pretending to
...As HT pointed out while I was looking things up elsewhere. Back to the point of the debate.
I liked the article. I only clarify that the concept of incarnation is accepted by most Christian churches, but not all. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understands and teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of Heavenly Father not an incarnate of Heavenly Father and they are one in purpose, that purpose being to bring us all to our immortality and eternal life.
Neither concept is grounded in reality.
This article sound like the Jesus that I serve. He came to Earth as a man to serve as an example for us. You will notice that the Bible does not talk about what Jesus did from when He was 12 until He was 30 years old. That is because He lived a human life, just like you and I. He relinquished all of his power and authority when He came down from heaven.
We read about a fragment of papyrus that claims that Jesus had a wife. Not that I believe the fragment, and I don't, but who is to say that Jesus did not have a wife at one time? A Jewish man of that time could have married and had his wife pass away before his time of ministry. How much more would this same Jesus be qualified to tell some who has lost a loved one, "I know the pain that you are going through, and I mourn with you". Jesus lived and was tempted by all things that are common to man, and yet did not sin.
We do know that his father was not referred to in his ministry, and most likely died sometime in the adult life of Jesus. My Jesus suffered loss, attended weddings and feasts, celebrated with loved ones, worked as a carpenter, went to synagogue and mourned for his people. When the time was right, He was baptized by water and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Most people don't understand that Christ is not Jesus's last name, but his calling. It means "The Anointed One".
His ministry was full of miracles that were done by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus would pray and fast to come closer to the Father and maintain that anointing. He then choose to die for us to redeem all man, even though every part of his humanity wanted to live.
He has shown us a way that we can live life on this Earth and find peace and power. We can as humans choose to do the same things that Jesus has done, and that same anointing power is available to us all, if we choose to seek God and follow his son. If you are brave enough, ask God to reveal the truth to you by the power of his revelation. He can and will change your life if you will let him.
...just like you and me, not I. Other than that, your post is pure bullshit.
Athy- You and I or you and me... Depending on the locale of the writer, either one is correct, these days. Perhaps you could contribute to the ongoing debate rather than the gvrammatical abilities of people who may not even be located in the same hemisphere as you.
You are beginning to remind me of Dippy...
Yes, there is a stray "v" in "grammatical. Won't happen again
Either is not correct. It's the objective case, not subjective. Doesn't matter where you're from. Check your sixth-grade English text.
small 'c' christian,
" You and I or you and me... Depending on the locale of the writer, either one is correct, these days. "
Only if you accept incorrectness and poor English*. Athy is right here... and so are you in another vein, i.e., saying that Athy and Dippy are way too nit-picky on a casual blog.
(*hint: in cases like this, take away the other person - "just like you" and "just like me" = "just like you and me")
Proceed with the topic of the article...
Hmm, Oxford seems to have it backward, then? To quote:
•Use the pronoun I, along with other subjective pronouns such as we, he, she, you, and they, when the pronoun is the subject of a verb:
He went to bed.
We waited for the bus.
Clare and I are going for a coffee.
In the last example, the pronoun I, together with the proper noun Clare, forms the subject of the sentence, so you need to use I rather than me.
At any rate- picking on someone's language skills is not the point of this kind of debate. It's the equivalent of "yeah? Well your mother wears Army boots" rather than an insightful addition to the fray.
Wups... pithy response placed delicately in the wrong place... Back to the debate.apologies to TM, who got in there whilst I was elsewehere, researching...
small 'c' christian,
(just one last leeetle comment on this, then I'll shut up)
You need to look up the objective case.
As I said, I try to overlook a lot of errors in this casual writing here; but a steady stream of it shows lack of education and is evidence of sloppy thought processes.
My last on this distraction- Sorry, but the sentence seems to me to be correct... "he lived a human life, just like you and I.."
But I am not a language professional, so I admit I may be wrong. All off which is really irrelevant to my point of tweaking those who contribute only nit-picks about spelling and grammer (yourself excepted) over actual serious commentary.
Spoiler alert: Jesus was not the son of God. He was just some guy.
This is all speculation. There is nothing spiritual, no gods, no angels, no ghosts of relatives past, nothing like that. Just because there is a book, made by PEOPLE, that says contrary does not make it so. I will admit that people are hungry for something to believe in that is larger than themselves but that does not conclusively prove any of it either. Think people, think. We are a spec on the surface of a spinning ball of rock orbiting a star that is whirling around in a clump of 200 billion other stars that is part of a universe of 200+ billion galaxies. For us to believe we are somehow the most important part of the universe is pretty vain. Just enjoy life while you have it, because once it's over, it's over, lights out, nothing afterward. Nothing. I tried finding God and I thought I found him but I found lies and hypocrites, nothing more. I studied the Bible along with more than a few ministries and none of them know what they are doing, they are guessing more than scientists are using the scientific method, and the scientists, are actually learning truth about how our universe works, where the Christians and anyone else who believes in deities are just fooling themselves.
Matou… I hate to tell you this, but you're just one more fool who has been sold a huge pack of lies. And you apparently bought it, hook line and sinker. And the worse part of all is that, you believed all that nonsense without asking them for a shred of proof…
You may have looked for God once during your lifetime and because you didn't find him you simply "assumed" he didn't exist. Whatever gave you that idea? Just because you didn't find him doesn't mean he doesn't exist. Ever considered the fact that maybe you were looking in the wrong places? Or that maybe you were unworthy to find him? (God will lead all sheep to him). Trust me, God truly exists. And if you look in the right places for him, and trust in him to lead you to the right place, he can be found…
Giving up is a trick of the devil. Never give up because the alternative is the lake...
" you're just one more fool who has been sold a huge pack of lies. And you apparently bought it, hook line and sinker."
Nah. You're the hapless catch of the "fishers of men" - to be hauled in, gutted, and eaten or sold.
Sorry, I need proof. It's all too neat and tidy and convenient to have it all based on faith. It's really a moot point to debate about whether or not jesus is god or just the son of god, or how many were crucified with him. you want to debate something? debate why he needs to come back if our loved ones go to heaven when they die; they are already there, so why does he need to come back, why need a rapture? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. No there are problems with the whole thing and I spent my life believing it and for what? The only things that worked out well in my life, I did them, I made them work out. What didn't work out, I didn't do the right thing or try hard enough. There is not nor was there ever, nor will there ever be, proof of divinity or deities or any of it. Religion is just a way that man devised to control other men and I am not subjugating to hypocrites any more.
OpposingView – does it hurt your faith when sooooo many piiiiisssss on your beliefs? does it make you feel your beliefs are less true? does it make you question everything you were taught? if you allow the beliefs of others to cloud your own... YOU are the one with the problem. your beliefs will decide what you do in life and how you affect humanity. it means nothing to me and makes you look like a fool when you try and impose your silly beliefs on others...
No, no no! Jesus has an orange tan, year around. He wears really loud polyester sport jackets, and he helps me make Super Bowl bets every year. He's rather good with the ladies, too. But, get him drunk...well he's a bit rude. And, too much with the tasteless jokes when children are present.
A real LOL. Moses and the exodus walked around in the desert for 40 years lost. Not a single mention of a bath. As a matter of fact the only mention of a body of water they got near separated away from them...just how funky were they?
What an amazing article! Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, 'descended below all things.' How else it could this be true. It adds a whole new level of perspective to think of Christ in the light of man who faced the same ills we do, and knows our struggles on such terms. Truly, the Savior of the World
religion is a way to control men.. period. its been helpful but hurtful at the same time. we don't need it. we want it. reality is just too harsh for us to accept. we need to think the kids killed by adam lanza went to heaven. even though they just ceased. it makes us feel better to think they are in heaven. even when deep down we know that's not true. we all know our existence will end but we need to think it means something. being good gets us a reward of some kind. the golden rule is so simple... yet we can't seem to instill it or follow it when we should....
Ever hear of capitalization, Kenny?
Kenny… You stated… "religion is a way to control men"...
Someone told you that lie and you believed it. Have you ever considered that maybe they lied to you? You shouldn't be so quick to believe everything you hear….
You then said (regarding the kids killed by adam lanza) – "even though they just ceased"….
What proof do you have they just ceased? What knowledge do you have of that event? Answer: You have no proof or knowledge whatsoever. So you should stick to what you know, and stop making ridiculous statements and unsubstantiated claims. All atheists are so predictable. They love to through out ridiculous statements and outlandish claims, without a shred of proof to back it up…
i honestly have no idea how you religious fools make it through life. to be soooo delusional and yet somehow pass yourselves off as normal is beyond my comprehension. i know most people accept your delusion but they do so because its easier than confronting you fools. i work with people that believe the nonsense you do. we don't talk about it and it seems to work out. yet you ignorant fools still seem to spread your nonsensical bs all over and for some ridiculous reason you are accepted. i don't know why.. you guys are batshiiitttteeee
I liked the article. I onyl have one disagreement and that is I do not believe Jesus ever had dysentery or any other illness because He was diety and had no sin He was not affected by sin like we are. Yes He was human and felt all the effect on the body like heat, cold, hunger and pain emotions yes happy, sad, sorrow, anger. Jesus felt the sting of sin when He became sin for us on the cross and the Father turned away from Jesus because of the sin He bore on our behalf that is when He cried "Father why have you forsaken Me" Jesus bore on the cross all our sin and all our sickness but unlike all the other animal sacrifices before this last sacrifice once and for all consumed all of Gods wrath and that is why when we accept what Jesus has done on our behalf we are free from the wrath of God. Who the Son sets is free in deed. Believe and be free my friends.
Are you seriously implying that only bad people get sick? Tell that to all the kids at your local peds cancer ward, you idiot!
Kindal- Not a chance. Even if you beleive as many do that he was a diety, the same words that made him a god also took great pains to make him man as well. Can't have it both ways, my friend. You are being selective even about those writings in the NT to believe. ..
If Jesus did exist as it is told in The Bible, he was here fully as a human. He would have suffered from any number of human diseases that other humans of the time suffered from, including dysentery. As the stories go, he was the son of God, made human here on Earth. This would not have made him immune to becoming ill, that would have made him all the more human. Of all the images of Christ that are out there, I tend to think that Mr. Moore's image of Jesus as a full human being, suffering the same ills as his contemporaries, looking and smelling the same, is the most realist one out there so far.
BTW- Kindal, since when is an illness a sin? Just askin'.
Eh, I didn't believe in fairy tales to begin with
Then why did you believe in the lie that God doesn't exist? That's nothing but a fairytale...
Probably because it has the same amount of proof as the fairy tale. In a word, none.
Jesus did exist- but Constantine put him up on a pedistal to forward his political agenda- hence the Catholic church and all it's wonderous rituals and sacrifices.
Its, not it's.
Cheryl – I agree.
Thank you JESUS, and PLEASE FORGIVE THOSE "INGRATES" AT CNN !!!!
forgive the ingrates for what? expressing an opinion?
My take, Jesus never existed.
Then your take is wrong. And the scriptures call you "antichrist"...
1 John 4:3 – And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist,..
He gave his opinion and you gave yours. Can either of you prove what you say?
Ben… What I gave wasn't an opinion. It was the truth according to the word of God (I even provided you with a scripture). There is no greater proof than that…
Your 'scripture' is nothing.
OpposingView: You can't use the bible to prove your god or jesus exist. It is called circular reasoning. There is no evidence outside of your bible to state that jesus existed or that your god existed.
OV- you quoted a line from a writing largely acknowledged to have been written any time between thirty and fifty-five years after the fact (50-85 AD), and used it as "proof" that you are right. Gotta do better than that, big guy...
The "Word of God" is just the opinion of a bunch of guys writing thousands of years ago. Not is it only just an opinion, but it's an outdated opinion.
Read Isaiah 53 and then – you the writer, may understand how silly your mind has just wasted on nothing but foolishness. I wish you had known or at list read your bible, just for the sake of giving "faith" the benefit of its doubt before you pick a pen to write. Indeed He was that person – as you called Him "despised", for your, mine , and all lived and living soul's salvation. Please read Isaiah 53 then you would know that you didn't write nothing new, but played yourself with your ignorance.
Ignorance? Oh you mean believing in talking snakes, a man who could live in a whale, a flood that covered the earth, men who could live to 900, and a man who could here the whole world murmer at once. That is ignorance.
why the hate?
the issue/opinion might sound obvious once it is raised,
but it is a clear fact that all human depiction of Jesus has him in clean white robes, bright, and a face that is all too similar with all artists despite having no knowledge of how He looks like.
Isaiah 53 continues from chapter 52, hot shot, and that chapter is describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. Israel IS the "Suffering Servant". Isn't it rather ironic that Isaiah 53, which actually refers to the Jewish people as "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter", was stolen by Christians who did a lot of that to them?
Jesus is but a man.
God does not have kids, humans have kids.
Humans cannot have god.y kids and gods cannot have human kids
The only true Lord is Dread Cthulhu; Bringer of Eternal Darkness.
May His darkness fall upon you, and your pain and suffering know no bounds.
I need a real theologian on here.. this is lame
You're a perfect example of someone who doesn't know a thing about God, yet want to have an opinion. Newsflash: Opinions from people who don't know God are worthless...
Sorry, I didn't mean it to be a reply
Why would that be the case?
Jesus is God.
Jesus as the son of God means he entered a human body and was limited to it. Jesus separates the difference between what He is like in the flesh and what He is like in the spirit. "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."
How many humans do you know who can walk on water and perform miracles? Well, besides Chris Angel?
ben: stevie yzerman did. but, the water was frozen. and he was wearing skates
I think Johnie's speculating from a limited perspective.
You might want to look him up and read a little before you say that. I daresay he's experienced a lot more than many of us in his 29 years.
"I rode into town on an ass, yo mama's ass." -Black Jesus
The dark Lord Cthulhu would approve of this comment.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
So let him wait.
Here again, CNN is giving us someone out there we've never heard off with a cute yet connecting and provocative written piece as this one. But who is Johnnie Moore? And what authority is he to tell us about Jesus? Sounds like just another up and coming religious theme author trying to make it big by connecting with us through mainstream media.
Google slash Bing slash Yahoo is your friend. I am no friend of Rev Moore, but in less than five minutes I learned enough to know he graduated with his Master's in Theology in two years (most students take 4), that he teaches course on "world religions", that he has travelled and ministered in more than two dozen countries around the globe, studied Bhuddism in Tibet, and is currently completing further studies in advanced theology at Harvard. Now, what have YOU done since age 18? Curious minds may want to be edified.
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.