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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.”
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
you all seem really mad and hateful this artical is someone's opinion why must you all bash each other? either you agree or disagree but act like civil adults im not saying this artical is correct bc idk none of us do we can only belive and have faith in our religions.
You mean act like adults? Them first.
OR, you could not have faith in religion and think for yourself.
You would think the son of god could hit the old man up for a tube of preperation H.
The "D" is silent.
No need for it (bible) anymore. Do we want to go back to this time ?
One of the most difficult things to comprehend about this story is the degree to which slavery was an accepted part of American life. It was sanctioned in the Bible, certainly all over the place in the Old Testament, so slaveholders used that as justification.
This will add to your wisdom for the week, we all learn something new, and this will show you something amazing. What you are referring to is not properly labelled slavery, but of servant-hood. One could "sell" oneself into servanthood for a period to pay off debts, yet not to exceed 7 years where everyone goes free (called sabbatical year) However, if you chose to remain with the home that provided you with a living wage (even indentured servants in view here were paid 1/2 what a career servant was paid, you could chose a life of it (called a duolos in greek) See "owners" were incented to offer a great working environment, these "slaves" as you call it were treated like one of the family Best example of that is Eliazer the servant for Abraham and Issac. The entire book of Philemon is basically about how slavery is not endorsed, Paul is giving him the chance to do what is right and release his slave.
They are short reads if you would like to refer to it yourself Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 25, and of course Philemon. You will see the picture of a system created by God where if someone got under crushing debt, they had a system for you to restore yourself via humble servant-hood for a season. Your assertion that "slavery" is encouraged is born only of ignorance, and you could learn a valuable lesson here to not assert something you have not studied.
Finally, a fresh look at who we really are and what we can become.
Sure, sandy...a pooping person who smells bad because he wiped his butt with his left hand and wipes it odd in the dirt. Hahaham god almighty. Stupid article, written by a fool of a professor at a religious univesity that should have it's accredations yanked. This guy is all bullschit.
The best, longest running and most lucrative ponzi scheme ever invented.
WOW doesn't have a clue
You are right. Remember that Jesus was the most anti-religious person we read about. He rebuked the religionists of his day (the Pharasies), and Jesus endorsed radical humility and relationship with broken people. He is the best model of how to avoid religion and live with relationship.
This young commentator Johnnie Moore must not realize that his claims have been made many times before by others who wish to attempt to dislodge the Gospel in order to draw attention to their writings and attempt to gain fame through the deceit of their words. This article was not designed to shed any truth but to advance Johnnie’s own agenda. Way to go Johnnie. I am sure God will have a few words for you when you meet him face to face.
I'm sorry, "WOW", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore "it" cannot meet anyone. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
So your all-loving god will punish Johnny for saying that his son might not have been as clean as he is portrayed??
@hal – It appears to me that Johnnie believes in God so it is you that has TOTALLY FAILED in your conclusion concerning my statement. So I’m Sorry “hal”, you will need to put a little more time thinking on how to write your responses before you just post.
@mk – Your response shows how you do not have a knowledge of what you speak of.
WOW is false
Not sure how this makes me less knowledgeable since it was you who claimed that Johnnie would be punished by your god for writing such stuff. It's just hard for me to believe a god would be so easily offended.
@mk – I didn’t say Johnnie would be punished, you said that. I said God will have a few words for you when you meet him face to face. It is the fact that you said “all-loving god will punish Johnny” is where you are lacking in knowledge. Please explain why you say God is “all-loving god will punish Johnnie” since you are the one who makes this claim.
If it isn't a punishment, sure sounds like at least a scolding. So your god isn't all-loving?
@mk – Yes, in my statement, I gave an appearance of a possible “scolding” but only God will know what the experience will be once Johnnie meets face to face. The motive of Johnnie for writing an article such as this is what is in question that will cause a possible, let me use your word again, “scolding”. Does not a Father scolds his children when they do wrong and if so does this mean that the Father is somehow not “all-loving”? So please again I ask you to explain what you mean by “So your god isn’t all-loving?”?
at best jesus was a philosopher who's life was grossly embellished by his followers and at worst he is entirely fictional.
Your miscalculations only harm yourself.
. Our Lord Christ He is our sheild as it written " if you are ashamed of Me in front of man .........so I shall be ashamed of you in front of the Father." How many times a day should we name Christ showing others and Him that we are not ashamed to speak his name or to worship HIM.I see you have given Him praise atleast 10 times.in you article Bravo
One cannot be ashamed of what does not exist.
the Brown Note must cannot be ashamed of his reasoning then.
This is actually a great perspective to ground the scriptures into a more relevant humanity. By looking at his human form to be equal with that of his godly form, the religion can better appreciate the true struggle of how a god in a man's body is the only one capable of being spiritually above reproach. Bravo. I like the fresh analysis.
I personally don't believe in anything, but this makes for a more interesting read.
How about saying Jesus pulled on his pec-ker like every man does
Another anti-Religious article by cnn.
For the record...Adam was not the first man.
Ummm...this is anti-religious, how exactly? It isn't saying anything new to those of us who believe that Jesus was God and human. If human, then yes, he was subject to the same conditions as every other person of his time and place, and to other basic physical conditions which have been universally part of the human experience. That's the whole point. The only way that this is anti-religious is if you're a Gnostic who believes that the Son of God was not really human at all, that his humanity was an illusion. If that is the case, you have fun with that, but it ain't real.
I'm curious, who came first, Jesus, the dinosaurs, or australopithecus man?
Jesus was the father of Jim Jones
I'm new here... how does this work
Poop in your hands, then make the sign of the cross.
say something outlandish and wait for the crazies to pop out.
Was Jesus gay? I mean, all those apostles.
Let's look at the facts. He wore Birkenstocks, never married, hung out with 12 dudes, was "hung", and got nailed by Roman soldiers dressed like gladiators. My vote is yes....
The Hobbits were also dirty, walking around barefoot through the woods.
Jesus was a carpenter. Now he's a landscaper. Oh, how times they have-a changed.
Jesus wept... and then he pooped again.
At least he wasn't among the rich of those times (Poop pious).
How can I say it... Jesus did-dled with himself too
A prof at Liberty U. Says it all. This 'university' should not be accredited as it teaches falsehood, namely religion.
Great point. Its amazing that a university these days teach this as anything other than history. If it were not for the money, they likely would.
Oh, you mean like Harvard (school of Divinity), and Notre Dame? Yeah. Pul their accreditation, those losers.
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.