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.
Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.
Hmm how about you sleep with your neighbor's wife, but think as long as you confess your sins next Sunday, You're Okay with God....or You steal money from the poor...but as long as you confess you're Okay with God....
Sounds like you don't know many Christians. To generalize like you, atheists are arrogant know-it-alls, who rarely know as much as they claim. To make up for their lack of real knowledge, they merely insult those with whom they disagree using the most vulgar and base insults they can come up with just because they know it is offensive.
The Conservative Christian's use vulgar insults too...Like when they call natural disasters an act of God, and the victims must have been sinners..subject to God's wrath...How Christian is that??
It doesn't sound like you know many atheists. You bash them and insult them just because they disagree with you. In other words, it's OK for you to behave in that manner, demonstrated quite nicely with your own post, but they can't. It's called being a hypocrite Dan.
A professor in Pakistan said this same stuff about Mohammad and was immediately arrested. We may have our problems here, but its good to reflect on how much worse things could be.
You mean white baby jesus was dirty white baby jesus too!
Why do you even assume Jesus was "White" in the first place????
Where is the tomb he busted out of ??? or one of his .#'2's we could test.
Science it is the TRUTH if you want to beleive it or not.
Fossil record is hugh and fact.
Two boys find 13,000 year old dino bone in backyard creek RECENTLY.
According to history, it was destroyed by invading Muslims.
Says the guy that can't spell HUGE
No, he meant Hugh. That 13,000 year old dino was named Hugh. His brother was named Fact. Odd names for dinosaurs, but what the heck.
If you're talking to me, you must be thunking of a different Dan. There's more than one in this world. If you don't believe me, then look it up. Muslim Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim bi-Amr-Allah had Jesus' tomb razed to the ground in 1009, along with other Christian holy sites.
Yeshua ben Yosef. He was born and lived as a Jew. He never created a new religion. Christianity finally became a world class religion with Constantine. Constantine was a Roman Emperor. His background included the Roman Myth of Hercules. Born to a mortal woman and fathered by the God Zeus. Half man and a half God. Many such myths existed back then. For a very simple reason. The world was awash in disease, hunger and war. People craved faith to give them hope and not despair. When Rome entered Israel, it became so enraged at the stiff necked Jews that would not submit to their will that they started the process of crucifixion. Thousands of zealots were crucified. Why was Yeshua crucified. Simple. He spoke of a world of empathy and compassion. He was so eloquent that he was able to convert Roman Centurions to believe in non violence. They laid down their swords. Pontius Pilate knowing that the word was mightier than the sword understood the threat he presented to militaristic Rome. Throughout history it is the pacifists who are murdered: Ghandi, Martin Luther. King. How safe is it for pacifists today?
Jesus was a Jew – He didn't have blond hair and blue eyes.
why not? Jews are Caucasians, they originate from Mesepotamia not Africa
Mesopotamia is in Africa
Hey Ed, you are obviouosly uneducated, Mesepotamia is in modern day Iraq
Amazing how CNN leaves comments open like this but will close Political Coments because they insult Obama
I heard Jesus could fart the ancient Aramaic alphabet.
He was the 1st century's answer to Le Pétomane.
Letterman want-to-be writer.
I Chalenge CNN to do a story on how Human Mohmed was?
I dare you.................didnt think so.
Typical Christian, can't cope with reality so you have to pick on others.
Why? As you fundies are so fond of claiming, the US is supposed to be a christian nation, or at least have a large preponderance of christians in it, and a dearth of muslims. Why would CNN bother with an article that, by your accounting, no one would read?
disgusting humans repent before its to late
Grow up Cliff.
Six, um, because Islam is the largest religion in the world, even if it not so here, and there is a significant portion of them who want to kill you because you are not.
A hypocrite is someone who acts in contradiction to his or her beliefs. To call CNN hypocrites you would first need to outline what fundamental beliefs publishing this article represented, then show how publishing it, and no the Mohammad article, contradicted them.
What I think you will find is that there is no contradiction here. The belief is going to be something like "Provide as much information of interest to our readers without risking lives of ourselves or our viewers". First, there aren't nearly as many people reading CNN from Islamic backgrounds as from Christian. Most people don't care about reading about prophets from religions they know little about. Second, the fact that Muslims would threaten to kill them does make a difference, since not getting killed is a pretty important part of most peoples princliples.
@Dan, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Islam is growing faster, but largely because of their lagging drop in fertility.
Jesus live more like a Hobbit...Then the men of his time...
Lame. There is no god and if jesus was real, she was angry.
That a man or woman would have different sanitary habits over 2000 years ago is news? The point is that the human condition then was one of living in an unclean world. So, we are clean today, but have HIV, teens and very young mothers living openly as drug abusers, and "gangstas" running our major urban areas. What will folks in the year 4000 say? Maybe that 2013 was the cataclysmic year for the human condition.
amazing, discussing whether or not Jesus had diarrhea
And it was white and didn't stink.
A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.
The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:
(c) Economics; or
You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:
(c) NASA astronomer; or
I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
(a) A gifted psychologist
(b) A well respected geneticist
(c) A highly educated sociologist
(d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian
Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
(d) A Christian
The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
(a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or
(d) All of the above.
If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) A mafia boss
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.
What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
(a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
(b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
(c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
(d) All of the above.
The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
(a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
(b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
(c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or
(d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.
adose of reality: Someone has too much time on their hands.
Joe dog, ur too simple to read it and understand it. Too much time eh? What useless cr*p are you doing this morning?
Adose of Reality
Ever read a science fiction Book?...The author starts by creating a world, a reality for the reader to enter, to tell his story..maybe he uses this world's reality, or something like this world's reality....The author can create a past, a history...and then create a Now Time, a present time, and a future time......So maybe God did create the world 10,000 years ago...and gave it a past, billions of years old.....if you are God you can create the Reality of the world...
A heavy dose that many have chosen to ignore and reject. Perhaps it is easier to walk around with ones head in the clouds than to face the stark reality that we are all just human. I guess that is why many would continue to believe in fairy tales than face reality.
Your ignorance astounds me. You just said a whole lot of nothing. It really amazes me how atheists feel that Christians have to do all the explaining when quite frankly there are just millions of things that they have to explain, but yet they avoid doing so. You do this by hiding behind the simple facts and pointing fingers at the Christians. You want simple fact? Here is one for start:
Let's look at this from a scientific and archaelogical standpoint, and one of plain old common sense. When an archaeologist does a dig at a site and finds a piece of broken pottery, what does he say? That archaeologist says that this was created by an intelligent being long ago. A simple piece of pottery... You mean to tell me that you can look at a human being with all the cells and DNA, immune system etc, and in your right mind say that that human being just happened? It defies science, and furthermore defies plain ole common sense that it just " poof"...happened. You mean to tell me that the earth was placed just the right distance from the sun, with just the right atmosphere, with just the right temperature, with just the right conditions for life and all that just happened? You had better buy yourself a Powerball ticket my friend, because you have a better chance of winning that 20 times than you do for that to be.
Do you acknowledge that their is evil in the world, or was the shooting of all those innocent children in Connecticut just something that we look at and say..."eh, so what?" The mayor of that town himself said.." Evil visited this town today". If you acknowledge that there is evil, then certainly you acknowledge that there is good. If you acknowledge that there is good, then you acknowledge that there is a moral law. If you acknowledge that there is a moral law, you certainly have to acknowledge that there is a Moral Law Giver. Put the pieces of the puzzle together my friend.
Putting religion aside, you got to ask when you examine closely nature around us, and the natural order of things. Could this really be evolution, or the product of an intelligent design? Even Charles Darwin conceded that he doesn't know how the human eye could have evolved. Did it started off as a mass of white ball, then it slowly started developing nerves, retina, a cornea, and essentially a complex apparatus for capturing light and transmitting it via nerve cells to the brain?
Even scientist tried to replicate to see if they can product a single-celled organism in a laboratory. In a controlled lab, they have a vat and placed it with liquid and protein material in it, subjected it to different temperatures, pressure, light, etc.... but they couldn't even produce a single strand of DNA nor the complex chromosomes comprising it. Now I've heard of experiments where scientist created a single cell, but that is using existing DNA from other microorganisms, and not really from scratch.
I went to a huge christian church (Northpoint Church) that has 10,000 members in Dec. 2012 They were trying to raise funds to help victims of hurricane Sandy make it thru the winter. Goal was 1.5 million$. After 3 weeks of fund raising, the everyone ended up donating a 4+ million dollars. The church gave ALL of it away not only to homeless people afflicted by hurricane Sandy but also to various charitable organizations in the South East (homeless shelters, orphanages, kitchen for the homeless, red cross, etc). Throughout history I see these things happens from Christians and whenever calamity strikes a country, its the Christian organizations that come to give help whether financial and/or in volunteer hours.
And what do atheists do??? Compile a list of insults and post the same thing over and over in forums like these with delusions of intellectual grandeur. The number of people in the world who believes in some form of deity far outnumber people who don't believe in a god by several orders of magnitude. So it's either god-believing people are morons (or has a "weak mind" lol), or atheists are. If you know math, or studied probability, then you know the numbers are stacked up against you.
If we're all going to eventually die anyway, then it doesn't really matter if some people believe in a god. Since assuming there really isn't one, we would all end up the same direction anyway right?
... but then what if you're wrong?
Jesus could walk on water but he had to run to the latrine.
We are also told that Jesus Christ our Lord was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid our faces from Him, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Which holds true to this day; many, far too many reject His truth. Isaiah 53 3 for those who give a hoot.
Christ was fully human and fully man. And yes he lived a dirty, poor, hungry existence. What is your point? The gospel of Christ is not some lovey dovey fairy tale. It is an offensive tale to most. Christ Jesus, choosing the screw ups of society, chose to save the poor, the needy, the sinners from destruction. While bearing the full temptations of man, he never sinned. He came to heal the sick, to help the needy. He still comes not for those who have it all together and think they don't need him. Christ comes for those who humble themselves and realize they are not perfect. So what is the point of your article? Dirty or not, Christ came to save sinners like you and like ME.
Just like Obama.
I'm not a Christian. However, this article is extremely offensive. Jesus bled and died, therefore, he had a human body with human bodily functions... which was the least important thing about him. A repulsive article written by somebody who is desperate for attention. CNN, you should be ashamed for printing it. Have some respect.
lets just keep demeaning our Savior,
CNN is shamefull when it comes to religion
Why dont you do a story about Mohamed? maybe show a photo of him
with dirt on his hands?
Not my savior.
How is saying that Jesus was human demeaning? He was both man and God. And as a man he, he suffered from the same problems and health issues we did. After all, he did die, didn't he?
Odd how you Christians keep having to defend a god. Grow a bain.
Hey JJ...I have a "bain"
Seems like you have a tougher job defending the fact that there isn't a God JJ.
Jesus turned water into wine and food into feces.
and on Judgement Day You into ashes
Don't think so Cliff.
A jester is born.
When Jesus suffered for our sins He experienced every possible form of pain that any human would ever experience. This He did so He would understand our afflictions in life and make Him fully qualified to be our judge and mercifully determine our place in heaven.
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.