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.
I have no patience with people who simply like to upset others. My spouse had a relative like that, and the harm he caused is never over. Get a grip, find something important to say, and talk to people who are emotionally strong enough to deal with you. In other words, stop being a bully. Really.
Reblogged this on FredOkono and commented:
A radical and fascinating view of the Lord – but one that greatly appeals to those of us that believe that God is indeed with and of us!
Hey when your mom tells you you're father is an angel it's bound to screw you up!
How common does Jesus have to be before we feel accepted by Him? Maybe the author is asking a sin question because he has never known his sins have been truly forgiven. It is sin that never lets us forget where we came from who we truly are, and who our Father truly is. Without this marvelous revelation in our lives we knowing we can never attain the things of God on our own try to pull things down to a level that is attainable. This is sin that causes this blindness and reasoning. It was not sin and sickness that made Jesus feel for us and know what we go through it was the love and compassion that He has for us. When you walk through a slum it is not the sickness that gives you the compassion for the people it is the human desperation. We see the filth and needs and we are moved to act. We know life doesn't have to be like this because we come from a greater perspective. My people are destroyed by lack of knowledge. Jesus had a decision if He would be obedient to the Father and if He would give up His life and If He would not call many thousands of angles to do battle for Him. These all His decisions and just as surely as He was faithful in the three tempta.tions so He is faithful in these decisions. He had a job a mission and if we truly believe in what the Gospel of John said In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. Then how could that which was created have power over the creator. Like I said, sin and pride is the problem here, knowing that we truly have the forgiveness of our sins by the power and blood of Jesus all working through His love to bring us up to Him, not bring Him down to us.
I'm sorry, "Bob", but "Him", "our Father", "revelation", "God", "He", "His", "the Gospel", "the Gospel of John", "the Word", "the creator", "sin", and "blood of Jesus" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
And you know this how?
Early Christianity: "hey let's make up some stuff! We can control some people with it thru fear; maybe it'll even scare some of the Romans; it might even be profitable! Cool, yeh? we'll start with current folklore as a basis, otherwise we'll look too much like a cult."
Luther, Henry VIII, et al: "these Catholics have too much control; plus the rules are too strict – to hell with my religion, we'll just make our own. It looks to be close enough so as not to look like a cult"
Joseph Smith: "I'm having some legal and financial problems, so I need to create something mind-shattering quickly. I can get my family to believe me. It'll be based on Christianity so as not to look too much like a cult." [ed. oops, someone went a little too far with the added pieces]
ALL ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS ARE FOLKLORE!
Honest historians know that Jesus is a amalgam of multiple protestors and rebels against the Romans, and that most of the people he was modeled had wives and families. When Constantine ordered the New Testament written in 300 AD, they sifted through a lot of ancient records and cherry picked the ones he approved with edits. Jesus was a man in the early version, the resurrection myth was added during he dark ages around 600 AD—earlier version don't have it. But the Christian churches of the world cannot let such things be widely known, so they've suppressed the truth for 1,000s of years and will continue to do so.
Flavius Josephus wrote this in 87 ad and was a witness to Jesus and the cross so why don't all you numb nuts just get lost. Now there was about this time Jesus, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
I'm sorry, "Bob", but "Flavius Josephus" was a heresay "historian". Your unfounded assertion value remains at 0, "Bob" (Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE) value = "TOTAL FAIL").
Josephus was born Joseph ben Mattathias in 37 C.E. in Jerusalem of a priestly and royal family. He excelled in his studies of Jewish law and studied with the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Essenes, eventually aligning himself with the Pharisees. In 62 C.E. he went to Rome to free some imprisoned priests. After accomplishing this mission through the intercession of Nero's wife, Poppaea, he returned to Jerusalem in 65 C.E. to find the country in revolt against Rome. In 68 C.E. when Nero committed suicide and Vespasian became Ceasar. As a result, Josephus was freed; he moved to Roman and became a Roman citizen, taking the Vespasian family name Flavius. Vespasian commissioned Josephus to write a history of the war, which he finished in 78 C.E., the Jewish War. His second major work, the Antiquities of the Jews, was completed in 93 C.E. He wrote Against Apion in about 96-100 C.E. and The Life of Josephus, his autobiography, about 100. He died shortly after.Despite his ambivalent role, Josephus was an eyewitness to history, and his writings are considered authoritative. These texts are key to understanding a pivotal point in world history, which has tragic repercussions even to this day.Scholars generally agree that Jesus died between 30-36 AD So he was Sorry Hal your standards are above the rest of the world that consider him authentic and accurate. But more than likely its not standards just bigotry exemplified through excuses.
I'm sorry, "Bob", but writings that are considered authoritative do not confirm a truth of the mythological claims of Christianity. In addition, "Bob", regarding the possibility that Josphus witnessed the execution of the character "Jesus", there is sufficient skepticism among scholars as to the possible editing of Testimonium Flavianum to render your assertion unfounded. Your truth value remains at 0, "Bob".
Hal a fool such as yourself cannot judge the claims of the Bible.I didn't present them for your approval because I had no doubts this would be the outcome just presented them for the sane and logical ones that understand truth but thanks for reading anyway
Interesting story but he was wrong on a few points . I guess it comes from guessing about the bible
more than reading it . He said Jesus had Diarrhea at one time or another but that would be impossible
because JESUS was born without sin and sickness is a by-product of sin .
Thank you doctor for that amazing discovery. I'll be sure to visit my local witch doctor instead of a physician. Now we only have to clear up which god to follow among the 1000 of choices.
yes, a protestant form of Christianity is the only true religion.
In the third-from-the-end sentence/paragraph, the author writes, "He let himself be killed, and then he busted open a tomb." I disagree with the choice of words here, and, perhaps, the meaning in that Jesus' death was necessary and so was something that he chose to not resist and that, later, he left the tomb into which his then-corpse had been interred by rolling away a rock which had served as the 'door' to it, which would not require any 'busting'.
Dominick, no doubt that the author was taking some liberty with the verbiage here. I agree too that a cursory reading of the Bible demonstrates just how reluctant Jesus was to die. Isn't that the most human part about him- affronted with death, he called out to his father, "Why have you forsaken me?" It is such an amazing moment – faith itself can be tested when death is imminent. Jesus did not seem to be overly excited by his death, but his resurrection proved both to his disciples and, more importantly, to Jesus, that his Father had not forgotten him, and that he was, indeed, the Messiah of the scriptures. I love this image of Jesus more than, perhaps, any other, because God, when testing his believers, will give us a sign that restores faith. Even Jesus needed this.
Thanks for writing this! I really respect people who have taken the time to sort through the mass mess that "religion" has made of Christ's image and who He actually was as a person. You wrote this very well, bravo!
It is hilarious when someone "sees" Jesus in inanimate objects since no one knows what he looked like. What they are "seeing" is what an artist living much, much later thought the looked like. Actually, a lot of biblibal scholars think that the images of Zeus are the basis foir the images of Jesus.
This is how we talk about the man that saved our life. He died on the cross for us and we have to talk about the dirt under his nails. We should talk about what he does for us daily not just him dieing on the cross but the riseing of him three days later. All I ve got to say is pray and thank him and the father for what they have done and what they are going to do in our lives. Jesus is my king and the creator of all things is my father so when that day comes I do not have to worry if I'm going tobe called up I will meet him on the clouds and be with him and the father forever.
P. Smith – I don't think that it is a bad thing to remember Jesus as having dirt under the nails, or a lack of temper from time to time. These are the very things that God intended Jesus to come to earth to get. God wanted his son to be human so that humans would have to believe in the divine without seeing it so plainly as to have no choice. The foundation of faith is believing that which cannot be proved – if Jesus had wandered the earth without ever sweating, getting dirty, or lashing out against the Pharisees, anyone who saw him would have immediately seen something divine in him without needing to understand his words. I appreciate the author's view point – it is an interesting perspective that increases my faith – it does not destroy it or defile it. Life and being human is a dirty game. It was even dirtier and harder in Jesus' times.
Well this is an interesting article. I have to agree. the angelic pictures of a blond haired Jesus are very inaccurate. He wasn't just the son of a carpenter, he was himself a carpenter. Which means he was actually big burly dark haired guy. An image more modern pastors are starting to embrace.
I don't see how anyone could see this as an attack on Jesus! It makes him seem even more amazing, no matter what you believe about him. Thanks J. Moore for this contribution; I like the historical framing, and would have liked to see a couple more historical moments to frame the argument. I plan to print it out for discussion in my church. We could all stand to be reminded of Jesus' humanity - that despite his daily human struggle, he created a revolutionary loving and caring ethics and morality which should stand at the heart of the Christian religion but are often pushed to the margins in the organized churches.
No Christian in the world that is a real Christian doubts that Jesus suffered as one in poverty. Or that he was dirty and suffered all the pains, temptations of human existence. Only ignorant, wet behind the ears, children that have little real experience or exposure to scripture or a relationship to the Lord; would make such statements as 'Evangelicals believe he walked around with a Halo'. Don't write articles based on your fraternity brothers wisdom while hitting the beer bong. In fact feel free to not write at all.
2 questions what do you know of the Bible and God and why are you here? Since Timothy does not want to answer the question and still cries foul how about you Doug?
One more thing God respects your choice, He may not like it but He respects it.
It's a matter of total indifference what you think your god thinks.
Oh how creative, another Christian basher. Way to take the easy and safe course of bashing a religion that doesnt respond. Hmmm, would you be brave enough to take on Mohammed? Cowardice is all this or any other person like him is. When I see him address Islam the same as Christianity than he can open his mouth for serious consideration. Since some girl in Washington can be brave enough to launch a draw mohammed day but this clown cant do anything but the millionth hatchet job on Christianity, why should anyone listen to this hack but those who have hate for christianity already.
Come on Dennis –
It appears from your comment that unless someone also includes some, or an equal or greater amount of islam bashing, their critizing christianity has no value. Don't be so sensitive. Even though YOU may think god is weak – he can handle criticism.
P.S. Bad mohammed – bad, bad mohammed. There you go! Feel etter know?
God is a God of relationships, in the end we are to be with Him in fellowship with Him, but while we are here we are also to be in fellowship with Him. Religion puts distance in between man and God which God has never wanted that. I always had heard about God but never in the past took time to find if all the information and stories were true. I wanted to be personal with God and one on one but didn't know if that could indeed happen or even who this God was. So one day with a bit of time on my hands, I picked up the Bible and started to read with the intent of finding who this God really was to me. With all the stories and people saying things about Him and the churches, just so much said there is a God. No one really told how to have this relationship or find who He is or on what terms. I think this is the most tragic failing of the church to preach rules and regulations and not relationship and love. For it is not the church that brings forgiveness or allows us to conform to what God says is a good walk but the Holy Spirit that helps us. The church today has lost sight that it is not them but God that started, establishes and walks a person into a relationship with Him. You can be anywhere and anyone and call on His name and He will start to guide and led you to understanding Him and having that relationship with Him. He calls us all and says come as you are. What a comfort that in our mess or high position we can come and call on Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to us. What is this elaborate prayer or mantra that has to be spoken, ready; "help" that is it. Just say I want to know you and find out who you are but please help me. There has never been a time that I have not asked Him for help and not received it. Now sometimes we ask for help and that help comes and we forget about the crisis of the day and who it was who really did deliver out of that crisis. Have you ever not been thanked for helping someone out of a bad situation? Jesus did that all the time and one occasion spoke His hurt at that. He said ten were healed and only one came back to thank Him. If we are aware of how He changed the situation for us, thank Him and continue to call on Him there is nothing that will be withheld from us. That is the way the walk with the Lord is not magic not religion just a relationship like any other relationship. This is what is forgotten today that it is a relationship and as any relationship there are rules and expectations on both people’s parts. God is no different but the rules are not there without any reason like some rules, they are there so we don’t hurt ourselves and we can heal and lead a good life. But ok let’s get to the good stuff what do we get in return. I must admit I am pretty selfish and if I can’t get something good out of something then I’m not into a one way street. He promises us the ability to hear Him, heal the sick the lame. Open blind eyes and give a word of encouragement to those that need it. This is all while He takes the time to heal support and love us personally and individually. It is unlike anything you have experienced when people start to walk a good life with the help of the Lord. God has a plan for you He made you and wants to have a relationship with you today, just ask Him. He did not leave us alone.
I have no god bob. I have standards so I don't want a relationship with yours either.
As I have said before that is your choice, we all get to choose.
I never chose bob.
You did choose, in choosing not making a decision you made your decision, you should know that. Just as I put off knowing the Lord till some 20 years later, my decision was just that, choosing not to know.From what I know now that was my mistake and regret.
I chose not to believe in any god in the exact same way i chose not to believe in unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, ghosts, ghouls and that the moon is made of cheese. There was never a reason to even consider that there might be such a thing as your god.
Don't bother listening to Bob, he is one of the most hateful prejudice person on this blog. He talks about love while doing the exact opposite so it proves your God doesn't change anything.
I chose not to believe in any god in the exact same way i chose not
I never chose bob.
How foolish you sound when your own words are rewritten back to you do you realize that by your own words you made the choice? How can you not see this regardless of unicorns or elves or whatever you made the choice not to believe in the God of the universe.
You do well to stick up for your fellow atheist in the time they cant see there own hate and malice in front of them. But it is not I that argues on a post that is about God without knowledge of the topic, it is you and others that share your same views that came here to spread hate, arguments, malice, bigotry to this topic. Even to berating those of the faith not knowing what a true relationship with God is. Now that is pure blind hate and prejudiced hating and slandering someone not knowing what they truly are. Deliverance is a good movie for people like you maybe being so harsh it will offend your senses and maybe make you see the blindness in your own hate.
Bob, you're the one full of hate and bigotry your posts are full of it. So there is no way what you wrote about your god could be true because of that. You can post your nonsense about how loving your god is but your hateful derogatory posts proves you don't even understand what the bible.
So timothy 2 questions what do you know of the Bible and God and why are you here?
You can think what you want to bob. I'll stick with the non-belief side as it's the right one for me.
Timothy let me give you a idea of who really is the hateful bigoted one since it seems you really haven't a clue. God and Jesus are not just names to me. Those names are real people although God is Spirit and Jesus is Spirit and came in the flesh they are my friends. They have helped me in so many ways and so many times. Both have done things for me that no other has done and continues to do. So you see its personal since you came here for the express purpose to harass those that believe as I do and call my two friends all kinds of names and profanities including those of my brothers and sisters. So I did not go to the atheist posts and do the same thing you came here. It goes beyond freedom of speech but could be classified in today's laws as bullying, harassing and Mal intent. So you see its not me when my friends are maligned and I have to sit and listen to it. I have morals and scruples and have been through enough that when I have a friend I don't disrespect them and I don't allow others to do the same. Now all can have a different opinion and that is ok but don't come in and start insulting them to my and others face. The internet allows anonymity but face to face would be different so I would say again reconsider who is being hateful, bigoted and insulting before you come to a place you are not welcome to spread venom and then cry foul.
That is your choice.
One more thing God respects your choice, He may not like it but He respects it.
I had this on top sorry
" have morals and scruples and have been through enough that when I have a friend "
Actually you don't, you just think you do but when you look at your comments is quite clear you're a hateful bigoted troll.
So timothy 2 questions what do you know of the Bible and God and why are you here? I re posted this again just in case you didn't see it and were not actively avoiding the questions to spread more hate and lies.
Timothy, Bob is too dense and dumb to see how full of hate they are, just ignore the troll and move on, they are not worth your time and effort.
LOVE JESUS AND LIVE PERIOD !!!!!!
Absolutely wonderful. Now if only the fracking Christian highjacked right would read this. Which they won't.
this is why all religion are different.....catholicism is the one from europe, and pretty much all religion are some how fall underneith from catholicism......mormon is america...there is only one church of jesus christ of latter-day staints..they dont fall underneith any, they are from america.
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