Saturday, April 24, 2010

WJD? Or rather WWHJD? - What would the human Jesus do?

Quite a while back in the 1990s when I was younger, a movement swept across the church — the WWJD movement, asking us to imitate Christ and to act in a way similar to how Jesus would act. As I was then around my rebellious teen years, I wasn't interested in that phenomenon though I remembered the interesting paraphernalia, i.e. bracelets and bands, that were been sold and given. The only thing that stuck was the saying and how we are to grow in Christ-likeness, with Jesus being our example of how we were to behave and act in our daily lives.

Now, I am not going to analyze that particular phrase and the history etc behind it, of which anyone who is interested can read up on it (although I do have and did read Sheldon's book). I think anyone who has read my blog for some time should have noticed that I am no friend of socialism either, although I do think the Faith is a much more important issue than socio-political ones. In this post therefore, I would rather want to concentrate on the fact that most Christians would agree that we should be growing into Christ-likeness (i.e. 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Cor. 11:1), and thus move on from there.

In light of New Evangelicalism which is being complemented by the "New Calvinism", one blind spot which I have come to see with these modern Christians is with regards to the Christian idea of growing in Christ-likeness. Assuming an orthodox interpretation of the phrase WWJD?, we should be emulating Jesus in his love, compassion and ... anger?

Clearly, the usage of the slogan WWJD? to promote biblical responses to heresy and false teachings do not quite fit into the zeitgeist. New Evangelicals have then invented this interesting caveat: "Well, Jesus is God and we are not [so Jesus can be angry and judge others because He knew their hearts etc]". So in other words, we are to imitate Christ in all his non-divine actions, and those undesirable actions as defined by the zeitgeist are of course *conveniently* regarded as those only the divine can do.

Let us grant them their extremely myopic view of Scripture which takes no account of the actions of the Prophets and Apostles in this respect. The question then is: upon what basis are we to differentiate between the "human" actions of Jesus which we are to emulate and the "divine" actions of Jesus which we cannot emulate? Shouldn't we then say WWHJD — What Would the Human Jesus Do? Ignoring the Nestorian implications of this question for the moment, isn't that really what the New Evangelical application of WWJD actually amounts to?

The fact of the matter is that all of Jesus' actions are done in his person who is indeed very man. No doubt some of them could only be done because of his divine knowledge of things we cannot know, i.e. saying that those Jews back there did not believe because they are not His sheep - the Elect (Jn. 10:26). But these are "divine" only in the sense that such actions are done based upon knowledge that humans can never hope to have. There is nothing inherently divine in teaching and proclaiming judgment, as humans do that all the time on all topics.

The sorry excuse given by the New Evangelicals, with their objection that Jesus was also God, to the argument from Christ-likeness is thereby rendered moot. If one truly wants to grow in Christ-likeness therefore, ALL of Christ's life is an example for us, not just the "nice" parts. Jesus is not only meek and mild, but is also righteous, bold, and never afraid of calling a spade a spade and offending people's sensibilities. And when he comes again on the last day, He would come with a sword to smite His enemies beneath His feet.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)

Amen. May God save us from the zeitgeist of "niceness" (especially to heretics) that has no legitimate place in the Kingdom of God.

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