The Convertible Jesus


For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. All I have to say is, how boring can you get? Maybe the same old Jesus was a good thing back in the days when you had to drive the same ass to work until it croaked, but this is the 21st century, for crying out loud. We don’t want same old same old anymore. We want new; we want different; we want change for God’s sake. Being stuck with a Jesus who can’t at least change his robe once in a while would be like talking to my uncle Redmond who keeps telling about his hernia operation over and over. We’re talking Stiffsville, man.

Don’t get me wrong. The original Jesus was radically cool. He torched the Pharisees, walked on water, and nailed the cross thing on his first try. (Even Madonna had to practice.) Not only that, the original Jesus resurrected himself and then hit the reset button on death for the rest of us. This stuff alone ranks the guy right up there with Bono and Bob Dylan.

But that was then; this is now. We don’t need a Jesus who can walk on water. Hell, we can fly across it at Mach 3 if we want to. And what’s a few loaves and fish compared to McDonald’s 75 hamburgers per second? Even casting out demons is so yesterday. Why go through all the writhing and embarrassment of an exorcism when you can just pop a few antipsychotics and have your health insurance pick up the tab? There’s no question that Jesus was a monster attraction in his day, but if he were around today he’d probably end up doing one of those lame summer retro tours with some one-hit 70s band.

Sure, Paul is piqued that the Corinthians were exploring alternative Jesuses. He’s clearly uncomfortable with the variety of their sectual preferences. But you have to remember that Paul held Apostolic rights to the original dude and got rewards for conversions. So he’s understandably concerned that the Corinthians would try out a few messianic modifications. Every new Jesus on the market meant a cut in Paul’s heavenly royalties.

But you can’t stop innovation. Vinyl gives way to 8-track which gives way to cassette tape which gives way to CDs which give way to MP3s. People want new and improved, and they want choices. So why not build on the original? Play around with vanilla ice cream and soon you’ve got Baskin Robbins. Start with the original Jesus, jettison a few worn ideas, tweak a few theological parameters, drop in a few spiritual add-ons, and before you know it you’ve got yourself a bleeding edge savior again.

The original Jesus, like the original formula for Coca-Cola, has definite staying power. He’s “the real thing” after all. But the Corinthians were checking out Cherry Jesus, Vanilla Jesus, Diet Jesus, and Jesus Zero. Paul may not have appreciated it much, but I bet even he would have enjoyed a root beer float once in a while.


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