Newsweek’s hipster Jesus article all hype

April 4, 2012

How do sell copies of a dying medium? Put a hipster looking Jesus on the cover. It’s kind of interesting… the whole, “What if God was a dude?” routine. Hipster, yeah, it has been done before and we get it. Not really surprising.

What is more shocking is that Newsweek thinks Jesus is an Anglo-Saxon looking dude who doesn’t like buttons but snaps on his shirt. The Atlantic thinks he looks more like an Urban Outfitters Jesus. Give the cover a look and you decide which one it is:

The cover article is by Andrew Sullivan and he writes of the decline of Christianity. It takes him about 500 words to get to the point: Christianity is in crisis. I’m not troubled by the inaccurate depiction of Jesus or that Sullivan tells us what we already know about Christianity, but that he makes a bold statement without follow through. The article accurately describes the crisis but without remedy. Sullivan goes into great detail about how Thomas Jefferson and his edited ‘Bible’ sought to make faith palatable and how that’s supposed to correlate to solving the crisis.

The article really does not contribute anything to discussion of how to concretely connect Christianity to post-moderns or to enact reform. Sullivan writes, 

“I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world.” 

Newsweek really wanted to have an edgy Jesus article, as they usually do around Easter, but the article is all show and no go. It really appears that this is just an attempt at selling magazines with an interesting cover and not really offering anything worthwhile in the discussion of Christianity.  The article’s title “forget the Church” really doesn’t match Sullivan’s content because he doesn’t explicitly tell us to “leave the church”.

The concept of “leave the Church” is totally a misunderstanding of what Jesus was about: establishing a community of faith of saints and sinners. Sure, we need to reform the dysfunction, political rancor, and backbiting but leaving the church is no solution.  You can’t have Jesus with the Church… his Church. Colossians 1 teaches:

17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things,

As you can see, you can’t cut off the head from the body. Likewise, you can’t just abandoned the Church. You can’t have Jesus apart from the Church, and you can’t have the Church apart from Jesus. It’s my prayer we can end this whole “me and my Jesus without church” movement.  Christianity from the beginning been about a dysfunction people striving for perfection through Jesus Christ. I will not totally bash Sullivan’s article, as he does end his piece on a high note. He proclaims that Christianity, complete with all its dysfunction, will “rise again”. I hope that its rise will be one of faithfulness and compassion for reaching others for God and not suppression of the Church.

Don’t buy the hype of the “forget the church” Christianity. We know the problem with the Church and Christianity and it is us. The problem is Christians behaving badly: hypocrisy, hate, slander, and moral failure. So let’s start changing the culture by acting like the Church that Christ established by doing what Micah 6:8 preaches: do justly, love mercy, and walk humble with God.

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  • Diane Roth April 4, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I agree that using Thomas Jefferson and his edited New Testament was disappointing. Since it’s Holy Week, I haven’t thought deeply about the article…

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