A few years ago I argued we shouldn’t depend on clergy (especially celebrity clergy) to feed Christians. Although my goal of self-feeding rather than feeding Christian-celebrity culture was valid, it was actually the least biblically defensible thing I have ever posted. However, the reason for the post surfaced again last week: On Wednesday, July 8, CNN’s Don Lemon said on national tv, “Jesus Christ, admittedly, was not perfect when he was here on this earth.” Fellow commentator, Chris Cuomo, didn’t flinch.
We are at a point in our culture in which people, even people who grew up in church, people who are well-educated (as both Lemon and Cuomo are) make categorically incorrect statements about Jesus Christ and no one seems to notice. Educated pundits don’t recognize formal heresy when they spout it. Just in case Mr. Lemon is wondering, the infallibility of Jesus Christ was noticed by Jesus’ closest friends and taught by each one of them whose writings have been passed on to us:
“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” – John (1 Jn 3:5)
“who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” – Peter (1 Pet 2:22)
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – Paul (2 Cor. 5:21)
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” – Unknown (Hebrews 4:15)
Even the man who ordered Jesus’ execution, Pontus Pilate, saw no offense in Jesus. “Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” -John 19:4
Lemon’s error is more than simply not having paid attention in Sunday School and missed that question on trivia night at the local pub. The sinlessness of Jesus is essential to the Christian message: “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering…” (Rom 8:3) Jesus is in “the likeness of sinful flesh,” but without sin (Heb 4:15), in order to be “a sin offering.” That is important because, as one who is like us in our flesh, Jesus is able to die for us. As one who is unlike us in his sinlessness, death cannot hold Jesus.
As fourth century writer Athanasius said, “None, then, could bestow incorruption, but He who had created, none restore the likeness of God, save His own likeness…And He, to pay our debt of death, must also die for us, and rise again as our first-fruits from the grave. Mortal therefore His Body must be; Corruptible, His body could not be.” (On the Incarnation, 20)
Or, as Athanasius summarized, “He became what we are, that we might become what he is.”
We need to be fed a steady diet of the scriptures interpreted by those under the authority of the apostles. Without those scriptures and their 2000+ years of interpretation we do not recognize when we are spiritually starving. As our bellies can be full of junk food without our bodies being nourished, so too, our heads can be full of untruth while our souls starve. Or as Jesus said,
“…my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me…Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” -John 6:55-58
Eat hearty, church!
12 thoughts on “On the need to be fed”
That’s one of those special “either-this-or-that” issues that leave me out on a limb. Could it be that “Both sides” are correct when debated and discussed and analyzed and explained and examined and . . . ?
Good to hear from you. Pray you are well. Know you are doing good.
Hello Dr. Raymond. Good to hear from you! I’m unclear on “both sides.” Are you thinking that Jesus could be both sinless and not sinless?
No. No. No. I do not at all believe Jesus was both sinless and not sinless.
Jesus is Incarnate God with us. He was without sin. Incredibly so.
I respond with my frustration with church members in all traditions who want God to “feed” them spirituality while they take no responsibility to change their inner self and grow after conversion.
We humans stay who we are until confronted, discover and accept the depth of our sin, and take responsible action (a long process) to bring change in our life and relationships.
We are both responsible to “feed our self” spirituality and also to “be fed” by someone else.
We are lazy.
Hi Ray, That was what I thought you meant, but didn’t want to put words into your mouth. From one lazy Christian to another, “Amen!”
Those of the fallen world would rather live in the darkness of self aggrandizement, power, greed, death. The sinless Jesus, by his Cross, shines light upon that fallen condition and invites their acceptance of forgiveness and eternal life, freely given, transforming sinners to redeemed by God’s unconditional love.
Hi Bunny, that light has shined upon us both. That is why it grieves is when people call the light “dark.”
I have no idea of either of their motives, but the head scratching comment, “Jesus, admittedly, when he was on this earth was not sinless” was stunningly wrong. Jesus “admitted” no such thing and, in fact, was crucified for his presumptions at being “one with the Father” in his sinlessness.
Preserve us from all such false thinking and heresy. Pray for the conversion of the unknowing!
Thank you for your post!!!
Yes, I saw this and did not like it either.
We have to be so very careful as we seek inclusion That is does does not put man with God as if on equal playing fields.
That has troubled me since I saw it.
I was surprised with Cuomo – self-victim of playing the let’s be popular game perhaps?
My husband and I truly respect your voice.
Please don’t be hard on yourself re “celebrity”…. it is definitely dissonant most of the time.
Hi Anne. Thank you for your comments. I think you are correct – “Inclusion” is both a Holy and dangerous thing.
We have trouble right now in society with the line between loving and welcoming people (as fellow sinners and seekers after God), and affirming every oddball idea they have. (Also, I edited out your phone before posting your comment.)
that it does not ( autocorrect Anne Tawney Sent from my iPhone
You were encouraging people to study
Anne Tawney p. 832.725.3224 Sent from my iPhone
I was. I was also wrong – people’s shepherds are called to be sources that lead sheep to pasture and protect from wolves. 🙂