Who Do You Say that I Am?: Idols vs. the Real Jesus
by John Stonestreet & G. Shane Morris
Who is Jesus? It’s a foundational question, and one many Christians struggle to answer.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But who do you say that I am?”
These days, increasingly odd and just plain wrong answers to Jesus’ question seem to be floating around everywhere, and churches are one of the easiest places to find them. This shouldn’t surprise us, however. As we’ve said before on BreakPoint, beliefs come in bunches. So when you see increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about sex, marriage, and the human person coming from religious leaders, you can bet they’re also entertaining increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about truth, the Bible, and even God Himself.
For example, Dr. Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, recently offered this message to her flock:
“Too many folks want to box Jesus in,” she wrote, “carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. [But] the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out.” Jesus had “bigotries and prejudices,” she added, even sins which He had to learn to overcome.
Wait, Jesus can be an “idol”? As John Lomperis with the Institute on Religion and Democracy remarked,“[A]n idol is something other than God, usually something created by human hands, improperly worshipped as a god.” But Jesus is God. For Dr. Oliveto to suggest that it’s improper to worship God is like suggesting it’s improper to love your spouse.
And a Jesus who sinned wouldn’t have been God, nor worthy of our worship. Ironically, this bishop’s imaginary Jesus would be the idol—along with the Jesus of the Arian and Unitarian heresies, which teach that Jesus was a good man but a created being, not God in human flesh.
But before we give Dr. Oliveto too much grief, we ought to ask where our own theology is…
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