Will the REAL Jesus Please Stand Up?

real jesus

Recently, an Evangelical Christian named David Solomon emailed me to let me know that Jeremiah Johnson is a false prophet and I need to return to Jesus. Solomon said he read my post about Jesus. I assume he means he either read Dear Jesus or Why I Hate Jesus.

Here’s what he said:

Jeremiah Johnson is a false prophet and up to no good. You, on the other hand, need to return to Jesus. He will always love you. Not religion, but Jesus Himself. American Christianity has serious problems, there is a reckoning coming. But Jesus is real. Return.

I have written a couple of posts about the Evangelical prophet and pastor Jeremiah Johnson. (Please see Prophet Jeremiah Johnson: Dr. Tony Fauci is a Rat Who Must be Silenced and Holy Spirit Tells Jeremiah Johnson That Donald Trump is the Trumpet of God.) Johnson claims to be an Evangelical Christian, and he claims that he has some sort of inside connection with God. Scores of Christians hang on his every word, especially when he speaks approvingly of the Evangelical demigod, Donald Trump. Solomon believes that Johnson is a “false” prophet; as if there were any such thing as a “true” prophet. Solomon also alleges that Johnson is up to “no good” — whatever that means. Any cursory examination of Evangelicalism reveals that there’s plenty of “no good” going on these days. In 2016, eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Rational people know that Trump definitely falls under the “no good” category. His non-stop masturbatory press conferences about the Coronavirus Pandemic should be sufficient evidence for any of us to conclude that the President is a liar, a narcissist, a petty schoolyard bully who lacks basic human empathy. Yet, his approval rating continues to improve, and countless Evangelicals believe the pussy-grabber-in-chief is a Christian.

We need to only look at Evangelical behavior during the present pandemic to see more examples of “no good.” Most pastors have wisely closed their churches out of concern for their congregants and fellow human beings. Yet, a small percentage of churches refuse to close their doors and continue to hold services. Whether due to a stubborn commitment to peculiar interpretations of the Bible or anti-government rhetoric, these so-call men of God willingly and happily put at risk the health of church members and their communities at large. Almost without exception, the pastors who refuse to close their doors are Evangelical. Again, “no good.”

Evangelicals have also seized the opportunity provided by the Coronavirus pandemic to continue to wage the culture war. From the closing of abortion clinics to the enactment of anti-transgender laws, Evangelical politicians have continued their assault on progressive social progress. Again, and again, and again, “no good.”

I am left to wonder about what exactly “no good” Solomon thinks Johnson is up to. Maybe he can stop by and let us know, and in doing so explain how Johnson’s “no good” is any different from his “no good” or that of other Evangelicals. The very theological and social foundation of Evangelicalism fits squarely under the “no good” category.

Solomon, also wants me to know that I need to return to Jesus. He doesn’t tell me why I should return to the dead Jesus, just that the fossilized bones buried somewhere in Palestine “love” me. Surely, Solomon knows that atheists don’t believe in the existence of gods, and that Jesus was all man and no God. At best, Jesus was an itinerant Jewish rabbi who spent three years traveling the dusty roads of Judea, preaching his version of Judaism. He was considered a rabble-rouser and got himself killed for his efforts. All told, most of Jesus’ closest followers abandoned him, including his own family. Based on the book of Acts, we can conclude that three years of preaching and teaching netted him a couple of hundred followers. Not a success story, to say the least.

Telling me that Jesus loves me is akin to someone telling me a distant, forgotten, long-since-dead relative loves me (and has a wonderful plan for my life). Sorry, but such acclamations of love don’t do much for me.

There was a time when I loved Jesus just as David Solomon loves him today. I thought the love we had for one another was real; every bit as real as the love between my wife and me. In 2008, I came to the conclusion that the relationship I had with Jesus wasn’t real; that the “love” I felt was a fabrication of my mind; a product of a lifetime of Evangelical indoctrination. (For more information about my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism, please check out the WHY? page.)

american jesus 2

Solomon implores me to return to Jesus, not religion. Solomon believes, of course, that he loves and is a follower of the “real” Jesus. Solomon has no religion — just Jesus. Let me take a few moments to disabuse Solomon of the nonsensical notion that he has no religion — just Jesus. This argument is used by Evangelicals who don’t like what they see within the Christian tent. Instead of trying to reform Christianity, Evangelicals such as Solomon pitch their pup tents outside of Evangelicalism proper. The problem with this position is that Jesus is the product of religion. It is religion that gave us Jesus, and later gave us the Bible. Solomon’s argument is as absurd as one where people worship Jesus but reject the Bible. Without the Bible — a product of religion — there would be no Jesus, no Christianity. No religion = no Bible = no Jesus. This is a historical fact. Believe what you will, but Christianity is a religion, and anyone saying he is a Christian — a worshiper of Jesus — is a card-carrying member of a religion. One may reject denominationalism, but there’s no way to jettison the Christian religion in general without losing Jesus in the process.

Solomon began his email by telling me that Jeremiah Johnson was a false prophet. He concluded his email by becoming a prophet himself. Solomon states with arrogant certainty, “Jesus is real.” What evidence for his prophetic claim does Solomon provide? None. He assumes facts that aren’t in evidence. How could Solomon possibly know Jesus is real? Two possible reasons that I know of: the testimony of the Bible, or personal experience. The latter is subjective to its core, so I can reject it out of hand. Telling me that you “know” Jesus is real because he saved you, lives inside of you, or talks to you is sheer nonsense. How could I possibly know whether these things are true?

Appealing to the Bible, of course, has its own set of problems. Solomon wants to distance himself from Christianity as a religion, yet he is forced to justify his claims by and through a written text produced, authorized, and controlled by Christianity. I am more than happy to talk to Solomon about the Bible and the claim that it is a divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible book. I am confident that I can show Solomon that the Bible is NOT what Evangelicals claim it is, and that its teachings are rife with problems, errors, and contradictions (besides being built on a false narrative).

I have spent the past twelve years writing about Evangelical Christianity. Over that time, countless Evangelical zealots and apologists have commented on this blog, left comments on social media, or sent me emails. To the person, they believe that their Jesus is the “real” Jesus. To the person, they believe their interpretation of the Bible is the right one. To the person, they believe their version of Christianity is one true faith. How, then, can unbelievers possibly know which Jesus is “real,” which interpretation of the Bible is correct, and which flavor of Christianity is the right one? Here a Jesus, there a Jesus, everywhere a Jesus.

I concluded long ago that all Evangelicals have fashioned a Jesus in their own image, interpreting the Bible in ways that best fit their sociological, cultural, and tribal perspective. Simply put, Jesus is whoever you want him to be. There is no singular Jesus, no “right” interpretation. Solomon wants me to believe that his version of Jesus is the right one; that if I will accept his Jesus as the way, truth, and life, that I too can troll the Internet looking for atheist blogs to comment on. To that I say, no thanks.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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6 Comments

  1. ObstacleChick

    I feel like it’s redundant to use the words “false” and “prophet” together. Maybe I just haven’t heard of any real prophets whose predictions came true.

    Will the real Jesus please stand up?

    Reply
  2. Brian Vanderlip

    Like God, Jesus (whether he padded Palestine for awhile or not) is a fairy-tale used by each and every Christian to have a good time in life. By ‘good time’ I mean any and everything. As soon as we stray into fairy tales, we leave a jot or more of Reason behind. We still wander in a realm that can be said to be human but we carry a bunny with us, a comfy bunnyin our brain who is whatever we want that soft and furry buddy to be. I don’t even think this a bad thing at all unless it does not serve health, the health of the one who believes the fairy tale and the health of the rest of us too. If you want to believe in a fairy tale and it allows you stop taking crack and go and help serve the poor in a soup kitchen, then, great. The fairy tale is a way you walk into a life of service and better health. Nothing wrong with that at all. But if you are a preacher whose fairy tale brings people into a gathering during this time of Covid-19 social-distancing, you are a dangerous, thick-headed shithead whose ass I would dearly love to kick through the goalposts of Jeeeezzzzzus!

    Reply
  3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    I sent Solomon a link to this post. His response?

    Your opinions do not change the facts. Have a nice day.

    Can’t argue what that logic. 😀

    Reply
  4. MAURA HART

    zombie jeebus!!!

    Reply
  5. BJW

    I do know some very sweet people who are what I call true Christians. In fact, I have several pastor friends from different denominations. So I know they exist. But then again, my husband was a pastor and is now an atheist. And he’s a better person for it.

    Reply
  6. Infidel753

    If there ever was a “real Jesus” who actually lived (which I see no reason to believe), then he was Middle Eastern, and probably didn’t look like any of those pictures.

    The “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” schtick is just an effort to do a little rebranding on a very old and tired sales pitch. Of course Christianity is a religion. It meets any normal definition of a religion.

    Reply

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