I know some who read my blog don’t care for pastor-scholar Greg Boyd (who I don’t always agree with though I’d like to meet some time) – but he has a recent post confronting Mark Driscoll’s view of Jesus as a violent (and I imagine UFC type) “prize fighter.” Boyd notes Discoll’s comments were from “a few years ago” so I don’t know if Driscoll has changed his perspective (probably not?) but he is quoted as having stated the following:
“In Revelation, Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (You can find the original interview here).
Well, now. So Jesus is the lead fighter for the UFC franchise? 🙂 Along with Boyd, I am not surprised Driscoll has this perception of our Lord Jesus Christ – Driscoll wants to be a man’s man an seems to consistently present the need for men to be tough guys wild at heart who go out to conquer life (and a spouse) and get good jobs and have lots of kids, and consistently puts down other images of how Jesus might be portrayed and puts down men who do not or may not be able to live up to his standards of manhood.
Frankly, this perception of Jesus by Driscoll it is a blantant text book case of imposing, if not transposing, one’s own personal theology and cultural ideology on to the biblical text. I cannot say that Boyd is not doing the same with is own pacafism but I find what Boyd is presenting significantly closer to the biblical presentation of Jesus than what Driscoll puts forth. This isn’t to say that Driscoll isn’t a good pastor or Bible teacher or anything like that. I just happen to think how he presents it is going the wrong direction.
Pastor Boyd writes:
I frankly have trouble understanding how a follower of Jesus could find himself unable to worship a guy he could “beat up” when he already crucified him. I also fail to see what is so worshipful about someone carrying a sword with “a commitment make someone bleed.” But this aside, I’m not at all surprised Driscoll believes the book of Revelation portrays Jesus as a “prize fighter.” This violent picture of Jesus, rooted in a literalistic interpretation of Revelation, is very common among conservative Christians, made especially popular by the remarkably violent Left Behind series…..
The most unfortunate aspect of this misreading, as Driscoll’s comment graphically reveals, is that the “prize fighter” portrait of Jesus easily subverts the Jesus of the Gospels who out of love chooses to die for enemies rather than use his power against them and who commands his followers to do the same (see e.g. Mt 5:43-45; Lk 6:27-36)…..
The more significant point Boyd makes that I wanted to highlight here is this one (the bold is my emphasis of the important point being made:
At any rate, if we interpret Revelation according to its genre and in its original historical context, and if we pay close attention to the ingenious way John uses traditional symbolism, it becomes clear that John is taking traditional Old Testament and Apocalyptic violent imagery and turning it on its head. Yes, there is an aggressive war, and yes there is bloodshed. But its a war in which the Lamb and his followers are victorious because they fight the devil and Babylon (representing all governmental systems) by faithfully laying down their lives for the sake of truth (”the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony”), not by being “prize fighters” with “a commitment to make someone bleed.”
That’s the whole thing about following Jesus isn’t it? He takes so many things in our world and in our lives and turns them up side down – up is down, down is up, leading is serving; instead of hating show love; instead of holding grudges, forgive; instead of agression, submit and so on. A life of discipleship to Jesus is downward path not an upward one – it is a life of serving others and sacrificial living not asserting the self and so on.
Well, the post is a good read and has a good list of books on the Revelation to add to your Amazon wish list for future reference!
HT: Dave Black