Anglican Samizdat

May 29, 2009

Well, what exactly would Jesus do?

Filed under: Christianity,Politics — David @ 9:11 pm
Tags: ,

A popular 21st Century mantra for Christians attempting to construct a workable ethical framework for living is to ask “What Would Jesus Do?”

Tony Campolo illustrates the technique in this exchange:

“My problem is I want to do what Jesus would do.” “Could you get in a plane, fly over an enemy village and drop bombs?”

I said, “I could get in the plane. I could fly over the enemy village. But when I was about to release the bomb, at that moment I would have to say, ‘Jesus, if you were in my place, would you drop the bombs?'”

And I remember the colonel yelling back to me, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Everybody knows Jesus wouldn’t drop bombs?”

The problem is, this is the wrong question to ask. I have spent more than 40 years earning a living by programming computers – an essentially worthless endeavour other than its fortunate side effect of providing me with an income to support myself and my family. I fell into what passes for a career accidentally; had I said to myself 43 years ago, would Jesus spend most of his waking hours writing obscure digital code that would result in millions of people banging their heads on computer screens in frustration, I would have to have answered, “no”. That would have left me with another childhood ambition: being a train driver. Obviously, Jesus would not be a train driver, so I would be left with my only other ambition – to be a tramp.

In the context it is used, WWJD is a stupid question. So when someone like Campolo uses it to justify or condemn a particular action, I am immediately suspicious and inclined to do the opposite. And that is exactly my reaction to the BNP when they answer the question by  saying Jesus would vote for the BNP; if I did not already have enough reasons for not voting for the BNP, that would be the clincher – although it’s academic, since I live in Canada.

Michael Nazir-Ali has been unable to resist the temptation to wade into the BNP WWJD idiocy:

When we talk of a society built on Christian values, it is often misunderstood as a reference to intolerance, of exclusivity. The ultimate expression of this tendency comes in a campaign billboard, unveiled in March, which quoted scripture out of context, then posed the question: “What would Jesus do?” The answer given was simple: “Vote BNP.”

This was a clear example of using Christian-sounding words to promote a profoundly anti-Christian agenda. No one should be taken in by it. The policies advocated by the BNP are contrary to our belief that all human beings, regardless of race or colour, have a common origin and are made in God’s image.

Michael Nazir-Ali is right, of course, but if Jesus would not vote for the BNP, who would he vote for? I remember, many years ago, Malcolm Muggeridge was asked for his opinion on the abysmally low voter turnout at general elections. He gave a typical Muggeridge response: he said that people who don’t vote are the flower of the population. Although I can sympathise with his answer and understand why he gave it, I would not be prepared to defend it. Nevertheless, it gives us a clue as to whom Jesus would vote for: I think he would forget to vote altogether because he wouldn’t think of it as something sufficiently important to warrant his attention.

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2 Comments

  1. I fear that the liberals buy into or use the old image of Jesus as mild, weak and wimpy.

    If the story were not in the Gospel, liberals might ask, now would Jesus overturn the merchants’ temples and drive them out of the temple garden with a whip?

    As we know the answer is “Yes, he would”.

    Likewise I see no reason why Jesus would not drop bombs. He might well drop them with more accuracy. I see no reason why he might not push the button to launch a nuclear weapon.

    Comment by Toral — May 31, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  2. “had I said to myself 43 years ago, would Jesus spend most of his waking hours writing obscure digital code that would result in millions of people banging their heads on computer screens in frustration, I would have to have answered, “no”.”

    Why on earth not? He had a trade, after all.

    Toral, that last paragraph is odd. Have you forgotten “turn the other cheek” and “bless those who curse you”? WWJD is meant to simply be a reminder that we are to model ourselves on Jesus. In that light, it is useful.

    Comment by Kate — June 1, 2009 @ 9:50 am


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