Franklin Graham was in England over the weekend, to preach at Blackpool’s presumptuous ‘Festival of Hope’. There was considerable opposition to his presence from, amongst others, the town council and local churches. One objection in particular stood out: Nina Parker, a minister at Blackpool’s Liberty church said –
(Graham) seems committed to condemnation, discrimination, walls and prejudice in a way that Jesus never was.
‘In a way that Jesus never was?’ Has Nina read the gospels? I feel sure she must have done – and yet, she, along with many others, still sees a Jesus as a beautiful soul, full of love, kindness and forgiveness. Many Christians, like Nina, don’t let the evidence (such as it is) interfere with their own inaccurate construct(s) of him. Their reading is coloured by their preconceptions to such an extent they can’t see that, while he may occasionally pay lip-service to being nice, Jesus is, as we saw last time, actually a bit of a shit.
Should you doubt it, there’s his
If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Mattthew 18.6)
enthusiasm for destruction –
I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (Luke 12.49)
disrespect for life and propensity for violence –
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15.6)
disdain for non-Jews –
(Jesus said) “I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Matt 15.24-26)
exclusion of those who would follow him –
And He told them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside, everything is expressed in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” (Mark 4.11-12)
contempt for those who don’t subscribe to his ‘good news’ –
it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town (that isn’t interested in his message.) (Matthew 10.15)
contempt for those who do –
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants (slaves); we have only done our duty.'” (Luke 17.10)
delusions of grandeur –
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19.28)
Is this the Jesus Nina Parker speaks of, the one with no time for ‘condemnation, discrimination, walls and prejudice’?
Nor do Christians reserve such cherry-picking for their saviour. Many of them make the same allowances for Donald Trump, proclaiming him to be God’s choice for president because he’s anti-abortion, anti-LGBT and makes the right noises about Christians’ religious liberty (and no-one else’s). Trump’s corruption, dishonesty, pettiness, serial adulteries, misogyny and self-obsession, together with the absence of any behaviour that might reasonably be considered ‘Christian’, are ignored, excused and dismissed; he couldn’t be a Man of God with characteristics like these – and a Man of God of God he most definitely is: Franklin Graham says so.
Turning a blind eye to the many obvious faults of their heroes is something Christians have always been good at, making false idols of Trump and Jesus alike.