Saturday Night Live’s DJesus Uncrossed, Mark Driscoll and the American Worship of Satan

Whenever I talk with people about Jesus and nonviolence, a curious thing often happens. Someone inevitably raise his hand (and it’s always his hand), call me a wuss, and then accuse me of making Jesus-Christ-Our-Lord-And-Savior into my own wussy image.

First, the accusation that I’m a wuss is totally true. No one can surpass my wussiness. I run from confrontation and if I ever get into a fight my money is on the other guy.

djesus uncrossedNow to the second accusation that a nonviolent Jesus is a projection of my own wussy imagination. That is false and, in fact, the reverse is true – a violent Jesus is an idol, a god made in our own violent image. As a self-professed wuss, I would love a bad-ass-machine-gun-toting Jesus who violently defends me against my enemies. I want the Jesus depicted in Saturday Night Live’s sketch DJesus Uncrossed. (A sketch about the resurrection that satirizes Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.)  As David Henson brilliantly states in his post DJesus Uncrossed: Tarantino, Driscoll and the Violent Remaking of Jesus in America, the sketch “pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names.”

David goes on to quote Mark Driscoll, a mega church pastor from Seattle whose theology of hate has had a major influence on American Christianity. Driscoll states,

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 a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

But there’s a big problem for Driscoll and all Biblical inerrancy believing Christians who quickly go to Revelation 19:11-16 to proof text a violent return of Jesus. If they’re going to honestly hold to Biblical inerrancy then they have to deal with that nagging passage in Hebrews that insists “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Hebrews continues, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”

It is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by violence. The point of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is precisely that the Christian version of God Incarnate was beaten up, crucified, and killed by human hands. As James Allison says in his course The Forgiving Victim, “there is an angry divinity in this story, needing sacrifice, and it is us.” Jesus resurrected, not to enact violent revenge (what we often call “justice”) against his enemies, but rather to offer God’s grace, peace and forgiveness to those who betrayed him. Anything else is a strange teaching that Hebrews warns against.

But let’s take it a step further than “strange.” Jesus’ disciples actually had a lot in common with Driscoll and much of American Christianity. They protested when Jesus began to act like a hippie, diaper wearing, halo Christ that they could beat up. Jesus said that he would have to suffer and be killed. Then Peter rebuked Jesus, “God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). I don’t want to scapegoat Driscoll on this point. After all, Peter didn’t want to worship a guy he could beat up, either.

Jesus, never one to mince words, replied to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

The word Satan has two meanings: Adversary and Accuser. Please notice the distinction Jesus sets out between “divine things” and “human things.” Satan is the human thing, the human desire to accuse one another, to cause suffering to others rather than endure it for others, to kill others rather than be killed for others. Satan divides humanity into warring camps of “us” and “them.” When we do this we become adversaries and hurl satanic accusations against one another, all too often in the name of God.

When Christians use Jesus to justify violence by dividing the world into us and them we no longer worship Jesus. We worship Satan.

Jesus, the One who calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, the One who offered peace and forgiveness to those who betrayed him, is the same Jesus yesterday and today and forever. That’s what the resurrection reveals.

Still, what should we make of that passage in Revelation? What we need to know, contra Driscoll’s violent fantasy, is that Jesus does not carry the sword in his hand. This is Revelation’s symbolism at its best, because the sword comes from his mouth. The sword that Jesus carries is the spoken Word of God. There can be no doubt that a day will come when Jesus will judge the world with that sword. His words of judgment will cut through our lies, hatreds, and betrayals. The Word of God will pierce our souls with words of forgiveness that embrace everyone, including our enemies.

Will we resent God’s forgiveness? Will we continue to make accusations against one another? In the face of God’s universal forgiveness revealed in the resurrection, will we continue to demand violent justice against our enemies? If so, we risk damning ourselves to a satanic hell of our own making.

The only way out of the possible hell then is to follow Jesus by practicing nonviolent forgiveness now.

 

(For more on Satan, listen to this great discussion called “the satan” between Michael Hardin, Brad Jersak, and Raborn Johnson in the Beyond the Box podcast.)

6 replies
  1. J.C. Mitchell
    J.C. Mitchell says:

    This is exactly why Paul says the Cross is tough. I believe it was when Paul reconciled through experiencing the resurrected spiritual/physical body of Christ that the messiah was hung on a tree was his moment. We need to stop believing in the Greek Gods, which like Mark above makes Jesus the roughest and toughest on the Mountain. Of course, that will also help with reading the great book of Revelation, that clearly is telling a story of love in a very ancient apocalyptic manner, of the day. I am happy SNL is actually acting as prophets, as I have used them about Grace as well. The virtual cross invades better without the church sometimes. Peace to you my friend, I myself never ran, but I have stood my ground and took the blows in at least two fights. One of them I know have a piece of plastic holding up an eyeball, and three wires. Hmmm I may write about that, for it was my most religious experience……(more to come)

    Reply
    • Adam Ericksen
      Adam Ericksen says:

      Ahh, my friend. I would love to read that part of your story. And I love your point about the Greek Gods – that makes so much sense. God is not one of the gods, but our idolatrous notions convince us God is one of the gods. We have more faith in the Roman god Mars, the god of war, than we do in the God of Jesus. I hope SNL does more prophetic skits that make us uncomfortable!

      Grace and Peace, JC.

      -Adam

      Reply
  2. pete z
    pete z says:

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/pete-zimmerman/mark-driscoll-will-be-welcomed-into-heaven-but-would-he-want-to-go-there/10150243539206194

    I was thinking about Mark Driscoll. He scares me.

    He is a pastor who along the way got famous for cussing and then quit (I think for different reasons than even he himself thinks.) He is a neo-calvinist, and teaches that women “compliment” men by submitting to the leadership of their husbands. which basically means that my wife and I, and my mom and dad (the most godly people I know) are out of the will of God. Oh, and he thinks that the gay or bisexual man named Ted Haggard, just needed his wife to sex him up more. I AM NOT KIDDING. Google it.

    Mark Says:
    “Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. 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 a guy I can worship.”

    (not going to comment on his caricature of other’s views of jesus. Just his)

    Jesus has the commitment to “make someone bleed?”…I remember someone bleeding in the gospels but it was not the enemies of Jesus.

    And in revelation, which uses violent imagery….All that Violent imagery is SUBVERTED. Read carefully, God is never depicted as doing actual physical violence. His only sword is truth, Because his weapons are not carnal.

    A major key message of the gospel is the negation of self, the crucifixion of the self, death to self. It is in dying that we live. Another one is that god is about healing and redemption. Driscoll misses that.

    Jesus did not kick Caesar’s ass. And he never will.
    It is god’s kindness that leads us to repentance

    aggressive? you can be loud, Jesus was loud. But you cannot rule by force. Mark’s god rules by FORCE. Which is not Jesus, but BAAL. Yeah, I think he worships Baal. He scares me. He acts like a man who bullies people and my innate earthly reaction is not what it should be. My reaction should be to bless him, be kind, forgive him because he misses the point. But actually I react in anger, and fear, and I want to stab him in the neck. And Mark Driscoll seems to believe that Jesus is the kind of guy who COULD stab you in the neck, but then does not, cause he is so “tough”. Or may he will. He is committed to violence according to Mark.You cannot be meek

    If Jesus got in a fist fight he would lose, because he would REFUSE TO FIGHT IN THE WAY OF THE WORLD…BECAUSE THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL.

    Mark Driscoll seems more carnal than most of the “liberals” he hates.

    He glories in the flesh–As in the strong, sinew and bone, break your face flesh.

    He would not want to go to a heaven where Jesus reigns. He would HATE IT. Because Mark believes in kicking ass, and God believes in saving your….you know.

    I guess that is why he ignores all sound biblical scholarship about the historical Jesus and perverts god’s hatred of sin and evil for the idea that GOD WOULD EVER BE VIOLENT AGAIN against humanity.

    Don’t believe me? After the Noahic flood, the scriptures promise that God will not use mass coercion/force against the whole world in judgment. Rather his judgment is to to correct or save the world. So he sent Jesus

    the only sword Jesus has is not a tattoo, but truth. and truth can pierce. But it does not do the kind of violence Driscoll suggests.

    People are not “sent” to hell. People choose to reap what they sow. And if you seek the ways of the flesh and wickedness, you end up making house in a place where wickedness is welcomed. And if you instead want mercy and forgiveness, you go to a place were forgiveness and mercy are welcome. It is simple. The meek will inherit the earth, and all those that seek ti forgive, be forgiven, and seek god will find what they look for.

    Mark Driscoll is welcomed into heaven, but he would not want to go there. With all those meek, humble, contrite, forgiving merciful saints of God, he would be out of place.

    I just hope that both me and Mark Driscoll will realize that the way of Jesus is not the way of reaction and force, but creation and healing. I don’t want to emotionally react to Mark with the desire to stab him in the neck. That is the way of the flesh. The way mark preaches.

    I want to react to him in compassion, not pity. not smugness. But love.

    A lot of famous people say mean things but at times you feel their love/compassion. I have heard it in Dobson. I have even heard it in Glenn beck. Not Driscoll. Maybe I never listened long enough.

    God have mercy on all of us. all of us that are a fleshly as me or the famous mark Driscoll.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *