John Fugalsang is one of the political types – recognizing the powerful moral influence of Jesus – seeking to make Jesus useful for his own social/political agenda. Fugalsang, in seeking power and legitimacy for his own views, recreates Jesus in his own image.
Fugalsang has a popular meme going around social media that spins Jesus into a more politically useful mold. This man-made Jesus has just enough of the ring of truth to carry some weight. But is it the truth?
Fugalsang begins claiming Jesus was a “radical, non-violent revolutionary.”
When the folks in the New Testament tried to draw Jesus into the religious controversies of the day, what was his reaction?
• “Have ye not read…?” (Matthew 12:3; 22:31, ASV)
• “Did ye never read in the scriptures…?” (Matthew 21:42)
• “From the beginning it hath not been so…” (Matthew 19:8)
• “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures…” (Matthew 22:29)
When folks tried to get his take on the contemporary issues, Jesus took them right back to the founding story in the founding documents, the scriptures.
When Jesus rebuked the leaders, questioned traditions, or broke “the law,” it was not God’s law he broke, questioned, or challenged. When the Jews teachers misled the people, and/or man’s law was wrong by God’s law, Jesus acted righteously to restore true practice of being faithful to God and his rule of Law. Rather than a slash and burn revolutionary, Jesus affirmed the authority of religious leaders:
“[Jesus] saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:2-3).
…and of the secular government:
“[“And [Jesus] said unto them, Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Jesus said he “did not come to destroy the law … but to fulfill [it]” (Matthew 5:17).
More importantly – Jesus did not come to be a catspaw in the 21st century socio-political class warfare. Jesus came so “that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Was Jesus Non-Violent?
Jesus physically, violently, drove the money-changers and merchants out of the Temple. TWICE. (Early in his ministry in John 2; and again late in Matthew 21)
Jesus was not a pacifist. Before the cross the people tried to kill him more than once. He did not stand by passively, he took steps to prevent it. If folk mean that he didn’t resist when they led him to the cross, that’s a different matter.
A Biblical view would acknowledge the instructions “not to return evil for evil”, and “turn the other cheek”, while accepting his use of force and his respect for the Old Covenant laws, some of which required violent response from the government
Note that Jesus was silent on whether soldiers stay or leave the military, whether kings should exercise their “power of the sword.” Is this silence prohibitive or consenting? When the Bible is silent, Fugelsang assumes the silence agrees with his own social/political view, and so here silence means prohibition. As Fugalsang continues he lists other things Jesus “Never” said as implying consent.
What Jesus “never” said about these things, Fugalsang asserts means Jesus agrees with his views. Fugalsang spins a politically useful Jesus, but it’s not the Jesus of the Bible.