Are You Practicing Jesusanity or Christianity?

February 26, 2013 — 2 Comments

Several years ago while living in Dallas, I was on a date with my wife and was walking past a storefront, only to discover Jesus staring back at me—a bobblehead Jesus, that is. I had seen bobbleheads of NFL players and rock stars before, but I didn’t realize that Jesus had reached bobblehead status! Fast-forward a few years to when I was kicking off our Christmas series at our church. Want to know who was helping me preach that morning? Yep, bobblehead Jesus standing on a stool (I am happy to report that I was neither fired nor struck by lightning). To help make the Jesusanity versus Christianity distinction more concrete, I read out loud to our church the ad from the back of the box he was packaged in:

The name Jesus means God saves. The term Christ is a title for anointed of God. For Muslims and some Jews, Jesus was a prophet. Buddhists say he was enlightened. Hindus call him an Avatar (the incarnation of a deity in human form). And Christians hail him as the Son of God. Although he is understood in many different ways, everyone seems to agree that he was an extraordinary man.

Now I would take “extraordinary,” but is that what Jesus was after? Today in our thoroughly pluralistic culture, Jesusanity is what is most often practiced. Jesus is respected as one of the great religious leaders — even the best religious leader of all time — but he does not have unique status. For many people today, both inside and outside the church, Jesus is not unique; he is simply one among many. Respected? Yes. Street cred? Check. But if we take the New Testament documents seriously, Jesus wasn’t aiming for respect. His messianic mission was far larger than that.

In stark contrast to Jesusanity, Darrell Bock summarizes that Christianity “involves the claim that Jesus was anointed by God to represent both God and humanity in the restoration of a broken relationship existing between the Creator and his creation.” Only Jesus the Messiah can address humanity’s deepest need, the forgiveness of our sins so that we can be reconnected with God and enjoy the eternal kind of life we were made for (Mark 2:1–12; 8:27–30; John 17:3). In Christianity, Jesus is worshiped; in Jesusanity, he is simply respected. The difference could not be more important for our world. I dive into more of the implications of this mindset here.

Related Post: Are the Gospels Full of Contradictions?

Jonathan Morrow

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Jonathan Morrow (D.Min) is the founder of Think Christianly. He is the author of Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey, Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority, Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture, and Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (with Sean McDowell), and contributed the chapter "Introducing Spiritual Formation" to Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ. Jonathan contributed several articles to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and has written for Leadership Journal Online (of Christianity Today). He graduated with an M.Div. and an M.A. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and served as the equipping pastor for 6 years at Fellowship Bible Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Jonathan is currently the Director of Creative Strategies and Immersion at Impact 360 Institute where he trains high school and college students in Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership and serves as adjunct faculty with Union University. His books have been featured on shows like Family Life Today, Stand to Reason, Breakpoint, WAY-FM (Mornings with Brant), Frank Pastore, The Janet Mefferd Show, and Apologetics 315. He and his wife have been married for 13 years and have three children.

2 responses to Are You Practicing Jesusanity or Christianity?

  1. I see this attitude in the church from a “Jesus is my friend” mentality. In an effort to make God FEEL closer we water down the deity of His Son. We have lost the sense of awe and reverence toward God and as a result this waters down the magnificence of what He did in sending His Son, God, to walk among us. We have watered down God to narrow the gap between us but God already gave us access to Him through the Holy Spirit. We are attempting to accomplish what Christ already did on the cross.

  2. When I read the Gospels, If see Jesus being pretty rough on those that wanted to co-opt his agenda. I think of Jesus’ response to Peter, “get behind me Satan.” I see not “God is my copilot” option when I read Scripture.

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