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May 16, 2011

Jesus: Best Savior or Bestest Savior?

by juju2112

Today, I’m reviewing a sermon from The Rock Church in San Diego, California. This is the church of former Miss California Carrie Prejean. This is the woman who, during the Miss USA pageant in 2009, caused controversy by stating that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The church is headed by Pastor Miles McPherson, a former defensive back for the San Diego Chargers. He was a big advocate of Proposition 8 during the 2008 election.

He’s not hatin’ on gays today, though! This month, The Rock Church has a new series going on now called The Jesus Dilemma. He starts off with an explanation of how science shows that our sun is going to explode one day, and how the dilemma that presents is exactly like dilemma Jesus presents us:

“And so what the scientists are expected is that one day our sun, which is 93 million miles away, is going to explode. In other words, the core of it is going to run out of energy and all the gases that we see every day are not going to be held in a ball like we see it now, they’re going to expand out for light years, and it’s going to completely incinerate the planet Earth.”

“It’s going to incinerate the moon, and all the planets around it for hundreds of light years around it, it’s going to completely melt it. And by the way, the bible says the Earth is going to be melted, so scientists are now realizing that the bible’s true.”

Are you kidding? Do you know how many scientific inaccuracies are in the bible? The whole Genesis creation account is completely out of order! The Earth was created before the light and the stars? Wrong. Birds and whales were created before the reptiles and insects? Wrong. Flowering plants were created before animals? Wrong.

At one point, God creates Light, and then a few days later, he creates the sun. What?? How can there be light without a sun? Oh, oh that’s right, I forgot the confirmation bias. We only want to focus on the parts of the bible where it just happened to line up with science by chance. Just forget that other stuff.

There’s also this weird implication that because of this one coincidence, ALL of the bible must be true! Wow, really? The world is going to end? That’s an awesome prediction. That must mean Jesus is real! Hey, I predicted that my wife would want to go to Taco Bell tonight. Does that mean I can demand a 10% tithing?

“Scientists are now realizing the bible’s true”

No… no they are not.

So, Pastor McPherson goes on to explain how the eventual explosion of the Sun presents a dilemma to humanity, because there’s no place for humanity to go. This is similar to the dilemma Jesus presents to us. Should we only believe in him a little bit, or totally dedicate our life to him?

“Jesus presents a dilemma to people. Two options – and for some people, neither one of them are good.”

“One option is that Jesus is your friend. Everyone agrees that Jesus is a man who lived, they agree that he was a good guy. All religions all around the world acknowledge that he lived. And religions and beliefs all around the world acknowledge that he was a good guy. A moral guy, a moral teacher. An enlightened leader. And so a lot of people want to have a good relationship with him, at least not say a whole lot of bad things about him. The problem is, if that’s your relationship with him, you go to hell. That’s not a good option.”

“The other option is that you throw your life completely in his arms and say, “Lord, I’m surrendering to you everything I know about myself, everything I know about you.” Now, the problem with that, for some people, is if you do that, you have to completely deny yourself and follow him and be what he created you to be. Now, the reason that’s problematic for some people is because that means that they’re going to alienate, at least in their mind, all the other religions that contradict Christ. That means in their mind that Jesus is the only way. That’s problematic for people.”

“It’s also problematic for people because there are a lot of other religious leaders that taught about God. And Buddha was a religious leader, taught about enlightenment. You know, Mohammed has some stuff to say, the book of Mormon has stuff to say. So, does that mean if I commit my life to Christ that I have to say all those guys are wrong? Some people don’t like that option.”

Are these really the only two choices? What if I think Jesus is a jerk who equates divorce with adultery and advocates thought-crime? I mean, anger is the same as murder? Lustful thoughts are the same as adultery? I have some problems with that.

It’s also claimed that if you want to remain respectful of other religions, believe them all, and just see Jesus as a “good teacher”, that you’re going to hell. That’s a completely unjustified statement. He knows he’s only speaking to other believers here, so he knows it’s not really a problem. But it’s still a claim that needs some kind of evidence before a rational person should accept it.

At any rate, the guy clearly knows his audience and what their misgivings are. A true salesman.

“Some people don’t want to be considered a Jesus follower because Jesus followers are hypocrites. They say one thing and live another. As a matter of fact, people say, “I don’t want to go to church”, because there’s hypocrites in church. Have you ever heard that? Well, guess what? There are hypocrites in church! This is the best place for hypocrites to be! We want as many hypocrites as we can get to come to church, because this one of the places where God’s going to change them from being a hypocrite to being someone of integrity.”

It’s clear that Pastor McPherson thinks that hypocrites just happen to be in church, like it’s some kind of quirky coincidence. I think there’s a causal relationship here, though. Religion tries to conquer and reshape our basic human needs and desires, thereby setting us up for failure. People have a need for basic love and companionship. Asking them to turn it off, either by praying the gay away or by waiting until marriage for sex, creates incredible internal turmoil. “Turn the other cheek” sounds nice, but we have also have a basic human need to defend ourselves in bad situations. They say you should never get divorced, but who can stand to live with an incredibly violent and hate-filled relationship for years on end?

“And by the way, there’s plenty of hypocrites in Starbucks, but you go there every day. There are hypocrites in your job, but you go there every day. As a matter of fact, if you go to the Charger game, or the football game, there’s thousands of hypocrites. And by the way, you pay to go there, and no one’s complaining about the traffic to get there. There’s hypocrites everywhere, so that’s a bad excuse.”

Okay, Starbucks doesn’t have a moral dogma that creates hypocrites out of people. I suppose this thinking probably comes from the idea that ‘Church = good’, and any bad stuff that happens to people in the church is all from the devil. Well, why don’t you take a look at basic human nature, and then use reason to form a good set of morals that actually makes sense?

The pastor spends the rest of the sermon trying to defend the idea that there are references to Jesus all throughout the Old Testament. You see, every time you see a reference to “The Angel of Lord” in the Old Testament, that’s really Jesus! The proof is in John 8:58, where Jesus refers to himself in the same way that God referred to himself in Exodus 3.

I didn’t really follow the logic. It just doesn’t make sense to me. He spent a long time on this subject, though. Does anyone have any ideas on how this is supposed to convince people that the idea that “all religions can be a path to God” should be discarded?

One more thing — you should check out their skit at the beginning of the video. It’s about 4 1/2 minutes long, and involves people arguing about what kind of person Jesus was. It was pretty funny! Don’t watch the rest, though. You don’t want to be thrown into the horrible moral dilemma of whether you should love Jesus just a little bit or a whole lot.

Video Link:

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