16 Oct 2008

That’s Not My King

All Posts No Comments

Warning to agnostic / atheist readers: This post will involve the J-word, but you’ll see why. I am not going out of my way to make you feel uncomfortable.

Over at the Austrian Economists blog, Pete Leeson directs readers to a cool survey in the Freakonomics column, asking four experts (one of whom is Leeson) about outlaws. It’s well worth reading, but Graham Seal, professor of folklore at Curtin University of Technology in Australia, invoked Jesus improperly:

The Robin Hood principle states that wherever groups of people feel themselves oppressed in some way they are highly likely to produce their own outlaw hero.

Research across 2,000 years of global history and myth identifies at least 200 individuals who have been celebrated as “noble robbers.” From Robin Hood to Dick Turpin, from Jesus Christ to Jesse James, from Pancho Villa to Ned Kelly, these friends of the poor are said to rob the rich and powerful, to right wrongs, to treat the weak with respect, and to offer violence only in justified defense.

Whether these characteristics are true or not is hotly disputed wherever outlaw heroes are found. Nevertheless, ambivalent figures like Billy the Kid, Salvatore Giuliano, Stenka Razin, and India’s “bandit queen,” Phoolan Devi, among many others, can be identified in history and in folklore. They continue to appear wherever political, cultural, and economic conflicts tear the fabric of society.

Now it’s true, technically it’s not Seal who is describing Jesus. But in context, when Seal says “[w]hether these characteristics are true or not is hotly disputed,” he clearly means that maybe these outlaws sometimes used violence when it wasn’t justified.

Not only did Jesus refrain from using violence in unjustified cases, He refrained even when it would have been justified (in any secular legal system), even when He was being tortured and nailed to a tree. He rebuked Peter for violently defending Him. And when in the heck did Jesus ever rob from the rich?! He said the rich man who stored up earthly treasures was a fool, because he could die that very night. He told a man who loved his possessions to sell them. give the proceeds to the poor, and come follow Him. But Jesus never forced anybody to do anything, nor did He steal from anyone. The only episode even remotely approaching property violations that I can think of was overturning the tables of the moneychangers, and that was a very nuanced situation.

Yes, Jesus fed the poor, but that’s because He multiplied loaves and fishes. No redistribution of wealth going on there. That’s why Jesus is not simply a really cool guy, who’s fun to read about. He was without flaw, literally. Any other “hero” you might have, there would always be something to make it inappropriate for you to actually worship the person, for crying out loud. But not Jesus. With Him, you don’t have to hold back, because He never did anything wrong.

That’s MY KING. I wonder Dr. Seal…do you know Him?

Comments are closed.