Recently I saw the meme below posted online by a strictly “science, logic and reason” minded atheist who denies God. That very act is a self-contradiction in reality, as I’ll explain below, but first…
The meme refers to one of my most personally cherished events in the Bible, and gives me a chance to pop two bubbles of misconception in one sitting. Here we go. Let’s rock.
To what does this refer? Clearly the following from John 2: 14-16 (NIV text).
In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
Jesus the Warrior
Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed a little when I saw that, because in a strict sense the meme is heretical in its blatantly flawed portrayal of Jesus. How? It’s grossly misleading and unrepresentative of the meaning of that event. Nonetheless, I did chuckle, because it’s also so obviously agenda-driven through the prism of leftist, anti-capitalist zeal common to both the “angry atheists” and the so-called “Christian left”. Respondents talking about Goldman Sachs and Bank of America give that agenda away.
The money-changers event is one that a lot of my fellow Christians, mainly (but not always) politically liberal, don’t want to face as they fit their personal Jesus-toon into this comfortable little stereotyped box of pure peace, gentleness and Utopian smiles everywhere.
[Turn your eyes away, peaceniks, you won’t want to read what’s next.]
Jesus got pissed off and unleashed his righteous rage at those who would desecrate his Father’s place by using it as El Mercado Grande. He wielded a whip, hurled over tables, rampaged through the place, ran people off! The Prince of Peace himself had enough of a temple’s doubling as a bazaar, and His anger reached the most intense, acute and–yes–violent way documented in all of Gospel. Yes, by all available accounts Jesus wielded a whip, smashed stuff up, scared off the dealers and their customers, and got (for Him on Earth) quite destructive.
As a child, I had been taught the sanitized, ultimately overgeneralized and deceptively portrayed Jesus-toon: all peace and love, all the time…but never was offered this story. Yet when I finally found it, by reading the Bible for myself (following an escape from the clutches of atheism), it gave me all the more respect and admiration for Him, because it was crystal-clear that Jesus knew when to kick some ass. Yes, I said it: kick some ass. And He is going to do it again, per Revelation 19:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
Wow. Wages war! It seems the enraged Jesus of the money-changer incident was just a teaser for what is to come. Yet I suspect that will send the secular and Christian “hold hands and sing Kumbaya” crowd into a jittery blather. Jesus, kicking ass and waging war. “Inconceivable!” Really? Well, either you buy in to the scriptures or you don’t. And if you do, please, accept these truths about Jesus’ tough love. You will not only get over the misgivings about such verses, but accept them as part of the whole of who He is and how He must do things to fix this screwed-up world. Tough love, brother.
Peace? You bet. That’s the ultimate destination. War on the way there? Well, truthfully, yes. As for me, I’m all in for both Jesus’ peace and war. I’ve been known to relish a good fight, and what more worthy and justified one than against evil (Satan)?
Anti-Capitalism, Bible as Weapon
Now back to the meme, this time as it relates to “bankers”: where and why did the money-changer incident happen?
Here’s the scoop: When the bankers are doing their deals IN A TEMPLE (and that’s the non-subtle aspect here that seems to be missing), then yes, the meme has a point. That’s because then, and only then, is the angle in the meme like the real “money changers” story–setting up a secular marketplace in a house of holy worship. Again, so the setting is clear: in a temple. Not in capitalist America–in a temple. That’s why the verse says, “in a temple”. Clear on that?
Otherwise, the meme just offers more of the same over-generalizations and misrepresentations by those (religious or secular) ignorant of the Bible, yet ravenously zealous to make a point of it. What point? That bankers are universally evil and deserving of flogging? OK, let’s set aside the fact that bankers (outside a house of worship) perform a necessary function in any monetized society. Say that meme’s premise is true, just for argument’s sake. Even then, who is in position to step up and flog (or cast stones at) your nearest banker? Who among you doesn’t use a bank, and never has?
We know greed is bad, whether by bankers or any of us. All other vices are bad too, by definition. All of humanity is corrupted by evil. Otherwise some of us would be perfect and have never done anything wrong. Yet we’re not. Anybody now claiming to be sinless is a baldfaced liar. We’re all deserving of worse than flogging just for what we’ve done wrong and gotten away with that nobody has noticed, much less the bad deeds we’ve been caught doing.
Yet the figure depicted rather poorly in that meme voluntarily took the punishment for us, for all of it. That’s the bigger picture. It’s a gruesome, horrible, astounding, necessary, loving, unfathomably benevolent, eternally transformational picture. At least it is for those who are willing to throw aside the disdain-colored glasses, and see that picture. If you don’t want to see the picture, that’s your call–but it’s no call to harass and incite hatred against those who can.
Yet Another “Angry Atheist” Self-Contradiction
Ahh, but wait a minute, for the atheists who post the above meme, Jesus is “fiction”. It supposedly never happened at all, in which case the entire meme is pointless and a waste of the time. Hmm…you just posted something you claim is a total lie as support for something you want to make the truth. Impressive. Oh, and you claim to support tolerance of others while advocating flogging of bankers. Uhh, sure. Which way is it, true or false? Wait a minute, everything’s a shade of gray, and there are no absolutes (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Got any other conundrums and self-contradictions to offer today?
Ahh, never mind…everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too. Use the biblical “fiction” when it’s convenient for twisting things around to suit an agenda, yet discredit it otherwise. Isn’t that sort of selectivity rather unbecoming of those who bow at the altar of “science, logic and reason”? Talk about cognitive dissonance! [There’s another favorite, hackneyed, intellectually duplicitous, anti-theist buzz-phrase.]
Atheist jihadists love to point out every instance they can find of Christians “cherry-picking” Bible verses, and of course that does really happen to some extent. But when the atheists cherry pick, it’s okay. It’s to mock Christians, and of course that’s somehow justifiable from the hallowed lectern of self-manufactured intellectual superiority that is secular humanism.
Phooey on that. What an angst-ridden, miserable world to occupy. I’d rather worship my “skydaddy” out in His light, and wear that “god-idiot” label of derision as a badge of honor, than live in the swirling orb of resentment, cynicism and hate that is “angry atheism”. It’s a very, very dark place in there. I only peek inside on selective occasion because (as a former atheist) I know the way out and have something bigger than all of us watching my back the whole time.
Those caught up fully in that dark orb of misbelief are not hated by me, and are welcome to step out at any time. I’ll extend that hand, won’t call you to the front of the church, won’t condemn you to hell…instead I’ll celebrate your new-found freedom. But for those who choose to stay enslaved to “science, logic and reason” as the only possible valid means of thinking, well…it’s your decision and I won’t be the ultimate arbiter of whatever happens in the end anyway.
By now I can hear the “Jesus is fiction” crowd snarling and barking furiously on the other side of that fence, foaming Dobermans making lots of noise while saying nothing and going nowhere, as usual. I’m actually saddened a bit right now at the pathetic inanity of it all, and feeling more than a little sorry for those caught up in it. There’s so much more out here than in there, I promise. And it’s eternally hopeful…
— Your friendly neighborhood “god-idiot” (and quite glad of it)