With Respect to the Comedian (This is not That)

The timing of this couldn’t be better or worse depending on how you think about it. The tragedy in France over a cartoon of Mohamed. Lives lost. This is not that. A Christian will not attack you if you mock Christ. But a Christian may respond, this is that. This was not inspired from France but the comparison is obvious at this point, so why not just get it out there.

Open scene from My Blue Heaven 1990.

(Barney tells a joke and everybody laughs except Hannah)
Hannah Stubbs: I see that it’s funny. I have a sense of humor.
Barney: Of course you have a sense of humor. Everyone thinks they do, even people who don’t.

I think this situation above is true, so as ironic as it is I wanted to say that I have a great sense of humor. Furthermore Christians have a sense of humor as well; we recognize that the Bible contains many humorous things. Some of those are simply because of the distance of time and culture that they sound funny to us. So sure some things are funny in the Bible. But there is a difference from that, and outright mocking the content and the people who do believe in the Bible.

It’s the whole laughing with or laughing at thing. So I do admit I get annoyed when people attack Christianity when there is nobody to defend or at least respond in kind. Especially when it is done from a major platform. So I will respond with the small platform that an insignificant blog allows me…

I recently was watching a comedy bit on Netflix which I do not usually do. But I did and then I shut it off. The host was basically commenting on verses and pointing out how weird and stupid they sound to a modern audience. Now it is a very easy thing to read passages out of context and then comment about how horrible it is or how oppressing it was and how God is a…

I won’t go into the specifics because the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of the text. We didn’t even get out of the gate with this one.

I know an obvious response is it was a joke..but humor does influence, and even jokes communicate a way of viewing the world. A worldview that communicates that to believe in the Bible is ridiculous. While people are free to believe this, I am also free to point out that their understanding about the Bible may be flawed. They can choose not to believe it all day long, but most people are not simply choosing to not believe, they are looking for justifications for not having to choose. My job is then to challenge those justifications and leave them in a place of only personal volition and not excuses. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

So make your jokes but I will make my reply, so…

As I said it is too easy to anachronistically scrutinize and criticize the Bible. What is not easy to do is actually study it.  To actually learn what it is communicating to the audience when it was written. For us today we are 3rd party readers and we have to take the time to understand not only the literary context but the world view it is communicating and also the world in which it was communicating to.

I am not saying do not ask questions, please do.

Because it is too easy to judge it on our standards. We have to understand that it was not written to 21st century post Christian America, nor for that matter was it written to 20th century Christian America.  It benefits readers outside of the ancient near east as they approach it humbly and let it speak across time as it is meant to be heard.  That is not to say it does not have some hard things to say to us, it does.  But we cannot simply find offensive verses and then come to conclusions when we are ignorant of the world when it was written and the worldview it is creating.

I say creating because without a doubt the Bible has literally shaped the world.  It happened because it challenged and inspired and caused people to grow.  It drew people into relationship with God.  That is the point.  It may sound archaic to us, but it changes lives for the better. The Bible is God’s revelation, so in one sense it isn’t going to completely satisfy man, because it is completely other. It is God condescending to our level to communicate something to beings that he created. It is like what Paul reminds his readers in Roman 9 of their place in relation to the maker.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? >Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”21 Has the potter no right over the clay?…

Job had a similar epiphany when he wanted answers from God in Job 38.

“Who is this that darkens council by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7  when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Now obviously there is the issue of competing worldviews. The comedian has one, but we must understand the Bible is establishing quite another. God is not simply a character of the Bible, he is God, all powerful, all knowing, all loving. But the Bible gets to define how these work. If you aren’t willing to engage the worldview the Bible is communicating then please refrain from commenting. If you want to challenge its view then at least attempt to be credible when you do so, learn its preface.

Feel free to disagree all you want, but first remember Proverbs 18:13.

He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. This is a true statement whether you believe the bible or not.

Next time you reach for an easy mark such as an out of context passage from the Old Testament just because it sounds crazy, ask yourself “Do I understand what I am reading?” As Luke records the Ethiopian Eunuch did in Acts 8. Maybe even pick up a commentary to see if that means what you< think it means. Because perhaps as Inigo reminded Vizzini “I don’t think it means what you think it means”. Now obviously fact checking is more work, and you are not doing this for theology, this for a bit, so you are not going to worry about fact checking.

But then I am not going to laugh. Cheap shots are easy but informed humor is clever.

So yes comedian the Bible is an easy target, and nobody will threaten your life for it, but please study before you speak it will make your comedy better. As it is you sound like a kid who wants to fit in with the cool group, the one that has decided Christianity is out this season. And while it may be true that Christianity is out this season, the conversation still needs to happen among thoughtful individuals.

Christians welcome comedy but this was not that.



One Comment Add yours

  1. vly says:

    As always a thoughtful message.


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