Reviewed by Marshall Hughes
Dethroning Jesus : Exposing Popular Culture’s
Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ
by Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace
"The main thrust of the book is differentiating Christianity, where Christ is seen as lord of the universe, and Jesusanity, which at first blush might sound good but really just attempts to turn Jesus into a good teacher or moral man."
Do you believe that Jesus had
an earthly father named Pantera who was a Roman soldier and whose grave
has been discovered in...Germany? Or do
you believe in the “lost gospel” of Thomas, which has Simon
Peter saying “Females don’t deserve life” and Jesus saying “Every
female who makes herself male will enter the domain of Heaven?”
If so, you might be a believer in Jesusanity, the term given by authors Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace to our popular culture’s latest attempt to deny the historical Jesus of the Bible.
Should you be looking for a simplistic, bash-’em-over-the-head book about how Christ is systematically being taken out of American culture, “Dethroning Jesus - Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ” is not for you. This isn’t a book that you can read while texting and driving to work in 20-mile-per hour traffic. A fair amount of background historical knowledge is necessary to digest the heavy themes which are discussed in the book.
Of course, not all of the Jesusanity claims are as preposterous and easy to dismiss as the above examples. Some seem possible at first glance, which is one reason so many people are willing to believe. Anything that seems plausible in the tearing down of the traditional Christian beliefs is glommed onto by some, especially today’s “progressives” and academics, including, unfortunately, some in the more liberal of our churches. Some are even pushing for the inclusions of the “Gospel of Thomas” and “The Gospel of Judas” in the Bible.
Dethroning Jesus spends one chapter each on what the authors say are the six main claims of Jesusanity. The first three of these claims are: 1) the original New Testament has been so grossly corrupted by copyists that it can’t be recovered, 2) secret gnostic gospels (ie the gospels of Judas and Thomas) show the existence of early alternative Christianities and 3) the gospel of Thomas greatly alters our understanding of the real Jesus.
The last three claims are: 4) Jesus’ message was fundamentally political and social, 5) Paul hijacked the original movement of Jesus, turning it to a movement that exalted Jesus and included Gentiles, and 6) Jesus’ tomb has been found, proving there was no physical departure.
The devil is (figuratively and possibly literally) in the details of these chapters. Bock and Wallace make a strong, unapologetic defense for the Christianity of our forefathers, not the namby-pamby, muddled version that has crept into the church.
In the introduction of the book (which covers about 1/7 of the book’s 240 pages), 12 causes of Jesusanity’s rising visibility are discussed. One of the most interesting of these is “the cultural desire to acknowledge religious diversity in such a way that peace can be maintained and the question of whether one religious tradition has more to offer than another is ignored.” This, of course, requires the minimizing of Jesus. Anything to foster the new god of “diversity” has to be followed, right?
The main thrust of the book is differentiating Christianity, where Christ is seen as lord of the universe, and Jesusanity, which at first blush might sound good but really just attempts to turn Jesus into a good teacher or moral man.
Is Jesus to be worshiped, or just respected? Is He intimately associated with God, or does He just point to God? Is Jesus The Way, or does He just show The Way, or even “One Way?”
Buckle up and give this book a try, but put your cell phone down first.
Marshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.