Monday, September 8, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Okay, Jesus and Wyatt Earp (as played by Kirk Russell) were born almost 2,000 years apart, but bear with me for a minute as we explore the possibility that Wyatt is actually Jesus’ evil twin.

Jesus’ teachings were marked by some rather profound views toward violence: “You have heard it was said, ‘An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other also.” And this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And, of course, Jesus’ suffering and death were embodiments of this same ethic, as he hung on the cross and asked God to forgive his murderers.

Wyatt Earp (as played by Kirk Russell) was a bit of a different character. In the movie “Tombstone,” there is that climatic moment when Wyatt is being ushered out of town with his tail between his legs in what looks like an embarrassing defeat. But we know that the winds are starting to change when Wyatt takes out one of his chaperones and sends the other running off weaponless with the words, “You tell them I’m coming … and hell’s coming with me!”

“Love your enemy”/“Hell’s coming with me!” Wow, those ways of viewing things don’t look anything alike. But, according to much of “Left Behind Theology,” the second of these phrases is how you can expect to see Jesus when he comes back. Apparently, all of the “love your enemy” crap was part of Jesus’ first coming, a failed attempt to save the world nicely. But, the Jesus’ second coming will be different. As a friend of mine (a Presbyterian ministry, for crying out loud) once said, “Well, the first time Jesus came it was like a lamb. The second time he comes it will be like a lion.” So, the lamb is now a lion, the piteous spectacle on the cross has been replaced with a fearsome rider of the white horse, and- as it turns out- Hollywood justice has been right all along: All of that feigned humility of Jesus was just a way of setting up the absolute justice of the violence that he is bringing when he returns.

Well … I think there is something seriously wrong with this picture. I’ll say more at another time about Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 21, as well as that compilation of shock and awe called the book of Revelation. But, for now, I simply suggest that we read Jesus’ second coming through his first coming. The Jesus of Left Behind Theology is not the Jesus we know, the Word made flesh, who lived among us. Apparently, it is his evil twin, Wyatt Earp (as played by Kirk Russell). Now, that’s a real man’s messiah!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. In his book on Revelation, "Breaking the Code," Bruce Metzger agrees wholeheartedly. He concludes that the fundamental message of John the Elder's revelation is that people should be comforted and reassured - not frightened witless. He writes, "And it is because of God’s grace that his people can enjoy peace – peace with God as well as the peace of God, resulting in inner poise and tranquility, even amid the hardest experiences of life." Thanks, Russ


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