Friday, July 30, 2010

Is Jesus a Friendly Poltergeist?

Ben Myers posted this one awhile back. I have some issues with it.

Here's how my Random House dictionary defines 'Poltergeist'-

"a ghost or spirit supposed to manifest its presence by noises, knockings, etc..."

Ben doesn't like the Pentecostal idea of a nice Jesus, who floats about the aether of your existence as a sort of super-buddy. He says: "Bruce's account should remind us that the only Jesus we want anything to do with is the Jesus narrated in the Gospels – not Jesus the friendly poltergeist (as Robert Jenson once put it), but the crucified and risen one who summons us to discipleship."

Obviously no serious Christian would ever make the claim that Jesus manifests himself to a believer via noises, knockings etc... But the basic coup de grĂ¢ce has already been delivered: Jesus is not your nice spirit-friend.

The trouble we now face is the scriptural promise of the ongoing presence of Jesus in the life of a believer (particularly Mt. 28:20). We also face the problem of the incomparable riches of God's grace, expressed in his kindness to us through no other than Jesus Christ himself (Eph. 2:7).

No one can relate to Jesus as He is in his physical body before the throne of God. But his spirit fills the universe and is promised to be at our side forever. In kindness, grace, love and friendship.

I fear that in the end Ben Myers has only replaced Jesus the friendly poltergeist with Jesus the mean poltergeist, which is both theologically problematic and scripturally inadequate.

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