CSFF Blog Tour – Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, Day 2

For a humorous book, Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos (this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature) generates a lot of thought. Take a look, for example, at D. G. Davidson’s post discussing a question Jesus raised with His disciples, recorded in Luke: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Or Fred Warren’s post with the same verse as its catalyst. Then there’s John Otte’s post that quotes John Calvin AND Martin Luther as part of a discussion about the idols we create.

These discussions are important, helpful, necessary. Too many people in America today, and probably throughout the world, are following a made-up version of Jesus, (I met some professing Christians here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction back in January, you might recall, who were “re-imaging Jesus”) and the sad fact is, there will be a day when the Real Jesus will tell them He never knew them.

Imaginary Jesus is a book that can help us all see our own false ideas about Jesus if we will take a hard look.

Interestingly, the reason Matt Mikalatos’s work is so effective, I believe, is because it counters, by implication, some of the errors in postmodern thought, even as it employs the powerful “tell a story” method of communicating truth favored by that worldview.

For one, Matt assumes that the Real Jesus exists. He is not relative, not Someone to be molded to suit each individual according to his cultural situated-ness. In other words, Jesus has objective reality and truth about Him can be uncovered.

Which leads to the second point. Matt also assumes that the Real Jesus can be found. He is not a mystery that negates relationship. He is not an idea to ponder but a Person to know.

Third, because Jesus is a Person, we don’t need to “deconstruct” Him or the Bible that tells us about Him. Deconstruction either leaves a pile of rubble or requires reconstruction—the “re-imaging” I mentioned earlier—and it is the latter that creates the plethora of imaginary Jesuses Matt exposed in this book.

Along with his own custom-built Jesus, Matt, the character, encountered King James Jesus, Political Power Jesus, 8-Ball Jesus, Peacenik Jesus, TV Jesus, Legalist Jesus, New Age Jesus, Free Will Jesus and any number of others belonging to the SSIJ (Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses). There are even those who people invent for a specific reason and then discard “when they don’t need him anymore.”

But here’s where this exposure of the imaginary led—to relationship:

“These came from different places. Lies you’ve believed.” Daisy [the talking donkey] pointed her snout at Unforgiving Jesus. “Lies that someone told you or you told yorself. Some of them are diabolical, and some are self-inflicted. A few are even well-intentioned. They’re constructs that tell you what Jesus will say or do, how he feels, or what he thinks, without ever having to get to know him.”
– p. 193

A humorous story? Absolutely! It is through the vehicle of story—and a funny one at that—by which Matt, the author, brings us to relevant Truth, challenging in the process some of the key components of postmodern thought.

Please take some time this week to check out what others on the CSFF Blog Tour are saying about Imaginary Jesus (see the list at the end of yesterday’s post).

Special thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for supplying me with a review copy of the book.

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4 Comments

  1. The worst imaginary Jesus I ever saw was a poster from eastern Canada/US New England. It was a reddish figure with a mohawk haircut, looking very aggressive. It was titled “The Warrior Christ”. Quite the antithesis of the pale Galilean.

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  2. “Jesus has objective reality and truth about Him can be uncovered.”

    It’s true that our society so often subjects Jesus (among many other things) to relativism. But I definitely believe in objective truth. Great points!

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  3. I think my husband and I are going to have to read this book together. Sounds very interesting!

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  4. Excellent thoughts, Becky. As I was reading, it came to me that Matt’s biggest challenge was going to be presenting “the real Jesus” without just offering yet another “imaginary” one — the fact is that while Jesus is real and objective, our relationships with Him all involve a certain amount of subjectivity. But I thought he handled it quite well. (I asked him about that challenge in my interview with him, posting today in just a few minutes.)

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