Jesus So Totally Rocks

“Like, Jesus so totally rocks!” says Dude.

Dude is expressing his love for Jesus. He is expressing it in terms familiar to him, terms he uses for many other things that he loves.

We can agree on this much: Dude loves Jesus, and Dude is expressing it in his vernacular. What we do not agree on is if Dude’s exclamation is just a skateboarder’s version of love for God, or if it represents a sentiment entirely foreign to the Scriptures.

In other words, is Dude’s exclamation just another culture’s expression of love for Jesus, or has Dude completely misconstrued what it means to love Jesus? Is Dude’s statement merely a contemporary translation of the idea of a Christian loving Christ, or is it a transformation of Christian worship into something entirely different?

Of course, most today would rush to defend Dude’s statements as sincere love for Jesus expressed in a rather coarse way. They would say that the fact that he is aiming positive sentiments towards Jesus means he loves Christ, and probably just needs to be guided into a more proper expression of that love.

C.S. Lewis would beg to differ.

“If we say that A likes (or has a taste for) the women’s magazines and B likes (or has a taste for) Dante, this sounds as if likes and taste have the same meaning when applied to both; as if there were a single activity, though the objects to which it is directed are different. But observation convinces me that his, at least usually, is untrue…

Hence to say simply that they like one thing and we another is to leave out nearly the whole of the facts. If like is the correct word for what they do to books, some other word must be found for what we do. Or, conversely, if we like our kind of book we must not say that they like any book.” (An Experiment in Criticism, pp 1, 4.)

Lewis goes on to argue that the kind of love  people have for objects (in this case, books and music) is entirely different depending on what the object is, and what people aim to do with it. One wants to use the object, the other wants to receive the object. The one who wants to use objects typically picks the kind of objects which can readily be used: simple, undemanding, obvious, swift-moving (read: entertaining). The one who wants to receive objects chooses those which present some form of difficulty and are not immediately apparent to a casual inspection, and which have the ability to transform the one who uses them. The kind of object determines the kind of love.

So in what way does Dude love Jesus? Since “so totally rocks” is a sentiment used of several other things, we can understand what he means. If I were to translate Dude’s statement into somewhat more recognisable English, it might read a little more like this: “Knowing Jesus is fun. The experience of Jesus is greatly entertaining, even thrilling. I recommend Jesus to others, because He is as exciting as bannister skateboarding, Playstation 3 or a rock concert.”

Dude’s experience of Jesus is clearly of the kind that Lewis saw as using what it likes. Dude sees worship as something to be consumed. But here is the crunch: if Dude’s experience of loving Jesus is synonymous with adventure sports, console games and head-banging, what is his view of Jesus? Again, Lewis put it this way:

“The form of the desired is in the desire. It is the object which makes the desire harsh or sweet, course or choice, ‘high’ or ‘low.’ It is the object that makes the desire itself desirable or hateful.” (Surprised By Joy, p220.)

If the object of Dude’s approval, which he calls Jesus, evokes the same affections as other forms of entertainment, it stands to reason that the object of Dude’s approval is another form of entertainment. Or to put it another way, he has imbibed a view of Jesus as an entertaining person. If the object of his approval were in an entirely different class of object (the transformative kind), he might, even in Dude-language, express his approval differently. In fact, he might find that Dude-language itself has become inadequate to express the affections he experiences when admiring an object far loftier, and more demanding, than what his culture had exposed him to up to that point. He might even conclude that much Dude-language has now become inappropriate to express what the Bible means by love for Christ.

This is what the gospel has done to every culture it has penetrated: opened blind eyes, transformed the inner man, and transformed the cultural forms (including language, art and music) that were hostile to the gospel. It has done this when its true message, made up of the true Christ and His true atonement, has been correctly translated to that culture, so that it could understand and believe on the true and living God.

Which leads one to the question: Has Dude truly heard the gospel?

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17 Responses to “Jesus So Totally Rocks”

  1. Scott Aniol Says:

    Outstanding. I’ve heard so many people say that we should have the same kinds of affections in worship as when we are watching a sporting event. This problematic thinking runs deep.

  2. J.N. Olmstead Says:

    Excellent, articulate, fingers-on-the-pulse-of-the-issue blog post. Dude-language and all its pop-siblings profane the Christian faith. Lowering Christ to the level of the world will always destroy the transcendent nature of Christ and His gospel, and that is to value temporal and mundane concerns more than the revealed ways God’s people should conduct themselves – the essence of befriending the world.

  3. Jesus so totally rocks « TrulyDisciples Says:

    […] Jesus So Totally Rocks […]

  4. Web Pulse – March 2, 2010 | Religious Affections Ministries Says:

    […] Jesus So Totally Rocks « Towards Conservative ChristianityA fantastic explanation of how loving God is entirely different in kind than other loves. document.getElementById("post-3219-blankimage").onload(); […]

  5. Jack Says:

    Key quote: “If the object of Dude’s approval, which he calls Jesus, evokes the same affections as other forms of entertainment, it stands to reason that the object of Dude’s approval is another form of entertainment.”

    Does Jesus “Rock”? If you view Him as entertainment, yes. If you view Him as God, no.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. christopheram Says:

    Ugh. I used to go to church with Dude, Bro, Homeboy, and Big Guy. Dude no longer goes to church. Neither does Bro. Homeboy is teetering on Emergent and doesn’t believe the Bible anymore. Big Guy is trying to make it famous in CCM.

    I suppose I should have changed their names to protect their identities, but their tribe is plentiful, so they have a pretty good chance of not being found out.

  7. David Says:

    Chris,

    Their tribe extends across the seas and below the equator, believe me.

  8. Simon Thomas Says:

    This is so in line with what you preached at our church camp. Still having great conversations about it.

  9. David Says:

    Glad to hear it. Some ideas need to percolate, and are best done in conversation, as Emergent as that sounds.

  10. David O Says:

    I think there is a level of equivocation going on here, specifically that affection=expression. While I would agree that eventually expression must mature to the point that it puts off “use language” and puts on “receiving language”, I would ask first if that is not a normal part of the sanctification process.

    My articulation of my joy in Christ has matured greatly in the 19 years since I’ve been saved. Problem is, I had been raised in a gospel preaching church and gone to Christian school all my life, so even my neonate expressions were probably more mature sounding than Skater Dude’s would have been after even a couple years.

  11. David Says:

    David O,

    I don’t think I’m guilty of equivocation, specifically because of my beliefs about words. You can believe three things about words:

    1) Words mean things – that’s Nominalism.
    2) Words mean words – that’s Structuralism.
    3) Words mean ideas – that’s Realism.

    Without trying to pigeonhole you, I suggest our differences lie here. My belief is that words reflect ideas. Malformed words reflect malformed ideas. Vague, generic words about Jesus reflect vague, generic ideas about Jesus. Words are not merely placeholders or placebos for things. Words reflect our ideas about reality. Dude’s problem is not his expressiveness. He is expressing exactly what he thinks. His chosen terms reflect his ideas about reality itself (and, indeed, his ideas about words).
    If Realism is correct, then if Dude’s affections change, his expressions will as well.
    For an example of the kind of Realism I’m referring to, I’d suggest reading Richard Mitchell, whose works can be found here: http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/less-than-words-can-say/index.html

  12. David O Says:

    Your thesis then (forgive the reduction) is that people will, as a rule, express their thoughts/affections in a way that consistently renders those thoughts/affections accurately and transparently to someone who has no knowledge of the actual thoughts themselves beyond the verbal and behavioral expressions made.

    It’s ok if you respond to this with a “Well, duh.” 🙂

  13. David Says:

    No, you’ve inferred more than Realism suggests. Simply put, people’s words, as a rule, express their ideas. How clearly a person communicates represents how clearly he or she thinks. As to how others understand such words, it once again has to do with the receptor’s attitude towards language. Careful speakers tend to be careful listeners. Read Mitchell’s chapter on ‘The Worm in the Brain.”

  14. Chris Says:

    Thank you for an insitefull article. Looking at how church history has used “religious” formative traditions on believers to make them look the part outwardly with no inward conviction of the truth rather have “dude” express himself than have “prim & proper” toe a hipocritical line.

  15. Dr. Marc S. Blackwell Sr Says:

    I appreciated C.S. Lewis and your comments on genuine worship of the Eternal God as revealed in the Scriptures versus … worshipping “Dude”, as well. Your position on worship …. all down through these past years has been a blessing to me and to those who have known you via SA Radio.

  16. marge Says:

    First Christ comes to dude and meets him in dudes environment.

    Possible at this point his relationship with Christ equates to a good skate park.

    But we can’t expect dude to arrive fully matured, speaking the approved language of the church.

    Nor can we assume his expression equates God to a rock concert.

    But we can teach him latin and provide him lots of ways to express himself.

    • David Says:

      First Christ comes to dude and meets him in dudes environment.= Marge’s view of redemption.
      Possible at this point his relationship with Christ equates to a good skate park. = Marge’s view of conversion
      But we can’t expect dude to arrive fully matured, speaking the approved language of the church = Marge’s postmodern view of language
      Nor can we assume his expression equates God to a rock concert. = Marge’s unproven but assumed-as-true assertion
      But we can teach him latin and provide him lots of ways to express himself. = Marge’s attempt at sarcasm.

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