Sunday, March 31, 2013

Straw Men and Cheesus Heads Meet the Resurrected Lord

h/t to the Ugley Vicar for the following quote attributed to the Revd Dr Giles Fraser, priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington in south London.
"for the worst sort of Cheesus-loving evangelicals, the cross of Good Friday is actually celebrated as a moment of triumph. This is theologically illiterate."
John Richardson+ dissects this very well for us in his post at the Ugley Vicar. I would like to add that when I read through Giles Fraser's original article at The Guardian, that I got the uncomfortable feeling that Fraser had constructed a straw man version of a "Cheesus-loving evangelical" which he could then turn into an easily defeated enemy which is not exactly the way of the theologically literate.

For example,
   "After a while, if you say a word enough, over and over again, it loses its meaning. It even begins to sound a little different. Jesus morphs into Cheesus – the es getting steadily elongated. Those who talk about Cheesus do so with a creepy sort of chummyiness. This is what evangelicals call 'a personal relationship', by which they mean that Cheesus has become their boyfriend or best mate. 
And when such people speak of Cheesus they have to wear that sickly smile too. It's that I-know-something-you-don't smile. Patronising, superior and faux caring all at the same time. And if you disagree with them they will pray for you. It makes you want to bang your head against a brick wall."

Now that is a pretty cheesey picture, but it is a fabrication, a straw man. The fact that it was even published makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

Yes Jesus' suffering on the cross was horrible, but the paradox of the cross is that it was only the appearance of the triumph of evil. On the cross, and through the grave, God is in glory crowned. The understanding that the cross represents the triumph of God over Sin, death, and evil would have to wait until the third day or later after we humans had a chance to think about what it was that actually happened as well as its meaning for the world. I guess that understanding might be the result of "Cheesus-loving theology." Would Giles Fraser consider that "creepy?"  

Count me in with Fraser's theologically illiterate.
"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:23-25 (KJV)
So, all you Cheesus heads out there, smile and say a prayer through the gaps in your teeth for your old chum Giles Fraser. If you see him, give him a big fat hug and tell him, "No cross, no crown!"
Or whisper in his ear, "Philippians 2:8-11."
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:8-11 (KJV)

So sock it to the literate today with a few triumphant Hallelujahs and emphasize the "YAHs." I know it might bug them, but wish them a happy Easter too.


  1. Anonymous9:52 PM

    The picture is Buddy Christ from the film "Dogma." A great film that is simultaneously irreverent on the level of "Life of Brian" yet very spiritual and showing a love of God. A controversial movie, to say the least, especially for Catholics (and catholics, I suppose).