“Jesus Junk”is a euphemism for marketing crass Christian trinkets, dolls, t-shirts and items. One often wonders just what Jesus would think of this kind of stuff. It may be the idea of selling Jesus stuff is a betrayal of the message of Jesus; even more the person and character of Jesus.
The WWJD craze swept and in some ways still sweeps the Christian subculture. the interpretation of Charles Shelden’s In His Steps posed an ethical challenge to all who would consider the call of Jesus, “Follow me.” Jack Caputo takes Shelden’s work and offers the reader a way to understand a hermeneutic of deconstruction in his little book, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?
In similar fashion, Peter Rollins works WWJD into his theological proposal that flows from the Scriptures, postmodern theory, postmodern philosophy and hints of Barth’s dialectic. (Maybe more than hints.) Only for Rollins the question is, “What Would Judas Do?”
No doubt anyone familiar with the Judas story would flinch as such a play on words, or acronyms as is the case here. The sting was apparent in this last season of Big Brother when Jerry referred to Dan after feeling betrayed. In fact, Jerry went a bit over the top knowing Dan taught at a Catholic School. It seemed that for Jerry to betray his military integrity was of small consequence to Dan betraying another person as an admitted Catholic Christian. Betrayal stings.
However, Rollins works from this posture to play to the idea that in order for Judas to really understand Jesus’ real intent required the betrayal of his own ideology. Believing Jesus would turn out to be the overthrowing, restoring, present day King over all Israel required the betrayal of his own thinking about Jesus. So, as some suggest, following an attempt to prod Jesus on, Judas betrays Jesus thinking Jesus would live out Judas’ ideology of the Messiah. When things did not turn out as Judas may have hoped, he gave evidence of remorse (returning the money) and overwhelming guilt (hanged himself). In the end, Judas idea of Jesus was overthrown by Jesus himself.
Throughout the follow-up to How (Not) to Speak of God, Rollins works to point out the need for a betrayal of our own ideologies that for us become idols. In this case our understanding of the Word, the Being and Event of God all come under suspicion. The chosen subtitle offers some help. A church beyond belief would be the church willing to betray its certainty for confidence in the (not) mysterious revelation of God.
Consider Rollins following after the way in which Jesus exploded the paradigms of his day. Here we need to consider the ways our practice of the faith has itself been a betrayal of the costly call to follow Jesus. In the end, we may need to renounce our beliefs to find what we believe. Risky, mabye? Necessary, yes. For today what Rollins offers is a way to think about an apologetic for our faith in Jesus that moves along the lines of a different foundation than what we are accustomed.
Read it. Read it again.