Is it possible to use “Jesus” and “love” in the same sentence?

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Is it possible to use “Jesus” and “love” in the same sentence?

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Ken Silva spoofs Marcus Borg in his recent post at “Apprising Ministries.” (Is that supposed to be Borg’s picture at the top of the post?) He also takes some shots at the “Big Tent Christianity” event that Brian McLaren and I are organizing in Raleigh, NC this September 8-9 (see

If Ken’s “Jesus of the Left” really were Marcus Borg’s position, I could not fully endorse it. I don’t think it is, but judge for yourself. More interesting, I can’t keep myself from thinking that Ken’s “Jesus of the Right” must also be a spoof. For example, it seems blind to the distinction between the biblical texts and the 4th-century creeds, which is surprising for a conservative evangelical. More shocking, the word “love” is nowhere associated with Ken’s Jesus — either love of God or love of one’s fellow humans. Indeed, I wonder whether Ken’s Jesus of the Right is even compatible with the love that the biblical Jesus speaks and proclaims. How can we talk about Jesus and not mention the theme of love and his two greatest commandments? Once we include these, we can start talking about how Jesus’ love and Jesus’ judgment are to be combined. If we don’t mention them, we can’t even formulate the tension that many of us will feel when we read Ken’s post and others like it.


Robert Rynders

July 6, 2010at 12:00 pm

I wonder which part of the Bible he would quote to justify his endless attacks on other people? After reading a few other posts I can’t imagine this fellow does anything else but think/write about who’s character he is going to assassinate next. Wow.


July 6, 2010at 12:12 pm

I think an indication of Silva’s vindictiveness is his odd habit of putting people’s names in scare quotes. WTF?

Philip Clayton

July 6, 2010at 2:51 pm

Friends, Ken will shortly be reading this post and responding here in the comments. I want to encourage a dialogue that matches the character of the One we attempt to emulate and follow. Ken knows that I disagree with some of his conclusions, but I want him to see that I have always responded in ways that match the gospel we preach. After all, that’s the main point I’ve been making in my various responses to Ken. So don’t I have to hold myself to the same standard?

— Philip

Ian Carmichael

July 7, 2010at 7:21 am

Thanks Philip,
A few rambles, tangentially relevant at least:
In my theological college training we spent a considerable amount of time on the miracles. The conclusion which is most underlined in the accounts is that Jesus’ motivation was compassion. So, for me, to be able to speak at length about Jesus and mission without love is to be drivelling on into irrelevance.
And, quite honestly I can’t see any mileage in a ‘Jesus of the Left’, or of the Right. I would suspect that both constructions are a form of idolatry, and that Jesus of the New Testament would unhinge the programs of both.
To tell another story – at my second theological college (no, there is no murky sub-text!) our NT lecturer had a strong reputation for radicalism, and as we were reading through Mark (of course) one day one of the class gave some heavy radical reading of the passage. Our lecturer simply paused the discusssion saying, with a wry smile ‘Thank you, I think your ideology is showing!’ (But we need to be centred on the text first!)
And yes, we do well to avoid ad hominem arguments, or name-calling. Else we can get into the bind (and I make the point generally!) pointed out by a comic character on Australian radio: Guru Bob. He said
“Never argue with a fool.
First he will drag you down to his level
Then he will beat you with experience.”
We do well to acknowledge that the interlocutors here are seeking to honour Jesus, and enact the gospel, and therefore also do well to treat each other accordingly.

John King

July 7, 2010at 8:47 am


I have heard many times the adage “Never argue with a fool”, but I had never heard the next two lines that you quote. Do you know to whom we should attribute that quote. I would like to use it.

There was a philospher of religion that said something like….”it is not that God has died, it is just that we are not looking in the right places” Well, I am no big fan of the idea of “finding God” since my experience is more like “God finding me”. However, I make this point as an preface to the observation that, while it does not do much for me, an authoritarian and propositional orthodoxy has the power to prompt encounters with God for many people. Responding to authority and certainty is a stage of spiritual formation for many people. I think it is hard to act for the benefit of another when one’s certainity and perspective is challenged; however, I must say that I have experienced much love and care from those who have Christian persepctives with which I disagree.

While I would not want to press the analogy to far, I would not want to go back to grade school; but, I am very glad that I went.

Peace and Love

Ian Carmichael

July 7, 2010at 4:59 pm

John, the quote does belong to ‘Guru Bob’, a character on the Coodabeen Champions radio show and website ( ). Their focus is on Australian Rules football.
Bt ro respond to yur main point: I do think we can celebrate the incredible variety of ways in which the tribes of God mediate the gospel, without necessarily endorsing every tribal culture. And for each one of us – how we do the same, sometimes to our own surprise.
A story out of the nineteenth century past. C H Spurgeon went back the ‘primitive Methodist’ chapel where he was converted, but found it lacking – he concluded that that it was great place for conversion, but not for growth. (Reference: Spurgeon’s Autbiography, 2 vols Banner of Truth, somewhere (he says…) )

Bill Cook

July 22, 2010at 3:19 pm

I skimmed SIlva’s article and the description of his organization’s blog. Very little new there (I would guess intentionally so). This kind of reactionary almost vindictive stuff is sad. You are right. There is a lot of rather self righteous conviction and very little of love in it. Less insight. I have met many very compassionate conservative Christians whose spirits resonate with mine, even though differences remain. Silva sounds like something very different.

I imagine when we get to the Kingdom he will be in that room we walk by quietly while an angel whispers: “Shush…they think they are the only ones here.”

Bill Cook

July 22, 2010at 10:52 pm

Rereading these posts, I do think I got a little reactive myself. I did not mean to be disrespectful. I do respect Sylva’s conviction and passion. I just disagree rather strongly with positions he articulates. My apologies for not respecting the space of good dialogue.

Jesus: The Anti-Capitalist God & A Manifesto for a Better World | The Progressive Christian Alliance

October 5, 2010at 10:26 am

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Matteo Masiello

November 29, 2011at 7:52 pm

What I find offensive about Ken Silva is his tendency to say everyone who disagrees with him, which seems to be practically everyone is to call them a “guru”. I don’t question Silva’s faith…even Hitler had passion and conviction…but I still try to figure out what God he does believe in. I see no joy in the gospel in his site. It’s hateful and antichristian, just the way he judges people with lists of scripture ad nauseum when he criticizes people. I mean, he thinks John MacArthur is a heretic. I;m sure his hate keeps him warm at night as he seems to have nothing better to do with his time.

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September 21, 2014at 5:37 pm

I do consider all the ideas you’ve presented to your post.
They’re really convincing and can certainly work.
Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for starters. Could you please lengthen them a little from next time?

Thank you for the post.

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