TheOoze.com, created by Spencer Burke, is one of the most popular Emergent websites in cyberspace. A myriad of authors often post articles and commentaries critical of traditional Christianity. “Gas Mask Guy”, penned by Remy Currier, is one of those authors. I wanted to offer my comments on a few of the writer’s points. Of course, I encourage everyone to read the original article for a more full understanding of the material.
Currier starts his piece by describing a party held by his college at the end of the school year. Next to his Campus Crusade for Christ table, a Christian T-Shirt vendor had set up shop. This is where the reader is introduced to “Gas Mask Guy”, a tattooed, twenty something trying to be cool with a backwards hat. On his table is a shirt with a gas mask printed on it. Currier writes:
We had been visiting with him for a few minutes when my friend picked up one of the shirts, a black tee with a screen print of a gas mask on the front and a logo on the back, and asked the guy what the gas mask symbolized.
“I kind of had the idea of how, like, Jesus is like a gas mask that we put on to filter out all of the crap that’s in the world,” he explained.
Before I go on to comment on the author’s piece, Gas Mask Guy’s statement needs to be addressed. Lack of clarity not withstanding, he is for the most part correct. That is if I’m understanding him correctly. Jesus indwelling the believer does provide innate protection against the sinful but alluring evils in the world. However, the problem lies in that what he said is incomplete. Jesus doesn’t merely “filter out” the evils that assault us spiritually, He saves us from our sins! Whoever this gentleman is, he apparently failed to correctly articulate the basics of Christian faith: sin, our condemnation before God, and the salvation the Christ Jesus offers through the atoning sacrifice of His blood.
That being noted, there’s much to be addressed in the rest of the piece. Currier continues:
I kind of feel sorry for the Gas Mask guy. For me, it seems as if his Jesus is awfully small. It seems to me that if all Jesus is good for is just to be our gas mask, then Jesus isn’t really worth very much… It seems to me like he’s too busy worrying about heaven and hell and the evil in the world to see the underlying beauty of the whole thing – the fact that it’s really not about heaven or hell at all; instead it’s about God coming into the world to reunite us to Him.
The traditional Jesus, the eternal God of all creation, becoming a man so that He might fulfill the Father’s mission to be crushed for the sins of the world, thus simultaneously reconciling those who believe to Himself and glorifying God the Father, is too small? How can that possibly not be enough? Statements like what I’ve quoted above belittle the work Christ did on the Cross.
Furthermore, it is about heaven and hell. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10, NASB). What other kind of salvation could there be? Saved from what? Loneliness? A meaningless existence? No, the answer is quite clear. Salvation from the holy and righteous judgment of God.
There’s more. Next, Currier continues with a strawman:
I guess I really feel sorry for Gas Mask guy because it seems to me like he’s just trying to escape the world. Like Jesus is just there to protect him from the world while he’s here and to be his ticket into heaven when he needs to get there.
What Christian is “just trying to escape the world”? No Christian wants to merely cower in a church while the world burns. We are supposed to reach out to the lost, and it’s apparent that in his own way Gas Mask Guy was trying to do just that. Even those unloving and mean-spirited fundamentalists are capable as much.
But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (Philippians 1:23-24, NASB)
Like the Apostle Paul, the Christian longs to be with the Risen Savior, but at the same time desires to remain for sake of others. This is the attitude we all should endeavor to maintain.
From here on, this article only becomes more outrageous. Currier writes:
For me, when Jesus says in John’s gospel that he is the Way, he doesn’t mean that he’s our ticket into heaven. For me, he’s saying that he is so much more than just a gas mask to put on. He’s so much more than just a bridge to walk over on my way to heaven…. Jesus is the Way. His teachings and his life create a Way, a path in which to walk, and a guiding companion for that path.
The first sentence is where this next paragraph falls flat. The text in question is John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” This verse represents the exclusive claim of salvation that Jesus offers. He is saying that salvation can be found in no one else other than Himself. This truth has been affirmed an innumerable amount of times. In contradiction to more than 2000 years of Christian history, Currier offers his own spurious interpretation of John 14:6. Jesus merely becomes a “Way” and a path to follow – an example that must be emulated. The arrogance and false humility of people who make claims contrary to plain and simple Scripture is beyond amazing. What he is saying, but not with words, is that every previous church father, in addition to every true Christian believer throughout history, is wrong.
Besides offering a dubious interpretation of an otherwise straightforward Bible verse, Currier continues with another strawman. He writes:
And so I think that’s really the problem with Gas Mask guy’s idea of Jesus. He’s got Jesus, but it’s Jesus by the numbers. And that’s one thing that God always has tried to keep us away from… God wants to love us, and for us to love him back.
Here’s where the strawman is for those who do not see it: it’s that a correct understanding of Jesus through right theology is merely “Jesus by the numbers”, and those who have this kind of Jesus don’t really love God like He commands us to. Such reasoning borders on absurd and is utterly untrue. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite – that those who love to learn theology love God more than those who do not. How can anyone love God and not love learning about Him? Theology literally means “the study of God”. Take this example. If a man loves his wife, will he not endeavor to learn more about her – how she thinks, feels, acts, and what her standards are? Or would he just be content to cultivate warm feelings. The answer is an obvious no. Why then should our love for God be any different?
Besides advocating ignorance of theology, Currier offers a unique version of the “Gospel”, one that scarcely makes much sense. “I feel like God’s real message for us, the message of the Gospel, is that religious pills don’t work. That God wants something other than right theology or religious practices or sacrifices or being moral.” That folks, is NOT the Gospel presented in Scripture. The Gospel isn’t that God is going to love us and that we need to love Him back. That will not be found anywhere in Scripture. In fact, the Commandment to love God is precisely that – a Commandment. In another word, Law. And as Paul notes in Galatians 2:16, “…by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” The true Gospel is this: that Jesus Christ died to reconcile sinners to God by suffering and dying on the Cross.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6, NASB)
Furthermore, this is in fact how God shows us His love. Not by freeing us from “religious pills”, but rather “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB).
Currier finishes his piece with a statement advocating Kingdom Theology: “God wants to reunite creation with Himself, and, ultimately, I think that’s what Gas Mask Guy is really missing out on – God’s mission of reunifying everything to Him.” This kind of thinking is widely espoused by the Christian Left but is inherently without merit. Kingdom Theology does not have shred of support in Scripture. Indeed, God will consume this current world in holy fire and remake it (2 Peter 3:7, Revelation 21:1).
Currier’s article is rife inaccuracies in addition to the its erected strawmen. It also minimizes Christ’s atoning work on the Cross, changes the meaning of key biblical doctrines, and pushes an incorrect view of God’s Kingdom.