Screwtape Whispers ‘He Gets Us’ to Lure Us Away From Jesus

By John Zmirak Published on February 15, 2024

It isn’t just a silly video paid for by goofball Christian businessmen with more money than sense. Nor a merely well-meaning failure, intended to reach the lost and scandalized. And we can’t even write off ‘He Gets Us’ as simply one more instance of liberal Christians trying to foist the Social Gospel on us as a replacement for the Creed. It’s all of those things, but more. There’s something deeper going on throughout our culture, a temptation that threatens us all. However conservative or “based” or “red-pilled” we might think we are.

In Flannery O’Connor’s brilliant if dark Christian novel Wise Blood, the protagonist is a disillusioned former believer, who feels a messianic urge and a rage at human wickedness. But the Christians he has known have all scandalized him by their worldliness and hypocrisy. So he starts up his own “Church Without Christ,” and finds “new Jesus” in the form of a mummy he steals from a local museum.

That impulse, to make up an ersatz church with a dummy Christ, is ever at our elbow, whispered by “angels of light” who tickle our ears with honeyed words. When the Church was still in its infancy, Saint Paul warned already of false gospels and antichrists. These we will always have with us. And at every point of the theological spectrum, from left to right.

The Mother of All Heresies

The first great Christian heresy was Marcionism (see The Stream’s explainer here), promoted by a rich convert who craved the power to refashion the Church. It’s the Ur-heresy, the template, and the seed of all other errors. Put simply, it rejects the entirety of the Old Testament, and the apostolic teachings of the Church, in favor of simply “reading the Gospel” and figuring out what Jesus means to us. Does that sound familiar? Does it sound like what progressive Christians (who don’t study history and likely have never heard of Marcion) are saying constantly, in their winsome little videos and earnest, impassioned posts?

That meaning we get from an isolated, lazy, emotive reading of Jesus’ life won’t be guided by what His Father had said before, nor what the apostles taught. So what will direct it instead? Not the Holy Spirit, but the spirit of the age, the pressures of secular culture, or the heavy-handed dictates of Caesar, Mammon, and Sodom.

In previous eras and contexts, the temptation came not from the left but the right. The churches in Germany were explicitly encouraged by the Nazis to treat Marcion not as a heretic but a prophet, and strip Christianity of all its “Jewish” traits — such as love for the downtrodden and mercy for the sinner. There are some groups today that are tempted to theocratic tyranny and abuse of those outside the Church, as The Stream has warned.

Satan doesn’t care which path we take if we march down to Hell, the escalator on the right or the fireman’s pole on the left. So long as we end up where he thinks we belong, he’s equally satisfied. But today, at this historical moment, in the U.S. (as opposed to say, Russia) the gravest dangers lie on the left, so that deserves our focus.

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Using Jesus’ Words to Invent a Fetish Religion

For that reason, let’s focus on one distortion of the Gospel that seems to bedevil progressive Christians, with enthusiastic encouragement and heavy financial support from pro-abortion zealots and the priests of the LGBT cult of Baal. It’s fairly sophisticated and slippery, which is why we must think it through one step at a time.

One of the most powerful moments in the Gospel is surely this speech of Jesus’:

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25)

If that doesn’t haunt you a little, then you’re not doing Christianity right. My own involvement in the pro-life movement, beginning at age 12, has been driven (first unconsciously, then openly) by the wish to serve “the least of these,” the most abandoned Americans, as if they were Jesus Himself.

What Our Lord Didn’t Mean to Say

But how could you follow such a profoundly Christian impulse into evil? By letting yourself be tempted to conclude one or more of the following, which Our Lord’s words don’t really imply:

  • Real Christianity consists of social service work, not preaching, teaching, rebuking, warning, or punishing injustices. People who feel called to do those things are secretly Pharisees.
  • If it’s good for each of us to serve the needy voluntarily, it would be even better for the government to compel every person to do that, whether he wants to or not. That’s “building up the Kingdom.”
  • If we’re to see each needy person as Jesus, then we should make marginalized people and groups a fetish, and worship them — since they’re now “Jesus” to us. Let’s meet all their demands, move them here en masse, tear up our laws, reshape our system of government, and lavish taxpayers’ money on these “victim” groups as the Magdalene poured her tears over Jesus’ feet.

Each of those diabolical conclusions lies at the heart of progressive Christianity today, of the kind preached by “He Gets Us.”

Yes, that’s a sobering message. If someone gets angry when you pass it on to her, you should paraphrase the cop on the old TV show Dragnet, “Ma’am, I don’t make the Natural Law. I just enforce it.”

 

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. His upcoming book is No Second Amendment, No First.

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