I Hate Christian T-shirts: A Rant

That title is maybe a little strong. I don’t hate all christian t-shirts. But I do hate some of them.

especially the ones below that I saw today:

If you will be so kind, let me spell out why I hate these two particular t-shirts.

GOSPEL- God’s only son provides eternal life

Now late me say I have no quarrel with the statement. I believe it. My issue comes with what is says overall. the word gospel means so much more than just Jesus giving us eternal life. the word in greek is euaggelion. It was a a word that existed before the new testament writers used it and they used it for a particular purpose.

‘gospel’ alluded to the birth of a new roman emperor. It forecast a new and prosperous era. It was a political term.

Mark chooses to start his story of Jesus with this line:

1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This statement was an ‘up yours’ to the Roman Empire. It was subversive. Mark was saying, “here is the start of a new era. And it’s not brought about by a Roman Emperor. It’s brought about by Jesus. The true son of God. (the term ‘son of god’ was also a political statement as roman emperors referred to themselves as god’s son).

So do you see why I have issue with this statement? The gospel is so much more than Jesus giving us eternal life. It is about the coming of a new era. A new kingdom. It is about liberation. Other wise there is no point in mark including the story of Jesus’ life. It might as well just focus on his death and resurrection. But it doesn’t. it focuses on his life on earth as well. It focuses on his message. The gospel is about the gift of eternal life but to somehow say it is just about that reduces its impact considerably.Now on to the second one…

BIBLE- Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

In some ways this statement angers me even more as it represents a completely distorted picture of the coming of God’s Kingdom. Jesus did not come to say us somewhere else. In the book of revelation it says:

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

The word new is kainos in greek which is better understood as renewed. Our hope is in the fact that the earth will be renewed. It speaks of God coming to dwell on earth. Not us going somewhere else. What is remarkable about the gospel story is that the eternal logos came and took on flesh and lived here. It is the coming together of body and soul.

Revelation speaks of the return of the earth to how it was meant to be. Not its destruction. If we are simply going to go somewhere else why bother about this earth at all? e might as well just speed up its demise. What kind of message is that?

Well my rant is almost over. I could go on to say that reducing the bible to an instruction manual is also ridiculous but I think I’ve said enough.

I don’t hate all christian t-shirts but I DO HATE THESE ONES!

Rant over.

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4 responses

  1. Very true! I doubt anyone ever grew deeper in their knowledge of God because of someone’s T-shirt. Honestly, I think it’s more of a pride thing in the weird southern cultural Christianity where I live – it’s like saying, “Look at me! I’m a Christian! I’m not afraid to show it!” and then you can pat yourself on the back for being “bold” in a place where no one would ever really argue against your shirt in the first place. But, like you said, Christianity is MUCH deeper than what can fit on a T-shirt, and I think it can be dangerous to offer out such fortune-cookie-like phrases, making Christianity appear as a set of pat answers with little depth.

  2. Nice.
    My own beef with these kinds of t-shirts is they are often worn my people who would only ever dare wear them in the context of a Christian meeting, but not be seen dead in them in any other situation.
    Too right; to reduce something like the concept of the gospel down to a snappy acronym is both foolish and lacking wisdom.
    I do remember once making my own shirt that said “SATAN HATES YOU” which I found quite funny, but the transfer fell off eventually. Maybe the devil did it!

  3. Michael Montgomery | Reply

    I never knew the word gospel had a political edge to it …
    now I do … thanks

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