Jesus: More iPad than Macbook

A magical and revolutionary product.

To what do I refer? Apple’s iPad of course. I must have visited the Apple site a dozen times this week to just click through the iPad page. I get excited to watch the guided tours and the TV ads. I click through the images like a starving man gazes at a sumptuous feast. I imagine what could be possible with the accessories, how my life could be different.

In short, I want an iPad.

I don’t really know why. I use a macbook, which can actually do far more than an iPad. But I still want one. I want a product I really don’t need or have much use for.

As far as I’m aware, anyway.

When I bought my macbook, I was aware of what having a laptop was like. I knew what it was like to have a small portable computer on which to work. Now, having owned a Macbook I’d never go back. It’s possibly the best portable computer I’ve ever owned. Still, when I bought it I knew pretty much what I was getting.

The iPad, however, is a mystery to me. I don’t know what it is like to own because there is no product like it.

When purchasing a laptop, one can look at Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Sony and Apple to find a machine which is best for them. When thinking about an iPad there is, as far as I’m aware at the time I’m writing this, no comparable product.

Apple have managed to make me crave a product I am clueless about. Clever Apple.

For years Apple had to compete with PC, the cheaper and more accepted alternative. They made those pretty amazing ‘Mac vs PC‘ ads ato play on the competition. What is there for the iPad to be pitted against?

Now, I am aware of how dangerous it is to compare evangelism with marketing, but it’s hard to escape the fact that in many ways Jesus is an idea to be shared. Much like a product. I would not, for one moment, think that’s all there is to the Gospel but it a part of it.

In a multi-cultural society with many competitive ideologies it becomes second nature to us to compare and contrast products, politicians and preachers. In fact, that’s how I was taught to study religion. Of course each religion has basically the same elements and one must compare each one to find the ‘best’. Rather like choosing a laptop, one can choose an ideology by comparing them.

Mohammed, Buddha, Guru Nanak, Jesus, take your pick. Each is a viable option. It’s my job to show you why Jesus is better than all of them. Isn’t it?

But what if he isn’t? I mean, when the consumer religious inquirer defines what is best for them, why would anyone ever choose Jesus over any other ideology? What if a person happens to like what Buddha said, and thinks Jesus was being unrealistic? Or maybe it’s more convenient to be part of the Mosque than part of the Church.

In many ways, that has been how I have tried to share the message of Christ. Rather like selling a Mac, I have attempted to line up Jesus with another authority and show why Jesus is better. But what if something I deem to be of great good is perceived by someone else to be something damaging? One wouldn’t have to look at Jesus long to see unappealing things in him. The ethic of all or nothing for God. How we must give up ourselves to gain him? Live selflessly? I’ve come to love those ideas but many may not.

Apple was never all that successful in dominating the personal computer market, despite having a far superior product. The portable device market, however, seems to be different.

I think Jesus is more like the iPad. He is unknown and unknowable. Unless he is embraced he cannot be discovered. All the arguing and explaining in the world will not uncover the deepest mysteries of the God/Man. I can show you what life is like with him, but I’m not sure I could tell you why he’s better than Mohammed or Buddha. What good does it do to know the technical details of his theology unless what he said makes our lives new?

Whom is there to compare with? Can I stand Jesus next to Nietzsche and have them engage in appealing dialogue which will show Jesus to be somehow superior?

I have spent far too much time worrying about Jesus being better than all the other options, and not enough time realising that there really is no other choice. It’s Jesus or it’s nothing. Am I being ignorant? Maybe. Am I aware there is nothing with which to compare the Gospel? Definitely.

Jesus is more iPad than MacBook, that’s for sure.

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18 Comments

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  1. I’m confused by this Ian? You say you want an Ipad which you define as a produce you don’t need or have much use for – then compare Jesus to an Ipad? Then you say that there is no other choice than Jesus – making him sound like a consumable item. Jesus is a free will choice for us – we can choose to accept or reject him – our free choice but whether we choose to accept or reject him – he is still our only salvation. Then you say you aren’t sure whether you could explain why Jesus is better than Mohammed or Buddha – do you really mean this? Maybe it would be helpful to your readers to define what you mean by the gospel ?

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    • It was just a convenient analogy, I wouldn’t read too much into it. I certainly did not intend to make Jesus sound like a consumable. In fact I went as far as to write this paragraph:

      “Now, I am aware of how dangerous it is to compare evangelism with marketing, but it’s hard to escape the fact that in many ways Jesus is an idea to be shared. Much like a product. I would not, for one moment, think that’s all there is to the Gospel but it a part of it.”

      What if someone likes Mohammed’s teaching over Jesus? Or Hitchens makes way more sense to a reader? Of course I can’t change someone’s mind or argue them into the faith. In fact, many people in our world today live lives they enjoy and reject Jesus. Am I going to try and prove how much better Jesus is to a person who is doing fine? I don’t see that working, either.

      No, in many instances one’s ideology is a personal preference, or a matter of one’s perspective. I can only share what I understand Jesus to have done in my life, and tell the story of God’s saving love throughout all history. If someone else happens to find another ideology far more compelling, ultimately salvation is God’s prerogative and he will save in his own time and his own way.

      I want to, in my thinking at least, to move Jesus away from one option among many, to a solitary Saviour to whom there is no comparison.

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  2. Personally, I found that it was the goodness deep inside of my soul that enabled me to choose Jesus and accept him into my life. God doesn’t have the right to press himself upon me, besides, it clearly states in the bible that we have free will to choose. People misunderstand what the apostle Paul was saying when he describes us as dead in sin and that we all fall short of the glory of God. Nay, he was merely speaking hypothetically on these occasions. Jesus does not damn us to hell because of our sin, but for rejecting him. That’s why only good people go to heaven, becuase they are the only ones that the Spirit can prompt to a free will choice in the affirmative. It’s quite simple Ian, you can stop blogging now I have explained it to you.

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  3. “It’s quite simple Ian, you can stop blogging now I have explained it to you.”

    Shucks, and I was really enjoying this place.

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  4. Nathan from past correspondence you appeared to come across as a mature Christian. I understand your attempt at humour above – but what I struggle with is how a mature Christian would be willing to have posted up something that could quite possibly lead a non Christian or a new Christian into wrong belief thus hampering their walk with Jesus? Does the gospel really mean so little to you that you are prepared to mock it for a cheap laugh?

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  5. Ian – this is another post I’ve enjoyed, of yours, recently. So, before the comments get bogged down in matters doctrinal:

    “What if someone likes Mohammed’s teaching over Jesus? Or Hitchens makes way more sense to a reader? Of course I can’t change someone’s mind or argue them into the faith. In fact, many people in our world today live lives they enjoy and reject Jesus. Am I going to try and prove how much better Jesus is to a person who is doing fine?”
    Quite apart from anything else, isn’t it paramount to first ascertain whether Jesus’ teachings are ‘true’, before one approaches what people might ‘like’?
    “…in many instances one’s ideology is a personal preference, or a matter of one’s perspective. I can only share what I understand Jesus to have done in my life, and tell the story of God’s saving love throughout all history.”
    Surely this is not… some form of modesty, Ian? You believe yourself to be correct, so don’t appear to put yourself on the same level of people like me. What separates your faith from the multitudes – there must be something yours can do, demonstrably, that they can’t? 😉

    Also, Teachings of the Hitch? That’d be a strange religion… a bit like Derrida who was called ‘a philosopher of nothing’ (because he only criticized others’ ideas, rather than advancing any new ones). Can one make a creed out of a lack-of-belief? Hmmm.
    Ach, it’d make an interesting project.

    All the best, matey.

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    • Who cares about truth anymore? I think you and I might be a dwindling minority in that regard!

      It seems people are more concerned by what works for them over what is ‘true’.

      I would argue that if one follows a Christ-formed ethic, it will cause a person to have a life remarkably different to someone who did not follow that ethic. In fact there have been periods in history where that has been very obvious. Of course in todays (thankfully now passing) culture that has not been the reality of the Church.

      I didn’t say Hitchens had a creed or dogma, I just said that his arguments about faith and religion might prove more compelling than the words of Jesus.

      Of course lack of belief can be a creed, if an unwritten one oftentimes.

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  6. Welcome back Beverly, it’s great to read your drivel once again! I thought you might be lurking somewhere in the shadows…
    I was surprised you took the bait for this one Bev, being as you totally ignored my last comment directed at you. However, you appear to assume this was for you, so I’ll continue accordingly shall I?

    “but what I struggle with is how a mature Christian would be willing to have posted up something that could quite possibly lead a non Christian or a new Christian into wrong belief thus hampering their walk with Jesus?”

    Urmmm, sorry? I’ll be sure to send them your way, I’m positive they’d do well under your tutelage.
    If you would care to pay attention you’ll note I was mocking a false belief, goodness, I hope you wouldn’t agree with what I said? You see Beverly, the mockery and the cheapening of the gospel that you spew across the pages of Ian’s blog is truly contemptible, but once again you remain utterly blind to it!
    I disagree more with you than I do Ben, at least he’s not dishonest about his source(s) of reference! For many past comments I was prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt but your persistence has been dogged! I am willing to bet at least one your comments has been moderated (please spare me a sermon about betting), even I’ve been knocked back and Ian is one of my best friends! In case you’re wondering, just ‘lolling’ at you is not cool.

    Get with it girl!
    Amen boys Amen…

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  7. “Who cares about truth anymore? I think you and I might be a dwindling minority in that regard!”
    Least we’re in good company.

    ” I didn’t say Hitchens had a creed or dogma, I just said that his arguments about faith and religion might prove more compelling than the words of Jesus.”
    Ah – I get it. No problem. Though I fail to see how non-belief in and of itself could be an unwritten creed. Perhaps philosophical skepticism, though, could be a neater fit, since one seems tightly bound to the other? Sorry, I’m rambling.

    “I would argue that if one follows a Christ-formed ethic, it will cause a person to have a life remarkably different to someone who did not follow that ethic. In fact there have been periods in history where that has been very obvious. Of course in todays (thankfully now passing) culture that has not been the reality of the Church. ”

    This strikes one as a very interesting topic. ‘Now passing’, eh? Is this just church history, or (what was) christendom as a whole? Is this tied in with those notions we discussed of the people of the church being the model for a better way of living (an old idea, but we’ve never seen it in action, I suppose)? If so, it would explain the “solitary Saviour to whom there is no comparison” image.

    I suppose that the real flaw is something you’ve already identified: people seem to be getting the ‘same thing’ from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, et al. So we’re back to ‘truth’… bummer.

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  8. In the West at least I am referring to Christendom, which is certainly on the way out. In this de-christianised world, the Church may well find it easier to be the Church and to draw a distinct like between ‘Church’ and ‘World’.

    I don’t mean to sound rude, but many Atheistic and Secularist authors ‘preach’ the same ‘gospel’. To translate that into religious terms really isn’t difficult. The unwritten creed is in the idea that religious people are delusional and will destroy the world, etc.

    As the Church stands apart, so will Christ. That would be my line of thought.

    I hate to get all ‘orthodox theology’ on you, but Christianity has long maintained that humanity is essentially selfish, out only for their own good. We call this the fall, the sin which rots every heart, the sin that I am Almighty. That is the flaw.

    And that is one of the reasons I believe the Christian religion. I have never seen anything this capable of complete individual, social and cultural transformation.

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  9. “I don’t mean to sound rude, but many Atheistic and Secularist authors ‘preach’ the same ‘gospel’. To translate that into religious terms really isn’t difficult. The unwritten creed is in the idea that religious people are delusional and will destroy the world, etc. ”
    That’s hardly a creed, even an unwritten one. As for destroying the world, it has not, on occasion, been unreasonable to speculate that a belief in a greater world in the hereafter might de-prioritise some of the consequences of this one. I recall some US official, during the Reagen years, was quoted as saying something like : “Don’t worry about pollution, with the Rapture coming, it won’t matter”. This is a highly extreme example to justify your somewhat rare one of what atheists/secularists sometimes fear religion could contribute to. I acknowledge that I don’t like the idea of this, though my emphasis is usually on church-state separation, followed by que sera sera, more or less.
    I’m interested in whether this same ‘gospel’ you are referring to is really about values, and worldview, or merely a blanket category of ‘people who advance their ideas for general consumption’. I always thought you needed more than that for a creed, in the religious sense of the word.

    “I hate to get all ‘orthodox theology’ on you, but Christianity has long maintained that humanity is essentially selfish, out only for their own good. We call this the fall, the sin which rots every heart, the sin that I am Almighty. That is the flaw.”
    Aww… you know I love it! Don’t ever worry about saying this stuff, to me, matey. Now: call me a cynic, but I can see eerie parallels between what the shrill anti-evolutionists used to say about the social consequences of darwinism (‘tell people they’re monkeys and they’ll behave like monkeys!’), and what springs to mind when I read/hear the Fall’s consequences expressed. Tell people they are selfish, only out for their own good… and they will feel less bad, if they ‘give in’. Just a thought.
    A bit like the rapes that can sometimes occurr in deeply muslim societies, and be mildly ‘understood’, because the woman in question was not sufficiently covered (and all men are lustful and depraved when they see bare female legs/other extraneous stretch of skin).
    My point is, people can behave in appalling ways, and in very good ways, and if one is told that the negative ways are one’s innate nature, and the good drives are owed to the divine… then you can see how self-serving that belief-system is, by monopolising ‘salvation’.
    “And that is one of the reasons I believe the Christian religion.” Is it?

    Cheers for replying to this, and the other one about the Pope. I hope you’re not put off – I really did enjoy these last few posts.

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  10. ?? wow that’s some chip on your shoulder Nathan! As usual I see your response is to attempt to put me down rather than engage with the question raised. My serious question remains – is it not a worry to you that someone who is searching will read your “mocking of a false belief” without understanding you were mocking – and assume that you were actually stating the gospel – thereby being misled?

    All my questions and responses come straight from scripture – if anyone came to me searching I would refer them to scripture. You clearly have a problem with this – one I can’t help you with.

    You boys seem to be enjoying your “banter” but this website seems a million miles removed from the good news of the gospel. Is this a good witness I wonder?

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  11. I’d be intrigued by what you mean by ‘Gospel Witness’ to be honest. What is your perspective on the Good News?

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  12. a) I think Nathan (and maybe you too) mis interpret my writings. My ONLY concern for commenting is always that whilst it is fine to have private debates – on a public site – where we as Christians have the chance to witness to the Gospel (which in a very real way is the only reason we are left here on this earth!) it concerns me that the gospel of the Good News of Jesus’ complete accomplishment of God’s Plan to save the world is not always clear from the writings (like saying an IPad is a product you don’t need then linking Jesus to the Ipad). I know in your head you don’t mean anything by this – but in 2 Cor 10 v 5 we are told to take captive EVERY thought. We should always think first how what is written will be read by others rather than I am writing what I want to write.

    b) I believe as Christians everything we say and do is a witness. (I can hear Nathan loving to point out that this includes me – and yes you are correct Nathan and sometimes I get carried away because I am so passionate about the truth of God’s word – but I suppose I feel the damage has already been done before I respond)

    c) maybe some of the following scriptures will help explain where I am coming from. 1 Corinthians 10 v 33 Acts 22 v 15, Colosians 3 v 17, Ephesians 5 v 4 to 7 , Acts 20 v 24, Romans 1 v 16, 1 Corinthians 1 v 17, 1 Corinthains 9 v 16, Ephesians 6 v 15 and 19, Philippians 1 v 27.

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  13. Hmmm, mind If I cut in, briefly?

    To my view, Ian is attempting to demonstrate :
    “how dangerous it is to compare evangelism with marketing”, and also how “it’s hard to escape the fact that in many ways Jesus is an idea to be shared. Much like a product” but Ian “would not, for one moment, think that’s all there is to the Gospel but it a part of it.”
    I get that, and welcome the honesty it implies about the way he thinks about his beliefs/faith and the way he can get them across to others, and ‘witness’, if you will.

    Beverly (hello), you make a point that :
    “it is fine to have private debates – on a public site – where we as Christians have the chance to witness to the Gospel (which in a very real way is the only reason we are left here on this earth!) it concerns me that the gospel of the Good News of Jesus’ complete accomplishment of God’s Plan to save the world is not always clear from the (Ian’s) writings.”
    Fair enough, and I see the reasoning; however, I’m concerned about the ‘public site’ bit, and it seems you’re implying that these inner thoughts of a believer shouldn’t be around for all to see, in case they ‘put a prospective believer ‘off’ Jesus.

    Here, as well:
    “in 2 Cor 10 v 5 we are told to take captive EVERY thought. We should always think first how what is written will be read by others rather than I am writing what I want to write.”
    You know what this sounds a bit like? A propagandist briefing their colleagues, I’m afraid. I know I wouldn’t read this blog if that sort of method was applied, where the writer was so concerned about presenting the best false face on their faith that casual non-christians would skip it in favour of a blog that asked searching questions (questions which they didn’t have an answer pre-prepared).

    Just my two cents (which is all I have of American currency, I bet Ian’s got loads more in his pocket change).

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  14. Well Beverly, I suppose it’s a good job you corrected me…and Ian for that matter. But I guess you spend a remarkable amount of time doing it; I seem recall Ian’s Facebook page under a similar barrage of negative comments, also seeking to berate what he has to say. I’ve simply had enough of you. You have moved from mild provocations to outright distortions of what he is trying to accomplish. I don’t always agree with him but I understand what he’s doing, namely blogging. Some people engage, you however only exacerbate and not even in a particularly adroit manner. You accuse me of not responding to your questions but I can’t recall a single time when an answer has been satisfactory for you. This is neither due to your rhetorical genius nor your skill at exposition, more an incomprehensible zeal to thrust your opinion (not biblical truth) onto others. You have an unhealthy interest in this respect, and as I have said before, maybe you should call it quits. You are not making headway and your attempted guile is not welcome here, much like a viper in a crowd.
    I too can understand your reasoning about people being misled, and I am genuinely sorry if this happens as a direct result of my ramblings. But, I just don’t think this is the case. If people are genuinely ‘seeking’ this site is not for that purpose and Ben makes a very valid point. My gripe with you is not only your active distortion of how God reveals Himself in Scripture, but your personal vendetta against my close friend and the complete refusal to understand what is being said. Never mind you being misinterpreted! Ian doesn’t need a webosphere Aaron in order to be understood, he can type for himself, but maybe I’m just not as measured.
    I suggest you retreat back to your fantastical world where contradiction is virtue and reason is unnecessary. I think there is no further discussion to be had or I maybe you could do it, you know, outside of the public arena?

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  15. Thank you for your comments Nathan. I forgive you.

    Ian – how do you feel about what Nathan has said – is it your opinion that this site is not for the purpose of people genuinely seeking the Lord? How does this square with your comment that you write to glorify God?

    I came across a wonderful blog the other day which (Nathan note – there ARE others with the same understanding of God’s word as me!) I believe seeks to bring the good news of the gospel to those who are truly seeking and thus truly glorifies God.
    http://achristian.wordpress.com/2006/07/24/jesus-righteousness-is-the-key-to-christian-overcoming/

    Beyond this I will say no more and I bid you all a final farewell – unless Ian as the owner of this blog you would prefer me to continue commenting?

    You will all remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    God bless you all as you seek to find, follow and fulfil God’s purpose for your lives. (And Ben – even if you don’t know it – you are seeking!!!!)

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  16. I write to glorify God and to be honest about my experience of the faith. It has always been my observation that people meet God when they can see the stories of others who have met God. This is primarily true of Scripture and also true of the Church. Indeed, I came to faith because of the story of God told in Scripture and in the lives of my friends.

    People may not come here to ‘seek God’ but I hope people will meet him here none the less. And for those who do have faith, I hope they can take some small measure of grace from the fact that they’re not the only ones who struggle, or are hurt, or who doubt.

    Anyone is free to contribute their thoughts here as much as they like. I’ll only moderate what I deem to be overtly offensive or harmful to another person.

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