Deconstructing Deconstruction: A Critical Examination of Jim Palmer’s Theology
Deconstruction, a philosophical and theological movement that seeks to critique and dismantle existing systems and structures, has recently been making waves in Christian circles. While it has been used in various contexts, in the Christian context, deconstruction seeks to challenge and dismantle traditional beliefs and practices, including Christology and the authority of the Bible. In this article, we will examine the “ten points” from Jim Palmer he states that Jesus would vehemently dispute if He returned today.
As a Christian, I am concerned about the theology of Jim Palmer, as I believe it is unbiblical. I find that his views stray from the core teachings of the Bible. In particular, his rejection of the concept of sin and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ goes against the central message of the gospel. Additionally, his emphasis on personal empowerment and self-reliance can lead to a dangerous individualism that neglects the importance of community and accountability in the Christian life.
Furthermore, Palmer’s emphasis on the “oneness” of humanity and the denial of any spiritual separation from God overlooks the biblical teaching on sin and the need for reconciliation with God. The idea that we all share the same divine nature as Jesus Christ and that we have access to the same power as he did, disregards the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God and the mediator between God and humanity.
While I appreciate the intention (I say this loosely) behind Palmer’s theology to move beyond the limitations of religious dogma and legalism, I believe that his views ultimately undermine the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. As followers of Christ, we must hold fast to the truth of God’s Word and the message of salvation through faith in Jesus, rather than relying on our own abilities or humanistic ideals.
Here are the 10 points released by Jim Palmer for discussion.
10 Things about Christianity that Jesus Would Vehemently Dispute if he Returned1. That his vision for a transformed society, which he called the “kingdom of God”, got twisted into an afterlife fantasy about heaven.
2. That a religion was formed to worship his name, instead of a movement to advance his message.
3. That the gospel says his death solved the problem of humankind’s separation from God, instead of saying that his life revealed the truth that there is no separation from God.
4. That the religion bearing his name was conceived by the theories and doctrines of Paul, instead of the truth that Jesus lived and demonstrated.
5. That he was said to exclusively be God in the flesh, putting his example out of reach, rather than teaching that we all share in the same spirit that empowered his character and life.
6. That the religion that claims Jesus, teaches that his wisdom and teachings are the only legitimate way to know truth and God.
7. The idea that humankind stands condemned before God and deserving of God’s wrath and eternal conscious judgement, requiring the death of Jesus to fix it.
8. That people are waiting on Jesus to return to save the world and end suffering, rather than taking responsibility for saving the world and solving suffering ourselves.
9. That people think there is magical potency in uttering the name of Jesus, rather than accessing our own natural powers and capabilities to effect change.
10. That people have come to associate Jesus with church, theology, politics and power, rather than courage, justice, humanity, beauty and love.
Point 1 “That his vision for a transformed society, which he called the “kingdom of God”, got twisted into an afterlife fantasy about heaven. “
While it is true that Jesus emphasized the present reality of the Kingdom of God and the importance of living out its values in the here and now, His teachings also pointed towards a future hope in heaven. In John 14:2-3, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” This verse emphasizes the future hope of being with Jesus in heaven and highlights the fact that our ultimate home is not on earth.
Additionally, in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, the apostle Paul speaks about the future hope of the resurrection and eternal life. He says, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). This passage emphasizes the future hope of the resurrection and eternal life, which is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to His people.
In conclusion, while Jesus’ teachings emphasized the present reality of the Kingdom of God, His teachings also pointed towards a future hope in heaven. As Christians, we are called to live out the values of the Kingdom of God in the present, while also looking forward to our ultimate home in heaven and the promise of eternal life.
Point 2 “That a religion was formed to worship his name, instead of a movement to advance his message.”
Jesus’ message about not starting a religion is supported by various passages in the Bible. In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Here, Jesus emphasizes the importance of following Him as opposed to following a particular religious institution or leader. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. He did not say to love your religion or your religious leaders.
Moreover, in Matthew 23:13-15, Jesus criticizes the religious leaders of His time for their hypocrisy, saying, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” In this passage, Jesus is condemning the religious leaders who prioritize religious rituals and traditions over a true relationship with God.
Furthermore, in John 4:21-24, Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well, saying, “Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Jesus is emphasizing the importance of worshiping God in spirit and truth, rather than focusing on a particular physical location or religious practice.
In summary, while Christianity is often referred to as a religion, Jesus’ message was not about starting a new religion but about a personal relationship with God. He called people to follow Him, to love God and others, and to live a life of service and compassion. The Bible supports this message through various passages that emphasize the importance of following Jesus rather than religious institutions, prioritizing a true relationship with God over religious rituals and traditions, and worshiping God in spirit and truth.
Point 3 “That the gospel says his death solved the problem of humankind’s separation from God, instead of saying that his life revealed the truth that there is no separation from God.”
Throughout the Bible, the concept of sacrifice is often used to demonstrate the seriousness of sin and the need for a sacrifice to atone for it. In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were offered as a way to temporarily cover sin and provide a way for people to approach God. However, these sacrifices were not enough to permanently remove sin or provide a way for people to have eternal life with God. This is why Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was so significant.
In John 3:16-17, it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” This passage highlights the purpose of Jesus’ death and the significance of believing in Him.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse emphasizes the depth of God’s love for us and the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins, even when we didn’t deserve it.
While Jesus’ death did provide a way for us to be reconciled to God, it was not just a solution to the problem of humankind’s separation from God. It was also a way for us to be saved from the consequences of our sins and to have eternal life with God. As it says in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.“
Point 4 “That the religion bearing his name was conceived by the theories and doctrines of Paul, instead of the truth that Jesus lived and demonstrated.”
Jesus did not come to start a new religion, but to offer salvation to all who believe in Him. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus states, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” He came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, His promises, and bring salvation to all who believe in Him. The early church was founded by Jesus, and given to His disciples who carried on His message after His death and resurrection. In Acts 2:42, we see that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.
While the early Christian church was influenced by the teachings of Paul, the core of the faith is based on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” This passage highlights the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the Christian faith, and it is this message that has been passed down through the generations.
Jesus’ message was not about following a set of religious rules or traditions, but about having a personal relationship with God. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This statement emphasizes the exclusivity of the Christian faith and the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus in order to have access to God. Jesus’ teachings were focused on love, compassion, and service to others, and these principles continue to be central to the Christian faith today.
In conclusion, while Christianity is often referred to as a religion, Jesus did not come to start a new religion bearing His name. Rather, He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and to bring salvation to all who believe in Him. The early Christian church was influenced by the teachings of Paul as Lord worked through him, but our faith is based on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Point 5 “That he was said to exclusively be God in the flesh, putting his example out of reach, rather than teaching that we all share in the same spirit that empowered his character and life.”
The claim that Jesus was not just a good example but also the Son of God and the Messiah is central to Christian belief. In John 10:36, Jesus says, “Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” This statement is clear evidence that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
Moreover, Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah is found throughout the New Testament. In John 4:25-26, the woman at the well says to Jesus, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus responds, “I who speak to you am he.” This is a direct claim by Jesus to be the Messiah.
In Matthew 16:16, when Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then confirms Peter’s declaration, saying that this revelation came from God and not from human understanding.
These biblical references and many others demonstrate that Jesus did not see Himself as just a good example or moral teacher but as the Son of God and the Messiah. While Jesus did set an example for us to follow, His primary mission was to bring salvation to humanity through His death and resurrection.
Point 6 “That the religion that claims Jesus, teaches that his wisdom and teachings are the only legitimate way to know truth and God.”
In addition to John 14:6, Jesus made several other statements that emphasize the exclusivity of knowing God through Him. In John 10:7-9, Jesus said, “I am the gate for the sheep. All who come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” Similarly, in Matthew 11:27, Jesus declared, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“
The apostles also emphasized the exclusivity of knowing God through Jesus. In Acts 4:12, Peter proclaimed, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Paul echoed this in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, saying, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.“
It’s important to note that Jesus’ message was not one of exclusion or condemnation, but rather an invitation to all who would believe in Him. John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.“
Jesus’ message is one of grace and salvation through faith in Him, not through our own works or efforts to know God. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.“
Point 7 “The idea that humankind stands condemned before God and deserving of God’s wrath and eternal conscious judgement, requiring the death of Jesus to fix it.”
Jesus taught that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and that we need His salvation to be saved from the eternal consequences of our sins. As Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means that we are all in need of a Savior, as none of us can save ourselves. In fact, our sin separates us from God, and the eternal consequences of that separation are severe. As Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This verse shows that Jesus’ death and resurrection were necessary for our salvation.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” This verse highlights the importance of confessing faith in Jesus as Lord and believing in His resurrection for salvation.
In Galatians 2:16, it says, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” This verse shows that salvation cannot be earned through good works or following the law, but is only through faith in Jesus Christ.
The message of salvation through Jesus Christ is a central theme in the Bible and is emphasized beautifully woven throughout all of Scripture. It is through faith in Jesus that we can be saved from the eternal consequences of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life.
Point 8 “That people are waiting on Jesus to return to save the world and end suffering, rather than taking responsibility for saving the world and solving suffering ourselves.”
Jesus taught that He will one day return to earth to establish His Kingdom and to bring an end to suffering. This is a central theme in the New Testament and is referred to as the Second Coming. Jesus spoke about His return in many places, including in Matthew 24:30, where He said, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” This passage speaks of a future event that will signal the end of the age and the beginning of a new era.
In addition to His words, Jesus’ disciples also spoke of His return. In Acts 1:11, after Jesus had ascended into heaven, two angels appeared to the disciples and said, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” This passage reaffirms the promise of Jesus’ return and confirms that it will be a physical, bodily return.
Jesus’ return is also described in the book of Revelation, which is a highly symbolic book that speaks of the end times. In Revelation 19:11-16, Jesus is described as riding on a white horse, followed by armies of angels, to defeat the forces of evil and establish His Kingdom on earth. This passage speaks of a time when all the nations of the earth will bow down to Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord.
The message of Jesus’ return is one of hope for believers, as it promises an end to suffering and the establishment of a new era of peace and justice. As Christians, we are called to live in light of this promise, eagerly awaiting His return and living according to His teachings until He comes again.
Point 9 “That people think there is magical potency in uttering the name of Jesus, rather than accessing our own natural powers and capabilities to effect change.”
In the Bible, Jesus taught His followers about prayer and the power of His name. He did not teach that there is a magical potency in simply uttering His name, but rather that when we pray in His name, we can have confidence that our prayers will be heard and answered. Jesus emphasized the importance of praying to God the Father in His name. In John 14:13-14, He said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus’ statement here shows that we can approach God with confidence, knowing that when we pray in the name of Jesus, we are praying according to His will and purposes.
Jesus also taught His followers that when we pray, we should not use meaningless repetitions or empty phrases. In Matthew 6:7-8, He said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Jesus’ teaching on prayer emphasizes the importance of a sincere and honest heart when we approach God in prayer. It’s not about saying the right words or using a particular formula, but about having a genuine relationship with God and seeking His will in our lives.
In addition, Jesus taught us that when we pray, we should forgive others who have wronged us. In Mark 11:25, He said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” This teaching highlights the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation in our relationships with others, and it shows that prayer is not just a private matter between us and God, but it involves our relationships with others as well.
Overall, Jesus’ teaching on prayer emphasizes the importance of approaching God with sincerity and humility, praying in His name and according to His will, and seeking forgiveness and reconciliation in our relationships with others. Through prayer, we can experience the power of Jesus’ name and the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Point 10 “That people have come to associate Jesus with church, theology, politics and power, rather than courage, justice, humanity, beauty and love.”
Jesus’ ministry was not centered on building a religious institution or gaining political power. He came to bring salvation to all who believe in Him and to show us how to live a life of love, compassion, and service to others. Jesus’ message was about a personal relationship with God and following His example of love and selflessness. In fact, Jesus often criticized religious leaders who were more concerned with power and control than with serving others.
Jesus’ message was not about creating a new theological system or doctrine, but about living a life of faith and trust in God. He taught that faith and obedience to God were more important than religious rituals and traditions. In Matthew 23, Jesus strongly rebukes the religious leaders of his time, calling them hypocrites and warning his followers not to follow their example.
Jesus’ ministry was not focused on politics or gaining power in the earthly kingdoms. He rejected the temptation of Satan to rule over the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship (Matthew 4:8-10). Instead, Jesus taught his followers to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). He taught that true power and authority come from serving others and humbling oneself before God.
Jesus’ example of love and service to others is the hallmark of His message. In John 13:34-35, He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus taught that love is the ultimate expression of faith and the way to bring about true transformation in the world.
While the deconstructionism movement in Christianity may seem like a new trend, it is nothing new to Satan’s schemes to attack the Word of God and deceive people. The devil has been using various tactics to make people doubt God’s Word and His authority since the beginning of time. Deconstructionism often leads people to embrace subjective truth and reject Jesus as the ultimate authority as the Creator. It is important for Christians to be grounded in the truth of the Word of God, to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and to stay close to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As we navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing world, let us cling to the unchanging truth of God’s Word and trust in Jesus as our ultimate authority and source of salvation.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” This verse emphasizes the importance of relying on God’s Word as the ultimate authority and guide in our lives, rather than relying on our own subjective truth or the teachings of others. It reminds us that the Bible is not just a collection of stories or teachings, but a source of divine wisdom and guidance that can help us navigate through life’s challenges and decisions. By following the principles and teachings of the Bible, we can avoid being led astray by the deceptions of the enemy and stay grounded in the truth of God’s Word.
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” – Isaiah 40:8
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
“But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. – 1 Peter 1:25
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
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