HE GETS US? DON'T TAKE THE BAIT!
Think biblically and employ the theological resources provided in scripture. Use discernment and logic when viewing all media, including emotionally manipulative Super Bowl commercials that claim to convey a biblical message.
ALL Christians must develop theological precision and clarity.
It’s time for Christians to think critically from a biblical worldview perspective.
Thesis: The entire He Gets Us enterprise is nothing more than repackaged liberal theology wrapped in identity politics.
I believe the message conveyed by the He Gets Us Super Bowl commercial must be analyzed. It was viewed by millions of people. (You can view it here). It is a composition of images of people washing the feet of other people to a rendition of a song by INXS entitled, “Never Tear Us Apart.” The video ends with the message, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.”
I’m going to analyze and critique the He Gets Us commercial as well as their overall messaging from a biblical worldview perspective, identify a few significant theological problems, and suggest biblical solutions.
At the conclusion of this article, you can watch an alternative to the He Gets Us commercial called, “He Saves Us” by Jamie Bambrick. Compare them for yourself, use what you have learned, and decide which one is closer to biblical Christianity.
While I think there are significant problems with the commercial, I believe the conversations and even controversy surrounding it are a good thing. This is a teachable moment for Christians and should be seen as an opportunity to wrestle with ideas and exercise discernment and wisdom. Someone might say, “How can public debate among Christians over a sixty second commercial be a good thing for the church? This is a huge waste of time and damages the witness of the church to a lost world.”
Dealing with issues in the public sphere is rooted in scripture and Christian tradition. Jesus confronted the hypocrisy and sin of the Pharisees on numerous occasions. Paul confronted the error of religious and political leaders as well. The creeds and confessions throughout church history were responses to heretical ideas, controversies, and false teaching. Keep in mind, that heresy and false teaching are not always blatantly obvious. One must use wisdom, discernment, and good theology to reveal them. Many Christian sounding sentiments and slogans, are in fact not biblical at all.
“He (the serpent) said to the woman, “Did God actually say…?”” (Genesis 3:1b)
Falsehood and heresy are far more damaging to the Christian witness than open debate and confrontation of bad theology and bad ideas.
If dealing with bad ideas publicly wasn’t a waste of time for Jesus, Paul, the church fathers, and reformers then it is not a waste of time for Christians of any era, including our own. This conversation and debate is good for the church.
The people who created the He Gets Us commercial are using bad hermeneutics that distort Jesus Christ and biblical faith.
“Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:15 commands believers to be involved in hermeneutics: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who . . . correctly handles the word of truth.” The purpose of biblical hermeneutics is to help us to know how to properly interpret, understand, and apply the Bible.”(1) Poor interpretation of scripture will result in a distorted understanding and faulty application.
Someone may be thinking that I’m being too technical and all this theological jargon is confusing and creates division.
For a Christian, theology is more than just the study of God or knowing things about God. At the core of Christian theology is knowing God Himself.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
The question is, “How can we know God?” We personally know God primarily through Scripture (His special revelation to man about Himself and the world we inhabit).
“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)
We can know a few things about God through His general revelation via the created order as well.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.”
The poor hermeneutics and bad theology employed by He Gets Us leads people away from orthodoxy (right belief) into heterodoxy (heresy). Misinterpretation will lead to misunderstanding and misapplication of scripture. This needs to be confronted, stopped, and corrected.
Missing from the He Gets Us campaign is a biblical hermeneutic and understanding of the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.
The lens we use when approaching scripture and culture will have massive ramifications on our theology and how we live.
First, Christians must understand the hermeneutic used by He Gets Us. This can be found on their website:
“We look at the biography of Jesus through a modern lens to find new relevance in often overlooked moments and themes from his life.”(2)
That statement is problematic and tells us everything we need to know. He Gets Us chose to interpret scripture using a non-biblical framework. This means that everything, including their conclusions, will shift away from the Bible.
Second, Christians must adhere to a biblical interpretation found in the Bible itself. The Bible is the lens through which we understand Christ and culture. Interpreting scripture and the life and ministry of Jesus Christ through a ‘modern lens’ is not biblical. In fact it’s a poor hermeneutical approach. It will eventually lead one away from biblical truth into falsehood and destruction.
“For the Christian, the Bible is not merely a book to be looked at, it is also a lens to be looked through.”(3)
Third, Christians must understand the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. Can we make the Bible say whatever we want it to say? Am I at liberty to infuse my own meaning and experience into the biblical text? What is the standard? Is man the standard? Or is God’s word the standard?
“Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text. The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.”(4)
Someone will say that getting into the weeds of theological interpretation methods gets in the way of winning people to Christ with a winsome message.
However, truth contained in the message is vastly more important than winsomeness of the message.
The He Gets Us marketers and consultants miss the point and miss the mark. In doing so, they confuse Christians and non-Christians alike. When a so-called “Christian” commercial confuses Christians, you know there is a problem.
If so-called “Christians” resort to misrepresenting scripture and manipulating emotions as a means of making Jesus more appealing, they are employing falsehood to bring about righteousness. That is at best unbiblical and at worst, evil.
“How can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.” (Romans 3:7-8 NLT)
Christians should use the Bible as the lens through which to see and understand culture, not the other way around.
The He Gets Us commercial attempts to answer the worldview question: “What is wrong with the world and how do we fix it?”
Watch the commercial carefully and investigate their website. You’ll discover they locate the problem with the world outside the individual human heart and reframe it as ‘ideological differences’ that lead to disunity. The He Gets Us solution to the problem is for people to perform humble “acts of kindness.” In other words, be nice and accommodating.
The He Gets Us website states: “We began to imagine a world where ideological others were willing to set their differences aside and wash one another’s feet. How would that look? How would our contentious world change if we washed one another’s feet, not literally, but figuratively? Figurative foot washing can be as simple as giving a compliment to a co-worker or paying for a stranger’s lunch. It can also be as difficult as not responding to someone who’s criticizing you or reaching out to an estranged family member. Acts of kindness done out of humility and respect for another person could be considered the equivalent of foot washing.”(5)
Remember, the video ends with the words, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.” Yes, Jesus did wash the feet of the disciples. That is true! But, that’s not the point. He Gets Us admit that washing feet isn’t the point on their multi-million dollar website. What is the point? (I’ll get this later). This lack of clarity and lack of theological precision begs the question…
What do you mean by that?
What do they mean when they say, “Jesus didn’t teach hate?” What did Jesus teach? What do the He Gets Us folks mean by ‘hate’? They don’t provide clear biblical definitions for anything. Again, they are making the text mean whatever they want and asking you to believe them!
The word of God does tell us what the Lord hates:
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.”
“Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6)
“You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates.” (Deuteronomy 16:22)
“You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:31)
“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16)
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
Biblically, the problem with the world is sin. The solution is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
The source of sin is located in the individual human heart. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says it best, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.”
Acts of kindness are not salvific nor transformative. Only God’s grace through Christ’s death and resurrection save sinners.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Transformed redeemed people transform their cultural environments because they live in obedience to all that Christ commands. Furthermore, “washing feet” is a demonstration of the humility and obedience of Christ (even unto death on a Roman cross), modeled for His disciples who would be transformed through faith upon His resurrection. Christians serve others by serving Christ because we’re saved by Him.
“… But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)
Again, the entire He Gets Us enterprise is nothing more than repackaged liberal theology wrapped in identity politics. It’s not really designed to share the Gospel of the Kingdom, the forgiveness of sin, and salvation in Christ alone.
It is designed to divide the church along political lines by taking a swipe at biblical Christianity. He Gets Us is identity politics dressed up in Christian drag. They are not really interested in loving God and leading people to Christ, they have a set of political priorities.
Both the commercial and website convey messages rooted in identity politics.
“Identity politics is politics based on a particular identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social background, caste, and social class…
Identity politics is further described as:
(a) ethnicity as a contemporary form of politics;
(b) a form of critical pedagogy that links social structure with the insights of poststructuralism regarding the nature of subjectivity, while incorporating a Marxist commitment to politics ; and
(c) general efforts by status based movements to foster and explore the cultural identity of members. By the mid-1990s, references to identity politics as violent ethnic conflict, and nationalism more generally…”(6)
According to their website, the He Gets Us folks were attempting to convey the following message, “with an upcoming election year that will be filled with division and derision, we decided to focus on one of the most important directives given by Jesus – “Love Your Neighbor.”
On the surface, this all might sound ‘good’ and Christ-like. However, liberal theology always sacrifices the greatest commandment on the alter of the second. In other words, loving the God of the universe is sacrificed on the alter of loving your neighbor. Man becomes the center, not God.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–40)
Biblically, it is impossible to truly love your neighbor without loving God first (agape love). Love of God is the post on which love of others hangs.
When viewing the He Gets Us commercials, website, and interviews with creators in their totality, identity politics is exposed as the primary driver of their program. As such, one must recognize that Marxian political theory in the form of Critical Social Theory is the shaping force behind identity politics. Whether the He Gets Us people realize it or not, they are promoting a non-biblical worldview.
One of the easiest ways to recognize liberal theology is by identifying what is ignored, rejected, and emphasized.
God and His commands are ignored or de-emphasized. Christ as Savior and Lord is rejected. And man’s experience is emphasized.
David Wells said, “The liberal approach sees experience – whether of ourselves, of the natural world, of political reality, or of society or within the church – as providing the stuff out of which theology is made. It therefore always incorporates modernity into its (liberal) theology, not simply as an external pole of reference for that theology, but as its internal substance.” In other words, liberal theology is man-centered built around man’s experience. As such, man is the standard and measure of all things.
Truth, is then relocated from God’s revealed word, to man’s relativistic experiential whims.
The mission and message of Jesus Christ is reduced to moralism and a therapeutic social program with a political agenda. This reductionism is antithetical to biblical faith and sound theology. Furthermore, it can’t be recognized as biblical Christianity. It is something else.
He Gets Us is heretical propaganda that punches right. It is a poorly constructed ‘artful’ meme shaped more by Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”(7) than by the Bible. It is the power dynamic applied within Christian theology. In other words, it’s just repackaged liberal theology. There is nothing new under the sun. Heresy is still heresy regardless of its therapeutic individualistic self-expressive wrapper.
Someone will say, “Heretical? Isn’t that a little harsh?” Perhaps it grates against the modern therapeutic sensibilities of liberal ‘Christians’, but my tone isn’t important. The content and truth of what I’m saying is. Because the truth of the Gospel and God’s word are what are being challenged by the He Gets Us folks.
He Gets Us is distorting the biblical historical Lord Jesus Christ and promoting a liberal political ideology with a touch of good old fashion gnosticism. The the “oppressor versus oppressed” power dynamic is portrayed visually in the commercial. When you see the power dynamic within theology, you are seeing Cultural Marxism being applied, albeit in an artful way meant to elicit an emotional response.
They’re basically saying:
“We just want people to see Jesus in a new way.”
“We want people who’ve been oppressed by the church to learn about the real Jesus that most Christians don’t know.”
My response is as follows:
As thinking and discerning Christians, we must keep in mind that something new about Jesus is most likely not true. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)
In addition, when someone attempts to convince you that they possess hidden knowledge about the Bible or truth in general, they are committing a gnostic heresy. Well-meaning Christians fall for this all the time, just like first century Christians fell for gnosticism.
R.V. Young said, “The Gnostics’ teaching places the origin of evil, of pain and suffering, in the conditions of the material creation; salvation involves overcoming ignorance and escaping these external conditions by finding divinity within. . . . The Gnostic finds the beginning of the path to salvation in the realization that the world is a great imposture, a prison of pain and frustration. His escape lies in recovering the intrinsic good within himself…”
“Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.”(8)
“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
Finally, don’t fall victim to He Gets Us “appeal to emotion” logical fallacy. “Appeal to emotion fallacy occurs when someone tries to convince another person by evoking their feelings rather than providing evidence. With the appeal to emotion fallacy, people accept a claim as true because they react emotionally to it. As a result, they focus on factors irrelevant to the question at hand, ignoring facts and logical reasoning.”(9) To put it another way, objective truth is jettisoned by allowing subjective emotions to determine truth.
Again, don’t take the bait.
Gresham Machen was correct when he said that liberal Christianity isn’t a variation of Christianity, but an entirely different religion.
The solution is simple. Think biblically and employ the theological resources provided in scripture.
Use discernment and logic when viewing all media, including emotionally manipulative Super Bowl commercials that claim to convey a biblical message.
ALL Christians must develop theological precision and clarity. It’s time for Christians to think critically.
At the end of the day, the He Gets Us message trades a clear call for repentance from sin and faith in Christ for a feel-good social gospel with a political agenda. Nowhere in their content will you find a crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness – only an emotional appeal to people to conform to a moralistic form of identity politics.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who is the biblical historical Jesus Christ?
What did He come to accomplish?
What did He commission His ekklesia (church) to do?
What does He expect from us individually and as a church?
Here’s the message to the He Gets Us folks and all Christians.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Don’t take the He Gets Us bait… The truth is, Jesus Christ saves us! Jesus Christ is Lord of All.
Below: The Christian Super Bowl Ad They SHOULD Have Made | He Saves Us by Jamie Bambrick
3. “Making Sense of Your World” (W. G. Phillips, W. Brown, J. Stonestreet)
1. What is Hermeneutics? By Jered Jeter
Please share your insights by commenting below this post.
Now more than ever, worldview training is essential. It is not a Christian elective. I launched the Forge Room Foundation in order to equip Christians to understand our cultural moment and respond with a biblical worldview perspective.