People Need a Savior Like a Fish Needs A Bicycle? Plotz(lich) Redux

After writing this post about an article written by’s editor, David Plotz, author of […]

JDK / 3.9.09

After writing this post about an article written by’s editor, David Plotz, author of The Good Book— a collection of his reflections on having read through the Old Testament–I ran across an interesting interview with him (here).

When asked, “You wrote in your conclusion, ‘I am a Jew I don’t and can’t believe that Jesus died for my sins.’ Christians will say, ‘Of course you can.'”

He replies: I certainly have had many Christians whom I have loved [tell] me that. I just know it’s not a need that I have. I can live a good and happy life without finding the comfort that I know that other people do find. I guess my emotional and intellectual and theological state doesn’t have the urgency which might make me perceptive to having a Jesus-like figure. There’s not a yearning in me that is unmet.

There is a lot that can be said about this (admittedly condescending) quote, but for our purposes it suffices to point out the questionable reliability of one’s own felt needs as a self-evidently objective “well-being barometer.” Like the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail who refuses to give up despite having had his arms and legs chopped off (its just a flesh wound), nobody “feels” like they need Jesus as a savior–even when they are objectively in dire straits–until they have been given “eyes to see” (Jn. 9).

Yes, we believe that the message of the Gospel is the “balm of Gilead” that can ease the pain of anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness, despair, etc. etc.–pains that are certainly shared across the spectrum of humanity. But those of us who believe the Gospel must also stand in humble and thankful awe at the miracle of faith–that not only is the answer given in the Gospel, but our need is revealed as well.

This is why we are a two-note band on this blog: we are told that faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of God (Rm.10:17), and this word is and will remain–this side of Heaven–both Law and Gospel. This is also why exposition of human experience–in all of its clouded and self-deluded glory–in light of the Law is a necessary and essential part of “hearing” the Gospel. The question of whether or not they have “heard” the Gospel makes no sense to people like Plotz, whose “emotional and intellectual and theological state” does not “make [him] perceptive to having a Jesus-like figure.”

Well, nobody’s emotional and intellectual and theological state naturally makes them perceptive (this is the added curse of the Law), but faith is something that arises out of the ashes and death of a life crucified by the Law, where the profound claim of the Gospel–that life is a symptom of the Law, and that the Gospel is the end of the Law for all who believe–is most clearly revealed.