Teen pop music sensation and self-professed Christian Justin Bieber recently endorsed his pastor’s new book, Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human, instantly sending it to #1 on Amazon’s Christian charts. The book was written by Seattle’s The City Church pastor Judah Smith, with the intention to “further [reveal] the character of Jesus.”
In an exclusive interview with The Christian Post, Smith begins to explain the underlying premise for the book:
[In] John 1:17 [it says] the law came through Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ – so [you have] this idea that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of both grace and truth…. Starting in John 1, Jesus is grace and truth.
So, here is Pastor Smith’s thought process:
- “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (from John 1:17).
- Therefore, Jesus is “the embodiment of both grace and truth.”
- Therefore, Jesus is grace and truth.
While it is a fact that Yeshua said, “I am the. . . truth” (and “the way,” and “the life,” John 14:6), Smith is making a huge theological leap from “grace. . . came by Jesus” to “Jesus is grace.” While it is a nice, feel-good, spiritualistic idea, and Yeshua is indeed “full of grace” as it says in John 1:14, Smith’s assertion that Jesus is grace hasn’t an ounce of Scriptural credibility. In order to arrive at his conclusion, Smith had to impose his own human reasoning on the text, and rationalize it to be there—even when the words and concept he asserts are clearly absent from the passages he cites.
To make matters worse, Smith goes on to say,
Grace is always first in the biblical order, and obviously I’m one of those guys that believe that even the order of the wording in Scripture is completely inspired and divine. I think first and foremost, Jesus is grace, Jesus is truth and Jesus is love. Obviously, there’s so much in there to unpack, but grace is always first.
Aside from the fact that Smith is trying to establish some kind of catchphrase theology by asserting that “grace is always first in the biblical order,” his sad indictment on his own interpretation of Scripture comes in his comment that he believes “even the order of the wording in Scripture is completely inspired and divine.” So, in one breath, Smith claims belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture (which is true), but in the next, he inserts words and concepts where they simply don’t exist!—namely, that “Jesus is grace.” How can Pastor Smith reliably “[reveal] the character of Jesus” to us, if he fails to bear the standard of Scripture by illogically manufacturing his own theological concepts? This is rationalism at its best, not to mention an expedient path to establishing his clever premise.
In “Jesus Is,” Pastor Smith attempts to justify his “personal revelation” of Jesus at the expense of Scripture. But the truth is, “Jesus Is” not whatever we want or pretend Him to be. On the contrary, He is exactly what the Scriptures say He is, and no further revelation exists, nor is required. As followers of Messiah, we must not tolerate and endorse teachers who add their own ideas to Scripture. Indeed, believers like Justin Bieber have enough problems of their own.