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The "Jesus Trip" one-way ticket to nowhere?

A furor of protest came flooding in over my recent article in The PLAIN TRUTH concerning the new "trip" among many of America's youth: "The 'Jesus Trip.' " Many were angry. But WHY? In the article, I challenged everyone to FIND THE TRUE JESUS CHRIST! Why should this make professing Christians angry? Some few DID discover they had been following after "another Jesus"! They were those who carefully CHECKED the scriptures, and took up the challenge to FIND the true Christ. Most merely read the first portion of the article, found something with which to violently disagree, then scanned hurriedly the remainder with emotional bias. In writing the lengthy article necessary to ANSWER the many arguments I received, I find it is impossible to publish in The PLAIN TRUTH magazine, under its present format. So, each person who wrote, complaining, will receive this single issue of TOMORROW'S WORLD magazine. They will receive no more issues, unless they specifically request them. Read, then, in this article, of the TRUE Jesus Christ: how He paid taxes, slept in homes, at least one of which was His own, DID NOT come "head to head" with the "establishment," and DID NOT have long hair. Read of the TRUE CHRIST for a change — and turn from fables to the living Jesus!

THE INDIGNANT screams still echo in my ears . . . With snorts of indignation, I have been roundly cursed, maligned, criticized, or summarily banished to the nether regions — all because I dared to become iconoclastically involved in shattering a popular idol: the "pusillanimous pansy" of a false, longhaired, effeminate, soft-spoken vagabond called "Jesus," who never existed.

Oh, the REAL Jesus Christ existed all right.

The REAL Christ whom I serve, worship, and strive to obey (through His power, not mine), THAT Christ is alive, and very REAL!

But the "other Jesus" (II Cor. 11:4) is not real — but totally false. I had been guilty, it seems, of a terrible, unforgivable desecration. I was often reminded not to judge, and was summarily threatened with terrible consequences.

I had called Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer a common drunk.

Santa Claus is a commie.

Mickey Mouse is a Nazi.

Ducks don't talk, and wear trousers.

Benedict Arnold was the first President.

George Washington was a corporal.

Still, for all the derisive snorts of rage, I noticed NONE of the writers of the letters had taken issue with any of the plain SCRIPTURES I quoted in the "Jesus Trip" article. Those few who checked the scriptures were pleasantly surprised — even inspired, and wrote to tell me so.

I did, after all, challenge young people to FIND THE TRUE CHRIST, re-member? (If you didn't read the "Jesus People" article, a reprint copy is available upon request — FREE of charge, of course. Just ask for "The Jesus Trip.")

With mob-like unanimity, the emotional outburst continues. The kids are sincere, I'm told. I've been invited to countless youthful "Jesus People" rallies to SEE for myself how utterly SINCERE these young people are.

I have been reminded that God looks on the heart, and not the outward appearance. I have been warned not to judge. I have been bitingly accused, or gently and forgivingly warned.

Suddenly, quitting smoking deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor. Going "cold turkey" off drugs makes you a first-century disciple.

I was reminded, time and time again, that ex-pot-heads, acid-droppers, speed-freaks, and dropouts had found something real, something meaningful, in this insane world of population, pollution, the bomb, and Vietnam.

And then here comes Garner Ted Armstrong (some used other names than my own) to tear down, and to destroy everything.

But I challenged them to FIND THE TRUE CHRIST, didn't I?

Why should such a challenge make people angry? And especially, why make the very people who claim to have the love of Christ angry? Atheists, evolutionists, or pagans may be angered at being challenged to find the true Jesus. But why professing Christians?


But They're SINCERE!

Of course they're sincere.

Hitler was sincere. He sincerely wanted to rule the world, and with grim, sincere dedication began a policy of genocidal madness calculated to eradicate an entire race. No one ever doubted (with the conceivable exception of isolationist Americans and Neville Chamberlain) Hitler's extreme sincerity.

But since when is sincerity the major criterion for truth? Accuracy — or legitimacy — and sincerity no more naturally associate themselves than oil and water. I once read of a frustrated, distraught young Puerto Rican who committed suicide in New York. The newspaper clipping told how an autopsy revealed the man had first gulped a huge dose of lethal pills, then slashed both wrists, then doused himself with lighter fluid, and then, poised on a ledge below a window many stories up, struck a match, and leapt.

That's determination. That's dedication. That's sincerity.

It's also hugely sickening.

I would not doubt for a moment the sincerity of ancient priests whose victims had their hearts ripped from their bodies in human sacrifice; nor the parents who advanced toward the jungle pools of imagined rain gods in the forests of Central America with their own little children in their arms, to be thrown into the pools alive.

But I would deeply doubt either their rationality, or their knowledge.

Little children are terribly sincere as they crawl into the street after a pretty ball, or try to reach the whirring blades of a fan, or gurgle with delight at discovering the pretty bottle in the medicine chest.

A loving parent would be just as sincere in trying to PREVENT their destruction.

It seems the young people who reacted so strongly to my earlier article did not realize I was taking issue neither with their intent, nor with their sincerity.

I was most definitely taking issue with their knowledge, their accuracy, their research-ability, and their IDOL.

Picture yourself an emancipator of the pagans of the South Seas.

You hear the strange incantations of the priest as he offers a human sacrifice before the fat, stone lips of a leering god of volcanic rock.

To prove the idol has no power, and is only a piece of inanimate rock, you rush through the palmetto grove swinging an ax and smash the idol on its ugly nose, breaking the hideous thing off.

You've proved your point.

And you were right. The idol can't hurt you — since it's only an inanimate, humanly devised, imaginary thing of no force, or power.

But will the worshippers congratulate you?

I would think the thing to do would be to run — fast. Idol-smashing has never been an entirely safe occupation, even if God's own servants were called upon to do so.

I just must publish, in full, the letter below. It hits the nail perfectly on the head — judging from the furious batch of protests I received for destroying a popular idol.

Please believe me; I do not doubt for one moment the sincerity of young or old alike who feel they have found an "experience" with a "Jesus." Their "experience" and what they "feel" is very REAL to them. Their imaginary picture of a "Jesus," as it has been presented to them through history, theology, past teaching, and by present religious leaders, religious tracts, pamphlets, booklets, or wildly garish T-shirts and pictures is equally "real."

But it is only as real as Santa Claus, or Mickey Mouse, or Rudolph. It may be cherished. And they may be sincere. But they are sincerely wrong.

There is, after all, a REAL Jesus Christ of Nazareth — who is ALIVE today. Why should it make people angry to be challenged to DISCOVER HIM?


The Excitement of a Counterfeit

I told, on the broadcast, of the story of the young hip-types who discovered a sack of money lying in the street. With alacrity, they unwrapped the thick sheafs of bills, their eyes lighting up with delight.

They had an excited, urgent conversation in the back of their Volkswagen van. They decided to change their way of life. They decided to go to the bank, and deposit the money, then buy a home, then set themselves up in some small business, and quit drugs and wasted days of wandering.

They were excited! They even had time to wonder, "But what will all my friends think?" if they cut their hair, and wore "straight" clothing.

They went to the bank, filled with expectancy, excitement, and SINCERITY.

The vice-president of the bank looked at the piles of money, carefully examined many of them and then called the police. The money was counterfeit.

"I'm sorry," said the bank officer, "but this money is all useless — it's counterfeit!"

With whom will the youngsters be angry? The bank vice-president, or the unknown, anonymous counterfeiters who printed the false notes?

The bank official, likely — or the police.

Strange, indeed. But human nature is generally true to form — irrational, selfish, lustful, vanity-filled, self-righteous, jealous, greedy, and deeply resentful of criticism. The nature which the true Christ can impart is none of these, but is patient, longsuffering, kind, gentle, always eager to believe the best, yet piercingly accurate, direct, unhampered by traditional fables, and it cuts through false doctrines and false attitudes like the biting edge of a swift sword.

The bank official pleads innocent. He didn't produce, or spread abroad into the streets, the counterfeit money. He may earnestly appeal to the youths, "But . . . why not go out and earn some REAL money?"

I wonder . . . would his advice be sound? Would it make sense? Would it be practical? Yes — certainly, yes to all of those. But would it be well received? Probably not!

But, let's get into cases. Remember, it was asked-for information. I fully intended arousing people into whatever reaction would be dictated by their own past religious upbringing, or recent religious "experience." And react they did.


Does It Really Make Any DIFFERENCE?

I have been challenged time and time again by the petulant plea: "But, if these young people have discovered Him (since His universality is evident, etc., etc), then, whatever He means to them, in whatever manner they choose to worship Him, why would you knock their newfound faith? Jesus means many different things to many different people, etc.," ad nauseam.

All that sounds reasonable to carnal human minds. Comfortably logical. And it would be so — if there were no God. But since there Is a God and since that God plainly COMMANDS His people, "LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN," then it DOES make a great deal of difference! (Jeremiah 10:2)

Jesus Christ is the "Word" of God. (Notice John 1:1 — "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD." See also I John 1:1) As such, He is the Revelator, the One who embodies the TRUTH.

Christ said you are not relegated to eternal searching and never finding. He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Jesus said, ". . .I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

So, since the letters were all written, NOT by angry atheists who resented my mentioning the shabby, vagabond, false-image of a traditional "Jesus," but by various and sundry RELIGIOUSLY inclined people who claim they WANT to understand about Jesus — I repeat again, WHY GET ANGRY WHEN THEY'RE ASKED TO DISCOVER THE TRUE CHRIST?

It wouldn't make any difference whatever, if there were no God. If each of us could "worship God according to his own conscience" and have everything turn out just fine at that nebulous "end of the road," and then all would be well.

But if your Bible specifically says there is only ONE WAY to inherit eternal life, and if it talks of ONE Lord who is true, and not several, or various human-devised interpretations and distortions, then you had better be very certain you have found that ONE WAY! Read it, with your own eyes, in your own Bible! (Why not do that, this time, with ALL the references I include, instead of leaping to conclusions, and letting glandular reactions rule the mind?) "There is ONE body, and ONE Spirit, even as ye are called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6).

"Is Christ divided?" asked Paul (I Cor. 1:13).

Is there anything WRONG with Christ — so far as you youthful "Jesus people" are concerned? Anything WRONG with the REAL Jesus? What if you Could PROVE, and PROVE that you've proved, that the REAL Jesus did not have long hair, did NOT come "head to head" with the "establishment" of His time, DID pay taxes, DID submit to the laws of the land, DID live in a HOME, DID take baths, DID NOT try to "convert" people THEN, and DID teach obedience and respect toward the powers that be?

What if you could PROVE, from the Bible, these shocking statements? If you saw it proved, would you then TURN TO THE REAL CHRIST? Would you then realize you had been thinking of a different Christ than the One revealed in the Scriptures, that you had vainly "imagined" a personal talisman for yourself, or blindly swallowed a traditional and historical hoax, and repent? Would you?

Remember, your Bible warns against accepting "another Jesus" and "another gospel." Read the first chapter of Galatians and see the curse Paul calls down on those who have "another gospel." If your Jesus and your gospel differ from the clear simple message of the Bible — YOU ARE IN TROUBLE!

Surely, if finding Jesus is your deepest and most heartfelt goal — your earnest desire, then you're not going to REJECT the true Christ when you do finally "find Him," are you?

We'll see.