Following the Kick-Ass Jesus; Or, Caged Faith

I was recently made aware of what should be an unsurprising website Jesus Didn’t Tap.

Jesus Didn’t Tap was one of the first Christian based MMA clothing companies to hit the scene. In the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, to “tap” is to quit or give up. The message of the Jesus Didn’t Tap line is that Jesus didn’t quit after going through unimaginable suffering and pain when he was crucified on the cross. The company aims to represent both the competitiveness of MMA and honoring God in all of their designs and hopes it will help spread the Christian message of salvation to a whole new audience. (from the website)

This is unsurprising and, for me, now a surprisingly clear example of heretical faith.  It is not heretical because it is ridiculous.  It is heretical because it believes that faith can be expressed analogically.  I will briefly qualify that statement by saying that I am unqualified to speak about ‘analogy’ as it is used in systematic theology and so these comments may or may not relate to a larger discussion.  My observation is simple.  Faith cannot be analogical because faith cannot be reduced from entirety into examples of totality.  This website reflects a belief that the ‘kernel’ of faith can be translated into the medium of fighting.  As a sport I actually have a relatively high regard for certain forms of MMA but this is viewed from a larger complex of social, ethical and personal perspectives.  What is at issue is the belief that you can ‘close’ the door of cage and function faithfully and independently within a confined space.  This is not a new insight but it is claiming more ground in how I view faithfulness.  This is how I would understand the word ‘piety’ as it used by folks at AUFS and also Hauerwas’s criticism of American as too ‘spiritual’.  Piety or spiritualism reflect those actions and postures which assume some effectiveness despite the realities of a larger context.  As it is Thanksgiving in Canada ‘piety’ might mean thanking God for a prosperity that comes at the direct cost of others without the means to object.  It is an act isolated from its relations.

I do not have the book on hand but Kierkegaard in his preface to The Sickness Unto Death speaks of faith as that which fearlessly encounters all of life.  In this way I have become much more receptive to ‘secular’ and ‘materialist’ expressions that attempt to thoroughly examine the functions at play in religion and culture (a critique of ideology it is often called).  To the extent that an expression distracts or insulates from an identifiable aspect of life it must be deemed unfaithful because it rejects the basic theological premise that the whole earth is full of God’s glory.  The basic posture of the Christian must remain to see, to hear, to feel, to taste, to smell.  This connects to the reason I began a new blog.  The hope was to learn the discipline of description.  I am not sure how I feel about the idea of accuracy in description (and I certainly reject any notion of neutrality) only that we tend to go through our days bypassing the basic acknowledgment and engagement with our senses.  Our mind already has enough patterns to live by assumption and guesswork and not take the time to recognize the utter uniqueness of everything (a bit grand of a statement I suppose).  So when I see examples like the one above I am reminded not of how ridiculous they are but of how tempting it is to cage faith in containable expressions allowing other forces free play in the ‘real world’ the one in which people live, breath and die; the one fallen and full of the glory of God.

I came across this quote from the website as though it was looking to enhance my point.

When Jesus stepped inside the cage of life to take on the cross, human legs did not kicked his out from under him. It was not human hands that broke his arm during the arm bar of adversity. It was not a human fist that knocked him to the mat for our sins. It was not a human that kept him inside the triangle choke of suffering. It was not the fighter’s sent by Satan to tap him out that beat him.

God gave him strength while on his back being pounded in the face by the elbows of sin. Those same hands that formed the universe. Those same hands that held you and me before the foundation of the world.

Take a jog out to the mountain of the skull. Out to the cross where, with holy blood, the hand that placed you on the planet wrote the promise, “God would give up his only Son before he’d Tap Out on you.

Truly, Jesus Didn’t Tap! – Are you tapping out on him?

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