Here’s another Flash Back Interview that is inspiring us to prepare for NRB 2017…with Joe Battaglia! Joe is one of our favorites and we love hearing his insights (but you’ll need to add in his fabulous New York accent on your own!)
With all of the talk of politics the past few months, seems fitting to re-share the ideas in The Politically Incorrect Jesus!
Tell us a little bit of your journey from owning a media company to being a writer, and kind of how you make these worlds work together?
A: Well I’m a journalist by training, degree and profession originally, and so writing is my first love. I’ve had a previous book that I published some years ago and I continue to write. I’ve blogged for beliefnet.com for a year. We helped US News and World Report launch a faith column every week now, so I write for that and have writers contribute to that, so writing is not too foreign to me. It’s been that I’ve been so busy doing everything else that I’ve just decided at this point to do the book because I felt that was something on my heart. So I wrote it!
Well it seems really appropriate timing! Is this something you felt a time sensitivity to?
A: No, I wasn’t planning on timing, I just think its God’s timing when things intersect, and so if its the right time that’s great. I didn’t plan that – so…here we are!
What was your purpose in writing The Politically Incorrect Jesus?
A: As I look at the cultural landscape I have seen what I call a true intellectual dishonesty in the politically correct agenda. It asks us to assent the things we don’t believe, to believe in things which aren’t true, and they call that honesty. I’m saying this is just a bunch of nonsense, and as a journalist the object is to illumine what others cannot see, and if you illumine that which is untrue and decide to not talk about that which is obvious what good does that do? Where is the integrity? I saw this great disparity between what is being mouthed and what is honest, and I decided to take a poke at some things, so that’s why I wrote it.
In your book you talk about the battle lines and the culture wars – can you explain what you mean by that?
A: Let me put it this way. Jesus came to redeem culture, not condemn it. As such, he is above culture, so when you try to fit him into culture in some way you have a real problem. He doesn’t fit.
Let me illustrate by an example in scripture – we all know the story of the woman caught in adultery. The politically correct police of His time, the Pharisees, brought her before him to condemn her. Jesus rises above all of that and offers something that the politically correct agenda cannot offer, and that is forgiveness, and it is not in their vocabulary, because condemnation is not born out of love, and so forgiveness is. He surrounds people with His compassion and His tears and His forgiveness – there is no response to that, because it is above the politics and polemics of political agenda, political correctness embraces. I often use a quote from my buddy Steve Brown who said, “Righteousness without tears is arrogance. And the world has seen too much of our righteousness and too few of our tears.” When Jesus brings His compassion, tears and forgiveness to someone it then gives Him and us the permission to put our arms around someone and say go and sin no more, because it is born out of love and people see that. There’s the big difference, when you bring people to the foot of the cross – the biggest level playing field of all time. People understand that it is there because of love, not of condemnation, and that’s why the politically correct agenda is heartless. Because it lacks honesty. It asks us to believe in things which aren’t true, and it can only offer condemnation and not forgiveness.
What do you hope the takeaway is for people who read your book?
I trust that the book can be seen as a working manual of how we as believers might be able to rise above the culture war, any war, any confrontation and offer the things that Jesus offered. I hope it helps us to rethink how to respond to culture and be that bright shining light – become the salt and light again. Because we are called to be that. We aren’t called to be chameleons, to blend in and not be seen, which is what the politically correct agenda would have us do.
Closing statement: I would encourage people to go to our website thepoliticallyincorrectjesus.com and check us out. We have an eight part Bible study that I have created – eight of the chapters you can download for free to use them in your home group, Sunday school, in order to begin to get into this discussion about what it is to be a politically incorrect believer.
That’s interesting. Why create a Bible study? Do you have a different purpose for that?
A: I’m really interested in people thinking again and not vicariously living out their faith because of someone else’s faith in their life. We need Christians to be thinkers as well as lovers of Jesus. I think we emphasize all of the love too much as if somehow that alone is sufficient for us to grow. We are admonished to study the word of God, and it is essential to help us in our faith, to understand culture and know how to respond to it in the most gracious, loving and truthful way possible. I hope people can take that away from it and begin a discussion about all of these issues.
Do you have a target audience, not just for the book but for the extra studies you have on your website?
A: My target audience is anybody who can think, speak, read and love. Anybody! I don’t think there’s a target audience that is exclusive to anyone when it comes to who Christ is and how to be a follower of His. I’d like to see everybody engage. I think there are things in there that parents can appreciate – I share a lot of personal stories of my faith in regards to how I’ve intersected with my daughter, circumstances with my father with certain other issues. I think everybody can find something for themselves in this.
It’s not a difficult study. Truth is obvious, it is not complicated. It is simple because God’s design is so that it is obvious and simple. We have complicated it with our own rules, and our own hardness of heart. So just enjoy it! Read the book, discuss it, let it change you – not because I have anything in there that can be that powerful, but because when you come into the environment where the Spirit of God lives things happen by design. That’s the purpose.
Get your copy of The Politically Incorrect Jesus here. Thank you Joe for taking a few moments to share with us!