Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jesus at the Hard Rock Cafe

Photo by Paweł Sikora Sikorr
Larry Hurtado, who is a favorite Bible scholar of mine and whom my wife, son, and I got to hear lecture recently, is probably the world's leading expert on how exactly Jesus' followers wrapped their minds around what for them psychologically was an utter impossibility: that this guy they knew was actually God. We can go into that sometime.

Another topic he is studying is just how unique in the world the early Christian movement was. He recently wrote a book called Destroyer of the gods:  Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, where he points out that a lot of what we take for granted about the whole idea of religion came from Jesus' movement, from Christians.

A little while back he blogged on one example he came across...

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Passing by the Hard Rock Café in Edinburgh today, I noticed again their slogan: “Love all, serve all,” and noted that it reflects the (likely unconscious) influence of the NT upon western culture.  For the motto self-evidently owes to the sentiments first expressed in NT passages such as Matthew 5:43-48, with its distinctive injunction to “love your enemies” as well as your “neighbour”, and Matthew 20:26 (and Mark 10:43-44), with the striking demand that “whoever would be great among you must be servant of all.”

I suspect, however, that neither the founders (nor the Seminole Indians of Florida who now own the restaurant chain) are aware of this.  It just shows how the values and themes of the NT have now become part of the conceptual “ground water” of western culture.

My recent book, Destroyer of the gods:  Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor University Press, 2016) makes the points that early Christianity (in the first three centuries) had distinctive features, and that these once-distinctive features have now become cultural commonplaces for us.  I don’t refer to the Hard Rock Café or its slogan, but there’s lots of other (and, hopefully, more interesting) stuff that I hope will address our “cultural amnesia.


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