Radio host plays modern Jesus. Helpful or Heresy?

By Jeannie St. John Taylor
Oregon author, Culture Proof Kids,

Every Sunday morning from six to nine, you can hear Jesus Christ, in person, on the radio. I first heard the dulcet tones of the show’s host when the radio awakened me early one Sunday. “This is The Jesus Christ Show. I AM your Holy Host.”   The strangely soothing voice flows over the airwaves of the 5,000 radio affiliations owned by Premiere Radio Networks. The host knows the Bible quite well and often, though not always, gives wise advice and sound theological answers. His callers address him as “Jesus” and he invites them to pray to him and send him “holy mail.”  I’ve never heard him confess that he’s Neil Saavedra, producer of the show; he’s always “Jesus” on air. I had to search the Internet to discover his identity.

Saavedra is a shaved-headed, tough-looking, former punk rocker sporting earrings and a few tattoos. He claims he is not particularly devout or religions and refers to himself as a rebellious Christian who gets frustrated with the church.

Reading about Mr. Saavedra, I got the impression he is sincere. He tries to say exactly what he thinks Jesus would say, and the first question he asked himself when invited to play the part of Jesus was, “Is this going to be blasphemous?”

How do you think Uzzah would have answered that question? Uzzah’s the guy with good intentions who tried to protect the ark of God by reaching out to steady it when the oxen stumbled (see 2 Sam. 6:3 – 7). God struck him dead because of his error. The problem was, God didn’t want anyone touching the ark, and Uzzah should have known that. His sincerity didn’t save him.

Do you think Saavedra’s sincerity and usually-biblical answers might add to the confusion of listeners? Do you think they truly understand that Saavedra is not Jesus, or do they come to think of him as Jesus? Let me suggest a simple way to figure that out. Ask yourself: Have I ever chatted with someone who spoke through a puppet? Who did I look at as he talked – the human or the puppet? Did I almost believe the puppet was alive even though I knew the truth?

I wish I’d had a chance to answer Mr. Saavedra’s query about blasphemy before he decided to impersonate the Lord. I’d have shouted, “Yes! It’s blasphemous. Run! Don’t do it! You’re bound to mislead someone eventually.” Or a lot of people every Sunday.

What do you think? I read lots of positive comments about the show on the Internet. One person said he’s sure nine out of ten people ‘get’ it when they listen. Nine out of ten. How many others are being misled?

Impersonating the Son of God is serious business.

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