65. Adam4d’s “Jesus is David”

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Adam Ford is the man behind the prolific and often viral producing online comic-strip Adam4d.  He’s a Christian, a husband, and father of three young boys.  Back in 2014, he quit his job to create comic strips full-time.

Since launching the Contradict – They Can’t All Be True Facebook page to help promote my book by that title, I have regularly found myself sharing Ford’s work.  Those posts generally draw many likes and shares.  His strips are often times found on many other Christian social media pages, typically groups or individuals who accept that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, by groups and individuals who are not labeled as liberal Christians or heretics!

When he’s not using presuppositional apologetics to tear down false-worldviews, or picking apart the lies of Darwinian Evolution, Ford is typically highlighting the pitfalls of legalism and self-justification within Christian circles, or the way verses are often times ripped out of their context and twisted to mean something that was never implied within the text.

The Gospel typically has predominance in his doctrinal and homiletical comic strips, so he gains many fans who recognize that we truly are saved solely by the work of God that faith really is a gift and work of the Holy Spirit.

But sometimes, even when we are pointing to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith, the only one who works in our conversion and salvation, we can still twist Scripture.  And when Jesus and his saving work is front and center, it’s easier for us conservative mongergists to clap, clap, clap and share, share, share, however, at times the Scriptures aren’t accurately divided between Law and Gospel and we shouldn’t click that button.

I think Adam Ford took a misstep when he was taking a swing at the prosperity Gospel preachers in his strip entitled, “Good News: We Are Not David.”  I saw many people share this strip, people I personally know, but I couldn’t hit the like button this time, and I couldn’t hit the share button without posting a critique.

For this episode, I gathered Conni Schramm, back from episodes 7 and 64, Jon Rutherford, back from some recent episodes, and Jonathan Platt, who was sitting on the wall like a fly, but kept  hopping on a mic to interject questions.

Here are the extensive show notes that are almost a direct transcript if you can’t devote yourself to listening for an hour: Podcast David Comic.

3 thoughts on “65. Adam4d’s “Jesus is David”

  1. I’m a fan of this podcast, but I was amazed at how ridiculous this episode sounded. Almost the entire show was attacking, as one guest put it, “not what [Adam 4d] said, but what he didn’t say.” Straw man? I literally feel dumber for having listened to this episode. Don’t get me wrong, I’m likely to remain a fan of the show, but whoa. This was bad.

    • Thanks for the feedback MQBoeke.

      I’ll see if I get any other feedback like yours on this episode.

      I think the bulk of the episode was attacking as you pointed out, which I don’t enjoy. I listened to it after it was released and I didn’t like that element of the show. Part of that might come from this episode being fully scripted out in advance. Conni wrote an entire script response and asked me to place questions within what she wrote to prompt her. It just so happened that what she wrote was largely in disagreement with the strip, which I don’t have a problem with, because I agree with her critiques on all but one point, the point she made about not liking Jesus being called a hero. With the script being written out in advance, I think it sounded more like an attack than it would have otherwise. There were literally no pauses in my questions, no fumbling around to gather the proper wording, just immediate responses pointing out what was wrong.

      We might have presented a straw man argument of Ford’s teachings, but I don’t think we did of this particular strip. In other words, when critiquing a sermon or homiletical discourse, it’s completely fair game to be critical of what was not said. For instance, if a sermon doesn’t mention the name Jesus even once, or doesn’t once mention Christ’s saving work or our need for forgiveness of sins that comes through Christ, we should be able to be critical of what was not spoken. That pastor might complain and say, but listen to my other sermons. But maybe I only hear one of your sermons. Maybe it’s a person’s first time to church… and I invited the person, and I’m very upset that the Gospel wasn’t presented in the service.

      In a similar manner, we very much should be able to critique Ford’s strip on account of what he did not say. To say David is Jesus is a huge misstep without further explanation. As it is a big misstep to say we can’t glean any applications to our own life from in terms of what we should do or how we should proceed in certain situations, because Scripture is not about us at all. This is borderline antinomian erasing any Law applications that could be drawn from the historical narrative, which is leaving a lot unsaid.

      There of course was the big flaw that Conni pointed out: Goliath is dead, but sin is not. Sin has been defeated, but sin is not yet dead.

      Ford spoke of us gathering up our stones to fight the giants of life and then praying and then maybe winning, or maybe being defeated. As Conni pointed out, this is very much us using our intellect and intuition to fight whatever battles we deem worth fighting and preparing to fight them in the way we see best before even seeking God’s will or assistance in prayer. This puts us in the driver’s seat.

      Conni pointed out that Ford did the same thing by saying that to see that Scripture is about Jesus we have to first see that it’s not about us. This means we must first get things right before we can see Scripture correctly, but Scripture teaches that it’s not about us seeing it’s not about us, but about the Holy Spirit giving us faith and giving us the proper understanding of Scripture.

      I think pointing out these shortcomings is important, because too often we who reject the Prosperity Gospel might latch onto a strip like this one and think it’s perfect exegesis and application because it appears to be about Jesus doing all the work for salvation and promising no guarantee of earthly success and protection from harm in this life. However, in doing such, the Law has been stripped in a few instances and even when Jesus is apparently the one doing all the work, a few sentences take that away and put it all back on us and our initiative, while also stripping any David-like leaders/fighters in God’s Church from having a such a role and calling in our day and age, since David is in no way us, but only Jesus.

      If you listen to the next two episodes, please let me know your thoughts. I’m listening to Francis Chan’s Crazy Love Chapters 4 and 5 and pointing out a different error of mingling Law and Gospel, or only preaching the Law. Both approaches destroy or distort the Gospel message. It’s just me in those episodes. I recorded Chapter 4 before reading your comment, otherwise I would have mentioned it in the Chapter 4 episode.

      Peace in Christ,
      Andy

      • Thanks for (I hope) not taking offense at my criticism. I understand your point about the potential value in critiquing even what goes un-said in certain circumstances, like a sermon or homily. But this comic literally takes a minute and a half to read out loud… including dramatic pauses. I strongly feel criticizing any minute-and-a-half sound-bite for what it didn’t say is quite unfair. It didn’t say it because it’s only a minute and a half long! The sermons I’m most familiar with are typically 45 minutes or so, maybe ranging as short as a half-hour, and I agree that there’s room to explain through a good amount of deeper issues to make sure you cover or clearly avoid possible objections. This comic explained its point in much *greater* detail than would normally be expected from a 1.5 minute clip.

        Aside from that, I feel most all of Conni’s argument were ignoring the foundational assumption of this comic: “this story is an *illustration* of how we…” The comic suggests we should understand the David & Goliath story instead as an illustration of how Jesus… The metaphor throughout the whole comic is simply making that substitution of Jesus being the active participant instead of us. We’re the passive recipients, like the Israelites in the D&G story.

        A good amount of time was spent in your podcast arguing that Jesus is not David. Jesus is sinless, David was sinful. Within the actual context given in the comic of trying to apply this story metaphorically to our lives, the author was saying Jesus is “the role of David”. Every umbrage taken falls apart when you realize that. Jesus is not David in the context of Bathsheba, Absalom, etc. The comic never implied He was.

        You mention you disagree with Conni’s point about Jesus being called a hero. I’m with you. Conni is right that Jesus shouldn’t be limited to that when he is so much more glorious than that. Good thing the comic actually calls him “King, Conqueror, God, Hero” instead of just hero. She has to intentionally ignore what he says in order to criticize what he says.

        Conni agreed that the Bible is about Jesus, but was critical that the comic didn’t also say the Bible is *for* us. Didn’t it? It illustrated us as the Israelites. Defeating Goliath was for the Israelites. So isn’t Jesus’s work *for* us? I think the comic is entirely consistent with her theological point. Yet she criticizes.

        She also seems to take offense that Adam 4d thinks we can understand the Bible. Her point is that it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can. Well, this comic clearly seems to be targeted to Christian readers (as the people likely to be taught to apply the story to their lives). If the targeted readers are Christian, then why shouldn’t we be able to understand that the Bible isn’t about us? Christians have the elucidation of the Spirit, right? If her complaint is solely that credit wasn’t given, I feel that’s a reasonable thing to leave out of a 1.5 minute clip. It’s a Christian principle that Christians can understand without being told every time, and any non-Christian readers probably would find to be a miry road to follow at best. I think any evangelism power this comic might have is lost when you start telling non-Christians that only Christians can truly understand the Bible. That sounds cult-ish. It pushes people away that the Spirit might otherwise be trying to draw in. The point is best left out.

        Another contention she made against the comic was exactly the point the author was making in the comic! She says we shouldn’t trust God to do for us what He did for David. We should trust in God’s will for our lives to be greater than our plans. The comic says we shouldn’t trust God to do for us what He did for David, because *we* aren’t in the role of David. We *should* trust Jesus [properly in the role of David] to do for us what is God’s will for us. Those two things agree. She again has to ignore the comic in order to rail against the comic.

        The whole bit about asking what the author thought our stones are that we gather to fight our battles is completely irrelevant. The author is saying whatever weapons you try to use to fight your sin (prosperity gospel, healthy eating, good vibes, etc.), it’s pointless. Trust Jesus [in the role of David] to fight the battle on our behalf. The author isn’t putting the power back in our hands. Exactly the opposite, he’s saying we’re not capable of winning this battle without Jesus. It doesn’t matter what stones we gather, we’re not David in this metaphor.

        She also seemed disturbed that the comic described Jesus as “like a lamb led to the slaughter” instead of emphatically being “the Lamb of God”. She’s really going to criticize that he used a Biblical simile (Isaiah 53:7 ) about Jesus instead of a Biblical metaphor about Jesus? That’s deeply idiotic. And using the common phrase toe-to-toe instead of crushing the devil under his heel? Jesus fighting evil toe-to-toe is relatively consistent with the D&G metaphor he’s drawing. Describing Him as crushing Satan under his heel, while more accurate, just results in mixed metaphors.

        One of her last points was that Goliath (sin) is not dead but defeated. She’s just splitting semantic hairs now. She herself brought up the importance of “It is finished.” Now toward the end of the critique, she’s going to qualify her claim that it’s not exactly finished (dead), but only finished (defeated). Within the metaphor, Goliath being dead can just as easily mean that sin is defeated. Which she says herself. So the metaphor isn’t wrong on that point either.

        I suppose all of my own comments here are more venting now than helpful. I apologize for that. Like I said before, I’m a fan of your show and will likely continue to be one. I do hope your future shows include less attacking and more logical arguments, as they have in the past. I’m glad you recognized yourself how this one seemed to have a different tenor than usual. Perhaps, when you have someone pre-writing a critique like this, ask other friends of yours to read it first, and ask one who disagrees with the critique to be part of the discussion. Then it’s an attack and defense, not just a hit-piece.

        In brotherhood, — Matt Boeke

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