NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – New York Daily News opinion writer Gersh Kuntzman earlier this year earned scorn from scores of readers for claiming he suffered from "a form of PTSD" after firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
He's also likely to earn a fair amount of criticism for a new column in which he alleges Jesus Christ – described in the Bible as the Son of God, "God with us," and the Prince of Peace – is a very poor role model for people to follow. Jesus, he claims, was like all other politicians.
Kuntzman was opining about Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence's recent post-debate appearance on NBC's Today Show, in which he said both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton had "many admirable qualities that young people can look up to today."
Whatever you believe, Jesus was anything but perfect. In fact, isn't that the whole point: that this imperfect human became an inspiration to millions (OK, OK, billions) in spite of his petty flaws, jealousies, anger and bitterness.
Trump, Pence said, was a strong business leader who had overcome obstacles and financial bankruptcy to turn his company around. He also said Clinton is the first female nominee for president from either party.
Kuntzman said the governor went too far after he claimed neither candidate was perfect.
"I can only think of one person in human history that's perfect," Pence said. The editorial writer found the statement incredulous.
"Given Pence's religious convictions," Kuntzman wrote, "it's clear he was talking about Jesus of Nazareth, whom many believe is the son of what many believe is God. Whatever you believe, Jesus was anything but perfect. In fact, isn't that the whole point: that this imperfect human became an inspiration to millions (OK, OK, billions) in spite of his petty flaws, jealousies, anger and bitterness."
For Christians over the span of 2,000 years, Kuntzman's interpretation is the opposite of the point of Scripture, which declares Jesus the divine, co-eternal Son of God who paid for the sins of humanity on the cross and who offers forgiveness and grace to those who seek it.
There are some people, however, Kuntzman believes could serve as role models today. Those include Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, but not the most influential person to ever walk the face of the earth.
"This whole 'role model' question reveals one of the limitations of democracy. Because our leaders can only rule by our consent, we ignore their obvious flaws — their egos, their vanities, their ignorance – because not doing so would make it impossible for us to vote for anyone," Kuntzman writes.
"Then, once we elect these fairly average human beings, we expect them to transcend our petty differences and solve the intractable problems that make our lives difficult. But that's not humanly possible. So we should stop even debating whether they are role models. They are not."
"There's no such thing as role models among our politicians – and that includes Jesus Christ, Mike Pence," Kuntzman concludes.