The “He Gets Us” ad campaign has caused debate about its portrayal of Jesus, but Jesus always has had many faces in American culture. The Wall Street Journal describes how various Christian churches and movements have portrayed Jesus over the years, quoting the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Richard Flory.
Richard Flory, a sociologist at the University of Southern California, points to a more subtle difference in emphasis among the evangelical Christian pastors and congregants he has interviewed over the last three decades. He distinguishes two groups, based on which version of the beatitudes—the blessings recounted by Jesus in two of the Gospels—they prefer to cite.
Evangelicals who quote the version in the Gospel of St. Luke, which includes the words “Blessed are you who are poor…but woe to you who are rich,” tend to stress broad inclusion in the church as well as a commitment to social justice, Mr. Flory says. Those who cite the version in the Gospel of St. Matthew—where the equivalent verse reads “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—typically emphasize the need for personal faith and moral conduct. The latter group, he says, is much more numerous.