What Would Jesus Drive?
By John D. Turner
18 June 2001

Well, what would Jesus Drive?

Don't laugh. I was reading an article recently that posed just this question. The article had to do with a recent anti-SUV rally in Lynn, Massachusetts, sponsored by local churchgoers and members of the clergy. The message was that as stewards of the Earth, Christians should embrace the environmental movement, and that as such, should not be driving such things as gas-guzzling SUVs. Present were such signs as "Test drive your feet. Walk away from SUVs", and the provocative, guilt-intending sign from an associate minister of Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington, Mass, "What would Jesus Drive". Smith, a true believer when it comes to global warming, suggested that local churches could do a lot more than they are currently doing to address that problem. He noted that on any given Sunday his church parking lot is full of SUVs, and sees it as his mission to help his flock be better informed about the consequences of their decisions "as consumers and as Christians".

It appears that in the modern age, instead of philosophizing on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, we are now into more "practical" applications of philosophy, such as what manner of vehicle Christ would drive were he carrying out his mission today.

Whereas Smith doesn't come right out and say what make and model Jesus would drive, he leaves little doubt that it would be some kind of environmentally friendly vehicle, most probably a hybrid or electric of some type. But he certainly would not be driving one of those monster SUVs, the epitome of waste and disregard for the environment in our country today. At least in Smith's humble opinion.

Au contraire. It is my humble opinion (for what its worth), that if Christ were alive today, he would drive a 15 passenger van. After all, he had all those apostles he had to take along with him.

Lets suppose for sake of argument that, wanting to be "environmentally conscious", Jesus were to decide to use a compact car which gets say 36 miles to the gallon on the highway. Most cars of this size only comfortably seat four adults. How to pack himself and 12 apostles into a car seating four? Well, you can't. Quite aside from seatbelt laws and safety issues, putting more than four adults in a car this size for anything short of a quick trip around the block would require them to be on very friendly terms indeed. On a long trip it would be highly uncomfortable to say the least. So in order for them all to travel together, they would need more than one vehicle. Note that 13 does not evenly divide by four. You would have three cars with a remainder of one Apostle. You could leave one at home I suppose (eleven would probably do as well as twelve). Or possibly tie him to the roof of one of the vehicles, or maybe shoehorn him in one regardless of seat-belt laws. Or you could purchase a fourth car and put three people in three of them and four in another. For sake of argument here, lets assume that he buys three cars, one of which is actually belted for five, like my Saturn (which gets somewhat less than 36 mpg, but we will let that slide for the moment.

So now we have Christ, his twelve apostles, and three cars, each of which gets 36 mpg. Now lets suppose that they wish to take a trip to proselyte at a neighboring city out west that is 360 miles round trip (like driving from San Antonio to Houston and back). This would require an expenditure of 10 gallons of fuel per vehicle, or 30 gallons total. Now suppose that instead they took a 15-passenger van.

A 15-passenger van gets about 18 mpg. The same trip would consume only 20 gallons of gas for this "monster SUV". And, as an added benefit, Christ and the apostles could discuss points of doctrine, sing hymns and fellowship together on the way. Not to mention the other environmentally friendly aspects of the 15-passenger van vice the three "energy efficient" compact cars; 4 tires vs 12 tires, 1 battery vs 3 batteries, etc. And let's not forget the initial cost of purchasing three cars vice one van. The van is certainly the way to go.

I suppose that Christ and the apostles could have taken a train or a bus, but the question was "what would Christ drive", not "how would Christ get there".

I have a similar "problem" in my family. We don't all fit into my Saturn, which is only belted for five. To solve this problem, we have one of those "monster SUVs"; a Suburban. Why not buy a minivan instead, you ask? Well, minivans are belted for seven, and there are eight of us. Suburbans are belted for eight, and have sufficient cargo space so that we can take more than a toothbrush and set of underwear with us when we go on a trip. Ergo, we have a Suburban (although we are considering trading it for a 15-passenger van, which gets about the same gas mileage).

We could, I suppose, have purchased two Saturns instead. Our Suburban gets around 16 mpg. The Saturn gets 30 (33 if I don't run the AC). So gas-wise, it is pretty much a wash if I want to move the entire family somewhere, like to church on Sunday morning. Of course there is still the issue of eight tires vice four, and two batteries vice one. And also that we can't be a family as easily in two separate vehicles as we can in one. So while we could use two, more efficient vehicles instead of the one SUV, it really doesn't make much sense to do so, from any perspective.

It annoys me greatly when people have the audacity to tell me what I "need" or "don't need" based on their preconceptions, without any knowledge of or regard for my personal circumstances. And it really irks me when people ring in their opinion of "what Jesus would do" to attempt to "guilt trip" me into following their agenda. The fact of the matter is that we can opine from now until the second coming what Jesus might or might not do on a whole host of subjects, but in fact, we really can't speculate with any degree of accuracy as to what sort of vehicle he would drive were he to suddenly appear here today. And for a preacher to use his or her opinion of what Jesus might or might not do to brow beat their congregation into following their own personal agenda is at the very least, disingenuous, if not outright blasphemous, and certainly an exercise of unrighteous dominion.

In my humble opinion, of course.