ELKHART, IN—Jesus Christ insisted to reporters Monday that He has "absolutely never spoken" to Philip Burkett, rejecting the 48-year-old Lutheran-college administrator's claim of having "a close, personal relationship" with the prominent savior.
"I categorically deny having had any prior contact whatsoever with Mr. Burkett," said Christ at a press conference called to quell rumors of a Christ-Burkett dialogue. "At no point have I ever conversed with this man."
Christ was responding to remarks published in the July issue of the Elkhart Lutheran College alumni newsletter, in which Burkett said he decided to become the school's Assistant Director of Student Affairs at the urging of the Messiah.
"It was in 1994 that I answered the Lord's call," Burkett wrote. "Since then, I've been here in Elkhart, doing His work."
Burkett, who was an analyst at an Indianapolis marketing firm at the time Christ allegedly spoke to him, said he had been feeling dissatisfied with his career but "just didn't know where to turn."
"It was during the height of my discontent that, following a Sunday service at my church, I quite involuntarily found myself drawn to the bulletin board in the vestry, where a job vacancy was listed for an administrative post at a Lutheran college up in Elkhart," Burkett said. "It was if some inscrutable force was guiding me. I now know it was Jesus Christ, telling me it was time for a change."
Christ denied being anywhere near the Indianapolis church, explaining that he was "speaking to a sickly young boy" in Asunción, Paraguay, at the time of the alleged conversation.
"Just what that 'inscrutable force' was, I cannot tell you," Christ said. "But I do know it was not Me."
"What was his name? Bartlett? Beckett?" Christ asked. "I have a hard time telling those middle-class suburban types apart."
Despite the Messiah's denial, Burkett said he is convinced that the voice he heard was that of Christ.
"Perhaps Christ's insistence that He never spoke to me is His way of testing my faith," Burkett said. "But whatever it is, I still want to give bounteous thanks to God's only son for bringing me more happiness and contentment than I ever dreamed possible."
According to Burkett, additional proof that he had spoken to Christ came shortly after he completed his interview for the administrative position. Still uncertain whether such a radical career change was advisable, Burkett happened to drive past a rural cemetery, where he saw a small, cross-shaped tombstone, before which grew a single white rose.
"It looked just like Luther's Rose, the sacred emblem of Lutheranism. Suddenly, all my doubts fell away," Burkett said. "I am not ashamed to tell you that I had to pull the car over to weep and give thanks, not only because the white rose was Jesus' way of telling me I would get the job, but because I was continuing His work."
Christ called the flower-sighting "a complete coincidence."
"When I first heard that a man in Indiana was claiming I told him to become a Lutheran-college administrator, I was sort of amused," Christ said. "When I speak to someone, I'm used to them having--how shall I put it?--loftier goals than a mid-level administration post. This really isn't the sort of thing I usually bother intervening in."