Whether it's a well-known concept or not, the hypocrisy of modern Christians is startling. Well, not startling when you realize (to even their admittance) that they do not read their own Bible. But startling to us who have, and have gleaned from its pages some positive things.
Don't get me wrong, the Old Testament is worth being burned (and as a hard-core reader, who faints when the page of a book is torn, that's something for me to say). But if we look at Jesus' life specifically, without the hubbub of God, the supernatural, and look at it specifically from an economic and socio-philosophical examination of somebody's life, we see something that most Christians would become angry to even hear about.
And that's that Jesus was in fact a libertarian socialist.
Yes, Jesus was a hard-core liberal.
We can't pin Jesus as being socialist alone, only because he obviously does not support the government as being the means through which the needy are taken care of and shared with; the government is not pushed as the entity through which these deeds are moderated. He believed that this was an issue for the people, and that the only government by which people should be governed is the laws and regulations set down by God. In other words, no earthly government should have that power or responsibility, but your wealth that comes from work and production should be shared, given to charity, of your own accord. He himself said that the wealthy making it to heaven would be like a camel passing through the eye of a needle, that it made no difference how much money you had, and made it clear that your time on earth was a time to SHARE the wealth and good fortune you had with those who did not. "The meek shall inherit the earth"; the poor were glorified in early Christianity, those who worked hard, earned little, and yet were humble and giving of what little they had.
Jesus as a man, regardless of whether he existed, represents the humble, warm-hearted, but stern teacher that is reminiscent of Buddha. In fact, many of his teachings that give off this very anarchist view of the world and that warn against the evils of wealth are very similar to the teachings of Buddhism (which was present in the area he lived contemporary to Jesus' estimated lifetime, IF he in fact existed; his life does also read as very similar to the life of Buddha, who also performed miracles like walking on water).
I am not against these philosophies. In fact, that's why I do not bad-mouth Jesus when I criticize the Bible as strictly as I do. I do not think Christians are wrong for investing love in a man who thinks that way.
Christians, by and large, do not agree with their own mentor.
My problem with Christianity is not just hypocrisy of belief, but hypocrisy in even following what they're meant to believe. I can respect the few Christians who identify as some sort of socialist, who give to charity, who are poor by choice, and who agree most of the Bible is bogus but that they still admire the monologues and dialogues involving Jesus himself; socially liberal Christians who don't get the Bible-thumpers either. Although I will always disagree with them on the matter of God, I will never criticize their following of Jesus if they in fact follow what's actually written, any more than I criticize a Buddhist for following the original non-theist teachings of Buddha.
I don't think I've ever met a reasonable Atheist that would bad-mouth the actions of Jesus personally in the Bible, even when we tear through the Old Testament, Revelations, and every other ridiculous part of the book that we recognize is a superstitious interpretation of word-of-mouth stories about possible historical events.
This is something both secularists and Christians fail to understand. Atheists are rarely 'anti-Jesus', although yes, we can attempt to dispel his existence as myth (or a real person whose biography was exaggerated and combined with myths from other cultures over many years, even), but that does not mean we can't respect some of the things he tried to teach in the literature.
Why are so many Christians today so devoutly conservative, Republican, capitalist, and otherwise in the manner of their philosophies, so hellbent on pushing the agenda of the greedy corporate world, when it's clearly not what Jesus would approve of?
Does this have something to do with the same statistics that show, that although around 70-80% of Americans identify as being devoutly religious, less than half of them actually observe all of their religious traditions, requirements, or lifestyle factors? Do we have an epidemic today of what we can call 'social Christians'? Those who identify as religious only because society expects it, because their parents expect it, without ever understanding what it is they're supposed to be identifying with?
It's extremely discouraging to know people are so backwards.
Over a century ago, ground-breaking Biblical scholar Albert Schweitzer noticed a peculiar pattern when historians analyse and reconstruct the historical Jesus. He noted that almost to a man, the Jesus they identify as the 'real one' (often very different) always tends to be the one that looks suspiciously like themselves. This is always worth keeping in mind, because we can see that very pattern to this day.
You can see Christian fundamentalists like William Lane Craig looking at the Bible and finding a fundamentalist Jesus, you can see liberal Christians like John Dominic Crossan finding a liberal Jesus, and atheist polemicists like Richard Carrier see the kind of Jesus that's extremely easy to argue against theologically (which is usually one that never existed at all).
None of this is very surprising, because people are simply incredibly skilled at cherry-picking segments of a text while disregarding others, and so when 21st century liberal atheists like yourself does the same (I'm assuming that last part) it's interesting how the Jesus you see... looks a lot like Ava Wilson in a Jesus costume ;)
But do quotes like these sound like a "humble, warm-hearted, but stern teacher" or a liberal hippy who preached that we should all be, like, cool to each other?
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where" 'the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Everyone will be salted with fire.
(Mark 9: 43-49)
For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then " 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" '
(Luke 23: 29-30)
"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. .... "But in those days, following that distress, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky,and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
(Mark 13: 14-25)
Jesus, for my money, was a blood-and-thunder preacher who banged on endlessly about the imminent end of the world and how all those who did not follow the Jewish law would be burned in a lake of fire.
There is strong historical evidence for this view (which is why it's the prominent view among many secular Biblical scholars) and it doesn't chime very well with people trying to claim him for a particular modern strain of thought: he simply didn't give a damn about political systems, let alone economic ones
Jesus' parables and moral teachings have to be seen in this apocalyptic context. Yes, share your money with the poor, not because it's the correct long-term economic policy but because the end of the world is coming and you'll be eternally tormented if God thinks you are greedy! His disdain for family, clothes, riches is to be seen in the same way.
His core message was about much more than being nice to each other; all that was directly predicated on the far more important fact that he believed the Kingdom of Jahweh was coming very soon and you had to do everything you could to get on the right side on Judgement Day.
He wasn't a mellow buddhist or a proto-socialist. He was a ranting nutter.
P.S. Your daughter is impossibly cute :P
Yep. It's always worth checking whether people envision people they admire a lot like themselves; especially their God or his prophet. The interesting thing for me is that this is even true for non-believers. Many "professional atheists" (like Dan Barker, Richard Carrier) have tried to argue, for instance, that Jesus never existed at all or that he was some sort of mythical construct spawned from Messianic ideals.
Of course, the same principle goes for them: the Jesus they picture just happens to be one that is very easy to argue against as an atheist.
This is why the scholars I trust the most are the ones who don't seem particularly influenced by their biases and who aren't arguing for a conclusion that is convenient for them. Scholars like Bart Ehrman, Paula Frederiksen, Dale Allison, Geza Vermes, all argue for an apocalyptic Jesus, who doesn't really look like them, who's actually pretty strange to modern people, and it's a conclusion that doesn't particularly help them because they're not interested in arguing for or against Christianity.
That doesn't automatically mean they are correct, but it does mean their scholarship has the whiff of authenticity and objectivity.
I think he was neither, because I PERSONALLY hold that he didn't exist. And the reason that his excerpts can deviate so far from one another is because he was obviously based in myth.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in fellowship [...] 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. Acts 2: 42, 44, 45
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (King James Version) Acts 4:32-37
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25: 31-46
25 The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over the people; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves ‘Benefactors.’ But you are not to be like that. Luke 22:25
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10
10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked. 11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." 12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" 13"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay." Luke 3: 10-14
Jesus: If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.
Buddha: If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words.
Jesus: Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You, hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
Buddha: The faults of others are easier to see than one’s own; the faults of others are easily seen, for they are sifted like chaff, but one’s own faults are hard to see. This is like the cheat who hides his dice and shows the dice of his opponent, calling attention to the other’s shortcomings, continually thinking of accusing him.
Jesus: Your father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Buddha: The great cloud rains down on all whether their nature is superior or inferior. The light of the sun and the moon illuminates the whole world, both him who does well and him who does ill, both him who stands high and him who stands low.
Jesus: He said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.”
Buddha: Then the Lord addressed the monks, saying: “I am freed from all snares. And you, monks, you are freed from all snares.”
Jesus: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Buddha: If by giving up limited pleasures one sees far-reaching happiness, the wise one leaves aside limited pleasures, looking to far-reaching happiness.
Jesus: Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
Buddha: With the relinquishing of all thought and egotism, the enlightened one is liberated through not clinging.
The point of the thread isn't whether Jesus was a thundering preacher. It's obvious he was. In fact, I believe the only point of his 'messiah-hood', if he DID exist, was the belief that the world was going to end in his lifetime and it was important for men to live right, be baptized, and go to heaven. But some of his teachings very closely parallel with both Buddhism and socialism, and on the whole, his overall view of money and his tolerance of most things that his Jewish brethern couldn't even stomach, point to a society where, if Christians really followed Christ, they would not be greedy conservative Republicans in the number they currently are. It was a question of curiosity! ;)
And thank you. She is.
I am not personally convinced by the Buddhist parallels as Borg argues them (which is the source for this stuff). He's actually one of the people I'm talking about when I say that liberal Christians look at the New Testament and see a liberal Jesus. Borg and Crossan are the two founders of the Jesus Seminar, a project of mainly liberal Christians to search for the historical Jesus... which happened to conclude that Jesus was a liberal.
For that they have to argue that all the passages where Jesus acts like an apocalyptic preacher are, in fact, later additions, and that the buddhist or "cynic sage" aspects of Jesus are original.
Dale Allison tackled their arguments in detail in The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate. Allison argued that the idea that the apocalyptic aspects are later additions doesn't hold up in face of the evidence (the earlier texts contain more apocalypticism than the later ones, and it is simply more in keep with the traditions of the time). Allison is generally considered to have won that debate, and it's the reason why the views of Borg and Crossan have been waning in recent years.
Though it's a viable view, I guess.
I'm also not a fan of the mythic Jesus idea, which I consider much viable and has much less academic support. But you'll have to stuff my mouth with cotton if I start on that; I can start to rant if I get on that subject.
The problem with quoting specific passages is still the same. Sure, some of Buddha's sayings look similar to some of Jesus' sayings (even though the similarities are often fairly strained and inevitably point to later material, rather than the earliest we have) but that's not enough. I'm sure you can find some of the things Hitler said in his speeches that look similar to things Buddha said: but that doesn't mean it's a parallel or even evidence of inspiration. You have to look at the complete picture for there to be actual similarities.
Arguing that he was a libertarian socialist, buddhist, or cynic sage might work to explain quotes here and there, but it doesn't take count of the fact that there's lots of apocalyptic preaching as well, and the morality he a short-term strategy in function of that imminent Apocalyps. Taking it out of context and arguing that it's about economic systems or even political ones, doesn't work.
(Also, it's true that there are passages in the Bible that indicate a low opinion of wealth, but then there are also those that say the complete opposite. As always, we need to look at the complete picture.)
Oooo, so "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth" and "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," never mind give away all that he has to follow your friendly neighborhood carpenter-turned-rabbi, eh?
Selectivity and cherry-picking ... gotta love 'em!
I certainly agree with Loren on this. I see a lot of wealthy christians. How come they aren't giving away all their riches and following christ like the bible says?
Ah, yes, the Conservative Bible Project, supposedly combating "lack of precision" in the original and modern languages, the shifting meanings and usage of English, and "translation bias"... but actually using not scholarship but purely a conservative agenda.
(Read about it at RationalWiki's extensive article and at the Huffington Post, which lists some of the editing principles, including "Accept the Logic of Hell", "Express Free Market Parables", and "Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness".)