Fixing America In 500 Words Or Less


Chapter 15

DO CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS
REALLY FOLLOW JESUS?


       Having had the severe misfortune of enduring one too many conservative Christian sermons (one is one too many), what remains most striking is how little they agree with what Jesus actually said.  Instead, they tended to focus on what Paul ¹ or an Old Testament author wrote.  I cannot recall a single sermon in a conservative church centering on the words and deeds of Jesus.

       According to the Bible, Jesus said:  "Therefore, whatever you want people to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets." ²  The word "therefore" indicates this is an important, conclusive statement and, “for this is the law and the prophets" meant similar in the society of Jesus, as if a Greek philosopher stated, "this is the sum of all wisdom".

       Not only is this an important and conclusive statement made by Jesus but, it arguably remains the most all-encompassing moral statement in human history.  Even though similar ideas are found in many societies in the historical record, no one else places such an all-encompassing importance on loving our neighbor as ourselves. ³

       Calling oneself a "christian" does not in any way, shape or form, make someone a follower of Jesus.  As the New Testament clearly says, "blessed are those who do his commandments".
4  And, as Jesus very clearly taught in his pacifistic, so-called "sermon on the mount", a wise person is someone who hears and practices what Jesus actually says, while a foolish person is someone who hears but does not practice, what Jesus actually says. 5

       By definition, if someone doesn't focus on loving our neighbor as our self, making this idea central to their core beliefs and agenda, then they are not a follower of Jesus, regardless of what they claim or call themselves.  Likewise by definition, a follower of someone minimizes and ignores what the leader did not address.

       Does the New Testament promote capitalism and free enterprise, or sharing material wealth and giving our excess to the poor?  Did Jesus spotlight or even mention the unborn, or did he aggressively promote helping the already born?  Did Jesus endorse preemptive wars of aggression or teach the solution to war is to lay down our swords?  Did Jesus brand the Samaritan woman at the well “illegal” and advocate building a wall to prevent her from feeding her family?  Did Jesus have a “family-focus” agenda that failed to focus on the health and welfare of the family?

       Jesus said, “This is my command, that you love one another...”
6  Do conservative Christians make this singular command the foundation and heart of their message?  Do they put their swords away, turn the other cheek and promote peace and goodwill like Jesus says? 7   Are they focused on helping the sick, poor and least among us as Jesus taught by example?  Do they advocate for our government to collectively help the sick and poor, like Jesus taught every God-fearing patriot should do? 8

       Do conservative Christians really follow Jesus?  You decide.


{ See Does Science Really Know What is True? for related information. }


NOTES:

1. The letters of Paul are often maximized in conservative Christian churches at the expense of the rest of the New Testament, other than "Revelations", because Paul is mistakenly thought to be conservative by their theologians of record.  Paul, in fact, was more liberal than the other early followers of Jesus and quite possibly, considering his historical culture and timeframe, the most liberal author in all of known history.  Paul several times referred to himself as a follower of the "way" and not only did not refer to himself as a Christian but rather, towards the end of Acts, he appears to have deliberately side-stepped the term when asked by a Roman ruler if he was one.  Perhaps even then, Paul suspected that what was intended to be a new lifestyle of communism and personal and collective freedom, was instead leaning toward the conservative fundamentalism Paul originally was an advocate for and from which, he continually praised God for having been rescued from.  Paul's concepts of "not under the law, but under grace", "to the pure all things are pure", "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female" and similar, remain among the most liberal ideas in the human civilization record.  Paul's insistence that both males and females have extreme value outside of reproduction represents a huge leap forward for his society and historical timeframe.

2. Source: Matthew 7:12

3. A scholar and temple leader based in Jerusalem named Hillel, who is believed to have died when Jesus was around the age of fifteen.  Hillel is credited with saying: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; that is the whole Torah, the rest is the explanation--go and learn."  However, this is not the same as the pro-active more-encompassing statement of Jesus.  Reaching out to treat others first as we would like to be treated by them is a much more profound and effective human rights moral yardstick than to just teach a child not to do others any harm; it provides a far more effective moral measurement for accurate human rights definition and activism, by instructing us to reach out in a pro-active way to help someone else, whether or not they are nice to us, rather than to just do them no harm. Plus, it automatically precludes us from doing others any harm, covering all of the bases, rather than half of them.

Some scholars argue that Jesus was taught by Hillel, but it is unlikely that a common laborer's son like Jesus would be taught by a leading temple scholar of his time, especially given their extreme age difference.  Even if this were true, the general idea may have been "common wisdom" among the Jewish population stretching back historically for generations and thus, it may not be unique to either Jesus or Hillel.  What often happens historically is that the "common wisdom" of a particular culture and historical time-frame may not be preserved in a surviving written record until long after it has become an accepted cultural idea.

Tracing and determining historical origins is a perlious undertaking, historians often getting it wrong and then having to correct former assumptions, after more evidence is uncovered.  An example of such dubious enterprise is the phrase "we the people" found at the beginning of the U.S. Constitution. Gouverneur Morris, who is believed to have performed much of the actual physical drafting of the Constitution, is often credited as the originator of this phrase because he is the first known person in history to actually write it down.  Nevertheless, nobody knows where the phrase "we the people" originates from; it may have been a commonly known concept in pre-revolutionary America and may have even originated in Europe.  Various scholars continue to not only debate origins of the idea but also, what particular significance it had to the Constitutional framers; some scholars believe it was just flowery language invented on the spot, others claim it was a backlash to the "I the King" approach of European monarchs, while still others say Benjamin Franklin may have adapted the general idea from the Iroquois Nation "Great Law of Peace", which is believed to have influenced the political philosophy of Franklin significantly.

Some modern-day activists argue that treating other people the way "they" wish to be treated is an improvement over what Jesus said, but this approach contains two significant fallacies: A) We have to first treat someone else as we would like them to treat us, reaching out and being friendly towards them, before we can even know how they want to be treated and B) It allows no instruction or provision for caring about our own selves; if we start treating people the way they want to be treated without any consideration for our own needs, we will soon become hungry, homeless and entirely broke.  Treating other people as we would like them to treat us makes perfect rational sense; it might be true that our neighbors won't like us even if we try to be nice but it is pretty much a sure thing that they won't like us if we aren't nice to them. Thus, it makes sense to treat our neighbors kindly, even if we only do so for our own selfish reasons.  It also makes sense if we want to live in a safe and secure community, as both love and kindness and greed and violence have a way of spreading like wildfire.

It significantly matters how fundamental morality, ethics and human rights are determined and built upon from the foundational ground up.  Without Jesus, there is no accurate moral yardstick from which to correctly determine and both define human rights and put them into action.  This makes Jesus by historical default, the founder of human rights, which is what one would expect the true Messiah to be.  According to Thomas Jefferson, it is beyond rational dispute that God both created us and has written his law on our hearts.  This is what the Old Testament clearly says and is probably the source basis for Jefferson's Declaration statement. And, it likely has something to do with why Jesus said what he did.  The profound simplicity, yet total human rights accuracy of Jesus provides human history's best moral yardstick, allowing for an advanced scholar, a "common" person with no formal education and a small child to both accurately define and put human rights into action, from the human motivational heart outward and, correct foundational ground upward.  Clearly the reason that similar ideas are found in many diverse and non-connected human societies is becaue like the Bible says and Jefferson echoes, God has written his law on the hearts of humanity.  What are today called "human rights" have supreme moral authority when granted by God, rather than just representing an idea having no moral or other authority or historical roots.  There is a vast difference between Jefferson's claim that we are "endowed by our Creator" with certain inalienable rights and, the writings of many modern 'experts', who just state that we have human rights, as if they should be allowed to decide for the rest of us what is moral and what is not.

4. Source: Revelation 22:14

5. Source: Matthew 7:24

6. Source: John 15:12

7. Source: Matthew 26:52, Revelation 13:10, Matthew 5:39, Matthew 5:9,

8. Source: Matthew 25:31-46.  Also compare Ezekiel 16:49.  According to Ezekiel, God destroyed Sodom because she ignored the sick and poor.  According to Jesus, as noted here in Matthew, God will judge all nations by how they treat the sick and poor.  It would seem fair to conclude that both Jesus (New Testament) and Ezekiel (Old Testament) vehemently disagree with conservative Christians over what it means to be an American patriot, as well as regarding everything else that their absurd and entirely assinine religion promotes.




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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © Jaunary 7th, 2014 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © February 1st, 2014 by Freedom Tracks Records.

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