How can a "Christian"
Only by ignoring much of
by John Fugelsang
Although the following liberal teaching was actually preached by John the Baptist, there's no doubting the reason they were quoted in the Gospels, which were written to record the views and example of Jesus of Nazareth:
In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."
Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."
Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."
Christopher Columbus was enormously impressed by the indigenous people he found in "the New World" :
"They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have; none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it, but, on the contrary, inviting us to ask them. They exhibit great love toward all others in preference to themselves. They also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with very little or nothing in return . . . I did not find, as some of us had expected, any cannibals among them, but, on the contrary, men of great deference and kindness."
"They are the best people in the world, and above all the gentlest. They are without knowledge of what is evil, nor do they murder or steal. They love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world and are always laughing." "They are a very loving people and without covetousness," Columbus wrote. "And I declare to your Highness that there is not a better country nor better people in the world than these."
See much more detail on the contrast between the goodness of the "pagan savages" of the New World and the wickedness of the "Christian discovers" of the Old World at www.LiberalslikeChrist.org/AmericanHolocaust/amholocaust-2.html.
| The price paid for not embracing "the One True Faith" :|
"They built a long gibbet, low enough for the toes to touch the ground and prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles. When the Indians were thus still alive and hanging, the Spaniards tested their strength and their blades against them, ripping chests open with one blow and exposing entrails, and there were those who did worse. Then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive."
If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the pagans having a better chance of being at the eternal judge's right hand on judgment day than the "believers", in such scenarios. See much more about the behavior of the "Christians" who brought salvation to the pagan natives of the "New World", at www.Columbusnohero.org/amholocaust-4.html.
The most Conservative part of our country is the so-called "Bible Belt". These conservative Christians have proven time and time again by their actions that the only people they want to have in "their neighborhoods", in their schools, and in their social gatherings are those who look, sound and act like themselves. They even object to people who are unlike themselves from being allowed to immigrate into "their country", a country which they stole from its native Americans, and made what it is today with the unpaid labor of millions of Africans whom they forced to migrate here from foreign lands.
It is no accident that the so-called "Bible Belt" is where, for centuries, human slavery of dark-skinned people was practiced and defended to the death. Even after they had thrown away thousands of their youth on a senseless and immoral civil war, the Christian Conservatives of that time and place didn't repent. Instead even some of their clergy engaged in Ku Klux Klan terrorism and cruel segregation to keep their former slaves as close to slavery as they could. For all their talk of the Bible, whenever they are forced to choose between Conservatism and Christianity, these people are more likely to hold onto the tenets of Conservatism than those of Christ. Their great-grandparents enslaved the "darkies". Their parents segregated and terrorized them. And now that today's Republican party is proving itself so much better than today's Democratic Party at keeping blacks in their place, they are switching to the party that is doing the best job of restricting civil rights and affirmative action, and of resegregating America's grade schools and high schools through "education vouchers" and the like. It is just as absurd for today's Republican Party to claim to be "the party of Christ", as it is for it to claim to be "the party of Lincoln".
Yet these people don't just think of themselves Christian, but as the only true Christians in this country, if not the world. If you think that's an exaggeration, then you need to read www.LiberalslikeChrist.org/biblebeltchristianity.html.
The following is just a cursory version of what we present in greater detail at www.LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/Believable/challenge.html.
While Jesus warned that it was "almost impossible" for the "haves" who ignore the "have nots" of this world to be saved, "Christian Conservative" preachers have gained the enthusiastic and generous support of the rich and the powerful by teaching the very opposite of what Christ taught – which is why the rich and the powerful are only too happy to give the "Religious Right" all the money they need to endlessly and loudly promote their bastardized version of Christianity over the air waves, the internet, and in print, and at election time to distribute 70 million copies of their "Christian Voter Guides" – which while deceitfully claiming to be "non-partisan" – is part and parcel of the Republican Party's propaganda machine.
The wealthy underwrite Conservative causes|
like the "Christian Coalition"
precisely because these groups
don't preach what Jesus preached !
"If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when the young man heard this, he went away sadly, for he was very rich.
Without walking away, many "Christians" in developed countries of our day who are "filthy rich" (when compared either to the billions of poor people in our world today or to this so-called rich man of Jesus' time) just tune out this teaching of Jesus, and pretend to follow Christ without actually embracing this crucial teaching of his.
. . . Then Jesus said to his disciples, "It is almost impossible for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again – it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God! When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, "Then who can be saved?" And Jesus replied, "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
" No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God."
For Jesus, as for many other great prophets of the Bible,
the pursuit of riches and the pursuit of salvation are so
incompatible that one cannot choose one
without turning away from the other.
And the more riches one possesses the harder
it is to choose salvation, because it requires the
repudiation of those riches. Any true follower of
Christ who sees today's "Religious Right" inviting the
wealthy to come into their churches, to bring all their money
in with them, to share it generously – not with the poor, but –
with the churches and their clergy, knows that there is
something very wrong with this picture. When they
see people claiming to be "men of God" sharing the hopes
and dreams of the Republican Party of reducing or eliminating
services for the poor, so as to lower taxes on the well-to-do,
true Christians (and Jews) recognize that this so-called
"Christian Coalition" is no marriage made in heaven,
but an unholy alliance, designed to advance
not GOD's cause but the G.O.P.'s.
The multi-millionaire founder and president of the "Christian Coalition" Pat Robertson, who also owns the 700 Club and the "Christian Broadcasting Network", wasn't a particularly religious Baptist until he met a Dutch "mystic" named Cornelius Vanderbreggen, who taught him that a man of God can be rich. "God is generous, not stingy," Vangerbreggan told Robertson, as they dined at an elegant hotel. "He wants you to have the best."
Given the choice between the Gospel according to Jesus and the Gospel according to Robertson and Vanderbreggan, Conservatives don't hesitate to embrace the one that tells them they are saved just the way they are, no matter how wealthy they are, or how much misery they are able to ignore in the world around them.
That certainly wasn't the way those closest to Jesus understood his teaching. (according to the Acts of the Apostles, Ch.2 , 44 :) "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."
"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"
And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?'
Listen to what many Christian Conservatives in America say about Jesus and the way they depict him in art and music, and you have the image of a sweet, lily white, European, milk-toast sissy, an image that bears little resemblance to the dark-skinned, Jewish, revolutionary, "man's man" that Jesus actually was. Although he was extremely kind to the common man and woman, Jesus was extremely demanding of those who had an abundance or either riches or power, whether political or religious. He forgave and/or played down the sins of publicans, tax-collectors, prostitutes and an adulteress. He told his followers to value a poor widow's penny more than substantial contributions from the rich. And he told those who wanted to follow his leadership that what they should not do is imitate priests and levites, but instead follow the example of a heretical Samaritan. Where has this idea of Christ as an impeccably polite and diplomatic gentleman come from? Certainly not from Jesus, who instead said of himself :
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
Although the words of Jesus speak of inter-family conflicts, is there a single example of such conflict in the gospels? No. What we see there instead are dozens of examples of very similar conflicts between Jesus and the leading members of his religious "family", or community. If "actions speak louder than words," then Jesus showed us that the sword he came to bring was the sword of battle with people like the arrogant, pompous, money-grubbing leaders of his day, who were so similar to the "Religious Right" of our day.
Far from being a mild-mannered, diplomatic, "goody-two-shoes", Jesus was such an extraordinary "pain in the ass" to the religious community of his day, that they did everything they could to shut him up, including conspiring to have him nailed to a cross, the equivalent of putting him in today's electric chair. To follow Christ and not experience the animosity and the rejection that Jesus promised his followers would experience, is to follow Jesus from too great a distance! Just try exposing the hypocrisy and the misrepresentations of the Bible of today's equivalent of the fraudulent leaders of his day, and you will see why Jesus predicted:
"I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me."
When pious religious leaders demanded that Jesus follow the Bible's teaching and impose the death sentence on the woman "caught in the very act of adultery," instead of condemning the adulteress, Jesus condemned her conservative prosecutors!
Early in the morning he came again to the temple.
All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery;
and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman
was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses
commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.
What an amazing chapter this is.
It's packed full of worthwhile lessons:
First, if there's one behavior that Jesus couldn't abide, it was sinners playing down their own sins while playing up someone else's. In this instance, the sin of one party (the adulteress) was being used by a second party (the even more sinful religious right hypocrites), to bring harm on a guilt-free third party (Jesus himself).
Then, there's a point so obvious that Jesus may not have felt it even necessary to emphasize. But, as the father of seven daughters, I wish Jesus had asked these sanctimonious male accusers explicitly, "Was this woman alone at the time of this adultery?"
And finally, there's the magnificent way in which Jesus turns the table on the hypocrites doing the accusing, and puts the judges themselves on trial :
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
Some people found fault with Larry Flynt's recent effort to expose
the Republican party leadership for its astounding hypocrisy.
Rather than condemn their own friends ( Republican Congressmen
Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Hellen Chenoweth,
and J.C. Watts, to mention just a few), whose closets are bulging
with a whole brothel full of worse adulterers than Democratic
President Clinton ever dreamed of being, they insist on condemning
the messenger. How interesting that the mainstream media,
after racing to publish everything salacious about the Democratic president that
they could lay their hands on – including the whole of Kenneth
Starr's pornographic report – has made no effort to expose
the immorality and hypocrisy of the leaders of the Republican leadership! Could it be that,
just as Jesus published the sins of the hypocrites of his day by writing
them in the dirt at his feet, God has had a hand in publicizing the
sins of today's hypocrites in a "dirty magazine"?
(Actually, this report was no more pornographic than many of the women's magazines in our supermarkets.)
Although people in our day tend to view Jesus teaching on divorce as rather "conservative", the fact is that in hismale-dominated patriarchal time his teaching was very liberal and feminist,
Far from sharing the contempt of the Pharisees for the despised "publicans" or "tax collectors" of their day, God – if we can believe Jesus – prefers such "sinners" to "holier than thou" Religious Right types, who are only good at recognizing the sins of others:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were
were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.'
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'
I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
How similar this Pharisee is to all these "Religious Right"
types who think they are God's gift to mankind and imagine they know what is wrong with everyone but themselves!
And how similar the lowly "tax collector" is to so many "liberals", who may not be saints, but don't claim to be either.
How refreshing it will be on the day when God makes his preferences known, if he chooses those on the left to be with him in paradise, rather than those on the right!
Far from displaying the judgmentalism of Christian Conservatives, who are forever looking for people other than themselves to condemn for any number of sins, real or imagined, Jesus was slow to condemn himself, and exemplified liberalism instead:
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
Although this passage is commonly called "the parable of the prodigal son", that's only a title added by editors to verses that had no title in the original. Since the point of this story, however, is to describe the divine father, I think a much better title would be one that highlights the father's behavior rather the son's. And since its the father's liberality that is emphasized, what better title could there be than "the parable of the liberal father"? (And note that it's not the wayward son who is portrayed badly in this story of Jesus', it's the resentful conservative son!
"A man had two sons. When the younger told his father,
'I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting
until you die!' his father agreed to divide his wealth
between his sons. "A few days later this younger son
packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land,
and there wasted all his money on parties and prostitutes.
About the time his money was gone a great famine swept
over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local
farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry
that even the pods he was feeding the swine looked good to him.
And no one gave him anything.
"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough and to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.' So he returned home to his father.
And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming, and was filled with loving pity and ran and embraced him and kissed him. "His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and am not worthy of being called your son. "But his father said to the slaves, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him, and a jeweled ring for his finger; and shoes! And kill the calf we have in the fattening pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has returned to life. He was lost and is found.' So the party began.
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working; when he returned home, he heard dance music coming from the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. "'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the calf we were fattening and has prepared a great feast to celebrate his coming home again unharmed.' "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, 'All these years I've worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to; and in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after spending your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have on the place.'
"'Look, dear son,' his father said to him, 'you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. But it is right to celebrate. For he is your brother; and he was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!'"
Can you imagine "Religious Right" types treating "prodigal son" types the way the father did in Jesus' parable? Jesus made a similar point when he said in
"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of god ahead of you.
When Jesus spoke the words bellow from the cross :
was he praying for the religious leaders who had been working for months, if not years, for just such an outcome? Or was he simply praying for the misinformed "little people" following the orders of higher ups? When it came to those with whom he had done battle for most of his public life, Jesus was anything but forgiving.
"Evangelicals" spend a lot of time and effort worrying about "Satan". But, if Jesus was concerned about an invisible evil angel from another world, he had a strange way of showing it, because he hardly ever mentioned the devil. Instead, judging from the four Gospels, which are dedicated to his life and preaching, there was nobody that even came close to bothering Jesus as much as the religious establishment of his day: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests, the "Scribes" or "experts in the law" (i.e. the Bible). Click on the Bible below and you will find some 80 sermons, reprimands to or warnings about those whom Jesus considered most threatening to him and to his mission, i.e. not Satan ( whom he mentioned only a few times), but those who claimed to represent GOD and the Bible. in other words, the "Religious Right" of his day. This barrage of sermons against these supposed "men of God" is what moved them to have Jesus permanently silenced, after they managed to persuade enough people to believe that Jesus was the imposter and they were God's true representatives.
Anyone who claims to believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and does not want to know what Jesus had to say about the "Religious Right" of his day, deserves to be misled by the "Religious Right" of our day .
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