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How Jesus Condemns Christianity

Jesus

People I love and respect are committed to Christianity as it exists today. And so I’m relieved that they’ve acclimated to me and won’t take this personally… because it needs to be said:

Modern Christianity is something Jesus would condemn.

And yes, “condemn” is the right word. Do you remember all those passages where Jesus rails against the religious “hypocrites” of his own time? Well, he’d be doing the same if he were here now.

Let’s take these three lines as a warm-up:

Jesus never mentioned the virgin birth.

Jesus never mentioned original sin.

Jesus never used the word “trinity.”

None of these doctrines originated with Jesus. All of them were religious additions… later additions. Jesus never taught them.

Does This Offend You?

I am openly driving a wedge between Jesus and “Christianity” here, and I’m not going to apologize for it. My sympathies lie with Jesus rather than Christianity. If this offends anyone, I dare suggest that they consider their priorities.

The truth is that Jesus was more radical than religious people have ever been able to accept. How many of his original “disciples,” after all, were from a religious background? They were mostly fishermen and construction workers.

How strange, then, that within a century or two, intellectuals would take over entirely. And they did: Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Ambrose, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, and Augustine were all professional intellectuals before they encountered Christianity. They changed a great many things.

We do, however, have records of average believers in the early days. We haven’t space for details here, but you can find them in several issues of our subscription letter. And what we find in those records looks nothing like modern Christianity. We see people devoted to good works rather than incessant talking. And we see no Bible devotion. In fact, the first mention of reading anything like a Bible reading in a meeting comes at 155 AD (several generations after Jesus), and calls the passages “memoirs.” Whether church people like that or not, it’s a fact.

“But the Apostles Taught Jesus’s Way”

Sorry, they didn’t. They were good men, and they tried. But they didn’t understand Jesus very well (lots of evidence for that), and they soon fought among themselves. And here’s a very telling fact:

In the New Testament, Jesus is noted as expressing “compassion” in six separate incidents and weeping over a death in a seventh. In a striking contrast, such actions are never attributed to any of “the apostles.”

The Way of Salvation

Christianity offers “salvation” to people based upon keeping sacraments, membership in a group, appeals to “accept his Word,” admonishment to “surrender to him,” and so on. Jesus’s teachings, however, are wildly different:

No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.

Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.

All that the Father gives me will come to me.

In all of these cases, internal enlightenment is the only path to salvation. Either you get something from the Father, or you don’t. And that’s it. End of discussion.

This passage makes the same point:

You are blessed… because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father….

We also see this in the earliest followers. At about 130 AD, an old man – old enough to have known some of the very first believers – tells a young man this:

Pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and his anointed have imparted wisdom.

It would be hard to overstress the implications of this teaching. And it’s incompatible with the doctrines of the churches.

One Final Point

There’s much more to be said on this (again, see the subscription letters), but I can summarize this way:

All that matters to Jesus is the real, the essential. He flatly rejects the value of form, ritual, and symbolism. Everything hinges on actual substance and on nothing else.

Jesus declares authority to be worthless. He declares tradition to be worthless. He declares acts of devotion to be worthless. The only thing that matters is what you are. No exceptions; no wiggle room. And if what you are isn’t sufficient, then change your mind (that’s the actual meaning of repent) and get busy fixing it.

Perhaps that’s still too radical for mankind to bear, but it is what he taught.

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

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  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

    When people ask about my religious preferences, I tell them I am a Christian atheist.
    I usually get a deer in the headlights look from them, and they usually don’t ask for further explanation. Actually, it is pretty simple. I try to follow the actual recommendations of Jesus Christ while having no contact or interest therein with contemporary Christianity. I also feel the same way about contemporary patriotism, regarding it as jingoism, at best. I usually lipsync the pledge of allegiance, speaking only one word, loudly, “Republic.” I regard most veterans as ignorant traitors.

    • Mona Reed

      …which brings to mind a question: “Would Jesus be a patriot?”

      • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

        Why would he need to be?

    • SLT54

      Sad

      • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

        Reality can be a bitch.

  • Mona Reed

    You forgot to mention that Jesus didn’t use the terms “Christian and Christianity.”
    Thoroughly enjoyed the article!

    • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

      Proper names are not usually considered to be terms, especially if they were never used by the person to whom we use them to refer.

    • SLT54

      The term
      Christian was first used in the town of Antioch.
      And since the entire Bible is the Word of God and the Word is Jesus (see John 1:1) then yes, Jesus did use the term ‘Christian’.

      The words in red are those words being quoted as having been personally said by the Savior – the inspired authors from the Books of Moses to the book of Revelation all contain Gods Word.

  • Mercy Otis Warren

    This is a very thought provoking article; thank you. The following question may be a bit too broad, but to what extent do you think the Bible (given its human authorship and discounting the idea that it is revelation) can be used to understand the person of Jesus; whether he was divine; and what he taught? That is: do you think the Bible is a trustworthy source? If you would, can you suggest early histories from that period that may add to one’s understanding of the times? Thanks again.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Hi Mercy,

      “do you think the Bible can be used to understand the person of
      Jesus”

      I do, though I think you have to get past the extremes of “it’s God’s infallible word,” and “it’s all fake.” The extremes are easy, the in-between requires thought.

      As for the early history, I recommend starting with Paul Johnson’s A History of Christianity. You might also look at Renan’s Life of Jesus.

      Best,

      Paul

      • Mercy Otis Warren

        Thank you, Paul. Would you recommend Johnson’s A History of the Jews (presuming you read it) as well?

        • Paul Rosenberg

          I had to stop part way through, but I hope to get back to it soon. And yes, I do recommend it.

  • Paul Reynolds

    Tolstoy, among others, offers a valid Christianity. Dostoevsky makes you think hard about doctrine and it’s limitations, but his work also, if you get the message, strongly condemns atheistic revolutionary nihilism. I wish that kind of message, the particular evil of secular nihilism (despite often including good intentions, the desire to fight wrongness and corruption), got out to more souls in these times. Dylan is a good Christian poet. Top article..I don’t disagree with a single word of it!

  • SLT54

    He’s wrong on so many points…
    Jesus is the Word so the entire Bible is Him speaking.
    And He speaks of His virgin birth (Is 7:14)
    And He speaks of the Trinity… Genesis ‘Let US make man in Our image’…
    And He speaks of studying scripture… Luke 24 …. ‘and beginning with Moses He showed them how these things must come to pass…’
    Again in Acts chapter 8 the Ethiopian was studying scripture and He sent Philip to have him better understand and to be baptized…

    Yes, there are things wrong with the modern church and this rabble rousing, dissension causing article is one of them.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      I appreciate your position, SLT, but you must see that it all hinges on one idea: That the Bible is the perfect record of the divinity… and that this point is not open for discussion. Indeed, it must be defended at any cost, honest or less than honest.

      I’m telling you that there can be a spirituality outside of that closed circuit. And a much truer, better spirituality.

      You’ve seen, probably just as well as I, that the Bible has cracks, flaws, etc. But you’ve been led to believe that acknowledging them would bring your faith down in a crashing heap. I’m telling you that this was untrue, and that you can have both a richer spirituality and full honesty.

      Peace.

      • SLT54

        Thanks for responding Paul.
        First a question : are you a firm believer in Jesus Christ? That is, do you believe He is the only way, that you believe in the death, burial and resurrection?

        Second: without a firm belief in Him the Bible tells us that you will not understand spiritual things the way a believer will. A believer has a ‘new nature’. See 1Corintians 5:17.

        The more I study the Bible, going on eighteen years now of serious study and teaching, the more I’ve come to appreciate the congruence of Gods words.
        There are no cracks, no flaws.

        And thru out the Bible one is admonished to study Gods word.
        See particularly Psalm 1, Psalm 119, 1Tim 2:15; 3:16 see also Deut 6:6-9.

        God bless you and may Jesus fill your heart.

        • Paul Rosenberg

          I appreciate your benediction. I wish you all the same.

        • http://www.jesus-on-taxes.com/ Ned Netterville

          SLT, I’ve been studying the Bible with emphasis on the Gospels for 35 years. I’d be very interested to know how you interpret or understand the words and actions of Jesus during the incident recorded in Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, and Luke 20:20-26? As you can see from my comment above, my own understanding is radically different than most of the Christian Church exegetes, from Eusebius to modern scholars.

  • Michael F

    Hi Paul,
    Agree with most of your point particularly the trinity which surfaced centuries later. The Genesis reference is about Elohim or mighty ones ie. Angels in the creation story. The Jewish expectation then and now was about the establishment of the physical kingdom of God on earth. Jesus predominant teaching was to prepare the hearts of the citizens for that Kingdom. The human heart was to reflect the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God does not come by your careful observation. The kingdom of God is within you.” Yes, Jesus taught ‘change you mind’. Change it to the right way of thinking, the right way of speaking and the right way of acting. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

  • http://www.jesus-on-taxes.com/ Ned Netterville

    Hi Paul, good article. I’m a disciple of Jesus, not a Christian. I don’t want to be associated with the “Christian Just-War Theory” (or Doctrine) (CJWT), authored by the pagan Cicero, which was copied from him by a thorough-going statist, Augustine of Hippo, who inflicted it on Christianity. CJWT obviously stems from lack of faith in the teaching of Jesus, as expressed in his Sermon on the Mount, and in the power of God to keep his *faithful* followers from all harm. So instead of relying on God, many Christians today rely on a powerful military to keep them secure. Good luck with that.

    I suspect that when the Church was subsumed by the Roman Empire during the reign of Constantine, Church leaders were forced to dispense with some of the the principles (especially the hard sayings) Jesus taught. Actually, this straying from Jesus’ Truth began among his Apostles shortly after his death and glorious resurrection, and came to full fruition as the Church began to share in the lucre from Roman taxes.

    One of the early incidents of the Apostles straying from Jesus’ explicit instructions is recorded in Acts 6:2-4 “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Thus, the Apostles turned over the “lowly” work of kitchen chores to others.

    However, Jesus had not long before given a vivid example to the Apostles on how they were to treat those they would lead. The occasion was The Last Supper (Luke 22:25-27): “Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

    Thus began the Church’s insidious hierarchy of popes, cardinals, bishops, abbots, monsignors, priests, and so on, dressed in elegant garments to rival those of the most pompous of royals; and housed in majestic cathedrals to rival the palaces of kings.

    And then there is this from the current Catholic Catechism: “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.” (Section 2240)

    This statist propaganda intended to make killing the state’s “enemies,” and being mulct by tax collectors a religious duties came about after the Church was subsumed by Rome and its leaders began consuming OPM (re: sounds like opium, is equally addicting, stands for Other People’s Money–forcibly extorted). This integrity robbing practice of the Church sharing in the benefits of the state’s forcible taxation continues in America to this day, although indirectly through the collection of tax-exempt donations. .

    No one in the Roman Empire ever had anything belonging to Caesar in their possession. Caesar was a taker, not a giver nor lender. Even everything he might claim to own belonged to others, for Caesar had acquired “his” property by conquest, plunder, enslavement and taxation, all in violation of God’s Commandment, “You shall not steal!” And if it wasn’t stolen by him, it still didn’t belong to him pursuant to Judeo-Christian wisdom, for: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it!”–Psalm 24:1, which leaves nothing for poor old Caesar. And if you parse Jesus brilliant reply to those duplicitous spies who were trying to “trap him in his words” so they could hand him over to the Rome’s Chief Tax Collector for Judea, Governor Pontius Pilate, to be put to death, they asked him, “Should we pay Caesar’s tax or not?” (Mark 12) Making a simple statement of Truth regarding how one is to treat the property of others, Jesus said, “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give God what is His.” And he could have added, “If you have nothing belonging to Caesar, give him that:–NOTHING!”

    In order to assist in the state’s theft by taxation, numerous “Church fathers” (as they are called within the Church, contrary to Jesus’ instructions to call no one but God, Father), have proclaimed that “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” means “pay the state its taxes.” and further proclaimed his words also mean Jesus endorsed violent human governments in all their war making, genocide, Inquistions and nuking of civilian population centers.

    Pray for Christianity.
    https://jesusontaxes.liber
    http://jesus-versus-taxes.com/

  • pluto

    All I can say about this post is that it’s quite mistaken. In all charity I must be so bold as to call it erroneous and even dangerously misguided. I’m not sure where you got these very unusual and twisted ideas about Jesus and what you like to isolate as “Christianity” as if that could even be done, but please expand your library to include some more diverse material. Try the early church fathers. Try various writings of the saints. Try reading the Gospels for what they are…divinely inspired. Read some church history. And if you don’t put any credence into any of these sources I think you have to ask yourself if you are a man on island with all the answers in your own head? If you feel that way then God help you! It must be the height of pride to think that so many of the great and holy men and women that came before us are mistaken or just naive? Too intellectual!? As if having too much interest and understanding of the truth is a bad thing? Can only common laborers be trusted?

    Here’s the deal folks: READ FOR YOURSELF! There is no other way to find the truth. Do not put much credence in what you read in blogs (my words too!). Go find out for yourself. This blog entry is an excellent example. I’m sure Paul has the best of intentions. Yet, somehow he has developed a really strange and misguided view on Jesus and “Christianity.”

    I’m so glad that STL54 has made a brief but accurate rebuttal. A complete rebuttal would take much effort and many words. But that would be wasted time. Just go read for yourself and find out.

    One final thought: Paul says that “internal enlightenment is the only path to salvation.” I’m not exactly sure what he means there. A spiritual enlightenment is surely personal, but not discovered in some kind of vacuum. If you mean all by your own little self…well that’s what every crackpot guru says. That’s what every tyrant thinks of himself (all knowing and all powerful). If that’s the case then why do we need civilization at all? Why did God give Eve to Adam? Why did God create us at all? (hint: to share in his Goodness)

    You might read Don Quixote. That’s essentially the point in that novel. Quixote reads a bunch of books and conceives in his own mind a crazy notion that he is a knight on a mission. He will listen to no other man to bring him to reason. He feels that he is the only one that truly understands reality. This is a perversion of the mind. It is an out of proportion reliance on one’s own faculties. I would suggest that the above blog entry takes on a similar frame of mind.

    In all charity, please consider more diverse material on this subject. I would refer to it as most of the world does (“Christianity”), but I don’t want to pack any meaning into that word that might throw you off the trail. God Bless You!

    • http://www.jesus-on-taxes.com/ Ned Netterville

      Pluto, I do not doubt your sincerity, but as you can see by my post below, I am in pretty close agreement with what Paul wrote, so please allow me to explain to you why I am closer in my way of thinking to Paul’s way than to yours.

      Here, I think, is the crux of the difference between your position and Paul’s, using his words: “My sympathies lie with Jesus rather than Christianity.” May I say, if there is definitely a distinction between what Jesus reportedly taught as recorded in the four canonical gospels, in contrast to some of the doctrines of Christianity in general, I don’t think this point can be logically disputed as Paul’s article makes clear. So what I and presumably Paul are simply saying is we’re with Jesus, not with Christianity where we find differences.

      Thrioughout the history of the Christian Church there have been many Christian notables who devoted their lives to trying to reform the Church by bringing ti back to the principles of Jesus from which it had obviously strayed, at least in their eyes. It is because of some of those Christians, who, like Paul, found fault with the prevailing state of the Church that several of the Protestant denominations divorced themselves from the Roman Catholic Church to form new Christian denominations in what is called the Protestant Reformation. Here in an overly simplified form is what Google says about Martin Luther’s break: “In the beginning of 16th century, many events occurred that lead to the protestant reformation. Clergy abuse caused
      people to begin criticizing the Catholic Church. The central points of
      criticism were the following: The church sold tickets of indulgences
      (forgiveness) from sins for money.” I think you will agree, Pluto, that buying salvation was not what Jesus taught.

      Pluto, I am familiar with a fairly large “fellowship” of people (Alcoholics Anonymous, with 2 million plus), which, like Christianity, many outside observers feel does a lot of good, but like Christianity it is also the butt of public criticism by others who find fault with AA, and which some critics argue outweighs any good it might do. The official position or “Tradition” of AA is not to argue with its critics, but rather to examine their criticism to see if there is justification for it, and if so try to fix the problem, and bless the critics for bringing it to their attention. If it appears that the criticism is unjustified, AA’s policy is simply to ignore it rather than give it legs by doing public, verbal combat with critics. This has proven to be a very effective policy. I believe Christians would do well to adopt this same stance. But most importantly, to never attack the motives of critics, nor ever engage in ad hominem attacks such as by comparing them to “crackpot gurus” or “tyrants,” without a hint of evidence or reason behind such scurrilous charges. As Jesus might say, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God bless you too.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Pluto, I think Ned answered you quite well, and I will only add this:

      I have read the “Early Fathers” at length, many volumes of church history, the gospels I dunno how many times (including many while assuming divine perfection), and much, much more. It is not for lack of reading that I differ.

  • Johan Boot

    Thanks Paul. Good article and great to be following Jesus and be free from the frameworks and ideologies of men at the same time. We taught our kids about following Jesus (no rituals, holy actions and instructions) – simply having a relationship with God. They also never went to church, yet was put into the real world of public schooling and collage. They turned out to be far more ‘real’ and loving as Christians compared to most of their church going peers. That is enough for me. As you say: ‘Reality is all that matters to Jesus’.

  • Kevin Scott King

    What radically changed my perception of what Yehoshua (you do know that Jesus was not his name right?!?) was about was identifying those who opposed him and the institutions and systems they represented. Religion, Law, Money, Education, and Government. Jesus was opposed to all these systems of control. Yehoshua was about as Anti-Religion as you can get. So it’s no surprise that it was the Religious leaders who ‘conspired’ to have him killed. As his message was not only a direct threat to their livelihood but to the very fabric of the Jewish state. So it is a testament to the power of thought control and deception that his anti-religion message has been turned into a massive Religion (Christianity).

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath
    sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
    captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
    that are bruised – Luke 4:18

    Here Yehoshua clearly states he is here to help free humankind from the perverse systems of control that not only break our hearts but our spirits, that keep us ALL captive, and blind, and broken.

    ps. Yehoshua was not a deity. He was a real man, with a real message, about freeing ourselves from the tyranny of those who conspire to rule and control us.

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