Jesus Wasn’t Great Part 2

Yesterday I spoke about the problem with what Jesus didn’t say. Today, I will talk about the problems with what he did say. While Jesus is generally thought of as being kind, considerate and forgiving, there is another side to him that is rarely mentioned. Contrary to popular perception Jesus is a warmonger, racist, a proponent of thought crime, a defender of the Old Testament, a believer in devils, someone who made failed prophecies and a man who threw hissy fits when he didn’t get his way.

Jesus is view as the Prince of Peace, as an inspirational pacifist. However, Jesus himself seems to have disagreed with this view. He declared

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:34-37)

Jesus the war maker? This seems to completely contradict the traditional view of Jesus as something close to a hippie. Instead he seems to be someone who invites and desires hatred. I mean he’s telling people that they must hate their families. Why? Who does that? Isn’t religion supposed to be about family values? Just in case you think this is a one off quote (unlikely in the supposedly perfect and divinely written Bible) Luke 14:26 and Luke 12:51-3 also have similar passages quoting Jesus telling his followers they must hate their families. I’m sorry but that’s a pretty jerkish thing to do. This sounds less like a peaceful and kind Jesus, and more like an arrogant, egomaniac warmongering thug.

Jesus said that lusting after a woman was the same as committing adultery. “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Not only is this daft, (there is obviously a huge difference between thinking something and actually doing it) but it is also an attempt to penalise thought crime. Not only are your actions controlled by religion but so are your thoughts. This is horrendous. The most important freedom we have is freedom of thought, yet Jesus himself his attempting to punish this. I bet you never thought Jesus spoke like an Orwellian character from 1984?

Whenever I criticise the Old Testament for justifying genocide, sexism, homophobia, racism etc, I am told, well that doesn’t count, Jesus replaced the old laws. However, he made it clear that his job was not to replace the old law but to work with them. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17) He rarely criticised the Old Testament and in fact agreed with some of the old barbaric stories such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the mass extermination of Noah’s Flood (Matthew 10:14-5) (Luke 17:26-32) .

Jesus was also bit of a racist. In Matthew 15:22-8 a woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter, but Jesus refuses to even speak with her as she is a Canaanite declaring he has only been sent to help the Israelis. She continued to beg him and he compared her to a dog. Only after she continued to grovel and called herself a dog looking for scraps, then he helped her. This is disgusting bigotry from the last place you would have expected it.

When I used to go to Mass I would be bored out of my mind by the sermons that were so meaningless and useless in the real world, that I would forget them almost instantly. However, there is one I remember for its mixture of the bizarre and the barbaric. It is Matthew 18:8-9 (also told in Matthew 5:30 and Mark 9:43-48),

“If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”

What the Hell does that mean? Are we supposed to self-mutilate? Even if it is a metaphor, what sort of metaphor involves chopping off our limbs? Perhaps it means we should cut off our unholy actions and habits, but it could also mean we should cut off our unholy friends and colleagues. This language is disturbingly similar to that used to justify a purge. Tyrants have often claimed its better to kill a couple thousand people rather than see the whole country suffer. This language has been used to defend genocide, so it is disturbing to hear it from Jesus’ mouth.

Jesus also made terrible prophecies about his return. He openly stated that his second coming would occur during the lifetime of his listeners. “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27) This failed prophecy is quietly brushed over when discussing Jesus and it’s only the fundamentalist Christians who are still waiting for the Second Coming, the other churches know it’s not going to happen.

He is known for his quotes to help the poor, but these are contradicted by his quotes that said that God will make the rich richer and the poor poorer. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” (Mark 4:25, Matthew 13:12, Matthew 25:29)

Jesus believed that illness was caused by devils trapped inside people (for the Son of God he was a bit of an idiot). This nonsense set the medical world back centuries and for the next 1500 doctors treat patients in the daft belief that they were not ill but rather possessed by devils. As a result countless people unnecessarily suffered. Good job Jesus.

Jesus said a lot of silly stuff about prayer. He claimed that “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20 Now this is obviously silly drivel. Even the most religious person can’t move a mountain and in fact studies show prayer is completely useless. Some claim prayer has saved lives, but these miracles always seem to happen in the presence of well trained doctors and quality healthcare.

He made a lot of outlandish claims which are obviously untrue (it’s funny how quick Christians are to claim that they are only metaphors) He claimed that “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. “Mark 16:17-18 Need I point out that Christians cannot speak new tongues simply by being Christians? Or handle snakes? Or heal magically people?

Jesus was prone to throw hissy fits and temper tantrums. One day (according to Matthew 21:19 and Mark 11:13-4) he saw a fig tree and decided to take some figs. However, it wasn’t the right time of the year so there were no figs on the tree. So Jesus threw a temper tantrum like a little child. He cursed the tree and made it barren so that no figs would ever grow there again. Real mature Jesus.

A town rejected Jesus and instead of winning them over with love, compassion and a few miracles, Jesus loses his temper and curses them to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:21-4, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:10-5). So if he doesn’t get his way he exterminates entire cities including innocent men, women and children. Remind me why do we think this guy is so great?

Jesus has an enormous influence on many people’s lives. Even non-religious people generally think he was a pretty great guy. In fact he wasn’t. He was just as narrow minded and ignorant as the Church is (they obviously got it from somewhere). He was not the great teacher and peaceful man he is often made out to be. Instead he told silly stories and preached dangerous nonsense that didn’t help us and probably made us worse off.

18 thoughts on “Jesus Wasn’t Great Part 2”

  1. Oh how I love this post. What a great thing to come across. Thank you so much for posting this. 🙂 I also love stephenpruis’ comment “it is shocking how little Christians who believe that their bible is the word of god know about what is in the danged thing”. Isn’t that truth!

  2. The fig story always leaves me scratching my head. Why didn’t Jesus just do another miracle and poof some figs onto the fig tree? Why the hissy fit? Not very godlike there.

  3. I spend a devote a lot of space, in my blog, complaining about Fundamentalist Christians and their literalist interpretations of the Bible. They seem to be blind to any form of communication that isn’t entirely facile. The Fundamentalist places his faith, uncritically, in a Bible he doesn’t understand. Fundamentalists don’t even understand what the Bible is for.

    My critique of you is the same as my critique of Fundamentalists. You concern yourself with the facile and never trouble yourself to become curious about the deeper meaning of the things you read.

    Jesus certainly did promise that even a little faith could “move mountains” and, in literal fact, no one ever has, or ever could, move a mountain simply by wishing it. One can easily establish that the literal interpretation is untrue — and that’s enough for you to completely dismiss what he said.

    You will stare uncomprehendingly at your computer screen when you read that I have written that “moving mountains” doesn’t mean “moving mountains.”

    There are people, throughout history, who have lived lives that have radically changed the world they live in. Some of these people were Christian, many were not. A curious person might want to know if these ‘world changers’ had anything in common. It might be worthwhile to consider — not just what these individuals did — but what they believed and how they thought. Did mental attitude, vision, confidence, a willingness to sacrifice and take risks or a conviction about the meaning of life and the purpose of universe have an effect on their capacity to make change?

    Literalists — such as the Fundamentalists are and such as you seem to be — are incapable of making sense of the language used by those who want to draw attention to the connection between a person’s outer behavior and his (or her) inward subjective reality. The person who describes the accomplishments of a Ghandi, or a Dr. King, or a Galileo, or a Bill Gates as “moving mountains” is using a language that makes no sense to you at all.

    If all you’re capable of doing (or willing to do) is to consider those things that are superficially evident, you’re certain to misunderstand Jesus. But Jesus won’t be your only stumbling block. You will also misunderstand anyone who wishes to explore the deeper aspects of human life.


  4. ….and another thing!

    You point to this passage as an example of the bizarre and barbaric:

    “If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”

    You and I are so different! To me, this is simply a rhetorical device. I use rhetoric all the time in my posts — maybe that’s why I’m more accepting of it in others. Is the passage barbaric? I don’t know, was my mother being barbaric when she’d warn me, from time to time when I was a child, that “Your father is going to kill you when you get home”?

    I understood what she meant, and I understood that what she meant was serious business, but I never actually feared for my life. Your mother, I assume would have been more literal with you if you were in a similar situation. Your mother would have said, “You’ve done something wrong that will make your father very angry when he hears about it and he will speak so critically to you that you will feel emotionally uncomfortable. He will also subject you to some sort of punishment you will find disagreeable.”
    Good thing she didn’t talk like my mom did! You’d have been on the phone to the police, asking for protection…

    Literalism + The Bible = Insanity.

    Read my post of 7/12/12 for an example of my rhetoric:


    1. Literalism mixed with the Bible is insanity, I agree, but where do you draw the line? While we all agree that adulters shouldn’t be stoned to death even though the Bible condemns it, is it still a sin or should we ignore it completely? What about condemnation of homosexuality? The Bible says it should be punished with death but this is generally ignored and only same-sex marriage is condemned. Why draw the line there? If some parts of the Bible should be ignored and some shouldn’t, how do you tell the two apart? What if the Resurrection is only metaphorical? It seems to me you either have to take all of it or none of it, anything in between is simply cherry-picking to suit yourself.

      Also if that quote is a metaphor, what does it mean? To me it justifys purges and fanaticism.

  5. “if that quote is a metaphor, what does it mean?”

    I was hoping you’d try figuring it out yourself before asking me….

    Many of us have discovered, and see our observations validated by Jesus’ words, that no matter how valuable your body is, your soul is much, much more valuable. When Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to win the whole world if he should lose his soul?” he was making the same point. If I truly, truly understood the value of my soul, I would take such care of my soul that the care I take for my body would seem like (relative) negligence — even contempt. Yes, it’s hyperbole. Jesus uses a lot of hyperbole. So do I when I’m trying to drive a point home.

    No, my friend, you’re not being asked to literally chop off your hand. You’re being asked to consider how horrible it would be for you to have your hand chopped off and to realize that any damage you might do to your soul is infinitely more damaging.

    Jesus knew, as we all know, that everyone takes care of his body. But he also knew that many of us do all kinds of damage to our souls and are completely oblivious to our own suffering. The way most of us deliberately do damage to our own souls is even more crazy than somebody deliberately chopping off his own hand.

    Bible study is no substitute for genuine catechesis. That is, when you want to learn the faith you need to learn from someone who actually knows what he’s doing. To hand somebody the scriptures and to expect them to make sense of them without proper guidance is worse than foolish — it’s criminal.

    You must realize that the four books we now refer to as the ‘gospels’ were written at least 50 years after Jesus died. That means that Christians were able to propagate the faith for 50 years without having the gospels to refer to. In fact, he gospels weren’t canonized until about 150 years after Jesus died — before then, religious teachers might any of a number of readings to help people understand the gospel — or they might not use any readings at all, and simply speak from their own experience of discipleship.

    In the early days of Christianity, people didn’t have the Bible fetish we all seem to have these days.

    In the early days of Christianity, if I were trying to teach you how to be a disciple, I would get into a one-on-one conversation with you about the value of your soul. I might not quote Jesus at all — and if I did it would be to enhance my teaching, not substitute for it!


    1. Only thing is we don’t have a soul . . . .

      (By which I mean if something cannot be detected by any sense, instrument or otherwise measured, described or observed, it doesn’t exist.)

      So your saying the word of God cannot be understood without years of training? Well that was pretty stupid of God. It doesn’t take omnisicence to know that the best way to spread word to the whole world is to make it easy enough to understand.

      The problem with only having priests explain it is that they will only show the parts that support their argument and not the parts that contradict it. They will also skip the absurd, brutal and disgraceful. Surely religion should be based on an individuals understanding and not by being led like sheep.

      I completely agree with you on the flaws of the Bible. Its not much good is it?

      1. Robert, I appreciate your willingness to be open minded and cooperative with someone who views the world in different ways than you do. I suggested that you and I could have a conversation about the soul and you’ve jumped right into the discussion.

        First off, I want you to know that I’m big fans of both Steve Pinker and Rebecca Goldstein (did you know I’m in Boston?) Consequently, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the mind/body problem so the things you brought up are things I very much like to talk about.

        Most people, I suppose, when they think of ‘soul’ think of three things: volition (or will), subjective experience (sensations and feelings) and identity. When someone asserts that in a ‘previous life’ they were King Henry V what they mean is that they experienced the sensations and feelings of Henry V and had control over the decisions Henry V made. So, it felt like “their” life.

        Trouble is, that’s bogus. The only way to experience Henry V’s life is to have Henry V’s brain and body — which kind of means you’re Henry V, not some guy in the 21st century saying he used to be King of England.

        So, in that sense, you and I agree that there’s no soul apart from the body. But I still believe in the soul; I’m just not thinking of it the way you are.


  6. Actually, Jesus was quite an arrogant SOB and make no mistake.His arrival into Jerusalem on a donkey was no coincidence, and he knew it. He was announcing to all and sundry,”Hey, the king has arrived.”

    Few Christians actually bother to read the whole bible and would have no clue where in the Old Testament this is from and would fail to understand the significance. But the Pharisees, Sadducees and resident population of Jerusalem would have understood, oh yes indeedy!

    And if this man had ‘special powers’ then he must have suffered a mental breakdown at the crucial moment ; or maybe someone stuck a piece of Kryptonite down his shorts?

    Or maybe Yahweh just got fed up, whispered to Pilate and ensured his only son was haul-assed to Golgotha and nailed to a piece of wood?

    Christianity is such a silly religion.

  7. Such good stuff here yet again- I love your thinking about it.

    Would love to write about all of the things you said but I’ll start with some rambling thoughts about this one since I believe you’re up for hearing people’s thoughts no matter what they are as long as there’s no insulting:

    “He’s telling people that they must hate their families.”

    Nope, just saying that if you follow Jesus, you’re going to be hated by people, including the possibility of family members. If this happens, Jesus would want you to choose him over the people who don’t support your decision and it also says while this is hard, he will give you mothers and fathers. Not literally but people in your life who will look after you so you don’t have to fear losing your families love and support no matter how hard this would be.
    And not to literally hate their family but to hate that their family is against Jesus. Jesus causes war because some people will always hate him for what he stands for. A lot of people would be swayed by this and conform so they’re not hated but not Jesus. He stands up for what he believes and knows people will get angry, offended and hate him. He ain’t backing down though, he knows he will create conflict with his message and life. So in this way, he doesn’t bring peace because his message will be fought against and rejected by many. He’s realistic. He knows some will follow him, some won’t and that’s going to cause division but he’s not going to sacrifice division for people not to follow him when those people will experience the peace of God because they are no longer separated from him. Not everyone wants to be close to God though.

    1. Unfortunately, he’s saying hatred is a fact not a possibility. If you look at the quote, Jesus is saying you must love him more than family and he will split family up. It’s not a warning about the possibility that some people won’t like Christianity, he is saying you must. The way I read Jesus is saying he will be the cause of war, as in he will start them, not merely provoke others to attack him.

      1. Sure it’s a fact because he knows it will happen, but it doesn’t mean it will happen to every person and every family but yes it will be a reality in the world. Obviously there are some families who are all believers or if not believers, supportive and respectful so there is no ‘war’ between them though there’s a spiritual and belief division. But they can still love each other and get along.
        Sure we must love Jesus more than any other. Thank goodness he loves us and our families more than we do and calls us to love them as he loves them. Again a split will happen any time people believe different things- doesn’t mean you can’t still love each other and get along.
        ‘It’s not a warning about the possibility that some people won’t like Christianity, he is saying you must.’- Not sure I get this, some people will like Christianity, hopefully the ones who are Christians.
        Yeah, causes war because he still chooses his words and actions knowing some people won’t like them.

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