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Jesus was not the first to teach 'Love Your Enemy'

A Christian wrote: I don't have the time to respond to everything, but right off the top, I suggest that "loving your enemy" is a teaching attributed directly to Jesus.


The teaching predates Jesus.


Do not return evil to your adversary; Requite with kindness the one who does evil to you, Maintain justice for your enemy, Be friendly to your enemy.
- Akkadian Councils of Wisdom (from the ancient Babylonian civilization that existed two millennia before Jesus was born)


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Shame on him who strikes, greater shame on him who strikes back. Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Let us therefore overcome anger by kindness, evil by good, falsehood by truth. Do not hurt others in ways that would be hurtful to yourself.
- Buddhist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)


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MORE BUDDHIST WISDOM


In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.


- The Dhammapada


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Return love for hatred. Otherwise, when a great hatred is reconciled, some of it will surely remain. How can this end in goodness? Therefore the sage holds to the left hand of an agreement but does not expect what the other holder ought to do. Regard your neighbor's gain as your own and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. Whoever is self-centered cannot have the love of others.
- Taoist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)


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People were Christian before Christ ever existed. People were humanistic before Humanism was ever organized. People were loving before LSD was ever discovered. I dug defecating before I ever knew it was a Zen thing to do.
- Timothy Leary, as quoted by Paul Krassner, "The Cynic Route from Crazy SANE to Loving Haight," The Realist, 1967


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For additional "love your enemy" verses from the world's religions visit:
WORLD SCRIPTURE : A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, Dr. Andrew Wilson, Editor (International Religious Foundation, 1991)


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22 comments:

  1. Which of the afore mentioned teachers died on a cross for us?

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    1. Hi Tony, I like to look at it this way, the practical moral teaching, "Do unto others as you would have then do unto you," doesn't mention God, and does not depend on a magical-bloodletting form of forgiveness.

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    2. Hi Edward, hope you don't mind if I share a few thoughts about this...

      You are absolutely right that the golden rule does not mention God and can be found in every religion. You are also right that "Love your enemies" did not originate with Jesus, But, neither Jesus nor his disciples claimed to be teaching a new morality, they claimed to teach a new life, a rebirth, and a power to actually live out these sayings. Notice 3 things...

      1. It's one thing to say these things, its another thing to live them....Notice that neither Buddha, nor Krishna, nor Confucius go lay down their lives willingly, praying for the forgiveness of the people crucifying them. So, their "Love your Enemies" only goes so far:)

      2. Notice also that ideas like "Love your enemies", "Mercy /Forgiveness", and "Expectation of Persecution and trials" are all peripheral ideas with these spiritual leaders, they are not the focus. While with Christ, these things are constantly at the center as if true life and meaning is wrapped in the things themselves. Indeed, what separates the sheep from the goats in the end for Jesus is not those who have attained some perfect state of mind or let go of everything it means to be human and those who haven't, but rather, what separates them is whether or not they have responded to the obvious needs around them.

      3. We can all agree on the golden rule and even loving our enemies if we sit down and really think about it. The real differences show up when things get hard. Where do you get the power to forgive when one of your loved ones has been murdered? Or where do you get the resolve to stay with the people stricken with the plague when even their families have forsaken them, knowing that it will probably kill you? Yet this is exactly what the early church did, and what the church continues to do all over the world. Although I'm sure you can think of some exceptions, it has consistently been Christianity that put itself in the middle of and thrived under persecution and natural disaster.

      Maybe there's a little more to what you call that "magical-bloodletting form of forgiveness" than you realize:) Because it continues to change countless lives and it completely changed me.

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    3. Changes happen, they did for me, but away from a belief in exclusivistic revealed religions. And changes may yet continue, for you or I.

      I never said religious beliefs can't change people. C. S. Lewis remarked that religious beliefs can make people better or worse.

      And in my piece, The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience, I point out that there's a wide diversity of claims people make as to who or what beliefs or groups changed their lives for the better.

      Meanwhile many people simply inherit their religious beliefs, once-born Christians or Muslims or Hindus and have no testimonies to speak of.

      Lastly, it is doubtful that the historical Jesus ever said a word about being born again, as I point out elsewhere. http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2013/10/did-historical-jesus-speak-about.html

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    4. Dmitry wrote: >> >>what separates them is whether or not they have responded to the obvious needs around them.<<

      I think Edward tends to preach to the choir. A lot of Atheists know that to qualify as "Christian," that is, to practice the teachings of Jesus and therefore qualify as a follower, a person is expected to forgive, to provide for the less fortunate, to be kind to those who are not kind.

      Even non-believers can recognize a Christian. It's their main focal point for contention against Christians, as a whole.

      Last time I attended a church, they did not base personal qualification for being a "Christian" upon whether or not an individual practices the teachings of Jesus in their personal life (constituting that elusive "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ) but whether or not you believe in the virgin birth, and whether or not you're sitting in attendance bright and early Sunday morning, whether or not you're voting Republican, whether or not you're bashing this religious group or that minority. And, if not in their church they judge half the community and condemn them to eternal torment... not hardly "praying" for them out of "love".

      A Tree and its Fruit
      …21"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

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    5. Edward, what I'm trying to show is that what you think of as unnecessary for good morality, namely the cross of Christ, is actually what created the greatest morality we know.I'm arguing that what you think strange "magical-bloodletting form of forgiveness", created a morality that's miles beyond any other ethical system produced. Let me explain...

      What is at the very center of Buddhism? A man that had reached Nirvana dying peacefully under a tree. So what do its serious followers do? They escape the world into their mountains and temples and into meditation. Of course they teach ethical behavior but war and suffering only prolong this ultimate goal of escape.

      What is at the very center of Atheism and Materialism? Dawkins put it best, "...nothing but blind, pitiless, indifference." Materialists are forced to construct all their meaning in this world for there is no other life. And although they can be good people and work to make society better,what happens when war and real suffering come crashing in? It destroys all hope, it is something to run from, something to avoid at all costs, save yourself if you can.

      At the very center of Christianity is a cross. And on that cross the claim is that God himself becomes a human and suffers willing for all people in an act of love. That means that God himself does not remain distant from human suffering but becomes part of human suffering. This is the very thing that, when taken seriously, pushes Christianity miles beyond anything else we see. That’s because Christians believe that suffering, though often very painful, ultimately brings us closer to God. That’s because he was willing to suffer for us and with us, we can suffer with him and for him. We can also suffer with great hope because we believe that this life is not the end and that death does not have the last word. Mock this if you like but be sure you understand the implications of every worldview when things get hard. We can all be good people when things are just fine and dandy.

      Now you are right in saying that most people inherit their religious beliefs but don’t forget that so do most secular people and Atheists. We all start somewhere and most people don’t want to question what they believe, they just want to get on with life.The more reason for us to think hard about these things. A statistic that tells us that most people stick with what they are born into tells us nothing about what is actually true.I was born into a Christian family but became very skeptical of the faith as a teenager and eventually I became Atheist.After settling into Materialism, I began to question it Today,I am more convinced of Christianity than ever before not because I inherited it but because of constant questioning and searching for what is true.

      About whether or not Jesus actually taught a “Rebirth” comes through very strongly even if you throw John’s gospel out. Jesus preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come”. Repentance is all about dropping what you’re living for, and living for something completely different. Jesus often points to children and says you must become like one of these little ones if you want to enter the kingdom. Jesus often speaks parables about seeds, planting new life by his word and even the kingdom of heaven itself is described as a mustard seed. It might as well have been summarized as a “Rebirth”.On the other hand, given that these gospels were written while many of the eye witnesses were still around and written by the eye witnesses themselves, given how strict and careful this culture was about their the oral tradition and how information was passed around and confirmed, given that these same eye witnesses died brutal deaths not simply for what they believed but what they themselves heard and saw(liars make bad martyrs) I think we can say that even if John’s gospel was more theologically developed, it could hardly stretch the truth of what was there.

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    6. Dmitry, You concentrate on Christianity's successes which is not to say I deny them, But its excesses throughout history demonstrate that Christianity has much in common with other enthusiastic mass movements that believed they had the answers and could promise paradise of one sort or another, and could blame some scapegoats for their failures. Christianity also had psychos rise to power and support Christianity via psychotic means, which it has in common with other enthusiastic mass movements from fascism and communism to Islam. Christians persecuted more Hellenists than Hellenists persecuted Christians. Christians persecuted fellow Christians, Hellenists, Jews, women, gays, witches. Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, demanded that rulers persecute their citizens for blasphemy and heresy. Christian leaders from popes to Luther and Calvin argued that rulers must persecute such people.

      Christianity has been defanged today due to the rise of secularism and science, and the mixing of religions in the same country. Countries are no longer homogeneously religious. But the Vatican denied and denounced freedom of conscience right up till the middle of the last century.

      Neither did Christianity copyright virtue, love, beatuy, shaking hands, smiling when a friend calls your name. Christianity did not copyright the fact that joys shared are doubled and sorrows shared are halved. Those are more basic than any religious interpretation of them.

      There is no firm evidence that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses and you can see the stories growing over time from Mark to Matthew and Luke to John (a Gospel that builds its story about Jesus' anointing and Lazarus' resurrection out of bits and pieces of earlier tales in earlier Gospels). Moreover, Nearly all of Mark is reproduced in Matthew and Luke, and all three Gospels agree concerning those parts, but both Matthew and Luke diverge the most in the sections where they could not follow Mark, in their later added stories of Jesus birth and post-resurrection appearances.

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  2. I like Leary's comments, however it should go without saying that what Jesus said was true before jesus taught it, before he was born, before Budhha et al. The point about Jesus teaching it was that he was opposing the 'eye for an eye, life for a life' prevailing teaching of the religion and ethos around him. He was claiming that actually Yahweh, the Jews' God, wanted them to to love their enemies. And besides, strictly speaking, for believer sin Jesus, Christ existed before Buddha, before anyone, as he is God.

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  3. Edward, thank you for being patient and discussing these things:)

    You are right to denounce the many so called “Christians” who have persecuted others in the name of Christ and I would denounce them with you.As a matter of fact, so would Christ.The proud, self-righteous, religious authority were the people Jesus was most angry with.What I want you to see is that these kinds of things are not Christianity but are a perversion of Christianity.Jesus never forced anyone to accept him and those who take up the sword to defend the name of Christ are disobeying an explicit command from him.

    On the other hand notice that what Stalin did and what Hitler did was no perversion of “blind, pitiless, indifference.”And if “survival of the fittest” is the only thing that really counts in the end, then what Hitler was doing was right on was it not?If everything is just a mental construct that helps a species survive and is thrown out when it no longer aids survival, what basis do you have for morality?Could this also be why the number of atrocities committed by people who perverted Christianity, are DWARFED by the rivers of blood that flowed in the name of Atheism?What is at the very center of any ideology will constantly tug its serious adherents toward it.

    You sound like a firm believer that secularism and science will replace religion.Let’s not forget that modern science started within a Christian framework, but science has nothing to say about things like morality and human rights. Remember also that doing away with religion in the name of science has been attempted many times.I think the Atheist thinker Jürgen Habermas who used to speak out against religion and now warns people who want to do away with it, put it best-"Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk."

    Also, Christianity does not try to copyright virtue,beauty,love, etc. It provides a basis for believing those things are more than just illusions of a material brain.

    Now the fact that there are variations in the gospels does not prove we have no reliable eye-witnesses.I think it does show there is no conspiracy.If they had matched up perfectly and obviously, that is what would have been really suspicious.I am told that when you examine the eye witnesses of an accident their stories will often vary, they can even get certain details wrong (they are human and there could be a lot going on inside and outside of them). However, the fact of the accident comes through very strongly.We see a similar thing here.When we bring all the evidence together there are variations yes but the resurrection comes through very strongly.I think “no reliable eye-witnesses” is a truly difficult position to defend.You’re acting as if the unreliable witnesses said everything and the reliable witnesses that preached these events and died for them said nothing.That does not follow.Having said that I think most of the variations can be worked out pretty well.Also, keep in mind that Mark was not one of the 12.It looks like he wrote down the most common information that was being passed around: the central teachings of Jesus, his death and his resurrection.Matthew and Luke confirm this common info plus add their own details. Matthew was one of the 12 and Luke’s account is much more detailed than Mark’s because he was a professional historian.John was one of the three most intimate disciples of Jesus (along with Peter and James) so naturally he recounts events and prayers that are very intimate.

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    1. Christianity has rivers of blood, millions dead during the colonization of the Americas, Africa and Asia, from the diseases that were spread, and forced labor in farms and mines. Ever read Guns, Germs and Steel? It's a book about how Europe conquered and colonized much of the world. I am not even including the riots of Christians against Christian in the Roman Empire, or the religious wars of Europe, which, if they had cities as large as today, with weapons of today, would have led to countless deaths and pitiless destruction in the name of God. Even as late as the 20th century Christians in Canada were taking native children away from parents to raise them as Christians, also abusing them. Including today's unregulated camps where devout Christian parents send their children either to discipline them or turn them from straight to gay, where kids are abused and even die. Though as I said, Christianity has largely been defanged today, but Christianity still looms large in the U.S. military, which probably makes many Christians proud, but at the same time, the U.S. military is hated as any other Goliath on earth has been hated throughout history, as ancient Rome was hated, as Britain and it's military enforcement of the Opium Trade in China and India was hated, for trouncing around in oversized boots around the world, ostensibly keeping the peace, but also ensuring global business interests. Our country utilizes more of the world's precious resources per capita than any other country. So, for whatever peace we bring to the rest of the world, we get paid more than our share for enforcing it. We also sell more weapons to the rest of the world than any other nation by far. And we spread more "Christianity" too. During the Iraq war some gun sites had Bible verses, as did a tank's barrel. Bush's daily reports on the war has Bible verses on the first page. Bush claimed God was leading him to invade countries.

      Did you know that Chinese Christians have admitted that even if China becomes a Christian nation they have their own special sense of their country's destiny and primacy, and need not necessarily join with the U.S. and it's world designs? Christian nations in the past certainly had little trouble getting into fights with each other.

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    2. I don't know what franchise of Christianity you espouse, but I bet you have spoken with a fair number of Christians from rival franchises with whom you could argue continually. Personally, I would like more conservative Christians, Muslims, Jews, to move toward more moderate views and entertain more questions rather than proposing that there's is the only way to heaven, and non-believers are going to hell.

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  4. Hitler and Stalin were opposed, as was Napolean. Even Mao's image is no longer displayed everywhere in China as it used to be. And the Japanese certainly don't praise Hirohito any more. Nor the Italians Mussolini. Why? Because dictatorial bloody conquerors attract plenty of counter-reactions from the countries around them. One doesn't even need to point to absolute moral laws to see how expected such a reaction is. Also, the French Revolution proved that the masses eventually get fed up with heredity kingships as well and seek representation. Nearly every heredity kingship in Europe suffered revolution from that period onward. Russia took no note of the danger, kept their Czarship kingship in place, with the religious authorities kept praising the Czar like God's representative on earth, and the Czar is the one who was using secret police and who set up the Gulags in Siberia, and while the rest of the Christian nations in Europe were tearing each other apart in the first World War, many Russian's revolted successfully during the final year of World War 1, taking down Russia's king. One could have seen that coming based on the previous revolutions in Europe. Chinese communism arose following the tremendous horrors of the Japanese invasion and then after civil war in China itself. Chinese communism was a young enthusiastic mass movement with its own holy book, Mao's sayings, and promises of heaven on earth. Western nations had also spent a couple centuries colonizing China and forcing them to make opium among other things. The west was hated for inspiring a revolution in China where tens of millions died, when some Chinese fellow claimed he was a further Son of God like Jesus. Christian missionaries even helped keep opium being produced in China by acting as translators for the British military. The Mandarins wanted to stop the trade because it was ruining their own people who got hooked on opium. But the British insisted it continue. See the Opium Wars. At any rate, one does not have to look far to see how and why the Chinese would look askance at the West, and turn to some home grown new movement like communism.

    On morality and beauty, no one says they are absolute illusions. They are the result of humans interacting with humans and with nature. They are not some isolated ideas hanging in space that a single individual can understand without contact with other humans. Humans are the ones who realized that they liked contact with other humans. Humans find other humans interesting, challenging. Words in a language have no meaning aside from agreed upon meanings among a group of humans. Likewise with morality and art. People also agree in that nearly everyone would agree that they dislike having their lives or belongings taken from them at the whim of another person, or even at the whim of natural disasters or disease. That's why we came up with moral rules. We also know inside ourselves that we are tempted to do selfish and hateful things, all the more reason to seek to enforce such rules, because you never know what the other person is going to do.

    God doesn't have any such trouble, can't be hurt by people or other gods, or by natural disasters or by disease. So God didn't need to develop rules, or make safety regulations or develop ways to be free of disease. But people did realize they needed such things.

    Since you have not studied the exact differences between the Gospels and don't even seem to know much about why scholars, including Evangelicals, favor Markan Priority today, I doubt you are at a point where you can even conceive of the literary borrowings and literary changes made from Gospel to Gospel.
























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    1. Fair enough Edward, I do not want to excuse Christians from anything you just said, in fact I often remind them of these events and would encourage them to read them here. I have never been a fan of main stream Christianity, nor have power and Christianity ever mixed, they are by definition opposed. I hate it as much as you do when people try to use it to justify persecution, oppression, or any political cause, nothing could be further from Christianity. Christ himself said that just because you call him "Lord" means nothing, "You will know them by their fruits". That's why I encourage people to read the gospels for themselves instead of take it on political or religious authority. I think it becomes obvious how messed up the world (religion included) is when just read what Christ was saying. What is really scary is that this problem becomes more and more obvious inside yourself. I too am part of the human problem. The more I study the gospels the more clearly I could see things inside myself that could turn into a tyrant given the right conditions, the fear, the outrage, and the power to get away with it. This is not just a Christian problem, it is a human problem. Christianity convicts the conscience more than anything else (which is why many hate it and many pervert it). It is not about the warm feelings we CAN all have toward each other (as you suggest), it insists you do the right thing no matter how painful and trust God with the justice.

      Still I think it's kind of ironic. The enlightenment was full of people fed up with religion as you seem to be, as Richard Dawkins seems to be. Their solution was the same as yours: Get rid of God or push him into the private space and use our natural moral sense and scientific knowledge to construct our own utopia. Yet this launched the bloodiest era in history. These Godless utopias are where blood flowed hardest and fastest! What will you do differently? I notice people that want to do away with God are not so averse to playing God themselves. After the great socialist experiment was over in Russia, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who knows more about Russian history and culture than you or I, summed it up this way - "if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’” People like Richard Dawkins are only flirting with Atheism, they have not thought out the implications nor have they lived under systematic Atheism like my family has. They want to do away with God while retaining Christian absolutes. This cannot be done. I agree we have a moral sense and as you say "We know inside ourselves that we are tempted to do selfish and hateful things", but has that ever been enough? There are other moments we "know inside ourselves" that we better “kill or be killed”, or that “it’s my happiness or his”, what objective moral principle is going to guide any of us there? Please, do continue to fight erroneous religion, but before you do away with God and with Christ's example, you need to tell us clearly what you plan to put in its place. What we “know inside ourselves” is not going to mean anything when life becomes unfair, or unpleasant, or unsafe.

      I take your criticism on my lack of scholarship:) I am no scholar and although I do feel like I have a good grasp of some things, I have a long way to go:)

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    2. "It is not about the warm feelings we CAN all have toward each other (as you suggest), it insists you do the right thing no matter how painful and trust God with the justice."

      Actually, when a person has been raised in a loving environment and taught the value of responsibility, it's often more difficult for them to do the wrong thing.

      As for Christianity "insisting" that people do the right thing, every organization from family members to one's job, has things they "insist" you do. That again is part of humanity.

      In fact, Martin Luther insisted that everyone in Saxony be trained in learning his catechism and not deviate from the beliefs therein. And John Calvin insisted that everyone in Geneva be trained in learning his catechism and not deviate from the beliefs therein. Very insistent folks. So much so that Luther and Calvin would have sought to banish "Christians" like yourself from their provinces, just as they both banished and executed (if they dared to return) freethinking individualist Christians (then called Anabaptists, who believed one need only read the BIble).




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    3. Am I fed up with religion? I am agnostic, not someone who wants to eradicate all forms of religion and spirituality, and certainly not via legal means. I just find that arguments (usually by Christians) in favor of a particular collection of writings being inspired above all the rest have too many holes in them. I also have questions concerning whether or not the historical Jesus was all that loving, or simply a cult leader asking people to abandon their families and join his final judgment day cult. And I wonder why people who do read the Bible devoutly their whole lives come to such different conclusions and have come up with so many varieties of Christian worship, living, sacraments, and interpretations of what the Bible really means, even what the Bible is telling them to say, or how to act toward others, toward their children, toward government laws, etc.

      Also, if your interpretation of Jesus differs from mine, so be it. So long as we are not unnecessarily angry at one another due to differing ideas.

      Take care!

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    4. I am glad to hear you are not advocating the “Militant Atheism” of Dawkins. Also, I love agnostics and your objections are thoughtful and legitimate.I don’t mean to drag on but can I just share my thoughts about your reservations, since many of them used to be my own?If this is not helpful, toss it, you don’t even have to post it.

      Why are there so many different varieties of Christianity?Because people are obsessed with control.Jesus said a lot of interesting things, many people latch on to one thing and build their entire church and theology on it or on set of beliefs and they enjoy converting and telling others they need to believe this to be true Christians and join their church. So where are the true Christians?You won’t hear about them.They are not after recognition or making sure people believe a set of doctrines, they are too busy living the Christian life and giving themselves cheerfully and serving others.They are at every level of society.When you meet them they will hardly strike you as religious and they will be more interested in you than anything else.“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,if you love one another.", ““The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.””

      Was Jesus all that loving or simply a cult leader asking people to abandon their families for his final Judgement day? When Jesus makes his most revolutionary statement “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…. a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household…”,he is not trying to destroy families, he is using the closest relationships we know to get at something very profound. Think about this. What is every revolution about? It’s about your family! Everyone who revolts says, “My family!”, “We’re oppressed!”, “We matter!”, “It’s our turn!”,Jesus on the other is showing us where his revolution takes place.The problem, according to Jesus, is not out there, the problem is inside every single person and this choice to follow him will divide, but not nations, not races, not parties (like every other revolution does), his revolution will divide the closest relationships because some will choose to give their lives, while others to hold on to them as tightly as they can. In the same speech he says “Whoever does not take up their CROSS and follow me is not worthy of me”.Notice he doesn’t say “Anyone who does not take up their SWORD and fight for me” That’s what every other ideology and revolution says. If you are one of us, you will take up your sword and fight for us! The cross is Christ’s sword.

      Is he loving?Just look at the people closest to his heart,“Blessed are the poor”,“Blessed are those who weep”,“Blessed are the peace makers”, etc.“If you have done it unto the least of one of these (fed, gave drink, took care of), you have done it unto me.”When he’s about to be betrayed he asks his disciples to pray with him, they fall asleep on him yet he looks at them and says “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”, basically “I know you meant well”.When he’s being crucified and he looks down and sees all of us betraying, abandoning,and mocking him, he says“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus is the only God who suffers with us.

      Why favor a particular collection of writings as being inspired above all the rest?Christianity does not claim to have all the wisdom and insight, it claims that God actually embodies in Jesus what our conscience was telling us all along and what our deepest longings have been searching for.John starts his gospel with the Greeks’ “Logos”, telling them here’s what your philosophers have been searching for.There IS a “Reason for existence”(Logos) but it’s not some abstract philosophical principle, it’s a person.

      Anyway there’s a lot more to say but I don’t want to keep spamming your blog:) Thank you for the discussion!

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    5. Thanks once again for being the kind of person you are. Though I think there are many people of all religious beliefs or none who are doing good to others without trying to convert them.

      Also, the structure of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 most likely was familiar to many Jews in the first century BCE, since they were already evidence in the Dead Sea Scrolls before Jesus' day. Also, the Dead Sea Scroll writers are well known for their expectations of a soon coming final judgment). Here are the DDS passages beside the passages in GMatthew:

      “[Blessed is he who walks] with a pure heart” (Dead Sea Scroll 4Q525 2:1); compare, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matt 5:8)

      “Bles[sed] are those who rejoice in her” (Dead Sea Scroll 4Q525 2:2); compare “Blessed are you when men revile you... rejoice and be glad” (Matt 5:11–12)

      Blessed is the man who... in the distress [or ‘meekness’] of his soul, does not despise her” (Dead Sea Scroll 4Q525 2:3–6), and, “In the meekness [or ‘meekness’] of righteousness bring forth [your] words...” (4Q525 4:20); compare “Blessed are the meek” (Matt 5:5).

      The fourth Gospel raises the most questions as to its historicity. It begins with the author's words, not Jesus calling himself the Word. And Jesus does not speak a single parable about the kingdom of God in the whole Gospel, but is depicted as speaking about himself when in public, many "I am" statements. In the earlier three Gospels it says that Jesus spoke to the public only in parables. And in the earliest Gospel, GMark, it says Jesus did not even talk in public about being the Messiah.



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    6. I’m not immune to bias but going over the gospel of Mark with my study group over the last year or so I get a strong sense of this “I am” from Jesus even in that gospel. For instance, after Jesus is baptized he’s reported to hear a voice from heaven “You are my son…”. In chapter 2 Jesus claims he can forgive sins to the outrage of the Pharisees. In Chapter 5 he restores a mad man who calls him “Son of the Most High”, then tells him to go tell his own people what the “Lord has done you”. End of chapter 8 Jesus says “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the son of man will be ashamed of them when he come in HIS FATHER’S glory…”. End of chapter 9. His disciples try to rebuke someone else casting out demons in HIS NAME, but Jesus encourages it. Even in this gospel, Jesus isn’t simply asking people to follow God in general, but to follow him specifically as though he is the very point where God begins to interact with the human race not just a the creator, but as Father through his son. In chapter 12 Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about the Tenants where the owner keeps sending his servants and the tenants reject, beat, or kill. Finally, the owner sends HIS SON and they kill him as well. Implying very strongly that he is that son (not just prophet or sage) that is sent from God and that they are looking to kill him. End of chapter 12 Jesus asks people to think about whose son the Messiah really is if even David calls him “Lord”. Finally, when Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin in chapter 14 he’s asked if he is the “Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”, Jesus says “I am, and you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the Might One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

      The fact that there are no parables in John’s gospel doesn’t strike me as odd, most of his parables had been flushed out in the previous three gospels and people then HAD to choose what to write about because it was not cheap or easy like it is today. John seems to focus much more on the private interactions. There were Pharisees who were honestly trying to understand Jesus. He had one on one interactions as well as interactions with a few people at a time, some trying to understand, others trying to play him. It’s pretty clear that John was one of closest disciples of Jesus (likely the closest) so it does not seem surprising that he focuses on these private interactions that very few other people saw. It also makes sense that Jesus is more explicit about himself in these interactions.

      It’s also pretty clear that Jesus often tries to hide his true identity in public, especially at the beginning of his ministry because he wants people to listen to his teaching, to think about what it means to follow him, to learn God’s character not just run after his power. This identity really begins to leak just before his crucifixion partly from people reporting their private interactions, partly because Jesus by now has preached his message and knows he’s now ready to go through with his death, he doesn’t manage that identity as tightly anymore and I think you get more and more of the John’s type gospel there.

      Part of the problem, I think, is that we all are imposing our idea of Jesus and we only think we’re being objective. That’s why conversations like this are very helpful:)

      Thanks! I will look into those Dead Sea Scroll passages!

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    7. Oh forgot to mention, besides the parables being already heavily talked about in the other gospels, John seems to be writing to a Greek audience that is much more interested in philosophy and theology. You can see that from his thesis that he starts his gospel with (and yes I realize this is John's thesis and not Christ's own words), the "Logos" Greek term, he's constantly picking events and sayings of Jesus that support this Greek idea embodied the very person of Christ.

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    8. The fourth gospel, GJohn, starts with the author's words, not Jesus'.

      Jesus proclaims his identity throughout and is recognized as both the Messiah and "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" from the very beginning of his ministry, starting with chapter 1 (1:16,29-34,41,45,49,51; 2:11,18; 3:13-30; 4:25-26,42; 5:18-47; 6:25-69; 7:28-29; 9:37; 10:25-26,30-36).

      Compare the synoptic gospels, especially in Mark (1:11, 25, 34, 441 9:9, etc.). Jesus keeps his Messiahship a secret so that as late as his entry into Jerusalem the multitudes hail him as a prophet (Matthew 21:10).

      Note also how Matthew 11:2-6 and Luke 7:18-23 agree that John the Baptist wavers in faith in Jesus as Messiah; but according to the Fourth Gospel (1:16, 29-34 and 3:27-30) John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as Messiah from first to last--even calling him “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

      The Synoptics date Jesus’ crucifixion on the day of the Passover (Matthew 26:171 Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7), whereas John places it on the day before the Passover, and at a different hour of the day (John 13:1,29; 18:28; 19:14,31,42). Biblical scholars suspect that the reason for changing the day and hour of Jesus’ death in the last written Gospel was to suit the theological notion of its author that Jesus was “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” a notion the author preached early in his Gospel, putting it into the mouth of John the Baptist--and bringing it up again at the moment of Jesus’ death. Therefore he altered Jesus’ day and hour of execution so it would coincide with the day and hour the Passover lambs were being slain. Unfortunately, having altered the day (and hour) to try and make a theological point, the Johnnine author never concerned himself with the fact that Passover lambs were not slain for “sin.” The animal in the Hebrew Bible that did have the “sins of the people” placed on it was not a lamb at all, but a goat--neither was the goat slain but kept alive in order to carry away the sins of the people into the wilderness, i.e., the “scape goat.” I guess for the author of the Fourth Gospel, the lamb illustration was “close enough."

      And though the account of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:9 (cf. 1:4 and 10:18) leaves open the suspicion that John was greater than Jesus and that Jesus was sinful, John 1:29-34 and 3:26 eliminate these suspicions.

      Jesus’ concern for Israel as depicted in Matthew 10:5-6 and 15:24 is unknown to the Johannine Christ (John 5:45-471 8:31-47). Instead, more than sixty times the word(s) “Jews” and/or “The Jews,” are used to depict Jesus’ enemies, even by Jesus himself. [Since Jesus himself was a “Jew” the repeated use of such an eminently broad term makes greater sense if it was not spoken by the historical Jesus, but was a phrase that began coming up more often only after Jesus’ death, at a time when a rift continued to grow between Christian communities and “The Jews.”

      In the Synoptics Jesus is under the Law (Matthew 5:17-20) and observes the Passover Meal (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7), whereas Jesus in John is not under the Law and therefore does not partake in the Passover Meal (John 13:1). Accordingly, John’s Jesus refers to “your Law” (John 8:17; 10:34; cf. 7:19; 18:31) and “their Law” (15:25).

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    9. Preaching about the coming kingdom was central to the synoptics and mentioned 17 times in the short early GMark, starting with Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Matthew changes it to "kingdom of heaven") Matthew and Luke mention "kingdom of heaven/God" and/or "kingdom" 30 times or more, each ). But "kingdom of God" only appears twice in the fourth Gospel and "kingdom" two times. That's because the fourth Gospel is a later creation and has distanced itself from the apocalyptic Jesus and is busy trying to institutionalize Christianity and Christian sacramental views.

      Jesus of the synoptic gospels is a charismatic healer-exorcist and end-time Suffering Servant who speaks as though a Son of Man will arrive to inaugurate the final judgment and bring on the supernatural kingdom of God (Matthew 10:23; Mark 10:18), whereas in the Fourth Gospel Jesus is the Logos incarnate on earth, a God-Man who exorcises no demons but who proclaims a sacramental, mystical, physical, churchly, eschatological doctrine of redemption. It's a later version of Jesus. It a later “sacramental” tale, because baptism and the Lord’s Supper ("you must eat my flesh and drink my blood or you have NO life within you") produce “the new birth;” it’s “mystical” because these sacraments produce “union” with God and Christ (“we shall be one”); it’s “physical” because these sacraments are physical means that produce a physical effect, the glorification of the flesh to make the flesh capable of resurrection; it’s “churchly” because these sacraments must be administered by the church, for only in the church can the Spirit unite with the elements to produce salvation; and it’s “eschatological” because these sacraments produce the resurrection of the flesh.

      In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus spoke openly during the day to whomever asked him “how to inherit eternal life,” and placed commands of obedience, such as honoring one’s parents, and not stealing from other people, or even giving away one's money to the poor, high on the list of “how to inherit eternal life.” Only in the fourth Gospel does Jesus answer how to inherit eternal life based on the singular necessity of being “born again,” and that it not taught in public but to a single person “at night,” adding that everyone who doubts it is “damned already.”

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  5. "Son of God" is not to be confused with
    "God the Son," the Trinitarian phrase.

    "Son of God" was a common term in both the Jewish and Hellenistic world, which is probably why it also wound up in the earliest Greek written Gospel, GMark.

    For instance the Roman Emperor Augustus (the adopted son of the previous emperor, Julius Caesar), was referred to as "son of a god" via the term divi filius which was later also used by Domitian. In the Old Testament, angels, just and pious men, the descendants of Seth, and the kings of Israel are all called "sons of God." In fact God adopts kings of Israel as sons at their coronation per a psalm, "THIS DAY... " you become God's son, per the Psalm.

    Scholars have much to say about GMark's anti-Roman-imperialistic bias, not just related to the baptismal scene in GMark. So the Markan baptism scene is reminiscent not only of Israelite kings becoming the adopted sons of God, but of Roman practices of adopting sons, because in Rome the adopted sons were the powerful sons. A Hellenistic audience would certainly have understood the scene in GMark that way. Here are some references: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=jesus%20adopted%20sonship%20roman%20%22gospel%20of%20mark%22

    Notice also that GMark has no virgin birth tale, but begins with Jesus' baptism and only at that point is Jesus declared to be God's "son." Many scholars point out that this assumes an adoptionist type of Christology. Both Jews and Hellenists would have understood it that way. In fact by citing a dove landing on Jesus that also appears to be a reaction to the eagle being the Roman Empire/Emperor's bird.

    Lastly, note that in GMark: "Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, HE saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Does not say everyone saw or heard this. Though by the time the fourth Gospel was composed it says the Baptist saw the descent of the Spirit-dove.

    Let me also add that the fourth Gospel's talk of "love," resembles the way members of religious cults talk about "love." There is no command to love one's neighbor or enemy, just to love "one another." See what social scientists say about the fourth Gospel here: http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-gospel-of-john-consists-of-anti.html

    There is also evidence that the author of the fourth Gospel made up the "born again" conversation with a Nicodemus, http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2013/10/did-historical-jesus-speak-about.html

    And made up the tale about Jesus being anointed by Mary and that Mary had a brother named Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/02/perfumed-jesus.html




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