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Jesus: Conservative or Liberal, a response

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There is currently an ongoing debate, in and out of religious circles, as to whether or not Jesus was a conservative or liberal. Actually, the debate has been ongoing since shortly after his execution, when the first oral versions of the gospel stories began circulating. Relax.  I’m not going to rehash the entire debate here. What I’m going to do is comment on the two most recent entries into the debate; one by Frank Schaefer entitled, “Conservative Christians would have hated Jesus”, which appeared originally in AlterNet (and reprinted in Salon) and one by Trent Horn entitled, “Jesus is not the property of Liberal Commentators”, which appeared in Catholic Answers. (Both of these articles have been posted on Facebook and you can, if you wish, read them at your leisure).

While both commentators present ample examples from scripture to support their particular point-of-view, neither of them seem to grasp the crux of their disagreement.  Why must Jesus be all this or all that? It seems to me Mr. Horn and Mr. Schaefer are determined to “deconstruct” Jesus and, from the remains, reassemble him into two different (and opposite) men, each one capable of representing their conflicting perspectives. The problem with this approach is, it doesn’t work like that. I doubt, in spite of how they present themselves (and their arguments), neither Mr. Horn nor Mr. Schaefer is totally liberal or totally conservative in every single aspect of their lives.  Neither was Jesus. Neither are any of us. (If you are, you need to stop watching Fox News).

In any event, that’s not the main reason I was incited to write this post. What prompted my keyboard was something Mr. Horn wrote in his response to Mr. Schaefer.  He wrote:

“The only way we can know anything about Jesus or what he wants us to do is by reading the Scripture God gave us and listening to the teachings of the Church Christ founded.”

There are two things that irritate me about the above statement; one is minor, the other not so much.

I get really peeved when people use the word, “Christ”, as if it were Jesus’ last name.  It’s not.  Jesus’ full name was Jesus ben Joseph (or Yeshua ben Yosef, if you prefer). Christ ,”cristos” in Greek, means “anointed”, an appellation bestowed on the “messiah” by the High Priest and was bestowed on every king of Israel as a sign of his legitimacy, a sign that he was chosen by God to lead the people.

The other point of contention I have with Mr. Horn’s statement has to do with Jesus founding a church.  He didn’t. The idea of a church, Christian or otherwise, was as foreign to Jesus as monotheism was to a Roman.  Jesus was a Jew preaching to Jews, and only Jews.  The truth is, Jesus was more than a little xenophobic when it came to preaching. When he sent his disciples out to preach the coming of the kingdom of God, he purposely told them, “. . .Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But rather go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (Matthew, Chap. 10; v. 5,6). Kind of strange, considering how Jews have been treated by “Christians” ever since.

What became the Roman Catholic Church was founded by another Jew, Saul of Tarsus (later to be known as “Paul” of Tarsus. Given his early reputation as a persecutor of Christians – for heresy, no doubt – it’s not surprising he changed his name).  Until Paul came on the scene, “those who followed the Christ” were a small Jewish sect presided over by James, the brother of Jesus, and Simon Peter, Jesus’ foremost apostle. After his “conversion”, Paul approached James and Simon Peter with the idea of preaching the “word of Jesus” to the Gentiles.  James and Simon Peter agreed the idea had merit, but there were certain conditions that had to be met; namely, that prospective converts had to convert to Judaism before joining the sect.  There were other conditions, as well, but, suffice it to say, the three men disagreed and Paul left Jerusalem intent on spreading the word of Jesus to anyone who would listen. There’s a lot more to the story, but Paul has enough to answer for, so I won’t dump a lot more on his plate.

Anyway, that’s how the Church was begun. Now I realize Mr. Horn, a convert to Catholicism and a conservative commentator writing in a Catholic publication, has to tow the “company line”, but there’s a limit (or there should be).

I realize, in today’s climate of conservative ascendancy, with right-wing “Christian” conservatives and TeaParty wingnuts leading the charge, it’s necessary to present one’s religion as non-threatening as possible.  After all the gospel writers did the same thing to escape persecution by the Romans.  But lately all this “Jesus was a Conservative” talk has begun to sound as though Mr. Horn and his conservative co-commentators are apologizing for Pope Francis’ recent decidedly non-conservative behavior.

Sad, that.

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One Response

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  1. So…..I’m thinking th

    scfaler

    December 2, 2014 at 9:39 am


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