Jesus divided time into before and after. He became a landmark in history. What was the big change that he created? What was the core of his message to us? I have tried to work out what he taught us.
He did not give us a set of rules as was the manner of Moses. If you read the speeches of Moses by randomly opening pages in Deuteronomy — the speeches of Moses — you will fine a lot of negativity. Moses made negative rules. “If they do this, hang them from a tree until dead.” and “If they do that, bury them up to their necks and throw rocks at them.” There was nothing telling you to be ‘good’ — and neither was ‘good’ defined. You were only required not to do the ‘bad’ things that he listed. Society became very ‘legalistic’. If there was a law, you couldn’t do it. If there was no law, you could do it. This is a harsh way of living. If there was no law against ‘it’, you could do it. Jesus tipped this upside-down. He told us that we must not only be good, we must ‘do’ good things. On the subject of badness, he required that you not even think of doing a bad thing. You were not only not allowed to ‘do’ bad things, you were not even allowed to ‘think’ of doing bad things. You were not allowed to even think of copulating with your neigbour’s wife. A modern expression is: “Don’t even think about it.” We no longer accept the negativity of Moses — except in the law system.
The negative rules of Moses live on in the Jewish community and this eventually causes a clash between Christians and Jews. The negative rules of Moses also live on in the laws of the nation-state. “Don’t do this or we send you to jail.” The laws of the nation-state are based on Mosaic Law, whilst the culture of the ‘West’ is based on the ‘be good to others’ philosophy of Jesus.
Jesus arrived and effectively said: “You people have got to start being good to each other.” He was telling us that we don’t need to rely on a long list of ‘don’t do this’ rules, we can simply use one rule: “Be good to each other.” No other rule is needed!
His message was a little more complex than that. His message was mixed. His message was in his stories which were called: “Parables”. He was against ‘legalism’ . He described the people of the time as: “Hard of heart” — they lacked ‘compassion’ – – – and ’empathy’ – – – and ‘common decency’. Jesus did not create a long list of ‘rules’ as had been done by previous prophets. He taught by example. His messages are in his stories. The New Testament was a ‘new covenant’ destined to replace the ‘old covenant’. This ‘New Testament’ is like a book of riddles. You have to ‘work it out’.
Jesus taught by example through his stories. He wasn’t telling us to follow a rigid set of ‘legalistic’ rules but taught us a method of working out ‘right’ from ‘wrong’.
I say: “The ‘real’ Christianity is the ‘rules’ passed down to us by our mother.”
So far, I have identified these rules:
- Be good to others. This lives on in various sayings such as: “Do the ‘right’ thing .” and “Do unto others … “
- He particular told us to: “Be good to women.”
- He told us to ‘stand up’ against ‘wrong-doing’.
- He told us to be wary of ‘tricky’ people — the money-lenders — who will manipulate us through the use of financial power and will hold us in debt through usury.
- Avoid excessive greed. Don’t take more than you need. Don’t be greedy. Give, when you have more than you need.
He also taught us to take up various characteristics which include: compassion, forgiveness, common-decency, honour, honesty, kindness, respect, friendliness, empathy, so forth. Some say that these can be condensed down to one guiding rule: “Love”. A ‘good’ person is one who has these characteristics. I tend to think the most apt description is: ‘Common Decency’. We need ‘Common Decency’. If one has ‘Common Decency’, one is following ‘Christian’ principles. If one is not demonstrating ‘Common Decency’, they are being ‘un-Christian.
However, he taught us more. I take young groups out on Wine Tours. I am often invited: “Andy. Come and sit at our table.” Some might say: “I don’t believe in all this ‘God shit’ “. ” Others might say: “This religions stuff is a load of crap.” Two minutes later, one will point to another and say: “That is wrong.” But they are not referring to any rule book. They are using a ‘moral code’. But where did this ‘Moral Code’ come from? Jesus taught us a way of determining right from wrong without using a rule book. We innately know what is right and wrong without reading a book of law. Our mothers taught us this, reinforced by fathers. A big part of our upbringing is to teach us right from wrong. This is the very core of Christianity. Whilst walking through the shopping centre, you can see mothers demonstrating this Christian philosophy to their young children. So the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’ is a core part of our ‘Culture’. It is well exemplified by ‘Christmas’. We do not say: “Are you Christian? If so, ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Get Stuffed’. At Christmas, it is ‘good will to all mankind’, irrespective of origin or religion. It is an example of how we should live all year. We may not manage it all year, but it is the guide on how to live with others.
Beyond the message of Christmas, there is the moral code that permeates our society. I have long tried to work out what we mean by ‘The West’. It is not whiteness, as we are not all white. It is the area that follows the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’. Those that demonstrate ‘Common Decency’ toward each other are following the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’. The Church is something different. The ‘real’ Christianity is comprised of those that follow the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’. In the years after Jesus, people were called: “Christians’, not because they went to Church, because there was no Church as such, but because they acted like Jesus. It is clear that it is not necessary to go to a Church to be a Christian. If you believe in ‘Common Decency’, you are acting in a Christian manner. Your religion is manifest by the way you live and treat people. If Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, live in our Christian West, we accept them if they are demonstrating ‘Common Decency’. We reject them if they do not demonstrate ‘Common Decency’. To ‘assimilate’ into Western society is to demonstrate ‘Common Decency’. The Church is a fellowship of Christians. It’s common failing is that it is controlled by humans – but it is still needed.
The Church arrived three and a half centuries after Jesus, when Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. The church hinted that you were a better Christian if you went to Church, but his was never an instruction from Jesus. It also emphasized and de-emphasized some of the teachings of Jesus. At stages, it suggested that you could go to heaven by ‘faith’ alone. At other times by ‘indulgences’— giving money to the Church. Although Luther is held in high esteem, he suggested that you could go to heaven on ‘faith alone’. This is wrong. Jesus said “by actions”. Jesus requires us to ‘do’ good things. We need the Church as the Fellowship of mankind. However, being run by humans, the Church can be led astray. The Church has been led astray many times in its history. The Church and Crhistianity are not the same thing. You can be a Christian and never go to Church. You can go to Church each week, and still not be a Christian. Christianity is about how you live your life and how you act towards others.
Common Decency did not exist before we became civilized. Common Decency should never be assumed. Common Decency can evaporate very quickly. Common Decency disappears when society breaks down as in war and the aftermath of war. Common Decency disappears in riots. Common Decency disappears in civil war. Common Decency is ignored in the judicial system that relies on legalism. As soon a a lawyer gets involved in a dispute or marriage relationship, Common Decency is thrown out of the window. Before we learned how to become civilized, there were no rules against rape, murder, and theft. These were just part of common practice. We revert to ‘rule of the jungle’ and pre-civilization’ practices during war and civil discord. In nature, the strong take advantage of the weak — they eat them. Strong takes advantage of weak. The strong animals eat the weak animals. Even as a human, if you look weak to an animal, it will eat you. Civilization required us to make rules about rape, murder, and theft. The rules were tied up with ‘superficial stuff’ an became known as ‘religion’. We have to use methods of enforcing rules on rape, murder, and theft. Religion did it by persuasive methods that eventually brought in concepts of heaven and hell. Religion, thus, persuades the populous to cease rape, murder, and theft without chopping off a person’s hands or ears. Rioters just murder you on the spot. Tyrants hang you up by your toenails. Some will kill your family for having the wrong views. Democracy uses ‘Mosaic’ law, prisons and the hangman’s noose, guillotine, or the modern equivalent, the unreliable electric chair. Jesus simply promised you heaven or hell and did not bother with pulling fingernails.
As ordinary citizens, we expect Common Decency from those around us. We judge others by the standards of their rape, murder, and theft. But not everybody follows rape, murder, and theft. Some will not. We became civilized, but the rich and the strong ignore rape, murder, and theft and take advantage of the weak and poor whenever they get a chance. Even with rules banning rape, murder, and theft, the strong and rich will take advantage if there is no ‘rule’ to say they should not — or they think they can get away with it. You should assume that those that seek high office, do so for personal ‘grandeur’ or for personal gain. If somebody is put into a position of authority, on might hope they act for the benefit of all. If they seek a position of authority, one has to be careful that they do not do it for personal gain. That is the main advantage of democracy. You get to get people out of office if they do not perform. The democracy get destroyed if both sides become corrupted by the same mob. You then get a choice between a bad government or a very bad government.
It was not until ‘Common Decency’ arrived that one could walk freely through the park. Women can walk to the shops without rear. ‘Common Decency’ gives us a workable society.
All the rules of the nation-state are negative. “Don’t do this or we will lock you up with other bad people.” “Don’t do that, or we will fine you.” There is nothing in the laws of the nation-state to say: “Be good.” Neither does the state have a definition of ‘being good’. It does not even have an expectation of ‘good’. It has an expectation of being ‘bad’. As soon as the state thinks you may have broken one of its rules, it slaps you in irons (handcuffs behind your back), fingerprints, and throws you into a barred cell. With shouts of “Innocent until proven guilty’, it interrogates you as if you are guilty.
The problem with the rules of the nation-state is that people will try to get around them or they will think that if nobody finds out, they will be OK. So, it is almost impossible to run a nation on laws alone. Even worse, the polictically-awake will pushed for the laws to be ‘adjusted’ in their favour. A religion or philosophy that tells people to “be good” is needed. And Christianity is a good religion. It has some weaknesses and there is a lack of guidance with some modern phenomenons.
The primary failure of Christians is their gullibility. Satan Pulpit has deceived, divided and diluted Christians. Gullible Christians have been deceived into wars, killing and more. They have destroy that which they have achieved in two thousand years. They are destroying their way of life, their identity, their Church, and the future of their children. Girls queue to become porn stars as if sex was for amusement. They have even been deceived into killing their own children before birth.
Jesus was aligned with the Essenes. The Hebrew society at that time had split into three factions: the Pharisees, The Saducites, and the Essenes. The Saducites were elitist and have since disappeared. The Pharisees believed in big temple in a time when the Church was the government of the nation. The ‘Jewish Virtual Library‘ says that: “The most important of the three were the Pharisees because they are the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism. Their main distinguishing characteristic was a belief in an Oral Law that God gave to Moses at Sinai along with the Torah.” So modern Judaism follows from only one section of the Hebrew peoples — the Pharisees — the very Pharasees whose actions Jesus despised. Jesus spent much of his time severely chastising the Pharisees. The third group was the Essenes. The historian, Josephus, records that Essenes existed in large numbers, and thousands lived throughout Roman Judaea, but they were fewer in number than the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communities and appear to have run hostels and hospitals. They acted as a brotherhood where all activity was for the common good of the community. They did virtuous deeds as an ideal. Essene belief in the immortality of the soul encouraged them to engage in virtue in the hope of reward and the fear of immortal punishment. They studied the documentation from other religions to try to make a better religion. The documentation they studied is now being excavated as the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’. Thus they had a philosophy to improve and make a better religion which matches what Jesus did. There is clearly some relationship between Jesus and the Essenes. This also tells us that we need to modernize our religion in the way that the Essenes intended. There is sixteen years missing from the life of Jesus in the bible, and it appears that he very likely went to areas we now call India and learned about ‘Eastern’ religions. A man of this stature simply did not ‘hibernate’ for sixteen years. He had to learn about change from somewhere. He then came back to Judea and told the people there was a better way and that they had to start being good to each other. If he did not go to India, he appears to have been aligned with the ‘Philosophy of the Essenes’. This is a prime reason for saying that Jesus was not a Jew. The term Jew did not exist. The Hebrews had broken into three sects. The Essenes had an entirely improved philosophy to the Pharisees. And the ‘Jewish Virtual Library‘ says that modern Judaism follows from the Pharisees.
Sometimes, people question me about rule two: “Be good to women.” Jesus effectively said: “If you throw out a woman, and take a new wife, you are committing adultery.” This effectively meant that they would not go to heaven. This stopped their lurk of throwing out a wife and taking a younger model. This was one reason for needing to get rid of Jesus. He would stop their lurk.
Whatever your views of views of heaven and hell, it is a fascinating concept. A nation-state fills jails with persons that fall foul of its laws as Moses decreed in the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus gave us a religion that encourages all around us to live a ‘good’ life without damaging the person. Under a religion, one is one’s own judge and jury. When it comes to your final judgement, you alone know whether you have been good or bad. No external human decides on your afterlife. You alone know whether you are going to heaven or hell. You cannot deceive yourself. Explicit in the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’ is a ‘Get out of jail free’ card. Even if you have been bad, you can start being good, and you might still get to heaven. Thus criminals are not forced into a life long life of crime.
Jesus was never precise about the nature of the ‘kingdom’ of heaven, so as usual, it becomes a play on our imagination. Even in a modern culture, it is necessary for the individual to interpret these two powerful concepts along with the concept of God. The modern era still asks the age-old human question: “Where do I go when I die?” In an added twist, even if you had done wrong, you could still be good or extra good and eventually get to heaven rather than endure the daily torment of hell. Yet hell is not clearly described by Jesus. But other teachings of hell include some horrific punishments — murderers will be “set in worms like clouds of darkness”; women who adorn themselves for adultery will be “hanged by their hair above boiling mire”; women who conceive out of wedlock will be “up to their necks in discharge and stench”; and those who bear false witness will suffer “gnawing their tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths.” The Quran, which arrived around six hundred years later, has an unusually clever one: “If you hoard money, when you die, it shall be heated and burned into your forehead.” Money, being a freely created commodity, needs to circulate to be effective. A ten dollar note creates ten dollars of economic activity each time it moves, even though it came out of a printing machine at no cost. If it were to change hands ten times in a day, it will have created $100 of economic activity which is $36 500 of economic activity in a year. Hoarding has become so endemic that the typical unit of money only changes hands once each year! The Essenes would have adopted a statement discouraging hoarding — “If you hoard money, when you die, it shall be heated and burned into your forehead.” If one is to follow the ‘Philosophy of the Essenes’, it becomes incumbent upon one to pickup good items from other sources and religions. The teachings of Buddha, Confucianism, Krishna, Hindu, the Quran, and other sources are to the benefit of a good person following ‘Philosophy of the Essenes’, which could be construed as an extension to the ‘Philosophy of Jesus’. I don’t think Jesus intended us to be ‘legalistic’. He intended us to be compassionate and his instruction to “be good to others” should tolerate us accepting the good items from other sources.
So a good religion gets good behaviour out of people without jails and electric chairs. A nation-state is not even trusted to provide fair justice and punishes the innocent by pushing them through a stressful inquisition. The laws of the nation-state operate in the same manner as the laws of Moses in Deuteronomy creating a nation of heartless souls devoid of empathy. Some would state that the nation-state uses ‘Judaic Law’. They are negative and create a harsh, un-trusting community where people attack each other with legalistic diatribe with no compassion or common decency. The nation-state legal system creates a harsh society of the type where Jesus described the people as being heard of heart.
Do not think that Jesus was a gentle and kind man. He was constantly rebuking people. He cursed people describing them as a “den of vipers” and of being “hard of heart”. It is only a religion that tells people to be ‘good’ to each other. But not all religions do it as well as Christianity. Many religions give preference to their own above others from other religions. Thus, a nation-state needs a religion (or philosophy). Because religions have different characteristics to their teachings and beliefs, it is difficult to mix religions within one country. Clashes will eventuate. Jesus left us a bit weak in that manner. Being good to others, as in the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is fine provided another group or religion does not take advantage of the common decency without reciprocity. In the ‘Good Samaritan’ story, one group considers it acceptable to beat others and leave them for dead. The message is there. You cannot be trusting of those that would kill you. There is a story of allowing someone to slap you three times. It is not clear what you do on the fourth time. Neither does it state that you should be tolerant of the actions of someone that kills you three times. Nor someone that laughs as they kill your family one by one. There is no instruction on that matter and one can assume that the instinct to ‘self preservation’ should kick in at this stage.
The Hindus of India had a similar problem. Being good to others was fine until the Muslims arrived in India and made mountains of skulls outside Hindu towns. There never will be peace between Hindus and Muslims because of the nature of the Muslim violence when they over-ran India. There will never be peace between Christians and Muslims because of the history of Christian subjugation to Muslim slavery and abuse in the areas over-run by the Muslims in past times. Christianity tends to leave Christians weak in the face of adversity as Christ certainly tells his followers to “turn the other cheek,”. It thus appears that Jesus is advising us to always accept the role of the victim. Consider this passage the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”Jesus as recounted by Matthew 5:38-42 ESV.
An ‘eye for an eye’ is Old Testament. It is the legalistic and harsh life under the laws of Moses. It is also the law of the nation-state. He is only talking about minor incidents of slapping and petty theft. He is not talking about protection from attackers. The violent attacker is not slapping your cheek. We might assume that when under threat of serious harm is permissible to brandish a gun. We need to protect ourselves from the crushing blows of evil. In reality, there is little fear from a responsible person carrying a gun but there is reason to tote a gun when a criminal was about to threaten the lives of you or your family. You can prevent the evil of the evil-doer by carrying a gun. Pulling a gun and killing a person are different things.
Thomas Jefferson described the teachings of Jesus as:
“the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”Thomas Jefferson
But he also believed they had been appropriated by his followers, resulting in a Bible that contained both ‘diamonds of wisdom’ and the ‘dung of ancient political agendas. Everything that you read in the bibles should be tested with the question: “Does it pass the general requirement of ‘be good to others’ ” recognizing that we are required to create a pleasant functional society for all. The bibles are thus a to be treated as a guidebook, not a rule-book. Jefferson’s Bible says “be excellent to each other.”
Christianity tended to convert persons by choice.
 Legalism: The strict adherence to law, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.