What I don't get about Christian fundamentalists, apart from their inability (unwillingness?) to see that much of the Bible is metaphorical (Jesus himself is famous for his metaphorical stories - the parables), is that they pay so much attention to quotations from the Old Testament (to be discussed in some future post maybe) and to what the apostles, his imperfect followers, had to say. In my view, the most important and only entirely essential information required by a Christian is to be found in the gospels.
Although the apostles were delegated by Jesus to carry on his work, they were still fallible and made mistakes. They were different from you and me only in that some of them knew him personally, but that wouldn't automatically make them great teachers themselves. I have known at least one great teacher in my life, and I can tell you that neither I nor any of the other students who learned from him could ever presume to convey more than an imperfect remembrance of only a very small portion of all of the things that he said and did during the time that we knew him. Great teachers speak truth from a place of inner certainty and knowing. Jesus spoke from his own inner awareness and certainty of the fact of his divinity and of ours (from the Christian viewpoint, logic dictates that if God is our father, we are his children, and therefore also divine – another future post, maybe). When Jesus said "follow me - I am the way", he was instructing his followers to BE like him.
It is my opinion that the writings of the apostles in books other than the gospels could be compared to this or any other blog post where someone writes about what they think about some subject, and such writings may or may not be of any value in terms of ultimate truth. I think one must really consider and decide for themselves whether or not to accept as truth anything that is written, no matter where it is written or who the author might be.
Some of the breadcrumbs of Jesus' thought processes, however, which could be useful for someone who wanted to emulate him, remain in the few things that he is alleged in the gospels to have said and done, although likely not everything was recorded accurately or completely. Nevertheless, it seems to me that what Jesus had to say, and his reported behaviour as recorded in the gospels should provide the definitive behavioural guidelines for anyone wanting to be Christ-like, and while there are some inconsistencies, mostly the messages are pretty consistently:
- "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
- "forgive others"
- "do not judge others"
- "feed the hungry"
- "visit the sick"
- "give to the poor"
- "be merciful"
- "love one another"
- "love your enemies"
I have wondered, since many supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, how Christian fundamentalists reconcile with their supposed faith and "saved" status the dropping of bombs on anyone, since Jesus admonished "love your enemies", and taught such things as "Blessed are the merciful", and "Blessed are the peacemakers", and "whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment", and "for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil", and "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not him that is evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also". I can't find anything in any of the recorded words or deeds of Jesus that would justify dropping bombs on anyone.
Jesus also allegedly said some pretty amazing things like
- "greater things than these shall ye do"
- "if you had the faith of a grain of mustard seed, you could move a mountain"
I don't see any Christian fundamentalists trying to move mountains or perform miracles, or even trying to convince anyone else that this is possible, and I bet if anyone started moving mountains or performing miracles, there would be a huge outcry that the miracle worker/mountain mover is the anti-Christ. If Jesus came back again, would he be recognized? Would the fundamentalists accept him or call him the anti-Christ? How would they know it was him and not some impostor?
These long dark past eight years, I have wondered how those who think of themselves as being Christians could continue to support and defend an administration that, among all the other terrible things it has presided over, so obviously cares nothing for the poor and has done everything possible to facilitate further filling the already over-full coffers of the very rich.
Jesus is also reported to have said "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits". A lot of bad fruit has come out of the Bush administration - we now have a 10 trillion dollar deficit (this seems like minus fruit to me), there is a huge financial crisis with more and more people losing their investments, their retirement funds, their jobs and their homes with each passing day, more than 1.3 million Iraqi people are dead because of an illegal war undertaken on the basis of known lies - these are but a few examples of all the bad fruit. Bush and his minions are at least false prophets and Bush is himself possibly the anti-Christ, except he will be gone in a few days and hopefully won't feel inspired to push the button as his last dastardly deed before we see the backside of him. I hope that the next time we must endure the frontside of him, he will be sitting in a court of law where he will be made to answer for his many crimes. He claims to be born again, but his fruit says otherwise - a bad tree (my apologies to all trees, but please blame the Lord for the analogy) who won't be gone soon enough for me.