Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is Jesus' Teachings All That Bad?

"What we cannot do (in my opinion) is disregard the “Jesus bits” we don’t like, simply under the method that we don’t like them. They ARE there." (Dagoods)

I think Dagoods raises a good point - we cannot forget one piece of Jesus teachings when we look at the whole thing - agreed. I have looked through the gospels with my own eyes and I cannot find a single teaching - via Jesus - that seems all that bad. There is the Luke 'hate' passage, I have seen Jesus calling out the 'Pharisee's', and even the lady called a 'dog'. I have actually went into various explanations about each verse on my own blog - hate, pharisee's, and the dog passage (actually I never blogged on this - commented on another site about it).

I actually stand by something I said in other comments - find me one single place where Jesus actually teaches something horribly wrong (that will ruin society)? I have yet to see one single passage as of yet - I can look harder - but what's the use - I have read those gospels at least 50 times each - and nothing about vices as virtues is ever supported. Now this may happen in current society (churches and religious groups) but the texts themselves do not support it.

Things I learned from Jesus' teachings are: love my neighbor (even if he is someone who dislikes me), compassion, treat others how I want to be treated, problems start as thoughts, equality of men and women/everyone, the rich need to care for the poor, we are to be subject to the justice system, seek justice, don't be a hypocrite, forgiveness & mercy, judging my own behavior (or don't judge at all), being a peacemaker vs. a troublemaker, integrity, knowing about religious hypocrisy, freedom, sincerity, fake oaths & lying should not be done, doing something instead of merely believing something, wisdom tempered by peacefulness, charity, an outlook of hope, etc...this list can go on and on.

Just showing that the things Jesus actually taught are meant to result in good ends - peace, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, honesty, and a belief system that has at it's core value love. That can't be all that bad?

"I agree that there is nothing wrong with borrowing from Jesus’ teaching. I say we can do better than Jesus teaching!" (Dagoods)

I think it is a hopeful outlook to hold onto - when looking at 'we' as 'those involved in the conversation' - but for one side of this convo (myself) - the place I honed my values was from the teachings of Jesus (from my teens even until now). I would like to think I can 'do better' (as you suggest) - but I would be quite mind-boggled to figure out how that might even look - or how I could actually teach a whole new innovative system that reflects values even shades higher than that of Jesus'? I have a tough time figuring out something higher than 'love'?

Maybe it's just me - but the bible's values are quite alright and can help to shift someone's life from a certain destructive pattern to one of peace - it can happen you know.

18 comments:

DagoodS said...

I am honored, SocietyVs that you took a few of my words and turned it into an excellent post.

Like you, I agree that many of Jesus’ teachings are very good. Love your neighbor. Show mercy. Frankly, if people could live just by Luke 6:27-35 we would have a much different world.

I am not sure there is anything as high of a bar as “something so horribly wrong that it will ruin society” in Jesus’ teaching, however I am especially troubled by Mark 4:11-12.

Jesus taught in parables. When asked about it, he said, “But to those on the outside everything is said in parables, so that, ‘They may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding, otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’”

Was Jesus saying he was deliberately speaking opaquely, because if he was straightforward, they would turn and be forgiven? That seems…well…downright discourteous.

Anonymous said...

I always marvel at what Ghandi did with one teaching of Jesus, that of turning the other cheek and He was not even a believer. We who are believers should do better. Demonstrating our faith through our works has much more impact in our society than all the heaps of sermons we listen to every Sunday.

Good post.

Pam

the_burning_bush said...

Hi SocietyVS,

I really liked the part where you list the teachings of Jesus in the form of what you got out of them.

I especially liked this part: "I have a tough time figuring out something higher than 'love'?"

Love seems like such a minor thing: it's like the 'important' people just want to go beyond it, but, seriously, what is beyond love?

Good post.

Heather said...

I think Pam is touching on a good point. Christians should be the leaders in all aspects of justice, mercy, forgiveness, helping others. And for many people, the only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is the belief structure, and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

In the U.S., Christians have become very consumed with hanging on to the culture and much of their energy has gone into politics rather than taking Christ to a dying world.

pam

SocietyVs said...

"Was Jesus saying he was deliberately speaking opaquely, because if he was straightforward, they would turn and be forgiven? That seems…well…downright discourteous." (Dagoods)

I think that is a very interesting point - to say the least. So I had to research that scripture in a little depth to give a proper response and here is what I have thus far (feel free to ring in).

Matthew 13:9 & Mark 4:9 (coincidentally enough) both mention the same saying prior to the actual Jesus saying and followed by the Isaiah saying 'he who has ears to hear - let him hear'. It would seem to me Jesus in that saying is at least open to the idea 'whomever wants to follow - be free to'.

The parable is the seed and the ground (which does highlight 4 various grounds - in which 3 out of 4 struggle with the message in the story and discard it). The point afterwards does seem to highlight this very parable.

Jesus plainly admits to the disciples they get to know - why? No other reason than they 'followed him' or sought out the answers - since no one seems to be asking in the story for even that much (lack of concern on their part?).

Then the Isaiah passage - which is the wrap-up (or point) for the passage. It comes from Isaiah 6:9-10 but is also used in Isaiah 43:8, Jeremiah 5:21, Ezekiel 12:2 (basically a theme in the prophets - used about the nation of Israel). The point is 'they are not listening - even close their eyes'. I think Jesus is used in this passage by the disciples straight out to point to the fact 'people might not listen to you or the gospel - irregardless of their religious namesake - some people will not do it'.

Which is very common these days between liberal and literal Christians as we see in a lot of areas of debate about scripture - even if the liberal person has a better idea - the literalist will not listen (and it's seen as un-gospel). Basically the scripture is still being fulfilled on some level in our time - or the idea still contains merit. And this example can include when an atheist shows a Christian a better way of thinking - but the Christian 'blows it off' due to the religious basis of the person.

I am not saying I have wrapped this idea by no stretch - but this is what I have so far.

Anonymous said...

If you read Romans chapters 8-14, I think it could add further insight into this. God has a purpose in not giving all of the Jews eyes and ears to hear.

Other than telling you what you should think about those chapters, I'll let you see what you see there for yourself. :0)

Pam

SocietyVs said...

"God has a purpose in not giving all of the Jews eyes and ears to hear." (Pam)

I haven't read Romans 8-14 in some time - what do you think that purpose is? The inclusion of the Gentiles?

Anonymous said...

Yes. If God had not blinded them to Jesus, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation. Paul goes on to state that because God, thorugh His Mercy has saved us, He will be able to save all Israel. That's why I always say that if God could have Mercy on me then He can have Mercy on anybody. I see this as the working out of God's plan to restore all of us and the entire Creattion to Himself at the end of time. I see our Salvation in Christ as the beginning of something truly awesome!

Pam

Megoblocks said...

What I've noticed is most everyone says "Oh I follow all of His teachings, even the part I don't like" and then do quite the opposite.

Seems to touch on James 2:14-18, which would include all those icky parts that Jesus says that we don't like to do:

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

SocietyVs said...

Megoblocks I actually really admire the epistle of James - it could actually read like teachings from Matthew itself...thanks for the comment - I agree 100%.

Pam - I like the comment but does God still 'blind people'?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, somewhat. I think many Christians are blind to God's final purpose of their Salvation in Christ (they seem concerned only with their final destiny) just as the Jews were blind to how God would use the Gentiles. I don't know everything, (surprise huh?) but I do know there are a lot of people blind to Who Jesus Christ is but there will be a time when every eye sees and that will be the completed revelation of Christ. I think God knows what each and every one of us needs in our lives to bring us to the point where we are ready to receive spiritual eyes and see things as they truly are.

If I had never exprienced wind but had only seen the evidence of it from my window as the trees bowed and swayed, I would think the trees moved of their own volition. That is how it is to be blind to God, it is to see movement but not understand the force that moves all things.

Oopps! I think I went off on a rabbit trail. I should probably say, I really don't know but I do know God is working all things to good!

Pam

Anonymous said...

I want to revise what I said a bit. I think it is more that we are all born into a state of spiritual blindness and God decides when is the best time, according to His overall plan, to give us spiritual eyes and ears.

Pam

Jim Jordan said...

Pam said, I think it is more that we are all born into a state of spiritual blindness and God decides when is the best time, according to His overall plan, to give us spiritual eyes and ears.


I think Pam has hit the nail on the head here, answering the difficult question.

But the answer in a nutshell is, "while we are free, God is sovereign", something an atheist wouldn't have ears to hear nor eyes to see until God desires that they understand and believe.

Think of a baseball game. It's the 5th inning and the manager tells his team, "we're going to finish and win this game now!" But you're only in the 5th inning with four innings left before the end [which is why no manager would say that]. The difference is that we don't know when the end of the game is nor the score. It's His game.

One theme that's in Scripture throughout is God's sovereignty. The true God knows what He's up against; our insatiable desire to love a projection, an idol, of ourselves. It is no mistake that Jesus and the prophets focus so much on showing us how we can recognize these projection gods and reject them in favor of a real relationship with the true God.

God is not us. He is separate in many ways and often we're going to be angry with Him. He is first and last our Father, not a projection god that ultimately serves only to help us flatter ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Jim. There is much that is beyond our own personal horizon of time and I think the mistake that is common for all of us to make is to shrink God's plan down within the peramaters of those horizons. In Christ, God has allowed us to take part in something so much bigger than ourselves that none of us can truly see how it all plays out. God does not serve us but we are served when God is glorified and the more glory that we willing give to God the greater filling of that glory we are blessed with to enjoy. How can we be stingy with that? Who is there for us to look down upon or to condemn? Who could possibly dwell beyond the infinite Love of God?

Absolutely no one. In the dispensation of the fullness of time, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. That will bring the second death, the death of Death and all that will remain is Life, Jesus. This my hope in the face of what appears to my human eyes as only darkness.

Thanks for encouraging and reminding me today, Jim. I needed it.:0)

Pam

SocietyVs said...

Thanks Jim and Pam (interesting - this is main name of 2 characters on The Office) for the comments - I think it was a good point Dagoods brought up - and I think discussion about things like this need to happen - since some people don't look very closely at the results of what they believe.

BrotherKen said...

Society, I am coming in a bit late on this one but I would just like to add that... Dagoods concern is not an easy one to nail down. Hear is my take.

I was watching Star Trek yesterday, an episode where the "Oracle" of this planet (actually a spaceship for all the trekkies who have seen each episode a dozen times and will know exactly which one it is) controlled the people by inserting a device into the heads of everyone to keep their obedience. If they did anything against his laws they would be punished with severe head pains. If the discretion was bad enough the pain would kill them.

Sorry this is a bit long, but it all has to do with how I understand the parable method used by Jesus. You see, by using this particular teaching method, he was able to communicate clear concise messages to those who were of a mind to learn. Those who were chasing another truth or idol were not able to grasp the meaning and therefor did not fee the sting of the truth. Jesus never forced anyone's obedience. He came, He taught the truth, He exampled the way, He suffered for us, and we can accept that truth or not.

Once you accept that Jesus died for you... all His parables make sense and you wonder why you were blind to it all along.

Jesus speaking in parables a sneaky bad thing? It was pure genius!

As for there being some way to improve upon the teachings of Christ, I do not believe there is. I believe Jesus died for me. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." John 15:13 What Jesus taught and exampled I have found in no other person. So profound are His ways that I need no device implanted in my brain to keep me obedient, I WANT to be like Him!

SocietyVs said...

Ken, I watched that episode the other day also - I like that one - Bones gets all duped 'peace and love to the brotherhood' - ahh it was great. I think you make some good points - maybe the parables were a good way to learn a hard concept more easily...could very well be - it works with children.