What Kind of Christianity Is This?

Though founded by a pacifist, Christianity has justified some of the most brutal slaughters in human history, from the wars of the late Roman Empire to the Crusades to the Inquisition to world wars to genocides against “heathens,” Muslims and Jews. Yet, Gary G. Kohls says the essence of Christianity can still be reclaimed.

By Gary G. Kohls

From time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn.

Altogether too many religions sects of both major and minor religions, despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence).

Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount (painting by Carl Bloch)

Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant and thus they can find passages in their holy books that justify homicidal violence against their perceived or fingered enemies, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous contradictory passages that forbid violence and homicide and instead prescribe love, hospitality, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Behind the scenes, of course, there are hidden elites — amoral, politically and financially motivated operatives who are embedded in these religious organizations — who, through the strength of their political power, can easily manipulate the followers into clamoring for war, not against their enemies, but rather against the enemies of the ruling elites: the politicians, the financiers and the other exploiters of natural resources.

And so nonviolent portions of the various religions – and they are there, albeit often hidden and censored – can be erroneously painted with the same brush that justifiably condemns the hypocrisy and the violence.

It is certainly true that the Catholic Church endorsed and/or orchestrated the genocide of the Crusades, the Inquisition and many wars of colonization and exploitation — with the origins of these atrocities in fundamentalist interpretations of “holy” scripture.

But I do have to take exception to the blanket condemnation of the entirety of the religion by pointing out one reality — that the original form of Christianity, the church of the first generation after Jesus and even most of the first three centuries was a religion of pacifists, oppressed women, orphans, those forced into prostitution, despised people of all stripes and others of those called “the least.”

Though this history has long since been forgotten or ignored, the earliest followers of Jesus rejected violence, tried to return good for evil, fed the hungry, did acts of mercy and unconditional love and tried to make friends out of their enemies (by caring for them, feeding them, praying for them and certainly refusing to kill them or pay for somebody else to kill them).

Practicality of Nonviolence

It was a hugely successful ethical stance to take. It could be described as an act of divine genius. And it made tremendous practical sense. One bit of evidence of the practicality of gospel nonviolence is the fact that in the first couple of centuries, no early Christian male ever acquired combat-induced PTSD or the soul-destruction that always accompanies that reality.

And no early Christian ever felt depressed, ashamed, guilty or suicidal about killing, plundering or raping innocent unarmed women and children in wartime. The earliest Christians took seriously Jesus’s clear command to love and befriend their enemies, and – despite brutal Roman persecutions – the religion survived; indeed, it thrived.

In fact, by 300 CE, it had grown into one of the largest religions in the empire, at which point the emperor Constantine (who was a worshipper of the Sun god until his deathbed baptism into the “faith”) co-opted the church by stopping the persecutions and granting it power, property and prestige, thus seducing it into becoming the obedient and increasingly dependent state church whose master was the brutal, often satanic Roman Empire and its army generals.

Eventually – and logically – church leaders who were now dependent on the largesse and protection of the empire felt obliged to support it and its troops, pay homage to the emperor and send its young Christian men to violently defend the empire’s borders against the fingered enemy. Or homicidally enlarge the empire if it was profitable for Rome or the Papal State to do so.

Just War Theory

St. Augustine wrote the first Christian Just War Theory (CJWT) in the late Fourth Century, making legitimate, in certain rare circumstances, killing by Christians in wartime, which had been long forbidden to the followers of Jesus.

Soon thereafter, Christianity became a religion of justified violence, contrary to the teachings and modeling of Jesus, and it remains that way until this very hour. However, it is generally agreed among Just War scholars that no war in the past 1,700 years has been conducted according to the principles of the Christian Just War Theory; that if the actual principles were applied to an impending war, they would lead Christians back to its original pacifist stance. And so the principles of the CJWT are not taught to the vast majority of Christians.

So, the blanket condemnation of homicidal religions, especially Christianity, is justified up to the point of acknowledging that the bulk of the Christian church, over the past 17 centuries, has ignored – or become apathetic to – the nonviolent teachings of Jesus (forgiveness 70 X 7, unending mercy, ministering to “the least of these” and the unconditional love of friend and enemy).

Among the realities that keep the churches silent, of course, are the fear of losing the largesse of state-granted tax-exempt status and the threat that their pro-war, dues-paying members might object or leave if church leaders were to speak out prophetically about the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and the incompatibility of nationalistic militarism with the life and teachings of Jesus.

But the Christianity of the first few centuries, when Christians refused to take up the sword, should not be condemned. Rather, critics of Christianity should start challenging the churches to go back to their roots where evil was not allowed to run rampant, but rather was aggressively and courageously resisted using the nonviolent methods of Jesus and his inspired disciples like Tolstoy, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, A. J. Muste, Martin Luther King, the Berrigan brothers, John Dear, Kathy Kelly and a multitude of other courageous prophetic voices.

The major motivation for the legendary civil disobedience of those modern-day prophets was their commitment to Jesus and the way he lived his life as pacifist (not passive) active resistor to evil.

The followers of that very real Jesus should be courageously “going to the streets” and saying “NO” wherever and whenever fear and hatred raise their ugly heads and try to provoke violence — no matter if it is coming from the US Congress or the Parliament in London, the Oval Office or # 10 Downing Street, in the Knesset or in the headquarters of Hamas, whether in Tehran or in Baghdad or in the Vatican or in Colorado Springs or in the bowels of the 700 Club – or from within the local parish.

Jesus, a Nonviolent Leftist

Jesus of the Gospels was an outspoken, nonviolent leftist who tried to reform his authoritarian conservative, dogmatic church but also refused to shut up with his call for justice for the down-trodden — even when his superiors threatened him with serious consequences if he didn’t.

The economic model of Jesus’s early church was socialist, where the resources of the group were shared with the widow and orphans and others who didn’t have enough. He would have stood, like the prophet he was, in solidarity with pacifists, socialists, antiwar activists and feminists and surely would have marched in nonviolent antiwar rallies.

Jesus was definitely NOT a punitive, pro-death penalty, pro-militarism conservative. His power came not from the sword but from the power of love.

Jesus would surely have condemned his church’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the enslavement of black Africans and the segregationist, apartheid policies that were designed by various ruling elites to destroy ethnic or religious minorities.

And if the leadership of his church had been found guilty of or just complicit with such acts, especially genocide, Jesus would surely have insisted on the formation of an independent truth and reconciliation commission to respectfully hear the testimony of the victims, the survivors and the families of the survivors and allow those victims to face their victimizers. And then Jesus would have insisted upon his church repenting of the sins, whether committed by them or their forefathers.

The power that Jesus utilized was epitomized by the willingness to do the right thing in the crisis situations even if it involved risks to life or liberty. Fear had no power over him or the martyrs of the early church. His power came out of the holy spirit of love, goodness, mercy and forgiveness and his certainty that, by refusing to do acts of violence, he was doing the will of God.

The practicality of that radical stance resulted in the healing power that Jesus’ disciples and apostles exhibited when they started implementing what Jesus had taught and modeled for them.

War and violence emanates from an entirely different spirit than the spirit shown by the early church. That spirit is the spirit of the unholy, the spirit of the satanic, the spirit of Cain. The willingness to kill was the spirit that was strongly present in such historic figures as Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Eichmann, Stalin, Mussolini (all baptized into pro-war, Constantinian Christian churches).

That evil spirit was also present in many saber-rattling militarists throughout history – the most ruthless presidents, Secretaries of Defense, generals, dictators, legislators, gun-running businessmen and trained assassins that have ever lived – from the ancient low-tech, PTSD-afflicted Achilles, who killed up close and personal, looking into the eyes of his victims, to the ultra-modern, high-tech Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines that orchestrate, usually from safe distances, such atrocities as were perpetrated by Christian soldiers against innocent unarmed civilians at Nagasaki, Dresden, My Lai, Baghdad and Fallujah, to name just a few.

A Challenge to the Church

It seems to me that the Christian church must start teaching what Jesus taught about violence – that it is forbidden for those who wish to follow him – or our so-called “Christian” nation won’t be able to stop the deadly suicidal/homicidal cycle of war that has been bankrupting America, both financially and morally, for decades.

Jesus was absolutely right about the satanic nature of killing. The Golden Rule and his warning about the consequences of living by the sword speaks profound truth. According to just those two teachings, we can say that theologically and spiritually, the high-profile pro-war “Christians” that dominate the news are dead wrong.

That brand of Christianity definitely deserves condemnation. What has been criticized by Christianity’s detractors as the norm for Christianity is not the Sermon-on-the-Mount Christianity of Jesus but rather the aberrant “Constantinian Christianity,” a religion that espouses an anti-Christic, punitive theology that justifies killing fellow children of God in the name of the one who forbade it 2,000 years ago.

Church leaders need to repent of their support for (or their silence about) their nation’s state-sponsored terrorism and start acting ethically, as if the Sermon on the Mount mattered.

The Christian church in America MUST take the lead in this or it is doomed — as doomed as was Germany’s dominant Constantinian Christianity of the first half of the 20th century, whose pro-military, nationalist, racist, xenophobic, domination theology permitted torture, genocide and two brutal world wars that ultimately resulted in the suicide of German Christianity, not to mention the complete destruction of the nation by its provoked enemies.

One wonders what would have happened if every German and Russian and American church had been a real peace church, as the founder envisioned? The real question is, will we learn the lessons of history, or is it already too late?

Gary G. Kohls, MD, is a founding member of Every Church A Peace Church (www.ecapc.org) and is a member of a local non-denominational affiliate of ECAPC, the Community of the Third Way.

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50 comments on “What Kind of Christianity Is This?

  1. herb davis,jr. on said:

    There seems to be the assumption or “faith” that Jesus actually existed. Kind of like the angel Marone’ in the Mormon myth. There is no scientific proof that Jesus existed. There is proof the biblical stories contradicted each other and that other figures of the time(Tiberius) existed(coins, staues etc.)

    “What Jesus is alleged to have taught” would be more scientically accurate than what “Jesus taught”.

    • Let me clue you in. Whether you believe in Him or not He is. Funny that after you die all the lovely things you have done wont be talked about for 2000 years. Ever heard of the Shroud of Turin. You should get educated. I want you to know I hold no animosity towards you. I see how proud people are about the evil commited in the name of God. But all that will be moot at the Bema seat of Judgement.

    • David Hamilton on said:

      OK, “what Jesus is alleged to have taught”. There was clearly someone the Romans were “alleged to have killed” who triggered a massive following, complete with “tales” of what he said and did, and Tiberius’s Roman contemporaries mention in their government records their fascination with this obscure “alleged peace teacher”.

      Our contemporaries do possess this man’s burial cloth. It has survived, being linen and kept secure all these years.

      Regardless of whether he existed, his followers are now largely warmongers – like the Romans – and violate their own “presumably Christic” precepts.

      • Funny how the Jewish Historian Josephus wrote about him. I love all this alleged talk. They also found a coin with Pontius Pilates likeness and name. Anyway sure Hitler believed he was carrying out Luthers anti semitic values at the end of his life by killing 6 million people. Hitler also got a birthday card from the Roman Catholic Church who sponsored the Great Inquisiton and the Crusades. All I am saying is clearly they did not have Jesus in mind in doing these things but their own desire for power. I disagree with you about warmongering. When was the last time you checked your theory by going to church. My church prays for peace but supports our warriors with prayers of protection. I was in the military and all I wanted was peace. I believe in peace but would not hesitate to protect my own family lethally. I have met very few peaceful atheists.

        • David Hamilton on said:

          Consortiumnews presents theology reporting as well as politics. I support what Gary Kohls is reporting. His reporting happens to cover 2000 years, so it is a longer but no less valid investigative piece than we are used to.

          I happen to believe that Jesus was real, and who his Jewish sect said he was – but I don’t care if atheists at this forum get it right about religion being misused by those seeking their own power, those who invoke hypocritically various godly justifications for making war.

          It happens both within the church and outside of it.

          I probably shouldn’t say Jesus’ followers are now largely warmongers.

          But the theology of Jesus’ actual pacifism has been lost in our time, and in many times since 300 A.D. Fearfulness and recklessness takes its place. Your church might be a good one, but many I have seen are yielding to state power and psychological intimidation from high places. That is a pity.

          • I agree with you on the last. and it saddens me to think of people using Christ for war which he wouldnt want. I have enjoyed our tete e tete though. thanks

        • Karen Romero on said:

          Do you know who is the reincarnate of Pontius Pilate?
          Answer-Michael V Hayden who happened to have been a USAF General, head of the NSA, and also did a short time stint as head of those clever, clever boys over at the CIA!

          And, guess when his birthdate is. Saint Patrick’s Day!

          From what I have read, Hayden is trying to make up for the fact that he made Jesus suffer. This was due to Pontius’s inability to make a decision, mostly due to dirtbag political reasons. Look at the world today. Has much changed?

          Truly,
          Karen Romero

    • Sorry to get into this so late, but scientists create theories that have no scientific basis such as multiverses, superstrings, etc. Some atheistic scientists want an alternative to a single big bang because it smacks of divine intervention. Indeed, scientists have developed models that lacked observable data, later confirmed by more sophisticated tools of investigation. BUT those theories were developed in this universe governed by the laws of this universe and confirmed by post-bang physics. Perhaps Herb can teach us how post-bang physics, limited as it is to this post bang universe can confirm superstrings, inflation theory and multiverses when scientists like Penrose, Schramm, Carroll and others label all of this as speculation (see it is not just non-scientist me saying this). As Schramm said, paraphrasing: the further one works back to how it all began the more speculation comes into play. In other words push this to the point of no answers and much of science’s theories about creation and the origin of life are as much faith-based as Christianity, perhaps more so.

      Scientific endeavor does not deal with history, and Christianity is historical. Herb, teach us how Christianity, which IS a historical fact for better or worse, began and do that apart from Christ and his death burial and resurrection. That is not a scientific but a historical problem, which leaves your point wide of the mark. By the way, I believe scientists are correct about evolution and a universe 13.7 billion years old, so I am not anti-science. What I hear in your observation is the same unexamined canned objection that has passed for knock down argument. It is most interesting that the earliest Christian heresy, gnosticism, could accept a flesh and blood Jesus, and Jews, with the most reason to reject Jesus never denied a historical Jesus.

      • Oh oh. Gnostics could NOT accept a flesh and blood Jesus which means they were reacting to the flesh and blood Jesus that was being proclaimed.

    • Karen Romero on said:

      Jesus exists. Nobody knows this better than the Satanic Zionists. That is exactly why they mind control people to believe he doesn’t exist. The fact is they are scared of Jesus and they hate that Jesus has TRUE POWER, something they shall never have!

  2. David Buchan on said:

    My invisible friend couldn’t possibly have been responsible for this. (Or famine, poverty, war, floods, hurricanes, cancer, etc.) It’s amazing how selective religious practitioners can be? – There is no god watching over you, so relax and enjoy your day.

  3. knowbuddhau on said:

    O brother! My Brother Gary, you mention “the often satanic Roman Empire.” SAY WHAT?! How presumptuous of you! How culturally imperial, too!

    My brother, you evidently don’t know the first thing about comparative mythology. How on earth could the Romans be satanic, when their mythos developed without reference to a Christian cosmology? Theirs was a polytheistic mythos. Just because they didn’t worship the god of your choice, in the manner you’ve chosen, in no way makes them devil worshippers.

    It’s also amazingly presumptuous of you, to flat out exclude the possibility that some early Christians may have been former Roman soldiers with all the terrible guilt, and PTSD, that comes with being an imperial soldier.

    I had very high hopes when I saw this headline. They were dashed by your small-minded myth-making that has more in common with American Exceptionalism than the all-encompassing love and compassion practiced by Jesus of Nazareth.

    Since I’m Zen, does that make me “satanic,” maybe even anti-American?

    While I applaud Consortiumnews for the many articles concerning religion and politics, it’d be nice if you could feature someone who isn’t out to prove his god is bigger than any one else’s. (For the record, the Buddha was not a god, nor semi-divine in any way that we aren’t also. I practice Zen in the tradition of Alan Watts: as a way of liberation.)

    I’m so incensed, I think I’ll submit my own articles on the political power of the power of myth. As the saying goes, if it is to be, it is up to me.

    • Broggly on said:

      I think he was speaking figuratively. After all, this was a civilization that kept slaves, including child sex slaves, and forced people to fight to the death for their amusement.
      Also, it’s quite possible he was conflating Satan and The Beast of Revelations, which represents the evils of Roman imperialism.

  4. Bob Loblaw on said:

    Matthew Ch 10;
    34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

    “‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

    37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

    Yep sounds like the other “religion of peace” allright, eyes roll.

    • Dennis on said:

      Hi, Bob. You’re a bit guilty of pulling passages out of Scripture without knowing how to interpret them. In this passage Jesus was not talking about killing people, but in changing lives. You may disagree with this, you may think I’m a senseless, duped follower of Jesus Christ, and you can have that opinion. But you make the same mistake you probably accuse right-wingers of making: using the Sctiptures to prove your point. Anyone who has studied Scripture and found Jesus to be the finest role model any man can have would know that the implication through your sacrasm that Jesus was a man of violence is inconsistent with his message and ministry.

      • Gusmersindo_Pipischer on said:

        Bob is not guilty of being selective on the wording of the Bible. He is presenting exactly what Bible believers do not want to accept. Those who read the Bible almost always stay in Genesis and the Book of Apocalypse. In the pulpits, more and more religion is the vehicle for the transmission of “code” words to maintain its hold on power. Finally, you cry because Bob is selective? So??? I do not read the Bible, I do not discuss it, and I definitely defend anyone who brings out the falsities of the Bible. Arrogant? Yes. But as to the Bible and religion, I could care less.

  5. I agree with Herb. Herb states that there is no proof that Jesus existed. That is true, there is no proof. If there is, please provide it and don’t talk to me about faith. Faith in a fairy story? Not likely. And now I will quote Jon Stewart –

    ” Religion, it’s given people hope in a world torn apart by, religion.”

    Once people toss the monkey, that is religion, off their back, the world will be a better place. And don’t even try the “where does morality come from?” argument as that has also been repeatedly refuted. Amen.

  6. elmerfudzie on said:

    Well, in all fairness to Christianity at large, misguided leaders such as Popes and Priests can find their equivalent in non-christian religious too. This same notion applies to devoted patriots be they government or private industry bureaucrats. Or to put it another way, the word (good news) may have been inspired by the Holy Spirit but such powerful grace does not necessarily enter men who claim to espouse it.. The Old Testament, with words are just as inspired as the New (otherwise we wouldn’t put them into one bible) is riddled with commands by YAHWEH to the Israelites to go and destroy whole peoples, men, women and children- usually for arousing God’s rage over idolatry. Man, made in the image of God is subject to rage, jealousies, envy and even dark things wholly belonging to the devil. No one, not even Solomon himself could pretend to know what God or Jesus thinks. As for the American Indians the violation may have been simple Idolatry, who knows! A remnant of them, not unlike the “root of Jesse” was indeed spared and life goes on.

    • james tebith on said:

      So, those dirty heathens had it coming, huh? Well that doesn’t wash. Keep your ethnocentric musings to yourself. The remnants of my tribe were christian and settled when the u.s. calvary appropriated our farms for white settlers: they killed every man, woman, and child with hammer blows to the head as they kneeled and prayed for mercy (bullets being too good for them); basically all those who were foolish enough to trust in christ and his sociopathic disciples and not flee. So your idolatry justification is complete dung. Who knows, indeed! You are a brainwashed tool.

      • elmerfudzie on said:

        James, your assuming things and you have not properly understood the intent of my comments. I have NEVER felt or said or made any suggestion that American Indians were dirty OR heathens! I have the highest regard for American Indian culture. I made no ethnocentric statements. I quoted biblical passages that Israelites slaughtered Idolaters (a command from God). I specifically stated that no one understands God’s justice, reasoning or His edicts to Israel’s “Judges” to go and without any restraint, slaughter other peoples. I do however apologize for trying to understand recent historical events such as the fate of the American Indians in the context of the biblical fate of Canaanites. This whole subject matter is a very clumsy business for people who are not scholars and I sir, am certainly NO scholar but that said, the discussion does help and serves as a useful template to better understand varied opinions, articles and readers- does it not?

  7. sig arnesen on said:

    O.K. the question of whether Jesus existed or not is not the point. What has been recorded by someone/ones puts out a way to live that is one of peace, courage, kindness and compassion. And that is the call as the writer indicated. So, let’s figure out how to walk in that, or, a similar way. We’ve tried bloodshed for a very long time. It has been a monumental disaster.Now let us seek to love and respect one another. And take some clues from Jesus- of history, or otherwise.

    • Sig – You have made the most important point. Jesus as an existing historical figure is not the point. Looking at the philosophy that came from that time in history, which is verifiable- that is, the philosophy of love thy neighbor and pacifism – this is the lesson we should be learning from in 2012. War to affect peace is just an absurdity – bullies don’t make the world better.

  8. Pingback: Jesus was a non-violent leftist - Political Wrinkles

  9. Wikkram on said:

    Jesus’s message was simple: Non-violence and Non-revenge.
    He was inspired by the Budddhist philosophy which he studied from the age 12 to 30 in then Buddhist Kashmir. (missing years in Bible).
    “Maithree” in Buddhism means Non-violence and Non-revenge.
    The Bible was compiled 300yrs after Jesus, by Empr Constantine and he decided which gospels went in and what shouldn’t. All the fous gospels in the Bible were written more than a century after Jesus, while the one written by Jesu’s own deciple Thomas was blocked by the Emperor.
    The Gospel of Thomas describes the Buddhist links and the true pacifist nature of Jesus’s teachings.
    It was destroyed by the Emperor and his stooges, yet some pieces of it were found in an Egyptianc cave in 1970s.
    Google on this for further research.

  10. Wikkram on said:

    Jesus’s Buddhist-inspired PACIFIST message contradicted the Juddahist Old Testament view of “ear for ear, eye4eye” …
    This clash of ideologies led to the crucufiction of Jesus initaited by the Juddahist High Priests, the fore-runners of the present day zionists.
    Today, those zionists hdiding behind Evangalists/BornAgainChristians are trying to hijack the already-distorted so-called Christanity further into OldTestament which was denounced by Jesus during his time.

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  12. The two World Wars and murder of over 65 million Christians and Muslims in Russia and Ukraine was not the result of religious fundamentalists – but atheist Judeo-Christian communists, Nazis, Zionists and fascists.

    Modern Christianity is not based on the teachings of Jesus but the Judo-pagan teachings of St. Paul.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/searching-for-jesus-as-eh/

  13. Michael Snow on said:

    If anyone is interested in the topic, my book Christian Pacifism: Fruit of the Narrow Way is now in ebook format for both Nook and Kindle [though the Nook ebook may be withdrawn soon if I take advantage Of a Kindle promostion]
    http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Pacifism-Fruit-Narrow-ebook/dp/B005RIKH62/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

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  15. There are many “save-humanity” reasons for studying and and educating each other in how imperative it is in the present era to alert our uninformed citizens on what many nuclear weapons experts tell us about how close we are to what they call “a world holocaust” and how many times we were just plain lucky it did not happen without any deliberate intention.

    If we follow the many terrifying articles that are available at the many websites of organizations like the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we will know how we are living in the dangerous real world, rather that fussing about patently obvious mythologies and works of fictiion that even the grossly under-educated masses are smart enough not to take seriously except as a pretense that makes them feel righteous or part of the “believer community.”

    Beliefs about supernatural events and cosmic parent-substitutes are ineffective collective escape-mechanisms from fears of inescapist animal mortality and feared non-conformity to the outrageously unsubstantiated immortality-fantasies of the great masses of unscholarly and anti-intellectual fellow citizens.

    All the endless religious bloviating keeps us from focusing and working for zero nuclear weapons.

    The religious mytholgy in all its forms is an escape from the difficulties of saving the earth from industrial and imperialist annihilation.

    Our fellow citizens are not even aware that the “war-games” strategists of the past half century have programmed their so-called defense systems to launch all of the nuclear missiles at the same time. Since the 60 thousand missiles were built billions of us have been minutes away from species suicide.

    Our citizens do not know that nuclear weapons deterrence is a false hope and a giant swindle perpetrated by the multi-trillion dollar military-industrial complex.

    The last things we need now are thinking and preaching about what a purely fictional character like Jesus would do to save us!

    Google Psycho-imperialism.

  16. Mark Hillyard on said:

    “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” Eccl. 10:2
    War happens and the end of war will come but not until the Man of War puts an end to it. The Covenant of Peace.

  17. Morton Kurzweil on said:

    The author has as much right to define his faith as the next guy. That is the weakness of his argument. I may share his sentiments about social consciousness and social justice, but they have no basis in belief or historic record.
    Humans are herd animals. Willingness to cooperate has genetic roots. Social networks have been found in the most primitive societies. The need for cooperation is found in all living organisms as a necessary survival instinct.
    Man alone introduces his imagination to organize more complex cultural development.
    Organization evolved into behavior control by religious and political influence on the basic need for cooperation.
    It is the professional religious or politician who is the outsider, the one the free rider who takes advantage of other peoples’ generosity. It is social networking that enables cooperative people to work together.

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  19. “It seems to me that the Christian church must start teaching what Jesus taught about violence.” Yes!
    One great free resource online is the classic my C. John Cadoux, The Early Christian Attitude to War.
    Another resource which summarizes Cadoux and Jesus’ teaching is Christian Pacifism: Fruit of the Narrow Way, now in ebook, for Kindle or Nook or pc.
    http://tinyurl.com/7qomzzt

  20. It is in the God of official Christianity, however, invented as the homeopathic cure for the teachings of Jesus, that state religion has produced its masterpiece.

    Fearful Symmetry; Northrup Frye

  21. Josephine Later on said:

    Man’s cerebral evolution has developed a rationalization for all evil deeds committed by man-incl. senseless wars………..v152

  22. mahogany jones on said:

    Find the real christian: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” fox news via coulter
    “Christ’s teaching, which came to be known to men, not by means of violence and the sword,” they say, “but by means of non-resistance to evil, gentleness, meekness, and peaceableness, can only be diffused through the world by the example of peace, harmony, and love among its followers….” Tolstoy

  23. mahogany jones on said:

    I’d have a lot more respect for christianity if it didn’t require a suspension of my disbelief and require an allegiance to pagan supernatural mythos; no doubt a requirement for iron-age peasantry but really tedious and hard to reconcile today. The non-violence tenants stand on their own without “divine” mumbo-jumbo…”Some of what was held true fifty years ago by “infallible” science has been proven untrue today. Why do we not see that some religious beliefs that were held true 2000 years ago are also not true today? There is no ultimate truth in the universe. In fact, truth can only be perceived through personal experience and that truth changes as we evolve. Instead of insisting upon some ultimate spiritual truth, we would gain more enlightenment by living the truths we recognize and seeing where they lead us. In terms of religion, we have blindfolded evident truths with the heavy fabric of faith.
    We have put faith at the pinnacle of our religions and look where that blind faith has taken us? We are willing to continue the god wars that should have dissolved completely from our repertoire eons ago simply because we feel guilty about allowing our intelligence to help us discern what might or might not be true. The proselytizing that attempts to corral others into a certain religious point of view is not worthy of our consciousness or our humanity. It is smeared with the hidden agenda of the faithful thinking they are doing good for God. How many cultures have been despoiled by joining religions brought to them by the self-righteous supremacy of outside influences?”
    The Evolution of God Chris Griscom http://www.evolutionofgod.com/

  24. aikido kurt on said:

    The amount of time that had elapsed before the Papacy dictated what we think of today as the fundamental tenets of Christianity is astounding! 325 years after the death of Jesus it was decided that a trinity of deity would define the Lord’s nature. The legend of G. Washington with all its folklore and mythos is by comparison only 235 years old. Imagine if we had waited 350 years after the revolution of 1776 to write our constitution. What kind of constitution would the people of 2131 write? What would they have in common with the founders of the nation? Who knows. Sadly, no matter who or what the historical Jesus was, modern Christianity is an Ad Hoc religion established to maintain the affluence of the wealthy and to control the populace.

  25. aikido kurt on said:

    “The turning into flesh (incarnation) of G_D posed all sorts of problems for Christians. If there was one G_D who had a son, doesn’t that mean now there were two gods? By adding the Holy Spirit to the mix, were there then really three gods? Various solutions were developed that were ultimately deemed heretical. Some declared that Jesus only seemed to be a man but in reality was a spirit who exhibited an appearance of flesh. These believers held that Jesus did not himself suffer death. Moreover, he never moved his bowels or urinated; as a spirit he was incorruptible, and therefore he did not process food and liquid as a human would. Others held that Jesus couldn’t be a god because he was begotten by his father and thus did not exist forever. He may have been wise and virtuous, but since he ate, drank, and slept, and suffered like a human he couldn’t possibly be a god who, by definition, is perfect and unchangeable.
    The debate was intense and often practically incomprehensible. Latin and Greek theologians fought with each other both intellectually and physically. At Church Councils mobs of ruffians were hired to intimidate the opposition. Words…flew threw the rarefied ecclesiastical air like daggers. In 325 A.D. the Council of Nicea came up with a creed that was eventually accepted.: ‘We believe in one G-D, the Father almighty…And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of G_D, begotten from the Father, that is, from the substance of the Father, G_D from G_D,…begotten not made, of one substance with the Father…Who…becoming man, suffered and rose again on the third day…And the Holy Spirit.’ Opponents argued that if the Father is unbegotten (a property reserved for G_D), then how could Jesus be G_D, since the Bible clearly states he was begotten by his Father? Also, if the Father and Son have the same properties, then the Son must beget a Son, who in turn must beget a Son and so on without end. And where does that leave the Holy Spirit? At Church Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D., an addition was made to the phrase at the end of the Nicene Creed: ‘And in the Holy Spirit’ was added ‘the Lord and Life giver, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped together and glorified together, who spoke through the prophets.’
    And how was the controversy about Christ’s two natures settled? The winning side at the Council of Chalcecon in 451 A.D. declared that Christ was ‘one substance with us as regarded his manhood; like us in all respects except sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the father before the ages…recognized in two natures without confusion, without change, without separation, the difference of the natures being in no wise taken away by reason of the union, but rather with the properties of each being preserved and coming together into one person and one hypostasis-not parted into two persons, but are one and the same Son and only begotten, the divine Logos [Word], the Lord Jesus Christ.’
    Holy Smokes (and mirrors!)! The words ‘without confusion’ were probably included because everyone was so confused! If you, dear reader, can’t fully comprehend the meaning (don’t forget that I have presented a fairly clear summary), imagine what the host of relatively uneducated early Christians must have felt. In fact, a major reason why Islam was accepted so readily by the populace of the Middle East, tired of the incessant debates over the Trinity and Christ’s nature, was its simplicity: Allah is G_D, Muhammad is his prophet, and that’s all there is to it.”
    PsychoBible, Favazza, Armando, 2004

  26. What is the difference between an atheist and religionist? Atheists think and religionists believe. This religionist would have you “believe” that its just a few bad apples, “fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.” Hardly, it is the silence, acquiescence and support of main stream religions that enable state war and violence to flourish. But it is not just being co-dependents in violence and war that should make every peace loving and thinking person condemn religion. What is the common denominator of Judaism, Christianity and Islam? It is worship of “God the Father” and in case of the latter two, the worship of human males. Mainstream religions, ever since their origin in the Middle East deserts, have been the primary bastion of patriarchy – the hierarchical organization of society with 1% of the men at the top. It is their abject service to patriarchy and the domination of women and Mother Earth that is their greatest “sin.”

  27. I disagree strongly with Gary Kohls, the author of the article, that Jesus was a socialist. Jesus was fundamentally not presenting a political agenda to the world.

    The agenda Jesus presents is rather a personal agenda — the improvement or ennoblement of each individual as per the tenets of The Sermon on the Mount. Admittedly through that ennoblement of each individual the whole of society is lifted or improved in its sense of justice and overall ennoblement but this is very different to a “political agenda” which endeavours to suborn, induce or force entire classes of people into collective action. This is at the heart of Jesus’ injunction “to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God”. Politics has a rightful place in human affairs but there have been plenty of socialist governments and political parties that have caused widespread genocide, violence, terrorism and harm on their peoples just as much as there have been capitalist and right wing political parties and governments that have done the same. Just look at North Korea today.

    While I’d agree that the agenda or policy proposal of Jesus is non-violent I don’t have a sense that socialists and leftists are the only “saints” in the world preaching non-violence and pacifism. I believe it is at our collective social peril when we endeavour to turn the religious quest or endeavour into a political quest or endeavour.

    The Sermon on the Mount, I submit was not some “political manifesto”. If it was a manifesto at all it was one directed at individual human behaviour. If you had an entire society living by the principles espoused by Jesus through the Sermon on the Mount you would very well end up with the “perfect” society that all political parties claim they are trying to bring about. But what Jesus presents is a radically different pathway to bringing this about.

    The Churches and religions ought not present themselves, or Jesus, to the world as some third, fourth, fifth, sixth or one hundredth “political party” or “political program” to all the other politican programs there are in the world. Religion, I submit, from what we can discern from Scripture is an endeavour that stands above, or beside, or separate to, the political processes that individual citizens are also encouraged to engage in in their societies and communities. I would also argue that Jesus does not call for any individual to consider themselves as “above” politics in the sense that they are morally superior to the sort of “grubby individuals” who engage in political endeavours.

    My reading of the Jesus’ story or agenda is that Jesus would encourage each individual to bring their values to their political endeavours but that their religion or religious/spiritual beliefs were themselves not a manifesto for a particular political party or political program. Politics and religion have distinct roles to play in human affairs just as, say, sport and the arts, or work and leisure, have distinct roles to play in human affairs.

    Brian Coyne
    Editor
    http://www.catholica.com.au

    • Whether Jesus was presenting a recipe for personal salvation (and to heck with your impact on the rest of the world) or one for right behavior (which necessarily involves caring about your neighbor) is a traditional debate, and arguments may be fairly made on either side. Indeed, it is so balanced that the most reasonable answer is that He was presenting either both or neither, for had He intended either alone, He was quite capable of saying so.

      Those who prefer the teachings of Jesus that talk about right living in the world may consider those who emphasize only personal salvation as selfish; after all, given the choice of eternal bliss or aiding your neighbor in a temporal world, it would be irrational not to choose the eternal. However, it is the demanding of such a choice that is the error: salvation and serving your neighbor are not separate things but the same. When asked directly how to achieve Salvation Jesus said it was all in how you treated the least of His People.

      If it unlikely that Jesus knew the word “socialism” and certainly there have been some hellish schemes propounded by humans in the name of “socialism”, but Matthew 25:40 is pretty clear.

      • feloneouscat on said:

        Brian, that is your opinion. One that I think is incredibly wrong.

        When Jesus spoke of “turning the other cheek” he was speaking out against blood feuds which were terribly popular throughout history. When he was talking about the Good Samaritan he was talking about the good that can be found in people who were not Jews.

        This was not some form of “oh, and when I say us, I mean only you”. When he fed the people it was a mass, not “oh, and here is a bit of fish for you, but ONLY you”.

        To argue it was “non-political” is to go against what was happening at the time – tearing down the market vendors was every bit political.

        Capitalism has been described by one wag as “fuck them before they fuck you” – not exactly something that falls within the realm of Christian teachings. If you can frame this in the teachings of Jesus, I’m impressed, because it really is a stretch.

        No, in order for there to be the kind of peace He talks about, it has to be everyone, not just personal.

        So, no, it isn’t the individual he is talking about, he is talking about society.

  28. Karen Romero on said:

    I recently finished the book “His Favorite Wife” by Susan Ray Schmidt. Any fundamentalist would most likely change their fanatical viewpoints if they read this most disturbing true story of polygamy. If they didn’t change their viewpoints after reading this book, I don’t think anything will. This of course is with the exception of the TRUE Jesus or the Holy Spirit of God! Jesus and the Holy Spirit can change anything with a simple thought!

    This was an easy read and well written in reference to reading a book. But, I will say this, the book was so disturbing at times I just had to sit it down and think of something else.

    Truly,
    Karen Romero

  29. Richard Kane on said:

    Press cameras were outside of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for Santorum to come out from being with his sick daughter, to return to his election schedule but they weren’t there. Now he claims it was in an unnamed hospital in Virginia that Bella according to Santorum made a miraculous recovery. I want to say more about Santorum and how he relates to his family. But since so many doing so put their foot in their mouths I won’t add anything further. Except for the following link followed by reference links,
    http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/9245-ron-paul-santorum-and-bin-laden-personal-morality-their-followers-admire
    http://nbcpolitics.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/28/10261476-santorum-cancels-events-to-be-with-sick-daughter
    http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/300703/18/Santorum-daughter-hospitalized-in-Va-not-Philly
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/138454499.html

  30. Richard Kane on said:

    Over 2000 years ago Jesus or Jesus Christ said and did things that made a real difference. For starters infanticide was legal everywhere now it isn’t. The Anabaptist (Mennonites and Quakers) went back to Christianity’s original love and pacifism, but during the Revolutionary War the Free Quakers broke away and began participating in the Revolution.

    Some strange things happened in the beginning. To me the strangest was that for the first hundreds of years people argued over who he or He was rather than whether or not Jesus performed miracles.

    Aristides would be considered an more than average honest politician if as a priest he didn’t need to superscribe to higher standards. If any priest had threatened to kill a child if he talked, it would to the major story. But only a small story that a non-priest made such threats.

    More info at,
    http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/9245-ron-paul-santorum-and-bin-laden-personal-morality-their-followers-admire

    More comments at,
    http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/295-164/9672-what-kind-of-christianity-is-this

    >
    What is happening to Christianity with the help of Sanatorium has been repeating itself for 2000 years.

  31. Pingback: What Kind of Christianity Is This? « Women Born Transsexual