Christianity Brings out the Worst in People

“Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. — GK Chesterton in Orthodoxy

I was recently privy to an elucidation of what Chesterton alludes to. A complaint was made that a certain charitable Christian woman was “too nice” to her fellow congregants. So much so, that the congregants, filthy quislings that they are, were portrayed as folks who took advantage of the woman’s charity.

Oh the outrage that this venerable woman would, at the drop of a hat, stop what she was doing and rush to the aid of her brothers and sisters of Christ. As a recipient of such actions, though not coming from this woman, I most appreciate this example of faithworks.

Ironically enough, the plaintiff above also showed displeasure when people did not lend her a helping hand in an hour of need.

The episode brought Lucian’s The Death of Peregrinus (to mind. I have not read this work but learned about it as it was referenced to in Fanning the Flames: Probing the issues in the Acts within a chapter having to do with the way the first Christians were perceived by their Greek and Roman critics.

Lucian’s mid-second century unflattering description of Christians is in part, as follows,

The activity of these people, in dealing with any matter that affects their community, is something extraordinary; they spare no trouble, no expense.

Peregrine, all this time, was making quite an income on the strength of his bondage; money came pouring in. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

All this they take quite on trust, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property. Now an adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who has seen the world, has only to get among these simple souls, and his fortune is pretty soon made; he plays with them.

What certain unbelievers see as “stupid” and “misguided” is actually service to the Lord. To the Lord because by serving His body, the Church, one serves Him.

That this requires denial of self (not as its own end of course) is paramount not to mention counter-intuitive to the deep-rooted selfishness natural to us after Adam’s sin.

That this is not, can not, be understood by those who willfully remain outside merely gives testimony to the truth in the Apostle’s words,

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

May we go forth and tell those still in darkness about this “crucified sage” and show the love He teaches us.

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One Response to Christianity Brings out the Worst in People

  1. Roman Pytel says:

    “A new covenant has made the first obsolete.” Heb 8:13

    “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave 5 talents, to another two, and to another one. He that received 5 talents…made them other 5 talents…He that received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants reckoneth with them. The lord said unto him which has gained 5 talents more, Well done, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. And unto him which has gained two other talents, the lord said, Well done, I will make thee ruler over many things… Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give I unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Cast ye unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 25: 14-30).

    Buddha taught: “The only miracle that should be performed are these: when you see a man full of passion, craving and greed and you teach him to free himself from passion, craving and greed…this is a worthy ‘miracle’ you can perform.” (http://tektonics.org/copycat/buddha01.html)

    Matthew, before he became an evangelist, was the well-schooled Jewish tax collector and Roman employee. The above parable is –Logos-Jesus’ lesson of politics of inflation: Speculating seems more sensible than saving and investing.

    Jesus preached the same elitist principle regarding his method of teaching: ”To you it has been granted to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to them. For those who have will be given more, till they have enough and to spare; and those who have not, will forfeit what they have. That is why I speak to them in parables, for they look without saying, and listen without hearing or understanding.” (Matthew 13:10-14)

    The term “sons of light” may not appear frequently in the New Testament, but it occurs very frequently in the Dead Sea Scrolls. We have even seen the term a time or two in previous quotations in this essay. The Essenes of Qumran were fond of calling themselves “sons of light.” Perhaps Jesus was talking about them.
    This possibility becomes even more likely when we consider the second phrase in this parable which is a technical term of the Dead Sea Scrolls. That term is “the wealth of unrighteousness” which appears in verses 9 and 11. In the Dead Sea Scrolls that term was used to describe the money of unbelievers and outsiders. The members of the Qumran community were explicitly forbidden to do business with outsiders; they were not to take money from unbelievers. Jesus in this parable is saying that it is foolish not to make friends from the wealth of unrighteousness. David Flusser writes: “Jesus claimed in the parable that the “sons of light” did not behave cleverly when they practiced an economic separatism and did not make friends for themselves from the “wealth of unrighteousness.” This is his criticism of the extreme Essene attitude. He asks his followers to remain trustworthy with the “wealth of unrighteousness” which belongs to others. Only in this way will they be able to gain friends among nonbelievers.” Cp. Paul’s method of pretending to be a Greek for Greeks, a Jew for Jews, a woman for women…
    In Rom 3:7 Paul is saying that is quite OK to lie as long you do so for the greater glory of God. In the opinion of Christian Lindtner expressed in his Response to Dr Burkhard Scherer (www.jesusisbuddha.com/SCHERER1.html)
    such an attitude is based on the concept of upaya-kausalya, which is fundamental to the Buddhist text known as Suddharmapundarika-Sutra (SDP=Lotussutra). It implies that you, as a missionary, can use all sorts if tricks, including puns, miracles, transformations (a man disguised as a woman etc.), white lies, in order to fool ignorant people into having faith in the SDP and its message, namely that all living beings eventually will become buddhas, and that the Buddha never really died.

    In Rome, nothing that resulted in profit was regarded as disgraceful. They followed into the footsteps of Etruscans who allowed their young women to obtain dowries by prostitution. The Master’s hard saying that “to him who has, more will be given, and from him who has nothing, even that which he has will be taken away (Lk 19:26) is, in the opinion of Will Durant, an excellent summary of market operations. The principle of cruel Roman utilitarianism matching the Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest was expressed by Jesus in the words: “Cast ye unprofitable servant into outer darkness” (Mt 25:30). In a secret Gospel written by St. Mark Jesus teaches “the mystery of the Kingdom of God” only the rich men.

    Luke’s accurate and relatively abundant knowledge about the Herod family may be due to his acquaintance with certain people who had close contact with the family. He mentions Joanna the wife of one of Antipas’s stewards, among the well-to-do women who supported Jesus and his disciples during their itinerant ministry, and his reference to Manaen ‘companion’ or ‘courtier’ of Herod, the tetrarch who became one of the leading teachers and prophets in the church of Syrian Antioch about AD 47 is also of interest. Luke must have found in Manaen a valuable informant on the contacts of Antipas and his relatives with the early Christian story.

    “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him. And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward (Chuza was King Herod’s business manager and was in charge of his palace and domestic affairs), and Susanna, and many others, who gave him of their wealth for his needs. “ (Lk. 8:1-3). Interestingly, some early Christian mosaics depict Jesus in uniform of a Roman legionary.

    In the New Testament epistles there are only 2 references to the Shabbat (Col. 2:16; Heb. 4:4), both these passages Paul clearly explains that the day is not a required day to be observed by Christians. There is no command after the death and resurrection for the Church to keep the Shabbat as an obligation to Christ. Why?
    The Stoic philosopher, Seneca who was contemporary with the apostles and whose elder brother, Gallio, encountered St. Paul in Corinth in AD 52 (Acts 18, 12) attacked the rites of the Jews, and the Sabbath in particular. He maintained that the Sabbath is a harmful institution, since by the interposition of this one day in seven they practically lose a seventh part of their life in inactivity, and they suffer by having to put off urgent tasks. As for the Christians, who were at that time already bitterly opposed to the Jews, he did not dare to mention them for good or ill – not wishing to praise them in defiance of the ancient traditions of his country, nor to criticize them against (it may be) his personal feelings. It is in speaking of the Jews that he says: “The customs of this detestable race have become so prevalent that they have been adopted in almost all the world. The vanquished have imposed their laws on the conquerors.” An apocryphal correspondence (of unutterable banality) between Seneca and St. Paul is extant; and we know from Jerome and from St. Augustine himself it was accepted as authentic, and widely read, in the fourth century.

    Seneca also advised euthanasia of useless slaves “It makes a great difference whether a man is lengthening his life or his death. But if a body is useless for service, why should one not free the struggling soul? Perhaps one ought to do this a little before the debt is due, lest, when it falls due, he may be unable to perform the act? Seneca (4BC -AD65). This teaching inspired Jesus’ words “Cast ye unprofitable servant into outer darkness” (Mt 25:30).

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