Jesus the Socialist: Candida Moss vs. Bill O’Reilly

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Mark GoodacreChris Skinner, and Chris Keith all shared the above video and offered some comments on it.

O’Reilly seems not to be aware of Luke 14:33: “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

I love that O’Reilly doesn’t know the word “anachronistic” and yet thinks he can discuss history. It explains why he can nonchalantly assert that Jesus disliked the Soviet Union.

All of the above reflects very much an American perspective on these things. And so for those in the UK, here is Anglican Memes’ reworking of a recent politicians’ statement on your side of the Atlantic, depicting the Daily Mail as accusing Jesus’ Father of being a Britain-hating socialist.

UPDATE: See also the treatment of O’Reilly’s 60 Minutes interview on the Colbert Report.

  • Just Sayin’

    Wonder why they chose the Mail, which certainly isn’t a UK equivalent of Fox News.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I wonder if it wasn’t more to express “this is the sort of nonsense we’d expect from the Mail” rather than “this is the sort of nonsense we’d expect because of the political bias of newspaper X.”

      • Just Sayin’

        However, the Mail has the best cat stories.

    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

      Is it not? It functions as the same kind of dog-whistling fake-news for right-wing racists and homophobes.

      • Just Sayin’

        In your dreams, mate.

        • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

          ??

          • Veryrarelystable

            Just Saying is clearly a troll with nothing to offer. Either unfamiliar with The Daily Mail or trying to protect a rabidly extremist right wing paper that spews out its hate of anything which is not sufficiently extremist right-wing for them. Historically the owner was friends with Hitler and Mussolini and the paper also supported Oswald Mosley.

    • Veryrarelystable

      The Mail is a very close equivalent to Fox New – probably the closest equivalent we have, with historical links to the former British fascist party and a pathological hatred of anything which isn’t extremist right-wing.

      • Just Sayin’

        No it’s not. Try reading it (you obviously haven’t).

        • Veryrarelystable

          Yes it is. I have read it many times. Its links with Hitler, Mussolini and Oswald Mosley are a matter of public record. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Try taking your own medicine!

          • Just Sayin’

            Hmmm… old Adolf died a little while ago. You apparently haven’t read the Mail since then. Thanks for proving my point.

    • guest

      No, of course it isn’t. One’s a newspaper, the other’s a TV channel.

      • Just Sayin’

        And one is American, the other’s British. Besides, I don’t think Fox News has any cat stories.

  • Michael Wilson

    James, I’m content that Jesus imagined heaven to filled with the destitute and fanatics that did in fact forsake family, friends, and all possessions to spread the message of the coming apocalypse. But your also a minister, so what is your take on people who say they are Christian and yet have things. From my perspective the only people that fulfill this command are those like the Catholic priest and monks who only use things owned by the church, and even they might wonder if they could skip dessert and give it to the needy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I’m not a minister – what gave you that idea?!

      • Michael Wilson

        I thought you did guest preaching at your church James, would that make you a part time minister? Non-the less, your not just a scholar of Christianity, your a participant, which would lead me to think you see a living purpose in its traditions, yes?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          No, that isn’t how it works. I have preached on occasion but am not ordained. But yes, I am a member and active participant and not merely an observer.

  • dangjin

    candida moss was wrong in the interview and she is wrong in her book

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      To which someone could respond “Candida Moss was right in the interview and she is right in her book.” At least her name would be capitalized in the appropriate manner. But such assertions are just cheering for one’s own preferred viewpoint and carry no weight. Why not explain where she is wrong and what evidence supports your conclusion?

      • Just Sayin’

        Good point. I agree. And those chirping about the Mail might try providing some evidence too, instead of mere empty assertions.

        • Veryrarelystable

          Perhaps you could provide some evidence for your position! You could start with trying to justify the paper’s links with Hitler, Mussolini and Oswald Mosley.

          • Just Sayin’

            I’m not the one making the (vacuous) assertion about the Mail. So I don’t have to provide anything. Don’t you know that you can’t prove a negative? Evidently not.

            • Veryrarelystable

              You clearly don’t understand the terms you employ. So here’s a quick lesson just for you. It’s not an assertion vacuous or otherwise to bring to your attention the close ties this paper has with fascism. Instead it’s what’s known as a “fact”; it is also one which is clearly demonstrable from the historical record. When you can deal with that fact we can have a conversation, but not before.

              • Just Sayin’

                Yes, Adolf Hitler and Oswald Mosley proves the Mail is Fascist. Brilliant!

                And Queen Boadicea proves the Guardian is rubbish, too.

                Please learn logical thinking before engaging in debates.

        • Tory Quinton

          There is a trend lately within liberal biblical scholarship to deconstruct all narratives that do not fit a certain agenda. In this trend you find scholars relying on often faulty texts simply because they support their own biased view. This is not exegeses, it is eisegesis and it dishonest. In Candida Moss’s most recent book she takes to task the history of Christian persecution by claiming that stories were often exaggerated, and then goes to the extreme by suggesting that this history of persecution can not be trusted, while she herself relies on faulty texts that are themselves not trustworthy. Two of biggest sins of biblical scholarships these liberal scholars commit are…

          1: The notion that Paul was not a Christian because he never used the word to describe himself. The words was not used by anyone for many years after the crucifixion. But to say that he was just a Jew who joined a different Jewish sect is to ignore the entirety of his own writings. Paul broke very clearly with Judaism after his encounter on the road to Damascus. He never again proclaimed himself to be Jewish. In fact he more often spoke of himself in familiar Christains terms, or called himself a Roman, than he ever called himself a Jew.

          This has been used to try and make a case that Christianity was never meant to be anything more than a Jewish sect.

          and

          2: The Pharisees represent a lineage that began after the destruction of the first temple and the sundering of the formal priesthood. At different times they were different types of people. At the time of Christ the Pharisees were in fact legalistic and very, very formal in their opinions. In fact around the Roman world Jews were seen as the legalistic, others whom were always causing trouble and the Pharisees were among the groups that tended to be most legalistic. That is why it was forbidden for a Jew to even enter the home of a Gentile, because there was always a small chance they might encounter something unclean or impure and thus be tainted. Jewish communities thrived in the Roman Empire until the destruction of the temple around 70AD but they were never well liked and never trusted in large part because they loathed any contact with Gentiles precisely because of tehir reliance on legalism. the author seems to ignore this fact.

          Bill O’reiley is guilty of popularizing biblical history without really having the knowledge base to build a convincing case. At the other end are scholars like Moss who have grown so biased into their own liberal assumptions that they begin to read texts under this light and not the light the authors ever intended.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            2 Corinthians 11:22 and Romans 11:1 seem relevant. But you seem to be misunderstanding what is said about Paul (and may be thinking of Pamela Eisenbaum rather than Candida Moss saying it). It is not that the movement of which Paul was a part does not later become the one that bears the label “Christianity.” It is that (1) it did not yet have that label, and (2) it was a Jewish movement, not a separate religion. Few scholars would agree that Paul “broke with Judaism.”

            Your thinking about the Pharisees seems to be based on longstanding anti-Jewish caricatures rather than scholarship. And your generalizations about Jews and legalism are very disturbing, not only because they are at odds with the evidence, but because of how nonchalantly you ignore the antisemitism that is the only basis for them.

            • Tory Quinton

              Before I begin let me say that you are coming dangerously close to accusing me of anti-Semitism, which is frankly both absurd and insulting! To claim that I am anti-Semitic because I am not offering glowing reviews of a 2000 year old Jewish sect is what is troubling here. You may as well call me a racist because I dont care for the rule of some African dictators who happen to be black.

              As to your point about Candida Moss, you are correct, In proof reading my response I accidentally deleted a key part that provides context for what I wrote. I have corrected this in my original post.

              I apologize for the confusion.

              However, I disagree with your second point. It is no more anti-Jewish to suggest that the pharisees at the time of Christ was legalistic than it is anti-Christian to suggest that modern Christians tend towards feel good gospel.

              The pharisees were not a monolithic group, nor were they static during history. They evolved, changed and reacted to their own times. At the time of Christ there were two dominant strains of Jewish though as it relates to their status as a Roman holding and each reacted to the other in different ways. Amongst the Jewish poor there were constant murmurs of rebellion and occasional small scale rebel acts which the Romans had to put down with growing frequency. The Pharisees reacting to his tried to steer the people towards the law and set themselves apart from the Romans by their adherence to the law.

              Jesus represented a problem because he seemed to fit in with the rebel ideas and yet rather than speak in favor of a return to the old ways, he spoke a of a new way. This both challenged the Pharisees and created a very real threat to Jews at the time who lived precariously under Roman rule. Because of this he was put to death, and good or bad the justification they used, which are recorded in the bible actually do make sense, even to a modern reader. After all, what is one man to save a thousand?

              It should be remembered that the Pharisees were themselves a very Nationalistic but they were never a single identifiable party, the way a modern political party might be. Thus to be a pharisee could mean you belonged to a political party, or a social club, or a group of philosophers sometimes the three mingled, other times they set apart from each other.

              Further the Pharisees were also reacting to the Sadducee so we cant look at one, without the other. Now the Sadducee were focused on ritual and the temple, while the pharisees were focused on the legal and traditional attributes of Judaism and often the two came into conflict.

              At the time of Christ these two sects were at the greatest odds with one another, each vying for public opinion and the Pharisees were winning precisely because they focused on the law, which was something a good Jew could be involved with to a much greater degree than the abstract temple rituals of the Sadducee.

              All three groups, the Pharisee, the Saducee and the rebel agitators collided during the three Jewish Revolts against Rome resulting in the Pharisees supporting the final revolt with Simon Bar Kokhba, and ultimately the depopulation of Jerusalem itself and the destruction of all three factions. The reason? Simon Bar Kokhba was seen as a messiah but unlike Christ he was seen as a warrior who promised a return to the old ways of Israel, and not some new all people encompassing religion.

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                The issue is that your impression of Pharisees as characterized by legalism reflects Luther’s interaction with Catholicism more than anything in our Jewish sources from ancient times.

                • Tory Quinton

                  You read way to much into things. I am in way inferring anything from Luther. I am dealing with history as it is known and that history shows that the Pharisees were not a monolithic, single minded group but that at the time of Christ and the end of the Jewish age in Jerusalem under the Roman Empire the Phariesees were in fact legalistic. This was a means to protect their place in society and to protect the Jews under Roman rule. What I cant understand is how you come to the conclusion that a religious sect that was never specifically defined, not even by their own membership were always the same and that to suggest there was a time they were less then good is somehow anti-Semitism. Like I said that is insulting and frankly does not hing but stifle honest debate. If you honestly believe me to be anti-Semitic then you have no reason to talk to me and if you so casually toss around that accusation than I have no interest in talking to you.

                  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                    I am not accusing you of anti-Semitism. I am pointing out that you are quoting outdated views which reflect the anti-Judaism of Luther and many since, and which were shaped more by Luther’s criticisms of 16th century Catholicism than by our knowledge of ancient Jewish sources. I notice that you haven’t cited any sources. Perhaps if you do so it will help move the discussion forward.

                    • Tory Quinton

                      James, to be honest, you have in fact accused me of antisemitism.

                      “based on longstanding anti-Jewish caricatures”

                      “how nonchalantly you ignore the antisemitism that is the only basis for them.”

                      Your problem is that you seem to ignore old sources for no more reason that new sources suggest a paradigm that is more suitable to your thoughts. The oldest sources are still new compared to the period in question and are just as reliable as the newest scholarship. To gain a full understanding you need to use both.

                      And sorry to disappoint but you are the only one who insists on falling back on Luther for anything. This suggests that at some point you read something that you happened to like and because you liked it you use it to derail arguments you dont understand or dont like. This is why you were the only person to start talking about antisemitism and rather than ask for a source of my thoughts initially you immediately accused me of displaying antisemitism (and yes relying on antisemitic thought is the same as antisemitism). And now you have the gall to ask me for sources.

                      Like I said, if you honestly believe me to be antisemitic then you have no reason to continue arguing with me and if you so easily toss around that accusation than I have no reason to argue with your and certainly no reason to start sharing sources with you as if we were equal colleagues. You lost the right to engage in honest discussion with me the moment you tossed around labels.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      You are still not explaining how you understand the primary sources, or even referring to them! You are still not explaining why you disagree with the work of E. P. Sanders that finally persuaded New Testament scholars of what others had sought to draw to our attention in earlier decades! How can we discuss this if you are not even mentioning the relevant sources, primary and secondary, in your comments?

                      Where are you getting your information from about first-century Judaism?

            • Tory Quinton

              This is semantics, but I would agree that Paul did not break with Judaism, rather Paul was the break with Judaism, along with Peter and his dream vision of the clean and unclean animals that together resulted in the eventual Council at Jerusalem that relaxed Jewish purity laws to Gentile converts.

          • Just Sayin’

            Excellent post. It’s as if the fact that many of the ancient Christian martyrdom stories are exaggerated or fabricated is news to anyone. Most educated Catholics, who are the Christian tradition who most venerate these martyrs, are well aware of the historical realities. In that respect, Moss’s book is sensational too, or at least states the obvious, but of course it pales in comparison to O’Reilly’s populist right wing rubbish.

            • Tory Quinton

              There is a dangerous trend in Liberal theology, and in Liberal scholarship in general to take populist ideas found in a narrow area, repackage them with intellectual terms and pass them off as something new. Candida Moss is guilty of this as are certain others even on this forum. The moment someones says that they are right BECAUSE they are working with the most recent texts, as if a new study invalidates an older work by virtue of its relative newness, or when someone defends their position not with factual evidence and honest opinions culled from the evidence but by falling back on their relative education or credentials, as if holding a Medical Degree automatically makes one a great physician by virtue of the document itself then I lose interest in debating them at all.

              To the martydom stories specifically, Church leaders were trying to sort out which stories were true martydom and which were exaggerated since the beginning. This is why the early church, within a 100 years of Christs death and resurrection had to pass an edict forbidding the faithfull from deliberately seeking martydom. It is also known that under Nero, and Decian (just to name two emperors) there were wide spread pograms against Christians that in some cases depopulated whole regions of the faithful. What was unforseen was the effect this had on conversion rates. Basically every Christian put to death who faced his death nobly, there were more new converts, converted because of it. Of course, it goes both ways, there were no doubt many Christians, perhaps very honest and sincere ones who buckled under pressure and burnt the incense (as was the method to test for loyalty to Christ or to the Emperor).

              Candida Moss is intellectually gifted, far too much so to waste hers or our time treading well worn territory in an attempt to write an edgy book. I would much prefer to have seen her focus on the examples and reasons behind those Christians who avoided martydom. That is asubject that has been given scant attention but could truly inform a wide audience.

              As to Bill O’Reilly, as a conservative political pundit I enjoy him, even though I do not always agree with him. As an author of popular telling’s of historical events, well, He is woefully lacking.

              • Just Sayin’

                I agree. Thanks for your comments.

      • Reason

        Wow. Listen dude, you are never going to marry her. And they don’t pay you enough to defend her. So why the unscholarly devotion to her? Gross. Get a life. Go and defend those who are truly persecuted, not spoiled nobility.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I understand that you may want to make Bill O’Reilly look bad by pretending to be a fan of his making a really ridiculous comment. But when you go so far that it isn’t remotely plausible as a serious comment, it doesn’t work. Calling a request that a commenter not merely say Moss is wrong, but explain why he thinks she is wrong, is the opposite of unscholarly devotion. It is at attempt to maintain the high standard to which I hold our discourse on this blog.

      • Fyne

        But then James you all too readily pretend the vacuous attempt you made above to discredit O’Reilly was adequate.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Can you actually address something substantive, please? My brief blog post sharing what others have said was scarcely intended to be in any way comprehensive, as is presumably obvious. But if there is something specific in it that seems even in terms of its genre to be vacuous, you could at least be kind enough to tell me what it is!

          • Fyne

            You seem offended by my labeling your original post as vacuous while admitting at the same time that said post was not comprehensive. That’s fine it doesn’t have to be. But you have to recognize that in that case, no one has any obligation to be comprehensive in their response to you.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              I see, so your response to my request for clarification about what was vacuous is to offer something vacuous?

              • Fyne

                appropriately so it seems.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James.

    First of all, it is necessary to realize that the word “Socialist” is understood differently in various countries so that we desperately need a definition, as I explain here

    https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/271/

    I am dumbstruck by the fact that verses pertaining to homosexuality concern perhaps 0.1% of the New Testament, verses about social justice 10% or more, and what do Christian Conservatives believing in an inerrant Bible?
    They focus most of their time on opposing gay marriage and either ignore social injustices, or perpetuate them by trying to prevent an equal healthcare quality for both poor and rich children.

    “It is by the extent of your wrath against abortion and gay rights that the world will know you truly are my disciples.” Jesus told.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I don’t think the term is unhelpfully vague, except when misused by those on the right side of the spectrum to denote anyone they disagree with and who is anywhere to the left of them.

      • Michael Wilson

        The impression I get from the good people at Wikipedia on their entry for “socialism” is that it isn’t popular at all but a spin off, social democracy, is and that is what most right wingers refer to when they talk about socialism. The social democrats believe in a welfare state and collective labor bargaining in a context of free markets. The Socialist believe that all the factories and business should be nationalized. I suppose Jesus would support a welfare state, but would probably first have to figure out meanings national, means of production, capitalism, democracy and so forth before commenting on our modern economy.

      • Fyne

        Just like the term “capitalist” isn’t unhelpfully vague, except when misused by those on the left side of the spectrum to denote anyone they disagree with and who is anywhere to the right of them

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I don’t understand this comment. Both major American parties agree on Capitalism, and so I can’t see either of them objecting to this label.

          • Fyne

            I also don’t understand your comment. Are you saying both parties are capitalist in belief (which is laughable) or are you saying that the definition of capitalism isn’t distorted by the left (also laughable)?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Sorry, do you live in a different context than I do? I am referring to the two main parties in the United States. If you think that one or both are not capitalist, then you really need to travel somewhere that actually has a full spectrum of parties, including a socialist and maybe even a communist one, to find out what they actually look like.

              • Fyne

                As long as you live in a bizarre universe where Jesus can be distorted to propagate socialism, we’ll always live in different contexts (and worlds for that matter).
                I do think one of the parties is capitalist. That was not the point. I’m more interested in pointing out how amusing it is that you seem to pretend everyone’s got a handle on capitalism and that only socialism is misrepresented. You seem incapable of accepting that understanding socialism fully, doesn’t stop one from abhorring it.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  Actually, you seem to grasp very little about the teaching of Jesus – or perhaps like O’Reilly you simply assume Jesus didn’t mean some of the things he said which are particularly inconvenient for wealthy modern people. And you also seem to seriously believe that only one of the American parties is capitalist. And so we do indeed live in different worlds. But I think you may be mistaken about which is the bizarre one.

                  • Fyne

                    Actually you seem clueless as to what constitutes socialism. Because of this clueless understanding, you all too easily distort the words of Christ.
                    Also O’reilly never said Jesus never meant what he said. So I have no idea what you’re talking about.
                    You still seem to dodge the issue that just like socialism can be misrepresented by a few people, so can capitalism. Right now you’re just dancing all over the place.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      No, I’m right, no I am, no I am right and you are an idiot.

                      How about;

                      a) Stating what particular teaching of Christ is being distorted, and in what way (i.e. what you think it means, and on what basis you determine that to be the correct meaning, and what you think others here are taking it to mean, and on what basis you reject their interpretation).

                      b) Defining capitalism so we can see i) if your assertion is correct that only one of the major US parties supports it, and ii) whether it corresponds to the normal definitions of capitalism in economic and political theory.

                      c) Defining socialism so we can see i) if you assertion that James is clueless about it is correct, and ii) whether it corresponds to the normal definitions of socialism in political theory.

                      I think ‘socialism’ is being used oddly in this discussion too, but from your other comments here, I cannot tell whether you are someone who agrees, or whether you are a troll. Being clearer about your positive case would help.

    • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

      Firmly agree that the word “socialist” is too vague. Is Sweden socialist? France? Syria? Venezuela? Who can tell?

      • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

        I define socialism as “the state ought to intervene as soon as the well-being of people is threatened.”

        2013/10/4 Disqus

        • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

          So, all of my proposed examples, then?

  • Joseph O Polanco

    Christs words need to be understood in the context of his declarations at Matthew 6:22-24: ““The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright; but if your eye is wicked, your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!”

    “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. YOU cannot slave for God and for Riches.”

    Therefore, Christ was not espousing some type of spartan ascetic lifestyle. He was advocating for a lifestyle that revolved, not around avarice and materialism, but around unstinting love for Jehovah God and one’s fellow man. (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 6:31-34)

    • Michael Wilson

      I agree Joseph, I would like to add that people accused Jesus of being a glutton and he is depicted as accepting the gift of expensive perfume against the wishes of others to sell it for the poor. I suspect that we are all caught in a unresolvable conflict about how much to give to our selves vs how much to give to others that only God can judge. I suspect that Jesus might say that so long as your are dedicated to God and not riches, your decisions will co0me from good faith. As we say, it is not the size of the gift but the thought that counts.

    • Tory Quinton

      Well said. When people try to link Christ to Socialism they forget that even socialism is an aesthetic that is itself a distraction from the divine. To give something up, or to help another person because you are told to do so or because it is what gets you the most attention is no better than doing nothing at all.

      • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

        Except that the person gets helped.

        Helping someone for the wrong reasons, vs not helping them at all. I’ll take the former, rather than self-righteous hand-sitting, any day.

        • Tory Quinton

          I am going to assume you to be honestly altruistic and not simply naive so I will give you the benefit of an explanation by way of a story…

          There was a man who was poor and needed help. He was a good man, honest and decent and just on a run of bad luck. This man lost his job due to downsizing, was involved in a car accident and suffered large medical bills.

          There was another man who was also poor, and basically decent, but his bad luck was largely self imposed. He lost his job through his own negligence and piled up medical bills because he was a smoker who ate poorly and never exercised.

          There were two more men…

          One man was very rich, earned his money through hard work and donated freely to charity.

          The other man was also rich, worked equally hard but kept his money for himself and did not donate to charity.

          Then there is you. You are the Bureaucrat tasked with passing out the charity that must be taken from someone else and given out.

          This is a pretty simple intellectual exercise, from whom do you take money and to whom to you give money?

          Now lets throw in a little wrinkle…

          You have a boss, who answers directly to what we might call the power elite. This boss tells you that you are to take money away from the hard working man who donates large sums to charity because he just happens to volunteer for a group that is politically opposed to your bosses goals. And this money you are to give to the poor man who is poor through his own doing because as it happens when this man did have a job he donated a few dollars to political groups that supported your boss’s goal.

          Do you do what you are told and make a good poor man suffer and a good rich man pay?

          Perhaps you refuse to do either on moral principle and thus are your self terminated and replaced by one of the many people who would happily tow the line in exchange for a paycheck, no questions asked.

          Or maybe you ignore your boss’s orders and take money way from the bad rich man and give it to the good poor man. Doing this you found a way to help the right people and keep your moral convictions.

          But as it happens that bad rich man has a son who learned from his fathers bad lessons and became a good man, did charity himself and planned to use the money he inherited from his father to do good works. Money that is no longer there, because you took it away from his father.

          Then of course is the question of how much do you take and how much do you give? What is fair after all?

          If you think this intellectual exercise is absurd then I should caution you, it was daily practice for the Soviet Era Gosbank. That was the Soviet National bank who acted under the direct authority in all matters from the Council of Ministers.

          The Gosbank authorized the amount of wages a company could pay its workers. Seems innocent enough, but lets compare this with a more recent American situation, the current debt crisis. The Gosbank could authorize all its money to be directed to the payment of state accumulated debt if the Council of Ministers so desired. But since the Gos Bank was the sole distributor of money this meant that there was no money left to be directed to individual households, or to companies in the form of paychecks. But there was no such thing as a Furlough, if the state ran out of money then all money was directed back to the state and the people were still required to work. They could not look for other work, they could not decide to go back to school or be stay at home parents they could not open their business, they could not even vote to throw bad officials out and replace them with better officials.

          And this nightmare all began with people, like yourself who honestly believed that a system could be put in place by which wealth could be more properly distributed by the state than by individuals through charity.

          Now this is where I really blow your mind, because I am a free market capitalist and a Conservative and a Christian BUT… Social liberalism as it was manifested in the late 19th century and early 20th century unlike socialist politics did have an actual positive impact. This form of socialism, separated from the state created food banks, and homeless shelters, it worked through activism to urged wealthy donors to give to charities while the state could only force them to do so and the result is the rich gave more and gave it willingly. Just one example is Andrew Carnegie, one of the great men of wealth who used that wealth to voluntarily build libraries across the nations, which in turn gave people access to books and knowledge which they in turn used to build their own lives up in countless way, from escaping hard time in a work of science fictions to gaining a foothold into the world of ideas through works of philosophy. Soviet era, and in fact all forms of socialist systems have consistently failed to achieve this. The wealthiest men in China or North Korea or Soviet era Russia possessed extreme wealth at the expense of others through manipulations of personal associations and they gave nothing to charity because the state itself was charity.

          Like I said I give you the benefit of the doubt, but your world view has led to secret prisons, and mass graves all around the world from the Roman Empire to modern China.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            I know this comment is for Ian, but it makes it hard to take seriously when you not only run socialism and communism together, but treat the Roman Empire as though it were an example of either! Or is your point that if we can eliminate all totalitarianism, and instead of having the capitalism plus handouts system that capitalists focus on have a system that actually tries to deal with the underlying reasons for inequities rather than just patching a system that is designed to foster inequity, things could be better? If not, why not?

            • Tory Quinton

              James dont be dense. I was not running socialism and communism together, I was discussing them both as failures and in point of fact the two are related, in the same way that Judaism and Christianity are related, you cant have one without the other.

              And Rome was in many ways Socialist. You do realize that Rome existed as more than a single political construct, it was a city state, a republic, a pagan empire and a theocracy at various times and sometimes at the same time.

              And to the point here Rome redirected wealth. Edicts were passed at various times that set limits on how much property (property is a form of wealth) a single family could own and wealth in various forms were rewarded by the state to citizens for various reasons that ranged from public service to personal favors. And lets not forget that the empire grew through redistribution. many of the lands conquered were turned over to Roman citizens often times retired soldiers who were given land in exchange for service, land that frequently belonged to other people.

              “Or is your point that if we can eliminate all totalitarianism,”

              There is no IF. The truth is we can not eliminate it at all. No more than we can eliminate any other form of violence or vice, and totalitarianism is both violence and vice.

              My idea is simple, maximum personal freedom to the maximum number of people while also advancing a society that places value on morality, Civic Pride, Family bonds and personal responsibility. Basically the exact opposite of what our culture is doing today.

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                Rome as socialist? In what ways was Rome socialist? Limiting the amassing of property in what is otherwise a free market isn’t socialism in any meaningful sense, it is just tempered capitalism.

                But using such terms is anachronistic, and I get the impression that you are not really interested in having a balanced and precisely nuanced discussion of this. Your suggestion that we just maximize personal freedom and instill values, and all will be well, seems to ignore the very many examples from the history of capitalism and free market in all its diverse forms, which indicate that the poor require protection from the wealthy, and the interests of individuals require protection from what unrestrained corporate interests might otherwise be able to accomplish. I wish you could have sat in on my class today, as we had a wonderful discussion of this very point in connection with Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novels.

                • Tory Quinton

                  “you are not really interested in having a balanced and precisely nuanced discussion of this.”

                  I dont how much more clear I can be with you. I am not interested in having a discussion with you at all because rather than have a discussion your first move was to toss around assumptions and accusation of antisemitism.

                  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                    You don’t seem to be trying very hard not to have a discussion with me. The means to doing that are much simpler than the course you are following.

                    Antisemitism as part of the history of Christian writing about Judaism is something that is well-documented and familiar to scholars. The point is not that you are personally antisemitic, the point is that you are drawing on information that reflects antisemitic assumptions and outlooks. That is why I keep asking you whether you are even aware of the primary sources relevant to this topic, or are relying solely on secondary sources or hearsay, so that we can discuss the matter. Or not discuss the matter, should you choose to cease responding to my comments. Otherwise, you are presumably committed to having a discussion even though you say otherwise, just as some people past and present are antisemitic in their views even though they say otherwise.

          • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

            Your original point made the claim

            To give something up, or to help another person because you are told to do so or because it is what gets you the most attention is no better than doing nothing at all.

            Challenged that this sentiment is obviously immoral you seem to want to embark on a justification for why doing nothing is actually a far lesser evil, because helping another person for the wrong reasons leads to secret prisons and mass graves.

            Which of course has very little to do with my response to your actual sentiment, which is that doing nothing to help your fellow human beings is ‘no better’.

            I’m quite sure you are incredibly proud of your free market capitalism and the righteousness of not feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, supporting the widows, visiting those in prison. Because, with the hindsight of C20 history, doing those things through the ballot box is clearly more evil than not doing them at all.

            • Tory Quinton

              Ian, you have a real problem if you hear me say that I oppose state forced charity and you assume that this means I oppose charity in general. You must be so blinded by your loyalty to socialism that you cant imagine that a person can of his own free will give, and give freely to help others.

              “the righteousness of not feeding the hungry,”

              You are a twisted individual.

              • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                So when was the last time you visited someone in prison that wasn’t a relative? Other than the socialised component of your health insurance, and coverage of your family, how many sick people’s health care do you cover out of pocket?

                As you said above, better to do nothing, I guess.

                I’m being facile here, but the underlying point is significant.

                If, say, the fire service were de-socialized in the USA (as the original fire services in the UK and the USA were), and people were free to charitably give to it, or else have it as a paid-for service, perhaps with insurance, would its overall funding drop or raise? Would the total marginal cost to individuals of protection from fire increase or decrease? Would there be fewer or more fire-related injuries and death?

                “You are a twisted individual.”

                It wasn’t me who tried to establish a link from Aneurin Bevan to Stalin.

                • Tory Quinton

                  You are grossly offensive in your demands for proof of my morality and frankly you do not deserve the consideration. I put myself on the line every day for people and pipsqueak little nothings like yourself who can only measure charity in terms of what the state can do are of no value to society.

                  But sure, lets talk about the fire service in the United States. Something I know quit ea bit about, as I am a volunteer firefighter. Do you know what that means you worm. It means I run into the buildings you run out of and I do it for no money at all! And my father is a retired instructor at the National fire academy, My brother is, as we speak sweating and risking his life in the Fires in California, does he get paid, sure, but how much is a human life worth you miserable tiny thing. Does the fire ask to see his salary before surrounding him with flames! have you ever seen a funeral of a firefighter who died in the line of duty. Do you know what duty means? It can not be forced by the state, It is a personal obligation, a matter of individual morality that is earned, not coerced!

                  Ian, Go to HELL

                  • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                    I think you totally missed my point about the socialised fire service. Because your response was plain bizarre and — I note — attempted to avoid having to answer the actual questions I asked.

                    But then it isn’t unusual to get blind rage, incoherent nonsense, and diversionary tactics instead of rational political discussion.

                    So sure, I’ll “go to HELL”. And we’ll cancel each other out when we go to the polls.

  • Jan

    Candida Moss has a crooked nose. And she is not a real blond.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      This comment is clearly made by someone who hates Bill O’Reilly and wants to make his supporters look bad by pretending to be one and then offering mere insults rather than substantive disagreements. I don’t think that Bill O’Reilly is a real blond, and I have no opinion one way or the other about his nose, but how does that have any relevance to what his views are?

  • Jr

    Sorry, to claim that Jesus (I am going to be speaking of the literary character portrayed in the Gospels, not the historical one) was a socialist, or even similar to a socialist, is in itself based on selective reading. (Or a misunderstanding of socialism.)

    The quote about giving up all your possessions makes Jesus sound like an anti-materialist, not a socialist. Socialism has nothing against possessions, it just thinks everybody should have the same amount of possessions.

    Secondly, Jesus said nothing as far as I know about how a government should rule. It is not clear that he thought that a government should take money from those who would not give it up voluntary.

    Thirdly, what Jesus says about interacting with an oppressive government does not sound very socialist. (Or similar to any modern mainstream modern ideology.) “Walk the extra mile” and so on. He does not just rule out any resistance, even non-violent, he is telling you to cooperate enthusiastically with your oppressors. I am glad the civil rights movement did not take Jesus’ message to heart.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I found this comment ironic, since Jesus seems to have taught his followers to pay their taxes, and his statements about going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, and giving your last item of clothing have all been understood as means of non-violent protest within their context, and inspired members of the civil rights movement when thus understood.

      Here’s an example of what I’m referring to: http://www.cpt.org/files/BN%20-%20Jesus'%20Third%20Way.pdf

  • guest

    Was Lazarus really a rich man? Was Joseph of Aremathea rich? I don’t remember that being in the bible so I wonder how Bill Reilly knows.
    To say Jesus wasn’t political seems a bit ridiculous. There was no seperation between church and state back then.

    I like Dr Moss but I don’t she how she can say that Jesus was a socialist based on one saying attributed to him. How can anyone be sure he said it, or how he meant it?


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