Following Jesus’s Rules Isn’t so Hard . . . Unless the End Really ISN’T Imminent

Following Jesus’s Rules Isn’t so Hard . . . Unless the End Really ISN’T Imminent May 15, 2018

The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to earn eternal life. Jesus said that he must keep the commandments. He had done so his entire life, he told Jesus. The final requirement, Jesus said, was to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21–2).

The man left in despair because he had to choose his wealth and power over Jesus.

What did Jesus demand?

Jesus passed Peter and Andrew fishing and told them to abandon their lives and follow him to become fishers of men. Jesus said to love your enemies and turn the other cheek. He said to not worry about impermanent treasure on earth “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). He illustrated the importance of helping the needy by saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

This approach would be difficult to sustain for a lifetime. Paul showed a similar short-term focus when he said, “Were you a slave when you were called [to be a Christian]? Don’t let it trouble you. . . . Each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Corinthians 7:21–4).

We also find indifference to slavery elsewhere in the epistles.

Slaves, be obedient in everything to your earthly masters (Colossians 3:22)

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate but also to those who are harsh (1 Peter 2:18)

The end is nigh!

Anyone can stay on a diet if it only lasts a couple of weeks, and remaining a slave or always putting others’ needs ahead of yours might be tolerable if you only need to sustain it for a couple of years. Turning the other cheek isn’t too hard if the End is around the corner.

Jesus saw the End coming soon, and that is apparent when he speaks in apocalyptic terms. Note that “apocalyptic” can mean “having to do with the end times,” or it can refer to the specific movement called Apocalypticism. This was a movement popular in Judaism during the intertestamental period (that is, the period after the Old Testament and before the New). We see this in the New Testament when Jesus was asked (Matt. 24:3), “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Apocalypticism taught that we live in a bad Age, controlled by a bad supernatural being but that a new Age with a good ruler would take charge shortly.

Apocalyptic books told their readers that the end was near. Daniel was one such book, and it said that the final seven-year period before the apocalypse (171–164 BCE) was already half over (more).

Jesus also spoke about an imminent end. He said, “This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matt. 24:34). A few verses earlier, Jesus identified “these things”: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, [and] the stars will fall from the sky.” Since that obviously didn’t happen, some apologists handwave away Jesus’s statement about the imminent end by saying that it referred to the destruction of the Temple or some other first-century calamity. No, we’re talking about a cosmic catastrophe that no one would miss.

What to do with Jesus’s life philosophy?

So how noble was Jesus? He apparently didn’t intend for his policies to be a lifelong philosophy if the end was just months or years away. And while Jesus said that those following him would suffer persecution in this life, he said in his analysis of the rich young ruler’s actions that those who left family and occupations for him would receive a hundred times as much in return in this life and they would receive eternal life.

Of course, I’d like to see in society more of the self-sacrifice and generosity that Jesus preached, but know that we’re applying it in a different way than Jesus anticipated.

Taking no thought for the morrow is no way to live. Nor is excessive generosity—Jesus said, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well” (Matt. 5:40). Maybe that explains why he does a few healings but doesn’t bother to eliminate any disease. And why Paul tells slaves to just deal with it.

Jesus was speaking only to his peers. If we can mine useful wisdom from his story, that’s fine, but don’t pretend that Jesus addressed his message at us today.

I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form.
It would disturb me if there was a wedding between
the religious fundamentalists and the political right.
The hard right has no interest in religion
except to manipulate it.
— Billy Graham, Parade Magazine, 1981

Image via Pilottage, CC license

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  • Brian Curtis

    “God’s morality never changes!”
    “Yeah… that’s why he’s not good enough any more.”

  • epicurus

    Time is short, let the dead bury their own, forsake your mother and father, sell everything you have, because in, umm, thousands of years from now -maybe- the end will be upon us.

  • Greg G.

    1 Corinthians 7:8-9 (NRSV)8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

    Paul thought the only reason to get married was to legitimize sex. He never talks about raising a family. He seems to have thought Jesus was coming in the next nine months.

    • A great addition (which I should’ve thought of). Thanks.

    • John MacDonald

      And the Jesus movement seems to have taught there was no marriage in the coming Kingdom of God (see Mark 12:25), so getting married now would be kind of pointless.

    • Joe

      For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

      I wasn’t aware Paul has first hand experience of marriage?

      • Otto

        Obviously from that line he doesn’t

  • John MacDonald

    Paul thought the end had begun, and so calls Jesus the “first fruits (1 Cor 15:23)” of the general resurrection harvest of all the souls at the end of the age. Paul thought the end had begun with Jesus’ resurrection, and the general resurrection of the rest of the souls was to follow shortly. On the imminence of the end for Paul, also see 1 Thes 4.15-18; Philippians 4.5; 1 Cor 7.29; 1 Cor 10.11; 1 Cor 15.51-52; 2 Cor 6.2; Rom 13.11-12

    • Thanks!

    • Kevin K

      Exactly. If Paul were around today, he’d be a cliche.

      • Greg G.

        Paul was probably a cliche in Judea with talk of a coming Messiah, but found out on his trip to Tarsus and Syria that there were suckers who were willing to pay to hear it.

  • Yes, the teaching only makes sense in the context of the world ending in the near future. It was a revelation (heh) when I realized that. Absent this, it falls apart. No one practices this anymore. That should be our first clue. Only doomsday cults act like this now, which it seems probable early Christianity was. Then, when the prediction failed, they (like later Christian and other sects) discarded that to accommodate. In this case, they placed this “end time” into the far future.

    • That Jesus’s predictions of the imminent end are hilariously wrong. (I think I’ve heard Greg G. say this is a biggie for him.) But I only recently tied in Jesus’s commands into that point. Christians today pore through Jesus’s sayings looking for wisdom, but what if he had nothing to say to them … ?

      In this case, they placed this “end time” into the far future.

      2 Peter, a very late book, has the “for god, a thousand years is like a day” line to give Christians an out to avoid embarrassing Jesus.

      • They always talk of not reading things out of context (“proof texting”) while apparently being unaware of (or ignoring) this.

        You should see how they get around Jesus saying there were some standing there that would not see death before he came back. John is just hiding even now, see, so it’s still true. Poor guy-two thousand years is a long wait.

        • I’ve heard of the Wandering Jew as an answer. That is, Jesus was right when he said, “There are those standing here…” because there was one guy who would roam the earth until the second coming, just to prove Jesus right.

          There’s no length you won’t go when your core belief is unfalsifiable.

        • Yep. In these cases, possible therefore probable becomes the go-to fallacy.

        • Kevin K

          Wasn’t that the plot for John Carpenters vampire movie? That the Wandering Jew (or maybe it was Judas, who survived his suicide) became the first vampire? I think that’s roughly it.

        • Dracula 2000 has Judas as the original vampire, yes. He could also be the Wandering Jew. I don’t think the film says it though. Wes Craven though, not John Carpenter. It was okay.

        • Kevin K

          I knew one of them had something like that. Thanks!

        • No problem.

        • Bob Jase

          And that wandering Jew’s name is Mel Brooks

        • Poor Mel.

          The link doesn’t work, at least for me.

    • Kevin K

      I cannot imagine what it would be like to live your life expecting the end to come any day now, like the JWs and 7DAs do. It has to be exhausting.

      • I don’t know whether I’m representative, but I think you can actually get used to compartmentalising it.

        My denomination certainly had some who pushed “the end is near” to extremes, and searched every event in the Middle East etc. as part of their “watch” for “signs of the times”.
        I wasn’t that bad, but as a child I expected Jesus could come any day. However, I still managed to go to school, work hard, plan for events that were months away, etc.
        And when I got to adulthood I recognised the number of past predictions that had failed and began to expect it less (even though I still believed it would happen sometime). And I knew that everyone so far who had expected the return in a couple of years had been disappointed, so it seemed silly to make decisions based on a certainty that Jesus would return soon.

        In case you’re interested, I wrote a lot more about this when writing about the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, a time when most in my denomination thought Jesus’ return was due in days not years (HERE). My favourite quote (from a well-regarded speaker):

        If you’re not on the edge of your seat with all the signs of the times we’ve been having, you’ll never be on the edge of your seat. We have had all sorts of signs, particularly in the last 60 years.

        I mean, seriously? That sounds like a lifetime to me…

        • Kevin K

          I’m sure the preachers are absolutely in a fever pitch these days, what with the Hawaii volcano going off AND the troubles in Israel.

        • epicurus

          Expect a John Hagee pronouncement soon and possibly a book about how the Hawaii Volcano and US Embassy move to Jerusalem are the final signs that the end will be very soon, all in language vague enough that he can back out of it when he is inevitably wrong. Come to think of it, he usually doesn’t have to back out of his failed predictions, he just continues on with no consequences.

        • Kevin K

          Definitely a book. He did very well with the blood moon thing.

        • John MacDonald

          Better sew a seed into his ministry so you are right with God when the apocalypse hits.

        • Kevin K

          Exactly so. Where’s my checkbook…

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Could you please remind me of the last time there were no troubles in Israel?

        • Foreplay is nice and all, but c’mon–it’s been 2000 years.

        • Orange East Yellow

          2000 years is a nice argument in itself. I have always had the desired outcome simply by showing

        • Which denomination, out of curiosity?

        • Greg G.

          IIRC and IIMBI, “Christadelphian”.

        • Ah. I’ve heard of them, but didn’t know they predicted the imminent end too.

        • TheNuszAbides



        • Greg G.

          I think it was supposed to be “IMBI” for “I May Be Incorrect.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          my guess was “If I May Butt In” …

        • Greg G.

          Well, you have convinced me.

        • Christadelphian

      • I’ve known former Adventists and Witnesses. They said it’s not simply exhausting, but deeply messes you up. In fact the former Adventist said she didn’t really see why people should get marry or have children, as her church said, if we’re all just going to die soon. Not that they bother over such contradictions.

  • RichardSRussell

    I’ve often scratched my head over C. S. Lewis’s trilemma about whether Jesus was “liar, lunatic, or lord” and wondered why he was so quick to write off “lunatic”.

    • John MacDonald
      • RichardSRussell

        Well, either “liar” or “lunatic” certainly seem like way more reasonable explanations than “lord”, despite ole Clive’s willingness to dismiss them so readily.

        • John MacDonald

          The tradition that people were accusing the disciples of stealing the body and lying about the resurrected Jesus is very old. We read, for instance,

          – 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matthew 28:12-15)

          Matthew included this apologetically as something the elders were falsely accusing the disciples of, so probably in Matthew’s time he knew of this accusation against the disciples as being fairly early. Maybe, portrayed in Paul, Cephas et al did in fact lie about seeing the resurrected Jesus because they thought it would lend divine clout to their mission of bringing people to God in preparation for the end of the age.

          There is a similar apologetic inclusion when Matthew describes people attacking Jesus for not being the pious, upstanding guy everyone was claiming he was:

          – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and of sinners!’ (Matthew 11:19)

    • Brian Curtis

      Lewis conveniently left out the fourth option: “legend,” as in folklore. Myth. A field he was quite familiar with, but somehow didn’t think applied to his personal favorite superstition.

      • RichardSRussell

        Heck, he was already on a roll with the alliteration. Think of the additional possibilities: leper, leprechaun, leopard, leaper, lemming … the list goes on and on.

        • Greg G.

          lodger, lessee, or landlord…

        • Susan

          lodger, lessee, or landlord

          The argument seems to be that we can rule out things that start with “L” except “Lord”.

          “Linguist, lepidoperist or Lord”.

          Lewis is one of their “great thinkers”.

          And all he does is provide mediocre ad copy.

        • TS (unami)

          You win the Internet today for successfully using “lepidopterist” in a comment! 🙂

    • And why where those the only options? Couldn’t “didn’t exist” or “was greatly exaggerated” be options?

      • RichardSRussell

        C. S. Lewis was a professor of literature and a fiction writer of modest impact, but philosophy, logic, and the scientific method weren’t his strong suits.

      • Greg G.

        Those wouldn’t work. They would have to be “lon-existent” and “lexaggerated.” Lewis liked L-words.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he probably always wished he had been named Livec Lesstap Lewis.

    • Some guy said he was God today? “Lunatic” is a possibility I think most of us would want to consider.

    • epeeist

      wondered why he was so quick to write off “lunatic”.

      Cue the Thomas Paine quotation:

      The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.

    • Lark62

      And legend.

  • RichardSRussell

    Hey, having nothing to do with this particular essay but just a thot that occurred to me upon seeing Pope Frank on parade in the banner ad above it, does anybody know if ex-Pope Palpatine is still haunting the Vatican?

    • John MacDonald

      “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural”

    • RichardSRussell

      Man, I am having an absolutely miserable time trying to get the HTML code to insert the image here instead of just the code for it. Anyone have any tips?

      • John MacDonald

        I’ve found that screaming and crying helps.

      • Greg G.

        Usually just the link will do it but I think some sites will not transmit an image to other sites. Then you have to download the image and upload it from your computer. You can crop a screenshot and use that if all else fails. I have resorted to that many times.

        • RichardSRussell

          Thanks for the tip, Greg. Since I’m not sure how to go about uploading (let alone where to), I think I’ll just leave the link in text form and let people click on it.

        • Otto

          Uploading is easy, there is a little picture icon in the lower left hand coroner after you hit ‘reply’, click on that and just pick the file to upload.

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, rooty toot toot, it works like a charm. Thanks, Otto! I never noticed that before.

        • Otto

          Took me a bit too…Discus just won’t allow copy/paste from other websites so everything has to be downloaded and then uploaded

        • Greg G.

          Actually, Disqus will allow it but sometimes the host site from the picture doesn’t allow it. I often right click on Wikipedia images and select “copy image address” and pasting the link works.

          I think it is sites that are mostly dedicated to images that block their images from going to unauthorized sites.

        • Otto

          Weird thing is I can copy paste the same thing into skype but not discus…but then again I am a moron

        • Greg G.

          That is strange. I wouldn’t have expected that.

        • Greg G.

          Do you mean you can copy and paste images rather than the link? No, Disqus won’t do that as it is based in the browser so it needs a link.

        • Otto

          I can click one the image and copy it…then paste it into skype, but for discus I have to download than upload.

        • Greg G.

          You can also drag and drop the file into the Disqus combox.

        • Greg G.
        • John MacDonald

          Oh Yeah!

        • I replaced it with just the URL. Does it work any better?

          Since some file types (and maybe https sites?) don’t show the image (though the links still work), I suggest putting in the URL and then seeing if, a few seconds later, Disqus pops up an image. If not, try to find a more workable file type.

        • TS (unami)

          I usually download the image first. Then, when you create a reply, there should be a little “image/picture” icon in the lower left of your comment box. You can click it, browse to where you downloaded the image and it will then upload to your comment.

          But it only works on new comments, not after you’ve posted one and are trying to edit an existing comment.

          Hope this helps! 🙂

        • RichardSRussell

          Good advice, for which I thank you. But I’m mainly replying to your comment to tell you how much I adore your avatar. The trailer for Brave was worth the price of admission to the film all by itself:

        • TS (unami)

          Merida is my heroine! 🙂
          (and I secretly think that I look a “wee” bit like her myself 😉

        • RichardSRussell

          Merida is my heroine!

          Mine, too. And I don’t look even a teeny bit like her.

        • TS (unami)

          Stay Brave, Richard!
          You brought a smile to my day… Thank you. 🙂

  • Bob Jase

    When you’re the ruler of the universe its easy to tell other folks to forgive their enemies and take care of the poor – too bad the ruler of the universe can’t be bothered to do the same.

    • sandy

      So true. Ruler of the universe is a genocide killer, jealous, approves slavery and rape, women are chattel and…..hates gays and uncircumcised males. And this is what Christians who read the bible agree with and worship? sigh

  • skl

    “This approach would be difficult to sustain for a lifetime.
    Paul showed a similar short-term focus…a couple of weeks…a couple of years…
    Turning the other cheek isn’t too hard if the End is around the corner…
    but don’t pretend that Jesus addressed his message at us today.”

    This “short-term” interpretation doesn’t make sense to me for a couple reasons.
    – The various books of the new testament were written about two to six decades after Christ’s death, much longer than a couple of weeks or years.
    – Several times the new testament has Christ warning “He who endures to the end will be saved.” That would mean ‘to the end of your lifetime‘, which could be many decades away, as long as it takes.
    – Before he ascends into heaven, Christ tells them to spread his message to the whole world, a task that would take longer than any of their lifetimes.

    So, I think Jesus did address his message at us today.

    • RichardSRussell

      I think Jesus did address his message at us today.

      A more realistic interpretation was that no, he couldn’t even envision the world of 2018, because he had an atrocious grasp of time and geography, in addition to other aspects of reality. Remember that, while it may have taken decades to get around to writing down his (supposed) sayings, he himself was uttering them in what to him was the here and now.

      • skl

        “A more realistic interpretation was that no, he couldn’t even envision the world of 2018…”

        He could if he was god. But a god would know it would be crazy to try to talk to first century people about, say, watching pornography on smartphones.
        He would rather be focused on communicating in ways they could understand. As you say, “the here and now.”

        • Otto

          But it wouldn’t be crazy to talk about how owning other people as property is specifically wrong, or that women should be treated on the same exact level as men…so no his message was not directed at the future, we had to figure that out ourselves and still have a lot of work to do.

        • RichardSRussell

          He could if he was god.

          If …

        • Bob Jase

          “He would rather be focused on communicating in ways they could understand.”

          According to the earliest Christian writings, Paul’s letters, Christianity was already split into numerous competing factions with differing dogma & rituals in less than twenty years so Jesus couldn’t even do that much.

        • Joe

          If Zeus was a God, he could turn himself into a bull. Which he did, therefore Zeus is real.

          He would rather be focused on communicating in ways they could understand.

          And in ways which an audience in 2018 couldn’t understand. An omnipotent god undone by a simple dichotomy.

      • Lark62

        Jesus scolded his followers for washing their hands. Must’ve forgotten Daddy created microbes.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus insisted that it is not what goes into a person that defiles them but what comes out. It is not what you consume that kills you but the vomiting and diarrhea that does it. The sword doesn’t kill you, it is all that bleeding.

        • Adrian

          Well, IIRC this was another instance of the NT portraying (strawmanning?) the Pharisees as focusing on the letter of the law over its spirit, with the Pharisees attacking Jebus because he didn’t follow dietary restriction to their satisfaction and Jebus going “STFU! Daddy doesn’t give a fuck if you haz had cheezburger! What makes him go ‘Ew! Do not want!’ is you talking shit!” /LOLcat Bible

    • Damien Priestly

      The fact that Jesus didn’t descend right back down into China, India and other populated places at the time — to spread his good news… Shows that he did not know these places existed. He didn’t tell anybody about the sophisticated culture in China and elsewhere that existed at the time.This shows the whole story is BS…

      A god is leaving it up illiterate, ignorant animal herders and fish-mongers in the eastern Mediterranean region — to spread the most important message ever heard? No !! The whole story was likely concocted after the fact by scared, ignorant members a Jewish splinter sect. Today, finally these Christian stories are being laughed off as idiotic legends., sadly far to late, but better late than never.

      • skl

        Completely different topic.

        • Damien Priestly

          No, if the end was — or was not — imminent…people would need to know that all over the world.

          God, and this illiterate Jesus character picked the worst possible people spread the message. To this day most places in India, China, etc. still have not got the message. God/Jesus/Holy-Ghost could have checked in with Confucius and got things straight…But no, he chose a guy like Peter, another illiterate…who apparently denied, three times, that he even knew Jesus. Great job JC !!

        • “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”

          — Judas in “Jesus Christ, Superstar”

      • sandy

        Yes, it’s all so obvious that it’s all man made and myth and all one needs to do is a critical analysis of the nativity and the whole thing falls apart before it gets going. It gets so tiring at times to debate what we all know is just another man made god story…

    • ildi

      “The various books of the new testament were written about two to six decades after Christ’s death, much longer than a couple of weeks or years.”

      That would actually fit the argument that everybody expected the end to come soon so why write anything down?

      ““He who endures to the end will be saved.” That would mean ‘to the end of your lifetime'”

      A cleaner interpretation of ‘the end’ is the end of the age, not the end of your lifetime.

      “Christ tells them to spread his message to the whole world, a task that would take longer than any of their lifetimes”

      Only if you define ‘the world’ as we know it to be, not as they thought it was at the time.

      The obvious question is why did God choose to send Jesus at a time when communication was such a barrier? He was already willing to send all the people who lived and died before Jesus to hell, so why not wait until technology is more advanced, or bring the technology along with Jesus? Now THAT would have been some miracle-working!

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        Or just send him after Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden.
        Then Jesus could give his messge to literally everyone at once.

    • Joe

      he various books of the new testament were written about two to six decades after Christ’s death

      Assuming he existed in the first place. Doomsday cults are still popping up to this day, so I don’t see your point?

      several times the new testament has Christ warning “He who endures to the end will be saved.” That would mean ‘to the end of your lifetime’,

      Or it might mean something totally different.

      Before he ascends into heaven, Christ tells them to spread his message to the whole world, a task that would take longer than any of their lifetimes.

      If the authors had a realistic idea of how big the world actually was at the time.

  • rationalobservations?

    Perhaps the most ironic illustration of the hypocricy of christians and christianity is the fact that the oldest and founding Roman business of christianity is the most obscenely wealthy institution in the world and the head of that business is no less in control of that vast wealth than Bill Gates is of his rather meager (by comparison) $millions.
    How can anyone take religion seriously when a Pope turns a blind eye to the needs of humanity and the devious machinations of the Vatican Bank and proclaims that his flock should support the poor and “the church” while sitting upon a golden throne within the most luxurious palace the world has ever seen and amassing and hoarding the greatest wealth in a world filled with ignorance, starvation and dire need.
    The Pope is the world’s wealthiest man and perhaps the wealthiest individual the world has ever seen.
    Now what was that quotation about a rich man, “heaven”, a Camel and the eye of a needle..?

    • The only thing I would offer in the pope’s defense is that he’s not the absolute monarch he’s portrayed as. There’s a Vatican bureaucracy that would prevent him from doing something silly like, oh I dunno, give lots of money to good causes and change the Vatican’s operations so that it doesn’t blunder through the world screwing things up (like cooperating with authorities when priests are accused of crimes).

      I suppose Uncle Frank is pretty good, as popes go, but we can stop holding our breath in the hopes of significant change.

      • John MacDonald

        You do an amazing job of running this blog given such high traffic!

        • Thanks! Thoughtful commenters help.

        • Michael Neville

          The rest of us riff-raff don’t get in the way too often.

        • The best insights come from commenters here. I’m just a student.

        • rationalobservations?

          Were all students if we have open minds, a respect for the truth and the curiosity to investigate things first hand without accepting and first testing the words or opinions of others.
          Keep up the good work, Bob.
          Best wishes to you and yours.

        • Thanks!

      • rationalobservations?

        I thank you and recognise your kindly nature in forgiving the exclusively self serving excesses of the RCC and most other businesses of religion, Bob.

        Sinister? Yes.
        Secretive? Yes
        Dishonest? Obviously.
        Exclusively self serving? Oh yes!
        Anti-humanitarian in dogma and actions? Self evidently.

        The fact that some Popes are not quite so bad as the Borgia dynasty may appear to be damning all occupants of that golden throne with very feint praise indeed?

        It’s worth remembering that the images of the fabled “Jesus” we all know today are based upon Cesare (pronounced Chay-zar-ee) Borgia and not the probable image of smelly, flea ridden citizen of 1st century Palestine who left no tangible evidence of his existence or the actual events presented in centuries later human written legends.

      • Otto

        >>>”I suppose Uncle Frank is pretty good, as popes go, but we can stop holding our breath in the hopes of significant change.”

        I went and saw the comedian David Cross…he joked that Frank has risen above the bar as far as Popes go…but since the bar is set somewhere down at the bottom of the Mariana Trench that really isn’t saying much.

    • Michael Neville

      That’s actually a bronze throne. It folds up for traveling. No, not making that up.

      • rationalobservations?

        I rather think that your pedantry indicates the fact that you totally missed the point?
        The RCC and the Vatican Bank are hoarding untold $Euro-billions but recently with so few further rewarding global investment opportunities, it has been stuffing the Bank of Italy with gold bullion while one third of the world starves and many babies have died of starvation or easily and cheaply curable/preventable diseases while you have been reading this.

        A visit to the public rooms of the Vatican museum must sicken the most devout and enslaved catholic? It is estimated by many that the value of the content of many individual rooms would resolve many of the ills of the world and some of the individual artifacts are totally unique and “priceless” becomes more than a casual concept when attempting to estimate the value that could be achieved if sold on the open world market.

        Hypocrisy drips from every golden, jewel encrusted artifact and extraordinary breathtaking room filled with priceless treasures while babies are starving.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Jesus saw the End coming soon, and that is apparent when he speaks in apocalyptic terms.

    And for Jesus, the end did come soon!

    • John MacDonald

      Secular people shouldn’t worry about Jesus returning and judging us. We’d just crucify him again.

      • eric

        Actually I think it would be his own followers that would do it (…again). Consider how well he and his message would pay with southern baptists right now. Some swarthy middle eastern immigrant tells them to wash the feed of the poor, of prostitutes? Give up all your wealth? Judge not lest ye be judged? Turn the other cheek? He’d be run out of southern evangelical territory on a rail, if he wasn’t “stand your grounded” to death first.

  • Alan Mill

    According to the NT, Jesus had quite a few stupid ideas, but one of the most stupid ideas was his mental health policy.

    Not even the reactionary religious right in my country Australia, or even the USA (correct me if I’m wrong you Yanks) would put his mental health policy into practice.

    For starters, the pork industry would be so up in arms about the utter destruction of all those pig farmers, that it wouldn’t get off the ground. To say nothing of the fact that it would do nothing to help people with mental health issues.

    To be fair, the human writers of the NT did not have the knowledge of mental health that we do.

    But an omnipotent being should have had that knowledge.

    It’s always worth asking the devout their view on “the wisest man who ever lived” and his idea on how to deal with people who have mental health issues.

    Drowning 2,000 pigs is a lot of pigs. In those days, 2,000 pigs would have required dozens of pig herders and their families to herd them. Jesus just destroyed their livelihood without a “by your leave”. Actions have consequences. Without even saying sorry, Jesus left dozens of families unemployed and destitute. Destroy the pork industry in any area and there will be merry hell to pay from the devout pig farmers and the not devout pig farmers.

    Killing pigs is just so not the way to help people with mental health issues.

    It’s a monumental stupid idea that no follower of Jesus would consider putting into practice.

    Would devout USA VP Mike Pence make this the mental health policy of the USA? I don’t think so.

    • Greg G.

      Why 2000 pigs? If they could occupy one person, why couldn’t Jesus put them into one animal? How about putting them all into a lamb that was about to be sacrificed at the temple? Or cast them all into the disease-causing bacteria of the next person Jesus was going to heal?

      Would devout USA VP Mike Pence make this the mental health policy of the USA?

      Pence seems to be more concerned that people with mental health issues have access to assault weapons than access to mental health care.

    • sandy

      What’s a few thousand pigs when you’ve already drowned all but one family and every animal save but 2 of every animal. Yes he promised to never do it again but drowning 2,000 pigs is like god was on a diet and he was sneaking in a cookie.

  • Orange East Yellow

    “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21–2)
    Let’s encourage xtians to follow this literally, completely. I say, I will accept them as true xtians only if they do this. Otherwise, they are fake-xtians.