Note: This blog post has been audioed by me for your listening pleasure here.
We live in a world where outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins gets called “militant” for using mere words and accurately describing the Bible god as “genocidal,” but where Jesus gets called “The Prince of Peace” for endorsing the Old Testament theocracy that was actually genocidal and for promising to personally commit attrocities infinitely worse than every 20th century dictator *combined.* Jesus said few would be saved from his fiery eternal wrath, so any given genocidal maniac can’t be too far off the mark in committing their attrocities if they live in the same moral mythology that canonical gospel Jesus lived in. So what exactly was the problem with the genocidal dictators of the 20th century anyway? That they did part of Jesus’ job for him? Or that they didn’t do it well enough?
As Dr. Hector Avalos points out in his new book, “The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics” Jesus would only have been against the Roman empire because the wrong god was in charge. Not because Jesus was against theocracies or empires in principle. Dr. Avalos goes on to illustrate how Jesus’ “Kingdom of Heaven” fits the cultural profile of merely a replacement empire.
Dr. Richard Carrier has pointed out numerous times in various places that Jesus was just like all the other failed Jewish warrior messiahs who were supposed to defeat all the enemies of Israel and put Jerusalem back on top. Christian apologetics often tries to paint Jesus in stark contrast to those banal sensibilities and cast Jesus as instead “the good messiah,” but Jesus’ army was just invisible and his intentions to conquer the world for the nation of Israel could not even be attempted. So all we’re left with is a supposedly peace-loving hippie Jesus mythological artifact in the gospels who never got around to his attrocities, because his angelic military was fake. That doesn’t change what Jesus’ intentions clearly were.
As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Jesus was a peace-loving hippie if one can be a vegan despite endorsing the slaughter house and by virtue of not having gotten around to eating all the animals yet.
Liberal Christian Bible scholar Thom Stark points out in his excellent book, “The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It)” that Christianity started out as the relative underdog in opposition to the worldly powers, but then ended up becoming the abomination they loathed by the 3rd century with Constantine. You can see my review of his book here.
It seems obvious Christianity had all the necessary ingredients and values to be that empire, but it was cloaked under the thin veil of an eventually forgotten/discarded/retconned mythological timetable. Then of course Islam comes along and puts that worldly theocracy overtly back on the practical table again. Oh goodie! All the best elements (i.e. worst) of militant Judaism and evangelical hellfire Christianity in one neat package!
Two Christians recently have simply refused to even address the point, despite repeated attempts to press the issue, that Jesus’ intentions to set the vast majority of humanity on fire for all eternity should count against his moral character. Dr. George Thomas here. And BlairC777 here. Do they hate their fellow human beings to the extent of believing that most of them deserve to be set on fire for all eternity or not? It’s not that hard of a question to answer, but they won’t touch it. I’m supposedly evil with genocidal intentions (according to them) because I’m against the evil of setting everyone on fire? Makes perfect sense.
Somehow Jesus is good no matter what, right? Why bother evaluating the merits of his morality as stated in the canonical gospels? “I would never DARE critically evaluate my religion for quality moral content before joining!”
Needless to say, as many have astutely pointed out, by the time Christian theologians get done defining their supposedly good god, “good” no longer means anything.
If Jesus wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves, then it is contradictory to accept that virtually all humans deserve to be set on fire for all eternity. Afterall, the parable of the good Samaritan praised actually taking care of the beaten up man who was laying on the side of the road. Not for pouring gasoline on him and setting him on fire, because, you know, he was probably a sinner. Being a good person in the Jesus-verse is waiting around for Jesus to set that guy on fire for you. It’s a stark moral contradiction. Unless you really want to think that Jesus wants us to, “Hate others like I’ve taught you to hate yourself.” Obviously some Calvinists are perfectly fine with that.
For those of you with functioning mirror neurons that haven’t been completely sabotaged by Big Religion, if you’d like to see my case laid out against Jesus on this issue (with all the Bible references), see my first 4 videos in my ongoing “Judging Jesus” Youtube series. Or you could just judge me for putting “Jesus” and “bad” in the same sentence and completely ignore the case I’ve made. Whichever.