Jesus the Socialist
Rev. James Dennis Hird, M.A.
(London: The Clarion Press,
44 Worship Street, E.C., 1908)
Clarion Pamphlet No. 46 [pdf version; Review]
[Table of Contents]
|Ed. Note: The historical term "Christian Socialist" is nowadays little known. Historically, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it used to be widely known. For background, see explanations, e.g.,
and writings, e.g.,
William Alfred Hinds (1833-1910), American Communitities (Oneida, N.Y.: The American Socialist, 1878)
Prof. Peter d'A. Jones, The Christian Socialist Revival: 1877-1914 (Princton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1968)
Christian Socialism Articles, Machinists Monthly Journal,
Vol. XVIII, Issue 8, August 1906
Upton Sinclair, The Industrial Republic: A Study of American Socialism (1907)
Prof. Edward Alsworth Ross, Sin and Society: An Analysis of Latter-Day Iniquity (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1907) (Cited in Prof. Michael Parenti, Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993), on "religious leaders" who "evade social issues such as poverty, oppression and militarism [the beam], and [instead focus solely] on personal pieties, sectarian intolerance, and a prudish moralism [the mote]. . . . Sin and virture are defined as private matters unrelated to economic issues. Thus a worker who filches something from the business firm is guilty of theft, but the firm owners who grow rich off the underpaid labor of workers [James 5:1-5] are not considered thieves. Government policy that tolerates 'pornography' in art and literature is sinful, while government policy that pursues wars of aggression and favors the rich over the poor is not. Virture is [solely] a matter of loving and obeying God, rather than [the Bible Society Management Laws] advancing the collective human condition," at pp 44 and 179. [See context.]
Rev. J. O. Bentall, Ph.D., "Why I Am a Christian Socialist," XXXVII The Arena (1907)
Rev. E. E. Carr, "The Christian Socialist Fellowship: A Brief Account of Its Origin and Progress," 4 The Christian Socialist (#16) p 5 (15 August 1907) ("From the beginning of the Socialist movement in America, religious men have been identified with it. The five current American books teaching Socialism were written by men who are or have been active in the ministry [nonetheless] a persistent effort has been made by some to force upon the Socialist movement of America the brand of atheism")
Rev. Jackson Stitt Wilson (1868-1942), How I Became A Socialist (Berkeley, CA, 1911)
Rev. Conrad Noel, Socialism in Church History
(Milwaukee: The Young Churchman, 1911)
"What Socialism Is," The Painter and Decorator, Vol. 27, Issue 1 (January 1913), pp 721-724
Upton B. Sinclair, The Profits Of Religion (New York: Vanguard Press, 1918)
Mark Holloway, Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America 1680-1880 (London: Turnstile Press, 1951)
Prof. José María Díez-Alegría, Ph.D., LL.D., Christian Attitude to Social Problems (1967)
Prof. José María Díez-Alegría, Ph.D., LL.D., Christianity and Revolution (1968)
Prof. José María Díez-Alegría, Ph.D., LL.D., I Believe in Hope (1971)
Rev. Dr. Frederick Herzog, Liberation Theology (1971)
John C. Cort [1913-2006], Christian Socialism: An Informal History (New York: Orbis Books, 1988) (Chapter 8, "England," § 1, "John Ludlow and Other Early Socialists in England," p 139, cites "the Evangelical Protestant Alexandre Vinet, the man who first used the word socialisme." Chapter 7, "France," § 6, "The Saint Simonians," p 101, says it was "November 12, 1831, that Alexandre Vinet, a contributor to the Protestant magazine Le Semeur, wrote an article in which the word "socialisme" appeared for the first time in France. He used it to designate the opposite of 'individualism.'")
Prof. José María Díez-Alegría, Ph.D., LL.D., Christianity and Private Property (1988)
Penny Lernoux, Cry of the People: The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America and the Catholic Church in Conflict with US Policy (Penguin Books, 1980)
Prof. Ulrich Duchrow, Alternatives to Global Capitalism: Drawn from Biblical History Designed for Political Action (Utrecht: International Books, 1995)
Prof. José María Díez-Alegría, Ph.D., LL.D., I Still Believe in Hope (2001)
Franz J. Hinkelammert, Ph.D., and Prof. Ulrich. Duchrow, Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital (London: Zed Books & Catholic Institute for International Relations, 2004)
John Nichols, "How Socialists Built America"
(The Nation, 13 April 2011) ("Again and again at critical junctures in our national journey, socialist thinkers and organizers, as well as candidates and officials, have prodded government in a progressive direction. . . . the people who once imagined Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the War on Poverty.")
Frances Goldin, Debby Smith and Nichael Steven Smith, Co-Editors, Imagine: Living in A Socialist USA (New York: Harper Perennial, January 2014)
(Review; Video), especially Chapter 5, "Law in A Socialist USA," pp 53-57, citing that prior to the capitalism doctrine (heresy), "Trade and commerce were confined to [minimal level]. Charging of interest [usury] was forbidden, thereby inhibiting commerce and banking . . . in medieval Europe . . . early capitalists . . . established [laws] to lend and borrow money with interest. . . . 55[Initially] they [merchants, bankers] were social outcasts whose profit-taking was thought to be dishonorable [sinful] a form of usury that put their souls in jeopardy. . . . But this disreputable lot . . . overthrew [Bible laws]," pp 54-55.)
and contrasts, e.g.,
Prof. Thomas Wharton Collens, "Preaching" (March 1868)
"Christian Communism" (Wikipedia)
Theology Prof. José P. Miranda, Marx y la Biblia: Critica a la Filosofia de la Opresion (Salmanca: Ediciones Sígueme, 1971), transl. by John Eagleson, Marx
and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1974)
(Background, Excerpts of pp. xiv-xv in Spanish)
Christian Socialism was also taught in Sunday Schools. Historical examples are cited by Kenneth Teitelbaum, Ph.D., "'Critical Lessons' from Our Past: Curricula of Socialist Sunday Schools in the United States" (Curriculum Inquiry, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 407-436.
Here reprinted is a Christian Socialist pamphlet from the era when the term "Christian Socialist" was more widely known, a pamphlet reprinting a Christian Socialist lecture by Rev. Dennis Hird, published in 1908. Click here for pdf version.
|[1.] Is Christianity the Religion of Jesus||1
|[2.] Was Jesus a Socialist?||2
|[3.] What Had Jesus Been Taught as a Jew?||4
|[4.] What Evils Did Jesus Attack?||6
|[5.] But What Had Jesus to Say of the Rich?||9
|[6.] What Does It Mean?||11
|[7.] In His Universal Precepts||13
|[8.] We Will See What Jesus Taught by His Own Life||16
|[9.] Our Last Test is the Conduct of the First Church||16
|[10.] The Point||18
[1.] IS CHRISTIANITY THE RELIGION OF JESUS?
I AM sorry to learn that some good people are hurt at the title of my lecture [Jesus the Socialist]. Had I known this, I would have used some other title. It would have made no difference to what I have to say. I think that I may safely add, there is some superstition in the objection. I think many of those good people with an unbounded reverence for the Son of God are in great danger of forgetting the Son of Man. When I first said that Jesus was a Socialist, I thought I made a very trite remark; but this storm in a tea-cup about the title shows me that the educated (?) class has left off reading the gospel of Jesus, and that they live in a fool's paradise. I am going to talk more especially about the work of the Son of Man.
The learned [Dr. Henry H.] Milman [1791-1868], Dean of St. Paul's, said, “Christianity has been tried for more than eighteen hundred years [c. 250 A.D. - c. 1900 A.D.]: perhaps it is time to try the religion of Jesus [c. 31 A.D. - c. 250 A.D.].” That is a pressing question.
Is Christianity, as now usually practised and taught, the same thing as the religion of Jesus?
I maintain emphatically that it is NOT. I shall use the word Christianity to mean any or all of the organized forms of religion which have stolen Christ’s name. By the religion of Jesus, I mean all that Jesus taught His disciples to do, not believe, and I shall confine my appeal to the first three Gospels, because these three agree in the main.
Let us bear this in mind, for it will be no answer to my position if you quote St. Paul, or St. Jude, or the Revelation against me. I want to get at “the root of the matter,” i.e., I wish to know what Jesus said and did, and what He meant. I beg you will remember that this is our one point.
Broadly speaking, there are two forms of religion struggling for the mastery in this country–one is a priestly organization with its ritual and sacraments, such as you find in
the Roman Church or among the ritualistic clergy of the Church of England; the other is salvation of the individual under many names, as justification by faith, conversion, feeling you are saved, being ready to die. For the former you must go to Moses or pagan religions; for the latter you must go to Martin Luther or St. Paul; you will not find either of them recorded in the east three Gospels as the teaching of Jesus. I suppose we shall admit that there is no form of government yet invented by man which is a success. The slavery, the misery, the starvation at this day in the civilized world ought to cover all the rulers of the earth with everlasting shame and contempt, if that is the best they can do.
|Ed. Note: For references on the sinfulness and unconstitutionality of slavery, see, e.g.,
Rev. John Rankin, Letters (1823)
Rev. Theo. D. Weld, Bible Against Slavery (1837)
Rev. Beriah Green, Abhorrence (1839)
James Birney, Bulwarks (1840)
Alvan Stewart, Legal Argument (1845)
Lysander Spooner, Unconstitutionality (1845)
Benjamin F. Shaw, Illegality (1846)
Rev. William W. Patton, Infidelity (1846)
Rev. Parker Pillsbury, Non-Fellowship (1849)
Rev. John G. Fee, Sinfulness of Slavery (1851)
Edward C. Rogers, Slavery Illegality (1855)
Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., God Against Slavery (1857)
Sen. Charles Sumner, Barbarism (1860)
Rev. Parker Pillsbury, Acts (1883).
I hear on all sides that both the forms of popular religion are hard pressed to make any real headway. The agricultural laborer has given religion up, the artisan does not want it, the city business man has no time for it, and the rich?––well, they are happy enough without it. Now, in face of these facts, does it not strike you as strange that the Son of God should come to the world and not be able to discover a form of government or a religion which could heal the world? But before you condemn Him, be sure that you know what the religion of Jesus is, and be sure that it has been tried.
[2.] WAS JESUS A SOCIALIST?
There is no greater marvel among men than that any poor man should not love Jesus, and yet how few of the poor find any real help in Him now.
My lecture can only be a sketch, and will be of no use unless you are going to examine the subject for yourselves. I will abstain from quoting great names, and confine myself to the Bible.
It is no part of my business to defend any particular socialistic scheme, or indeed Socialism itself. A few months ago a lady and a gentleman frankly avowed that to say that Jesus was a Socialist was blasphemous, and that it was a disgrace to a clergyman of the Church of England to say so, and the audiences who listened to these enlightened leaders of profound thought shouted “Down with him. [Rev. Hird].” Now as that was the kind of thing the mob of the gentry shouted about Jesus, I felt cheered when I heard of it.
Our inquiry has to do with one aspect of the life of Jesus. If there are other aspects, it is no business of ours now [not the subject of this lecture today]. Was Jesus a Socialist?
It is true He was never called a Socialist; it is also true He was never called a Methodist, or a Baptist, or a Papist, or a Church of England man; thank God, He was called by none of these names.
It is true He never saw a Socialist; it is also true that He never saw a bishop or a pope.
What then, is Socialism? State Socialism is a national scheme of cooperation managed by the State. Most forms of socialism demand that the land and other instruments of production shall be the common property of the people, and shall be used and governed by the people for the people. In other words, “Socialism is equality of privilege for every child of man.”
But you say that this is contrary to nature, it is impossible, it is the wild dream of a madman. Well, all this may be true. Certainly those who heard Jesus thought He was a madman, and said so (St. Mark iii. 21).
|Ed. Note: "The epithets of atheist, infidel, heretic, anarchist, agitator, disturber, pestilent fellow, etc., have been the favorite weapons of the predatory classes and their satellites, a corrupt priesthood, in all ages, when appealing to the ignorance, prejudice and bigotry of the multitude against any reform movement that tended to endanger their craft by lessening their hold on the people," says Chambers Wilson, in "Defends Against Attack on Christian Grounds," Machinists Monthly Journal, Vol. XVIII, Issue 8 (August 1906), p 703.|
But that is not our question: Did Jesus teach and live out principles such as now find their embodiment under the word Socialism?
Jesus said, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself” (St. Matt. xix. 19 and xxii. 39). I know no definition of Socialism to equal this—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” You are familiar with this quotation which Jesus made from Leviticus (xix. 18), so familiar with it that perhaps you have thought it was an original utterance by Jesus. We shall see its force [impact] later.
We must remember the method employed by Jesus. He gave us no system of thought, no creed, no cut-and-dried dogmas, no church organizations: He unfolded great principles, and many of those were not new, but were set forth with new vigor and forcible illustrations.
We cannot say this too frequently that Jesus gave principles—life-giving principles—and not dead rules. But, above all, we must be clear upon the fact that those principles were to act in this life and to regenerate this world.
Some think that Jesus came to make a few people ready for heaven. I find no such teaching in His words. It is here, in this struggling world, that there is go be the kingdom of God or there is no kingdom of God.
It is so much easier to worship Christ than to imitate Jesus, that men have taken up the worship, and I think some of them verily believe, when they confess their sins by the aid of a choir, or sing their hymns in fairly good harmony, that God is pleased with the sweet music. Jesus sought men to imitate him rather than to worship Him. “If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” That is a very different thing from listening to a choral service on a Sunday morning, and giving a small check to the curate fund. Jesus seeks imitation, not adulation. A far-away heaven, with a far-away God, enveloped in a far-away glory, is no use to this world, and certainly is no part of the teaching of Jesus.
Take the Lord's Prayer [Matthew 6:9–13,
Luke 11:2–4], which you say so often, but not in the words He taught you. Even that has been doctored to suit the palate of sickly Christians. That prayer breaks out with the confession that we are all brothers, and to prevent any mistake says, “Thy will be done on earth,” and its first request is “Give us this day our daily bread”—the great bread cry of the human family stands before all else, “and forgive us our
debts as we forgive our debtors” –this is carrying Christianity into the shop and the market-place: it is dreadfully real. “Forgive us our debts” is a matter of fact; “forgive us our trespasses” is a matter of words, and was not used by Jesus. “Lead us not into trial.” I do not know what this means, but it certainly cannot mean that God might lead a man into sin; that would be to turn the world topsy-turvy. “But deliver us from evil”; and is there a greater evil than selfishness [coveting]? The rest of the prayer, as commonly used, was, perhaps, not given by Jesus, but way added by someone else.
Now observe in the prayer, as given by St. Matthew, there is no mention of our going to live in heaven, but we are to do the divine will on earth; there is no mention of sin, but of bread; we are not asked to forgive somebody who has offended our pride, but to forgive him what he owes us. Thus read, the prayer becomes the cry of the poor.
In making our Inquiry, I propose to ask–
I. What had Jesus been taught as a Jew?
II. What evils did He chiefly attack?
III. How did He propose to change this world into “the kingdom of God”?
[3.] WHAT HAD JESUS BEEN TAUGHT AS A JEW?
You have noticed the frequent reference of Jesus to the “law and the prophets.” Now the most sacred thing in the eyes of a Jew was the law, i.e., the first five books of our Bible, often called the Pentateuch. These five books were for a very long time the only Bible of the Jew. If we want the kernel of the Jewish religion we must go to these books.
Much of Genesis is composed of allegory or fable. Very few people now believe that the sun, moon, and stars, the earth and all its inhabitants, were made in six days; and surely nobody is so foolish as to believe that woman was made out of the rib of man. But when we leave this field of early myths, which have scarcely any meaning to us, and come to the actual laws of daily life, we find many things that startle us, some that shock us by their coarse language and low morality; still we find some striking laws for national welfare. These laws are such as apply to the rights of the poor. They are homely, useful, and unpleasantly practical; they find no place in emotional religion or pantomimic worship.
I. I turn to the land laws and I read (Lev. xxv. 23)–
“The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; then let loam count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to
restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of Jubilee: and in the Jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.”
In Num. xxii. 52 to end of 54–
|“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to feel thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.”|
There is no doubt from these passages that the land belonged to the nation, and could never get into the hands of a few hundred land-grabbers. The nation was protected from the curse of landlordism in three ways
(a) When the Levites assembled all the men of Israel to curse vile practices, this was one of the curses, “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark” (Deut. xxiii. 17).
This curse is still read in some churches on Ash Wednesday, though l do not quite see why, unless it be a fact that this service has prevented the rich churchmen of this country from filching any of the common land of the people.
(b) Every fiftieth year was the year of Jubilee, and then all land had to be restored to its former owners or their children, even if the man was too poor to give anything for it.
(c) On great occasions these land laws were renewed, as it were, as we read in Neh. v. 7, 11, and 12--
|“Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, everyone of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. I said unto them . . . . Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive-yards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil that ye exact of them. Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest.”|
In ascertaining the outlook of Jesus of Nazareth we must remember that these strong laws were a part of the heritage of every Jewish peasant. The least reflection will show what untold horror would be swept away by the application of this one class of laws to a nation's sickness.
|Ed. Note: For example, one "horror" that would be eliminated by following Bible laws, e.g., those (a) against usury and (b) against debt collection after seven years, and (c) requiring mandatory loans to the needs, is the "horror" of foreclosure. |
Due to not having enacted the Bible Society Management Laws into the U.S. Law of the Land, jobless and under-employed Americans, among others, are suffering from millions of foreclosures in the 2009-2010 time frame. The poverty leading to foreclosures devastate the family, the child, the stablity of family life, the schooling, etc.
When Bible laws are not enacted, what happens instead, under politician laws, is described by writers including but not limited to Harold Meyerson, "Banks crank up foreclosure mills again" (24 October 2010) ("The banks that are repossessing millions of homes with a speed that suggests they're double-parked are the same banks that made billions by swapping paper on millions of homes purchased with mortgages that made no financial sense. Garbage in, garbage out. Hey, it's only people's lives.") See also
Jerry Goldberg, J.D., "How the Banks Destroyed Detroit" (31 March 2011) (by predatory practices including usury)
2. Let us see what He [the young Jesus Christ] learnt about interest or usury. How had He been taught to regard this curse and plague of the human race? What provision did the law of God make for that pestilence which walketh in darkness–the money-lender?
In Ex. xxii. 25, 26, 27, I read–
|“If thou lend money to and of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. lf thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment to pledge [as security], thou shalt deliver at unto him by [the time] that the sun goeth down: for that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear: for I am gracious.”|
In Deut. xxiii. 19, I read–
|“Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals; usury of any thing that is lent upon usury.”|
In Lev. xxv. 35, 36, 37, I read–
|“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.”
Is all this a dream of some fanatic? It sounds as wildly untrue as the promises of an election speech. Yet they are a part of Holy Writ, and as such they had helped to mould the character and the ideals of the Carpenter-boy at Nazareth.
3. What had the Hebrew law to teach Him about the poor?
In Deut. xv. 7 to 9, I read–
|“If there be among you; a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release [automatic debt cancellation], is at hand’; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.”
And from this remarkable passage to the Epistle of St. James there are precepts in favour of the poor which of themselves would stamp the Bible as the most wonderful book of the world. “He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Prov. xix. 17). No words can exceed these in force, and the Psalms are full of such. In forming an estimate of the childhood and growth of the village boy, Jesus, you must collect and examine all these passages, and see how large a part they formed of the religious teaching of the Jewish nation; then you will be ready to come with an enlightened mind to study the gospel story of the Nazarene.
[4.] WHAT EVILS DID JESUS ATTACK?
Mark upon what evils He [Jeus Christ] turned the indignation of His denouncing woes most frequently. He spent His fiercest energy in denouncing two classes, the official and the rich.
1. THE OFFICIAL.–In St. Matthew's Gospel xxiii. 13 to 33, we read–
|“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer [permit] ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whomever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! . . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees
|“hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisees, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers [tombs], which indeed appear beautiful outboard, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish [decorate] the sepulchers [tombs] of the righteous. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”|
How does that sound as part of a sermon in the Parish Church?
Add to this St. Luke xi. 45 to 54–
|“Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproaching us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne: and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers. . . . Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.”|
Now what can be the meaning of this violent language? Mark this Perfect Man, the Savior of the world, with all the reeking wickedness and suffering around Him, turns His full force upon scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers.
Who were these men?
Scribe means a writer, a man who copied the law of Moses. The scribes really came into importance under Ezra, after the return from the captivity in Babylon. Those skilled in the were scribes, whether among the tribe of Aaron or the lay people. They not only copied the law, but they interpreted and fixed it. They decided what books should be in the Old Testament–in fact they made your Bible, up to the Gospels, and counted every word and every letter in it. When the scribes had gained this great position, many of the priests became scribes. They were the priests and clergy and preachers of their time. They were leisured, learned, set apart, trained in school and college, ordained, well versed in the letter of the law, full of the traditions of the elders, embalmed in a brilliant respectability, keeping the truth from the people, and crucifying the Lord of truth. In a general way they answer to the clerical class of most countries since the crucifixion of our Lord.
Lawyer means an interpreter of the law, and therefore is the same as scribe.
Who were the Pharisees? The word Pharisee means
separatist. It was the name given them by their enemies: they preferred to call themselves companions, i.e., the members of a brotherhood. They began as Puritans; they ended as Ritualists. They were mixed up with politics sometimes, and they always fought the Sadducees on their national council. They were very orthodox, and held the whole faith of Judaism. They believed in angels and spirits, the resurrection of the dead, and future judgment; but the Sadducees did not. It is a marvelous fact that our Lord should have uttered NO WOE against the unbelieving Sadducees, and yet He uttered so many woes against the orthodox Pharisees.
In politics, the Pharisees strengthened the people in the notion that it was not lawful to give tribute to Cæsar; and by this doctrine they largely brought about the war [68 A.D. - 70 A.D.] which destroyed their nation. In religion they were as bigoted as Englishmen, and they held that most accursed doctrine, that they only were right. But they inflicted the greatest injury upon the cause of truth, because they held that God not only gave Moses a WRITTEN law, but also an ORAL law––the tradition which had been passed on by word of mouth from one generation to another. Perhaps they originated the blasphemous fable, that God gave one revelation which nobody could make out, so He had to give a second to the priests, and leave it to them to explain.
More than one Church claims to have the sole right to that fable. Finally, It became of more importance to the Pharisees to wash their hands, or chatter a prayer at a street corner, than to do justly to the widow and orphan. Now we see who the Pharisees were;–orthodox, respectable, chiefly the well-to-do, educated, patriotic, with a vast creed and religious accuracy. When Jesus of Nazareth met them and spake His words of life, they reeled like [dust] edummies in a whirlwind. To understand Jesus on this point we must take in one other case. In St. Luke xiii. 31, 32, 33, I read–
|“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”
Is this the way to speak to a king? I fear Jesus of Nazareth is not very reverent. At least, judged by the hoity-toity standard of Ledbury, you would say “ reverence is not the strong side of his character.” * What would happen to Mr. Bebel [a then famous German Socialist living under Kaiser Wilhelm II] if he spoke of the German Emperor [Wilhelm II] as a wolf? Now remember that here we have a chance of judging of His attitude towards the official ruler. When we couple this with the “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,” repeated again and again, we are driven to ask, What does it mean ? These cannot
* A lady in Ledbury made this premature attempt at my biography.
be idle words. They cannot refer to some passing local evil. He who was so calm, so gentle, so tender, would never utter these fierce denunciations on some trifling subject.
For a comment upon them I turn to His own conduct when He begins His only work of organization and selects His apostles. Does He choose a single scribe? No. Does He a single member of their national council, the Sanhedrin? No. Does He choose one of the ruling class? No. Does He choose a Pharisee? No. Does He choose a priest? No.
Now, what can this mean? It seems to me to prove that He turned His back on all officials, as the tyrants of the world. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, give a man a permanent office with a big salary, and you have ruined that man. He begins to crow, and feed, and fight.
So Jesus turned away from them all, and went and selected a few simple fisher-folk and suchlike–men without education, without social position, without wealth, and with no more influence in either State or Church than the Herefordshire day-labourer who has “tilled the earth and wrung want from the soil,” and waits to die in the workhouse.
Now, it is well known that there is no tyranny so great as ecclesiastical tyranny, and sometimes I wonder what those sacred magnates will have to say to Jesus for treading his followers underfoot and for breaking Truth in pieces with a rod of iron.
[5.] BUT WHAT HAD JESUS TO SAY OF THE RICH?
Here I confess that I am astounded at the teaching of the Master. Unless I knew that most of you revere the name of Jesus, and almost worship the very words of the Gospels, I hardly dare call your attention to this subject.
In St. Luke iv. 18-21, I read of His sermon at Nazareth in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The text was Isa. lxi. 1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Then, as all eyes were turned on Him, He said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” They were amazed, enraged, thrust Him out of the city, and tried to throw Him over a cliff.
In St. Luke vi. 20 He lifted up His eyes on His disciples and said, “Blessed be ye poor.” And again, “Woe unto you that are rich” (ver. 24).
Not the drunken rich, the betting rich, the greedy rich, the careless rich, the tyrannical rich, the wicked rich–simply, without qualification, “Woe unto you that are rich.”
|Ed. Note: In essence, "the problem of evil is simply the social problem in its purest expression. Otherwise it would be too much of a coincidence that none of these documents [Bible verses on the subject] is [ever] able to speak of the "wicked" without mentioning the poor by contrast. Evidently the wicked are the rich," says
Prof. José P. Miranda, Comunismo en la Biblia (1981), transl., Communism in the Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982), Chapter 2, § 3, "The Problem of Evil: A Social Problem," p 44.
See also Chapter 2, § 1, "The Illegitimacy of Wealth," p 22. The reason is, "their wickedness consists in their growing rich, since the acquisition of wealth is possible only by oppressing and exploiting the poor," p. 43. In Bible terminology, "the wicked are the rich," Chapter 2, § 2, "The Spurious Origin of All Wealth," p 44. See Isaiah 53:9 and Psalm 37:14 and 16.
"'Happy the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God' Luke 6:20), and adds "Woe to you the rich, because you have received your comfort" (Luke 6:24)," says Miranda, supra, Chapter 1, § 4, p 20. This answers, "the question [of] who can and who cannot form part of the kingdom which Jesus Christ is founding on earth. And what Jesus says is: The rich cannot," says Prof. Miranda, supra, Chapter 2, § 4, "A Classless Society," p 19.
William Temple (1881-1944), Archbishop of Canterbury, Christianity and Social Order (New York: Penguin Books, 1942) (joining "faith and socialism," and "defended the working-class movement and supported economic and social reforms" - he was "one of the great Christian socialists of the twentieth century," says
Cort [1913-2006], Christian Socialism: An Informal History (New York: Orbis Books, 1988), Chapter 8, "England," § 4, "The Great Revival," p 154). Temple wrote in 1908, "The alternative stands before us--socialism or heresy . . . Socialism is the economic realization of the Christian Gospel," says Cort,
§ 10, "A Socialist Archbishop," p 169. "He agreed with St. Ambrose . . . that common use is natural and that usurpation and avarice caused private property. For this reason almsgiving is an act of justice rather than of mercy," p 170. Temple agreed with “the banner carried in parades of the unemployed: 'Damn your charity— we want justice,'” p 171.
After the British Malvern Conference (1941) resolution saying "the ultimate ownership of the principal resources of the community" in the hands of "private owners" "may be" a stumbling block to a just society, an equivalent American Conference sponsored by the "Church League for Industrial Democracy in the U.S.A." resolved that "common ownership of the means of production is a fundamental Christian principle," as proposed by Sir Richard Acland, says
Cort, Christian Socialism: An Informal History, (New York: Orbis Books, 1988), Chapter 8, "England," § 10, "A Socialist Archbishop," pp 170-171.
In the writings of Dominick Dunne (1925-2009), author of The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985), People Like Us (1988), and An Inconvenient Woman (1990), "the rich and powerful stop at virtually nothing to protect their privileged position. Driven by passion, and greed, harboring secrets that could destroy them, the ruthless people . . . are meticulously drawn by Dunne. Interweaving glamor, romance, scandal, and intrigue, these are stories of the gilded class."
Yes. "Evidently the wicked are the rich."
In St. Luke xviii. 18 it is written–
|inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."|
This is Jesus of Nazareth's idea of being “saved.” No more astounding passage is to be found in religious literature.
|Ed. Note: Note the commandment, “thou shalt have no other gods [Exodus 20:3-5, Deut. 5:7-9]."
"Money sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion and conflict. It drives to idle words and pointless discussions. It also corrupts the mind of some people that see religion as a source of profit. 'I am Catholic, I go to Mass, everyone thinks well of me... But underneath I have my businesses. I worship money'. And here we have the word we usually find in newspapers: 'Men of corrupted minds'. Money corrupts us! There's no way out.”
“We can never serve God and money at the same time. It is not possible: either one or the other. This is not Communism. It is the true Gospel! They are the Lord's words. While money begins by offering a sense of well being. Then you feel important and vanity comes. We read in the Psalm. This vanity is useless, but still you think you are important. And after vanity comes pride. Those are the three steps: wealth, vanity and pride.”
“But, Father, I read the Ten Commandments and they say nothing about the evils of money. Against which Commandment do you sin when you do something for money? Against the first one! You worship a false idol. And this is the reason: because money becomes an idol and you worship it. And that's why Jesus tells us that you cannot serve money and the living God: either one or the other. The early Fathers of the Church, in the 3rd Century, around the year 200 or 300, put it in a very blunt way, calling money 'the dung of the devil'. An so it is. Because turns us into idolatrous, fills our thoughts with pride and leads us away from our faith,” says Pope Francis, "Idolizing Money is the Root of All Evil" (21 September 2013).
And see "Cardinal Defends Pope’s Criticism of Capitalism" (19 January 2014).
Note that “money and property" are commonly violations, i.e., are idols to man, thus “such a man [idolater] also has a god--mammon by name, that is, money and possessions--on which he fixes his whole trust. It is the most common idol on earth. He who has money and property feels secure, happy, fearless, as if he were sitting in the midst of paradise [Deuteronomy 6:10-12]. On the other hand, he who has nothing doubts and despairs as if he never heard of God
Very few there are who are cheerful, who do not fret and complain, if they do not have mammon. This [carnality] clings and cleaves to our nature all the way to the grave," says Prof. Ulrich Duchrow, Alternatives to Global Capitalism: Drawn from Biblical History Designed for Political Action (Utrecht: International Books, 1995), Chapter VII, § 2, p 218, citing Martin Luther, Large Catechism (1529), “as brought out by F. M. Marquardt," Gott oder Mammon aber: Theologie und Okononomi bei Martin Luther (1983), in Einwurfe 1, Kaiser, Munchen, pp. 126-216, and The Book of Concord, pp 265f and 395f.
Christ was clearly aware of the idolatry of the rich man in the incident, and his covetousness.
This type idolatry, making a god of property, continues contrary to Bible guidance. "In Israel the absoluteness of property is rejected," say Franz J. Hinkelammert, Ph.D., and Prof. Ulrich. Duchrow, Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital (London: Zed Books & CIIR, 2004), Chapter 1, p 20.
This is the opposite "of the absolutization of the property-based economy brought about through the Hellenistic and Roman empires," p 162.
The Bible position is the opposite of "ancient Near East and in Greco-Roman antiquity" property notions, p 20. With respect to property, in the Bible system, "no absolute model is propagated . . . property is . . . stripped of absoluteness because the earth and people 'belong' to God and therefore people only have usage rights to the earth," says Chapter 7, p 162,
The pagan Greco-Roman view of property rights is the opposite of the Bible view.
The modern world is based on the Greco-Roman view of property rights, not the anti-covetous Bible view. Pagan philosophers such as John Locke promoted this anti-Bible view. With Locke, for example, "The human being as a physical person . . . is completely subordinate to property," Chapter 3, p 66. Locke abolishes all human rights; "he knows only a single human right, the right to property," p 67. "There thus remains no trace of human dignity . . . ," p 67. With respect to the poor (property-less people), whom the Bible defends, Locke takes the opposite view: "By being bereft of property they are completely at the mercy of their masters [English monarches and nobility], who have the power to kill, torture, mutilate, or enslave them," p 67. This is an "inversion of human rights performed by Locke," p 67. This "inverse interpretation of human rights [Locke] gave it the form in which it is found everywhere today," Chapter 3, p 44.
In the process of justifying the god Mammon, property, "Locke's theoretical feat consists in his drawing the following conclusion: therefore slavery is legitimate. And he adds: therefore the indigenous peoples of North America can be unconditionally expropriated. And also India can be colonized with the use of force," pp 46-47. "Locke considered all this violence to be legitimate, claiming it was precisely a consequence of the natural equality of all people. This use of force does not violate human rights but is the consequence of their faithful application. Stating the equality of all human beings is, according to Locke, exactly the same as declaring the legitimacy of forced labour through slavery. Guaranteeing property is just the same as declaring that the peoples of North America can be expropriated . . . intellectual acrobatics . . . One can also see that Big Brother's slogan 'Freedom is slavery' in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was not invented by him: it comes from John Locke. This is a considerable feat. It results in the inversion that runs through all [such] interpretations [tergiversations] of human rights," p 47. "John Locke had invested his personal fortune in the slave trade," p 45.
The influential French conservative, Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (1828-1893), also taught the pagan doctrine that "the right of property is absolute," cited in Martha Wolfenstein, "The Social Background of Taine's Philosophy of Art," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 5, No. 3 (June 1944), p 333.
And "the notion of money as a god," a false god, is of "deliberately and strictly Christian origin," says Theology Prof. José P. Miranda, El Cristianismo de Marx, transl., Marx Against the Marxists: The Christian Humanism of Karl Marx (Mexico City: SCM, 1978; Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1980), Chap. 8, "The Gospel Roots of Marx's Thought," p 223.
In short, the idolatry of property, money, Mammon (false gods), that Christ rejected in, e.g., Luke 18:18-23, leads to slavery and its mass genocide, the genocide of the Indians, the tobacco holocaust, and multiple wars. This idolatry of Mammon, property, money, is now "found everywhere today." Truly, due to anti-Bible policies promoted by anti-Christian writers such as Locke, justifying mass evils in the name of the "Property" (Mammon) god, "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" after the First Century A.D., 2 Tim. 3:13. Thus the full range Bible truths are rarely taught, not, e.g., the "original grant" doctrine, and certainly not such others as these referenced here. This constitutes the prophesied
famine of preaching God's Word, Amos 8:11. What the Bible teaches, to knock, destroy, reject idols (Judges 7:25-28, 2 Kings 23:5-6, 8, 10-15, 19-20, etc.), is not taught; thus, this idolatry is "everywhere today."
In short, the sin of the rich man noted in the incident with Christ, is not an innocuous one. Idolatry, covetousness, lead to massive protracted continuing, indeed worsening, evils.
Note [that] the Teacher [Jesus Christ] is One who can give the final answer on all religious questions, because He is above all men, and equal with God [John 1:1-4, John 4:25-26, Phil. 2:6, Heb. 1:1-3, 8, 10-12, Rev. 1:13-16].
The question is pointed; the ruler wants eternal life. The world ought to pause and listen to that answer! It is an answer which would not satisfy the professional teachers of any religious school in Europe. There is not a word about sin, not a word about the Atonement, not a word about creeds, worship, sacraments, repentance, conversion, justification, sanctification. All that you call spiritual is left out of sight in this divine answer to the seeker for eternal life.
From the ten commandments He deliberately chooses those only which have to do with social life, and then to the dumbfounded ruler He says, “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor,” and buy heaven with that.
I can hear some pious people groaning, as they exclaim with real horror, “What? Be saved by this sort of stuff!”
Well! Is there some mistake?
Do you think that Jesus ever said it?
It is more difficult to believe that He uttered this than to believe all the miracles at once. It contradicts nearly all Church history; it denies all your pet notions that you are going to heaven because you vaguely believe in Christ and worship Him sometimes. Yet it is written in all the three Gospels! [Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-23]
“If any preacher tells you that personal salvation can be achieved without first paying attention to social justice, you may know by this sign alone that you are listening to a false prophet.” —Sydney Harris. See, for example, the clergyman portrayed in the HBO series "Deadwood" (2004-2006). He typically preached irrelevantly to the issues and behavior of the time. That's typical of 2 Cor. 11:13-15 clergymen.
Christians "at the forefront of aid work with the poor and suffering . . . traditionally came from the left wing [the Christian Left]," says Jeff Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
(New York: Harper Perennial, 2008), Chapter 8, p 236. The so-called "Christian Right," "evangelicals, and especially fundamentalists . . . disdained 'good works,' aid to the poor, as irrelevant to salvation," p 236. They deliberately restrict, limit, the salvation issue to merely "a personal, private submission," rejecting "collective liberation [good works]", p 237. In short, the "Christian Right" are a 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 type of Satanists the Bible warns against, due to their rejecting Christ's express specifications for salvation, Matthew 25:31-46.
And "so many theologians, priests, and preachers . . . have been reluctant or unwilling to use Matthew 25 as an argument for the importance of social salvation as compared with personal salvation. They shrink from it, even though in it [Matthew 25] Jesus [Christ], in effect, makes our active pursuit of social salvation the absolute test of our eligibility 251for personal salvation," says John C. Cort [1913-2006], Christian Socialism: An Informal History (New York: Orbis Books, 1988), Chapter 10, "The United States," § 8, "Rauschenbusch, Pride of the Social Gospel," pp 250-251). Cort also cites "the indifference of [alleged] Christians to the sufferings of the poor and by their self-centered obsession with individual salvation," p 249.
Jesus speaks two parables in which He introduces the rich: in one case He makes him a fool; in the other He places him in hell, according to the popular notions of His day.
In St. Luke xii. 16 occurs the parable of the rich man, whose fruitful soil had produced so much that his barns were too small, and he said to his soul, “Take thine ease, eat, drank, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”
Why “a fool”? What had he done? Ask your minister to explain this.
In St. Luke xvi. 19 occurs the other parable–
|“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be
|fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes.”|
Note there is not a word said against the rich man's character. He was rich, and he lived as the respectable rich men of his time. That is all.
Have you noticed how Jesus constantly brooded over this problem of the rich? In St. Luke xvi. 13, He sums up the opposition of riches to God in the celebrated line, “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”
Again, in St. Mark xii. 41, as He sits watching the religious people casting into the treasury, He notes “many that were rich cast in much,” but there is no word of praise for them; His heart is stirred by the poverty-stricken widow, who “threw in two mites which make a farthing.”
|Ed. Note: See also 1 Kings 17:10-16, on the |
widow who gave 100%, the last of her food.
Jesus is constantly dealing with this subject, and always in the same way. There is never a good word for the rich: there is never a censure for the poor. If some curate [clergyman] preached in this way, you would call him a monomaniac, and one Sunday would be the longest time he would be allowed to stay in most parishes.
[6.] WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Again I ask, What does it mean? What are we to do with this teaching? I am almost afraid to make any suggestion. You can blot it all out of your Gospels. You can say it does not concern us because we are not rich. This would be rather feeble.
You might shelter yourselves, and say it is a religious mystery which the ordinary mind cannot grasp; but what if it should be one of the keys to the whole secret of the teaching of Jesus? The fact remains, throughout the life and teaching of Jesus there was an undying antagonism to the ruling, official, and rich class.
I marvel that there can be a poor man who does not love Jesus, but I marvel still more that any rich man can endure His teaching.
Those of us who know something of the virtues of the rich are stunned at this part of the teaching of Jesus. When real nobility of character and wealth are possessed by the same person, there is a wonderful charm and fascination. We admire their delicate pity for the suffering, their graceful tenderness in soothing sorrow or relieving want, their happy, easy manners in the trying moments of life; they live in a charmed world, they smile across the desolations of Time, their friendships are perfumed with plenty, they rise to a sublime heroism in the presence of calamity.
If we bear in mind the low origin of man, when he lived in caves or treetops, with the instincts of “the ape and the tige” fresh and strong in him, a cannibal among cannibals, we are
filled with admiration at the refined elegance which has turned life into an art and religion into a sweet-smelling odour.
It is hard to think that these refined specimens of the race of man should be maintained by a terrible cruelty to others, and should be obstacles in the pathway of Jesus.
When we have been taking part in a gorgeous function at the dedication of some church, built and endowed by a rich man, it is enough to paralyse the strongest of us, as we walk back through the slums of a large town, and a bowed, pale, ragged man, in the gloaming, says: “Woe unto you that are rich,” and vanishes in the twilight to the nearest workhouse. And that was Jesus! Great God, what am I to believe?
I would like to believe in the lovely luxury of the rich; I am almost compelled to believe in the ragged truth of Jesus. But the wish is vain. They wage an eternal war with each other, and the same world cannot hold both and be at peace.
Now let us see if we can find any way out of this difficulty. As the Son of God, Jesus must have seen through all the shams of human society; as the Son of Man, who had not where to lay His head [Matt. 8:20], He knew by experience something of the cruelties which society inflicts upon the poor. Every carpenter's son in Europe knows enough of this. For steady, mechanical, daily cruelty, there ls nothing in the history of mankind to equal the suffering which the rich, the official, and the rulers inflict upon their less favoured brethren.
I do not say they intend it as individuals; I cannot even say they know it. But there it is–the thousand heartaches, the wretchedness of sickness and want, the dally dread of losing work by offending the great or the capitalist, the burden of having to work in failing health and without sufficient food, the blighting curse of a life without leisure, without freedom, without liberty of conscience–these are some of the untold miseries which roll, in one endless sea of anguish, around the golden thrones of Christian [so-called] kingdoms.
And so long as you have a few thousand rich, who, practically, hold thy power of life and death in their hands, so long must this pestilent misery degrade and blast the human family.
lf, for a single week, the poor were to inflict the same injury which the rich inflict upon the poor, and wrong upon the rich, one wild wall would rend the air. You thank I am raving.
Then take a small, homely illustration. Go into any country district, where the labourer works from about six in the morning to six in the evening, for the princely fortune of twelve or fifteen shillings a week. The poor man tries to work his garden in addition to his other toil, but the squire’s rabbits or my lord's pheasants will clear off every green thing in his garden, kill his trees, and spoil his crops. And when a few idle gentry have had a fine day's sport, and have shot a hundred brace, to send with sweet compliments to their club friends, they sit down to a feast of plenty and a wealth of mirth. Do you know any case where the square made a habit
of pressing the bell next morning, and of sending John round to ask how many cottagers required compensation for the little all which they had lost through his game?
Now turn the situation round. Suppose Tom Tree, a hard-working man, with a family of six children, tries to feed a pig. He has not too much food, and perhaps the sty is not very good, for Tom had to make it in the dark after his work, so the pig gets out, and not being used to this aristocratic freedom, it roots up the squire's [rich man's] flower-bed. Well, the squire is rich, his gardeners can put the flower-bed right, so the squire takes one of his shilling cigars, and says, Never mind, brother Tom must have a pig and I must not say anything lest I should hurt his feelings. Would he [the rich man] do this?
Or suppose that in Tom Tree's home there is a child being born. The doctor is three or four miles off, and his fee just swallows up a week's wages; there is no one to send, so if he is a man he [Tom Tree] will stay at home to see if all goes goes well. Now, what reward does he receive for this kindness to that most ill-treated of all creatures on God's earth, the labourer's wife? He loses his day's wage! But you would not rob the parson or the lawyer of a day's wage if he did such a kindness to his wife! Now this sort of cruelty to the poor, merely because they are poor, you may multiply a thousand-fold. It happens every day and every hour. I dare not trust myself to speak further about it. I can only bow my head in silence, and hope that there is a God over all.
But this kind of thing may be some explanation of the awful language which Jesus used about the official and the rich, for if he is Son of God He is absolutely just.
And this brings us to the root of the whole matter. How did Jesus propose to do away with the paid official and private property? Or, in other words, How did He propose to change this world into “the kingdom of God”? Now for the test.
We have seen the destructive teaching of Jesus; let us see what He has to offer to build up the new kingdom.
It is often easier to destroy than to build up. Nevertheless, destruction is the first necessary step in all regeneration.
I will answer our inquiry in three ways–as shown in His universal precepts, in His life, in the conduct of the first Church.
[7.] IN HIS UNIVERSAL PRECEPTS.
We must always distinguish between the universal precepts of Jesus and the local or temporal precepts.
For instance, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not?” is a purely local question.
The Roman Cæsar ruled over the Jews. The Pharisees, knowing that Jesus was a revolutionary agitator, and wanting to get rid of Him, “took counsel how they might entangle
Him,” and tried to hound Him into a declaration of war against the Roman Government. So they came to inquire, in their most oily tones, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not?” (St. Matt. xxii. 17) Now the Divine Pauper never had a penny in his pocket; when they wanted the poll-tax, He had to send a disciple to catch a fish to meet the demand; and on this occasion He had to borrow a penny–“and they brought until Him a penny.” Now observe the question was, “ Is it lawful?” Not, Is it right? Is it a binding law on all men in all ages? You might ask, Is it lawful to take off your hat to the squire? Quite so, my good man, but do not take your head off too.
Some of these Pharisees said it was a sin to acknowledge Caesar as king, because God was their King.
We read, “Jesus perceived their wickedness,” and said, “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God's.” If you say that means that, all over the world, the powerful are to grab all they can from the weak, and that the strongest thieves are to form a peerage, and that all Christian people are to support them, I do not an agree with you.
Jesus took a scourge and cleared the temple, but I do not think He meant that the clergy should take a whip and drive the wicked out of church.
It would be silly indeed to take such a view as this of the merely local and temporal parts of His teaching.
His universal precepts are plain: “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” [Matthew 19:30, Mark 10:31, Luke 13:30,
Commentaries.] “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called, benefactors. But ye shall not be so; but he that is are called greatest amongst you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (St. Luke xxii. 25). “I am among you as he that serveth” (ver. 27). There you catch the keynote of the new kingdom. Its King is the servant of all. He smites “the kings of the Gentiles and those that exercise authority”––away with them. Please, your gracious majesties and you noble lords, come and be servants, or stay outside. What a Democrat is the Son of Man!
I dare not have said these things, and many will hate me for ever because I have ventured to repeat the words of Jesus.
Notwithstanding these plain utterances of Him “who spake as never man spake,” for eighteen hundred years Christian [so-called] nations have modeled their governments on the same [secular, heathen, Roman] principles as those of the organized pagan brutalities which crucified Jesus! No wonder those pious shareholders in heavenly kingdom, which pays earthly dividends, are afraid lest there should be a resurrection of Jesus.
But, again, if you want to be children of God, He says, “Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest” (St. Luke vi. 35). For “if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?
for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again:” (ver. 34).
This is reasonable. Even a Christian can hardly suppose that Jesus came to our world to promote an order of civilization in which praying people should get ten per cent. [interest, usury] on their money.
|Ed. Note: The Bible forbids it. See, e.g., Exodus 22:25-27, Deuteronomy 23:19,
Leviticus 25:35-37, referenced in this lecture, at p 5, supra, pursuant to the Bible Society Managament Laws, e.g., Commandments 170-180, 217-218, and 267.|
Again, He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (St. Matt. vi. 19). That sixth chapter of St. Matthew, if put in practice to-morrow, would overturn every nation and nearly every Church on this globe, and give us such a paradise [of economic equality] that starving children would think the angels of heaven had come to be their playmates.
Again, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (St. Luke xii. 32, 33).
The new kingdom is taking shape!
Again, Jesus said, “Al1 things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (St. Matt. vii. 12).
My professional priests and politicians, what think you of this kind of kingdom?
If you like the people to take away all your land, then take away all the land from the poor; if you would like to toil from twelve to fourteen hours a day, make your labourers. your bus drivers, your bar-keepers, your waiters toil twelve to fourteen hours a day. Do not defraud them of their hours; for if you like slavery, they may like slavery too; and, besides, you will make bigger dividends, and then you can give something to a missionary society; if you like others to deprive you of your vote, then do not make your servants vote; if you like to stay at home on election day, why should not they stay at home?
“All things whatsover ye would that men should do to you!” Glorious gospel!
Finally, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (St. Matt. xix. 19).
Not quite, surely? Do you really mean that? “As myself”? Did I ever love anyone as myself? Do I love my mother as myself? Do I love my child as myself?
I confess I stand dumbfounded, blinded by the blaze of this brilliant idea of a kingdom of life where there is no murder, and where an equal love has changed cannibals into sons of God.
I thank thee, Holy Jesus, for this word of life! And yet I have had clergymen some and talk to me, and say, “You see, my dear fellow, human nature is always the same. It cannot be altered.”
|Ed. Note: Another way of saying this anti-Christ negativity against the power of God to cause repentance, is reported thusly: "when I was young, in England, I too had some radical, socialistic ideas. Only in later years [with a seared conscience, 1 Timothy 4:2] did I realize how foolish I'd been. You can't change human nature, boy, you just can't," quoted in Gilbert Green, Cold War Fugitive: A Personal Story of the McCarthy Years (New York: International Publishers, 1984), Chapter 4, p 22. Such negativity denies the power of God to bring people to His way of love for God and fellow man.
When the Bible system is implemented, benefits follow and flow. After Christ's return, for the few saved alive, they "of a world that had been geared to the billions, found themselves possessed of the wealth and services that only months before had been the wealth and services that had been due the billions. . . . there was no need of [politician] government, for all the crimes and abuses that government had held in check [or caused] were as effectively held in check by the sudden wealth the [survivors] had inherited. No man will steal when he can pick up what he wants without the bother of thievery. No man will contest with this neighbor over real estate when the entire world [planet] is real estate for the simple taking. Property rights almost overnight became a phrase that had no meaning in a world where there was more than enough for all. . . . with the economic pressure eased to a point where property rights ceased to be a point of friction, there was no need of [politician] government. No need, in fact, of many of the encumbrances of custom and convenience which [carnal] man had carried forward from the beginnings of commerce. There was no need of currency, for exchange had no meaning in a world where to get a thing one need but ask for it or take it," says Clifford Simak, City (1952), Part 6 (1946), § 7, p 133.
This will refute the negativity above cited, the negativity Rev. Hird next decries, below.
Well, I am sorry for that; for if human beings cannot be brought into this kingdom of love, Jesus made a mistake, and there is an end of the matter.
I leave the persons to settle that point.
Now you can see why Jesus objected to the officials and the rich; why He told them to lend without interest, to lay up no treasure on earth, to sell all they had, because they were to come into His kingdom, under the shelter of a universal and equal love–that is His Socialism; co-operation of kindness and equality of privilege.
And yet one of your educated peopled thought that Socialism consisted in “following a herd (sic) into pastures not their own,” * – a little unbridled thieving in fact. I can only bow to the originality of his nightmare and the stupendous depth of his ignorance!
[8.] WE WILL SEE WHAT JESUS TAUGHT BY HIS OWN LIFE.
A few words will suffice here. You know that life. It needs no explanation or comment. He was poor to the verge of pauperism; He had no money, often He had not where to lay His head [St. Matt. 8:20]. His friends went out to lay hold on Him; for they said, He is beside Himself (St. Mark iii. 21): His enemies said, He hath a devil. “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils” (St. Matt. xii. 24).
You need no further evidence to see that life of frightful misery–misunderstood, slandered, betrayed, buffeted, spat upon, jeered at as a criminal and a failure.
If you will turn away from Churchianity and Chapelolatry, and watch some man, who has been out of work two months, plodding his way from one workhouse to another, you will lave the truest picture of the life and social position of Jesus of Nazareth which the world has to show this day.
There you see the servant of all, “who for our sakes became poor [2 Cor. 8:9],” without a single possession [Phil. 2:5-8], pouring out a fathomless love in divine service to the world, which tortured Him. Twenty million such would create a new heaven and a new earth. He lived what He taught. And if He walked this earth now, feeding the hungry and telling the rich to sell all that they have in order to obtain eternal life, He would be mobbed [denounced] as “secularist” with low material views.
[9.] OUR LAST TEST IS THE
|Ed. Note: Theology Prof. José P. Miranda answered this objection anew in 1981, when he responded to their identical accusation: "They can likewise lay aside the notion that, while not actually denying the existence of Spirit, we care more for the material than for the spiritual. But in the first place, the final criterion established and left us by Jesus as the only one is, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; l was thirsty and you gave me to drink, was a stranger and you took me in, was stripped naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, imprisoned and you came to see me”' (Matt. 25:35-36). If this is preoccupying oneself more with the material than with the spiritual, then the self-styled official spiritualism ought to stop beating about the bush and direct its accusations against Jesus himself," Prof. José P. Miranda, Comunismo en la Biblia (1981), transl., Communism in the Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982), Chapter 1, § 1 "Intentional Misunderstandings," p 4|
CONDUCT OF THE FIRST CHURCH.
The first Church was in Jerusalem.
I suppose you will agree with me that, if the apostles and those around them did not know the meaning of Christ's teaching, that meaning has been lost to the world for ever.
|Ed. Note: In reality, "His immediate apostles and disciples best knew what He taught and what He wished them to do, in order that they might socially carry out his lessons," says Prof. Thomas Wharton Collens, in "Preaching," The Communist, Vol. I, Issue 3 (March 1868), p 17.
"The opinions of the earliest professors of Christianity upon the [subject] are of importance; because they who lived nearest to the time of its Founder were the most likely to be informed of his intentions and his will, and to practise them without those adulterations which we know have been introduced by the lapse of ages," says Jonathan Dymond, An Inquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity (1821), § II.79.31.
* A literary captain made this brilliant pun on my name [Hird] at a Conservative banquet in Ledbury.
Let us see what they [Christ's immediate apostles and disciples] thought it [Christ's in-person words] meant.
In Acts ii. 41, I read–
|“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”|
Again, in Acts iv. 32–
|“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. . . . Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that every sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, . . . having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”|
Then follows the case of Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-11], who wished [pretended] to be Christians, but refused to obey Jesus, and thought they could take in [deceive] the first Church. They failed in the attempt, and they paid the penalty of being born some generations too soon.
I do not want to weaken this striking piece of Church history by comment.
|Ed. Note: "To understand why the [Ananias-Sapphira] pro-capitalist stance of many modern religious conservatives is at odds with Christian doctrine we need to start with the Gospels," says Gregory Paul, "From Jesus’ socialism to capitalistic Christianity" (12 August 2011).
"According to Luke, what is optional is not communism [redistributing the wealth], but Christianity. Peter does not tell Ananias that he could have come into the Christian community without renouncing the private ownership of his goods. Nor could he say such a thing after it was explicitly emphasized that of the Christians “not a single one said anything was his'' (Acts 4:32). Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit by pretending to become a Christian via a simulated renunciation," says
Prof. José P. Miranda, Comunismo en la Biblia (1981), transl., Communism in the Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982), Chapter 1, § 2, “Original Christianity,” p 10.
And, “the lie [by Ananias and Sapphira] consisted in concealing and embezzling the proceeds of property they had voluntarily conveyed to a company of Communists—a company approved of God and vindicated by His punitive power,” says Prof. Thomas Wharton Collens, in "Preaching," The Communist, Vol. I, Issue 3 (March 1868), p 17.
"Indeed, as each one received from the common treasury in proportion to his needs, and not in proportion to his contributions every reservation of property was a fraud on the community [because, in essence] dividends were declared not in proportion to the capital subscribed, but in proportion to individual needs," says Prof. Ernest Renan, The Apostles (New York, Carleton; Paris, Michel Levy Frères, 1866), p. 132.
Everyone is commanded to live the Bible/Christian way, all people everywhere are commanded to repent, Acts 17:30, Mark 1:14-15. Christ's command is to everyone: "Every one of you who does not renounce all he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
In the Old Testament, charity aka sharing was already mandatory, e.g., people were required to leave part of the crops in their fields for the poor to take, "glean" (Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-22), and a "tithe" for the poor (Deuteronomy 26:12, Amos 4:4). The gleaning law is the law being obeyed by Boaz in the Book of Ruth (Ruth 2:2-3, 8, 15-19, 23). Boaz's obedience and resultant marriage to Ruth became part of the ancestry of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5–16, Luke 3:23-32). Charity was, in short, mandatory in the Old Testament; and as the Ananias and Sapphira incident show, continues to be mandatory in the New Testament, indeed, on a vastly expanded scale, meaning everything in common,
Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32, 34-35, pursuant to Christ's having expanded the law of love (Matthew 5:21-48, John 15:12), with 100% required
(Romans 12:1), not the mere 10% of the Old Testament. See also Acts 11:29, "giving as per ability," not limited to a mere 10%.
First Century Christians knew that "the final criterion established and left us by Jesus as the only one is, "I was hungry and you gave me to eat; l was thirsty and you gave me to drink, was a stranger and you took me in, was stripped naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, imprisoned and you came to see me"' (Matt. 25:35-36), says Prof. José P. Miranda, Comunismo en la Biblia (1981), transl., Communism in the Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982), Chapter 1, § 1 "Intentional Misunderstandings," p 4. "How are we going to give food to all who are hungry if we leave the means of production in private hands, which necessarily destine these means to the augmentation of capital and not to the satisfaction of the needs of the population? Do the official theologians really think they can maintain that there is more spirituality in the escapist selfishness of people who tranquillize themselves by saying, "There have always been people who starved to death, we are not divine providence," than in the decision of the people who want to be faithful to Jesus by undertaking all possible means to give food to the hungry, knowing that they are exposing themselves to repression, prison, and torture?," asks Prof. Miranda, p 5.
Preceding context for the Ananias-Sapphira incident includes the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31. The rich had "received good things during [his] lifetime, and Lazarus on the contrary evil things," Luke 16:25. What is punished is differentiating wealth, in its purest expression. The parable does not say, because you lived in abundance––which would have been to condemn wealth in the absolute sense. It says, because you lived in abundance and Lazarus in misery. What is punished, in torment, is that some are rich and others are poor," says Theology Prof. José P. Miranda,
Comunismo en la Biblia (1981), transl., Communism in the Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982), Chapter 2, § 1, "The Illegitimacy of Wealth," pp 22-23. See also Eric Ruder, "The winner take all economy" (Antipas, 4 May 2011), "all they [the rich] think about is this life here on earth," Phil. 3:18-19, as "where their treasure is, their heart [daily continuing preoccupation] is," Matt. 6:19-20.
"Contemporary conservatism is bent on destroying the social safety net (basic programs such as Social Security and unemployment insurance). . . . As recent data suggests, poverty leads to death and a diminished lifespan. When the . . . Republicans stand against food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and other programs for those displaced by the Great Recession, through actions both direct and indirect, they are in fact killing people," says Rev. S. R. Shearer, "How the GOP and its ally, the Religious Right, have created a Death Cult" (Antipas, 10 February 2012).
The Ananias-Sapphira incident helps show the meaning underlying Matthew 5:20, specifying that one's righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, must exceed that of covetous, non-sharing people. Cf. Matthew 6:19-21 and 24, and Luke 16:13.
Christ had recognized that, during His lifetime, His disciples had already been willing to forsake all in this life, Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, Luke 5:11. Christ had directed: "Every one of you who does not renounce all he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). Alleged “Christians" who do not do this do not "'take the Bible seriously,'" analysis cited by Prof. Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., in A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (New York: HarperOne, 2009), Part III, "The Word," Chapter 8, "Devotion: Speaking of Faith," § 1, "Reading," p 163.
To fulfill Christ's specifications, i.e., to "take [His direction] seriously," First Century Christians knew to systematize, institutionalize, the feeding, clothing, etc., process, i.e., to have "all things common" for "distribution . . . unto every man according as he had need" (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32).
The Acts 5:1-11 execution of Ananias and Sapphira shows the divine reaction to people who reject re-distributing the wealth in this era, as shown in Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4:32-37, to end poverty, right now, prior to Christ's arrival, right now, today, Luke 4:21, see
Theology Prof. José P. Miranda, El Ser y El Mesias (Salamanca, Spain: Editiones Sigueme, 1973), transl. John Eagleson, Being and the Messiah: The Message of St. John (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1977), Chapter 8, § 4, p 169.
When God killed Ananias and Sapphira, the incident's concluding verse, Acts 5:11, says "great fear came upon all who heard"!! I would say so! The members of the First Century Christian Church suddenly realized that, now in the New Testament with its much stricter law mandates, God believes in literally enforcing the commandment "love thy neighbor" exactly the same way as the commandments against, say, murder, adultery, etc. in the Old Testament were enforced then -- with the death penalty.
Pre-U.S-Civil War abolitionists had a blunt saying summarizing this: "Love God and man in his image or He will kill you!" Eliminating poverty right now, Acts 4:34, today, Luke 4:21, is a commandment --
to "immanentize the eschaton" today -- a mandatory immediate duty, right now, today, with the death penalty provided for refusal, today, as Ananias and Sapphira learned the hard way.
With respect to Rev. Hird's observation, "they [Ananaias and Sapphira] paid the penalty of being born some generations too soon," modern "Christian" clergy are typically Ananias and Sapphira clones, faking Christianity, long ago excommunicated, refusing to practice and live these Bible principles, indeed, refusing to even mention, much less, teach, these mandatory Bible principles on redistributing the wealth to their members. Thus a majority of professing "Christians" do not know of nor agree with them. Only a minority do agree with the Bible on this, "A recent poll showed that nearly half of Americans believe the government should be redistributing the wealth," says Thomas Sowell, Ph.D., "Focus is on wrong topics," Detroit News, 30 June 2011, p 2B. In contrast, the 2010 era "Tea Party" types reject the Bible in this regard, see Harold Meyerson, "Tea Partiers don't mind income redistribution for super-rich," Macomb Daily, 31 October 2010, p 29A, i.e., they take the direct opposite position of the Bible.
"If . . . Christ Himself had been taken by His [alleged] later followers as the model and pattern . . . and a serious attempt had been made to [continue] His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church [as was done through the period described in this chapter], Christianity would have [remained] something vastly different from what it [supposedly] became. Then 'heresy' would have been as it is not now, deviation from His way, His teaching, His spirit, His kingdom . . . What we may properly call 'Galilean Christianity' had a short life [as Renan says], though there have been notable attempts to revive it and make it live again, and here and there spiritual prophets have insisted that anything else other than this simple Galilean religion is 'heresy'; but the main line of historic development has taken a different course and has marked the emphasis very differently," says Prof. Rufus M. Jones, D.D., Litt.D., LL.D. (1863-1948), The Church's Debt to Heretics (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1924), pp 15-16.
In short, "The Christianity of the New Testament [was abolished, therefore] simply does not exist. . . what has to be done is to throw light upon a criminal offense against Christianity prolonged through centuries, perpetuated by millions (more or less guiltily), whereby they have cunningly, under the guise of perfecting Christianity, sought little by little to cheat God out of Christianity and have succeeded in making Christianity exactly the opposite of what is in the New Testament," says Soren Kirkegaard [1813-1855], Attack upon Christendom (1854-1855), pp 32-33.
That [First Century Christian] Church was a brotherhood, without the tyranny of paid officials or the oppression of the rich. It was a cooperative institution, bound together by love, where there was not “any among them that lacked [Acts 4:34],” for “they had all things common [Acts 2:44].” There was no private property.
If the apostles were wrong in all this, I give up the teaching of Jesus as a riddle which I cannot understand.
If these apostles were right, then I am right when I call Jesus a Socialist, and I do not quite see why this highly respectable county of Hereford should feel itself scandalized because I say what the twelve apostles did. *
If the apostles were right, Jesus was a Socialist, and if Jesus was a Socialist, why should a meeting be called to protest against the title of my lecture? I take it to be little short of blasphemous, to hold the gospel of Christ in their hands, and swear that they believe in Him, and with the same breath deny the teaching of Jesus. There is no logic in that, no fairness, no common sense [no repentance, no “having the mind of Christ, Phil. 2:5]. It is either the twaddle of compromise or the cant of hypocrisy.
If these apostles were right, then all the forms of elaborate
* Lady E. B., in the fervor of her success said: “I think to bring such a sacred name [Jesus] down, as he [Rev. Dennis Hird] did the other night, is considered a scandal throughout the country.”
Because I had said Jesus was a Socialist!
worship, or all the phases of hypnotized emotion, are not the ESSENTIAL part of the religion of Jesus.
I do not care now to make one of you a Socialist. That is not the point of this lecture.
I sometimes could fain wish that Jesus had let the sribes and Pharisees alone, and had not howled at the rich; and that the apostles had gone round, either working miracles or talking about the glories of heaven; because their doctrine turns the world upside down. But that is not the point before us. What I wish, or what you think, is not the point that brought us together.
[10.] That point is this–Was Jesus a Socialist? And if proof means anything, I have proved it up to the hilt. I find a New Teacher came to the world. He goes to Jerusalem, where there is a college of the scribes, the clerical class of their time, and He openly and indignantly censures them; He derides their kings and those who exercise authority, and says to all His followers for all time, “but ye shall not be so [Luke 22:26].” He never loses a chance to show His hostility to the rich, by uttering indignant woes against them, by parable, by universal and unmistakable precepts; His standard is that every man shall so love his neighbour that the believer does not know his own interests from those of his neighbour. His whole life is outside all class interests. He has scarcely left the world before His chosen and trained apostles establish a Socialistic society, in which there is no paid official, no rich man, no private property, and no poor. The whole evidence is of one piece; the teaching is put into practice, and around the crumbling thrones of kings and among the mouldering tombs of priests a few fishermen of Galilee scattered the seeds of the divine Socialism of Jesus; and even yet those seeds may grow and spring up through the dust of centuries.
|Ed. Note: The Bible urges us to return to "the faith once delivered to the saints," Jude 3, and not be "removed unto another gospel," Galatians 1:6-7, which rejects, e.g., Acts 2:41-45 and Acts 4:32-37.
For additional background Bible references, see, e.g., Exodus 16:18, 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 (equality-oriented system) pursuant to divine intent (Genesis 1:28), with equal pay for all (Matthew 20:1-16 [see elaboration]), duty to produce proportionate to one's abilities (Matthew 25:15-28 and Luke 19:1-20), with sharing according to need (Acts 2:44-45 and 4:34-35), all in context of Micah 4:4 (equal property grant for all), aiding the needy (1 John 3:17), providing background on the Bible principle, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," modern term, "redistribution of wealth."
Puritanism included effort to comply. "Puritanism has been misconstrued as restrictive moral prohibitions . . . in the mid seventeenth century it was a fiery religious and social dynamic resembling contemporary Marxism more than modern Fundamentalism," says Prof. Roger Sharrock, in John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress (London: Penguin Books, 1965 reprinted 1987, "Introduction," p xii.
For background, see, e.g., Prof. Richard Henry Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study (Lectures, 1922; New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1926) (deterioration of business ethics ever since the abolition of medieval enforcement of Bible laws banning unethical business practices) (Background and Reviews: 1, 2, 3; 4)
Puritans espousing this type First Century Christian ideals
were often called "Levelers" or "Diggers." For background, see, e.g.,
David Daiches, The Review of English Studies, vol. VIII (issue 31) pp 305-307 (1957)
Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (1972)
David Sharp, England in Crisis, 1640-60 (2000), p 149
the Levelers website
the Levelers' Glossary
the Diggers' Website
Jack Clark's 'Christian Economics.
Hird's sermon occurred in context of the British "Lambeth Pan-Anglican Conference of 1888" and "an encyclical letter from Lambeth signed by 145 bishops of [the] Church of England [that] deplored 'excessive inequality in the distribution of this world's goods, vast accumulation and despareate poverty side by side' and [said] that 'the Christian Church is bound, following the teaching of the Master, to aid every wise endeavor which 154has for its object the material and social welfare of the poor' [thus to] show 'how much of what is good and true in socialism is to be found in the precepts of Christ,'" cited in John C. Cort [1913-2006], Christian Socialism: An Informal History (New York: Orbis Books, 1988) (Chapter 8, "England," § 4, "The Great Revival," pp 153-154.
For background on history of the contrary 2 Cor. 11:13-15 apostasy actions to eliminate and replace First Century doctrines, see, e.g.,
Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (2009) (exposing "a group of ultra-right-wing fundamentalist Christians [apostates] who have been quietly pulling the strings of a succession of Washington politicians since the early part of the 20th century. Founded by Abraham Vereide and Doug Coe, the group currently known as International Christian Leadership (they have had several name changes over the years) is best known for hosting the seemingly benevolent National Prayer Breakfast each February, but Sharlet shows that, in addition to dishing out eggs and hotcakes, this secretive sect played an integral role in dismantling the initiatives of the New Deal, helped to instigate and perpetrate the Cold War, and works diligently to insinuate Christian [apostate] ideals into various matters of the state.")
Prof. John Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died (New York: HarperCollins, 2009) (Review)
Prof. John Philip Jenkins, Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1500 Years (New York: Harperone, March 2010) (Review 1 and 2).
"Many people who claim to be Christians are phonies because they [reject the Bible Society Management Laws, e.g., they] have no compassion for the homeless, the dispossessed, and the poor. . . . phony Christians are the reason why so many unbelievers want nothing to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ.”—Rev. S. R. Shearer, 1 November 2011.
We cannot be reminded too often that the Bible urges return to "the faith once delivered to the saints," Jude 3, and not be "removed unto another gospel," Galatians 1:6-7, which rejects the divine economic equality doctrines, e.g., Acts 2:41-45 and Acts 4:32-37, rejects Christ's command, "Every one of you who does not renounce all he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
The duty is to study, practice, teach, see, e.g., James 1:22, "Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves," and Ezra 7:10, "Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel." Says Pastor Brad, "It's not enough to study. I would suggest that there are no 'professional students' in the Kingdom of God. No, the purpose of study is to become a skilled practitioner. The Bible tells us that Ezra was 'skilled in the law of Moses.' He was a living example of Proverbs 22:29." And, re the "additional step, perhaps the greatest step. And that is to . . . TEACH. God blesses us in order that we might become a blessing to others."
During the 1950's McCarthy era purges, "universities . . . ousted . . . thousands of . . . professors [to] decimate the country's intellectual life," says Chris Hedges, M.Th., "The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum" (Truthdig, 15 November 2010). " The purges, most carried out internally and away from public view, announced to everyone inside the universities that dissent was not protected. The confrontation of ideas was killed. 'Political discourse has been impoverished since then.' . . . . The result is an impoverishment of ideas and analysis at a moment when we desperately need radical voices to make sense of the corporate destruction of the global economy and the ecosystem. . . . . 'Ideas which were on the agenda a hundred years ago and sixty years ago have dropped out of memory . . . .'" (And see general education decline context.) Not only "political discourse has been impoverished" by persecutions, but also the First Century Christian system and education on it.
|Bibliography of Christian Socialist Writings
First Century Christan Anti-War Doctrine
Prof. Michael Parenti, "Creating The Poor?" (Video)
Martin Thomas, "The Theory of Exploitation" (17 July 2007)
Antipas Luke 6:20 Flyer (19 December 2010) (on the corrupt relationship between the U.S. Religious Right and the Political Right)
Phillip Bannowsky, "Capitalism Produces Rich Bankers, but Socialism Produces Happiness" (The News Journal [Delaware], 24 May 2009) ("Socialism is better than capitalism. So say 20 percent of Americans, and another 27 percent say they can't say which is better, according to an April 9 Rasmussen poll. . . . Forbes Magazine . . . report this month that the happiest countries tend to be Scandinavian socialist democracies. . . . enjoy entitlements like free college, extensive elder care, and 52-week paid maternity leave.") (See also James Kirkup, "Occupy protesters were right, says Bank of England official" (Telegraph, 29 Oct 2012) (Occupy exposed that "at the heart of the global financial crisis, were — and are — problems of deep and rising inequality.”)
Pam Martens, "Our Economy Is Going to Keep Tanking Until We Stop Shoveling Billions to Rich People (CounterPunch, 2 June 2009) ("we have been a nation ignoring massive wealth transfer and wealth concentration through a rigged Wall Street. As simple and clear as this picture is [politicians] are unwilling to connect the cause and effect of wealth in too few hands to bankruptcies and a tanking economy. Wealth-deprived consumers can't buy the goods and services being produced. This leads to repetitive cycles of layoffs and growing unemployment which leads to more wealth-deprived consumers leading to more overcapacity in production plants, more layoffs, more shrinking purchasing power. The accompanying, and equally dangerous, problem is that concentrated wealth stifles the very innovation that is necessary to create new industries, new jobs and lead us out of the downward economic spiral. Let's think about the individuals who tapped into Wall Street's rigged wealth transfer system and what they have done with their ill-gotten loot: typically, they own three or more homes, fancy cars, multiple country club memberships, airplanes, yachts, and numbered offshore bank accounts. The problem is, they just can't buy enough to compensate for the purchases they have deprived hundreds of thousands of other consumers from being able to make.")
Tom Gallagher, "The Remarkable Resilience of This Socialism Thing" (1 June 2010) ("Twenty-nine percent of the nation, it seems, has "a positive reaction to the word "socialism" (with 59% in the negative) -- according to the Pew Research Center's latest findings. [And see] the February 16, 2009 Newsweek cover announcing, "'We are all socialists now' . . . someone explained how he held a "positive view of socialism because after all it's what Our Lady [Bible Religion] wants.'"
John Nichols, "How Socialists built America" (The Nation, 13 April 2011)
Bill Quigley, “Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer” (CommonDreams.org, Monday, 25 October 2010) (“The rich and their paid false prophets are doing a bang up job deceiving the poor and middle class. They have convinced many that an evil socialism is alive in the land and it is taking their fair share. But the deception cannot last – facts say otherwise. Yes, there is a class war – the war of the rich on the poor and the middle class – and the rich are winning. That war has been going on for years. Look at the facts – facts the rich and their false paid prophets do not want people to know. Let Glen Beck go on about socialists descending on Washington. Allow Rush Limbaugh to rail about 'class warfare for a leftist agenda that will destroy our society.' They are well compensated false prophets for the rich. The truth is that for the several decades the rich in the US have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer.”
Rev. S. R. Shearer, "How the GOP and its ally, the Religious Right, have created a Death Cult" (10 February 2012) ("Contemporary conservatism is bent on destroying the social safety net (basic programs such as Social Security and unemployment insurance). . . . As recent data suggests, poverty leads to death and a diminished lifespan. When the . . . Republicans stand against food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and other programs for those displaced by the Great Recession, through actions both direct and indirect, they are in fact killing people.")
Prof. Charles S. Merrill, "Americans returning to feudal times" (Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, 4 June 2011) ("a bunch of really sordid fat cats are pushing hard to reconfigure us as the Feudal States of America.
. . . Either we wake up and push back, or they succeed, and we are all serfs. Again.")
Sometimes the "serfs" push back; and when they do, the "sordid fat cats" label the "serfs" as looters and rioters. See background at "An open letter to those who condemn looting" (UK, 12 August 2011).
Rev. S. R. Shearer, "Pressure Is Building for the Super-Rich To Take Control of the Country Through A Military Coup" (8 February 2014) (cites Alice Schroeder's analysis "Goldman Sachs with Pistols" saying "A banker told a friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against them.")
Matt Bruenig, "Two Theories of Poverty" (Demos, 28 July 2014) (distinguishes between the individual vs structural versions; the latter is the one emphsized in Bible doctrine)