The Curmudgeon


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Mark 12 xxviii-xxxi; Matthew 5 xliii-xlviii

Although He much preferred calling down fire and brimstone upon the heads of all who could not hear Him, Jesus did occasionally spare a few words for the comparatively minor subject of love. We may quickly dispense with His final exhortation that His disciples should love one another: what teacher or prophet, aside from Friedrich Nietzsche, has ever required that their followers be divided?

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus was questioned by a scribe as to the most important commandment of all. He replied that it was for the Jews to love God with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind and all their strength; and also that they should love their neighbours as themselves, presumably using the leftovers. But unless we are to take Hear, O Israel as a synecdoche for Hear, O Heathen Gentiles and Goyim, these commandments were intended for the Jews alone.

More interesting is the commandment to love one's enemies. Our thoughts on this injunction should in no way be prejudiced by the fact that Jesus Himself made no attempt to live by it, abusing His detractors in fish-wife language while promising unlimited rewards to friends and dire punishments to everyone else like any other beloved son of a totalitarian génocidaire. A virtue is no less a virtue for being disingenuously recommended by One whose ways are not our ways.

Why, then, should we love our enemies? Jesus gives two reasons, one worldly and the other spiritual. The worldly reason is that we will feel superior to the heathen, who are always good for a snigger in the Saviour's social circle. More importantly for our moral growth, Jesus suggests that in treating our enemies no differently from anyone else we may become like God Himself, who sends His death and disaster to engulf both the just and the unjust, and who sits back in His Heaven to observe, with a beatific smile, the grief and suffering of Jew and Gentile, of weak and strong, of righteous and unrighteous alike.


  • At 7:52 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Umm, "love your neighbor" was commonplace then and until now, but "love your enemy" was a radical concept back then. And still pretty hard to practice now. I hope one day you will actually read the matter upon which you comment. Love your neighbor so you'll feel superior? Pretty hard for anyone whose read the New Testament to get there. Perhaps that's why you have zero comments, even on a post about Jesus. That is a first. If a writer voids himself alone in the forest, does it make a sound? No need to respond back. I came for the curses, but won't stay for the poorly read writer, and his/her mudgeoning. Good luck in your journey. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to have a few Christians pray for you.

  • At 8:42 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    Matthew 5, verses forty-six and forty-seven: Jesus encourages His audience to despise publicans and Gentiles, as was thoroughly commonplace in His place and time.

    The command to "love your enemy" is in fact a command to indifference, as Jesus explicitly states when speaking of His Father's sun and rain, which care not whether they fall upon innocents or inquisitors. Again, there is nothing particularly radical about a wandering fanatic preaching indifference to worldly concerns, although Jesus is remarkable for His general frankness about the depths of His Father's moral depravity.

    Exegesis of the intriguing idea that a post with no comments is an unread post should, I feel, be left to more subtle theologians than myself.

  • At 12:05 am , Anonymous Brian M said...

    Ah, Phillip. Bosh! I am sure anonymous can rustle up a few "good Christians" to pray for you and change your mind!

    Or else.

    Their loving God, the Big Man of the Celestial North Korea has not nice plans for us. Because he loves us.

  • At 2:45 am , Blogger Emma said...

    First of all, Mr. Anonymous Person, I would like you to know that the only reason I haven't left a comment under every single post on this blog is that I'm afraid I'll get banned for stalking. Also, I'm sure your own Jesus blog is so inundated with public adoration that you've chosen to post anonymously in order to prevent the writer from being doxed & harassed by your obsessed fans. It's very kind of you, actually. Jesus would be proud.

    Since the substance of this (and every) post slid over your head like a greased eel, and you're choosing to argue based on a team-competition framework, let me tell you a short story about myself: One time, a bunch of well-meaning white Christian ladies prayed for me and laid hands upon me because I was a "pickaninny," and they thought my Negro DNA would leave me open to manipulation by witchcraft. I'm so much luckier than Mr. Challinor, it's almost embarrassing.


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