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Last year, I completed a book called “Red Letters: a closer look at the worst moral and practical teachings in history”. (I’ll get it prepped for publication eventually.) It directly tackles the notion that Jesus was a good teacher, a good person, and a good life coach. He wasn’t. In fact, he was one of the worst.
He gets a pass in a way that no other person does. He has an unfair advantage. In the eyes of Christians, he is god incarnate. By default, that means he is right about everything he ever said, or is said to have said. His pronouncements are perfect, even when you don’t understand them. He’s right. You’re wrong. It is as simple as that.
Not only does his god status make him the wises person in the world, but the most ethical. He is suggesting a better way of living, a better way of understanding the world and your place in it. What he says is good must actually be good. And what he says is bad must actually be bad. And what he says is desirable must actually be desirable.
Finally, he gets a pass on the facts. Whatever he says must be factually correct because, you know, he’s god. And he knows everything. So he would never be factually incorrect even on the little things, especially on the little things. If he said it, you can trust it.
We would never assume such about any mere human. So already, we enter the realm of special pleading when it comes to Jesus. The worst of it is this special pleading for Jesus has been so prevalent throughout the centuries, even atheists accept it. Those who don’t believe that Jesus was god still suggest that he was a brilliant philosopher. He gets credit that he simply doesn’t deserve from people who have not bothered to really study what he had to say.
I have done a deep dive into the life, ministry, and sayings of Jesus. And when viewed from fresh eyes, one finds that not only is he not a good teacher, he is one of the worst. Any book with Jesus as the central figure should be abandoned for that reason alone. Here is a summary of my case:
The Worst Financial Advice
Weird Al Yankovic: the best musical artist of all time, recorded a song called, “Everything You know Is Wrong.” It perfectly expresses how I feel when I read anything Jesus said regarding money and financial advice. Either he is cracked, or I’m on crack. But we both can’t be sane in light of what he says. Pick anything he said about money. It’s all wrong.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out—a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33
Remember when the rich young ruler approached Jesus to find out what he needed to do to be saved? Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor. Just so you know, this is not that occasion. This is an earlier occasion when Jesus was preaching to the crowd. This is the nut job advice he gave to general audiences.
I contend that there is no context, no scenario where this is good advice, not now, not then, not for us, not for anyone. A surer, swifter road to poverty, there has never been. If you want to ad context to what he said, it only gets worse. Start you reading back at verse 22 for a more complete thought. I will address the ideas in my next example:
Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.” 15-21
Jesus hated financially successful people. The only crime this man was guilty of was being a successful businessman who could afford to expand his holdings and retire early. Consider the offense: His storehouses were too small. So he decided to build bigger ones. The implication was that he was depending on his own success and not trusting in god to provide. The following passages make that abundantly clear.
If we are being honest, we would all seek advisors like the successful businessman. And we would fire any financial advisor who talked like Jesus. The reason is because Jesus was an utter fool when it came to money. And we all know it. That is why we don’t consider a word of what he had to say in the daily opration of our lives.
I will not have space in this blog to go beyond finances. But it should be sufficient for my point. If Jesus is this wrong about the practical, we have no reason to trust him for anything else. I will close with a few more examples:
Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. Luke 6:30
Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you.
Bat – Shit – Crazy!
And that’s the view from the skeptic.
Why I Stopped Caring About What the Bible Says, and Why You Should too (Part 3) (Christian View)
Jesus the Best Financial Adviser One Could Have
As promised to the Skeptic and the audience, I finally have some time to type a response to his notion that Jesus was bad financial adviser. Is this true?
Well, it might behoove us to ask the question; why do people seek out financial advisers in the first place? In many cases, it is to get some sound investment advice in order to know where one should invest one’s funds over time in order to obtain a profit/reward on one’s original investment.
Seen in the light of one achieving eternal salvation, I think most would agree that such an outcome that is well worth the cost of few earthly trinkets. With this understanding, one could well argue that Jesus is probably the best financial/investment adviser in human history; in exchange for making the relatively minor investment of getting rid of all one’s worldly processions, one can be guaranteed to receive the massive “profit” of enjoying unimaginable glory and riches with God for all eternity. Now, that’s the kind of return-on-investment that even Gordon Gekko could never have dreamed of!
Jesus’ Financial “Faux Pas” Examined
Christianity’s main aim is for us to achieve salvation from our spiritual bondage and yet, Christianity is a very understanding religion; God is well aware of our human needs, he lived amoung us for over 30 years after all. Jesus understood exactly how pressing or overwhelming people’s earthly concerns can be and that is why he used shocking parables or object lessons to help jolt his audience into recognizing that they needed to keep things in proper perspective.
The example of the rich young ruler and the audience in the Gospels of Mark and Luke are trying to get this message across, God understands our concerns but asks us to have faith in Him and to put His concerns first in the confidence that whatever happens will happen under His providence and therefore for good of all who trust in Him. Does this mean, I think that Jesus advice wasn’t literal or true in some way, why don’t I sell my own assets and exist penniless on the streets?
Well, I think it is rather obvious that Jesus didn’t mean this command to be a universal command that every Christian needs to follow, the Apostles sanctioned elders being paid for their work and endorsed taking care of one’s family obligations and so I think that the Skeptic hyper-literalistic reading here are obviously wrong. That said, I do think Jesus was literal in this case, Jesus teaches us that all Christians must be willing in the event it becomes necessary to give up all their worldly possessions ONLY if it is under appropriate circumstances where it is necessary for advancing God’s Kingdom. Jesus didn’t hate rich people, what blasphemous impudence on the part of the Skeptic here, no instead he knew what was in the hearts of the rich young ruler and/or the “successful businessman” and understood that they would not be willing to give up their fortunes even if they knew it was necessary for God’s purposes (hence they were not willing to submit and put their faith in God even when it had become known to them that this is what they needed to do)- Jesus command here becomes an object lesson of how hard it is for one to actually put their money where their mouth is so to speak.
Today, circumstances are such that it is not necessary for me to give up all my wealth to advance God’s Kingdom, there are other ways such as co-hosting a popular Podcast/blog site and thanks to the wonders of our present age, I can do this entirely for free (thank goodness, it’s a wonderful time to be alive for us cheapskates lol)- but I tell you this, if I ever became aware of the fact that God needed me to sell all my worldly possessions for His sake, then I would do it with no questions asked; that is the incredible lesson that Jesus teaches to his audience in Luke 12 or to the rich young ruler and to us as Christians today.
And that is the view of the Christian/Seeker