Magi Mike's Blog

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Old Testament or New Testament? Loving Kindness is the Criterion

with 2 comments

The Bible is in two parts, one is the Old Testament and is Jewish—the Jewish scriptures—the other is the New Testament and is Christian. Just what is the point of the New Testament for Christians when they incessantly cite the Jewish scriptures? If they prefer the Old Testament, why not become a Jew?

The point of the New Testament for Christians is that it refined the Old Testament. The Old Testament had become bloated with ordinances that allowed the temple priests to screw the ordinary Jew, and the original law had become mixed, confused and too complicated. Jesus was a Jew and did not reject Judaism, but he said he came to fulfil the law by advocating the law of love your neighbor. Whatever in the Jewish scriptures contradicts Christ’s law is not Christianity, for the Christian must prefer Christ’s new formulation of the law to the old Jewish one, or they might as well, indeed, become a Jew!

Nor is it enough to claim, as Christians do, that the Old Testament is also God’s word. Christians, as I understand it, consider Christ to be God incarnated—Christ is God—so the law of Christ is the law expressed by God Himself. Jews consider the Mosaic law to have been passed to them via Moses, a man.

The New Testament has God Himself, Christians tell us, speaking from his own lips, telling his followers how they must behave to be Christians. It follows that the New Testament takes primacy over the Old Testament, and Christians, to be Christians, ought to prefer the New Testament to the Old Testament, especially where the sentiments differ greatly. Love is meant to be the Christian criterion of moral rectitude, not ancient and primitive Iron Age sentiments like many of those in the Jewish scriptures… Killing people suspected of witchcraft is primitive, and certainly cannot be considered to be love at all. Leaving the poor to scrabble around in fields for a grain of barley is scarcely loving them either.

“Love” in our English gospels, as any Christian will know, translates the Greek word “agape“, which in turn equates with several words in Hebrew, mainly “aheb“. These words are not related to passionate love generally, but more to “liking”, “respecting”, “being content with”, “being kind towards”, and “caring for” and being willing to help them when they are in need. To repeat, it is being the Good Samaritan! It is being social, being the good neighbor, being kind.

Written by mikemagee

31 August, 2011 at 7:29 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Surely Jesus’ “love” was restricted to his fellow Jews, a thing which was later propagandized by Hellenizers into a sort of Greek universal to cover up the fact that he was a ethnosupremacist rebel, one who fantasized about all non-Jews being purged from the Earth by Yahweh in an apocalypse of liquid fire.

    That’s why it feels like these arguments that “Christians are violent; they don’t follow Jesus’ command to love their neighbor,” which ostensibly appeal to “true” Christianity, somehow seem to miss the mark.

    Christian ethics are schizophrenic in praxis because agape is (perhaps Pauline?) gloss trying as hard as it can (and failing) to mask what’s still at the core: a bandit and ethnoreligiously-fueled anti-Western violence fantasist.

    If one is not a Jew– like our European ancestors before the wheels came off their civilization–internalizing Christ with Christianity’s little bundle of supposed loving-kindness and rabid xenophobia (which features you as its target) will cause serious problems for your collective psyche, as the last 2000 years have demonstrated.


    12 September, 2011 at 8:43 am

    • You are largely right about the attitude of Christ in his historical context. He was interested in uniting his fellow Jews against the Roman invaders whom they considered as usurping God’s rule over His land and people by occupying Judaea. He expected the kingdom to come would be ruled by Jews but, according to contemporary documents, non-Jews would be admitted if they came in supplication, so I doubt that he expected all non-Jews and only non-Jews to be subject to the Second Death in the pit of burning sulphur. Collaborating Jews would end up in it, people like the publicans and tax collectors, unless they repented of their sins and joined the revolution. One can argue along these historical lines, but have to accept that Christians over twenty centuries have destroyed enough of the relevant data for us to be left with a lot of doubts and assumptions. The assumptions are reasonable ones, but conventional Christians–Paulinists, in my view–will reject them, so few indeed of them will be persuaded.

      As you imply, there is also the approach to discussing with Pauline Christians by showing them that what they practise is divorced from anything the man they consider to be an incarnation of God ever taught according to the first three, the earliest and therefore more accurate, gospels. The historical Jesus wanted Jews to love their neighbor to stop them from their perpetual squabbling divisiveness, perfectly illustrated in the ‘Life of Brian’ as the UK’s Trotskyist left, splintered into tiny factions. So love was his policy not Paul’s whose main concern, like that of modern American pastors, was to make Christianity easy so as to build it rapidly. Therefore, while paying lip service to Jesus’s teaching of love of others, Paul emphasized faith as a much easier criterion of salvation than love. Love is now considered by Pauline Christians as a possibly beneficial symptom of good faith, but by no means necessary. Christians can therefore boast of their faith and tell the Almighty, as they regard Him, that He has no choice but to save them in His own good faith! The Almighty, in other words is bound by what is presented as His own promise. He no longer has any choice and is no longer almighty. This is why modern Pauline Christians seem so obnoxious. Their ministers have taught them that, by believing in Jesus, they are saved, and that is it. They have nothing further to do, or to fear. Now they can be as arrogant, rude, sinful and violent as they wish for they are professed Christians and are automatically saved.

      In all fairness, there are still Christians who are deeply uncomfortable with the swanning around, arrogance and, frankly, hatred that their co-religionists display for everyone else. They are conscious that Christian belief is that God incarnated as Jesus, and so Jesus utters God’s own will and His commands from what are God’s own lips. They cannot reject Paul, but will choose what God as Christ taught rather than what Paul taught, when there is any contradiction between them. The trouble is that they are on the back foot, especially in the USA, and seem scared to voice any dissension from the Paulinist mob.

      For myself, the moral teaching of Christ matches closely the discoveries of the moral and evolutionary psychologists. That is that morals come from our instincts for sociality like altruism, compassion, sharing and caring–instincts which allowed us to live in social groups and benefit from mutual help and protection. That was Jesus’s historical purpose in trying to forge a unity out of the spallated Jewish community. He was expressing our basic social instincts. Christ’s morality is our natural human morality, so you can be a Christian without the mumbo jumbo, because, like it or not, you are, just by being human.The problem is that society’s chosen economic system is utterly destructive of natural morality, and therefore Christ’s morality. It makes us all solitary animals in a commercial jungle. That is why western society is now breaking down.

      Mike Magee

      12 September, 2011 at 4:14 pm

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