THE ABSURD JESUS
AND HIS USELESS RELIGION
By Edgar Jones
I. The Human Point of View
Jesus said many things that are called absurd, both by churchmen and non churchmen who have carefully examined his sayings. A religion incorporating those words has been characterized as "useless" by one respondent to this site.
The churchmen therefore tend to categorize these "absurd" utterances of Jesus as words that are "better left alone." Then they proceed to preach, evangelize, believe in and otherwise promote a religion based on the ideas of Paul and his disciples rather than on Jesus.
Immediately below I have quoted many of these "absurd utterances" that will illustrate the point. I think that any rational human being will agree that most, if not all these sayings, are indeed absurd -- that is, from a purely human point of view. Furthermore, I think that most persons will agree that any religion that incorporates these sayings and seeks to take them seriously and apply them will be a useless religion. It will not contribute to the realization of human goals on the earth. It will not promote peace; it will not contribute to either individual or corporate progress in the world, and it will not contribute to the solutions of human problems such as war and poverty.
An exception to this evaluation is the sweet spirited but naive person who thinks that loving one's enemies, non resistance as in turning the other cheek and similar practices based upon Jesus' sayings will defuse violence, pacify the hostile enemy and create peace. If this were true, then the religion of Jesus would indeed be useful in the world. It is not true. It does not work.
Oh, it works in the restricted case of a hostile person who has, say, lost his temper and is about to do something foolish, but who is basically a benevolent person of good will. When you do not resist such a person, you appeal to his better nature and he may even apologize for his offensive behavior.
When, as is the case in many conflict situations, one deals not with a benevolent party but with one bent on doing evil one finds that it does not work. The non resistant approach then becomes a policy of appeasement or a response of weakness or cowardliness that only encourages aggression. Thus, British Prime Minister Chamberlain's policy of appeasing Adolph Hitler was a terrible mistake. One gets similar results when the conflict involves a "bully" on the playground.
Therefore the general consensus, that these utterances of Jesus are absurd and useless from any realistic human point of view, must be affirmed here as the correct view. Examine some of them for yourself:
II. Absurd Utterances of JesusMatthew 5III. The Point of View of Jesus
39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;
40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;
41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
4 I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and a man's foes will be those of his own household.
33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
15 But he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
18 Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
When agreeing above that these sayings are absurd, I was careful to qualify this agreement by indicating that they are so from a "purely human point of view." Jesus elucidated another point of view and when seen from that perspective they become perfectly reasonable. This is the perspective, not of Jesus alone, but of his Father who is in heaven. What are the factors that define this perspective? I list the following:1. God, as Father, loves his children who are in the world and only wants them to come home to him.Every loving parent who has had to deal with a young, rebellious and runaway child understands this perspective perfectly. There is absolutely nothing that such a parent wants the child to accomplish out there in the world and away from the parental home. What does the parent want? Only that the child come home -- this and nothing more! The parent has no interest in the child being "useful" in the world while away from home.
2. The Father's home, and the home of his children, is in heaven and not on the earth.
3. The Father, consistent with this desire and his love for his children, has nothing for them to accomplish in this world. (Or on the earth)
4. The children of God do his will on the earth, as it is in heaven, only when they resolve to arise and go to the Father in heaven and when they give testimony to the truth so that others may join them on the way to heaven -- the way of the cross.
When we examine these seemingly absurd sayings of Jesus from this perspective, they make perfect sense. All of his teachings take on new meaning and perfect consistency. Take, for example, Luke 12:4 as listed above:I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.This saying, seen from the Father's perspective, is most reasonable. We can go "home" only by dying to this world (or by being killed), as Jesus died on the cross, and he who kills the body only expedites this perfect and loving will of the Father. The very worst that an enemy can do turns out to be for the best! The enemy cannot be a real threat to the disciples of Jesus who follow him in the way of the cross; he can only be an expediter of the will of the Father. We can love him!
This is the perspective that drives the Great Principle of Jesus! It is the perspective clearly portrayed in his Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is behind everything Jesus said and did! The religion of Jesus is not absurd nor is it a useless religion. It is the only means for accomplishing the Father's will for his children in the world. Furthermore, the children of the Father, armed with the Truth, have power to overcome the world, which is to share in Jesus' overcoming of the world. They clearly understand why they exist and they have joy and peace in every circumstance. That is useful indeed!
The realization that this perspective powers the religion of Jesus is persuasive evidence that his is the only true religion, springing as it does from the divine perspective. All others are seen to fuel human aspirations by serving useful purposes on the earth. Their prophets and adherents see them as useful aids in accomplishing their purposes in the world, whether it be the defeat of their enemies on the battlefield, the acquisition of honor in the world, the realization of a better world or just the building of more and bigger churches or other religious institutions..I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.John 14:6