Friday, October 4, 2013

Memo: Editing Jesus

Rick Bachabee

Cross and Sword Coalition of America

Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross”

Brothers and Sisters,

The Religious Right has had some real success in the the last few years. The Tea Party movement has finally brought Christ's message of small government and low taxes to state governments and the halls of Congress. I'm happy to say we're as powerful as we've ever been. 

But, brothers and sisters, I'm troubled by the things I hear from our enemies. No, I'm not talking about the Muslims or the gays. I'm talking about those who call themselves Christians, but turn their backs on far-right politics. Some of these pretenders, and their secular allies, have taken to calling us the H word. You guessed it...hypocrites. They go on and on about how Jesus loved the poor and healed the sick, and they say if we really wanted a Christian government, then we would want that government to help them. They even say that's what our Savior himself would have done! Where do they get this stuff?

Even worse, these pretenders in Christ have taken to quoting scripture, using the Bible--OUR Bible--against us. They're getting that hypocrite stuff right out of the Gospels, using Jesus' own words to call us "false prophets" and "wolves in sheep's clothing." The nerve of some people! 

Just the other day I saw people using these verses from Matthew against us:
 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Now, we all know Jesus wasn't really taking up for a bunch of ragged takers looking for handouts. It might seem like he was, but that's a misinterpretation. Some parts of the Bible should be taken literally and some shouldn't. The parts about God creating the Earth in six days, the snake that talked, Noah living 950 years; those are literally true. That's just common sense. 
But some passages require a more subtle interpretation. 

Those words from Matthew are those of Christ himself, and we all know he spoke in parables. He didn't literally mean to give food to hungry people, or invite dirty, half-dressed strangers into our houses and places of worship. I mean really, is that how our Savior would have acted? It's a parable, like the mustard seed or the camel passing through the eye of the needle.

You knew that one would come up didn't you? They love to use that part of Matthew against us. You know the one, where the rich man asks Jesus what he should do to get into heaven:
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those verses always have been troublesome, haven't they? Personally, I don't think Christ could have really said them. Sell your possessions and give to the poor? That's practically communist! It doesn't fit in with our gospel of prosperity at all. And that stuff about how hard it is for the rich to get into heaven...what is that about? That young man was a job creator!

No, Jesus just wouldn't have said that, and he certainly wouldn't have said it twice for emphasis, like that passage implies. Of all his lessons, why would he pick that one to emphasize? Why not the evils of homosexuality, the dangers of evolution, or the importance of keeping "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? It just doesn't make sense.

Brothers and sisters, there's only one thing to do: We've got to change those verses. That's the only way to keep people from reading them in inconvenient ways. The ones I've been quoting make Jesus out to be some kind of bleeding heart who loved everybody unconditionally. And we can't have that. 

So let me show you what I have in mind. Take the first pairs of “Blessings and Woes” in Luke. We could change those in several different ways to reflect their one true meaning, but here are my suggestions:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God rich, for you are the job creators, and yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,  for you will be satisfied are well fed now, for that proves you are hard workers. Or at least rich, and therefore blessed (see above).
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort poor, for you have already received your handouts. 
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry who hunger now, for we cut your food stamps.
See how easy that is? And speaking of blessings, we can leave "blessed are the peacemakers" alone. That was clearly a prophecy foretelling the coming of the Colt Peacemaker; the gun that would win the west. When Jesus comes back, I'm betting that's the sidearm he'll carry. Try taking that one away, gun-grabbers!

I could do this all day, but I think you get the idea. Give it a try! Grab the Sermon on the Mount and a red pen and get busy. It's time we bring the Bible in line with our actual practices. If we start talking like we've been walking, how can anyone accuse us of being hyp...the H word?

Now, I know some of you will have qualms at first. But what are our other options? As long as we say we want a Christian government, people are going to say, "Well, then, why don't you want it to help the sick and poor?" We could cave in and let them keep church and state separate, but then we'd be taking mandatory prayer out of the schools, teaching unexpurgated science, letting homosexuals marry, and opening liquor stores on Sunday. And we can't have all that. 

The other option is to keep calling for a Christian government, and start following all that stuff about helping the poor, healing the sick, loving our enemies, being merciful, blah blah blah...  I don't know about you, but that one doesn't sound good to me either. 

No, if people keep using the H word on us, there's only one way to have our cake and eat it too, and that's editing the Holy Scriptures themselves. I know it may seem shocking. But if you think about it, we on the far right have been editing Jesus for a long time with our words and deeds. All I'm doing is pointing it out; spelling out what's usually unspoken. What should be shocking is for Christians to act in direct opposition to Jesus' words.

And that's why we have to change those words! Sure, people will give us a hard time at first, even that foolish majority of Christians who think Jesus meant what he said about this stuff. But if we keep repeating the new versions, they'll eventually forget the old ones. Americans have a short attention span these days. Besides, if we finally take over this country, then we'll be the ones calling the shots about how the Bible is read.

Yours in Christ,

Rick Bachabee

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