Jesus the Great Moral Teacher
Over the years the more closely I have paid attention to what the Bible actually says, the more puzzled I have become by the claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher. Many of the teachings attributed to Jesus are obscure and confusing. And some are simply horrific. Here are a few random observations.
- “For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Mark 4:25) I’ve been reading the Bible my whole life and I have no idea what he means here. Is he endorsing the Paul Ryan budget proposal?
- And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Luke 12:10) This is the famous unforgivable sin passage. But Jesus never really defines what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It seems that if there were only one sin that could send a person to hell for eternity, it would be nice to have a really clear and detailed explanation of what that sin is. Instead, we are left in the dark.
- Several times in the gospels Jesus says that his teachings will result in tearing asunder the parent-child relationship. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name.” (Mark 13:12-13) See also Matthew 10:34-39.
- Many people say that they prefer the loving God of the New Testament over the vindictive portrayal of God in the Old Testament. Yet it is not until the New Testament that we get a doctrine of hell as a place of eternal torment. It all comes from Jesus. In Mark 9:48, he describes hell as a place where “the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched.” In contrast, the apostle Paul does not mention hell at all, which potentially suggests that the teachings about hell were put in Jesus’ mouth after the time of Paul in an attempt to intimidate and control members of the early church.
I will pick up this topic again in the next post where I will briefly explore what people really mean when they say they find the teachings of Jesus inspiring.