Yesterday, I explained the difficulties inherent when a Jew, like me, writes about what’s happening in the New Theocracy that has gripped our country. Søren Kierkegaard’s Attack Upon “Christendom” 1854-1855 was written in a similar spirit. But Kierkegaard was a Christian theologian and philosopher. At any rate, I coined the term “neo-Pharisee,” to describe a specific subgroup of people who, frankly, illegitimately claim the right to call themselves Christians.
The reason their claims are illegitimate is that the neo-Pharisees who collect about George Bush honor him in virtually direct proportion to the horrors they would heap upon Jesus, were he alive today.
Proof of this is found in the way they use the Christian Bible. Even more so, by their acts. “Each tree is,” after all, “recognized by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:44 (New International Version); note, of the half-dozen different versions of the Christian Bible I own, I find the NIV to be one of the better translations, so unless stated otherwise, all quotes from the Christian Bible mentioned in this post are from the NIV.)
While neo-Pharisees are very vocal and visible in their claims that they want to build a nation “under G-d,” the fact of the matter is that they do nothing of the sort.
What, after all, would a nation “under G-d” look like?
For one thing, it would look more Jewish.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17 – 5:20.
Imagine a nation of people running around actually obeying all of the Law and the Prophets! Not just until they become Christians, at which point their mantra becomes “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven!” No! Imagine that they obeyed the law until heaven and earth disappear!
But that’s so “Old Testament,” you’re thinking.
Ignoring the insult to the Tanakh, the fact of the matter is that the so-called “New Testament” wasn’t written at the time Jesus is purported to have said the words noted above. He could only have been referring to the Tanakh and other Jewish writings. And he didn’t say, “Friends . . . Children, Christians aren’t perfect. Just forgiven!” In the original Koiné Greek version, he said, “not one iota” of the law would change. In the Hebrew Stuttgartensia, he said, “not one yud.” A “yud” is a Hebrew letter that looks a bit like a fat apostrophe.
On the upside, America would be a very moral nation with loads of well-fed, probably agrarian-based people. On the downside, there would be periodic deaths by stoning for a variety of sins, such as accidentally cursing. (Leviticus 24:16.) Businesses wouldn’t do so well, either, because we’d have to add the words of Jesus to the mix.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . Matthew 6:19.
Companies that make obscene profits while the people starve or go without health care would have to be eliminated.
An article over at the Blue Bus today — an article which, by the way, inspired my writing today — notes that George Bush wants to get rid of the business deduction for employer-provided health insurance. In its place, the Administration wants to push through “major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.” (Lizard Queen, Bush plans to cut tax break for employers offering health insurance (November 19, 2004) Blue Bus.)
What part of “I desire mercy” — defined as a :readiness to help” others in need (Matthew 9:13) or as “readiness to help, to spare, to forgive” (Matthew 12:7) — does this fit with? What part of “do not store up for yourselves treasures” does this fit into?
Instead, we get George W. Bush and his Minions. While George Bush was governor of Texas, executions rose dramatically. Apparently, it’s the Christian belief that the death penalty must be enforced. What’s not mentioned is that the death penalty in the Bible is quite limited. In the Tanakh, only specific crimes warranted the death penalty. In fact, in Numbers 14:10, G-d wanted to strike down all the Jews following Moses because they wanted to stone people who had not committed any crimes worthy of stoning. (For those who don’t know, “stoning” doesn’t mean that you give them free access to unlimited marijuana. It was a horrid method of execution. Usually, the target of the stoning would be buried up to their neck, to prevent them from running. Then stones — rocks just small enough to throw, actually — would be hurled at their heads until they died. This is still done, by the way, in some parts of the world today.)
The simple truth of the matter is that the policies of the Bush Administration and the neo-Pharisees don’t fit with any of the principles outlined by Christianity’s Jesus. They’re more reminiscent of the young man who asked Jesus what he must do to possess eternal life. He already claimed to keep the commandments, which is more than neo-Pharisees can say. After being told by Jesus that he should develop that spirtuality that accompanies a self-sacrificing character. And the way to do this was by selling all that he had and giving it to the poor. But the young man was crushed. He had a great deal of possessions and he valued his acquisitions. (See Matthew 19:16 – 19:24.)
Instead of practicing the moral values of their supposed G-d, we get a call for the restoration of “moral values” by the legal enforcement of Calvinist Christianity.
So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect]. You pretenders (hypocrites)! Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said: These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men. Matthew 15:6 – 15:9.
What I’d like to see is a return to the days when the way to spread Christianity was to give up your worldly goods and move from town-to-town healing and feeding people. Then perhaps we can believe these people are concerned about the moral fabric of America.
Because instead of talking about it, or trying to legislate it for others, they’ll be demonstrating it in their own lives.
Imagine that, letting “your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, emphasis added.)