Friday, December 16, 2011

Philosophical debate: "Your Christians are so unlike your Christ..."

I put this together yesterday afternoon and posted it on Facebook. This is an imaginary conversation between a stereotypical mainline conservative Christian and Jesus of Nazareth. I specifically used words of Jesus and not just general Bible verses. Even though I am an agnostic-borderline-atheist, and I do not believe in Jesus as my savior, I found myself asking if I would agree with only the words of Jesus if they were somehow taken apart from the rest of the Bible (in which there are several passages to which I am morally opposed) and just focused on the "Letters in Red."  I began a project based on this idea several years ago, but quickly found that unfortunately I do not agree with EVERYTHING Jesus says. Would have been nice. But he does say a lot of fantastic things, and even as a non religious person, I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This project below was inspired by a combination of recent conversations I've had with friends and the quote by Ghandi:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." 
Would love your thoughts.

IMAGINARY CONVERSATION: 


Christian: What do you say, Jesus, about going to war in the Middle East?
Jesus: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Christian: So what I hear you saying is that we should go to war in the Middle East to keep the peace.
Jesus: Those who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52) I say, love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44)
Christian: OK. So we should go to war as a preemptive strike, to protect ourselves from potential danger?
Jesus: Don’t resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38)  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53) So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. (Matthew 7:12)
Christian: OK, you’re really making it hard here. But I know what you mean, we should definitely go to war. Let’s talk about something a bit easier. What do you say, Jesus, about welfare?
Jesus: Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)
Christian: Well, I give part of my paycheck each week to my church, and one program they have is to help the needy, so that’s all I have to do right?
Jesus:  Sell your possessions and give to the poor. (Luke 12:33)
Christian: *chuckling* Well I’m sure that’s not literal. I know you must have meant that they need to work to earn their own living, after all it’s their own fault that they are poor.
Jesus: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:5*) And I say again, If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. (Matthew 19:21)
Christian: This is unsettling, you’re telling me twice now to sell my possessions? It’s a good thing I know this must just be a metaphor for putting you above whatever my other passions are. I’m sure just giving to my church each week is plenty. Not only that, but we get a lot of good publicity for the church from our charity work.  
Jesus: When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. (Matthew 6:4)
Christian: Well, I mean, surely the church getting good publicity is something that you want. So we’ll keep on doing that, for you, Jesus. Plus, we all get together for great fellowship afterwards- it’s good to be around friends and share a meal celebrating how you have blessed us.
Jesus: When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. (Luke 14:12-14)
Christian: Well, I mean, we can’t do that every day or anything, I’m sure you don’t mean that. Maybe once in a while. And I’m really glad you don’t mean the part about selling your possessions, I mean, no one in the Bible actually did that after you said it.
Jesus: The believers, after the Pentecost , sold their possessions and goods, and they gave to anyone as he had need.(Acts 2:45*)
Christian: OK, well we’re really getting off topic here. Have a nice day Jesus. I’m really glad that I can call myself a CHRIST-ian, and put all of your teachings to good work! I mean, since I know what you REALLY mean by those words and all.
Jesus: One final thought, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

*=not words of Jesus 
Translations used: NIV and ESV

[important note regarding welfare doctrine: in order to truly follow the words of Jesus, you do not have to believe welfare is THE way to support the poor. But you must in some way be supporting the poor on your own if you don't.] 





After I posted this on my Facebook page, a "Real Life Christian" who shall remain anonymous messaged me privately to tell me how much he enjoyed the posting. A very interesting conversation ensued. This is the exact transcript, all typos including (and especially) my own are intact. This was just a casual chat, neither party was prepared for any "formal debate," just thoughts shared among friends that I thought were important to share.

It's important to note that last night I did ultimately get the anonymous Christian's permission to share this with you, after several more emails and chats.


REAL LIFE CONVERSATION: 


REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Mary I loved that post on The wall by the way very good
MARY: thanks
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: brillant actually
It made me smile
MARY: so are you going to do any of that
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: do any of what?
MARY: since you don't celebrate christmas traditionally, maybe you can "not celebrate" it by selling your possessions and giving to the poor instead. lots of charities this time of year.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I give to the poor through my preaching work. Also you have to understand the Jesus is using hyperbole in those passages. Meaning he meant that they should not get cuaght up in material things and that we SHOULD sell off any unecessary items that we have. It's obvious the apostles didn't seel EVERYTHING they had for then they would have been walking around with no cloths.
ANd the Charities now a days are corrupt
I would much rather look for a poor person and give them a meal then give to a charity
MARY: Well, I don't think it's hyperbole. I also don't think you need to sell everything because then nobody on earth would have anything, we'd just have a big pile of stuff we'd have to burn. But if everyone gave as much as they could, then everyone would be equal. If you don't trust charity organizations, I can understand that. So my question then is, will you go find some poor people to sponsor? To sell all your extra niceties and help them directly, instead? Preaching the word doesn't count. That is not "selling your possessions." I really wish I could post your response publicly because it's so typical of Christians who nod their head and say, "Yes, yes, those words are so great." and then don't follow through. But I don't want to call you out personally. Could I maybe post it as an anonymous response from one of my friends and use it as an example?
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: No becuase then you would be misrepresenting my statement
It is an hyperbole
that is just fact
MARY: if I just quoted it word for word, how is that a misrepresentation?
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: read any commentary on it
Becuase you're using it to prove a point that is not true
I do give to the poor and the poor are not just peoplewalking around on the street
I have given massive amounts of money to my friends who do not have as much as me
and i don't just give it during christmas
MARY: People can come to their own conclusions. If I copy and paste it and say "This is a response one of my Christian friends gave. Very typical from other responses I've received in the past." then, that is not misrepresenting a thing.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: i give it all the time
MARY: I agree you shouldn't just give during Christmas. It just happens to be the Christmas season so it makes it even easier to find somewhere to give to.
What about the passage I quoted in Acts 2? They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Yes different time different culture....and like I said they sold the things they did not need. In this culture and time you need property and you need certian possessions. Or you could die yourself
MARY: I bet you have things you don't need.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: See now you are getting impractical
MARY: I'm just quoting Jesus Christ...
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Hey if i was a missionary like many of my fellow JW's are they ONLY have what they need. And needing something can be subjective as well
MARY: I think those who make radical life changes and live in monastaries and devote their entire life to helping the poor are more accurately following the words of Jesus...
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: perhaps I need a wii becuase it's the only thing that makes me happy when I'm down
I need an ipad becuase I use it in field service!
when I'm preaching
MARY: Well. Justify it however you like. You're the one who claims to follow Christ/The Bible. You're the one who believes you have to answer to Jehovah for your deeds on earth. So if you think you can go to heaven when you die and account for everything and say you needed that wii and ipod more than the person in your city who is starving needs food, then, well that's your prerogative. But you just sound foolish to me.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Well when you realize education and preching the word of God are the most important things
MARY: BTW I think this is a fascinating, FASCINATING conversation.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: then you will understand
MARY: Education and preaching don't have anything to do with wii and ipads (thought you said ipod earlier. but, either way) ...and you also stated that the hypothetical reason you "need" the wii is to make you happy. Maybe not you personally, but, that is the example you used.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Feeding the poor is a secondary thing....feeding the poor without teaching them the knowledge of God results in their death forever! Not just in this lifetime
Yes and If i did not have the wii, I would go into a depression and perhaps kill myseld. You are ignoring a lot of other passages that do say there is a TIME to have fun!
MARY: OK, you can feed the poor and preach the gospel. No wii or ipad needed. Education, sure. Which I think education should also be freely given. And in this ideal soceity where everyone gives and takes only what they need, then everyone could have access to education. I'm not asking you to leave school. But if you believe you're supposed to spread the teachings of Christ, then, you don't need a wii, period, at all.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I use my ipad IN Service
When preaching to the deaf
MARY: Jesus and Paul preached just fine with no ipads.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I use it to show them certain bible texts
To DEAF PEOPLE?
MARY: haha yes actually
learn sign language.
carry an ACTUAL Bible with you.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: yes becuase THEY HAD the holy spirit on them!
MARY: I'm just using this as an example anyway,
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: areyou kidding right now?
MARY: even if you could justify that one item, the ipad, I'm sure you have many other things you don't need.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I can't believe you
Of course i have things I don't need, we all do, we are all imperfect, but that certianly does not make us unworthy of God's grace
MARY: I never said that you were unworthy of God's grace. I just asked you if you were going to do anything about that, since after all, Jesus said to.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: you are simply making an overgeneralization of the perfect christian
I'm always :doing something about that" but to say im a hypocrite is very unjustified
nd in fact maybe using the word "uneccesaary" isn't even appropraite becuase in the apostles during the summer...you techinically don't NEED cloths, you do it for comfort reasons
So i will go on to say that even the apostles had things they didn't need
even after Jesus said sell your possessions
MARY: Look, first of all, I don't follow Christ or the Bible personally. So I'm not judging you. But, YOU are the one who says you do follow Christ. When confronted with some very radical Bible verses, your responses were that they were hyperbole, that they were impractical, that "need" is subjective and perhaps you need a wii to be happy, ...these are all your exact words... and like I said above, you have every right to justify your own life however you please. But I just find it very typical about how Christians can be so radical about CERTAIN passages of scripture (homosexuality for example) but suddenly if they have to make RADICAL and FANATICAL life changes and sacrifices THEMSELVES, and live a life like say, Mother Theresa or many of the monks or nuns... well... suddenly it's hyperbole.
You are the only one you have to answer to though, not me. Well, you and your God that you believe in.
So don't worry about what I say. I am just quoting your own book.
But I am going to take this conversation now and put it into a word document because it is absolutely priceless.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: You can believe what ever you want Mary. I'm sorry if ceasing the celebration of every holiday and my birthday, cussing, and changing my life habits are not enough for you, But i HAVE changed DRASTICALLY in my life choices. Like I said you are portraying the "christian" as a hypocrite without looking at the changes that they have gone through in their life. You expect all Christians to be perfect all the time and thats impractical
MARY: it's not whether it's enough for ME. I certainly don't plan on selling off all my possessions even though I do donate to charity and help the poor. It's about what Jesus calls for. So. You be your own judge. You don't have to justify anything to ME.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: But i do...for that is the very reason this topic was started
its based on your ill concieved idea of what Jesus meant when he said, "sell of your possessions
And I'm saying that Jesus didn't stricktly hold to it as much as you think he did
It's clear you are making a judgement here and I'm tyring to tell you it's not as simple as that
MARY: I didn't start this topic to make you justify yourself to me. Nobody is accountable to me. Who am I? But you were the one who said my post was brilliant. And when I asked if you were going to do anything about it, you basically said that everything I quoted (words of Jesus) were hyperbole and impractical. And you also are saying now that you've "done enough." So that's fine, if you really feel you've done enough, then, you and your God are the only ones you have to answer to, not me.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I never said I have done enough, I said they are impractical but not to sell of the things you don't need
you are making a false dichtonomy
Sell the things you don't nee!
As much as you're willing to give!
I hold on to things I like becuase I'm an imperfect human!
MARY: OK. Whatever you say!
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: But now you are ignoring what I'm telling you haha. I like what you said bec ause people DO have abundant things they don't need!
A lot of Christians do
jesus does not want us NOT to be happy in this world
though
MARY: But Jesus said it is better to give than receive. So. Would the happiness come from following his words? Not from having things?
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I do give, all the time. But if i constantly give and never recieve I wont have anythign TO give!
MARY: I like that what you seem to be saying is that OTHER Christians have abundant things, but YOU need your things to make you happy. Or because you've changed your life enough. Or because it was hyperbole in the first place and not literal. Or because it's impractical. You keep changing your reasons. I haven't argued any of them. But you keep trying to justify yourself to me. So. All I'm saying is, save your reasons. Justify yourself to your own God and decide for yourself if your reasons are good enough.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Mary, You are reading into what I'm saying what you want it to say
I have been argueing the same thesis this entire time
MARY: How? I'm just using your own words...
And I'm really not even trying to make you change. Because I could care less if you're following the Bible literally or not- it's YOUR book.
We need to wrap this up, because I'm definitely editing this, making you an anonymous person, and posting it as a note on my wall.
I won't change a thing. I won't edit your words or misrepresent any points. I'll just post word for word what you have said, because I think it's fascinating.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN:
1: Jesus use of the worlds are a hyperbole
2: It's impractical to sell all your things because Jesus and the apostles themselves did not sell of all their things
3: the reference was made because of a much broader principle.
4: i like your post because people should not become so wrapped up in their possessions that they forget the original message>
5: I do give to the poor and a lot, but their is only SO Much a person can do.
MARY: OK. Got it. Althoguh I think Jesus and his disciples did sell their possessions, and slept in other people's houses or on rocks while they traveled the countryside. And the apostles in Acts sold their property and possessions. Sooo. Maybe I'm wrong. I can't be 100% sure. But like I've been saying all along, it's not for me to judge you it's only for you to judge yourself.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: MAry i don't give you permission to post these words on your wall and if you do consider it a direct insult towards me as well s my rights to keep what I say to you in a private sector
You are not interested to here practicallity
you are here to judge
MARY: It's totally within my rights to post this. I'm keeping you anonymous. Besides, why would you have a problem with me posting this if you stand by what you say?
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: Becuase one: i don't trust you to be honest in your presentation of the evidence. Two: I don't want you to because this was a personal conversation between the two of us and in a more pulbic setting I would define my terms and adress certian issues more academically. 3: You're main purpose is to show my hypocrisy even though i don't believe im being hypoctrical. It's the reason you're posting it, not because of what I said.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: 4: i will not be there to justify my opinion
when people fill my mouth with words
MARY:
1) I am only going to copy paste the conversation. No editing. When have you ever known me to hold ANYTHING higher than facts. I value truth, and would never manipulate anything just to make "my truth" appear to be the truth. Because I don't believe there is a "my truth."
2) OK, I can understand your point on that one. Perhaps you would like me to make you a private copy first, and you can go through and edit your own comments and make them more academic?
3) My main purpose is to illustrate the very topic about which I originally posted. People that say they follow Christ, but when presented with his radical teachings they suddenly say that they know better. Call it a hypocrite if you will. I never said one way or another, I'd rather just let people decide. But if you have a problem with me posting this conversation, then you should have a problem with me posting the original topic in the first place because they are for the EXACT SAME MOTIVE.
4) You could justify your opinion as much as you want, but it would mean not being anonymous anymore. That's your own choice. If you stand by what you say, I don't know why you'd need to be anonymous at all.
MARY:
Howabout this instead, I have a compromise I think can work for both of us....
My idea for a compromise is this. Instead of just telling me how brilliant my original post is, why don't you write a post that instead shows the opinion you expressed here privately? Write down those five points you said, about it being hyperbole, impractical, etc., only this time you can define your terms, present it as academically as you like, and it will be coming from you and not me.
Put it on either my personal page or the philosophy forum wherever you like
but if you do that, then I won't need to post the conversation.
Because you'll have made your own points.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: I still think your post was fantastic.
You just don't understand why
but in regards to the compromise
I'm not in the mood right now to go so fully in depth with this to present it academically or I would have done so on your post and not in a private conversation with you. I'm in the middle of all my exams and research and worrying about this is the last thing on my mind
I don't understand why you can't just respect my wishes
MARY: I totally understand. And you HAVE to realize that I'm not judging you. I can't. I'm not planning to go live like a monk out in the wilderness sleeping on a rock and spreading the gospel. I personally have no judgement towards you. This entire time I have merely only been asking you to explain your own position about your own holy book and the words of your own religious figurehead.
REAL LIFE CHRISTIAN: You understand the Christian message then. You're right we all can't do what MONKS do. and thats the point I'm making. Jesus said we all have different ways of being christian but we also all have different weaknesses in being christian. I'm trying to say you're so called idea that when Christians are presented with a "radical" passage this is there response. My idea is, it's not radical at all, and the normal christian response is the correct response.
MARY: OK then. Well I'm going to go edit this in word. And when I say edit, I ONLY mean making you anonymous. NOT changing any content. Basically just deleting your picture every other paragraph.
But thanks for the chat, it really was fascinating.


14 comments:

  1. Some of my favorite quotes. Perhaps biasedly taken out of context, but I don't think so, you be your own judge.

    "perhaps I need a wii becuase it's the only thing that makes me happy when I'm down"
    (this one needs no commentary, it's pretty self explanitory)

    "Feeding the poor is a secondary thing... feeding the poor without teaching them the knowledge of God results in their death forever!"
    (but I'm confused as to why you can't do both?)

    "I'm sorry if ceasing the celebration of every holiday and my birthday, cussing, and changing my life habits are not enough"
    (If you think it's enough, then it's enough, but I'm just going by what Jesus commanded in the Bible... to be fair he later said "I never said I have done enough,")

    "I like what you said because people DO have abundant things they don't need!A lot of Christians do."
    (Just not you... you need your wii...)

    "different time different culture"
    (convenient Christians will use this excuse here, when confronted with selling their own possessions, but throughout the years have refused to view the Bible as culuturally dated in reference to women's rights, civil rights, gay rights...)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love watching people rationalize. I'd like to see the part of the bible where Jesus tells us that "we all have different ways of being christian." I must have missed that part.

    ReplyDelete
  3. He immediately goes from "brilliant post" to, "I give to the poor through my preaching work." [and before I respond at all] "And you have to understand Jesus is using hyperbole..." Defensive!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ok, Hey Mary, this is Lydia.
    I agree with this person in that preaching the gospel is primary, BUT you should also feed the poor, too. that concept kinda goes back to James where you can say all you want, but are you really living as a Christian by sharing the gospel AND by helping others? it's not an either or. I think this person may be mistaken in thinking this? Maybe I am misinterpreting him.

    Is he a Jehovah's Witness? That in itself may be not what some consider Christianity? From what I understand, JWs don't believe that Jesus is God, but that Jesus is only the son of God? So, for some (including me), pure Christianity involves belief in Jesus as God and not just as the son of God.

    About how "Jesus said that we have all different ways of being a Christian..." I am wondering if he is saying how the apostle paul said, "I am all things to all people, but all for the gospel of Christ." I wonder where this person got this reasoning from. Maybe I'll think of it later:)

    I don't think Christians think people are poor because it's their own fault. At least, I don't:). Jesus said, "the poor you will have with you always," when Judas asked why the woman didn't sell the perfume (remember that story?). Some people are poor because of unfortunate circumstances that are not of their own doing. Health issues, losing a job, losing a breadwinner in the family...all of these things can contribute to poverty. What I personally have an issue with is people that game the system and come rolling in with nice clothes, purses, cell phones, fake nails...I see this with some of my patients. I wish this didn't happen. You have all these nice things, but you don't work. That type of poverty isn't right. Sometimes, the job market isn't optimal (like right now). I understand that. But I digress:).


    I think you know where I stand, Mary, on this whole Christian issue. I also think that you have met and known some Christians who are by no means hypocrites. And I'm not saying me, because I know I make a mess of things many times. ok, I'm done. Was this even coherent? ah, it's the end of the week:).

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Name is Joey McCabe, and I'm the Christian and Jehovah's Witnesses that had this conversation with Mary.

    1: I think this is disgusting that you would deliberately post that conversation against my wishes. I would like to call attention to the fact that this is exactly the kind of "good" people non-believers brag so much to be. Had Mary had the same conversation with me, I would have respected her wishes not to post the discussion because I respect (respected) her as a friend and I do not ignore a persons request in order to make them look bad or prove a point. Talk about hypocritical.

    2: I enjoyed Mary's thread because 1: Christians do argue that way and i think it's stupid. And two, Christians who do justify themselves like myself understand that even though Jesus was using hyperbole there, that doesn't discount what he said all together! We should not get caught up in material possessions and we should not just give a pay check to the church. Also I never said you couldn't feed the poor and preach at the same time, just one has primary importance over the other. Mary has had superlative problems in the past for stuff I have argued so it doesn't surprise me that she didn't understand what I meant when I said that.

    3: "Now YOU are Christ’s body, and members individually. 28 And God has set the respective ones in the congregation, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues. 29 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? 30 Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are translators, are they? 31 But keep zealously seeking the greater gifts. And yet I show YOU a surpassing way. (NWT, 1st Corinthians 12:27-31)

    This is the passage I would be referring to about Christians having different ways of being Christian. Some Christians are better than others at certain things. Some are better at preaching, others are better at giving (they have more to give), others are better at helping people. My point stems from this scripture.

    4: Mary has deliberately distorted the teachings of Jesus through this Topic and I will set the matter straight. The one thing I did send Mary that I gave her permission to send is the following script which is altered from her previous one within the topic. The conversation shows how the topic should be argued by a Christian, and shows why Mary is being out of control ridiculous in this matter.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Christian: OK, you’re making it easy to see.. What do you say, Jesus, about welfare?

    Jesus: Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)

    Christian: Well, I give part of my paycheck each week to my church, and one program they have is to help the needy, so that’s all I have to do right?

    Jesus: Sell your possessions and give to the poor. (Luke 12:33)

    Christian: But Jesus certainly you don’t mean that! How can I live and have a happy life without any of my possessions?

    Jesus: There is “a time to break down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to wail and a time to skip about; a time to throw stones away and a time to bring stones together; a time to embrace and a time to keep away from embracing; a time to seek and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to rip apart and a time to sew together; “(NWT Ecc 3:3-7).

    Christian: I’m not sure I understand Jesus…being that you just told me to sell all my possessions.

    Jesus: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.”(NWT Eph 4:28)

    “And while he was at Beth′a‧ny in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at the meal, a woman came with an alabaster case of perfumed oil, genuine nard, very expensive. Breaking open the alabaster case she began to pour it upon his head. 4 At this there were some expressing indignation among themselves: “Why has this waste of the perfumed oil taken place? 5 For this perfumed oil could have been sold for upward of three hundred de‧nar′i‧i and been given to the poor!” And they were feeling great displeasure at her. 6 But Jesus said: “Let her alone. Why do YOU try to make trouble for her? She did a fine deed toward me. 7 For YOU always have the poor with YOU, and whenever YOU want to YOU can always do them good, but me YOU do not have always”(NWT Mark 13:3-7)

    Christian: I think I understand what you are saying, that it’s not bad to have nice things. Had you really held so strictly to selling our possessions you would have stopped her. The point seems that our attitude towards our earthly possessions should not trump our attitude of the Kingdom. But Jesus what about wealthy Christians?

    Jesus: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; 18 to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share.”(NWT 1ST Timothy 6:17-18)

    Christian: Ah so we shouldn’t tell the rich to get rid of their possessions just not to be high-minded about them. That must be why wise King Solomon was blessed with riches by God! “And the weight of the gold that came to Sol′o‧mon in one year amounted up to six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, 15 apart from the men of travel and the profit from the traders and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the land.” (1st Kings 10:14-15)

    Jesus: Surely you do have the accurate knowledge of God! (2 Peter 1:2)

    Christian: Jesus I have one question though…why did the apostles sell their possession after you told them to?

    Jesus: The believers, after the Pentecost , sold their possessions and goods, and they gave to anyone as he had need.(Acts 2:45*) The reason though was because of a famine that was happening in Jerusalem. It was situational and not to be done by everyone all the time otherwise how could one give gifts of mercy if they have no possessions?

    Christian: Thanks Jesus, one more thing what are the most important things about your teachings?

    Jesus: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

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  7. This is Joey talking again: It seems clear that in order to properly represent Jesus words we must also take into account the words of the apostles and fellow ancient faithful believers. Why though? I will give you an example. If I were to quote Richard Dawkins when he says, "life is designed" in one of his books. I could very well argue that Mr. Dawkins believes life is designed! If you were to tell anyone that, it automatically would bring intelligence to mind. But that is NOT what Richard believes. He believes it's designed but what is his intended meaning of the word "designed" in this statement? He believes that through the process of evolution life was "designed". So by making a response to short it's clear that you can miss what the author intended to say. That is what Mary has done. She has selectively chosen Jesus words and not chosen to look into the very "thesis" of what Jesus meant when using said words through other places in the bible. Jesus was taught from the old testament, and the apostles were taught by him. Therefore Jesus words are truly represented by every statement made throughout the bible, and not just selected dialogue.

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  8. Oh and as to Mary's copyright at the time....she knew I did not want the above posted....just the latter. That of which she oddly enough did NOT post. Interesting how people can ignore what people mean when they want something so badly.

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  9. Thanks for posting, Joey. I appreciate it. First of all I'd like to say, I'm sorry you're so angry, and that I've caused you hurt. It was not my intention. I misunderstood and thought you had given me permission to post this conversation. You see, when you said this in your email,
    "Mary I just want to tell you I like you I really do, I'm just a little upset with you about what happened earlier today, and I hope you don't think im coming at you with those emails. I don't think i will post it no, but i give you permission to post my script if you want"
    I mistook it to mean our chat conversation, but obviously you meant something else. Since the chat conversation was what I was asking you to publish, then, I assumed that's what you meant when you spoke of a script. So, for the misunderstanding and the hurt I've caused you, I do apologize.
    Even though I am within my "rights" to post the conversation even without your permission, I was not planning to do so until we had reached an understanding with each other. I could have waited as long as I needed to while we talked about it. Looking back it does seem quite clear that "script" meant your version of the imaginary Jesus-Christian conversation. But at the time I thought it was the chat dialogue. I can assure you, it was not from a place of malice towards you.
    But now that it's there, it's there, along with quite a bit of other material you have provided. So let's talk about it.

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  10. Regarding your version of the Jesus-Christian conversation, I did not publish it because, as I said to you privately, it did not follow the parameters of my original project. My question was "What did Jesus say?" and your question is "What does God/The Bible say?" Neither of these questions are wrong. Your approach is not less valuable just because it is different. But it doesn’t help in answering my original question. …I wrote more about this in my opening paragraph on the blog above, you can read my thoughts there.

    I understand the Christian perspective that asking “What does Jesus say?” and “What does the God/The Bible say?” are really one in the same question. But that is not my perspective. Again, I was attempting an objective study on only the words of Jesus.

    In your version of the Jesus-Christian conversation, you do not use words of Jesus exclusively. You are correct that I also did not exclusively use the words of Jesus, however, I clearly marked the instances where I did not, and I feel like my piece could stand alone even without them. In your piece, you used so many verses that were not words of Jesus that it could not stand alone without them. You quoted from the Old Testament, and you even have one part where you just write your own words, the words of Joey, in order to make your point. Again, all of this is fine if you are doing your own personal project, but it doesn’t help in my quest to find out “What did Jesus say.”

    I did a lot of research to make sure the verses I used are not taken out of context, and are accurately represented according to the full passages in which they are found. In addition, I did extensive research to try to find out if I had left out any passages (by this, I mean, words of Jesus) that would be relevant to the topic, but found none. I think I accurately represented these verses, and if you or anyone else disagrees, I welcome you to show me words of Jesus that supplement, contradict, change or enhance the meaning of the verses I gave above in my original post.

    I also would like to make something clear: I do not believe ALL Christians are like the imaginary Christian in my original post, or the real life Christian. Each Christian is different. It is impossible to take something as complex and personal as Christianity and fit it into a neat little box with a label.

    I do feel though that my original blog post accurately represents a large portion of Christians. The conversations above are a reflection of MANY conversations I’ve had with Christians of various denominations, all resulting in a similar outcome as above.
    (CONTINUED)

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  11. (CONTINUED)
    My experience is that many Christians are quick to take the Bible literally when judging others. Homosexuality is my favorite example, but it also applies to divorce, premarital sex, drinking, and a host of other lifestyle choices that are frankly nobody’s business but the person(s) involved. However, when presented with a passage that would require some personal lifestyle change, they are quick to become defensive, saying that it is hyperbole, that it was a different time/culture, that it isn’t literal. Or sometimes, that they’ve already “done enough.”

    Again, not ALL Christians.

    But how refreshing would it be, perhaps, for a Christian to reply with something along the lines of, “Wow, what convicting words from my Christ. A great reminder, and a challenge to me personally. Perhaps I should choose something- one thing- in my life that would be a real sacrifice. I can sell my XYZ and donate the money to ABC charity. Or perhaps I can forego buying presents this year, and instead donate, and ask others to do the same. Or perhaps if I cannot find anything of my own to sell or give, I can give more of my time.” How easy it would have been to respond in that manner, out of love, out of a willing heart. Someone who isn’t afraid to see that maybe they can improve.

    I’m sure most Christians would say, “Yes, of course I have room for improvement, of course these words are a great reminder and a great challenge.” …OK, so why do they immediately go into defensive mode when presented with these passages? I’m not just singling out Joey. In fact, that’s why I intended on keeping Joey’s identity anonymous. I’ve had these types of conversations with many Christians.

    Anyway, one final thought and then I’ll conclude. Nowhere does Jesus say “Sell ALL your possessions and never accept gifts from others.” Because as I said above, all we would have is a giant pile of stuff we would burn. However, I think that if we all gave out of our abundance, and all received with thanksgiving, then the entire world would be more harmonious, more peaceful, and MORE EQUAL. The extreme difference between the starving impoverished and the gluttonous ultra-wealthy would no longer exist.

    Everyone, not just Christians, we need to remember that just because we have “our own struggles,” doesn’t mean that we do not qualify as wealthy. It’s relative. We cannot say that it’s only the uber wealthy 1% who need to change. We are SO BLESSED, and have so much more than so many people. I know this, because if you’re reading this you have access to the internet, which automatically puts you in the wealthiest 20% in the entire world. So just reflect on that, and challenge yourself as to what you can do this year to effect change on the world around you.

    Thanks everyone, and peace to all.

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  12. I appreciated the apology Mary and thank you. Mary if you are not going to take the bible into account, don't make this topic at all because Jesus's words cannot stand on their own without proper biblical context and besides I think Jesus's words in Mark 13:6 do contradict what you are trying to teach. I said I liked your conversation because it DOES reflect a lot of Christian responses. What I find interesting is that you used the scripture that we should not let the left hand know what your right hand is doing and then you asked me what I have given in the conversation. It's really none of your business and I don't feel comfortable telling you what I have given.

    Also Mary in regards to this response..."But how refreshing would it be, perhaps, for a Christian to reply with something along the lines of, “Wow, what convicting words from my Christ. A great reminder, and a challenge to me personally. " That is NOT the response you were looking for and it is evidence in your presentation. ( I believe that is the reason why I enjoyed your post because that is exactly what I thought!) Had you intended to say something to me like, "joey, don't you think it's important to give just like Jesus commanded?....my response would have been, "Of Course! I do give to my friends and family and those who need me, especially through my preaching work(what better way to give to the poor then my knowledge of the bible that leads to everlasting life)" But that is not what your intention was, it’s not what you “said said” if you know what I mean. The intent I was getting from you during our whole conversation was similar to, “Joey why do you still have a bunch of stuff you don’t really need, you should give all of it away for after all Jesus said to Sell your possessions!” Thus I responded with, it's a hyperbole and because I answered that way doesn’t automatically mean (as you put it), "it's so typical of Christians who nod their head and say, "Yes, yes, those words are so great." and then don't follow through" Who said I didn't follow through? That's the point of why I didn't want these words posted, it's clear you were missing my point and ignoring my statements where I said I could always do more and that I do give to people. You were reading what you already wanted me to be saying into the text, which I agree was similar to the Christian in the conversation above but the way in which I responded (especially with that script i sent you) shows my response was different in key ways because i did acknowledge the need to give, admitted that I do, and then tried to explain why we don't have to give everything. By your words(alone) it does seem like there shouldn't have been a discussion at all but it's not the words, it was your intention behind them, which I saw right through, otherwise I'm convinced you would not had a problem with me keeping my Wii and my Ipad and congratulated me for giving to people in need.

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  13. That will be my last post because I don't feel like this will go anywhere anyway.

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  14. If you think that she needs to use the entire bible as a source for the conversation, then we could go into the old testament command to murder your own children for being disrespectful. Or that women are 'unclean' for a week out of every month and a man should not sit on the same chair as her... Since it is now defiled or something similar.

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