News

Loading...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

St. Paul and I Agree...

Taxation is not theft: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves." -- Romans 13

The key idea implicit here, and the one that turned me on the subject of whether or not taxation is theft, is that "every soul" owes obedience to the "governing authorities." Now, if that is a debt I truly owe, then, when those authorities levy the taxes they need to do the job of governing, I owe them those taxes, and attempts to collect them certainly do not constitute acts of theft. And obviously it doesn't matter at all, from this point of view, whether or not I "signed" any sort of "social contract." (In fact, the history of political thought since the Reformation can be read as an attempt to find a secular replacement for the Christian idea of the source of political authority, the social contract being one such effort.)

Now, I can believe that there are sincere Christians out there who think I have somehow misinterpreted Paul, but I think anyone following my reasoning here can at least concede, "Well, Gene, I certainly can see how you could conclude taxes aren't theft, even though I think you have read Paul incorrectly."

81 comments:

  1. Well that is the passage usually invoked by Christians when arguing for the legitimacy of the state. I've seen Christian anarchist rebuttals but they were not particularly devastating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There may indeed be some plausible rebuttal, but at least a Christian anarchist should be able to see how I reach the conclusion that taxation is not theft.

      Delete
    2. True, although considering that the vast majority of Christians are statists (is there a non-pejorative for this? like Marxian vs Marxists), it is a lot harder to convince Christians that taxation is theft rather than the other way around.

      Delete
    3. "True, although considering that the vast majority of Christians are statists (is there a non-pejorative for this? like Marxian vs Marxists)..."

      Yes: realist.

      Delete
    4. For most people these days, Christian != realist.

      Delete
    5. „You don't see a little contradiction in first violating this rule in order to get power, and then invoking it in order to justify holding power?“

      Well, that is exactly what I try to point out. It was you who said it doesn’t matter how the authority became authority (e.g. war). That is exactly what makes it absurd. Therefore there needs to be something that makes the authority getting the authority just. Not possible if it doesn’t matter.

      “Given the history of martyrdom in early Christianity, it should be fairly obvious that passive resistance is acceptable!”

      I do hope so; else it would be absurd as well. Although I feel the quote from St. Paul doesn’t let much room for interpretation if he writes:
      “…and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God,..”
      If the authority is appointed by God then peaceful resistance is still resisting the ordinance of God. If this authority is not appointed by God then you can resist however you see fit, at least there is no opinion of St. Paul about it. Anyway if there are two interpretations reasonably possible, I do what everyone does and usually take the one that fits my world view ;)

      Delete
    6. Sorry Gene! Comment is at the wrong place!

      Delete
    7. "It was you who said it doesn’t matter how the authority became authority (e.g. war). That is exactly what makes it absurd."

      This is a non sequitur. You are discussing, "When is authority legitimate?" That is an interesting question. But it is a very different question than, "Is it OK for a Christian to offer violent resistance to that authority?"

      "Therefore there needs to be something that makes the authority getting the authority just."

      For the authority to be just, yes. For the Christian to practice passive obedience, no.

      Delete
  2. So, the electoral process somehow correctly chooses the *authority* that you speak of? Also, what is this "owe" thing that you speak of? As far as I can tell, the only owing that I have is that in which I have personally contracted. If I were to take your conclusion to its maximum, then I owe everybody other than myself just for the fact that I exist. That is complete absurdity. My existence doesn't confer any more duty to the whole other than what I choose to give to it (i.e. my own contribution). All of that particular benefit (that I give to society) is due to my own giving, not to the whole itself.

    Many chickens are responsible for the cartons found in the grocery store, but only one chicken laid each of those eggs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "So, the electoral process somehow correctly chooses the *authority* that you speak of?"

      Or hereditary succession. Or a war. Whatever puts the authority in power.

      "As far as I can tell, the only owing that I have is that in which I have personally contracted."

      That is what you think. No Christian ought to be thinking that way.

      Delete
    2. "Or hereditary succession. Or a war. Whatever puts the authority in power."

      So it doesn't matter how such "authority" came about, whether it was just or not? Any authority is good, just so long as it is *the* authority?

      "That is what you think. No Christian ought to be thinking that way."

      I am not a Christian, but I have tried very hard in the past to defend Christianity from being associated with socialism. Your train of thought here is not helping.

      Delete
    3. "So it doesn't matter how such "authority" came about, whether it was just or not?"

      That is the general idea. Various thinkers have proposed exceptions. That begins to get very complex, and is my current area of research.

      "Any authority is good, just so long as it is *the* authority?"

      There is no implication that the authority thus created is good. Just that it should be obeyed.

      Delete
    4. And you agree with this?! I don't know, that just sounds completely absurd to me, even without religious implications.

      When can I find some of the fruits of your current research?

      Delete
    5. Without exceptions or defined way of how God gives you this authority this only means: Might makes Right.

      Any need to obey would only follow from the lack of power to resist effectively not the lack of fear of God.

      I doubt though that there exists a flow chart that shows how God delegates the power to rule directly.

      Delete
    6. "Without exceptions or defined way of how God gives you this authority this only means: Might makes Right."

      No: there is no implication here that the authority is always right, or even usually right. Just that the Christian should not resist with violence.

      Delete
    7. "And you agree with this?!"

      Generally, yes. Look at the actual fruits of most revolutions.

      "When can I find some of the fruits of your current research?"

      Search "authority and rebellion" on this blog.

      Delete
    8. "No: there is no implication here that the authority is always right, or even usually right. Just that the Christian should not resist with violence."

      I don't see the qualifier "with violence" in your quote from St. Paul above. According to it you are not even allowed to resist peacefully like Gandhi.

      And secondly still yes: I didn't say the authority has to be right. As long as it doesn't matter how the authority actually became the authority, you can overthrow them yourself. By overthrowing them successfully you prove that it now is your time to rule and make people obey with God's grace. It's only bad for you if you didn't make it. This is exactly Might makes Right.

      Delete
    9. "As long as it doesn't matter how the authority actually became the authority, you can overthrow them yourself. By overthrowing them successfully you prove that it now is your time to rule..."

      You don't see a little contradiction in first violating this rule in order to get power, and then invoking it in order to justify holding power?

      Delete
    10. "don't see the qualifier 'with violence' in your quote from St. Paul above."

      Given the history of martyrdom in early Christianity, it should be fairly obvious that passive resistance is acceptable!

      Delete
    11. "Your train of thought here is not helping."

      Joseph, I will amend my beliefs so as to help you out in your project.

      Delete
    12. How nice of you. ;)

      Delete
  3. "There is no implication that the authority thus created is good. Just that it should be obeyed."

    From the bit of Saint Paul you quoted: "the authorities that exist are appointed by God". I think it could be a reasonable implication that the authority, no matter what, is good - even if it is only at the ontological level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "From the bit of Saint Paul you quoted: "the authorities that exist are appointed by God". I think it could be a reasonable implication that the authority, no matter what, is good..."

      This is a delicate point that was discussed at length in the literature on authority. If the ruler is an evil tyrant, is he:
      1) Not really a true authority, making rebellion permissible, or
      2) A true authority, which would seem to make God the direct author of evil.

      Delete
    2. As for 1) this seemed to be common if an authority's lineage or succession was suspect e.g. the Jacobites, Carlists, etc.

      2) I'd heard that "the Scourge of God" as applied to Atilla meant that Atilla was sent by God to punish the faithlessness of Christians. So he was a true authority even in perpetrating atrocities. This attitude seems to be the one behind the legions of Rome were (inadvertently) carrying out the will of God.

      Delete
  4. The Christian rebuttal is easy:

    Paul was the first major heretic. Why would his bloviations on government be any more sacrosanct than his abandonment of monotheism, 180-degree contradiction of Jesus on the status of the Law of Moses, general corruption of Jesus' Judaism into an entirely different paganized/Romanized religion, etc.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom, this is the dumbest thing you have ever posted here. "Abandonment of monotheism"! And the dumbest bit is, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's": Christ entirely backed Paul on that point.

      In any case, no one who regards Paul as a heretic is a Christian: they may be a Jew for Jesus or something else, but they are not a Christian.

      Delete
    2. And, of course, his "bloviations" on those other points ARE considered sacrosanct by all Christians.

      Delete
  5. Gene,

    Yes, abandonment of monotheism (that was an ongoing argument between the polytheists and the Arians until Constantine imposed it as a condition of Roman recognition and they drummed up the doctrine of Trinity to appease him).

    You might want to read the "render unto Caesar" passage again. Read for context, it seems to say exactly the opposite of what you read into it.

    I'm somewhat flabbergasted to hear that you don't think James and Peter were Christians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The doctrine of the trinity existed since the 100s, and is certainly not "polytheistic." Your history is as awful as your theology!

      Delete
    2. "I'm somewhat flabbergasted to hear that you don't think James and Peter were Christians."

      "Regards" is the present tense of that verb, Tom.

      Delete
    3. Gene,

      It's not especially complicated:

      The teachings of Paul differ in many ways from the teachings of Jesus, and from the teachings of the disciples whom Jesus left in charge upon his [take your pick -- death or being taken up after resurrection].

      For example, Jesus said that not one jot or tittle of the Law would be changed until Heaven and Earth pass away; Paul said hey, it's been a few years and he's not around to argue, go ahead and use that knife to hack at some pork chops instead of at your man-parts.

      To Jesus, as to mainstream Jews, a "messiah" was a priest-king of the Davidic line whose mission was to take the throne and kick the current occupiers out so that the Kingdom of God could be restored. To Paul, a "messiah" became a concept blasphemous in Jesus' religion -- a divine being co-equal with God.

      Given the radical divergence between the actual Jesus on one hand and Paul's caricature of Jesus on the other, I don't find it preposterous to think of Paul as a heretic, or to assume that, having disagreed with Jesus on so many other things, Paul might disagree with Jesus on the subject of political authority.

      Delete
    4. Tom, it's not complicated: To whatever extent Paul did differ from Jesus, those differences became essential parts of Christianity, in every form it has today, so that it is someone who rejects Paul who would be a heretic. (That doesn't mean they are wrong, just that they are not a Christian, since we don't get to make up our own meanings for words, which are defined by their use in a language community.)

      Delete
    5. "a divine being co-equal with God."

      Ooh, and that is brutally awful theology. The Son is NOT another being, "co-equal" with the Father.

      Delete
    6. The key thing here is this: You proposed an "easy" Christian rebuttal. But the fact is anyone proposing your "solution" would cease being a Christian, and would be creating a new religion. So your "easy" Christian rebuttal is "Stop being a Christian and found an entirely new religion differing from Christianity on foundational doctrinal points," which really isn't a very "Christian" rebuttal now, is it?

      Delete
    7. "'a divine being co-equal with God.'

      Ooh, and that is brutally awful theology."

      It's particularly ironic considering his use of "not one jot or tittle" earlier.

      Delete
    8. Gene,

      You need to get out more. A number of still-existing Christian movements/denominations/sects reject this or that Pauline doctrine.

      If you look hard enough, you can even find one or two that say exactly what I say: That Paul was a heretic who diverted Christianity from the doctrines preached by Jesus.

      For someone who likes to make fun of "trufry markets," you've got a rather ironic conception of what is and is not Christianity. If you're not going to base Christianity on Jesus, why base it on Paul either? Why not base it on Augustine or Aquinas or John Cleese?

      Delete
    9. One thing after another that you have said has been shown to be dumb-assed. When that happens, you simply drop that point, and make some new dumb-assed contention. That's the mark of someone trolling.

      Come back when you are ready to admit, "Hey, I was totally wrong about when the doctrine of the trinity was propounded. Oh, yeah, and totally wrong about Jesus being a second divine being in orthodox Christianity."

      Until then, bye.

      Delete
    10. Gene,

      It's easy to paint someone as a troll when you argue with what you wish they had said rather than with what they actually said.

      Have a nice day.

      Delete
    11. I generally enjoy having Tom around here, even though we often disagree. But certain topics seem to make certain people lose their minds. I posted this last comment because of the fascination of watching Tom dig himself in even deeper.

      Tom now says I'm making up things and attributing them to him! So what did he say about the trinity:

      "Constantine imposed it as a condition of Roman recognition and they drummed up the doctrine of Trinity to appease him"

      The doctrine was "drummed up" at the time of Constantine. Well, he's a couple of centuries off.

      And then how does he interpret the Son in the trinity? "To Paul, a "messiah" became a concept blasphemous in Jesus' religion -- a divine being co-equal with God."

      The Son is *another* divine being. Forget about "one in being with the Father."

      Frankly, I really wish Tom *hadn't* said these things, because I hate to see smart people say such silly things. But really, why compound the original errors by claiming that *I* made up these positions?

      Delete
    12. Gene,

      Fair cop. I was off a bit on the matter of trinity. That doctrine was indeed at least formative prior to Constantine's requirement that Christianity return to a strict monotheism so as to conform to the rites of the Sol Invictus sun cult like all other recognized Roman religions (and abandon the sabbath in favor of the day of the Sun, and so forth).

      On the second point, I'm not sure whether I just wrote badly or whether you're misreading me. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah as prophesied (a priest-King of the Davidic line, come to kick Roman ass out of Judea and restore the Kingdom of God); Paul claimed that Jesus was himself divine (as did "John," a/k/a "the beloved disciple," probably Jesus' brother-in-law Lazarus). That's all I was saying.

      Delete
    13. Thank you, my man. As I said, I really do appreciate you coming around here and commenting, even when we disagree, because you usually disagree with me in a way that makes me think!

      Delete
    14. "Jesus claimed to be the Messiah as prophesied (a priest-King of the Davidic line, come to kick Roman ass out of Judea and restore the Kingdom of God)"

      Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, but he did not claim to be the "Roman bashing" Messiah the Jews at the time were hoping for.

      Delete
    15. traumeri,

      After anointment with a royal/holy oil worth a year's average wages, Jesus entered Jerusalem in the manner ascribed to the "Roman-bashing Messiah" of prophecy (on an ass) to general acclaim, with palm fronds (an acknowledgement of royalty) thrown in his path.

      He then went to the temple, kicked out the money-changers, made a speech which even 2,000 years later and in fragmented form pretty much comes down to "Caesar's welcome to his stuff, but not to mine," and presided at a Passover seder at which he ordered his followers to procure arms even if they had to sell their garments to do so.

      After this call to arms, he was arrested by a force of around 600 Roman troops (at least according to the Vulgate -- a "cohort") and executed in the manner reserved specifically for rebels against Roman rule.

      Apparently the Romans thought he was EXACTLY the kind of Messiah the Jews were hoping for.

      Delete
    16. Tom, what are you talking about? Jesus intentionally let them take and kill Him. It wasn't like He was trying to overthrow the Romans and they beat Him to the punch.

      Jesus makes allusions to His coming death several times, and when they come to take Him He chastises Peter for drawing His sword. Jesus says that He could call down legions of angels if He wanted to.

      I might not have been as harsh as Gene was, but, yeah, it doesn't sound like you know what you are talking about. I believe you that some self-described Christians might say Paul is a heretic, but even so just about everything you are saying here sounds really non-Christian to me.

      Delete
  6. I already pointed out Jesus' claim to be the Messiah; it's the military leader aspect you include to that claim which is wrong.

    Do you really think the "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" with regard to taxes somehow supports your theory that Jesus claimed he would "kick Roman ass out of Judea"?

    The Jews were hoping for a military leader to drive the Romans out and the Romans knew it. So anyone being proclaimed the Messiah in that very rebellious province was a serious threat.

    But, contrary to your original assertion, Jesus himself never made the claim.

    ReplyDelete
  7. traumeri,

    Yes, I really think the "render unto Caesar" sound byte is an indication that Jesus was attempting to foment uprising against Roman rule in favor of his own claim as king.

    Is it possible to read it differently? Yes. But it's a big stretch contextually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Tom, and when he said "turn the other cheek," he was *really* saying "kick them in the balls."

      I mean, I suppose you could by some giant stretch read it differently, but please!

      Delete
    2. 8.5, that's the best score I can give you for that bit of mental gymnastics. Now for your next challenge KN@PPSTER:

      "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."

      "Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence."

      tell us how these are really indications of Jesus attempting to foment an uprising against the Romans.

      Delete
    3. Gene wins Best Supporting Actor for the "kick them in the balls" comment, but traumerel wins the thread, TKO.

      Delete
  8. Gene,

    Personally, I think that Jesus meant exactly what he was saying with the "render unto Caesar" comment. It takes quite a leap of illogic to turn that statement into an endorsement of political authority.

    Yes, according to John, Jesus gave Pilate some "not of this world" stuff. Of course, the account in John is a bit different from that in the other gospels.

    Actually, not just a bit different, but completely opposite.

    Matthew:

    11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

    12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

    13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

    14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

    Mark:

    2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto them, Thou sayest it.

    3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

    4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.

    5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

    Luke cuts off after "thou sayest" and Pilate discovering that Jesus is a Galilean and therefore not his jurisdictional problem.

    The simple answer is that the Gospel of John was written about 95 AD in Greece with the specific (and Pauline) goal of turning an anti-Roman Jewish revolutionist into a God. And in order to do that, very different words and actions had to be ascribed to Jesus than had elsewhere been so ascribed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I think that Jesus meant exactly what he was saying with the "render unto Caesar" comment."

      Yes: one should pay one's taxes.

      Delete
    2. Again KN@PPSTER, nothing you have quoted supports your claim. It will be difficult to take you seriously in the future when you are unwilling to retract assertions where you have been shown to be completely wrong.

      Delete
  9. Gene,

    Presumably if Jesus thought we should pay our [sic] taxes, why wouldn't he have said so when asked?

    Instead, he gave an answer that was orthogonal to the question and that has to be pretty severely mangled to make it mean what you keep insisting it means.

    That remains true even absent the immediate context (he had just kicked all of Caesar's coins out of the temple) and subsequent events (it was only a few years later that rebellion erupted when the Romans attempted to bring another image of Caesar, this time a statue of Tiberius, into the temple).

    The unstated but strongly implied corollary to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" is "that building behind me ISN'T CAESAR'S."

    "Pay your taxes" is not only not a stated or strongly implied corollary to what Jesus said, it's something that has to be crowbarred into Jesus' meaning by main force of "because I WANT it to mean that." It's linguistic Humpty-Dumptyism of the first water.

    traumeri,

    In all of the gospels except for John, there is a sequence:

    1) Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews;

    2) Jesus affirms that he is indeed King of the Jews;

    3) Pilate has Jesus crucified -- a punishment reserved exclusively for those deemed guilty of rebellion against Rome -- with "King of the Jews" on a sign above him.

    The thing that is so strong in that thread of events is that it remains a glaring sequence in the narrative despite 2,000 years of people -- starting with Paul -- doing their damnedest to obscure it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Presumably if Jesus thought we should pay our [sic] taxes, why wouldn't he have said so when asked?"

      He did say so. That's obvious to almost everyone but you.

      Delete
    2. You are forgetting that in Mark, Pilate crucifies Jesus to satisfy the crowd. In Matthew, Pilate washes his hands of the deed but executes Jesus on account of the crowd. In Luke, Pilate finds Jesus innocent as well but defers to the crowd.

      So in the other three Gospels we see that not only does the *crowd* provide the impetus for crucifixion but that the Romans authority emphatically did not seek out such a punishment on account of an imagined (though real in your head apparently) insurrection led by Jesus.

      Delete
    3. traumeri,

      I admit and agree that Pilate's relationship to the crowd is quite unusual in the gospels. It's hard to disentangle the threads of historical truth from likely subsequent modifications.

      Barabbas appears in all four gospels.

      In three of the gospels, there's an allusion to a custom of freeing a prisoner -- a custom recorded nowhere else in the historical record, and which did not appear in early copies of one of those three gospels (Luke).

      I've come across three theories of who Barabbas was:

      1) A random zealot whom the Jewish crowd considered a more hardcore revolutionist than Jesus;

      2) Jesus himself ("Bar-Abbas" = "the Son of the Father"); or

      3) Jesus' son ("Bar-Rabbas" = "the son of the Rabbi" -- Jesus was called Rabbi by the Pharisees, and not obviously in a mocking tone; in first century Judea, if you were a rabbi, you were married and you had children).

      I tend toward the third theory, if there's any truth in the sequence at all. Given the choice between the older Davidic claimant to the throne and the younger Davidic heir to the throne, it makes a certain amount of sense.

      But the whole thing may have been subsequently inserted into the accounts for whatever purpose -- possibly as part of the very successful scheme to blame the killing of Jesus on the Jews instead of on the people who actually killed him, the Romans.

      Delete
    4. Ah, so unless the texts of the Gospels comport with your strained and unusual interpretation, it must be some kind of "subsequent modification".

      Delete
    5. Um, no. Unless the texts of the gospels are internally consistent, there must be an explanation for the contradictions.

      The entire arrest/Barabbas/crucifixion sequence is full of contradictions. Sometimes the gospels contradict each other (particularly John contradicting the "synoptic" gospels), sometimes a gospel contradicts itself.

      In attempting to sort out the contradictions from the facts, it makes sense to look at the history and the context instead of just imagining that what we want to believe is the truth.

      Delete
    6. Actually, when the texts of the Gospels *do* agree, as they do with regard to the narrative that Jesus was crucified through the agitation of the crowd rather than an active attempt by the Roman authorities to execute a subversive, there is no need to suggest other interpretations.

      Promoting an account that runs contrary to what was unanimously agreed to among the Gospel writers is fine, but there can be no pretending that such a contrary account represents a "mainline" interpretation; no matter how much one wishes it so.

      Delete
    7. traumeri,

      Agreed: The texts of the gospels as they have arrived in our time, across 2,000 years of the Holy Roman Catholic Church blaming the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ, do "agree" that it was all those damn Jews' fault.

      However, that agreement seems to be something that was grafted onto/into a completely different narrative that could not be entirely erased and that is more consistent with such historical facts as we have access to.

      I don't see it as a huge leap to connect that particular set of internal inconsistencies to Paul's later paganization/Romanization of Christ.

      Delete
    8. correction: damned Jews' fault

      Interesting how you see that interpretation as "grafted on" when you are the one suggesting Jesus claimed to be the military leader the Jews were hoping for when every indication - whether in the Passion or out - suggests otherwise.

      I suppose you think all the other encounters in the Gospels where Jesus takes on the Pharisees is just more "blaming the Jews"? After all, such instances are inconsistent with the narrative you are desperately trying to advance.

      Unlike the rather internally consistent narrative given by the Gospels of the crowd and high priest calling for Jesus' execution, the idea that Jesus claimed to be a military leader to overthrow the Romans is more than inconsistent in Scripture - it is contradicted several times.

      Delete
  10. traumeri,

    No, I don't see Jesus' encounters with the Pharisees as "blaming the Jews."

    I see Jesus' encounters with the Pharisees -- of whom he likely was one by rabbinical training -- as Jesus teaching his religion (Judaism) via discussion methods which were already long-known in Judea at the time (the Socratic dialogue comes immediately to mind).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, so in those cases, the big bad Catholic Church decided to take a break from its antisemitic editing?

      Well, I'm glad you're here to set the record straight. In the Gospels, Jesus rhetorically KOs the Pharisees in every debate. But *that's* all legitimate. But when the Pharisees call for Jesus' execution, that part's just made up by the Catholic Church.

      But it's the Gospel writers who are inconsistent, right?

      Delete
    2. traumerei, are you familiar with the concept of "idée fixe"? Arguing with someone in the grips of one is like arguing with stone walls.

      Delete
  11. traumeri,

    I'm not sure where you get the impression that the Pharisees called for Jesus' execution.

    Both high priests before whom Jesus appeared in the gospels (Caiaphas in the synoptic gospels, first Annas and then his son Caiaphas in John) were Sadducees.

    The Sanhedrin was dominated by the Sadducees, who as it happens were the primary religious collaborators with Roman rule for the simple reason that they had a weak spot which Rome could easily exploit. The Sadducee sect was centered almost entirely on maintenance and operation of the Temple, a building which could be (and eventually was) razed if they didn't behave as ordered.

    The Pharisees, on the other hand, were all about the Law. They were ... zealous ... for it.

    The Pharisees seemed very respectful of Jesus when engaging him in debate and discussion, and I've seen nothing to suggest that they were part of the alleged Jewish mob scene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh right KN@PPSTER, when Mark writes:

      "Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus."

      That actually meant that the Pharisees weren't interested in killing Jesus.

      And when John writes:

      "So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons."

      well, John can't be trusted.

      Now I know the Sadducees definitely had a larger part but that does not imply that the Pharisees had no part.

      If you've seen nothing to suggest that at least some Pharisees wanted Jesus dead, it's clear you aren't familiar with the source material.

      Delete
    2. traumerei, the stance you are arguing against is immune to evidence!

      Delete
  12. traumeri,

    Fair cop -- I neither recalled, nor found with a quick search, those passages. Which translation are they from?

    Gene: For shame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he's quoting from the NIV. It's a terrible translation, but it's fine on those passages (Mark 3.6; John 18:3).

      This link searches the ESV for all references to the Pharisees. As you can see, there was a fair amount of acrimony. Matthew 23 offers a dramatic example. See verses 29–36.

      Delete
    2. I just did a quick Google search to get the specific passages and NIV (or KJV) tend to be cited first.

      Gene: You're absolutely right. Reductio ad absurdum doesn't work if the other side adopts absurdity as truth.

      Delete
  13. traumeri and Gene,

    I doubt that I'm nearly as dedicated to my alleged "idée fixe" in this area as either of you are to yours.

    I'm certainly willing to consider arguments versus my own position, and that position is always provisional (for example, a closer study of the interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees is now on my "to do" list). In fact, my life would be a bit easier if I could embrace the Pauline Jesus, as most of my family does, rather than seeing that Jesus as a caricature.

    Gene, on the other hand, has decided that something Jesus said means what Gene wants it to mean, for no other reason than that Gene wants it to mean that, and no amount of pointing out that it doesn't mean any such thing on any plain or even reasonable reading will budge him on that.

    Beam in eye alert, Gene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, Tom, everyone with an "idée fixe" thinks they are completely open minded. All I can say is, my interpretation is informed by 2000 years of others' interpretations, including some of the most brilliant minds who have ever lived, while yours is informed by... yours.

      Mountain in eye alert, Tom.

      Delete
    2. http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3q29hg/

      Delete
    3. traumeri,

      I've read the Bible many times, both front to rear and piecemeal, in several translations, with and without commentary. I grew up in a fundamentalist Pentecostal church where I was encouraged to commit large parts of it to memory.

      Gene,

      I don't think I'm completely open-minded.

      I certainly have a point of view and an interpretation (one also informed by a number of minds other than my own; whether those minds are brilliant or not, I don't necessarily claim to know).

      I'm not afraid to have that view/interpretation challenged. But I don't find Humpty Dumpty "when I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less" stuff, as with your "render unto Caesar" "interpretation," especially challenging.

      Delete
    4. KN@PPSTER,

      It's no defense to say that you have read the Bible several times when it's clear you really aren't familiar with it. Certainly you are familiar enough to make extraordinary unqualified (in the logical sense of a qualifier) statements.

      The fact that you keep getting swatted down should prompt a little due diligence and humility rather than less.

      Delete
    5. traumeri,

      I don't need a "defense." It's pretty clear that I have a better understanding of the Bible as an historical document than you are willing to develop for yourself. As a confirmatory instrument of faith, on the other hand, I don't begrudge you your opinions as to the meaning of its content.

      The Judaizing/Antinomian feud has spanned nearly two millennia. If Peter, James and Paul couldn't resolve it, I doubt that we can. Inability to resolve it, however, is not an excuse to pretend that it HAS been resolved, nor should such pretense be required to sustain your faith in the rightness of your position.

      Delete
    6. Well in KN@PPSTER land, the guy who makes gross blunders regarding Constantine and the church of his time is the guy who really understands the Bible as an historical document.

      All that is required to sustain my faith in the rightness of my position (that "render unto Caesar" did not mean Jesus was trying to foment an uprising), is basic literacy and the agreement of pretty much everyone in history.

      Delete
    7. "The Judaizing/Antinomian feud has spanned nearly two millennia."

      Tom, I suppose in the same way we could say that the flat-earth / round-earth debate has spanned 2500 years: after all, there is still a Flat Earth Society! And I bet they are always complaining that while they have an open mind, and seriously consider the (shaky) evidence for a round earth, the round earthers are "close-minded," and pay no serious attention to the evidence the flat earthers present.

      Delete
    8. Gene,

      The flat-earth / round-earth debate is a debate on questions of fact which can be empirically resolved.

      The Judaizing/Antinomian feud isn't much like that.On the historical side, not all the facts are easily -- or even necessarily at all -- accessible. And it being a religious matter, there's an element of faith involved.

      Jesus, Peter and James seem to have come down on the Judaizing side of that debate. Paul seems to have differed with them.

      I say "seems" for three reasons:

      1) Because while the Bible agrees at least partially with me on that claim, those areas of agreement are just as disputable as any other biblical claims; and

      2) It's debatable just how broad the chasm between Jesus, Peter and James on one side and Paul on the other really was; and

      3) Because both sides -- Paul's more than Jesus', Peter's and James's IMHO, but your mileage may vary -- include a hefty component of religious faith in their arguments.

      Jesus seems to have been the most firm -- not one jot or tittle of the Law will in any wise be altered until heaven and earth pass away is pretty plain.

      If we take the biblical accounts of the incident at Antioch and the Council of Jerusalem as accurate, Peter and James abandoned Jesus' position in favor of the Noahide laws being "enough."

      So Paul at least, and possibly Peter and James if we believe those accounts, abandoned Jesus' very plain position (I give more weight to "Luke's" account in Acts of the Council of Jerusalem account than I do to Paul's attempt to make Peter his sidekick post-Antioch or to what may have been his own report on the Council in Galatians).

      So anyway: Is it a matter of "majority rules," or does Jesus remain in charge?

      The only way I can see of reconciling those two alternatives -- and I think it's a pretty weak attempt -- is to invoke Peter's apostolic authority and claim that since Jesus left the keys with Peter, Peter was entitled to drive the car anywhere he damn well pleased. And even that would only apply if Paul's account of their encounter is not more self-serving than truthful.

      Call all that flat-Earthism if you like. I admit that I don't have the same kind of stake in it that you do. While I believe that Jesus taught Judaism and that the religion created by Paul is a form of paganism with only extremely tenuous ties to actual Christianity, I'm not a devotee of either, so I'll face no shattering personal crisis if I'm wrong.

      Delete
  14. I think we can concede KN@PPSTER this much: "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" is, by itself and without more, a truism. But what he's missing is that a speaker's decision to invoke a truism when answering a question can tell you something about how he thinks the truism applies to the case at hand.

    Q. Is it constitutional to incorporate a national bank?
    A. The powers not delegated by the Constitution to the United States are reserved to the states.

    This answer is a truism. But KN@PPSTER, don't you think a fair-minded reader can draw a conclusion about the speaker's position?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS Huff,

      I agree with you completely.

      I just don't think it's fair-minded to draw the conclusion that after kicking Caesar's image out of the temple, answering a question about taxes with a reference to that image and "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's is anything like an endorsement of governmental authority. It sounds to me a lot more like a tacit "and I just showed you which is which, asshole."

      Delete