Saturday 22 April 2017

Things Jesus Didn't Say

Sometimes it can help to remind ourselves what Jesus did not say because he is often taken as promoting ideas which did not form part of his real teachings. Many people with an agenda try to co-opt him as an ally, frequently leaving out much of what he said and taking bits in isolation or out of context.

With that in mind let us recall that he did not say any of the following:

All you need is love.

Suffering is always bad. 

You need to get rid of poverty. 

The important thing is for everybody to be nice to each other. 

Everybody's equal.

Everything is one so differences don't matter

Everything's good in its own way.

There is no better or worse.

Evil is just ignorance. 

The devil has no reality other than in your own mind. 

Unity comes before all else.. 

I come to bring peace not a sword. 

My Kingdom is of this world.

Many are called and many are chosen.

You are God.

Most of these are half truths which are not completely wrong but need to be considered in the light of greater truth and not taken out of overall context. Heresies arise in just this way, by isolating a part from the whole and exaggerating it.

Why not add some more yourself?


ted said...

You create your own reality.

William Wildblood said...


Robert P. said...

What about "Neither do I condemn you" as spoken to the adulterous woman without the "Go and sin no more" addition.

William Wildblood said...

Yes that's good too.

Bruce Charlton said...

A bit of mischief: this excerpt from the Athanasian Creed -

...we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion: to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.

This kind of elegant, ultra-intellectual, hyper-abstract, Neo-Platonic metaphysics was - it seems to me - not only not-said by Jesus; but seems utterly alien to the kinds of thngs he did say.


William Wildblood said...

I see what you mean. It is rather a mouthful. In its defence you might say that they were trying to thrash out the rather complicated idea of the Trinity and define what it is and what it isn't.

ajb said...


I think you missed a part, the full version goes

"The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible, and the creed incomprehensible."

Alan Roebuck said...

@ Bruce Charlton:

Jesus did claim to be the God of the Old Testament. Not by saying [Quote] I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [Unquote], but by claiming attributes and prerogatives belonging only to Jehovah.

The difficult abstract words are an attempt to communicate the implications of what He was saying, and perhaps give a model or mechanism of how such a thing might be possible. But in the last analysis, you either believe Jesus's claims about himself or you don't. If you believe, the fancy words make sense as an expression [perhaps overdone, but still basically correct] of what you believe.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alan - I categorically believe Jesus's claims about himself.

But I do not have the same attitude to the philosophers who devised the form of words of the Athanasian creed! Actually, I don't know what the creed is asking me to believe - except that it is apprently vital for some Christians to be able to say that there is one God.

Chris said...

In defense of the preeminence of the Christian Revelation, traditional Christians often point to the "basic datum" of the Incarnation. But, can there really be such a thing? To my lights, the Incarnation, , must be interpreted, that is, it must be understood within the context of a particular metaphysic. The absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ only makes sense (I think) within the framework of a specifically theistic spiritual universe in which differences are real
(resting upon that rock-bottom dualism-difference of Creator and creation). So, ultimately, the root issue is one of worldview. For example, the meaning of the Incarnation would be quite different from the perspective of , say, unqualified nondualism.

Epimetheus said...

"Don't judge."

"Don't do anything [about evil]"

Alan Roebuck said...

I think the wording of the Creed reflects an opposition to specific heresies that are remote to most people, coupled with the repetition of the theme "not three, but one." The repetition gives it rhetorical force for those who are in sympathy with it, but seems strange to those who are inclined to be skeptical of philosophizing.

The most important thing is to believe what Jesus says. If you do, then no major harm is done by being somewhat baffled by the Creed.