The Jesus of our politics

In John Fugalsang’s popular meme about the “Radical Revolutionary Jesus”, he asserts that Jesus was “anti” several things which Fugalsang is against, yet Jesus never mentioned them.

Fugalsang asserts Jesus was “anti-Death Penalty”

Jesus said nothing about the Death Penalty. Is Fugalsang thinking of the woman taken in adultery? Jesus didn’t repudiate the death penalty for adultery. He saw that the accusers were not obeying the law of God. Both offenders were to be stoned, so they, too, were breaking God’s law. Jesus’ words make good sense in the actual context.

I imagine Jesus may have written Deuteronomy 22:22 in the dust: “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”

Perhaps, when he resumed writing, he quoted Leviticus 19:15: “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”

Jesus didn’t mention many things in the Gospels. He didn’t mention capitalism, communism, fascism, socialism, the death penalty, global warming, going to the Moon, …

Fugalsang also asserts Jesus was “anti-Public Prayer” citing Matthew 6:5, taking it out of its context.

“…And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men…. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, … pray to thy Father… in secre” (Matthew 6:4-6).

Fugalsang wrongly asserts this makes Jesus anti-public prayer:
• Jesus prayed publicly on many occasions (giving thanks for loaves and fish, Lazarus’ tomb, the High Priestly prayer of John 16:29 through chapter 17, the “Father forgive them…” from the cross, etc.
• He publicly taught others to pray.
• He also prayed privately.

Looking at the data, Fugalsang is cherry picking his proof texts. The cited text is not even about prayer, it’s about religious hypocrisy. Jesus was not saying never pray in public. He was saying when praying don’t seek to impress. Jesus went to synagogue often, where there was much public prayer in which he would have participated. The Gospels are full of instances when the apostles and others prayed in public.

Matthew 6:5 doesn’t ban public prayer, it bans people from drawing attention to themselves by praying.

Fugalsang also asserts Jesus was “anti-slut shaming”.

He told the woman taken in adultery to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Whether or not she felt shame is not stated. Whether or not this is a case of Jesus shaming someone, depends on what we mean by “shaming.” Contrary to Fugalsang, Jesus was an equal opportunity “shamer.”

Meditate on Luke 13:15-17:

“But the Lord answered him, and said, Ye hypocrites, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have been loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath? And as he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame: and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.”

Jesus “shamed” many during his time on earth, which in many cases led to repentance. Fugalsang’s Jesus bears little resemblance to real one. And who does our Jesus resemble? The biblical Jesus or the Jesus of our politics?

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