A famous individual by the name of Jesus of Nazareth

Often when people hear about something that smells “social” or “communist” they turn their back, certainly in the United States of America.

A lot of Christians in the United States of America do not seem to understand many lessons from the Nazarene teacher they call Jesus Christ, but whose real name was Jeshua ben Josef, and who is the long-awaited promised Messiah.

One of Karl Marx biographies downplayed the importance of this famous individual by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. David Strauss’s  The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, usually referred to as The Life of Jesus, was published in 1835, when Marx was in his late teens. Strauss didn’t deny the validity of Jesus’s teachings or question his historical existence. In it, Strauss announced his own landmark theory of ‘demythologisation’ as an approach to the Gospels, but he also attempted to use Hegel‘s name and fame in his book as a marketing ploy. His book scandalised or, as in the case of Marx and Engels, excited German readers by arguing that the events of the Gospels weren’t factual occurrences but myths, collectively dreamed up by early Christians many years after Christ.

Bruno Bauer.jpgThe German philosopher and theologian Bruno Bauer, Marx’s close friend and mentor, who became vocally anti-Semitic, describing an immutable racial divide between Jews and Christians, when he was working on his dissertation in Berlin, went further and declared Jesus an outright invention of the Gospel writers. The point was not, however, to undermine the “absolute idea” (in Bauer’s Hegelian vocabulary) of Christianity; it was to establish “human self-consciousness as the highest divinity,” as Marx (borrowing another Hegelian term) summarized the argument. Sacred truths were to be recognized as collaborative human artifacts, without necessarily forfeiting their truth in the process.
The aim of the myths was so-called to demonstrate that philosophy and religion are the same in content and to offer, in an imaginative guise (as in parables), the meaning of the one truth that Substance is unification of the divine nature and of the human, which Christ symbolized and which is realised in the spirit of all humanity. Bauer criticised the idea of God as a transcendent absolute being and retained a notion of universal interests that could direct republican citizens in the construction of a new political and social order, suffused with justice and reason. Problem at that time by many theologians in Germany was that they were strictly Trinitarian thinkers, considering Jesus to be God Who had come to earth, this being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge, being beyond any comprehension. Though many did not dare to bring forward that Jesus was the sent one from God and not God Himself.

Bauer was faithful to the Hegelian Rationalist theology that interpreted all miracles in Naturalistic terms. According to him, Christian theology owed at least as much to Greco-Roman classical philosophy as it owed to Judaism.

For Bauer, the question was how individuals, not anonymous collectivities, responded to the problems and possibilities of their time. When people would have been more aware of what is written in the Holy Scriptures, they would not be so surprised, because all through the Bible we see a portrait of mankind its way of thinking, handling, travels and actions. Looking at the Christian world in Germany it is acceptable that Bauer saw the origins of Christianity and/or Christendom more in literary or fictional rather than mythical ways. Bauer rejected Strauss’s idea that the Christian unity of God and humankind would symbolise the generic perfection of the human race. He contended instead that it expresses the idea that individuals are each capable of rational freedom, transforming themselves and irrational objective conditions to promote progress and the general good. In general that is the great lesson of the Holy Scriptures which seems to be missed by the majority of people. According to the Bible, each person is individually himself or herself responsible for what he thinks and chooses to do and as such for his or her own acts.

Bauer seemed to have a lot of critics on Biblical writings. He shifted toward the left in a polemic against the orthodox Ernst Hengstenberg, a vehement accuser of the Hegelians, and in his Kritik der Geschichte der Offenbarung (1838; “Critique of the History of Revelation”).
In 1906 the Alsatian-German theologian, philosopher, organist, and mission doctor in equatorial Africa, Albert Schweitzer wrote that Bauer

“originally sought to defend the honor of Jesus by rescuing his reputation from the inane parody of a biography that the Christian apologists had forged.”

However, he eventually came to the belief that it was a complete fiction and

“regarded the Gospel of Mark not only as the first narrator, but even as the creator of the gospel history, thus making the latter a fiction and Christianity the invention of a single original evangelist” (Otto Pfleiderer).

As Bauer’s critique of Christianity intensified, he described religion as passivity and self-loss, impeding freedom in personal, social, and political life. Herewith forgetting that the teachings of Christ just demand a stronger self, being able to stand aside from the world. the Nazarene rebbe asked his followers for some self-determination.

Writing on Jewish emancipation, Bauer contended that the real solution was to renounce religion in general and to repudiate the so-called Christian state of Restoration Prussia in particular. Several of those writers at that time demanding to reject Christianity and the Bible as untrue or unjust, made that so many people came to be against socialists and communists, though if they would read more writings of communists they would see that not all communists were against Christianity. The misunderstanding about Marx is also that he said religion was not necessary to govern a state. In which he is right. We do not need any religion to dictate others what to do. People forget that Marx did not say people might have no religious ideas and might not belong to a church or synagogue. People could have their own faith and go to worship services but religion was not necessary to form a government. His idea about the danger having one particular churchgroup being in control of a government can well be seen in the 19th century mishaps in Belgium, where the Roman Catholic Church was satisfying the bosses of the factories and did everything to keep the workers as slaves for the big earners. It took the courage of the Flemish priest from Aalst, Adolf Daens to fight poverty and injustice in the 19th century and to go against the clergy hierarchy in Belgium. He created the “Daensist movement” from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII‘s encyclical Rerum novarum. The Christene Volkspartij forced the radicalisation and democratisation of the mainstream Catholic Party.  After him many other priests would defend the poor and those who were exploited. In South America lots of priest saw how the capitalist world tried to squeeze the local original population of the colonies. Several clergy therefore began to resist European church leaders who wished to use their power to dominate and exploit the indigenous people of the colonies. Those missionaries saw how the Church went in against the teachings of Christ. Their protection of the indigenous people became considered a revolt against the Church, which did not mind to use a lot of violence against those priests and hoped by killing many to have them back in line with their capitalist thinking.

Lots of people could not and still do not see how Jesus was a “communist avant la lettre”. All his preachings concern having respect for other human beings and are about not squeezing others or not using others wrongly for own profit.

Also the way how in the 1850s Bauer became vocally anti-Semitic, describing an immutable racial divide between Jews and Christians, was totally against the teachings of the first Christians, who, by the way, were mainly Jews, following their Jewish master Jeshua (Jesus Christ), who shall be (or is considered to be) the King of the Jews.

Bauer criticized the idea of God as a transcendent absolute being and retained a notion of universal interests that could direct republican citizens in the construction of a new political and social order, suffused with justice and reason. He, like Albert Schweitzer, who addressed the critical views of Bruno Bauer in some depth, could not come to see how Jesus is a man of flesh and blood, and therefore he considered it impossible his sayings

to  have entered into his mind to create a collision of such abstract cruelty, So here again, the obvious conclusion is that the saying originated in the community, and was intended to inculcate renunciation of a world which was felt to belong to the kingdom of the dead, and to illustrate this by an extreme example. {Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus}

Strange also that Bauer nor Schweitzer did not come to see that Jesus had given his disciples thorough teaching, because that was what Jesus had done all the time. Jesus also gave his pupils indications to what they had to look for and listen at and how to place it in context with the scrolls. Albert Schweitzer does not seem to recognise that. He writes:

The sending out of the Twelve, too, is simply inconceivable as a historical occurrence. It would have been different had Jesus given them a teaching, a symbol, a view to take with them as their message. But how badly the charge to the Twelve fulfils its purpose as a discourse of instruction! The disciples are not told what they needed to hear, namely, what and how they were to teach. The discourse which Matthew has composed, working on the basis of Luke, implies quite a different set of circumstances. It is concerned with the community’s struggles with the world and the sufferings that it must endure. This is the explanation of the references to suffering which constantly recur in the discourses of Jesus, in spite of the fact that his disciples were not enduring any sufferings, and that the evangelist cannot even make it conceivable as a possibility that those before whose eyes Jesus holds up the way of the cross could ever get into such a position. The Twelve, at any rate, experience no sufferings during their mission, and if they were merely being sent by Jesus into the surrounding districts, they were not very likely to meet with kings and rulers there. {Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus}

For Jesus it was also not important that his disciples would come to meet princes, queens and kings. He sent them out to go to ordinary people and to proclaim the Good News to all who wanted to hear. Many who say utopians, socialists and communist can not be for Christ or for God, are those who probably never read the Bible or who interpret it wrong and can not even see that the evangelists are the chosen pupils or disciples of Jesus Christ. That makes people  like Neil Godfrey write

That this is invented history is also shown by the fact that the evangelists say nothing about the doings of the disciples, who seem to come back again immediately, though to prevent this from being too apparent the earliest evangelist inserts at this point the story of the execution of the Baptist.

The evangelists in their writings, the gospels as well as in the letters or epistles, say a lot about themselves and about the doing of other disciples. Jesus made enough remarks and explained his parables and/or stories to his disciples. Albert Schweitzer, like many others, did not come to see how the promises which Jesus made to his disciples were appropriate to their circumstances and are still appropriate for our circumstances. His teachings are still up-to-date. To project Jesus his teachings onto the 19th century Church, like Bauer and Schweitzer did, was not at all the aim of Christ. Schweitzer’s attitude is therefore unjustified when he writes:

The eschatological discourses are not history, but are merely an expansion of those explanations of the sufferings of the church of which we have had a previous example in the charge to the Twelve. An evangelist who wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem would have referred to the temple, to Jerusalem, and to the Jewish people, in a very different way. {Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus}

Him writing concerning Jesus his words at the Last Supper gives a view how Schweitzer was caught up in the trinitarian churches around him and the non-understanding of the Judaic symbolism.

A man who was present in person, corporeally present, could not entertain the idea of offering others his flesh and blood to eat. To demand from others that while he was actually present they should imagine the bread and wine which they were eating to be his body and blood would have been quite impossible for a real person. It was only later, when Jesus’ actual bodily presence had been removed and the Christian community had existed for some time, that such a conception as is expressed in that formula could have arisen. {Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus}

He is clearly caught up in the Roman Catholic idea that the bread would be really the actual body of Jesus Christ, which it is not. Him not believing that Jesus would have spoken the words at the table makes it even more difficult for him and for others who believed his sayings that Jesus would not have said:

‘This is my blood which will be shed for you,’

We have the symbolic act of taking Jesus closer to us, remembering his act of sacrificial offering, making us liberated by his ransom. The sharing of the bread and wine happens only by those who are partakers of the Body of Christ. Those people feel united in faith with or under Christ and want to live in union with each other. That act of agreement to become united, makes the bond for people who are willing to do their utmost best to live with eachother and with people of other ideas, in respect and under peaceful conditions.
For many may, this sounds naive, but real Christians their goal is to create such a peaceful world and to look forward to that restored nor new world where there shall be peace for ever.

Albert Schweitzer wrote,

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

That is also the Christian principle. Jesus showed in which way we can serve, and how he as the sent one from God was not only a servant for God but also a servant for man.

It are those with a living faith for Jesus who have their hopes put in that Nazarene master teacher who shall soon come to return. In him, our hope with a foundation shall not be in vain, but does not permit us to sit and wait at the site. Jesus has given enough examples and illustrations or parables to show how he is the way to God and how we should shed light on the life of others by creating around us a better world, believing in Ezekiel’s Vision of the Kingdom.

Particular interests had to be subjected to criticism to test their compatibility with universal emancipation. Utopians mostly are not afraid for such testing and are aware that each idea or each project should be examined for its validity and for it chances to succeed. Failure to self-criticize would lead to stagnation and the conformism of mass society. Bauer’s defense of a critical individualism anticipates the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, though, unlike Mill, Bauer located the agency of historical progress not in competition among particular interests but in the ability to transform those interests consciously.

In restoring Marx to “his nineteenth-century surroundings,” Stedman Jones would like to replace the mythical or, more accurately, heroic image of the man with that of a mere historical character, personally flawed and politically confused. We can find lots of ideas about Marx, some making of him a saint others making of him a devil. Stedman Jones’s implication if Karl Marx essentially belongs to the 19th century, then Marx can’t be too relevant to the 21st, and we ought to go about our thinking and organising without him. Though we should no throw away all Marx his ideas, neither of the writings of many other socialists and communists. With the writings of the utopians those writings should have us to think how to place some ideas of the previous centuries workable for this age and for the next generations.

As a family of believers those faithful to the Bible have enough reasons to share their faith and to express their hope in the God Incorruptible immortal His Good and pleasant news of that world to come, a Kingdom for the seed of King David. We are convinced that it shall be a Kingdom to stay for ever. But before it will be so far the Good News shall have to be preached all over the world, and that is the responsibility of those people who might be called utopians or dreamers in a beautiful and restored world.

Even Albert Schweizer believed in that theme of the Bible that

“Love is the only thing that increases twofold every time it is shared.”

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Also of interest:

  1. A goal is a dream with a plan
  2. Capitalism and economic policy and Christian survey
  3. We are ourselves responsible
  4. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  5. Without God no purpose, no goal, no hope
  6. 2020 years ago, the road was opened
  7. A Living Faith #12 The Love for Jesus

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Related

  1. The Unknown Christ.
  2. In Search of the Meaning of Life
  3. Life on Earth
  4. Why the World Needs More Compassion
  5. Dynamic goals must always rise out of authentic needs
  6. The Philosophical Groundings of Equality
  7. Neillology on Air: Is Atheism Reasonable? [Debate]
  8. Moral Breakdown Pt2
  9. Where Are We Headed?
  10. Put where we belong
  11. The Rise and Decline of Neo-Evangelicalism
  12. The Only Way to Make Sense of the Gospels
  13. Albert Schweitzer On Inhumanity
  14. There is Hope

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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2 Responses to A famous individual by the name of Jesus of Nazareth

  1. Pingback: Looking at an Utopism which has not ended | From guestwriters

  2. Pingback: A healthy world to come – Immanuel Verbondskind – עמנואל קאָווענאַנט קינד

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