Modernist Jesus vs. New Testament Jesus, Part 8

The Latest Real Jesus is said to be appalled…

8. That people are waiting on Jesus to return to save the world and end suffering, rather than taking responsibility for saving the world and solving suffering ourselves.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk 14:61–62).

“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21–23).

“For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:14–46).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Php 2:12–13).

The eighth proposition about what Real Jesus supposedly condemns again sets up a false dichotomy that does not actually exist in the mind of the Jesus of the gospels. There is no choice between believing Jesus will return on the Last Day and obeying him now. Rather, the one flows from the other.

That Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead is a feature of his preaching in every single gospel. He himself says it over and over. And the entire point of his parables of judgment is not, “Sit back and do nothing because I will solve evil” but “Get off your duffs and do my will of caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, etc.” If you do not do his will, then all the pious goo in the world will do you no good. It’s about acting, not talking, for Jesus. It is precisely our actions in obedience to him that will be what we are judged on.

However, we will not be judged on anything as absurd as “solving evil.” Jesus does not preach the possibility of earthly utopia. He tells us to work out our salvation because God is in us and with us and will empower us by his Spirit. Apart from him, he says, we can do nothing. But he is with us to the end of the age.

So Paul, who we were previously informed completely twisted his message, preserves exactly this balance between trust in Jesus’ return and getting off our duffs and getting to work by telling the Thessalonians both:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.†† Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Th 4:16–18).


Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are walking in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (2 Th 3:6–15).

There’s a reason the Benedictine motto is “Ora et Labora”. Work is the expression, not the opposite, of faith.


5 Responses

  1. The banishing from our thoughts of foolishly pursuing an Earthly utopia–which is always promised to be across a sea of blood that turns out to be neverending–while balancing this with good works that *can* be accomplished through God’s grace as the expression of a true inner faith is one of the very best features of Christianity, and one our culture sorely needs right now. As it stands, Americans often get caught between the false choice of pursuing utopia via politics or, conversely, ceasing to care wider about society all together and reducing our life to sitting down binge watch Netflix while engaging in retail therapy via credit card.

    There is of course a better way, one that you’ve nailed here.

    1. The Catholic Church, though certainlly not a fan of binge watching and retail therapy, would not limit her societal engagement to good works and charity. While it warns against various forms of utopianism, in many ways its doctrine of social justic will strike many as too .. ”leftist”.

      1. Reading the Sermon On The Mount, the ideas presented are socialist ideas.
        Those who does not care about immigrants, POC, women, LGBTQ+ etc are no followers of Christ. I am not judging here, the words of Christ make the position clear. Plus many of them in the US are worshipping a false idol.

        During all my time as an Atheist, Agnostic, Believer and Have Not Got A Clue, I have always believed social justice comes first.

      2. @Chris

        Socialism is a … tricky word with many undesirable connotations. While it’s true that certain forms of distributive non-Marxist social democracy align well with the Church’s doctrine, we’re not called to be ”Christian socialists”. Unmoored from the rest of the Church’s teachings, most notably the dignity of all human life, the right to private property and the preference for the small and local, this stuff gets out of hand pretty fast.

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