It seemed incumbent upon me to finally get around to doing this essay, because my recent foray into questions about church and state has kicked the hornets nest in some circles. For some time now, leftists have used a multi-pronged attack on Jesus Christ, on the one hand forwarding the ludicrous notion that He either didn’t exist, or was just a ‘nice guy’. On the other hand, there is a particularly aggressive myth-making project which seeks to make Jesus into some kind of left wing hero. This in itself is very cynical, and I have strong suspicions that Liberals who make this case don’t actually believe it, but instead just wish to discredit established Christian orthodoxy on moral questions in particular. However, as with an annoying number of left wing talking points, this standard has been adopted by some on the ‘right’.
In my article on the true definition of rightism, I juxtaposed it as an eternal ideology, a default position, that which Dávila described so aptly as “sacred shades upon the eternal hills”, in opposition to the temporal phenomena of Liberalism which emerged from a special set of circumstances to give us the world we have today, its genesis lying around the time of the Enlightenment. It is absurd then, to apply the label of Liberal or indeed leftist to pre-Enlightenment figures. There is no precedent for what emerged during the 1700s. It was, in itself, unique in known history. The entire proposition is as juvenile as this tedious Fox News debate on Jesus’ hidden Capitalism or Socialism (centuries prior to these economic systems even existing).
There is a consistency to the accusation, as always and without fail the same supporting arguments are arrayed against Christians, and so I shall attempt to answer each one in turn. Each intends to make the case that Jesus was a leftist, and each fails.
1. He challenged established authority and law
This is a common one. Jesus arrived on the scene in Ancient Judea with an unprecedented sense of divine authority, one that by his estimation outstripped the religious powers of his day known as the Sanhedrin. It is important to note the kinds of Jewish religious figures Jesus was dealing with. The pharisees were primarily scribes and sages, emerging as authoritative from their knowledge of God, rather than special birthright or appointment. Jesus directly challenges their bonafides in the following passage after they question his authority:
“I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”
– Mark 11:29-30
scheming… always scheming…
The figures of religious officialdom were unable to answer Jesus’ question, debating amongst themselves the ramifications of each answer. The problem with this argument against Jesus is that it already assumes that He does not have the authority to overturn lower authorities, thus begging the question. Yes, Jesus did overturn the power of the Old Covenant jurists, but it is a mistake to interpret this as a bottom-up revolution against an oppressor. Rather it was a top-down dismissal of woefully inept and corrupt lower management. Jesus was God, and so had every right to expose the Pharisees for the conniving know-nothings they were, and summarily break their power by releasing man from the bindings of the previous covenant. If Jesus was just a man with an opinion, of course His actions would be impious and anarchic, but because He was God, His actions in this regard follow directly from His autocratic right.
What’s more, the entire premise of this argument is useless for rightist. If opposing established powers is in itself anathema, then the fight for our values is already over. See you at the lecture on cisgender privilege, comrade.
2. He exalts the last
One of the most often-quoted of Jesus’ statements by those who portray him as a leftist is said at the end of the story of the rich young man who was asked by Jesus to give up all his earthly belongings and become a disciple. When the man refuses, Jesus gives the classic line about the camel through the eye of a needle, and then finishes with this curious statement:
“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”
– Matthew 19:30
Let us dwell for a moment on the significance of the aforementioned story. We only know the backgrounds of five of Jesus’s original 12 apostles (not counting Paul). Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. It seems reasonable to assume that Matthew left the most behind in following Jesus. Though tax collectors were hated by their fellow Jews, they made good money for very little work shaking people down after taxing them for whatever they were carrying at the time, as well as taking hush money for false accusations of smuggling. And yet, all Jesus has to say to Matthew in his own account is “Follow me” and Matthew becomes a disciple. The rich man has much more to lose in following Jesus, and makes the decision not to part with his belongings. What does this illustrate? A very obvious fact that the more we have, the greater worldly temptations become. Jesus is, to put things bluntly, answering the question of why there are pedophile rings in Hollywood. It would be rank ignorance to say that all rich and powerful men in history are deserving of reward, and that goes beyond George Soros. History is littered with bad kings, corrupt aristocrats, and barbarous pillagers, just as it is replete with great emperors, upstanding courtiers, and honorable warriors.
the virtue of simple living (Siberia: late 1800s)
Jesus does not say that all of the first will be last, but that many will be. The same is true in reverse. This gives further depth to His other statements to this effect. The poor find it easier to live virtuously for they do not have the means to do the greatest evils. That is the burden of the elite, the cliché of ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. We live today in a society where those who would have lived very simple lives in ages past can attend university, work for the State Department, and perhaps subsequently help overthrow a stable regime somewhere far away causing untold devastation. Part of the Reactionary worldview is that it is preferable to have a small elite of the best quality that can be realistically expected, and for everyone else to have comparatively little power, for their own good. Jesus’ words give us good moral backing for this position, for we are shielding ‘the least’ from losing their virtue, the virtue of simple living. We must be very careful not to fall into a degenerate hatred of the simple. To quote Dávila once more, “Love of the people is the aristocrat’s vocation.”
3. He wasn’t judgmental
Reactionaries by their nature are judgmental. Part of the Liberal dogma is to excuse a parade of horribles by telling us that we should not judge them, either because it is intrinsically immoral to judge or because it is none of our business. On the contrary, Reactionaries recognize that judging is something we do every day, on reflex, it is organic to us and vital to our survival instinct. When a mother on a subway holds her child more closely as the hulking black gangster sits down next to her, she is exhibiting a perfectly natural response to a rational fear.
The favorite verses used to support the left wing Jesus argument from this approach are Matthew 7:1 and John 8:7. The first directly addresses judging not lest we be judged. In full context, Jesus is in fact describing how to judge correctly, not being hypocritical in our condemnations. It is paired with the well-known line about removing the log from thine own eye, even stating clearly at the end that the end-goal is to then take the speck out of your brother’s eye. There is further clarification in John:
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
– John 7:24
Important as well, the previous example of the woman on the subway car does not judge on appearances alone, she judges based on what is associated with the appearance, the type of character it denotes, which can often be dangerous. This is the very essence of right judgment. We have the capacity to learn by experience and then apply judgment using this reliable information. Why do we associate African Americans with crime, yet we do not associate Polynesian Americans (a 6.5 foot Samoan for example) with crime, even when both are completely alien to us, and the Samoan is likely more physically threatening. This is because we have learned from our personal experiences, and reports on black crime.
As for the other verse, it was addressed in full over at Unam Sanctam Catholicam, but to paraphrase, Jesus’s challenge to let he who was without sin cast the first stone at the woman caught in adultery was far from a command prohibiting judgment, but more a clever way to humiliate the pharisees by outfoxing them once again, and proving their hypocritical false piety:
“Thus, rather than seeing this story as our Lord appealing to the conscience of the Pharisees to recognize that we are all sinners, our Lord’s actions actually presume that the Pharisees consider themselves sinless – this is why He is able to take the trap they laid for Him and turn it on them. It is not an appeal against judgmentalism and self-righteousness; rather, it is a clever game in which Jesus uses the Pharisees’ own assumed sinlessness to make them run afoul of Rome’s law if they insist on carrying out the death penalty.”
Jesus Himself was more judgmental than any man in history, lest we forget he condemned men for even having lust in their hearts, and while the Old Testament is suspiciously quiet on the subject of what happens after we die, Jesus is all about the fire and brimstone, the blazing furnace where there will be tears and regret.
4. He was a pacifist
And so we come to Buddha Jesus, a common trope, that the Risen Lord abhorred all violence. Not only does this allow the enemies of Christianity to disarm its adherents, but also conveniently feeds into the whole narrative about contradictions between the Old Testament God, who endorses much violence, and the pacific figure of Jesus.
Let’s look at the exalted ‘preparer of the way’, John the Baptist’s interaction with soldiers:
“Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusations, and be content with your wages.”
– Luke 3:14
Strangely absent here is any condemnation of their soldierly activities. In fact, mentioning their wages at all would seem to suggest John wanted them to do their work with diligence and without whining. Before anyone accuses me of arguing from silence, they should recognize that arguments from silence work when the silence is conspicuous. Jesus not talking directly about bestiality is not conspicuous for example, addressing what soldiers should do and not addressing the elephant in the room, their activity as soldiers, is conspicuous. Jesus never overrides John’s words.
How about the disciples carrying swords? The Bible clearly tells us in Luke 22:36 that it is reasonable and expected to be armed, but when swords are drawn to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane , he gives the line about living and dying by the sword. Less quoted is John’s account:
“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’
– John 18:10-11
Living and dying by the sword is simply a statement of fact. Men who live to fight more often than not die in a fight. If His followers wished to resist the Roman authorities with force, they would be cut down. In John’s account, the reason for Jesus’ demands are made much clearer. Put the sword away, for have I not come for a purpose? Jesus’ goal was to die, so trying to prevent this from happening would have doubtlessly been annoying.
Finally, we have Jesus’ actions in the temple against the (((money changers))). Enraged by their activities in the holy place, he drives them out with a whip. He doesn’t even give them an opportunity to explain themselves, going straight to the whipping.
“So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables”
– John 2:15
Nothing Jesus does is inconsistent with the attitude of the God of the Old Testament, nor is His command about not taking revenge. We see the same message in Leviticus 19:18, and so when Jesus comes to contradict the command concerning ‘an eye for an eye’, we are required to engage in deeper analysis.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
– Matthew 5:38
The triviality of a slap on the cheek is not used without reason. Jesus is speaking here of personal evil that we might encounter, from our family members, our friends, other members of our society whom we do not know, so that they become our enemies. Jesus admonishes that it is easy to love those who do not wrong us, harder to forgive those who do. An eye for an eye was never intended, when given in the Old Testament, to justify personal revenge. It was an application of civic justice. What is civic justice? That which is higher than social gamesmanship. It is permissible for a legitimate government to execute a murderer. It is not permissible for you to mug the man who short-changed you on the helter skelter. One speaks to an ordered society, the other to personal grievance. Those who mock Jesus for His command to love those who wrong you are bizarre claimants to lives in which they are either The Punisher, or have the blissful pleasure of never having been wronged.
5. He was against families
Another apparent example of Jesus’ egregious Liberalism is his statement on families. Blood and soil types like to quote this one, along with Luke 14:26:
“For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
– Matthew 10:35-37
And yet Jesus affirms the Old Testament teaching on honoring your mother and father in Matthew 15:4-6 and 19:17-19. Why the contradiction? Jesus comes in order to fulfill prophecy as anyone with even a basic understanding of his ministry can attest. The relevant passage here is Micah 7:5-6 which predicts the Messianic age to include much strife within families. It was not realized that this would take the form of acceptance or rejection of the Messiah Himself. In an environment of religiously austere Jews, the message entirely makes sense. Those who followed Jesus at that time, those who wished to become His disciples, became outcasts, because the Jews rejected Him and murdered Him. If any Reactionary has made their politics known to all their family members and not received some scorn, then they are incredibly lucky. The solution to this problem is to ensure that when you make your own family, that it is right with God and right with sound Tradition. We don’t have to follow in the eroneous ways of our parents just because they are our parents. If this was the case, I’d be a Liberal. Jesus was for good families, not ones which remained in error in light of His ministry. He instructed His followers to leave those naysayers behind in order to pursue truth, and rightly so. And yet I am sure many will continue to believe that Jesus hates families.
waves of hatred from heaven
6. He was a communist or something
And so we end with the most popular left wing accusation, that Jesus was a precursor to socialism and the ideals of an egalitarian society. This idea wasn’t actually seeded by Liberals. It has its roots in Neitzsche and Spengler of all people, but it is a glaring error in understanding. First of all, there is virtually no economics lecturing in Jesus’ ministry, and again this is a conspicuous silence since economics plays quite an important part in the average person’s life. We can safely conclude that Jesus had no great moral qualms with the economic system of his day, which was neither Capitalist nor Communist, but instead a form of Ancient pre-mercantile economics.
But what about implicit ideals of egalitarianism? Perhaps Jesus didn’t talk about the government introducing food stamps, but was he a supporter of some vague anti-hierarchical position? It’s easy to see why someone might think so:
“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wishes to be the first among you must be slave of all”
– Mark 10:42-44
For those unaware, a ‘tyrant’ used to describe a specific form of government that was developed in Greece. These were rulers empowered by demotic means (usually people who owed money to landowners), and took control by force, thus being illegitimate or ‘unconventional’. We can call what we witness today a tyranny. Our leaders gain power through their own means, not through divine election. There really isn’t a lot of space between those Greek tyrants who took power through a gang of thugs descending upon the polis, and the tyrants of today who manipulate said thugs into the voting booths. Both serve themselves, and that is the paradox of Liberalism. It feigns a concern for the least, but is really concerned about making a new most, what Pareto describes thusly:
“Equality is related to the direct interests of individuals who are bent on escaping certain inequalities not in their favor, and setting up new inequalities that will be in their favor, this latter being their chief concern.”
To Jesus’ mind, as His ministry to the destitute and suffering shows, He perceived it as a duty of leadership (his own leadership He acknowledges in John 13:13) to be in service to those under your charge, and the divine legitimacy of any leadership is indicative of it being the best-suited at any given time to raise the whole of society to its highest level. I do not primarily advocate autocratic governance because it is better for autocrats. That is a given, and since I am not leadership material, it would not benefit me. No, I think autocratic rule is better for people in general, even the lowest of the low. I believe autocrats who understand Tradition and the organic state do a better service for their subjects than any democratically elected government has ever been able to do. In many ways, the monarch is a slave of the people. It is his burden, that he must choose war or peace, tax or spend on their behalf. He bears the decisions that ordinary people cannot make for themselves.
I fear too often people play into the character of the Machiavelli Reactionary, only interest in realist games of power, but power is hollow without service. What is it good for? Why do you clothe and feed and discipline your children if not to raise them up, if not for the dream that they might do better than you? Why not spend your limited time on earth gambling and drinking instead? Authority and service are not mutually exclusive, and we should remember that Jesus doesn’t say that nobody can become great, but instead outlines the responsibility of being great. This is a far cry from the leveling messages of socialist egalitarianism. Tyrants don’t make great nations, they make great bank accounts in the Caymans. In that, there can only ever be transitional value.
Codreanu wept for the impoverished and exploited Moti people (highlanders from the Apuseni mountains) who could barely keep warm in the winter time. His tragically short life was dedicated to lifting despair from the whole Romanian nation, and that is what made him a truly great leader rather than just an inspiring orator.
Then we have this commonly misused passage:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:28
It is painfully obvious that this is in reference to baptism, since that is the context of the full passage. All this says is that any human being can be baptized, and by extension, any human being can be eternally redeemed. If there was no possibility of redemption through choice, it would be egregious for God to create such a moral agent, and yes, demonic entities also had this choice but via a different mechanism. Jesus is not abolishing the sexes or other such feminist claptrap, which is why Paul is very clear on the silence of women in churches (Corinthians 14:34). To extrapolate this sentence to confer egalitarian measures on all people beyond baptism is risible.
we’re charmed, really
This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully can be a useful reference point for Christians dealing with these objections based upon misinterpretations of Scripture which run contrary to centuries of Church teaching, the saints, and common sense in general. Jesus was not Harvey Milk in linens, He wasn’t Andrea Dworkin with a more obvious beard, He wasn’t Mao with a softer tongue. He was God made flesh, and God is not a leftist, He is their antithesis.