this gospel is for you. Make it a gospel of freedom.
All you whose
faith is foundering and whose knowledge is uncertain, whose anchor of
hope finds nothing to hold on to in a sea of doubt, come and take
fresh hope and fresh courage from it.
official explanations of the gospel has killed all your love for it, do not
therefore throw this book aside in contempt. It is not written by a
saint, a cleric or a holy man, it is written by a
conscience doubts the rightness of its own judgment, if you need comfort and
hope in the storms of passion, if you long for a better life and
the priest gives you no satisfactory advice, if you are so
oppressed by suffering that you are left with only humility and
resignation and leave the satisfaction of your needs to heaven,
take this book.
If at the
cleansing of the temple some of the coins from the overturned tables of the
moneychangers fail into the pockets of you poor sinners and they
take you to court for judgment, take this gospel.
disregard your exhausting day’s work and reproach you for your glass of
wine or spirits, show them this gospel. You will find a
‘gluttonous man’ and a ‘winebibber’, a
friend of publicans and sinners, to silence your
extravagant hands you poured out your costly ointment, sorrowing Magdalene. A
sinner with languishing eyes. You let the unclean hand of little
cupid shake the beautiful buds of your springtime and offered him
but scant resistance. You were often overcome by passion but in the
end you overcame it without losing the power to enjoy things and
the strength to be virtuous. Queen of passion. Now you have
boast of their cloak of false virtue and parade their piety, innocence and
chastity; they have not even put it to the test, in which you
salvaged the power to be holy without losing the power of passion.
If people reproach you quote them the gospel and say: ‘We
have loved greatly and so great things will be forgiven
Come, all you
who work and are poor and despised and oppressed. If you want freedom
and justice for all mankind. This gospel will give you new courage
and new hope.
It will make
careworn cheeks rosy again and rekindle the light of hope in
sorrowing eyes. It will strengthen the faint-hearted and give the
doubting mind the power of conviction. It will kiss the forehead of
the convict with forgiveness and lighten the darkness of his prison
with a ray of hope. It will bring to nothing the power of money and
proclaim the kingdom of freedom which belongs to the Lord of Hosts
and of sinners.
from its errors, lighten the way of hope and pour the warmth of
love and freedom into every heart. So be it.
MIND OF THE EVANGELISTS
I Faith and
As long as we
children, we believe, think and behave like children. It is
only when our own mind develops through age and experience, that we know,
think and behave like men.
A child who
learn from its teachers must believe their words, until by repeated
reflection and its own experience and conviction it is in a
position to put what it has been taught to the proof. If it does
not do this, it will have to undergo a second period of learning,
often much later on, and thus lose precious time. But when the
teachers are themselves uncertain of the truth, when they do not know
but only believe what they teach or do
believe what they are obliged to teach, then of course it is better
for the pupil to maintain his unbelief and learn nothing, than to
have his understanding and feelings disordered by damaging and
irrational impressions. His scientific education in this case can
only benefit by his doubt and unbelief.
But doubt and
unbelief are already a level of knowledge, which must be
communicated to the pupil by people he trusts. Grown-ups and
respected persons, parents and teachers, hold a strong influence
over children and can — if they are in agreement — pass
on to them all their own prejudices, indeed proffer them these as
truths. For while our mind is not mature enough to grasp a truth,
if we are to learn it at all, we must take it on trust from other
people. It only ceases to be a belief and becomes knowledge when we
not so easily comprehensible that we can be given the proof of it
as soon as we have been given the truth itself. We are often not in
a position after years of study to pass final judgment upon a
doctrine. Centuries pass before some succeed in solving a difficult
problem. The same problem may puzzle the most eminent thinkers for
thousands of years and they fail from one error into another and do
not reach any conclusion. But the further we are from the knowledge
of a truth, the more faith and trust we must put in the possibility
of knowing it. The nearer we come to the knowledge of it, the
better we grasp the new truth and our state of belief changes into
a state of knowledge, as our position of learner changes into that
of teacher. The growth period is stealthy like the growth of a
child’s body into a man’s.
Thus as long
only believe something we are not convinced of its truth for
believing means not knowing. For someone who knows something is
more permeated by the truth of it than someone who only believes
it. Knowledge rests upon facts and proofs whereas belief rests only
on opinions and guesses, written or oral communications which we
are not yet in a position to criticize.
and individuals who have remained children intellectually when
compared with other societies and individuals. These are the ones
who need belief which is dispensable to the others because they are
better educated and their belief has been superseded by knowledge.
Every teacher of the people, every man who has an influence over
the education of people, must not only believe what he teaches but
he must know it, he must be permeated by the knowledge of
what he teaches, must be able to offer proofs and to welcome rather
than discourage criticism.
schoolmasters and every other teacher of those who are still
children in mind as well as in body need the trust of their pupils
and need it the more the less they know and the more basic the
things they have to teach.
A teacher is
position of power over his pupils because of his office. If he has
the systematic support of others the pupil’s intellectual
development is entirely in his hands. He can keep them in the state
of belief or help them to pass from belief to knowledge and give
them the means to set about increasing their knowledge on their
our present society have used this power exclusively in their own
interests. These people who believe little because they know much
are convinced that the education of the masses would put an end to
their patience under oppression and the power of their rulers. The
rulers do their utmost to prevent the education of the people
passing from the state of belief to the state of
The power and
wealth of the rulers are strong weapons for the attainment of their
ends. They have been used to keep the whole teaching body under
their control. Belief which should be a way to knowledge is now
their end and they use their knowledge to keep the people in a
state of belief. Instead of the people believing in order to learn
knowledge, they learn in order to believe what the teachers
themselves do not believe. Belief is not used as a means of
teaching and learning but teaching and learning are used as a means
to belief, that is to say, in spite of all learning and teaching,
For years in
churches priests have been passing on a word not of their own
choosing but prescribed to them by a systematic organization,
Critics in the congregation hardly dare to sigh under the pulpit
and the weary peasants start snoring. Eighteen hundred years ago a
twelve-year-old boy expounded the law to the elders in the temple,
whereas in Prague a few years ago a little tailor who interrupted
the preacher was banned from the feast.2
united in keeping the people in a state of belief and not wanting
them to pass from belief to knowledge. Freedom of belief is allowed
but freedom of knowledge is led by mammon on a golden chain which
tyranny tries to make shorter and shorter. Both belief and
knowledge will always have their place. But let not the one usurp
that of the other. Belief is limited by knowledge. Belief comes to
an end where knowledge begins and begins again where knowledge
comes to an end. But knowledge has no limits except the state of
perfection which is unimaginable to us.
we believe, only what we know. Do you all believe in God, but what
do you believe that God is? The idea of perfection, you will
answer, all that our intuition suspects and our mind cannot grasp.
Good, that is what the evangelists also believe.
taken away from mankind however severely he is oppressed by pain
and weakness. It is an anchor in the wild storms of this
unpredictable life and cannot be taken away in the highest state of
human happiness. Knowledge is powerful enough to dispense with
every form of belief, indeed with every belief, but who is bold
enough to say that he has studied the secrets of the human heart in
their deepest depths and that his knowledge will always be
sufficient to satisfy his desires?
are strong enough to look death in the eye at its most terrifying,
a still and empty eternity. But are you certain that this proud
strength will remain with you at every moment of your life? If your
physical health is shattered, will not your mental powers be
threatened? Might you not fall back into a state of childhood, out
of which you are striving towards the perfection of knowledge and
which you now look down on from your eminence? Death does not
frighten you, you proud man. But if you have to drink the bitterest
dregs of the cup, when everything forsakes you that you held dear
in this world, and you have no friend to weep on, when all your
passions unite to take away your strength will your knowledge be
strong enough to withstand despair?
moment you need comfort, support and refuge. Do not reject it now
in the fullness of your strength. Keep faith warm in you. Keep it
for the time when your spiritual strength threatens to collapse
under the burden of moral and physical suffering. Keep it. Perhaps
it will warm your icy spirit again and give you back what you lost.
You spared this faith in God to the weak and small. You cannot
entirely rid it from your own heart. For you have not come to the
end of your experience, and your knowledge only lasts as long as
believe in God although we do not speak much about him and seldom
pray to him. But what do we know of God? Think of infinite space
containing more atoms than the grains of sand in the desert. Think
of these atoms as one big number and this number multiplied from
eternity up till this moment by a number equally great, think of
this number as the sum of all the unknowns which mankind must try
to understand one after the other, and when you have solved the
last of these then you will know what God is. Therefore let us
At the street
there stands a tired old man leaning on his stick. He looks at the
passers-by with a troubled and beseeching look. He hopes for alms
to keep his poor life nourished because his strength has been
burned up by other people. But we poor sinners do not share his
hopes. I am a poor luckless creature, sighs an old mother, was I
born to misfortune? Dear God how have I deserved this hard lot, to
be abandoned in my old age by my only child? Would that the dear
God would take me to himself and put an end to my
your trust in God who hears the prayers of widows and orphans,
whispers the parson.
But we poor
do not trust him. I come home once more with an empty basket and an
empty stomach, sighs another woman. My neighbour won’t lend
me anything more and the baker will not go on giving me bread on
credit. I cannot get anything at the pawnbroker’s for these
rags. I have three hungry children at home and a sick mother, and
tomorrow the landlord wants the rent. Dear God have pity on us poor
creatures and send us a merciful angel to save us from our
expect no angel. Look at the sufferings of a poor beast like me
sighs another. My old mother has been sick for so long. My children
give me no rest the whole day. They want this, they want that. I
must provide for everyone and now my husband has fallen sick. I
cannot stand it. If things don’t get better I will jump in a
woman. The dear God will reward you richly for all that you have
done, says her well- meaning neighbour.
not believe it. We do not hope for such things.
But we hope
time the poor man will not have to beg and plead for his bread but
can sit down with everyone else at the table and enjoy
We hope that
will come when no one will have to beg for food from his fellow-men
or go home after begging in vain with nothing in his basket for his
family. We hope for a time when no one needs to borrow from his
neighbour, when pawnbrokers are no longer needed, and no landlord
demands the rent.
We hope for a
when no one has to care for his family, for the sick and the
children without any kind of help. For a time when no one is so
overburdened by the problem of keeping going that he is tempted to
take his life.
We do not
eternal life and pie in the sky while nothing gets better here
below. We hope that this life will change and get better soon. We
hope for a carefree happy life and justice for all men on earth.
That is what we hope for.
things to be
better in the next world is a selfish dream of people who are not
satisfied with what this world can offer But we poor sinners want
nothing hereafter; we want things in this world, But we hope that
things will get better and very soon. We only ask for joy hereafter
in so far as we work for good in this world. We only ask for heaven
in so far as we ask to share in the happiness of this world.
Courage and patience. The words which were like the murmur of a
little brook overgrown by grass have become a great flood beating
against the dykes of the ancient privileged gangs of robbers. Soon
it will burst through like thunder.
understand the power of love which fills all creatures with
sweetness? Can a man know what it is capable of working in his own
heart? Is there a greater power or force or perfection than what we
can conceive of when we love?
We stand with
knowledge on the edge of knowledge. Only the mysterious power of
love gives us insight beyond all the boundaries of our knowledge.
It gives us insight into perfect love which is God, although our
mind can only formulate it in a very imperfect way.
Let us make
our own image, says God according to Moses.
Let us make
a man who is like him, said Christ. And that was the
The two great
mysteries, God and love, were made into one by Christ when he said God
is love. Centuries have passed. God and love are
mysteries. The magisterium is an enclave of privilege, religion a
deception to those who have lost their way and a stumbling stone on
the road to progress. The christian God has become a God made in
the image of man without human weaknesses.
What use would this God be to us if he had only life among us in
the form of a man, and had not taken upon himself all our weakness,
lacks, passions and imperfections. Was the bitter cup in the
garden, the trouble of his soul, the pain of his bloody death on
the cross nothing but appearance unconnected with his divine
out in history as a great man, by his teaching and his actions, by
his virtues and his failings. Leave him as he is. Do not describe
his human form irrationally as an unnatural being, which is
contrary to all our knowledge. If you want faith to be respected
you must also respect knowledge. Religion must be destroyed to free
humanity. This was what Voltaire and others said. Lamennais and
before him Karlstadt, Thomas Münzer and others showed that all
democratic ideas sprang from christianity.
destroyed but used to free humanity. Christianity is the religion
of freedom, moderation and enjoyment, not of oppression,
extravagance and abstinence. Christ is a prophet of
teaching of freedom and love and he is therefore a picture for us
of God and love.
thoughts into empty spaces when we feel the need to pour the
secrets of our hearts and minds into our concept of God. We must
make a picture of God and this picture is Christ.
But if we are to love him this Christ must be the friend and
brother of us poor sinners and not a supernatural unimaginable
being. He must be subject to weakness like us.
And so he
was, as we
read in the gospel. Therefore let us love him.
A BRIEF LOOK
STORY OF JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES TO CONSIDER THEIR
I What is the bible?
The bible is
collection of books translated from different languages, written by
many authors before the discovery of paper and printing. About
fifteen hundred years ago the new testament was added. It is a
collection of books written by different authors at different
What a job it
have been writing a book like that on parchment or papyrus,
especially in those days when so few people knew how to write. And
how hard it is to tell whether during the persecutions of the
christians certain pages were dropped and certain pages
If in spite
everything the originals have been preserved intact, this is in
itself remarkable. But even so it is still true that these books
were written by men and this is all that is needed to make it
possible for them to contain errors. For men make mistakes, and
even though men like Socrates, Confucius and Christ taught truths
which have remained for thousands of years, this does not prove
that they never made mistakes. It does not prove that their truths
always remain truths, needing no explanation and incapable of being
Men wrote the
originals. These originals created christianity; it would be
nothing without them. Is it possible to know for certain the truth
of christianity from these documents? Certainly not. How then was
it possible to keep the people in error for so long? Because in the
new testament the ideas are not classified. Teaching and historical
event are mixed up together in it. The whole is in a form which
does not suit our times. It was intended to make converts among
nations of fifteen hundred years ago whose political structures
have long since vanished. Eight men wrote these books: Peter, Paul,
John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, James and Jude. At least that is what we
read. We do not have proof of this authorship in the older
manuscripts. These manuscripts were first discovered in the sixth
century. We do not know whether they were written then or earlier,
neither do we know who wrote them. Among a hundred manuscripts
which were discovered — all in the Greek language — we
do not know which is the right one, they all differ a little : from
each other. That is not all. There is the translation into other
languages, a very difficult undertaking because no one knows the
ancient languages perfectly, or which. of the ancient manuscripts
is the right one. The innumerable synonyms in every language makes
things even more difficult. Each man translates as he thinks fit
and little shifts of meaning are inevitable. Is it surprising that
there are contradictions in the new testament both in the stones
and in the teaching? Obviously not.
And who were
to whom the authorship of the book of the new testament is
ascribed? What guarantee can they give us that they were never
mistaken? Their contradictions, disagreements and occasional
unbelief are not recommendations of their infallibility. Paul
persecuted the disciples, Peter denied the Lord, and they all lost
their courage and forsook him in the garden. Wasn’t that
shameful for ten stout fellows? Can anyone of us defend this
cowardice? Modern pharisees might suggest that if they had not run
away they would have been caught too and the spread of christianity
would have been impossible. Yes. Any act of cowardice can be
defended in this way. When they fled they were surely not thinking
of the spread of christianity. If they had stopped to think about
it they would have been arrested. When people act quickly they feel
before they think. Feelings govern our actions at such a moment and
makes us resist or run away. And so with the disciples. If they had
been fully convinced in their minds of the truth of the
Lord’s teaching, and their hearts full of love for him, they
would rather have been struck dead than forsake him.
who wrote the new testament, from which the principles of
christianity are drawn. They were weak and fallible men like us,
but because they tell us of their weaknesses and do not try to hide
them, we know them as real men, with whom in our time only Rousseau
can be compared, who tells us in his Confession that he once
stole a silver band, and when it was found in his luggage he told
the maid in front of the authorities that she had given it to
illustrates many of the stories in the new testament. There were
often disputes and even bloody wars whose outcome decided the fate
of whole nations. Millions of people killed each other in blind
fanaticism without even knowing why. Each of the last eighteen
centuries has had its religious slaughters, and its bloodthirsty
fanatical tyrants. There have always been disputes about the
teaching of Christ and even today it is not understood, even today
christians are divided into more than a hundred sects and each
member of each sect has his own way of practising his faith,
according to his education and his interests.
Christ comes from the heart and is meant to go to the heart. It is
the expression of the feeling of justice and is open to various
interpretations because ancient prejudices prevent the feelings of
justtice being the same with everybody, and because it is a feeling
it cannot be pinned down and calculated by the sure standards of
The men who
proclaimed the teaching of Christ only said: live together in peace
and you will be happy. But they did not say at all clearly how to
do this. It cannot he said more clearly as it has to do with
feelings. In fact the feelings played the chief part in the
christian message and the intellect a secondary part.
But today the
intellect is given a larger part than the feelings in the
exposition of doctrine. We know very well that if we give
everything to the poor today, tomorrow we will have to beg, borrow
or steal. We know that we should love our enemies and hate our
father and mother, but we do not know how this is possible in our
original writings contradict each other in their teaching as well
as in their facts. In other places they say unintelligible things
and the whole is decked in the trappings of their own time. They
speak of signs and wonders and only increase our confusion so that
the places where the true christian teaching is plain to see are
hidden like real pearls among a pile of fakes.
I now put
the place of an honest doubter and say: Because all this happened
eighteen hundred and forty-five years ago it is most unlikely that
it all happened as it says even in the smallest details. It can
even be questioned whether there lived a man called Jesus at all.
We could question the truth of the whole story. But all that does
not matter very much to me. The important thing is not the life
story of a religious philosopher but the teaching he gave. If one
reads an interesting book one naturally looks for the
author’s name, but I am more interested in what he has to say
than in his biography, which is only interesting because of his
writings. The teaching is the important thing
about the new testament, as always. The historical details and
errors are of secondary importance.
have found the following teachings which are worth examining and
which would doubtless bring happiness to mankind if mankind could
only discover how to put them into practice. Whether the teachings
come from Zoroaster or Moses or Jesus, whether they come from
Lapland or Rome, whether they are six thousand years old or brand
new, is of secondary importance. The important thing is the
teaching itself, no matter how it is clothed.
If I have
this teaching, I will do my best to discover how it can be put into
practice. If this is possible, then the teaching will be a map of
truth for me and something against which to test the rest of the
writings from which I have derived it.
I have done
I have found that the teaching can best be put into practice by the
most perfect form of communism. I have found this teaching here and
there in formulas and phrases, which have given rise to intentional
or ignorant misinterpretation. But I regarded these texts as the
shell and the teaching itself as the kernel of the nut. When I had
found the kernel of the teaching and became convinced of the
possibility of putting it into practice, it was not difficult to
classify all the other texts relating to the teaching in the light
of the teaching and thus to discriminate between the true form and
It is true
that it is
a long time since I went to church or prayed and I am not likely to
start praying again in the near future, but this does not mean that
I want to stop other people believing or praying or going to
church. But I do not want people’s praying and believing and
churchgoing to be put to use by hypocrites and cunning politicians.
I want each man to enjoy the fruits of his own believing, praying
and churchgoing, and no one to be compelled to do these things who
does not find it makes for his happiness, no one to be compelled to
pay for the believing, praying and churchgoing of others when he
himself does not go in for that sort of thing.
If anyone in
religious zeal sees an enemy in me because of my interpretation of
the gospel, let him remember that it is therefore his duty to love
me, as I myself am also aware, and with our present social
relations that is no light task.
2 Unbelief of
Apostles, Disciples and early Christians
and knowledge satisfies us. Let every man choose what suits his
heart and spirit best.
Belief in a
which of course the learner cannot easily recognize but the teacher
can, makes knowledge easier for the learner. Belief in an error or
a lie leads to ignorance of the truth.
This is how
consider belief, so often recommended in the gospels. The more
difficult a doctrine is for the learner, the harder it is for him
to become convinced of its truth and the more important it is for
him to believe it. But when knowledge shines into the darkness of
belief like a brilliant light, every effort to keep the learner in
a state of belief proves that the teacher was not using this belief
as a means to bring his pupil more easily to the knowledge of the
truth, but as a means to keep him in ignorance and error.
Pythagoras divided his pupils into grades according to the progress
of their initiation into the mysteries. In the lowest grades belief
was indispensable, and this was also true of the people Jesus
of a man
who wants to change his contemporaries is always difficult. The
higher his ideas the more careful he has to be not to bewilder his
hearers. He cannot do away with their prejudices all at once but
must undermine them slowly and on their own terms.
hindered by the persecutions of the sect to which he is often bound
to belong and cannot speak as plainly as he might wish. This makes
him all the more difficult to understand.
both wanted a radical change in all social relations and had to
deal with an ignorant and superstitious people. Partly because of
their established way of life and partly through vanity and envy,
those who would have been capable of understanding the new teaching
were their enemies, and used every possible means to discredit them
with the people and the government.
his deepest mysteries at secret meetings only to pupils who had
been stringently examined. This examination was so strict that
often pupils had a two- to five-year silence imposed upon them.
This is how mysteries were guarded in ancient times and the learner
was asked simply to believe.
When put into
practice, the teachings of both Pythagoras and Christ result in
who can go back that far can imagine how difficult it must have
been to teach a people eighteen hundred years ago a doctrine which
had to be expressed in covert language to avoid persecution. How
difficult it must have been to preach the nature and possibility of
communism! What prejudices stood in the way of any clear
explanations! They were interrupted, screamed at and jeered at.
Why? Because an important doctrine like communism, with such
far-reaching consequences, cannot easily be put over in metaphors,
and the art of preaching itself needs to be learnt.
printed account of the teaching, things became easier, for a
limited understanding finds the written word easier. Individual
passages can be learnt and examined before reading on and there is
less danger of a snap judgment.
did not have the advantages of print. And it would not have helped
them, for they appealed less to the understanding than to the
feelings. They did not want everything to be easily comprehensible.
That is why belief played so large a part in their teaching and so
much has remained unclear to this day.
But if belief
necessary under those conditions it does not follow that it is
necessary today. At least it should not be so in christendom
because we have preached this doctrine for eighteen hundred years
without anyone succeeding in silencing it. When a doctrine has been
taught for eighteen hundred years, and printing has made its
dissemination a thousand times easier, I think we should want
knowledge of the doctrine and reserve faith for children and the
weak, not for the grown-up and strong.
is compelled to remain belief, deception, error and deceit has a
hand in it and belief is being used for evil purposes.
doctrine in order to propagate another must be able to prove that
his doctrine is truthful and the other erroneous. Jesus did this
and found that the disciples of his opponents were in error, that
they did not know but only believed. Jesus, however,
did not believe the mosaic tenets by which he had been brought up,
at least he did not obey certain parts of the law. He did not fast
and did not let his disciples fast, he went about with heathens and
sinners, evil people, as we would say today, and he healed the sick
on the sabbath.
But just as
not believe the whole of the law of Moses, neither did his
disciples believe everything he said, and the people even
that Jesus was from Nazareth, he said:
Jn 1:46. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
that a man should forgive his neighbour seven times a day, his
Lk 17:5. Lord increase our faith.
it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus:
Mk 16:11. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen
by her they would not believe it.
13. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe
14. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at
table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of
heart, because they would not believe those who saw him after he
Lk 24:11. But these words seemed to them as an idle tale, and they
did not believe them.
12. But Peter rose and ran to
stooping and looking in he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and
he went home wondering at what had happened.
And Jesus had
spoken to them about his resurrection on the third day:
Mt 28:17. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some
In Mt 16
the people that he will be given up and crucified and on the third
day he will rise again. Peter answers him like a simpleton:
Mt 16:22. God forbid Lord! This shall never happen to
He showed his
for Jesus, his simple understanding and his disbelief in the
resurrection. He also earned a rebuke from Jesus. Neither did Paul
believe firmly in the resurrection:
Phil 3:11. That if possible I might attain the resurrection from
12. Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect;
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me
13. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one
thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to
what lies ahead.
Col 3:1-4 we are already
is perhaps why some thought that the resurrection had already
happened 2 Tim 2:18. Many of the early christians did not believe
in the resurrection:
1 Cor 15:12. Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how
can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the
13. But if there is no
the dead, then Christ has not been raised.
stories in the new testament of the unbelief of the early
christians and those they sought to convert:
Acts 17:32. Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead,
some mocked; but others said ‘We will hear you again about
Acts 28:24. And some were convinced by what he said, while others
1 Cor 1:23. But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to
Jews and folly to Gentiles.
2 Pet 3:3. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers
will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own
4. and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever
since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they
were from the beginning of the creation.’
1 Jn 2:22. Who is the liar but he who denies
Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the
Father and the Son.
26. I write this to you about those who would deceive you.
1Jn 4:3. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of
God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it
was coming, and now it is in the world already.
2 Jn 7. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who
will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such
a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
that people would believe in him:
Lk 18:8. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes will he find faith
He found no
him in his own country:
Mt 13:58. And he did not do many mighty works there because
of their unbelief. See also Lk 4:23-29.
The Jews in
to Paul about the disciples of Christ:
Acts 28:22. For with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it
is spoken against.
The story of
feeding of the live thousand and its aftermath is also remarkable.
It shows how ready the people were to attach themselves to a person
for material gain, how easy it is to control them with a basket of
bread. It shows that faith was demanded as an alternative to the
proof of signs, wonders and promises, without which no prophet of
those days could make himself heard. The disciples were expected to
believe the signs, wonders and promises, even if their five senses
convinced them of their impossibility.
resurrection they saw him on the mountain. But some doubted! He
must therefore have appeared to them in a quite different form or
how could they have doubted?
whether the one who appeared was another man than Jesus. At any
rate he did not look like him.
Lk 28 mentions the walk to Emmaus, a village 16 stadia from
Jerusalem. Jesus met some of his disciples on the road, who did not
recognize him, even though it was daytime. They thought he was a
stranger. In the end they recognized him through the breaking of
bread and the wounds in his hands and feet. But they did not
believe that it was he. I am not surprised. If they had recognized
his face I would be surprised that they did not believe that it was
Only at the
When the five thousand had eaten their fill and seen the miracle
Jn 6:14. This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the
15. Perceiving then that trey were about to come and take him by
force and make him a king, Jesus withdrew into the hills again by
16. When the evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
17. got into a boat and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was
now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them.
Then we are
he comes to them walking on the water. Fine. I let it pass but only
point out that it appears from the following verse that Jesus
waited for his disciples on the shore.
21. Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately
the boat was at the land to which they were going.
So much is
that Jesus first left the people himself, then the disciples left
them under cover of darkness and used the way over the water as an
escape route, and that on the other bank Jesus and the disciples
met again. The intention was clearly to get rid of the people;
Jesus could not always feed the people because he often did not
have enough for himself and his disciples to eat (see Mt 21:18, 19;
Jn 6:22. On the next day the people who remained on the other side
of the sea saw that there had only been one boat there, and that
Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his
disciples had gone away alone.
23. However, boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate
the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24. So when the people saw that Jesus was, not there, nor his
disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to
Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to
him, ‘Rabbi when did you come here?’
26. Jesus answered them, ‘Truly truly, I say to you, you seek
me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fil1 of the
27. Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food
which endures to eternal life.’
Jesus disappeared because the people wanted to make him king. But
we see clearly from verse 26 that he was less afraid of being made
a king than of having often to feed all the people. So he answered
in a manner that left them with no hope of a second meal. He said
that they had come only for food, that they should seek instead
food which is imperishable, and spare him the trouble of having to
feed so many thousands again. Then he went on to speak of the bread
of his father in heaven which is the true bread.
33. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and
gives Life to the world.
34. They said
‘Lord give us this bread always.’
interested in getting bread and did not much care whether it came
from heaven or the baker. They had seen one miracle of the loaves,
and naturally imagined that things could continue in the same way.
It is perfectly right for hungry people to ask a prophet for bread,
but not right that he does not give it to them, particularly one
who has said: ‘If anyone asks him for bread will he give him
When I say to
someone, you do not come to me because you have seen signs, I
express the opinion that my signs have made no impression on him
and I am unwilling to do any more signs even should he ask for
them. When I say to him, you come only for bread, he realizes that
I have no intention of giving him any more and will not ask for it
unless he is driven to by need. But the people were hungry and
asked for the bread of God. Jesus tried another way out.
35. ‘1 am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall
not hunger and he who believes in me shall never
But this did
anything in their bellies. They had been fed by a miracle and
expected another one. The words of Jesus could not fil1 a hungry
man. The people took them amiss:
41. The Jews then murmured at him because he said, ‘I am the
bread which came down from heaven.’
42. They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose
father and mother we know? How does he now say, “I have come
down from heaven”?’
be done except give them bread or at least make it quite clear that
he did not refuse them bread because he could not give it to them.
51. I am the living bread which comes down from heaven; if anyone
eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I
shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.
52. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can
this man give us his flesh to eat?’
This was too
even for his disciples:
60. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is
a hard saying; who can listen to it?’
61. But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at
it, said to them, ‘Do you take offence at this?
62. Then what if you were to see the son of man ascending where he
the disciples of Jesus were bound to him by blind faith, and Jesus
intended this to be so. They contradicted him and grumbled even as
we do today when people tell us such things.
66. After that many of his disciples drew back and no longer went
about with him.
Even in those
someone who concealed a truth in incomprehensible and seemingly
meaningless language met with doubt, contradiction and unbelief
from the thinking members of his audience. Without them no
development of knowledge is conceivable. Our own doubts and
unbelief are justified by the gospel itself.
Shortcomings of the
Apostles, Disciples and Early Christians
Mt 1:19. And
husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame,
resolved to divorce her quietly.
If Joseph had
good conscience he need not have divorced his intended wife
quietly, and it would have been wrong of him to do so if he did not
want to bring public scorn upon her. If Joseph had slept with her,
which is to be expected with a young bride, his intention is
blameworthy. Matthew must have thought that he had slept with her
or he would not have called Joseph her husband in this
For the rest,
confine myself to a few references.
Peter’s jealousy: Jn 21:21.
Peter’s self-interest: Mt 19:27.
Peter denies the Lord: Mt 26:70, Lk 22:57, Jn 18:25.
Judas openly blames the Lord: Jn 12:4, 5.
quarrelling for first place: Mk 9:34; 10:37; Lk 9:46; 22:44.
Flight of the disciples: Mk 14:50.
Hypocrisy of the apostles Peter and Paul: Acts 11:3; 16:3;
21:20-26; Gal 2:11-14.
Neglect of early christians to attend meetings: Heb 10:25.
Murmuring about unequal care of widows: Acts 6:1.
Quarrel about going about with the uncircumcised: Acts 11:2, 3,
Dispute about circumcision: Acts 15:1-29
spoken of: 2 Cor 10:1-3; 10-12; Cor 8:20, 21.
John Mark leaves Paul: Acts 13:13; Paul does not want to take him
with him again Acts 15:38 and quarrels with Barnabas over it Acts
Immorality among early christians: 1 Cor 5:1, 8; 11:17-21.
Distrust and jealousy among apostles and early christians: Rom
16:17; 1 Cor 1:11; 3:3; 2 Cor 12:20, 21; Gal 1:7; 5:15; 1 Tim
4:1-4; 2 Tim 2:14, 16, 18.
further when he says:
Tit 3:3. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led
astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days
in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another.
1 Tim1:15. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the
foremost of sinners.
1 Cor 15:9. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called
an apostle because I persecuted the church of God. Eph 3:8. To me
though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given,
to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of
Even the best
are sinners. So it was then, so it is now, and so it always will
be. That is human nature and it will not change. Our mind is in
constant conflict with our passions, and indeed only becomes what
it is by constant victory over them. When we take up the bible, we
should not forget that we have to do with a book written by men who
had a human nature and passions like us.
4 The human
Mk 10:18. Why
call me good? No one is good but God alone.
I quote this
to show that Jesus himself did not consider himself good and never
intended to say he was God. We never find in the gospels that he
claimed to be God.
If we take
Jesus as a
picture of what we call God, this is because as christians we could
not otherwise have any picture of God at all and we do not mean by
this Jesus himself but his teaching. We must have some picture of
God if we are going to pray at all. Jesus is the best concept of
divinity we could have because his teaching shows the way to the
But this does
mean that we must think of him as a supernatural unworldly being,
free from all the passions and weaknesses of other men. We can see
from the bible that he was subject to them as we are.
Mt 10:5. Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the
disciples to consort with Gentiles in accordance with the Jewish
Gentile woman begged him to heal her daughter who was badly plagued
by the devil. But he answered her not a word. But when his
disciples became annoyed by the woman crying after them and asked
him to get rid of her he said:
Mt 15:24 I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of
25. But she carne and knelt
saying ‘Lord, help me.’
26. And he answered, ‘It is not fair to take the
children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’
his hatred of foreigners and often went about among the Gentiles.
The Samaritans, a small and hospitable people, denied him lodging,
which they certainly would not have done if they had not known that
Jesus did not accept them, and the examples mentioned above were
not common knowledge to them.
Jesus did not
have the power to control his tongue. He lost his temper against
his own teaching:
Mt 5:22. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his
brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother
shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You
fool’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.
teaching here, he himself castigates the pharisees as foolish and
blind (Mt 23:17, 19). Paul also sinned against this teaching.
Cor `15:36. You foolish man! What you sow does not come to
life unless it dies.
commandment commands us to love our father and mother. But at the
wedding in Cana Jesus said to his mother when she told him that
they had no wine left:
Jn 2:4. Woman, what have you to do with me?
In verse 10
clear that the company had no further need of wine to quench their
thirst. But Jesus created another hundred and twenty or more
gallons of wine, which shows that Jesus, like us, enjoyed lingering
over his cups in pleasant company. He did not deny this human
nature in his attitude to wine. And quite apart from his ordinary
human friendships there was his particular friendship with Mary
Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus and John: Jn 11:5; 13:23; 19:26. Mary
Magdalene was known in the town as a sinner, that is a woman who
was held in open scorn, and with whom no one else associated (Lk
7:37, 39). The second was her sister, the third her
reveals itself in Jesus by the fact that he was affected by hunger
and thirst and tiredness exactly as we are.
Like us he
avoid persecution: Mt 12:15; Mk 3:7; Lk 5:16; 9:10; 21:37; Jn 7:1,
He hid on the
of olives: Jn 7:53.
He was afraid
death like us: Mt 26:37, 39; Mk 14:33, 34, 36; Lk 12:50;
Now let us
unbiased look at the relationship between Judas Iscariot and Jesus.
We find here two human hearts with the same passions as we, and who
often speak and act without giving themselves time to reflect on
what they are doing.
Jesus and his
disciples held all things in common. In those days people had fewer
needs than we do. People were not so selfish as they are today.
There was more sharing. Begging was allowed and no passports were
needed. People rated hospitality as high as today we rate our
privacy. Hunting and fishing were free and so was trade. People
could gather fruit from the fields to feed themselves without being
punished for it. People could heal other people even if they knew
as little about medicine as many doctors today. The people could
get up and speak in the temple as well as the clergy. Under Roman
rule life was in many ways much freer than it is for us today under
national rule. I point this out in order to make what follows as
plain as possible.
his disciples to take with them gold or silver. What they were
given on the way Judas carried in the common purse. Many women also
went about with Jesus and the apostles, including Mary Magdalene
(Lk 8:2) and the wife of Herod’s steward (8:3). Jesus and the
disciples were supported by these women.
good Mary Magdalene took it into her head to anoint the head of her
beloved Lord with costly ointment, or as John says, his feet.
According to Mt 26:7-11 and Mk 14:3-7 the disciples were angry
Why was the ointment thus wasted?
5. For the ointment might have been sold for more than three
hundred denarii and given to the poor. According to John only Judas
was angry and spoke thus to the Lord. Jesus answered:
Ja 12:7. Let her alone, she has done it for the day of my
8. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have
not defend her action; he could only excuse it. She has done it for
my burial means that it will never happen again.
evangelists Matthew and Mark were probably there at the time, and
they say the disciples were angry, this proves that they at least
were among those who were angry; otherwise they would have told the
At any rate,
anointing the head of Jesus was against their principles and a
stupid thing to do in front of the disciples and the ill-disposed
Judas. The scene must have made a bad impression on the disciples.
It was a flat contradiction between word and action. John himself
seems to feel this, when he mentions another reason for
Jn 12:6. This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because
he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what
was put into it.
distrust has very slender
foundations. I think Judas was really concerned about
Christ’s teaching but that he was acting less out of concern
for the principle than to recommend himself to his master. It is
certain that even earlier on Jesus did not greatly care for Judas.
Jn 6:64. ‘But there are some of you who do not
believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who those were who
did not believe, and who it was that should betray him.
70. Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you twelve and one
of you is a devil?’
71. He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the
twelve, was to betray him.
Judas only decided to betray him after the anointing, in which case
Jesus showed an unjust suspicion of Judas on the earlier
Mt 26:16. And
that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Judas and Jesus became irreparably at odds. Imagine how Jesus must
have smarted, when a disciple whom he did not respect reproached
him with apparent good reason for acting against his
the evangelists that same evening, and according to others a few
days later, they ate the paschal lamb together.
Think of the
of the scene on the circle of Jesus and his disciples. Think how
proud each member must have been to belong to the group which was
appointed to preach and found the community of Christ, how proud to
be recognized by his fellows as a useful member of the
gathering for a common meal, which was not often possible for them.
Such a meal needs friendship and trust, and if one has something
against another it is unsuitable to take part in such a meal and
turn food in his mouth to poison. Imagine Judas convinced that by
his open blame of the anointing a few hours or a few days before he
was more hated than ever by Jesus. What must Judas have felt when
during the washing of feet Jesus said:
Jn 13:10. You are clean, but not all of you.
I can imagine
cutting this must have sounded to his guilty conscience. But I also
think that I would find it difficult to be so cruel to an enemy in
the presence of others whose respect he valued. And then Jesus
21. One of you will betray me.
not the end of his persecution.
26. ‘It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have
dipped it.’ So when he had dipped it he gave it to Judas the
son of Simon Iscariot.
rather to the
cross if you need martyrs for a good cause, but do not pass me this
shameful sop. I would find it as hard as Judas to control the
anguish which drove him to betrayal and suicide. O Jesus how cruel
you were at this hour which was so important in the lives of the
two of you. Even if the unhappy Judas was the frightful beast who
had long intended to betray the Lord, these cruel words were what
finally drove him to it.
27. Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to
him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’
30. So after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out and it
night outside in the world and within the heart of the traitor. Who
has enough strength and courage and experience to look at the
hideous void when something frightful has suddenly killed all the
flowers and trees of the life of the spirit, when some blow has
made us go wrong about all our experience, faith and love and
turned our once sovereign personality into a being which speaks and
acts without thinking and thinks without knowing what it thinks?
Only someone who has had this experience can understand what went
on in the heart of Judas after he had been given the
had an evil heart, but this sop must have thrust him right down
into hell. For it robbed him all at once of everything that bound
him to life, honour, respect, friendship, love, hope.
to hate what he had loved, and hated it the more, the more he had
once loved it. His repentance and death should have been his
atonement with the world and lifted from him the curse of
centuries. He had the courage not to survive his shame, while at
the same moment Peter, the rock upon which Jesus decided to build
his church, and to whom he gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
denied his master three times.
received at the scene of the anointing a spiritual blow which kills
the spirit without touching the body. Judas’s reproach must
have more than wounded his sensitive spirit. A good friend should
have made this reproach to him when they were alone and not in the
presence of strangers and women and the other disciples, but our
feelings can make us react without reflection and speak too
hastily. It is even more difficult to control them when some
passion suddenly emerges from where till then it had been. bidden.
It needs enormous strength of character to keep control in such
circumstances. Judas could not believe, when the interests of the
movement required belief. Hurt pride, envy and distrust poured
their poisons into both their hearts. Each prepared the death of
the other. We too have tasted the bitter cup and must drink still
deeper from it in this evil world until we have drained
One drank it
sake of thirty pieces of silver, the other for the sake of three
hundred pence. Some lay no money when they prepare their poison.
But we must all drink the cup to the dregs.
5 Jesus was a Carpenter and had Brothers and
the evangelists tell us nothing about the best eighteen years of a
man’s life, the years between twelve and thirty. We have no
word at all from the life of Jesus during these years.
have told us that he came to the temple when he was twelve years
old they jump ahead to his thirtieth year and only tell us that
during the interval he was a carpenter and that he had four
brothers and several sisters.
Mk 6:3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of
James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here
virgin Mary first bore a son by the power of the Holy Ghost and
then bore six children to Joseph.
references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus in Mt 12:46, 48;
13:55, 57; Mk 6:3; Lk 8:20, 21; Jn 7:3,5; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 9:5.
clearly stated that Jesus had brothers and sisters, pious
christians are inclined to overlook the fact. I have known people
who read their bible regularly who were quite convinced that Jesus
had no brothers until I stuck the passages under their nose, and
then the scales fell from their eyes. These brothers and sisters
were the children of Mary which she conceived from Joseph her
Mk 1:25. And he did not know her until she had borne her first-born
Then he did.
Mary’s virginity, like that of all other girls, ends with the
time of her first conception.
THE METHOD OF
I The Political and Social State of the Society
which Jesus Taught
their political freedom as a people and were under Roman rule. All
classes wished to overthrow this rule, high priests, Pharisees,
Sadducees, Essenes, Jesus and the people. They agreed on this but
they were not agreed on what government to put in its
the last prophets the people had become weighed down with
innumerable laws, orders and customs. Then a priest named Zadok
proclaimed a new doctrine and rejected all laws and customs except
those held to be divine. His disciples called themselves Sadducees.
The opponents of the new doctrine were called Pharisees, that is to
say, sinless. They were distinguished from the Sadducees by special
clothes and by their strict and punctilious observance of the
angels, spirits, devils and the resurrection of the dead. The
Pharisees believed in all these things.
the divine foreknowledge; the Pharisees believe in it. The
Sadducees rejected the teachings of the elders, which the Pharisees
defended. The Pharisees observed strict fasts and prayed often at
street corners and in the temple in order to be seen by men. They
never ate without first washing, they flogged themselves till the
blood ran through their clothes. They avoided contact with the poor
and whores and drunkards. Whenever they returned from the market
they washed and bathed because the market was also used by gentiles
and they believed that contact with them made a man unclean. There
was no end to the washings that went on in their house. Their pots
had always to be clean. The slept on narrow boards, hard stones or
thorns and travelled about making proselytes. Their most solemn
oaths were ‘by the gold of the temple’ and ‘by
the sacrifice of the altar’. They regarded themselves as
purer and holier than all the rest of the people and even their
spittle as purer and holier than other people’s. They were
very proud and wore beautiful, wide fantastic clothes and cursed
everyone who did not study the law under their tuition. Many of
them were of the opinion that the unlearned would have no part in
of life they were highly respected by the people, although, as we
are told in Mt 23:13-36, it was all hypocrisy.
sects there were the Essenes, who held their meetings in secret, as
the freemasons do today in countries where they are not openly
that good should be held in common, and on the whole they were in
agreement with christian principles, but we are not told whether
they disagreed on smaller issues. This suggested to me that Jesus
himself could have been a member of this secret brotherhood which
was like that of Pythagoras. The relationship between john the
Baptist and Jesus made it seem all the more likely. John appeared
taught was what John had taught before him. It was the principle of
common ownership, which had already been taught by the Essenes
This John who
before Jesus was so frequented by the people, that even the
Pharisees, themselves highly respected, were afraid to say that his
baptism was from men, and Herod was afraid to kill him. Jesus did
not have such great influence with the people. And were it possible
John had even greater energy than Jesus. He told Herod to his face
that it was wrong of him to take his brother’s wife, whereas
Jesus before Pilate answered the questions upon which his judgment
depended either by keeping silence or indirectly by ‘thou
sayest it’ or sought a way out by saying ‘My kingdom is
not of this world’.
John was in
respects a great teacher of the people, as Jesus himself says in Jn
5:35 when he calls John a burning and shining light. In Mt 11:11 he
calls John the greatest of all who have been born of woman. Is it
not strange then that John himself preaches to the people about
another prophet greater than he, whose sandal strap he is not
worthy to unloose.
Is it really
that John would preach this greater prophet if he had never seen
he have risked his prophetic vocation to preach a stranger as the
Messiah, when this stranger might have lacked the power and the
means and the talent for such a calling?
No, that is
possible. It would have been the maddest thing to do which could
only have been done by a prophet against the interests of his own
teaching. If they had known each other before, then it would have
been a very good way of spreading their teaching and a very clever
displayed the virtues which recommended him to the people, humility
and modesty, and thereby only increased his reputation.
2. He deflected the jealousy and envy from himself to Jesus.
3. He made Jesus’ appearance as a prophet easier. If John had
remained alive, in spite of this recommendation, his own influence
with the people would probably still have been greater than that of
4. This recommendation of Jesus may also have had the intention of
deflecting the wrath of the Roman and Jewish authorities from
himself to Jesus.
highly probable that Jesus and John had both belonged to the Essene
brotherhood, and had planned beforehand how to amaze the people and
display signs and wonders for the prophets and their
more certain information than that of the historian Josephus, who
mentions the rise of the Essene brotherhood.
We know for
that this group arose and developed its activity at the time of
Christ. And that John and Jesus appeared in public proclaiming the
principle of the group. Every sect seeks to increase its membership
with like-minded people and directs its attention principally
towards the talented, energetic, brave and respected. Jesus and
John could not therefore have been unknown to the Essenes. If they
were unknown before their appearance in public, after it they would
have been sought out by the Essenes and encouraged.
John and Jesus were Essenes and the Essenes disciples of Jesus.
Whether either of them were accepted members of the sect, or
whether there were any Essenes among the apostles is uncertain. But
the way in which Jesus and John were publicly received and the
similarity of their teaching on their society makes it most
probable. All the problems, signs and wonders can be much more
easily understood if we imagine the interest and co-operation of
the Essenes in them. From the words of John:
Jn 3:30. He must increase, but I must decrease.
We may gather that the roles trey were to play had been decided on
beforehand, and that before they had appeared in public they had a
secret understanding on the exercise of their prophetic
is not known for certain, only very probable. Without it we cannot
see the good intention in many events, only lies and deceit, The
following chapter will prove that Jesus bad a secret understanding
with his disciples in their policy towards the people. We do not
know whether this was an understanding with the Essenes or not. The
important thing was the understanding itself.
If a secret
concentrates all its strength, knowledge and courage upon one
member without the people knowing this, if the work of the whole
group are claimed to be supernatural powers of the one member, if
the people’s faith in him is both created and strengthened by
the group members, then we have an explanation for all the signs
2 Faith was
Necessary Condition for the Signs and Wonders
they who do not see and yet believe.
years ago people’s minds were full of belief in the devil,
ghosts, signs and wonders. Religion and morals were interwoven with
such things as if they were eternal truths. The leaders sought the
support of the masses by strengthening and perpetuating such
beliefs. In the christian middle ages the situation was even more
irrational. People who made the laws and religion and who should
have been among the most enlightened had innocent people burnt as
‘witches’ because of their superstitions. Luther the
reformer believed in various devils. But this irrationality is not
the important thing about the reformation. And in exactly the same
way the stones of ghosts, spirits, devils, signs and wonders in the
bible are not the important thing, they are not essential to the
christian doctrine and may be interpreted at will without affecting
the doctrine in the least.
teach the people in those days must have been aware that signs and
wonders were expected of him, or people would not believe in him.
Jesus sought to weaken their superstition with the same weapon. You
will not believe in me unless I show you signs and wonders. All
right, I will perform no signs and wonders for you unless you
believe. He who did not blindly believe was not his disciple and
could not be helped by him. Faith allowed for no more doubt. What
Jesus said must be held true even if sound reason and all five
senses contested it. What better weapon could he have used against
the jews so hungry for signs and wonders?
faith here and there, here and there he performed miracles. Where
he found no faith he performed no miracles:
Mk 6:5. And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid
his hand on a few of the sick and healed them.
6. And he wondered at their unbelief.
With faith, everything was possible, even signs and wonders. Faith
was always demanded: Mt 8:13; 9:21, 22, 28, 29; 15:28; 17:19, 20;
21:22; Mk 5:34; 9:23, 24; 10:52 16:16-20; Lk 7:9, 50; 8:25, 48, 50;
17:9; 18:42; Jn 11:40, 42; 14:12; Acts 3:16.
new doctrine to the Jews was expected to perform signs and wonders:
Mk 1:22, 28-34; Jn 3:2; Acts 4:30; 5:12-16; 1 Cor 1:22. The
people followed Jesus more for the sake of the signs and wonders
than for the teaching itself: Jn 6:26; 7:31; 11:47-40; 12:18.
Likewise the apostles, Acts 13:12.
Men who were highly respected by the people said that Jesus cast
out devils: Mt 12:24; Mk 3:22; Jn 10: 1, 22.
Others said that he was possessed by the devil: Mk 3:21, 30.
Jesus did various things when he healed a man: Mk 3:5; 7:33;
In this last passage read on and ask why did Jesus put day on the
blind man’s eyes? Why could he then not see immediately? Why
was he sent to a far away pool to wash? Why did not all the people
recognize him again when he returned? In other words, who is
telling the story and what is his interest in telling
criticized people who asked for signs and wonders:
Mt12:38,39;16:1, 4, 5; Mk 8:11, 12; Lk 11:29.
Jesus did not heal all the sick who were brought to him as may be
seen from the following passages in which there is mention of many:
Mk 1:34; 3:10.
Jesus gave his disciples the power to cast out devils Lk 10:17-19.
But they were not always able to cast the devils out: Mk 9:18,
When the disciples asked why they were not able to cast out the
devil Jesus answered very naïvely:
29. This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Why had
he not said this earlier?
Others who did not believe also performed signs and wonders: Acts
8:9-13; 13:6; 19:13; 2 Thess 2:9;
Jesus could not or would not prevent such unbelievers from
performing signs and wonders: Lk 9:49, 50.
There would also be antichrists to perform them: Mt 24:24.
Both before and after Christ, according to the bible, the dead were
raised: 2 Kings 4:35; Acts 20:9-12.
How necessary faith was to the signs and wonders can be seen from
the accounts of the resurrection. The disciples speak to a man they
do not know even though they can see him and hear his voice. This
man tells them that he is Jesus and they do not believe it. In
order to prove that he is Jesus he breaks bread among them, eats
fish with them and shows the marks of his wounds. This is to make
them recognize him. Why could trey not recognized him by his voice,
his face and his body? It could have been someone else who claimed
to the unbelieving disciples that he was Jesus.
things about the account of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus was going
up to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover and raised Lazarus from
the dead in a neighbouring village. A few days later his head was
anointed, then he rode into Jerusalem and cleansed the temple. The
reader can see that the scenes are related. Jesus needed followers
in order to gain publicity. He could not wait tile he entered
Jerusalem because he did not have many followers there and could
easily be arrested (Jn 11:18); he had to collect his followers on
the way up. Nothing could have served him better than the fame of
the miracle of the raising of Lazarus (Jn 12:9, 11). Lazarus was
the brother of Mary Magdalene who travelled around the country with
him together with her sister and other women (Lk 8). The brother
and the two sisters, the evangelist tells us, were loved by Jesus.
Mary Magdalene, moreover, was the first person to whom Jesus
appeared after he rose from the dead (Mk 16:9). Now let the reader
make his judgment, taking the following passage into account:
Jn 11:15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so
that you may believe. But let us go to him.
If he had
to his disciples after he had visited Lazarus, they would not have
believed that Lazarus was dead and Jesus was going to raise him.
What follows from this?
Lazarus is sick, but remains for two more days before paying
attention to the sisters’ request (11:6). He must have known
that he would be able to raise Lazarus from the dead. In that case
why did he weep? (11:35).
Jesus needed the reputation of a wonder worker for the propagation
of his teaching. In order to make this easier he said
‘Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe’, and
used every opportunity to draw attention to his prophetic power: Lk
10:18; Jn 1:48; 11:15, 48; 13:19; 14:29.
Jesus used jesuitical methods for the attainment of his ends: the
end was to justify the means. But isn’t this a good maxim
when the end is good? If a strong poison is needed to cure a
disease, a milder one will not suffice. Do not doctors, teachers,
nurses and parents obey the same maxim in the interests of their
inexperienced, fearful or weak-headed patients?
society, the more difficult it is to spread enlightenment among
them, and the less choice of means there will be, and in certain
cases it will be all the more necessary to resort to jesuitical
methods. Such cases occur daily in every household. All forms of
behaviour: which we call wrong or unlawful or sin or passion have
as their purpose the attainment of a good end or the avoidance of a
greater evil. Indeed there are occasions in human life when the
failure to apply this maxim would be wrong, cases in which the
individual or the society are subjected to great dangers and have
no other way out.
great man, no teacher of the people, who has not been more or less
obliged, in order to spread his doctrine, to mystify those of his
hearers who could not understand him and from whose prejudices he
has more to fear than to gain.
perfectly well how to explain the miracles of Mahommed. We say that
the dove which spoke in Mahommed’s ear had been trained to
eat out of his ear. We say the voice that cried out of the earth
that Mahommed is a great prophet was a man hidden in a stream.
Mahommed let him hide so that his deceit would not be discovered.
The Jews said similar things about the apostles:
Mt 27:63. ‘Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he
was still alive, “After three days I will rise
64. Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third
day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people,
“He has risen from the dead” and the last fraud will be
worse than the first.’
that it is
difficult to make a disappointed people happy without deceiving
then, if they have grown up with rooted prejudices, errors and
superstitions. Socrates himself said about the platonic state where
all things were held in common:
We shall have to employ many means. Bodies which need no medicine
may be served by a bad doctor, but if a doctor is needed he must be
a good one. Our rulers will have to employ all kinds of falsehood
and deception for the benefit of those they rule.
in Athens 350 years before Christ and in a more civilized society
than the Jewish at the time of Christ. Should Jesus have been less
familiar with the Jews than Socrates with the Athenians?
this chapter no more and no greater miracles were ascribed to Jesus
in the bible than to others before him, in his own time and after
him. They were even ascribed to him by people who did not believe
in him and Jesus himself ascribed such power to his enemies. It
follows that the signs and wonders of Jesus are of no great value.
They cannot be for us a reason for honouring him. Even if he was
the only miracle-worker of his time, what is that to us when today
no one gets any benefit from them? What is that to us when people
are helped here and there but not everyone? Only the doctrine that
he taught can be of use to us if it is possible to put it into
practice. If we want to try it, let us throw aside the shell with
which it was necessary for a man teaching 1,800 years ago to cover
the kernel of his doctrine, the food of faith in all subsequent
centuries. Finally a number of texts which show that God is
merciful even when we do not believe: Rom 11:30-32; 2 Tim 2:13; Jn
which Jesus used to achieve his Purpose
If one wants
spread some news, one need only entrust it to a few people as a
secret and under the seal of secrecy. One might pick out certain
people who cannot keep their mouth shout, and then it will pass
from ear to ear, under the seal of secrecy, as fire leaps through a
people to say nothing about his miracles: Mt 8:4; 9:30; 17:9; Mk
1:44-45; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; 9:9,30; Lk 8:56; 9:21,
is Mk 5:19.
When a man is
questioned in court and avoids a straight yes or no, he is as
slippery in the hands of his judges as an awl in the hands of a
child. In an equally slippery way one can answer ‘you said
it’ which can mean yes or no depending on the tone of voice.
Jesus often gave such unclear replies: Mt 24:3, 4; 26:25; 27:11; Mk
15:2; Lk 22:70; Jn 8:25; 18:34, 37.
words and slippery answers are to be found in Mk 11:3 Lk 12:41;
17:37; Jn 8:25; 12:34; 13:28; 14:22; 16:18-31.
parables which even his disciples did not understand. When he was
alone with them or with those of them he trusted best he explained
Mk 4:34. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately
to his own disciples he explained everything. (See also Mt
Why did he
explain to all his hearers these parables which he preached in
public? Was not the explanation as necessary to the ignorant people
as to his disciples? Jesus himself explains his practice as
Mt 13:11. To you it has been given to know the secrets of the
kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12. For to him 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.(Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18.) Because verse 12 follows verse
11 and can only be understood by reference to it and forms one
sentence with it, I translate as follows:
‘He who has understanding will understand these parables, and
understand more about the purpose of my teaching than those who
have no understanding and will only find the parables
Mark puts it even more plainly:
Mk 4:10. And when he was alone, those who were about him with the
twelve asked him concerning the parables.
11. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of
the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in
parables, 12 so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may
indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn again and be
forgiven.’ (See Jn 9:39; 14:22-26.)
the intention to deceive. But why deceive the people through
In order to
understand this we must try and imagine very clearly what things
were like at that time. Among the people to whom he preached the
parables, there were of course his enemies as well as his friends.
With his intimate friends and followers of his teaching he did not
need to speak in dark similitudes, but in the presence of his
enemies it was necessary because they were ready to catch him out
on his every word and either destroy his name with the people or
charge him before the Jewish or Roman authorities.
Jesus had a
revolutionary purpose, as we shall see in what follows. He wanted
to overthrow the Roman and the priestly authority and institute a
community of goods, and even of joy and suffering. He would not
have needed to hide his teaching in parables if it had been about a
kingdom of heaven in the sky. The Pharisees who knew very well what
he was up to, tried to catch him out by their questions and put him
in an impossible position, but Jesus always beat them.
In order to
the pure teaching of Jesus, it is necessary to bring out the
disputed contradictions in the new testament because they are what
have caused the most confusion in the exposition of christian
doctrine. Those contradictions which have already been pointed out
by the opponents of christianity, will be more than doubled by me,
trying to defend it. The philosophical atheists and anti-christians
often set side by side the strange sayings in the bible and their
own strange sayings. It never occurs to them to seek out the
principle of Christ’s teaching. I find that their writings
contain nearly as many contradictions and faulty arguments as the
bible, and moreover do not even lift up our hearts. They are what
Paul calls ‘the godless chatter and contradictions of what is
falsely called knowledge’.
I have found
in the principles of the new testament, which all the
contradictions are unable to weaken. As I am both pointing out the
contradictions and defending the principles I am taking up arms
against both philosophical and theological opponents and oblige
them to find new weapons or lay down their old ones and respect the
1 Jesus will judge all men:
Jn 5:22. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to
27. and has given him authority to execute judgment because he is
the Son of man.
30. As I hear, I judge.
Jn 9:39. For judgment I came into this world, that that those who
do not see may see and those who see may become blind.
Jesus will judge no one:
Jn 3:17. For God sent the Son into the world not to judge the
world, but that the world may be saved through him.
Jn 12:47. If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do
not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save
2 Jesus eats with sinners:
Lk 15:2. This man receives sinners and eats with them. Paul forbids
eating with sinners:
1 Cor 5:11. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with anyone
who bears the name of brother, if he is guilty of immorality or
greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or robber — not
even to eat with such a one.
1 take this
contradiction for according to my definition of the word
‘sinner’, no one can be guilty of immorality, greed, or
be an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard or a robber without also
being a sinner.
3 Jesus tells
help people who are not of our faith! See the parable of the good
Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37).
John tells us
greet or entertain no one who is not of our faith (2 Jn 10:11).
Paul tells us to do good to all men5 especially those who are of
the household of faith: Gal 6 :10.
4 John says
is in the world is not of the Father but of the world (1 Jn
John says all things and the nature of all things were created by
God (Rev 4:11).
5 Paul tells us not to curse
Rom 12:14. Bless them that curse you. Bless and do not curse.
Gal 1:8. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to
you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be
6 Jesus tells us to rebuke a sinful brother privately:
Mt 18:15. If you brother sins against you, go and tell him his
fault between you and him alone.
Paul tells us to rebuke the sinner openly:
1 Tim 5:20. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the
presence of all.
7 John says: He who is from God does not sin (1
John says: We are from God (1 Jn 5:19; 4:6); therefore we do not
John says: If we say we have not sin we deceive ourselves and the
truth is not in us, we make God a liar (1Jn 1:8, 10).
8. Peter is
hypocritical with Gentiles and Jews: Gal 2:11, 14 Acts 11:3.
Paul criticises him but behaves similarly: Acts 16:3; 21:20-26.
9 Jesus says
John the Baptist is Elijah: Mt 11:14; 17:11-13.
John the Baptist says he is not Elijah: Jn 1:21.
things: Jn 16:30, 31.
Jesus does not know all things: Mk 13:32.
11 Jesus does not accept the
man: Jn 5:34. John the Baptist bears witness to Jesus: Jn 1:31-34;
3:26; Mt 17:9-13.
After John had openly borne witness to Jesus, he sent from prison
to ask him whether he was the one who was to come or should we wait
for another: Mt 11:3.
itself contains a contradiction. John first proclaims Jesus as the
Christ and later sends to him from prison to ask him whether it is
true or should we wait for another. This is how I explain it: John
in prison hoped that Jesus would soon organize a rising and sent
this message to him hoping to remind him of it. It was also a
reproach that nothing was happening. Moreover John testified to
Jesus publicly and his question was for the private ear of Jesus
and his disciples. This explanation also reinforces the theory that
Jesus and John were members of the Essene brotherhood and had a
12 Jesus says: If I bear
myself then my witness is true (Jn 8:14).
Jesus says: If I bear witness to myself, then my witness is not
true (Jn 5:31).
13 Jesus says to his disciples:
‘You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to
you, Where I am going you cannot come’ (Jn 13:33).
Jesus also says to them: Whither I go you know, and the way you
know (Jn 14:4).
Jesus also says to them: Yet a little while and the world will see
me no more, but you will see me; because I live you will live also.
According to the last two sentences the disciples will not need to
seek Jesus. If they see him, if they know where he is going and
know the way there, why should they seek him? Do they not also know
where he is going?
14 Jesus says that God leads us
temptation! (Mt 6:13).
Paul has the same opinion: 1 Cor 10:13.
James says on the other hand:
Jas 1:13. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by
God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself
tempts no one.
15 Paul on the kingdom of God:
1 Cor 15:50. I tell you this brethren; flesh and blood cannot
inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the
perishable inherit the imperishable.
16 Jesus on
kingdom of God:
Lk 22:29. That you may eat and drink at my table in the kingdom and
sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
(God’s) form you have never seen: Jn 5:37.
Paul says: Jesus was in the form of God: Phil 2:6.
the christian is not justified by works but through faith.
Rom 3:28. For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from
works of the law.
According to James we are justified by works and not through faith
Jas 2:24. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith
19 According to Paul all
from God: Rom 13:1. According to Peter all authority is of the
human order: 1 Pet 2:13.
20 According to Luke Jesus
his disciples after his resurrection, showed them his hands and
feet, let them touch him, but they did not know him or believe in
him. Why not?
They did not believe him for joy. For joy of seeing him alive
again, they did not believe that it was he! Lk 24:41. And while
they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them,
‘Have you anything to eat?’
21 Jesus says: Truly I say to
are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the
Son of man coming in his kingdom (Mt 16:28).
The all died long ago but the kingdom has not arrived.
22 Peter says: When he was reviled he did not revue in return: 1
Matthew and Mark say he reviled people even when they had not
reviled him: Mt 15:26; 23:17, 19, 33.
contradictions there are many historical contradictions, which have
been pointed out by other authors, but because they are historical
and not doctrinal contradictions, they are not relevant to the
proof of the christian doctrine. But our culture, which we
call christendom, is today being shaken to its foundations by these
historical contradictions. Why? Because the theologians and their
opponents confuse christianity with the accretions which have for
it. Both parties dispute about the shell and disregard the kernel
of the nut. Because theologians have clothed their christianity in
historical garments, it has not been difficult for their opponents
to dig up historical contradictions. The theologians were incapable
of presenting the doctrine itself without the trappings in which
they had decked it. Their opponents could not do this either
because they did not understand the principle or because they were
afraid to see their knowledge put to shame in the face of its power
and nobility. These debates between the theologians and the
atheists were nothing but word battles, and no one knew what he was
trying to prove.
the theologians in their exposition of the christian doctrine are
partly caused by the contradictions we have just discussed. I
listed some of these contradictions in order to separate them from
the doctrine itself which is to be discussed in the next section,
and in order that ambiguities may be explained not in the light of
further ambiguities, but in the light of the principle
contradictions listed above, we see that only five of them, 2, 3,
6, 15, 18 arise from any ambiguity in the principle itself. In the
first four Jesus contradicts the apostles, and therefore it must be
agreed that what Paul and John say here in contradiction to Jesus
cannot be taken as christian doctrine. We must consider the
teaching of Jesus itself and not the interpretations of the
apostles. Thus we find in these four cases that there is no actual
contradiction in the doctrine, for the doctrine comes from Jesus
and he cannot be blamed for the apostles’ interpretations of
it. In 18, two apostles are in disagreement about justice. They
cannot agree whether man is justified by faith or works. Of course
both are best. We need faith in justice so that we may not lack the
courage to work for it. I will not try to decide the issue but
leave it to the reader’s judgment — he has perhaps
already decided against Paul.
contradictions are serious enough to shake the foundations of
orthodox christianity, but do not affect the christian
quarrelsome debates which are falsely called knowledge’, Paul
says. But as he wrote this he must have forgotten that he was quite
accomplished in this art himself. In his debates he is able to call
life death, death life, sin righteousness, and perhaps even
righteousness sin. He tries to affect his hearers by playing with
words like a juggler, and so does John the evangelist. Both of them
did a great deal to spread christianity, but I think it would have
been better to have done nothing if they were incapable of speaking
as radically and plainly as Jesus, John the Baptist and James. The
few words that John the Baptist spoke could not be misunderstood by
anybody and were not subject to contradictory explanations, unlike
Paul who attracts the hypocrites and the good, the ignorant and the
would-be learned to interpret him in countless ways without
realizing what they are doing until they are completely lost. If
one gives to words which are there for our understanding a quite
different meaning and advises or encourages the reader to
understand the words in this different way, then understanding is
quite impossible and the result is confusion. The bible is as full
of such ambiguities as the writings of many modern philosophers. I
hoped to find a key in the new testament for the interpretation of
some of the ambiguous words, but was unable to do so, which. is a
pity when one tries to read John and Paul. The teaching of Jesus of
course does not need the vocabulary of Paul, but I wanted to find
as much of Paul’s writing as possible which was in agreement
with it and with common sense. I did not do a great deal of work
but this is what I found.
What is sin? Unrighteousness, wrongdoing, not using
opportunity to do good, that which does not proceed from faith: 1
Jn 3:4; 5:17; Js 4:17; Rom 14:23.
‘subjected’? There are
places in the bible where slaves are advised to
obey their masters with fear and trembling. On the other hand I
have found the following passage:
1 Cor 7:23. You were bought with a price; do not become the slaves
to slaves he also recommends to their masters, and if we take this
literally it results in an equality between them. According to 1
Cor 16:15, 16 and 1 Pet 5:5, ‘subjected’ can only mean
to be at peace with one another.
What does ‘rational’ mean? If christians took
literally what Paul and John have to say about ‘reason’
and ‘rational’, none of them would possess reason any
longer or even want to be rational. Col 1:21; 2:4, 8; Eph 3:19; 1
Cor 2:4; 1:18-28; 1 Jn 2:27; 1 Tim 6:20. These texts could harness
the whole rational world against christianity. But Mark saves
reason in the name of Jesus by one word:
Mk 12:34. And when Jesus saw that he answered rationally he said,
‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’
What does ‘tempt’ mean? This word is usually
used in the bible to mean to lead astray, or to seduce. But in Jn
6:6. it also used to mean ‘put to the test’. In Acts
15:6 in the lutheran translation I find ‘examine’
instead of ‘test’.
3 Strange and
Difficult Phrases and Ideas
quote only a few.
Acts 2:40 can
as Peter recommending the apostles as ‘low bred’ men to
those who had come to be baptised.
According to Jn 11:33, 38 Jesus became angry at the death of
Rom 8:10. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead
because of sin, your spirits are alive because of
1 Cor 15:31. I die daily.
also put the whole of the book of Revelation. What can be
understood from it is not worth the trouble of keeping and can be
easily replaced by other books in the new testament.
APOSTLES AND WE ARE ALL ONE
I The Nature
Birth of Jesus
The spirit of
whether or not it knows the truth, enjoys deceiving itself or
letting itself be deceived by fantasies. What it cannot discover by
its knowledge it seeks to supply by fantasy, what it is not sure
off in reality it tries to imagine. Because these fantasies are so
powerfiul and have such strong influence on behaviour they have
always been exploited for certain ends. They have even been used to
the detriment of understanding by people who have presented them as
the truth and their origin and consequences as incomprehensible
In order to
the reputation and increase the power of exceptional men, people
ascribed to them
knowledge and power far greater than that of their society and
turned them into ‘supernatural’ beings,
Castor and Pollux, Alexander the Great, Romulus and many others
were given super natural origins.
Jesus came at
when the dominant Roman and Greek culture filled people’s
thoughts, politics, history, religion, patriotism, domestic life,
spiritual and physical being and everything. else that was
important to them with splendid gods and supernatural occurrences.
Which makes it easy to understand why Jesus himself had to have a
accordance with the angel’s annunciation. This happened to
other men in the bible, such as Samson, Jude 13; John the Baptist,
Lk 1:8, 13; Samuel, after a prayer, 1 Sam 1.
born of a
virgin just as the Chinese emperor Kienlong was bom of a pure
said to be
the second person of the Trinity. Vishnu, the second person of the
Indian Trinity was also born of a virgin and worked a similar
Jesus came to
mankind and was boen at the end of December in a stable among oxen
first-born son Mithras to save mankind and he was born at the end
of December of a pure virgin in a stable among oxen and
christianity continues the traditions of the pagan religions that
came before it.
Jesus as the Son of God by describing his birth from a virgin
overshadowed by the power of the Holy Ghost. It also says that in
his humanity he is a son of David. In this case it would have been
better to trace his ancestry back to David through Mary and not
through Joseph. Otherwise it sounds as if the seed of Joseph was
necessary to his descent from David.
this must be taken literally and Joseph taken as the natural father
of Jesus: concerning his Son who was descended from David according
to the flesh.
make sense of this unless it is taken literally. The theologians
quote against such plain evidence texts which are much less plain.
Here is one which may be of use to them:
Rom 9:8. This means that it is not the children of the flesh who
are children of God but the children of the promise are reckoned as
Has such a
any other purpose than to confuse us? What value can it have when
it seeks to prove that we have this or that fantastic lineage? This
may have been interesting to the Jews and Greeks of 1,800 years ago
but what interest can it possibly have for us? The descent of
Joseph from David is furthermore extremely doubtful because Matthew
and Mark contradict each other and give Joseph a different father,
grandfather and great-grandfather.
explains what we are to think of the miracles which mystify his
birth. In Jn 3 he says to Nicodemus: He who is not born again
cannot enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus does not understand him.
Jesus explains. He who is not born of water and the spirit cannot
enter the kingdom of God.
6. What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the
spirit is spirit.
can be born of the spirit who has not already been born of the
flesh. ‘To be born of the spirit’ is an expression
which simply means arriving at insight, understanding and
2 How the Apostles Understand the Relationship
Between Jesus and God
1 Cor 3:23.
Christ’s and Christ is God’s.
1 Cor 11:3. Christ is our head and God is the
Eph 1:3. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus
Eph 1:17. The God of our Lord Jesus.
1 Pet 1:21. Through him we believed in God.
Heb 3:2-4. He was faithful to him who appointed him.
Heb 9:24. He
in God’s presence for us.
Christ are different. God is the head, the father and the God of
Christ. God made Christ and Christ appears in God’s presence
for us. Christ is not God but subordinate to him as we are.
1 Cor 15:28. When all things are subjected to him then the Son
himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him,
that God may be everything to everyone.
therefore did not think Jesus was perfect.
Phil 2:8, 9. And being found in human form he humbled himself and
became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him.
Heb 1:4. He has become superior to the angels.
Heb 5:8, 9. Although he was a Son he learned obedience through what
he suffered, and being made perfect he became the source of eternal
Heb 2:10. For
fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing
many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation
perfect through suffering.
1 Cor 1:27, 28. God has chosen the foolish.
Rom 8:3. Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and
for sin he condemned sin in the flesh.
Jesus began imperfect, disobedient and foolish. The prophecy of
Isaiah which referred to Jesus corroborates this opinion.
Is 7:16. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and
choose the good, the land before whose two kings you stand in dread
will be deserted.
God is said
almighty, omniscient, all-wise, all-good and all-just. In this case
Jesus in his lifetime was not God.
He was not
because he gave his disciples the power to cast out devils and they
still could not do it: Lk 9:40. The Pharisees silenced him, that is
he did not know how to answer them: Lk 11:53.
He was not
or he would have known about the Copernican system and would not
have said that the sun, the moon and the stars would fall from
heaven. He would have known when the last day was to come: Mk
He was not
or he would not have cursed the fig tree for bearing no fruit when
it was not the season for figs.
He was not
or he would not have snapped at his mother: Woman what have I to do
with thee? Jn 2:4. Or he would have taken the man with him from
whom he had cast out the devils into the herd of swine and who
begged to go with him: Lk 8. He would not have been so angry with
Peter (Mt 16:23) and the Pharisees.
He was not
or he would not have forbidden the disciples to go into the lands
of the heathens and Samaritans (Mt 15:24, 27).
‘God’ only three times in the bible, whereas he is
called the Son of Man’ about forty times and four times
‘the man Jesus Christ’: Mt 9:8; Rom 5:15; 1 Tim 2:5; 1
3 How Jesus
Understands the Relationship between Himself and God
Jn 14:28. The
is greater than 1.
Mk 10:18. No one is good but God alone.
Jn 7:16, 17. ‘My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. If
any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the
teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own
Jn 5:30. I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge;
and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will
of him who sent me.’
This is so
it needs no explanation.
4 We too can
Rom 5:8. But
shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died
Rom 6:11. So
must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ
1 Jn 5:18. He who is born of God does not sin.
1 Jn 3:9. He
born of God cannot sin.
5 We too can
Children of God
Rom 8:14. For
are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Gal 3:26. Through faith in Jesus we are children of God.
Before Christ the Jews already called God their father: Jn 11:52;
8:41; Hos 1:10.
We are called children of God in the new testament: Mt 5:16, 48;
6:14, 15; 18:14; Jn 1:12, 13; Rom 8:16, 21; 1 Pet 1:14; 1 Jn
If we are
children of God we can also be called sons and daughters of God and
every man be called the son of God. But although the expression
means exactly the same as ‘child of God’ it has to be
used more carefully. One has to be cautious when one is dealing
with people full of prejudice and passion. One can tell them
everything but must be careful how one puts it.
Jesus said to the Jews:
Jn 10:30. I and the Father are one.
This caused a
scandal. People thought he was himself claiming to be God. But
34. Is it not written in your law, ‘I said you are
35. If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and
scripture cannot be broken),
36. do you
say of him
whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world ‘You are
blaspheming’ because I said ‘I am the son of
Indeed if the
‘gods’ is used of all the Jews then each single Jew is
entitled to call himself God, and Son of God if we are all called
children of God. But we do not find that Jesus called himself
6 We can
God and Christ
see that the name ‘God’ in the bible is not reserved
for one being alone. In those days people made other people gods as
today they make them kings, ministers, etc. At the time of the
apostles this custom was at its height:
Acts 12:22; 14:11, 12; 17:28, 29; 28:6; 2 Thess 2:4; Acts 1:28, 29
calls men ‘divine’. We can become exactly like Christ:
Rom 8:17, 29, 30, 32; 1 Jn 3:2; 1 Cor 6:17.
Jn 17:22. The glory which thou has given me, I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one. Mt 5:48. You therefore
must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Mt I9:21. If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and
give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come,
I The Principle of the Christian
preached to the poor
Repent, become better people, unite.
The promised Messiah is coming. The kingdom of heaven, the best
kingdom on earth, the most perfect society, the victory of the poor
and oppressed, the overthrow of the rich and the oppressors is at
This was the
preaching that Jesus and John offered the people.
Lk 4:18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed
me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to
set at liberty those who are oppressed.
Lk 6:20. Blessed are you poor for yours is the kingdom of God.
21. Blessed are you that hunger now for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you that weep now for you shall laugh.
24. But woe to you that are rich for you have received your
Jas 2:5. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be
rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to
those who love him. But you have dishonoured the poor man. It is
not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into
court? Is it not they who blaspheme that honourable name by which
you are called?
Js 5:1. Come now, you rich, weep and how! for the miseries that are
coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth
eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be
evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have
laid up treasure for the last days. Behold the wages of the
labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry
out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the
Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and in pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have
condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist
you. Be patient therefore brethren until the coming of the
freedom and equality
Mt 23:11. He
who is greatest among you shall be your
12. whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles
himself will be exalted (Lk 14:11).
Lk 7:28. I tell you among those born of women none is greater than
John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is
greater than he.
last sentence that in the kingdom of God everyone will be equally
important, and he who wants to earn more respect cannot do it by
arrogance, envy or pride but by humbling himself in the lowest
place. Thus he would escape the envy, illwill and pride of others
more easily and be loved and honoured for his modesty. This comes
out even more clearly in the following passage:
Lk 14:8. When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not
sit down in the place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you
be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to
you, ‘Give place to this man’ and then you will begin
with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go
and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may
say to you, ‘Friend go up higher’; then you will be
honoured in the presence of all who sit at table with
kingdom of God
he who serves others the most is the most honourable, he who
submits to others and is most humble, that is to say he who best
fulfills the principle of loving our friends and our enemies.
However, in the kingdom all brothers and sisters are equal. No one
is above or below anyone else.
Mt 20:25. You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over
them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among
you must be your servant,
27. and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.
Mt 23:8. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one
teacher, and you are all brethren. See Mk
10:45, 46; Lk 22:24, 27.
those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly I
say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table and he
will come and serve them. (This verse contradicts what in Lk 17:7-9
might be thought to uphold a system of inequality. See also Lk
Jas 1:9. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation 10. and the
rich in his humiliation.
Gal 5:13. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use
your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be
servants of one another.
1 Cor 8:9. Only take care lest this liberty become a stumbling
block to the weak.
Jas 1:25. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of
liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer
that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
Masters treat your slaves justly and fairly. 1 Cor 7:21. But if you
can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.
Gal 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave
nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in
Christ Jesus. (See Col 3:11.)
1 Cor 7:23. You were
bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
alone, but above all action is necessary to the kingdom of
Mt 7:21. Not everyone 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.
2:14. What does it profit, my
brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his
faith save film? If a brother.or sister is ill-clad and in lack of
daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be
warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for
the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no
works, is dead.
responsibilities and duties
Mt 7:12. So whatever you wish
that men would do to you, do so to them.
Lk 22:27. For which is the greater, one who sits at table or one
who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you
as one who serves.
Jn 13:8. Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my
feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you
have no part in me.’
Gal 6:2. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of
property and community of goods
It was the abolition of
property, the necessary condition for putting the teaching of Jesus
into practice, which made its open proclamation and propagation so
difficult. It was in the interests of Romans and Jews, priests,
levites and sadducees to suppress such a doctrine.
The rich in
days were strong enough to overcome opposition to their interests.
They fought for their property savagely. Four hundred years before
Christ Mazdak in Persia had won the king over to this doctrine but
it was repudiated by the crown princes who banished its teachers
from Persia amid streams of blood. The same thing happened to the
disciples of Pythagoras in Italy.
work in our society today and the parsons use the same weapons.
They confuse us by interpreting all passages in favour of this
doctrine in a false and meaningless way. But could the abolition of
property be more plainly advocated than in these many passages?
Don’t they become nonsense unless this is their meaning?
Judge for yourselves:
Lk 14:33. Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot
be my disciple.
Lk 18:29. There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or
parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30. who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age
to come eternal life.
Let us note
passage carefully. It is unambiguous. Jesus speaks of this time and
of the future and says plainly that whatever a man renounces will
be replaced manifold in this time. But only with an economic system
in which work is done and goods are held in common is it possible
so to raise the general standard that each man has more freedom and
enjoyment and less worries than he had when he had his own houses,
money and possessions.
To the rich
who had kept all the commandments from his youth and asked what
more he should do, Jesus said:
Lk 18:22. One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and
distribute to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.
23. But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich.
24. Jesus looking at him said, ‘How hard it is for those who
have riches to enter the kingdom of God!
25. For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’
See also Mt 19:16-30; Mk 6:8, 10; Mt 6:25, 33, 34; Mk 10:17-30;
12:28-34; Lk 10:7, 8, 25, 28, 37;
14:7, 15; Jn 15:12.
Rom 12:4. For as in one body we have many members, and all the
members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one
body in Christ and individually members of one another.
1 Cor 10:24. Let no one seek his own good but the good of
We learn that
early christians really behaved in this way from the following:
Acts 2:44. And all who believed were together and had all things in
45. and they sold their possessions and goods and dis tribute them
all, as any had need.
Acts 4:32. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart
and soul, and no one said that any of the things he possessed was
his own, but they had everything in common.
34. There was not a needy person among them for as many as were
possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of
what was sold.
money was regarded as a thief from the community.
Acts 5:1. But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a
piece of property,
2. and with his wife’s knowledge kept back some of the
proceeds and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’
3. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart
to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of
That is to
everything that a christian keeps back for himself and does not
give to the community, he has stolen from the community. We have an
even stronger proof of this in the following: Lk 6:35. But love
your enemies and do good, and lend expecting nothing in
not exact interest, then investment is not possible. Without
interest the capitalist would have to work or go hungry in spite of
his capital. In the fourth century certain money lenders did not
take money but goods as interest. St Ambrose said, you should take
nothing, whether you take money or goods it is still
You are like the Slovaks whose clothes are greasy with bacon and
they never wash or change them but let them grow foul on their
bodies. They do not know the pleasure of washing themselves clean
and you do not know the pleasure of a clean conscience. Because
both right reason and the teaching of Christ give you a bad
conscience those with a good conscience have the less to fear from
you. Without christianity and the enlightenment you could oppose
the abolition of property as mothers once opposed vaccination
You know the
your Lord but be careful when you ask him, ‘Lord what must I
do to enter the kingdom of God’, and he answers, ‘share
your goods with the poor’, that you do not hang your head
like the rich young man. Our society is like a shipwreck in which
each man tries to grasp a plank in the wild waters and is glad when
he sees his neighbour perishing and would even refuse to get in the
same boat with him which would save them all.
How hard it
the rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Our pastors know this
well and have turned the needle’s eye into a barn door. The
camel bucks a bit before the pastor’s great work and rushes
in with God’s old cob.
Lk 12:13. One of the multitude said to him,
‘Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with
14. But he said to him,, who made me a judge and divider over
We see from
wrong the people were about the teaching of Jesus. They asked a man
who taught the community of goods to be bothered with the division
of an inheritance between two brothers and to judge between
15. And he said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of
covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the
abundance of his possessions.’
people do not understand this, they are so obsessed with money. Of
course one can live on money, and live well, one need not even
work. Strange! Money and goods are dead things which do not work,
yet someone has to work. Money has to be made by someone. It
follows that no one can live on his money without working for it or
depriving someone else of the fruits of his labour. If he says he
can he is either ignorant or a deceiver. The ignorant man does not
see that money is only a means of depriving the poor of some of his
power by making him work for others without being aware of it. The
deceiver knows this but takes care to maintain the poor in their
blindness so that he may rest. No one lives on his money without
other people’s work.
He who has
and many goods has many means of making others work for him and
himself work less or live better than they. Goods are privileges
for which we poor sinners must pay the price. The handing on of
this unholy and unchristian state of affairs from father to son is
called ‘inheritance’, We should inherit from no one but
we should ensure that our neighbours inherit the fair earth with
all its fine buildings and wealth in common. Let there be no
inheritors who live by deceit; they would do better to spend their
time helping their wives with the washing and cooking.
Poor sinner, take your dearest coin in your hands and
consider the number of different things you can buy with it.
Consider how many working hours this coin represents and you will
find that it sometimes pays for a month’s work and sometimes
for scarcely half an hour.
You will find
without it you cannot obtain the necessaries of life. If you have
no money you must die, and in order to get money you must fulfill
the conditions of those who have it. All who have to live by their
work must agree to the conditions of those who pay for their work,
although these are for the most part idle men who understand
nothing of the work and are only exploiting the workers to enrich
themselves. Every monetary system has become a permitted means of
deceit and robbery. Things have gone so far that it occurs to no
one that by money, the so-called justly earned income, he can
deceive others or be deceived by them. First money must be
abolished and a system of exchange introduced which makes robbery
and deceit impossible.
harmless in a christian society in which people own things in
common, do not rob and deceive each other and need neither police
nor judges. A society which has not reached this happy level must
abolish money or surrender it to serve the above
not positively say that money must be abolished. He said we should
not store it up, or carry it with us or refuse it to those in
Mt 10:9. Take no gold nor silver nor copper in your belts.
Mt 6:19. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth
and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal.
Mt 6:24. No
serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the
other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You
cannot serve God and mammon.
But in our
society where few of these principles are obeyed, it is impossible
for the poor to obey them because they must have money for their
daily life, and the rich refuse to obey them, and nothing is
changed. Even the disciples could not obey them literally; one of
them had to carry the common purse containing what they had
collected and what they had been given to pay for their common
Jn 12:6. He was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to
take what was put into it.
And so as
long as the
money system remains we remain more or less slaves to it. Blessed
is the man — whether fate has made him the slave or the
possessor of money — who does not give up trying, like a wise
child of the world, to act in accordance with christian
Jesus’ concept of the community of mankind
involved the abolition of the family. He denied the family and
expected his disciples to do likewise. He did not allow anyone who
wished to follow him to take leave of his parents. To a man who
first wished to bury his father he said ‘Let the dead bury
in a house and was told that his mother and his brothers were
looking for him, he said:
Mk 3:33. Who
mother and my brothers?
34. And looking around on those who sat about him he said, Here are
my mother and my brothers.
35. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and
And he taught his disciples:
Mt 23:9. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one
father who is in heaven.
the family is probably based on Jesus’ own family
experiences. He was the illegitimate child of a poor girl, Mary,
and according to the prejudices of his time, people despised him.
Joseph the carpenter had not succeeded in removing the stain by
marrying Mary, the people persisted in their attitude. Jesus
probably heard many unkind remarks. It is therefore not surprising
that as a fatherless waif he preferred to call himself a child of
God rather than a child of Joseph, which prejudice had made into
bonds of the family to the principle of community. What must be
have suffered before reaching such a conclusion? What feelings of
pain and joy, hatred and love before he went thus far? Surely there
must be interesting stories about Jesus at the age of eighteen
which are lost to us.
family, and we too want to attack it, but only the family which is
held together by financial interest, inheritance and common gain,
the family which is a socially disreputable herd, beset with
prejudices which they pass on to their children and propagate from
generation to generation. It is a herd which is bound together by
self-interest and inheritance against a common enemy. It needs
neither love for friendship, which is what constitutes the true
These are the
families we should found and love more than ourselves, but we
should value the family of mankind even more than our individual
abolished, family and marital relations would improve. Now because
the man is solely responsible for the support and future of his
family, the wife is still partly the property of the man. Whether
she loves him or not she is obliged to stay with him for financial
reasons, if she has no other means of feeding her family and
nowhere else to go. The man can count on her fidelity because he
considers himself responsible for the support of his own children
alone. But this would cease with the abolition of property. Whether
a couple has ten children or none, whether a woman has twenty
husbands or just the one, the children would be treated alike.
Society should care for the raising of all children, without
depriving the parents of their rights. No one would be obliged to
remain with a partner he or she no longer loved for purely
financial reasons. Marriages would not be held together by
self-interest but by love and friendship. People who are morally or
physically incompatible would not have to persevere in a marriage
of quarrels, lies and deceit, poisoning both of their lives. Now
nearly all marriages are made out of self-interest, but in a true
community chis would not happen. Now people swear a hypocritical
fidelity before the altar, then they would not swear at all. Jesus
says with respect to marriage:
Mt 5:34. I
you, Do not swear at all.
37. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or
When love and
friendship and not self-interest bind hearts together, when the
woman has a freedom equal to the man’s and has security for
herself and her children, when she is no longer obliged to live
with a man whom she does not love, or kept from living with a man
womb she does love, there will be no more illegitimate children.
All children will be legitimate, even though the mother recognized
no other father but God or the Holy Ghost. The woman will be proud
at her first conception and none will need to be ashamed of it. The
man will take pleasure in hearing her name him the father, whereas
now he often regards it as a calamity.
seek to satisfy their passions in unnatural ways, which according
to some famous doctors happens almost universally, especially among
women, at least those who are too old to find a husband. There will
be more enjoyment and less dissipation. When a love relationship is
shameful to the world this is usually because of the concept of
property. But the christian who is free of such prejudices should
take no notice of the world. He cannot do so without casting a slur
on the mother of Jesus and on Jesus’ ancestry. Matthew
mentions four women in his account of the descent of Jesus, Tamar,
who seduced the father of her dead husbands, Rahab a prostitute,
Ruth who won the heart of her cousin by creeping into his room at
night, and Bathshebah the adulteress, Uriah’s wife.
Jesus speaks plainly enough about marriage. In
Mark 10; 11,
Luke 16:18 he calls every divorce an adultery, and even calls it
adultery to give an adulterer his freedom. According to Mt 19:9
every divorce is justified by adultery and in Mt 5:27, 28 Jesus
calls every desire for another woman an adultery. Therefore every
marriage consists of a pair of adulterers and contains grounds for
divorce. The disciples said:
Mt 19:10. If such is the case of a man with his wife it is not
expedient to marry.
11. But he said to them, ‘Not all men can receive this
precept but only those to whom it is given.’
that Jesus did not think the disciples yet capable of understanding
his teaching en marriage. He chose rather to leave the disciples
— some of whom were married — in ignorance than to risk
arousing their wildest suspicions.
Let us also
that Jesus was unwilling to condemn the woman taken in adultery any
more than any other transgressor and that he himself and many of
the apostles had friendly relations with the opposite sex (Jn
11:5). So this unclear part of the teaching of Jesus agrees with
the rest. But the application of a principle must be tactically
different during the period of transition from when the time comes
to introduce it fully. This is what causes so many mistakes when
the practical application of a principle has not been fully worked
out. Paul speaks about marriage in 1 Cor 7.
Among other things we find:
1 Cor 7:1. It is well for a man not to touch a woman.
2 But because of the temptation to immorality each man should have
his own wife and each woman her own husband.
of truths and contradictions and each man must judge it for
himself. In the early days of christianity various. christian sects
even abolished marriage altogether and held everything in common,
even bodily love. These sects were the Simonians, the Nicolaitans,
the Carpocratians, the followers of Basilides and the Marcionites
and others who were called Gnostics.
The ideas of
common and the freedom of women were constantly confused. When
women were held in common they were regarded as a herd over which
each man had rights. This state, in which men are privileged, must
be distinguished from that in which the, woman has equal rights
with men in all her capacities and needs.
Of course it no longer exists. But patience, poor
sinners, it must come again. We must have tables loaded again with
Easter meat, bread, and wine and sit down to them with our women
and children. There must be no more Lazaruses who hungrily collect
the scraps which fall from the rich man’s table.
christians, you give us little bits of bread and little offerings
but you will not even let us dip our fingers in the pan that cooked
your meat. You give us a sip of wine or none at all while you go
home and live it up. This is the way to make the love feast a
pretense and to keep the reality from your poor
The Copts in
and the Abyssinians, who were christians long before you, do not
give offerings instead of a supper. The supper with. them is a
common meal in church, at which bread and wine are eaten and drunk
in the ordinary way, unlike the mass at which the people are
spectators who smoke during the show and clap when it’s
not like that. The apostles came together to eat and drink because
they were hungry and thirsty, and after the death of Jesus they
came together to remember him by a meal. Even with the early
christians there were disruptions at the supper, which nearly
always happens in societies which are not used to orderly
behaviour. Paul tried to correct the evil by ordering no one to
begin eating and drinking until everyone had arrived, so that some
would not be full and drunk and others hungry and thirsty. Anyone
who could not wait that long ought to eat and drink something
beforehand at home.
1 Cor 11:21. For in eating each one goes ahead with his own meal,
and one is hungry and another is drunk.
22. What! do you not have houses
and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate
those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend
you in this? No I will not.
33. So then my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for
34. if any one is hungry, let him eat at home.
‘Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who
have nothing’ means despise those who come late and whose
bread you have eaten up and wine you have drunk.
for the love feast are simply the rules which should be learnt by
all rude people who are invited out to dinner. We can also apply
them to a love feast today, without making an empty ceremony of it
to shame the poor.
All this must
changed and the love feast restored. We will no longer celebrate it
with downcast eyes and on our knees, but round a table with an
Easter lamb, bread and wine, milk, potatoes, meat and flesh. We
will enjoy it together and share with one another.
agree, poor sinners, that would be a splendid Easter feast. But the
crucified and the oppressed must first rise from the grave of
deception and lies. Come out of your dark holes. The love feast is
ready, the great table is laid. Come and celebrate the morning of
The night is
gloomy and our hearts are heavy and afraid, but why must our gaze
rest on the darkness when beyond the fog it is already beginning to
that lay over us are dispersing after the long storm and the light
grows rosy. Get up you sleepers. Already the cock has crowed three
times. How much longer will you lie abed denying your
2 Love of
When we share
burdens and our joys, when goods are held in common, a necessary
condition for a truly human life, all those crimes relating to
money and property will no longer exist. When we have introduced a
means of exchanged which makes robbery and deceit impossible, when
we have reformed the vote and our parliament, the remaining human
passions of hatred, anger and impure love will not be able to do
such very great damage.
How should we
about it? Build prisons? Make laws? Make police and judges and thus
ten evils out of one and ten burdens out of one? Certainly not.
Society must be conducted so that wrongdoers are treated as sick
men needing help. Our customs and morals make it hard for us to see
things in this way, even though it is the right way. We do not now
regard a drunken man, or a feverish man, or a very stupid man or a
psychologically disturbed man as responsible for his actions. But
every thoughtless action we live to regret is irrational. Of course
we seek to justify ourselves. But if our enemy whom we have injured
does us good in secret, so that no one sees our shame, we may
repent. This is the christian teaching of love for our enemies, and
it involves regarding evil-doing as sickness and treating it as
such. Scorn, shame and punishment are in direct opposition to the
our neighbours includes of course the command to love our enemies,
but Jesus mentioned love of our enemies in particular so that love
of our neighbours would not be limited by evil passions.
Mt 5:43. You have heard that it was said to you, ‘You shall
love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
44. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you. (See Lk 6:27-35.) For the commandment to love in
general see also Mt 6:2; 22:36-40;Lk 7:41, 42; 11:4; 1 Cor 13:1-10;
16:14; Col 3:14.
certain sick people as sinners. This also happens today. ‘God
has marked the man. It is God’s punishment’, can still
be heard in catholic and protestant countries. Prejudice regarded
the sick as sinners, whereas it should be the other way
and written in eighteen hundred years; christian truths have often
been misunderstood and distorted. I have said nothing new in saying
that criminals are sick; Jesus says:
Mk 2:17. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those
who are sick.
to the sick and commanded us to love them, which of course would be
impossible if we did not regard them as sick and treated them with
patience and sympathy. If the christian does not regard crime as
sickness how can he understand this passage? Mt 5:39. But I say to
you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on
the right cheek, turn to him the other one also. If anyone forces
you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
If sin is
the forgiveness of sins is healing. If sickness and sin go
together, so do recovery and forgiveness. Mt 9:2; Mk 2:5; Jn
Jas 5:16. Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for
one another that you may be healed.
Paul describes the workings of passion:
Rom 7:14-25. I am carnal, sold under sin, etc.
I ‘hat is to
say, ‘I do not know what I do, for I do not do what I want
but what I hate. It is not I that do it but the sin which dwells in
me. I know that in my flesh nothing good dwells. I have the will
but not the ability to do good. The good that I want I do not do
and the evil I do not want I do. But if I do what I do not want it
is not I that do it but the sin that dwells in me. So I find that
although I want to do good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight
in the law of God in my inmost self. But I see in my members
another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to
the law of sin which dwells in my members. I serve the law of God
with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of
Paul is also
regarding sin as a sickness here. But when sin is regarded as
sickness the law which exists to punish it becomes useless and
damaging. Paul proves that the law requires sin. Rom 3:19, 21, 25,
26, 28; 1:13 7:6-9, 13; 1 Cor 1:56; 2 Cor 3:7, 9.
Rom 4:15. For the law brings wrath but where there is no law there
is no transgression.
The law of
abolished the law.
Gal 4:1-5; 5:1, 4, 5; Eph 2:14, 15; Col 1:13, 14; 2:14, 15, 20, 21;
Christ put grace and forgiveness in the place of laws and
punishment: Rom 4:5, 7, 8; 5:20, 21; 9:31, 32; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:10,
11, 23; Heb 7:19.
Gal 3:24. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came that
we might be justified by faith.
If sin and
transgression are actions which our calm reason cannot approve
because they will not serve our welfare or that of other people,
then we should refrain from judging and blaming other wrongdoers.
Lk 6:37, 41, 42; Jas 4:12; Rom 14:10, 13; But he who judges will be
judged himself. Mt 7:1-5 26:52; Rev 13:10.
This is how
christian should behave with his erring brother:
Mt 18:15. If your brother sins against you go and tell him his
fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you then you have
gained your brother.
16. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with
you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of one or two
17. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if
he refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile
and a tax collector. (People whose company must be avoided.)
21. Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive
him? As many as seven times?
22. Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times but
seventy times seven.’
Mk 11:25. And when you stand praying, forgive if you have anything
against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may
forgive you your trespasses.
26. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in
heaven forgive your trespasses.
Rom 14:13. Then let us no more pass judgment on one another but
rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the
way of a brother.
a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should
restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
2. Bear one
another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Col 3:13. Forbearing one another, and if one has a complaint
against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven
you, so. you also must forgive.
2. Cor 5:18. All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us
to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
See also 1 Cor 6:1-8; Lk 17:3, 4.
punish each other. If a man is incorrigible he can be expelled from
the christian community.
Mt 18:17. If he refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you
as a Gentile and a tax collector.
1 Cor 5:13. Drive out the wicked person from among you.
2 Thess 3:14. If any man refuses to obey what we say in this
letter, note that man and have nothing to do with him, that he may
See Mt 25:32, 33.
All the punishments threatened in the new testament are concerned
with the last judgment and not this life.
judge save Christ. Acts 10:42; 2 Cor :10.
judges and punishes us will come with clouds on the last day: Mt
26:64; Mk 8:38;
13:26, 27; Lk 21:27.
He comes in
to judge us: Mt 16:27; 24:30; 25:31-46; 2 Thess 1:7,9.
We shall have
an account of ourselves to him:
Mt 12:36, 41, 42; Lk 11:31, 32; Mt 6:15.
The bad will
out fearful punishments:
Mt 3:12; 5:22; 10:15; 11:22-24; Mk 6:11; Lk 3:17; 10:12-15; 12:5; 2
body and soul. Mt 5:30; 10:28; Mk 9:45, 48.
expected the last judgment to come during their lifetime.
Mk 9:1. There are some standing here who will not taste death
before they see the kingdom of God come with power.
says nothing about the last judgment. What he has to say about
judgment and punishment makes the final judgment look quite
different. Jn 3:17. For God sent the Son into the world, not to
condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through
18. He who believe in him is not condemned; he who does not believe
is condemned already.
19. And this is the judgment that the light has come into the
world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their
deeds were evil.
Jn 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage
that I go away, for if I do not go away the Counsellor will not
come to you, but if I go I will send him to you.
8. And when he comes he will convince the world of sin and of
righteousness and of judgment.
it is the Holy Ghost who will conduct the last judgment. John calls
him light and comforter.
is what we would now consider the most appropriate. It comes to the
same whether we regard our conscience or sound reason as our
Whether it is
Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, God, reason, or conscience or whatever
that will judge us, this does not alter the teaching of Christ. The
main point is that christians should not judge and punish each
other, or recognize any judge or judgment amongst themselves. The
christian should be subject to no law and no judge but the law of
Christ. On this all the texts are agreed.
and punishments are directed against offenders as enemies, but
christians are supposed to love their enemies, that is to say not
to punish them hut to make them better, heal them and do them
good,, removing the causes which make them revolt against the
established order. That is what we should do.
We say now,
offend against anyone so that you will not be punished by anyone.
But Christ taught ‘judge no one so that no one will judge
We see the
of reconciliation in action in the parable of the prodigal son
(Luke is) and the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8).
This principle should govern our actions, not judgment and
punishment. The worst offence should be brought before the
community and the worst punishment should be to treat the hardened
offender as a heathen and a tax collector, that is to break off
relations with him. But Jesus did not even follow this strictly,
for as we know he went about with tax collectors and Gentiles and
Teaching of the
Jn 16:12. I
many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now.
13. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all
truth; for he will not speak on his own authority but whatever he
hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are
14. He will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it
disciples did not understand everything that Jesus taught, or that
Jesus purposely did not make everything plain. It also shows that
Jesus was convinced that he had spoken great truths which would
later be better understood.
opinion of his disciples, and it is the evangelist’s opinion
of us, for he closes his gospel with the following words:
Jn 21:25. But there are also many other things which Jesus did;
were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world
itself could not contain the books that would be
He would not
said this unless he bad thought that what he had written was still
partly obscure, like for example his Revelation. There are also
many difficult things in the gospels. We have seen and stil see how
confused opinions can be about them. The apostles themselves
contradict each other.
One of these
difficult words is ‘spirit’. Don’t be surprised,
reader, that I call this word which has become so common a
difficult one. A word is easy to understand when everybody gives
the same description of it, and this can only happen with something
apprehensible by the senses. Many think of spirit as an airy
invisible being which lives and thinks, inhabits the body during
the body’s lifetime and afterwards lives on and thinks on for
ever without a body. This is possible but I do not understand it. I
cannot teach this to anyone because I cannot prove it.
everything towards its center. This is called gravity. Magnetic
force draws the needles towards the poles. Let us think of our
earth being drawn towards a comet and joined to it, and together
they are reduced to dust or burnt up, would the magnetic force in
it cease to exist or lose its power? I don’t know. Neither do
I know about the future of the secret force which gives us our
powers and constitutes our personality. These powers are the
unknown causes of effects with which we are familiar.
‘Power’ is also a word but it is used to refer to many
things and so for ‘unknown causes of our activity’ the
words ‘thinking faculty’, ‘spirit’ and
‘soul’ are used. All these three are simply names of
the known workings of an unknown cause. These workings are divided
in a familiar way:
understanding, reason, reflection, free-will and conscience. When I
speak of spirit, soul or thinking faculty, I mean all these
workings together with others unnamed, which I may name later; when
I say soul or spirit it is to avoid having to list the five words
above or to describe what I mean by all these words together. This
is how I understand the word ‘spirit’ or
‘soul’ and what I expect others to understand when I
use the words. But one of the words is still superfluous. If I have
a spirit, I do not need a soul and vice versa. I do not know how to
distinguish between spirit and soul.
the bible suggest that Paul meant by ‘spirit’ a being
separable from the body, an idea which I said above I did not
understand. Acts 16:6, 7; 18:5; 20:22, 23, 28; 21:4,11;
same idea in the following passage:
Mk 13:11. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do
not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is
given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak but the Holy
Be that as it
can only be certain that people know what is meant by workings of
the spirit and no one has any other proof for the reality of the
concept of spirit except these workings.
passages in the bible to support my opinion and all the others,
those mentioned above and others mentioned later, can easily be
interpreted in this light.
1 Cor 12:6. And there are varieties of working but it is the same
God who inspires them all in everyone.
7. To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common
8. To one is given through the spirit the utterance of wisdom, to
another the utterance of knowledge, according to the same
9. to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing
by the one spirit,
10. to another the working of
to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between
spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the
interpretation of tongues.
11. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit who
apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Jn 14:16. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another
Counselor to be with you for ever.
17. even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because
it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him for he dwells with
you and will be in you.
passages are to be interpreted in this light. Mk 1:8; Lk 4:1,1;
9:35; 12:11, 12; Jn 3:1-8, 34; 15:26; 8:26; 15:13; 1 Cor 2:10-12;
All the gifts
spirit mentioned here, that is to say all the workings of the
understanding, reason, reflection, free will and conscience, which
the apostle calls wisdom, knowledge, wonder, tongues, gift of
healing, etc. can be used to do good or harm to our fellow men.
Harm particularly when cool understanding, which includes in this
instance reason and reflection, exploits other people out of
self-interest and goes against the deeper feelings to which
conscience bears witness.
The core and
quintessence of this deepest feeling is the mystery of love. Love
draws people together and gives them union and harmony to use their
powers for a common goal. It takes many forms and we call it
friendship, faithfulness, devotion, helpfulness, kindness,
gentleness, generosity, etc.
Just as what
the understanding can overstep the limits which the good of other
people imposes on the individual, so can love, when it is concerned
wholly with self-seeking. Experience teaches people to balance love
with understanding and understanding with love, that is to say to
balance heart and mind. Understanding must be loving and love must
be understanding. How is this possible? When we keep to the
principle of seeking our good only in the good of our whole society
and never in the pain of other people.
more damage when it is without love than love without
understanding. That is why Christ placed more emphasis on love than
on understanding. So did Paul. After he has listed the spiritual
gifts he says this about love:
1 Cor 13:1. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but
have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and
all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
3. If I give
have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I
giving away one’s goods to the poor, which Jesus tells the
rich man is the condition of perfection (Mt 19), is only secondary;
the important thing is whether it serves the precept to love our
enemies. Paul continues:
4. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5. it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
6. it does not rejoice at
rejoices in the right.
7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.
8. Love never ends; as for prophecy it will pass away; as for
tongues they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is
10. But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass
using the other gifts for the attainment of selfish ends, or making
them serve our passions. It teaches us not to seek our welfare in
immediate satisfactions but in the broad aim of general human
welfare, in which understanding is not always the paramount
consideration. All the gifts of the spirit are to be used for the general
Spirit’, as I read it, we are to understand all the truths
which serve the good of mankind. Jesus called these truths the
comforter, who will come and teach us all things we need to know.
Jesus puts this spirit of truth higher than himself. He says:
Mt 12:31. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be
forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be
32. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be
forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
do good to his neighbour, renounce all things for his sake, love
his enemy, judge no one, forgive everyone, but he should not
forgive the sin against the Holy Spirit. This is indisputably the
most important point in the whole christian doctrine. All the
apostles agree on it, all the evangelists cite this passage (Mk
3:28, 29; Lk 12:10; 1 Jn 5:15); but what constitutes a sin against
the Holy Spirit Jesus and his disciples have left us to gather for
ourselves. Now that we have come so far, this will be easy for
We only know what the spirit is
his workings, through his gifts listed by the apostle. No one can
say that the spirit is something separate from these gifts and no
one can say that he is not this; therefore we can be certain that
we mean these workings and gifts when we say
We must use
gifts for the common good. How? By using them to bear our burdens
together and share our joys, to forgive our fellow-men and love our
virtuous in so
far as we strive towards this end with all the love of our hearts,
and sinful in so far as we fail to do this. If we use these gifts
against the common good, when we harm others by cunning, betrayal,
exploitation or intrigue, when we purposely spread lies and errors
as the truth, in short, when we use these gifts in a shamefully
loveless way, we sin against the Holy Spirit. Then we cannot be
forgiven because no one can trust us any more, we cannot be
forgiven in our present society or in that which is to come. Now we
will be despised, then we will be banned from the
Holy Ghost is therefore all that we do with the intention of
maintaining the present state of injustice and inequality in our
purpose is the love of our neighbour is a christian truth and a
working of the Holy Spirit. This spirit of truth continually
perfects his gifts in us and so the teaching of Christ can never
cease, because we will always need to strive for perfection. The
christian will always have work to do in applying the christian
norm of love to all the new and useful ideas and discoveries for
the renewal of society, and in keeping heart and mind together on
the right way.
never cease to keep the renewal and growth of understanding within
the confines of christian love so that they do not fail away into
Jesus thought Necessary to the Spread of His Teaching
hearer of the teaching of Jesus asked to go with him Jesus
Lk 9:58. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but
the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.
59. To another he said, ‘follow me’. But he said,
‘Lord let me first go and bury my Father.’
60. But he said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own
dead; but as for you, go and pro claim the kingdom of
61. Another said, ‘1 will follow you, Lord; but first let me
say farewell to those at my own home.’
him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back
is fit for the kingdom of God.’
the man who for love of his teaching has broken all bonds with his
family, domestic happiness and ancient customs as fit to spread the
gospel. To these he said:
Lk 10:4. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on
collected from the people, and accepted money to support them while
they spread the gospel, no one was to have his own purse, but Judas
kept all the money in a common fund.
live like this today would be treated as tramps by the property
owners. It was not so bad in the time of Jesus, people were not so
chained to property, they had fewer needs and were used to
practicing hospitality. We see from the following passage that
Jesus did not regard this way of life as vagrancy and did not
regard asking for hospitality as begging:
Lk 10:7. And remain in the same house eating and drinking what they
provide, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not go from house
to those who have nothing. He did not want them to beg humbly for
their needs. On the other hand he advised those who had
Lk 14:12. When you give a dinner or a banquet do not invite your
friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, lest
they also invite you in return and you be repaid.
14. But when you give a feast,
the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
Of course the
will crib at inviting such guests as the maimed, the blind and the
lame to their table. They do not even enjoy inviting the less
disgusting poor to their table, unless they have some plan in mind
or seek some other satisfaction. But then they are not christians
but enemies of christians who offend against the Holy Ghost.
Lk 14:26. If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father
and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and
even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot
be my disciple.
28. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit
down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29. Otherwise when he has laid the foundation, and is not able to
finish, all who see it begin to mock him.
at the enormous work needed to build the tower, whoever says to
himself, ‘I can’t face it’ or ‘it is
impossible to get enough workmen and materials to do it’, and
above all whoever is not prepared to set more store by building
this tower than by all his personal pleasures, comforts and joys,
let him stand aside so that he does not hinder the other
In such an
work of course there will be many who grow tired, lose their
courage, fail to understand the plan of the building, criticize the
work schedule, divert the workmen and so hinder the
None of this
frighten those who are interested in the completion of the whole
work, who seek their happiness in that and nothing else.
Lk I4 10. But
you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your
host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend go up higher’;
then you will be honoured in the presence of all these who sit at
table with you. Millions of men now sit in the lowest place and
long for a saviour who will call to them, ‘Friend go up
higher’. From time to time we hear people cry out
enthusiastically, ‘Freedom, Freedom’ or ‘Friend,
go up higher’ but only after they themselves together with
the money men have taken the first places. When will the greatest
saviour come to lead the peoples to a common table and say to all
the poor, ‘Friend go up higher’? They sit so low that
they no longer have the courage to raise themselves by their own
efforts. They are morally and physically adjusted to the purpose of
their oppressors. They cannot help themselves by their own power.
It is for us to set to work, we who have been saved by our
knowledge of society’s evil and the means to change
task is to give back to these unfortunates the consciousness of
their own value. In many countries they have become far too humble
your blood boil when you see these poor weary heads bend low before
the healthy splendour of the rich? Don’t you mind that it is
always these poor who make their humble greeting and are often
answered by scarcely a movement of the rich man’s hand? The
exchange of greetings is a good custom when it is a smiling thing,
but horrible when it displays the gulf between rich and poor. There
are beggar’s greetings which the foolish poor man gives to
the rich man’s clothes. If the rich man takes to carrying a
bundle on his back it will occur to no one to bow before
Tell did not
before Gessler’s velvet feathered cap but today in
Switzerland many bow down before splendid clothes and Paris
fashions. This should not happen, at least not in Switzerland. A
man who is too proud to shake hands with us should not be bowed to.
Since the first revolution it does not happen in France, smock does
not cringe to finery and yet the poorest classes have beautiful
manners in their social relations.
goldfish in a silver lake but cringing is a sow in a dungheap. Let
us take every opportunity to behave accordingly. If we cannot
better ourselves materially, let us improve morally as much as we
can, but let us also remember that it will not be more than a small
help to our cause.
He to whom
entrusted should prepare himself to do great things for the spread
of christianity. Let each man bring something of his knowledge and
abilities to help the cause, whether writing, speaking, money or
Lk 19:8. Behold Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and
if I have defrauded anyone of anything I restore it
publican did this. You rich should do the same, so that we may have
joy in you, as Jesus did n Zacchaeus. For the propagation of our
christianity we can make good use of your influence and some of
your rnoney. For the putting of our christianty into practice we
need everything that you have. For you have as little right to it
as christians as you have to it as human beings. What you have
belongs to us. We created it, and what we have belongs to you if
you are prepared not to be idle loafers.
for your ears which you will not hear in church, although you will
not find them lacking in the gospels. You do not enter the kingdom
of God with gold and silk and servants, but by sacrifice. Mt 7:14.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and
those who find it are few.
He who would
money must work for it, but he will be rewarded by greater rest and
pleasure than the man who wastes his time doing nothing.
Cbristianity rewards us in accordance with the sacrifice which we
make for it.
See also the following passages: Mt 5:11-14, 16; 7:13, 14; 8:19,
20; 9:36; 10:19, 28, 40, 42; Mk 8:34;
12:4; Lk 9:23; 14 16-24; 21:1-4.
important for the spread of the doctrine that every committed
apostle should avoid everything which might divert the powers and
means at his command, and among other things he should be free as
far as possible from earthly cares.
Lk 12:22. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,
what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put
23. For life is more than food,
body more than clothing.
24. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have
neither storehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them.
29. And do not seek what you are to eat and what. you are to drink,
nor be of anxious mind.
31. Instead seek the kingdom of God, and these things shall be
yours as well.
contain the following teachings: At the moment some are free from
care and want because by their property, their inheritance and
their money, they have defrauded others of the fruits of their
labour, whereas those others become subject to even greater worry
and want. At the moment the spread of our doctrine is gravely
hindered by this worry and want. We should therefore, whenever
possible, transfer this worry and want from the oppressed to their
oppressors but not to others who are equally oppressed and thus
hinder their work in spreading the teaching.
When we act
are not anxious about what we will eat and drink, neither need we
pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. If we have
the courage and the power to take the bread and meat and wine that
are ours, we need ask no one for it. We will only pray when our
weakness makes us feel the need to do so. Under communism our
weakness will not make us feel the need to pray because every man
will be assured that his needs will be met. Then we will not need
to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.
So stop being
Your small means will not achieve much any way. Do not be anxious
who will employ you tomorrow. You will not go hungry except at your
own free will. Do not worry about setting up house, let the
achievement of the community of goods be our household. We do not
want separate establishments but a common establishment. Let us not
be anxious to get married. If we wait we save the marriage fees and
need enter no relationship against our inclination.
Do not be
about the future, or your old age. Let each man who still has no
grey hairs undertake to convert one of his fellow men every
fortnight to the principle of community of goods before his grey
hair comes. This is the best insurance for our old age, to reach
our goal as quickly as possible. Let us not be anxious about any of
these things but let us seek the kingdom of God and all this will
be ours as well.
It is all so
We should not always be looking up at the sky when we talk of the
kingdom of God. We must establish the kingdom of God upon earth. If
we have not the courage to do something towards establishing this
kingdom on earth, when there is so much to do, then let us not
bother about establishing it in heaven either. For however we
understand the kingdom, we know it can only be brought about by
fulfilling the commandments of Christ.
disinherited sinners. A beautiful kingdom is prepared for you. Look
at the sloping fields, the trees laden with fruit, the fair streets
and buildings, the ships on the sea, rivers and lakes, the roads
and the railways, along which the products of every climate come to
be exchanged at lightning speed. Look at all the cattle in the
meadows, the shops, the birds in the air, the fish in the water,
the plants high in the Alps and the precious minerals under the
earth, all this by God and by right is our common property. Let us
claim it back from those who subject it to the straitjacket of
inheritance and the madhouse of personal property. They are
deceived deceivers who have not the courage to give it up. They
have received false coin and give false coin in return, some
knowingly and some in ignorance.
As long as we
not the courage to ask for what is ours, no one will give it to us.
So it is for us poor sinners to act.
As long as we
afraid of the necessary sacrifices, and make use of them wisely and
are united in how to use them, then the kingdom of God is near.
Brothers, the meal is ready; the kindness of nature itself has
richly decked our table.
The Lord (the
of the truth and true feeling) has sent out his servants (the
preachers of time christianity). Many were invited but the
firstcomers lost their courage when they saw that the room did not
fill quickly, others took fright at the trouble and sacrifices
necessary to our propaganda. They cared more about their personal
interests than the common interest. ‘I have a lot to do to
support myself, pay my debts and keep up my place, I have all the
expenses of marriage and children.’ Many said this and turned
back leaving the work to others. They have lost their reward for
they do not know the reward of those who persevere to the end. This
reward is the supper which they will not taste.
Let us call everybody
to the feast. Comrades, old friends, when
at the sacrifices you have made and the offerings you have brought
my heart overflows and I could weep for love and joy.
5 Revolutionary Propaganda
respect for property
It is easy to
understand why. A man who was concerned with the good of the people
and saw this good in the community of property and the abolition of
private ownership, inheritance, laws and punishments, who said
expressly that he had come to preach the gospel to the poor.
Naturally he would have no respect for private ownership for it was
what hindered the putting of his teaching into practice more than
anything else; it had impoverished those people to whom he had come
to preach. Every attack on the property of the rich by the poor
would be at least excused by him and not condemned, because for one
thing Jesus was against all human judgment and
says about stealing:
Mt 5:40. And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him
have your cloak as well.
property owners, christian lawyers and legal christians, what have
you to say to this passage? And you poor sinners before you were
communists didn’t the reading of such passages confuse you?
They can only be understood by those who have given careful
consideration to the solution of social problems, others will laugh
at them or find them unbelievable.
I would like
more plainly: let us imagine a future in which our present monetary
system was abolished and replaced by an exchange system in which
cheating and stealing were impossible, and the things which were
exchanged were valued by the time it had taken to produce them. No
one could avoid the necessary work and no one could accumulate or
inherit private property; every man could have the same as everyone
else with the same small exertion. There would be nothing left to
steal in such a situation, stealing would be impossible and people
would laugh at the idea rather than become angry. If my shirt and
boots were stolen I would be given others. There would be no point
in stealing if the thief already had what I bad, could not exchange
his theft for money and still had to work for his daily needs. But
while theft is still possible this shows that the society is not
properly organized. We can test the society by asking whether theft
is possible. In a good organization of society theft should be
allowed. The only guilty person would be the man who possessed
something which not everyone had and excited the desire to steal in
other people, and the society itself which had not legislated to
prevent this possibility.
Anyone who is
for the principle of the community of goods will realize that as
long as the people respect what has caused its sufferings, what has
defrauded it surreptitiously of the fruits of its labours, as long
as the people respect private property nothing will change. Jesus
did not say to the poor, ‘go out and steal’ because he
knew that they often steal as unjustly as those who steal from them
but he said to those who possessed things, ‘do not complain
when the poor man steals from you for he would not steal if he did
not need to. If you did not possess more than he, he would not have
been able to steal from you.’ This is how we should read the
Lk 6:30. Of him who takes away your goods do not ask for them
right to punish the thief because as long as theft exists
christianity is not realized among us. The christian has no right
to force a man to give what he has stolen or been lent. But the
christian may take from the man who has more possessions what he
has stolen from the poor. For we are not now living in the kingdom
of God but in a state of battle. We will only get out of this mess
when the poor have become less ignorant and the rich more sensitive
through the teaching of Crist.
who now see beyond their own private interests. Each family fends
for itself and does not see that by combining their interests they
would all benefit. They are blind like old Tobias. As long as the
worker does not rebel against the man who lives for free off his
labours and maintains a humble and begging attitude towards his
masters who control his bread, he will not escape the evils of his
condition. Preaching will not help for he has no time to listen to
long sermons, and anyway we have no opportunity to preach them. But
something must be done. Let us therefore use the Gospel which is in
every house as a manual for the poor and against the enemies of the
poor. Let us begin to teach again with its help the christian
doctrine. Let us proclaim that poverty must be overcome but not by
almsgiving but the abolition of private property. Let us give the
poor working man the conviction that he is of more value to society
than his oppressor. Let us make him ready to do anything rather
than beg to overcome his misery. He should not ask for the
necessaries of life but take them.
Lk 11:10. For everyone who asks takes (Rsv receives) and he who
contains the parable of the man whose friend comes at midnight to
borrow three loaves. Jesus says ‘that even if he is unwilling
to get out of bed and give his friend the loaves, he will have to
if ‘the friend won’t give over.
8. I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything
because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will
rise and give him whatever he needs.
Jesus tells a
of a steward who was justly accused of wasting his master’s
goods. The master asked for a reckoning and the steward, seeing
that he had been found out and would lose his post and his
livelihood, thought of how to secure his future. While he was still
in office he used his master’s money to buy himself friends
who would support him when he was dismissed. At the end of this
parable Jesus says to his disciples:
Lk 16:9. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of
unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into
the eternal habitations.
actions which are now labelled unjust. As Jesus interprets the
parable, it is right to use money and goods for the common
11. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon,
who will entrust to you the true riches?
12. And if you have not been faithful in that which is
another’s, who will give you that which is your
christian teaching nothing belongs to the individual which he has
not himself produced or rather contributed to by his work when it
was his duty to do so. If a man appropriates such products, that in
biblical language is the unrighteous mammon.
14. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this and
they scoffed at him.
it is possible to read the bible in any way you please. True, you
rich. It was a gospel of freedom, equality and love and you have
made it a gospel of tyranny, servitude and deception. When you made
your mistake, it was from personal interest. If I am mistaken it is
for love of the common good. I do not hide my purpose but admit it
openly. I have quoted the passages on which I have based my
argument. The reader can examine them and come to his own
conclusions. Faith is free and must be respected in other people,
whatever its manifestations.
Jn 18:36. If my kingship were of this world,
my servants would fight; but my kingship is not of this
This is what
answered Pilate to the question are you the king of the Jews? The
orthodox use this passage to transfer the goal of christianity into
an ideal region and make the earthly serve the heavenly. Poverty
and misery wait patiently for the hereafter and serve the interests
of others here on earth.
mentioned that people often put trick questions to Jesus in order
to be able to accuse him, and how cleverly Jesus answered them and
with what wisdom. Jesus in this case was on trial and the answer to
the question was a matter of life and death. It could be objected
that Jesus had already accepted a martyr’s death but that
does not mean that he did not want to delay it as long as possible
for the good of his work. If he had only come to Jerusalem to die
he would not have bothered to leave the city at night and hide in
the garden. The words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’
are a cover for his teaching, ‘for then would my servants
fight but now my kingdom is not of this world’. The word now is
most important. Now (because they do not come
fight) my kingdom is not of this world.
work could not be accomplished by preaching alone. He knew that the
sword lay between the theory he taught and its realization. But he
was not afraid of this sword.
Lk 22:35. When I sent you out with no purse or bag or
sandals, did you lack anything? They said,
36. He said to them, ‘But now let him who has a purse take
it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his
mantle and buy one.’
resistance against the disorders of society, property, inheritance
and the monetary system. Before this Jesus had told the apostles to
take nothing with them, but he revokes this now because the
situation has changed. He who has no sword should sell his mantle
to buy one.
his death before him and all the persecutions to come to suppress
his teaching, he wanted to employ extreme measures against extreme
dangers. So he who had a purse, that is to say property, should
keep it, he who could get hold of one should do so, he who has none
should sell the coat off his back and buy a sword. He who has no
purse to pay for his daily needs should not suffer want but fight
for them with the sword.
Jesus said of
who would reject the apostles:
Mt 10:15. It shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the
land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
it bad enough. They were destroyed by fire and brimstone and no
trace of them was left.
Lk 12:49. I came to cast fire on the earth and would that it was
51. Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I
tell you but rather division.
Mt 10:34. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I
have not come to bring peace but a sword.
This is the
revolutionary Jesus. He did not preach to the poor humility and
renunciation above all things, he did not merely promise them pie
in the sky. He knew that oppressors could not be convinced by words
alone. He saw that it would come to war and gave warning of it. He
wanted peace if possible and war when it was inevitable.
the Teaching of Jesus
which are necessary and always will be for the general good of
mankind: mercy, sacrifice and love of enemies. The practice of
these can be very different according to the circumstances. It must
be appropriate to the demands of a developing society. Almsgiving
is not a universal precept because in a christian communist state
it would be impossible. Self-sacrifice in defence of one’s
country, nationality, etc, are not eternal precepts because under
communism all peoples might be united and speak a common language.
Religious reforms (clerical pay, clothing, laws, ceremonies,
articles of faith and rules for priests) are not eternal truths
because conditions change and maintenance of particular forms in
these matters is never essential to the good of society.
the teaching of Jesus were already taught before him:
Lev 19:17. You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
18. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the
sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as
These last words are repeated as they stand in the new testament.
Solomon also teaches us to love our enemies:
Prov 25:21, If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if
he is thirsty give him water to drink; 22. for you will heap coals
of fire on his head.
We find what
has to say about the false holiness of fasting in Is 58:3-5.
Isaiah also gives us christian doctrine in the following:
Is 58:6. Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the
bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the
oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the
homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him,
and not to hide from your own flesh?
and good works and the sacredness of hospitality in the Odyssey
XIV 385-389, and further in XIV
se ipso 1. VII 26): Take care that you do nothing despicable to
your enemy. If he hates you, he is responsible for it; I want to
behave well and be friendly with everybody.
Seneca in de
ira 1:14 says that we should look on an enemy as a mistake
which we should not hate but seek to correct.
began his preaching before Jesus taught the same principle:
Lk 3:10. And the multitudes asked him, ‘What then shall we
11. And he answered them, ‘He who has two coats let him share
with him who has none; and he who has food let him do
I call the
cause which leads us to discover, test, and know the eternal and
positive truths with both mind and heart, the spirit, or in the
language of the bible, the Holy Spirit. Whoever speaks new or
important truths speaks through the Holy Spirit, whoever by force
or cunning gives out lies for the truth seeking to hinder the
spread of the truth blasphemes against the Holy Spirit. If we want
to make a biblical distinction between spirit and Holy Spirit, we
may take ‘spirit’ for the concrete and ‘Holy
Spirit’ for the abstract term, the former expressing
individual spiritual activity and the latter referring to it as a
universal. This Holy Spirit does not manifest itself in the
activities of one person alone but of many. It can be present in
anybody, in some more than others, and at all times, at some more
than others. This Holy Spirit manifested itself in an amazing way
in the work of Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, Bacon, Columbus,
Gutenberg and others for the good of mankind, but even more
amazingly in Jesus Christ. For his teaching always converts men to
want the good of mankind in some way or other in spite of all
perversions of it, whereas the work of the others is of purely
intellectual value and could be put to the service of selfishness
against the teaching of Christy. It is true that their discoveries
have done more for humanity up till now than christianity has done.
But that is because christianity has never yet been put into
I Jesus’ Attacks upon Property
Mk 2:23, Lk 6:1 Jesus and his disciples picked corn from the
fields. Today christians would call this stealing and take action
against it, imposing corporal punishment, imprisonment or
Lk 8:32, and Mk 5:13 Jesus allowed the devils to enter the herd of
pigs and they plunged into the sea and were drowned. Mark gives
their number at two thousand. The swineherds fled and the owners
begged Jesus to leave the country. Nowadays not many christian
property owners believe in the devil, but those who do stilt
believe in him would not be pleased if he carried off their
possessions with Jesus’ permission. They would not merely beg
a prophet who did such a thing to leave the country but arrest him
and deliver him for judgment.
Jesus told the disciples where they would find a colt tied up. They
were to untie it and bring it to Jesus. It was probably tied up so
that it would not run away. It must have been the owner who tied it
up because he could not be there to look after it. If anyone asked
the disciples why they were untying it, they were to say,
‘The Lord has need of it’. Everything happened as Jesus
had said and he got the donkey. No one would give away a donkey
like this nowadays, although when we compare the incident with that
of the herd of pigs we are not surprised that Jesus got the donkey.
After what he had done to the pigs it would have been more than
dangerous for the owner of the donkey to refuse or oppose him.
According to Mt 21 the disciples took the donkey and the
donkey’s colt and we are not told that the owner noticed
them. Luke (19) does not tell us whether or not the owner was
willing to part with his donkey.
to ride a donkey belonging to his christian brother, he is arrested
and condemned to transportation or death. Is that
21:12, Mk 11:15, Lk 19:45 and in particular Jn 2:15 Jesus
made a whip of cords and drove the traders and money changers out
of the temple, scattering their gold and upsetting their tables.
Shouldn’t we imitate him in this? Haven’t we sufficient
cause to do so? There is plenty of business going on in and around
our temples. Merchants and usurers have even begun to build their
own temples to mammon in which they play games with the blood and
the money of their christian brothers. We are accustomed to find
this respectable, but is not this robbing the poor in a worse way
than any of the actions which are called stealing under the law?
Hypocrisy and deceit masquerade as morality, virtue and conscience.
When will it all end? When we follow Jesus.
We also find
old testament that the chosen people did not respect other
people’s property. When Moses was commanded by God to lead
the Jewish proletariat out of Egypt, he did not know where to get
money for the long journey so God said to him:
Ex 3:21. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the
Egyptians; and when you go you shall not go empty, but each woman
shall ask of her neighbour, and of her who sojourns in her house,
jewellery of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put
them on your sons and on your daughters; thus you shall despoil the
That is to
from the Egyptians. But who did these gold and silver vessels and
these clothes really belong to? Were they not the product of the
forced labour of the children of God, and so their property? And
may a man not take back what belongs to him? Moses himself said,
‘Thou shalt not steal’. But what were his
presuppositions? What was his idea of property? He had much clearer
ideas about it than our learned christian economists. He rejected
entirely property rights over land. ‘The earth is
God’s’, he said. The earth is not a product of our
labour and cannot therefore be anyone’s property. We can only
own what we produce from the earth by our own labour. Moses divided
the promised land into equal parts for the families of the eleven
tribes of the children of Israel. The families had an inalienable
right to the land. The land could be confiscated but after fifty
years (the jubilee year) it reverted to the family, without
payment. It was with reference to this social structure that the
just God commanded: Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet thy
neighbour’s house, maidservant, cattle, etc., and threatened
severe sanctions. But he only did this after every child of God had
been given the possibility of a human existence.
Moses was a
and a nationalist. He did not know the christian principle of
universal love. This is proved by his laws against strangers. But
even with strangers he behaved more humanely and honourably than
many of our christian statesmen. What would he say if he came back
to earth purged of nationalism and saw the unholy mess made by our
christian Israel? He would frown horribly and say, ‘You speak
my divine commandments but go against them every day. Do you call
yourselves children of God? What has become of the inalienable
right over the land of every child of God? Are we back in Egypt? Do
I not see a great number of you condemned to forced labour for the
rich and with nowhere to lay your head? Go away from me, you
He would say
something like that and he would be right. For the thoughtless way
in which the bible is read today is going a bit too far. It looks
like hypocrisy. Or have we really lost our understanding and our
sense of justice?
laws were drawn up originally by Roman jurists, the greatest rogues
and babblers under the sun and they are as great a shock to the law
of Moses as a clenched fist in your eye.
2 He Went About with Sinners
that Jesus sought the company of the poor and the despised. He
performed his miracles especially for them, he thought them fit to
be in charge of the founding of the kingdom, he hoped that their
experiences, their courage born of suffering, their endurance,
their hatred of property and privilege would enable them to succeed
in the work.
the times. Even at the end of the last century dances and various
sorts of entertainers were regarded as disrespectable. People
avoided their company as today a young girl from one of our schools
would avoid the company of prostitutes. This was true of the last
century and perhaps some of the prejudices remain, at least I have
sometimes heard them expressed. This was the attitude of the Jews
at the time of Christ to publicans and Gentiles.
today we call wicked, outcast, debauched, immoral, common, etc,
were called in those days plain sinners. These publicans and
sinners who were despised by all were the very people sought out by
Jesus and he ate and drank with them.
Mt 9:10. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax
collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his
11. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,
‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and
12. But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have
no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not
sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous but
that Jesus sought the company Jesus sat at table in a
Pharisee’s house, when a woman came to him, knelt at his
feet, washed and anointed them and wiped them with her hair. This
woman was Mary Magdalene who was known in the town as a sinner. The
Pharisee saw it happen and said:
Lk 7:39. ‘If this man were a prophet he would have known who
and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a
40. And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something
to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘What is it
41. ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five
hundred denarii and the other fifty.
42. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of
them will love him more?’
43. Simon answered, ‘the one, I suppose, to whom he forgave
more’. And he said to him, ‘You have judged
the woman has shown her love for him and concludes:
47. Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved
sins and took her under his protection. He forgave the woman taken
in adultery. According to the law of Moses she was guilty of death.
Jesus was brought up to regard this as the law of God and the death
penalty could not be gainsaid. They were trying to corner him.
Jn 8:7. Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw
a stone at her.
11. Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.
In Luke 19
enters the house of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector.
7. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to
be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’
Although this tax collector gave half his goods to the poor and if
he had wronged a man he restored it fourfold the people stile
called him a sinner because his office required him to rob the
people and he could only give back what he had gained by
Lk 7:34. The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say,
‘Behold a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors
an obscurantist or a bigot or a creep, he was a man full of
feeling, capable of joy and pain who found as much joy as he could
in his short and difficult life without losing sight of his goal.
Despite the world’s condemnation he ate with sinners. Those
who had sinned greatly could be forgiven much and love greatly.
When the guests were already drunk at the wedding feast of Cana
Jesus changed water into wine. At a passover feast he took leave of
his disciples and the world and commanded his followers to eat this
love feast in his memory.
3 Jesus Went
with Sinful Women and was Supported by Them
Lk 8:1. Soon
afterwards he went on through cities and villages preaching and
bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were
2. and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and
infirmities: Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone
out. . .
This Mary is
sister of Martha and Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. John
tells us (11:5) that he loved this family and he sometimes stayed
This Mary had
anointed his feet with precious ointment, and was called a sinner
by the Pharisee, which Jesus did not deny. Furthermore we are told
that seven demons and not just one had to be cast out of her. Yet
she went about the country with Jesus and his disciples.
8:3. and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and
Susanna and many others, who provided for them out of their
Joanna had left her husband to follow the apostles. At any rate it
is certain that several women went about with Jesus and provided
for him. We also have the following passage:
Lk 23:49. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed
him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.
Mk 15:40. There were also women looking on from afar, among whom
were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and
of Joses, and Salome,
41. who when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered to
of course, means supported him.
Paul states clearly that women were allowed to travel with the
apostles and in fact did so.
1 Cor 9:5. Do we not have the right to be
accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of
the Lord and Cephas? (See Acts 16:13, 15, 40.)
collectors also went to hear the preaching of John the Baptist and
they were the ones who had most faith in him. Mt 21:32.
Let us take
an example in our battle between reason and passion, enlightenment
and prejudice. Woman, he forgave you many things. When you had
committed adultery he forgave you even though the law of the land
condemned you to death. You wiped his feet with your hair as a sign
of repentance and went about with him and his disciples. He
promised a Samaritan woman living with a man out of wedlock, water
of eternal life and no more thirst if she drank it. He forgave much
and therefore must have loved much.
when prejudice regards our love with contempt, do not be dismayed.
Let our good feelings and the harmony of our faculties be the test
by which love is judged. Let us be chaste and loving but let us not
despise any of our brothers and sisters. If you are father or
mother to an illegitimate child, do not be ashamed. If you are
persecuted, if the priest and the dignitaries refuse you their
blessing, think of us. We poor sinners will not despise you, least
of all when you are despised by our oppressors.3
At least you have not bought yourself a husband or a wife with
money. You received freely what they had to buy, what they had to
sell you gave freely and lovingly away.
Do not fear
child. It will grow up in a better, purer and more loving society.
As for you hypocritical and envious world, take an example from
Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Be chaste as they were, but love and enjoy
yourselves as they did. If your friend makes a mistake do not cast
the first stone, or you yourselves may have stones thrown at you
tomorrow. For we all make mistakes. The bible says that even the
just man falls seventy times a day, but the christian should
forgive his brother seventy-seven times and do good to his enemies.
We must come closer to this ideal and get rid of the prejudices
which stand in the way of loving. We must welcome the Samaritan
woman and the repentant Mary Magdalene and forgive the woman taken
A short time
English government sent out a well-paid commission to enquire into
the living conditions of the poorest classes. The commissioner had
the nerve to report that a grown man could live on 2s. 6d. a week,
which was less than he spent on his breakfast. Of course it is
possible to live on 2s. 6d. a week without dying of hunger. Even
priests could live on this, and much more easily than people who
are exhausted by hard labour. And of course this is what priests
should live on as long as there are millions of other christians
who have to, so long as there are christians living among
christians in such poverty. But the priests are not such fools. The
income of the church is ten million pounds, which would give eight
hundred thousand people 2s. 6d. a week. But this ten million is
shared between a mere thirty thousand. And what do they teach the
people to earn it? Things which they themselves do not understand.
Feelings which they do not share and whose relation to reason they
disguise in the interests of the false rich christians. They speak
for mammon, because mammon gives them their offices and promotion.
Do you think they believe what they teach you? They are not so
stupid. From time to time men have arisen with doctrines for the
good of mankind, they entrusted their doctrine to others, but the
people have always been deceived in these rulers and teachers
whenever these rulers and teachers were better off than they were,
We cannot trust rulers and teachers who make such a good living. A
man can only be trusted with the teaching and welfare of others if
he himself is short of the necessities of life and his future is
threatened by poverty or at least is not assured. He must be
prepared to seek improvement in his living conditions by the
improvement in the living conditions of everyone else.
The bible is
lacking in examples but what use are they when priests have sold
out to the rich and powerful? Our priests are fully aware of this,
but they do not want to be, it is not safe for them to be aware.
They know that the apostles lived by the work of their hands, and
that when later they were supported this was not in order that they
should live a life of luxury at the cost of a weekly sermon. See 1
Cor 4:12; 9:1-15; 2 Cor 11:7-9; Acts 20:33-35; Phil 4:10, 14; 1
Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8-12. (Paul was a tentmaker, Acts
people will have the same resources for bringing up their children
and for their own development. Mental work will not be confined to
a small class, an unpleasant and unhealthy state of affairs, but
every man will do some mental and some physical work. Mental work
would be impossible for most people now because they are exhausted
by a twelve- to fourteen-hour working day. But when work is
organized rationally with full use of machinery, the working day
will be scarcely five hours, and this will leave everyone time for
other things such as writing and study. Some of the people who
spend all their time writing at the moment produce such rubbish
that it would be better for them and their readers if they spent
five hours a day at some useful work. Only outstanding geniuses
should devote all their time to intellectual work, and not as
happens now be wasted in getting together enough to live on which
leaves them little time for anything else.
1 Trick Questions
The woman was less free under mosaic law than
under ours. A man could divorce his wife when he wanted to. He did
not have to provide a reason, except that she no longer pleased him
(Deut 22). He had only to give her a writ of divorce. The woman did
not have the same right. In many respects she was the slave of her
master. This injustice was against the principle of Jesus but a
radical charge was not possible before the abolition of property.
It was not a case of simply limiting the rights of the husband for
that would merely change things without improving them. It was a
case of giving the woman equal rights with the man. This was only
possible through the abolition of property and first it was
necessary to do away with the prejudices of the Jews who were
accustomed to the subjection of women; But this was not the right
way to go about things. The thing to do was to undermine the
prejudices and particularly the basic prejudices upon which the
rest depended, and if necessary to suffer the others in silence as
long as this was not acting against the principle. The Pharisees
were aware of this and led the discussion in this direction
precisely in order to catch Jesus out. Our lawyers are particularly
fond of such trick questions today. One must be careful to answer
neither ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or one will be caught
out. Furthermore if one has proposed a principle one must be
careful not to go against it in one’s answer.
Mt 19:3 . And the Pharisees came up to him and tested him by
asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any
If Jesus had
‘yes’, this would have been in contempt of his
principle. But if he had answered ‘no’, as they
expected, they could have got him for preaching against the
passages from the bible for his answer, Gen 1:27 and 2:24, which
are against Moses’ divorce law, but he was careful not to say
that Moses was wrong, he merely described a mosaic divorce as
adultery, and thus stated his position without playing into their
The fame of Jesus’ miracles was spreading.
The high priests and the elders came to him and asked:
Mt 21:23. ‘By what authority are you doing these things and
who gave you this authority?’
If Jesus had
‘God’, they could have denounced him as a blasphemer,
but if he had answered that his authority was from men, people
would have lost their trust in him, and the Pharisees could have
accused him of working miracles by the power of the devil. Jesus
24. ‘T also will ask you a
question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you
by what authority I do these things.
25. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from
men?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say
“From heaven” he will say to. us, “Why then did
you not believe him?” But if we say “From men”,
we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a
27. So they answered Jesus, We do not know.’ And he said to
them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these
things.’ (See also Mk 11:27-33; Lk 20:1-8.)
Mt 22:15. Then the Pharisees went and took counsel
how to-entangle him in his talk.
16. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians,
saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the
way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard
the position of men.
17. tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to
Caesar or not?’
18. But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to
the test, you hypocrites?
19. Show me the money for the tax.’ And they brought him a
20. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription
21. They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them,
‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are
Caesar’s and to God the things that are
If Jesus had
‘yes it is right to pay tribute to Caesar’, the people
would have turned against him, for they resented the rule of Rome
almost as much as today the Irish resent the English. If Jesus had
said ‘no’, they could have accused him of rebelling
against Caesar. (See also Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:22-26.)
taken in adultery
Jn 8:3. The scribes and the Pharisees
brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in
4. they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in
the act of adultery.
5. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say
6. This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to
bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the
7. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,
‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a
stone at her.’
8. And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the
9. But when they beard it, they went away, one by one, beginning
with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing
10. Jesus looked up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?’
11. She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said,
‘Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin
Why did Jesus
so long writing with his finger on the ground that they had to
repeat their question? Probably to gain time before he answered.
This time he did not have the right word ready quite so quickly. He
also wrote after he had given his answer, because it was still
possible that they would stone her or ask him another question to
explain his answer.
It is rather
that the scribes were to hand immediately after the act of adultery
and immediately conceived the plan to use it to test Jesus. It
would also have been a lucky chance that Jesus was in the temple at
the time. More probably this woman agreed with the Pharisees to
play the role of adulteress, and so also to test whether Jesus knew
the true situation or not. If she had really been an adulteress it
is unlikely that trey would have gone out one after the other and
foregone the stoning. Probably. they had agreed to leave the woman
alone with Jesus, if not, it is very strange that they all went
out. But Jesus’ answer brought their plans to nothing for
they hoped he would contradict the law of Moses.
contains rather more sophistry in the following encounter:
(v) The resurrection
Mt 22:23. The
same day the Sadducees
came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked
him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses said, “If a man
dies, having no children, his brother must marry the widow, and
raise up children for his brother.”
25. Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married and
died, and having no children left his wife to his brother.
26. So too the second and third, down to the seventh,
27. After them all the woman died.
28. In the resurrection, therefore, to which of the seven will she
be the wife? For they all had her.’
29. But Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because
you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
30. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in
marriage, but are like angels in heaven.’ This answers the
question in its own terms but proves nothing. Jesus continued:
31. ‘And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not
read what was said to you by God,
32. I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of
Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the
3:6. Of course these words really have no bearing on the
resurrection. The conclusion that God is not the God of the dead is
not a proof; it needs proof itself and explanation too.
Mt 22:41. Now while the Pharisees were gathered
together, Jesus asked them a question,
42. saying, ‘What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is
he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’
43. He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, inspired by
the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
44. “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
till I put thy enemies under thy feet”?
45. If David calls him
is he his son?’
46. And no one was able to answer him a word, not from that
day did any one dare to ask him any more questions.
Psalm 110. Anyone reading the psalm through might well ask if the
prophecy, if it is meant to be a prophecy, is in accordance with
the teaching of Jesus. I do not think so, neither do I think the
quotation of it proves anything. The sort of proof given by Jesus
would not be acceptable to thinking people today. The quotation and
the whole psalm is so unpleasant, that anyone writing now would be
ashamed to write such a thing. It is a pure expression of vicious
hatred for enemies, and the barbarism of the Jews of the
Mt 13:3. A
out to sow.
4. And as he sowed some seeds fell along the path, and the birds
came and devoured them.
5. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil,
and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of
6. but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no
root they withered away.
7. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked
8. Other seeds fell upon good soil and brought forth grain, some a
hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty.
the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one
comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart: this is what was
sown along the path.
20. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who bears the
word and immediately receives it with joy;
21. yet he
root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or
persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls
22. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the
word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke
the word and it proves un fruitful.
23. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the
word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit and yields in one
case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another
See also Mk 4
8. If Jesus had always explained himself as well as he does here
and intermingled less mystery in his teaching, all distortions of
the christian teaching would have been much more
‘kingdom of heaven’ means the best kingdom, the best
society. If it does not mean this what else could it mean? In the
following parables, however, which begin, ‘the kingdom of
heaven is like‘, the reader will realize that he must read.
‘The propaganda for the kingdom of heaven is like. . .
Mt 13:24. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a
man who sowed good seed in his field;
25. But while men were sleeping,
enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds
27. And the servants of the householder came and said to him,
‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has
28. He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’
29. The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and
29. But he said, ‘No; lest in gatherings the weeds you root
up the wheat along with them.
30. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I
will tell the reapers. Gather the weeds first and bind them in
bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my
38. The field is the world and the good seed means the sons of the
kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39. and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the
close of the age and the reapers are angels. This interpretation
depends upon a belief in the last judgment. For one who does not
believe in the last judgment, the interpretation is more obscure
than the parable it is meant to explain.
Mt 13:31. The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of
mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field;
32. it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is
the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree so that the birds of the
air come and make nests in its branches. (Mk 4:31, 32.)
Mt 13:33. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which
a woman took and bid in three measures of meal, till it was all
when some people are convinced of a doctrine which is new to
everyone else, as they go about among others they will find
converts to the doctrine, until everyone is converted. We see that
Jesus means teaching by ‘leaven’ from Mt 16:
6. Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
12. Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the
leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and
Mt 13:44. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure
hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his
joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that
The field is
world (society), the hidden treasure is the secret doctrine which
must be carefully guarded against its powerful enemies so that it
will not be destroyed at the beginning. Someone found this
treasure, that is someone accepted this doctrine and kept it
hidden. He did not speak about what had to remain silent at the
time. He sold all that he had. He shared all his goods and
renounced everything. He bought the field, won converts by
Mt I3:45. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a
merchant seeking line pearls,
46. who on finding one pearl of great value, went out and sold all
that he had and bought it.
is a man
seeking the truth. Good pearls are good doctrines. He sold all that
he had to buy the best pearl, that is to embrace the best
Mt 13:47. The kingdom of heaven is like a net which
thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind;
48. when it
men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels
but threw away the bad.
Many will be
propaganda but they will not all be good men. Some will have to be
rejected so that their rottenness will not corrupt the others. The
net is propaganda, the sea is society. When the preaching begins to
be successful, the converts will have to be sorted out, according
to their behaviour.
Mt 20:1. The kingdom of heaven is like a
householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for
2. After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent
them into his wine yard.
3. And going
about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market
4. and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and
whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.
5. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour he did
6. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others
standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle
7. They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He
said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard, too.’
8. And when the evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his
steward, ‘Call the labourers and pay them their wages,
beginning with the last up to the first.’
9. And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them
received a denarius.
10. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more;
but each of them received a denarius.
11. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder,
12. saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have
made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the
13. But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend I am doing you no
wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14. Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last
as I give to you.
15. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?
Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
16. So the last will be first and the first last.
bring about the kingdom of God we cannot expect material advantages
over those who have done or suffered less. Even our enemies will,
benefit as much as we. Whatever a man does for true christianity,
whatever he does for his own welfare, he must do for the welfare of
all. Christianity knows no privileges.
Mt 21:33. There was a householder who
planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press
in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into
34. When the season of the fruits drew near, he sent his servants
to the tenants, to get his fruit;
35. and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another
and stoned another.
36. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did
the same to them.
37. Afterwards he sent his son to them, saying ‘They will
respect my son.’
38. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves,
‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his
39. And they took him and. cast him out of the vineyard, and kilted
40. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do
to those tenants?’
41. They said to him, ‘He will bring those wretches to a
wretched end, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will
give him the fruits in their seasons.’
42. Jesus said to them, ‘Have
never read in the scriptures, “The very stone which the
builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this is the
Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
43. Therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from
you and given to a nation producing the fruits of
(See also Mk
The householder is God, the vineyard is mankind, the tenants are
the people of God, the servants are the prophets, the son is Jesus.
All the authorities (the teachers and rulers of the people) reject
him, his doctrine will remain the foundation of human
Mt 25:1. Then
the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took
their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
2. Five of them were foolish, they took no oil with them, and five
3. For when the foolish took their lamps they took no oil with
4. but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
5. As the bridegroom was delayed they all slumbered and slept.
6. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold the bridegroom!
Come out to meet him.’
7. Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
8. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your
oil for our lamps are going out.’
9. But the
replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for
you; go rather to the merchants and buy for yourselves.’
10. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who
were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was
11. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord,
lord, open to us.’
12. But he replied, ‘Truly I say to you I do not know
13. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day for the
bridegroom is the
kingdom of God, the ten maidens are all those who work for the
kingdom of God, the lamps are propaganda, the oil are the material
means which are necessary for the propaganda and for the putting of
the teaching into practice. The cry at midnight is the unexpected
revolution which the propagandists must go out to meet. Trimming
their lamps is calling people to the kingdom of God. Foolish
propagandists are those who are not ready for a revolution when it
comes suddenly, they let their opportunity slip by them and the
power falls to those who are better prepared, as for example
happened in the 1830 revolution in France. If a couple of hundred
men had gone to the national assembly on July 28th to demand their
human rights from the 213 deputies, they would have won and Louis
Philippe would not have become king, for the whole aristocracy of
Europe trembled at that moment before the will of the people. The
elector of Hesse was addressed as Du by one of his officials
and was forced to dance with him round a fire in the castle square
which was burning some of his legislation. The crown Prince of
Saxony (now the king) rode among his rebellious people weeping and
asking them about their hardships and promising to help them. The
whole ancient slavery of Europe was shaken. The lords and
slave-drivers could have been crippled. But no one knew what to do,
or no one appeared who knew what to do in the interests of
no oil is to lack the
material necessities for action. At the moment when they are
wanted, it is often impossible to lay hold of them, for speed is
essential at the time. We must therefore study the nature of
communism and the means necessary to attain it.
Mt 25:14. The kingdom of heaven is like a man going
on a journey who called his servants and entrusted to them his
15. to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to
each according to his ability. Then he went away.
16. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded
with them; and he made five talents more.
17. So too he who had the two talents made two talents more.
18. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the
ground and hid his master’s money.
19. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and
settled accounts with them.
20. And he who had received the
talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying,
‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made
live talents more.’
21. 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.’
22. 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.’
23. 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.’
24. 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;
25. so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.
Here you have what is yours.’
26. 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?
27. Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and
at my coming I should have received what was my own with
28. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten
29. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have
abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken
The man who
went on a
journey is Christ. His goods are his teaching; the talents are
spiritual gifts; the understanding of the teaching, increasing the
talents is the increase of spiritual gifts; burying the talent is
to occupy the understanding with base things, sensual satisfaction
to the neglect of the propaganda. Burying the talent also means
failing to use means with which one has been entrusted for the
spread of the propaganda and the making a reality of the kingdom of
God. These means should be entrusted to persons who can show that
they will put them to good use. Persons who do not understand the
teaching aright should not be entrusted with the means of
propaganda. A man of understanding will be enriched by the
teaching; a man of no understanding will merely be confused.
Lk I4:16. A man once gave a great banquet, and
17. and at the time of the banquet he sent his servants to say to
those who had been invited, ‘Come, for all is now
18. But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to
him, ‘1 have bought a field and I must go out and see it; I
pray you, have me excused.’
19. And another said, ‘1 have bought five yoke of oxen, and I
go to examine them; I pray you have me excused.’
‘I have married a wife and therefore I cannot
21. So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the
householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to
the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed
and blind and lame.’
22. And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been
done, and still there is room.’
23. And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the
highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house
may be filled.
24. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste
Jesus, who pro claims the teaching; the servant is his disciples.
The invitation to the supper is the call to accept the teaching of
the kingdom of God and do something for it. The first to be invited
refused to accept for reasons of business. When they proved
unsympathetic it was decided to preach the doctrine to all without
exception, even to those whose company one would not otherwise
seek. These, continues the parables, are the ones who came and sat
down to supper. Those who were first invited will not taste the
supper, they will not be glad at the progress and the arrival of
the kingdom of God, because they did nothing for it. Their
consciences will reproach them and they will be ashamed at the
cries of victory. These twelve parables are all concerned with the
spread of the teaching and the necessary sacrifices involved. The
following parables are concerned with reconciliation and love of
Lk 15:4. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if
he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the
wilderness, and go after the one which was lost until he finds
5. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders
6. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his
neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have
found my sheep which was lost.’
7. Even so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one
sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who need no
8. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she
loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek
diligently until she finds it?
9. And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and
neighbours saying, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found the coin
which I had lost.’
9. Even so I tell you there is joy before the angels of God over
one sinner who repents.
11. There was a man who had two sons;
12. and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give
me the share of property which falls to me.’ And he divided
his living between them.
13. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and
took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his
property in loose living.
14. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that
country, and he began to be in want.
15. So he went and joined
himself to one
of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to
16. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate;
and no one gave him anything.
17. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my
father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare but I
perish here with hunger!
18. I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him,
‘Father I have sinned against heaven and before you;
19. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of
your hired servants.’
20. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a
distance, his father saw him and bhad compassion, and ran and
embraced him and kissed him.
21. And the son said to him, ‘Father I have sinned against
heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your
22. But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the
best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his band, and shoes
on his feet;
23. and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make
24. for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and
is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew
near to the house he heard music and dancing.
26. And he called one of the servants and asked what this
27. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your
father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe
28. But he was angry and refused to go in. His father went out and
29. But he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have
served you and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave
me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
30. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living
with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’
31. And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all
that is mine is yours.
32. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother
was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’
knows the parable of the prodigal son, I have quoted it in full,
because it is particularly clear and teaches a morality which is
completely disregarded today without anyone being aware that they
are going against christian teaching. I have quoted it in full in
the hope that the reader will pay more attention to it this time.
It needs no explanation. Christ wishes us to forgive the prodigal,
the sinner, the enemy. But we are not happy about this forgiveness.
We would say of a father who behaved in this way that he spoilt his
children and was himself responsible for their failings. No one
would blame and many would praise the attitude of the elder
brother. No one would approve and very few would sympathize with
the behaviour of the younger. Why? Because the christianity we see
around us is a lie, and a true christianity can only be established
when self-interest has been overcome. Even the theory of
christianity has become a lie. It is defended in the name of
self-interest. This is a perversion of the truth.
Mt 18:23. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to
a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24. When he began the reckoning one was brought to him who owed him
ten thousand talents,
25. and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with
his wife and children and all that he had and payment to be
26. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord
have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’.
27. And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him
and forgave him the debt.
28. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his
fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by
the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’
29. So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have
patience with me and I will pay you.’
30. He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay
31. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were
greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all
that had taken place.
32. Then the lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked
servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
33. and should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I
had mercy on you?’
34. And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he
should pay all his debt.
35. So also my heavenly Father will do to. every one of you, if you
do not forgive your brother from your heart.
We see here,
that it is God not man who judges, God not man who will punish. Our
modern jurisprudence spins a thousand sophistries to entangle our
brothers in Christ and suck their money and blood. They invent a
thousand crimes and punishments but they do not punish a man like
the servant in the parable; they do not even regard his action as
criminal. He is perfectly within his rights and blameless. We have
many heartless servants like this among us but very few such
want a man to do to you, do not do to him, if he would not like it
or it would not do him good.
like others to do to you, do that to them, if they would like it
and it would not hurt anyone else.
give us a
guideline in practical christianity. But now we are not living in a
state of practical christianity, and where everything is ordered in
such an unchristian way, no rule can be without
We do not
deprived of money, for example, by a bankruptcy. But it is often
not possible for us to avoid depriving people of money by our own
bankruptcy. We want someone to support us, invite us to share in
some action, defend us, etc, but we are often not in a position to
do this for others.
Often when in
cases the social relations are the same, the result is still
different because the personal relations are different. The same
blow aimed against a cheerful or a gloomy person will produce very
experiences will also affect their reactions. A man who has often
been deceived will be distrustful and difficult. A man whom the
truth has often endangered is more likely to be a liar. The Person,
the environment, even the style of language all make a difference
as to whether a word has a good or a bad effect. A sultan had a
dream and ordered the interpreter to tell him what it meant.
‘You will see all your relations die’, he said. The
sultan ordered him to be given a hundred lashes and sent for
another interpreter. ‘Allah be praised; you will survive all
your relations’, said he and received a hundred golden
pieces. A German minister had said something to displease the
prince. He was dismissed. A fool said the same thing to the prince,
which made the prince think of something else, and he did nothing
to harm the fool and recalled the minister.
someone for a wrong action which we think has been proved in every
detail until we discover later that it was all a mistake and feel
ashamed of ourselves. The lawyers have innumerable cases filed away
where mistakes were made and the truth was buried by a death. No
one brings these cases to light for fear of putting the law to
shame. If we offer a friend in need a shilling we take more
pleasure in it than if we had lent it to him when he asked. If we
help out a friend and others know what we have done, our loan may
do him harm when we are compelled to ask for it back. What the
christian lends he should regard as a gift. But if on the other
hand a friend asks us to give back what he has lent, if he makes
his loan public or refuses to help us, can we be certain that he
had evil motives in doing so? Must we always suspect the worst?
Should we not seek excuses for our friend?
very complicated, full of positive and negative feelings which only
come under the control of reason after they have had their first
effects; they are very difficult to control because they constantly
take new forms.
must work for the establishment of practical christianity, and in
our judgments of others we must not forget that christianity means
the community of goods, that is to say the freedom, joys and
sufferings of all. Those who oppose this must be regarded as the
enemies of christianity and all good christians should unite
We should not
that these enemies will try to put every possible obstacle in our
way. They do not give us the option of loving them as brothers;
they do not want to be loved as brothers but as masters. But that
is against our principle. Should we then love them as enemies? Yes.
As soon as we have got the better of them they will benefit as much
as we. We will neither judge them nor punish them. But for the
moment we must not forget that they are our enemies. When we
realize this we will endeavour to cultivate the following
includes chastity, thrift, etc. An old saying tells us that
‘covetousness is the root of all evil’. Let us say
rather, immoderation is the root of all evil, for pride, envy,
gluttony, unchastity are not necessarily caused by covetousness; it
is lack of moderation in the broadest sense of the word which is
the cause of every disorder in human desires and faculties. It may
affect the mind or the body and harm the individual only or others
as well. I prefer to call it a sickness rather than sin, crime or
transgression. Health is the harmony of the individual with himself
and of all members of society with one another. Disturbance of this
harmony is sickness. The law imposes moderation and the health of a
society or an individual can be discerned from their
is better than no road at all. But if one wants to put a good
surface on the road one must tear up the old surface. Likewise our
society is probably better than in the middle ages, but we need an
even better one. We will need a period of horrible disorder before
it can be established, but should this make us afraid to attempt
the transformation and sit still and do nothing?
spite of all the setbacks we experience we must not give up the
struggle to put real christianity into practice. Endurance is what
gives generals and diplomats their victories. We must not despair
when we make only small advances and the future we want seems even
further away. We must not lose our courage when our friends desert
us and even those that remain are losing their enthusiasm. We must
not lose courage, we must hold out and in the end things will begin
to look different if our cause is true. The most severe trials to
our patience will come from our own brothers. Let us make it a rule
not to answer anyone back or write letters when we are in a bad
temper. Let us remember to regard others who have lost their temper
as sick men who for the moment are not masters of themselves, and
then we will not be aggrieved. Later he will regret his behaviour
and we will be glad of ours, even if he was rude and cruel to us.
Should we have the same patience with those who hinder the
establishment of true christianity because they want to keep their
privileges? Only for as long as it is strategically
friend and enemy when it is a matter of fulfilling duties freely
undertaken. The world must have more faith in our word than in the
word of kings and clerics; we must be punctilious in keeping it. We
will despise or avoid the thief, but only the man who breaks his
word with evil intentions. Must we then be faithful in everything?
Not in those things where a promise has been exacted from us
against our will. When we have made a promise we must do our best
to keep it, but since no one can guarantee his future thoughts and
feelings we must be careful not to promise things which for various
reasons we may be unable to do.
in all our dealings. This
always be possible in all our dealings with the enemies of
christianity or they will put us in prison or impose fines on us.
If it is useful to the cause to avoid these punishments we may make
an exception in our rule of honesty, but we may never make an
exception in order to harm others.
quality appears at first sight to have. little to do with our
cause. But if we consider more carefully we realize that it is of
the greatest importance. For the greatest hindrance to any movement
is the disharmony of its members who are jealous or envious of each
other. The less we boast of our worth and the better we co-operate
with others, the better we will promote the good of the cause and
harmony among the comrades. This is the modesty we must practice
for the sake of unity in the movement, but we need not behave
modestly when our rights are threatened.
show goodwill towards everyone we can. However, the oppressed
cannot show goodwill towards their oppressors. They would only call
it obedience, good service, etc, and this is not what we
for the unfortunate, always.
a beautiful and christian quality but not always a possible one.
The merciless great men of this earth have appropriated the goods
of millions of their christian brothers, and are only willing to
feed them enough to make them capable of working, reducing them to
the depths of misery. These unfortunates are the ones who cry
loudest for our mercy. But we ourselves have barely the necessaries
of life and would lose even this if we gave it away to those who
are in greater want than we. Let us not give to those who beg from
us but tell him to take from the rich. Jesus did not say ‘he
who asks, gets,’ but ‘he who asks, takes’. The
rich who are responsible for the existence of the very poor hardly
ever come into contact with them, and we should do everything we
can to bring these two extremes together. To every poor man who
asks for my help I say, Go to the rich. Often I say more than that
but he looks bewildered and does not seem to understand me. If we
want to make sacrifices, let it be for the spread of our cause. We
can help the poor better in this way than by giving them money to
fill their stomachs, and for this we should send them to others.
This is the voice of reason. But in these situations it is not
often reason which decides, feelings are stronger and it is
difficult to decide which we want to win most.
can save yourself by a lie, you are free to do so. Apart from this,
let everything that passes our lips be the truth but let not
everything that is the truth pass our lips. Be cunning as serpents
and innocent as doves.
connected with the notion of property are derived from the law of
Moses. Four of the commandments are based on this notion but we
find no trace of it in the teaching of Christ. When christianity
has been put into practice these commandments will lose their
meaning in relation to private property, for there won’t be
any private property. At the moment they protect property and it is
not for us to practise them except in the interests of the poor
against the rich, the weak against the oppressor, the industrious
against the idle, the hungry against the full, the useful labourer
against the useless.
between ins in the new testament. One kind can be forgiven, the
other can never be forgiven. These are the sins against the Holy
Ghost (Mt 12:32) and sins unto death (1 Jn 5:16, 17). The first are
the sins of immoderation, the second the sins of falsehood. The
christian should try to avoid both. His health can be harmed by
immoderation, by a disorderly life, impurity, overwork, idleness,
jealousy, anger, etc. Or another man’s health can be harmed
by encouraging or compelling him to behave in these ways. Lies,
deceit, intrigues to damage another man’s life, livelihood,
good name, progress, etc, is falsehood.
avoided except when its purpose is to establish equality and
without evil and selfish intentions. In this case it could even be
a virtue, if it serves the establishment of true christianity.
Except in this case it is a sin to damage another man’s
property through false dealing. We should attack property openly
not by falsehood and intrigue. These are the means used by our
enemies to appropriate most of the property belonging to society to
themselves and deprive everyone else of it. We do not want to
imitate them. I have no sympathy for the secret thief or the house
thief, but when I read of a bold robber who does his deeds in the
open, my heart pounds with joy.
unforgiveable and he who commits it must be banned from the
community as soon as his sin is discovered. At least this is
necessary at the moment to maintain unity of propaganda. Why can a
liar not be forgiven? Or course he is forgiven in that he is not
given a painful punishment, but he is punished even more severely
by the fact that no one trusts him any more, and he cannot consider
himself to be a man worthy of other people’s trust. He bans
himself when his falsehood is discovered and is no longer regarded
as a comrade in the movement. For who will trust him a second time?
Even if he is often forgiven and allowed to remain in the
community, he is stilt morally excluded in so far as he is not
the rules to follow during the time of propaganda:
1. If you are in a temper do not answer back at the time. Wait.
Keep silence or go away if you are not in control of yourself. At
the time you may feel that keeping silent is shameful, but if you
keep control of yourself you will be very glad you did the
following day. You will not have made an enemy of your opponent,
perhaps you will have forgiven him and in any case the witnesses of
the scene will sympathize with you. In any case you will have
gained more and lost less than if you had spoken.
2. Be especially careful not to write to anyone when you are angry,
but make it a rule not to send a letter you wrote in a state of
excitement for at least twenty-four hours and then read it through
again. Remember that you can make up for a word spoken in anger by
your behaviour and it will quickly be forgotten, but a written word
always remains as a permanent source of resentment or remembrance
of your weakness in the hands of your opponent.
3. If you have to tell someone off, do it quietly and in
4. Do not make the fault public unless it is a case of falsehood.
In this case what you tell your friends should take this form:
‘Dear brothers, I am very distressed on account of N. I beg
you to set my mind at rest and to justify our brother. This is what
5. If one of your friends is broke, do not forget to take him with
you to the public house or to invite him to dinner if you are
cooking on a Sunday. Even if there is nothing else you can do for
him, do this at least.
6. If you
anything do not expect to get it back.
7. If you borrow from anyone, remind him often of the sum as a
proof that you have not forgotten the loan.
8. Beware of borrowing too much from close friends, Try and unload
some of your poverty on to our enemies, so that the movement will
not be impoverished.
9. If you suspect that your friend is in trouble, offer him
10. Greet people more politely the poorer they appear.
11. Do not stop or betray anyone who is running away.
12. Regard disordered passion as a sickness and the criminal as a
sick man, the liar as sick in the brain, the intemperate as
emotionally sick. Do not despise him.
twelve rules again and have to confess that I fail short in all of
them. I am especially weak stilt in numbers one and two. I am going
to write them down and put them up in my room so that I will be
ashamed when my friends see me still failing in them.
I hope the truths I have expounded in this little book will satisfy
your hearts and minds. The machinations of our enemies to prevent
its publications encourage me to think so. If it was money I
wanted, I could have sold the manuscript for a hundred pounds
sterling; I had more than one offer for it but then it probably
would not have been published. Fortunately I found friends who were
willing to print it at their own expense and this made it possible
to distribute it cheaply among the people. If it makes a good
impression on you, do not let that come to nothing.
Make a small
sacrifice of time and money for the cause. Pass the book round
among your neighbours, and from town to village, and listen to what
others say about it. Before I have heard your opinion, I make the
1. Let every man who has understood the truth of the gospel of
Christ undertake to engage others of like mind in the common
2. Let this group of likeminded people agree to meet at least once
a fortnight for a simple supper or a tea party. New people should
be invited to join the meeting.
3. These meetings should be held in people’s houses and not
consist of more than sixteen people, unless special arrangements
are needed to suit the locality.
4. More than sixteen people should divide into two
‘leaves’, five to twenty of such ‘leaves’
make a ‘bud’, five to twenty ‘buds’ a
‘blossom’, five to twenty ‘blossoms’ a
‘fruit’ and live to twenty ‘fruits’ a
‘core’. Each leaf should have a treasurer and a
president. The presidents of five to twenty leaves then form a bud.
These should then also choose a president and a treasurer, etc. The
core is formed in another way.
5. The president of each leaf will make a cheerful report to a
member of the provisional committee described below, and this will
be read out at the meetings of the other leaves. Each leaf will
receive a written monthly report from the committee, or a printed
one when the situation requires it. Six months. after the founding
of the first leaf, the core shall be elected to take the place of
the provisional committee. The process shall be as follows:
6. Every member who feels it to be necessary will make a report for
the committee on the best means of propaganda for the attainment of
the common end. When these reports have been sent in to a member of
the committee they will be printed together without signatures or
addresses. Every man will vote for one of the reports and the
authors of those which receive the most votes will be elected to
form the core. This core will be in charge of propaganda and the
common treasury. The results will be published but not the names of
the nominees. These are to remain unknown because we are
unfortunately beset by the passions of the society which brought us
up and in whose nets we are enmeshed.
envy, jealousy and distrust from our midst, or at least seek to
render it harmless, which is only possible when the leaders remain
unknown to each other. The unity of the core can be ensured at the
first election by a vote among the members of the core or by lot,
so that there will be no disputes over whose plan is to be adopted
for the organization of the propaganda.
meet as often as the leaves, and this means that a member of a
‘fruit’ will have five meetings in a fortnight, for
which he will not be paid. He should regard this as a sacrifice for
should undertake to bring a good new member every month and not to
miss meetings himself.
8. The meetings begin with the president hearing accounts from each
member of what he has done for the propagation of our principles
since the last meeting. If he has done nothing, the president will
ask why and give him advice on how to do better. Then reports from
other groups will be read and also the report drawn up since the
last meeting and due to be sent out. A small collection will then
be made for postage, etc, and given to the treasurer for
safekeeping. Then the future organization of society will be
discussed and the discussion can cover questions which have been
put by the core to this leaf. Alternatively, the discussion can be
on the best means of propaganda. Meeting in private houses means
less expense than if the meeting were held at an inn. It will also
mean that women and children will have the opportunity of hearing
sound moral teaching. Thirdly, it will avoid disturbances by
strange, ignorant or ill-intentioned people. Fourthly, every member
will become accustomed to teaching and discussing, whereas in big
meetings they would only have the chance to listen because they are
not so practiced at speaking in public which would be necessary to
put their point across. The fifth advantage is that unity will be
better preserved and evil passions will have less opportunity to
spread when the disagreements are between a few members at a
discussion at the meetings is to. prepare the people for the
transitional period. Often it has been on the point of victory but
did not know how to press its advantage. And it fell a prey to one
deceiver after another. Therefore it is essential for the people to
be prepared. It is the christian principle which is worth waiting
for. History has shown this to us and the future will continue to
do so. The purpose therefore of all discussions at meetings is to
discover the best way to put the christian principle into practice,
and how this should be done.
courage to undertake this holy work? Is the road too long for you?
Of course, if it could come at once you would support practical
christianity and its proclamation. Listen, I have one more thing to
say to you. There are some methods which demand small sacrifices
and attain their end speedily. Pay close attention and I will
describe one to you.
This is how I
a man who finds it difficult to understand our teaching: You work
early and late and get so little for it, that you can hardly buy
anything for yourself and your future is insecure. But your
neighbour or the man who lives up the bill lives comfortably with
his family on enough and to spare without having to work for it at
all. Is that right? No, he will answer, that is not right.
Wouldn’t you be pleased if it could be different? Yes of
course, the sooner the better. Do you think that other poor people
think the same as you? Certainly they do. In that case things can
be changed within the year without a war or a revolution. That I
don’t believe. No? Do you not believe that you could find one
person every month who would answer our first question the same way
as you? Oh, I could find one all right. If I had the time I could
find one every day. You need find only one a month, and each of
these must find one a month, and if you begin quite alone today in
eighteen months we will be more than 160,000 and in twenty months
more than half a million. And if we both begin today together there
will be more. I have shown earlier in the chapter how such a great
number can be kept united, at least they can be kept together
better this way than in all former associations, for envy, jealousy
and discord have no place among them. There can be no doubt that
such a great number can prevail on questions which concern their
welfare. As long as they remain united they will not need weapons
and they will not need to fear that the movement, like so many
other people’s associations, will fall apart without
achieving its aim. But it is essential that every new member is
careful to fulfill his duties, namely to attend meetings and make
propaganda. Will you make a start? With great pleasure. Now we are
two and in a month’s time we shall be four. We want to do our
duty, brothers, and we shall not fail.
I have asked
question of all my readers, and answered for them. I cannot believe
that I am wrong about their opinions. And even if I am wrong, they
cannot treat my words contemptuously. When millions can be won over
for political games, we should be able to hope that the truth of
christianity will find its supporters, if only the truth is
explained simply to the world, as I have tried to do in this little
a way of
organizing society which makes use of all human possibilities, all
hands, all minds, all hearts, every talent, intelligence and
emotion for the highest possible satisfaction of the needs, desires
and wishes of each individual, or in other words, the fullest
possible enjoyment of his personal freedom.
individual is morally obliged to devote all his energies, thoughts
and feelings towards this end, using them not merely for his own
benefit but for the common good.
obligation has to compete with his natural selfishness which seeks
above all his own advantage. There is a constant battle between
selfishness and self-sacrifice in the heart of every man. Men are
not alike in their appearance, capabilities, thoughts or feelings.
All forms of superiority in any of these encourage a man to
idleness or to the exploitation of his less gifted fellow men. This
is a source of social inequality which we can do nothing about.
There is no way of overcoming these differences and neither would
this be for the good of society for they are the source of progress
factor which is a continual threat both to social equality and to
individual freedom, the communist principle and every communist
system must give an account of itself in terms of it. Indeed this
is true of any social system. The human heart is the proof. When it
supports the most general ends in self-sacrifice, love, courage and
sympathy and all noble feelings, it is supporting communism. When
reason confirms the heart’s nobility it proves the truth of
communist teaching. Every individual who is in a strong position
which would be threatened by the establishment of communism and who
nevertheless does something for its establishment, I call a
communist. Every person who does not look to communism for the
improvement of his own position but for the improvement of the
conditions of millions of his fellow men, and who sees this
improvement as possible only by the establishment of communism, I
call a communist. Every person who is sorely oppressed and who has
the courage to take from the superfluity of others for his basic
needs and who is prepared to defend his action proudly and publicly
before the courts and before the people, I call a
from the heart, and they are committed to it. But it often takes a
purely intellectual form, particularly when it is necessary to
prove the truth of their conviction. The question is often asked.
How can the capabilities of all be put to use under communism to
the best attainment of the common end? How can one man know he is
being made as good use of as another? This cannot be left to chance
but must be regulated. Without regulation good will alone could not
prevent disorder and even disadvantage to some in social relations.
How should work and leisure be organized? How can it be ensured.
that what is needed is produced and what is not needed is not
only be answered by the establishment of a communist system and not
in any other way. This proves the necessity of the
But let us
overrate the system. The differences between several systems based
on one principle are of little importance. If one system is
founded making possible the realization of a principle, then a
hundred others could be founded, based on the same principle but
slightly different in detail. Systems which are based on personal
or metaphysical principles or on some other confusion are even more
easily established, as we see daily. Every new law changes the
system. But the cause is harmed by disputes between like-minded
people over such details; these disputes are only justifiable if
the principle itself is at stake.
avoid such disputes about detail as far as possible, not because
they are disloyal but because such disputes are often more
concerned with personalities than the matter at hand, and these
personal rivalries are against the basic principle of
Many who call
themselves communists are not content with any system and work hard
at criticizing them all. This is going too far. Such people do harm
to themselves and to us and their motives are questionable. They do
us harm by calling themselves communists without any protest from
us. Indeed, how carelessly they reject systems which they do not
This lays us
criticism by friend and enemy and it is not surprising if this
criticism is adverse, particularly if the discussion has been
confused with fine words and phrases. Many who call themselves
communists take it upon themselves to inform people that German
philosophy created communism. This is shameless. German philosophy
is nothing but a confusion of ideas; it is the quintessence of
German foolishness. What is called philosophy is pure nonsense
expressed in grand terminology, an artfully constructed
metaphysical hocus-pocus. A famous philosopher once admitted that
there has been no nonsense or error that has not been accepted and
defended at some time by some philosopher. Proudhon, who has read
them, says the same. I know very little about them but quite as
much as someone who has studied them thoroughly. This man did not
understand them for all his study and learnt nothing from them; it
is the same with me, although I did not study them, having neither
the inclination nor the opportunity to do so, I was disgusted by
their nonsense, although I do not dispute that they may have been
trying to discover the highest truths and many traces of these may
perhaps be found under their metaphysical dung-heap. Perhaps! They
have confused us thoroughly and now they want to include communism
in this confusion. That is why I get so angry. They will end up by
perverting communism just as christianity and christian love have
I have said
that we need a philosophy. But I do not mean these confusing
philosophers who have written such fine books about religion, atheism,
spirit, God, understanding, soul, etc; I do
mean Schelling or Hegel. The famous Hegel I regard as a confuser. I
have the right to call hih this even though I have not read him.
Why? Because no one has been able to tell me what he means, even
though the whole German philosophy of confusion made such a noise
about him. Frederick the Great said of him, ‘If I wanted. to
punish one of my provinces I would give it a philosopher for a
I am talking
all those philosophers who fish for abstractions in a supersensual
world and write many learned words on the subject, but nevertheless
say nothing which is either new or important. All they have done
for mankind is to spread confusion. The workers have set about
reforms in quite a different way. In the last thirty years machines
have been invented which can do the work of sixty million men in
England alone. These inventions were mostly made by uneducated
workers; they will reform society without the philosophy of
confusion playing any part in this reformation. But people still
have the greatest respect for men who are clever at playing about
with words. They also admire a man who can play clever catching and
balancing games with a hammer. But does that make him a good
blacksmith? Wouldn’t it be better if he simply used his
hammer to make something useful?
The power of
communism comes from the noble feelings invested in it, but these
noble feelings must be governed by a clear understanding.
Understanding makes us see that communism is necessary for the
realization of the greatest possibilities of human freedom.
Understanding guards us against fantasies, and makes us realize
that it is unwise to combat hostile opinions by offending
people’s feelings; it is better to bypass feelings if they
cannot be used for the good of the cause.
that communism’s most bitter enemy can be affronted religious
feeling, but that this religious feeling can be put to powerful use
in the service of communism. This it is extremely important to do
because in fact the same feelings are involved. Without the
engagement of these deep feelings communism will lose its force and
its direction. Religious people under communism can keep all that
they now hold dear in their religion. Communism only insists that
they must not do this at the expense of others who do not want
religion. Communist rule does not require religious or legal
doctrines, it merely teaches that morality propounded at the
beginning of this book which is necessary to the nature of
communism; this morality does not contradict any religious
doctrine. The practice of religion is a matter of choice, and as
long as work is done, there is no reason why leisure time should
not be spent on it. People who have done their four to six
hours’ work a day, who are free on Sundays and have had a
good education, can very well spend a holiday holding a religious
service, hearing a sermon or going to mass, etc, if they feel the
need to do so. They can keep their bishops, priests and jesuits so
long as these people work like others, and teach their doctrines
with the interests of believers in mind and not out of
self-interest. Anyone may preach nonsense and should be free to do
so, provided he has the means and does not live off the labour of
others, and provided he does not seek to prevent others preaching
nonsense or the truth. Nonsense need not be feared if the truth is
free to oppose it. In this battle nonsense will be all the more
powerless, the greater the freedom to propagate it, especially when
there is little material advantage to be gained from it.
We need not
that religious freedom will lead to clerical rule as it did in the
canton of Lucerne in 1830 when the liberal institutions which had
been introduced, including the vote, had exactly the opposite
effect to that which had been intended. We need not be afraid if we
do not introduce the democratic principle of election by majority.
For such elections will always appoint men to rule who share the
prejudices of most of the electors. But the majority is not
enlightened enough to judge understanding and talent. Only he who
possesses these is capable of judging them, and he will judge
correctly when he does not judge the person but the policy itself.
Nevertheless, election by majority has its uses and we do well to
put it to as good a use as possible.
should we do
to ensure that a sudden social upheaval does not leave us
unprepared and bewildered?
four following principles and draw our own conclusions.
of equality and justice among all capable of work. Every man
capable of working who has more leisure and produces less than
another is acting unjustly against this principle. He is stealing
from his fellow men and they have the right to take back what has
greatest possible community of working capacities, enjoyment and
freedom. Every man can have as much as another, and this makes
stealing impossible. As long as stealing is possible, the society
has not attained the state of communism. Stealing is therefore the
test of a social organization.
ordering of consumption and production by the intelligence of all
and in the interests of each, that is to say all. Those who are in
positions of government have no greater merit and no greater
material advantages than the rest. After a social upheaval no man
can be trusted to rule who is not prepared to live at the same
material level as the poorest and most humble members of the
community. No man should be elected to rule who demands a good
salary and does not put all his goods at the service of the
community. Lk 16:14. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard
all this and they scoffed at him.
Now they will
this book and say one can make whatever one likes of the bible. Too
true, for they have made it a gospel of tyranny, oppression and
deceit. I wanted to make it a gospel of freedom, equality and the
community of faith, hope and love, if that is not what it already
was. If they were wrong, they were wrong out of self-interest. If I
am wrong, it is for love of mankind. My intention is plain and I
have quoted my texts. Let the reader now read, examine, judge and
believe what he will. Amen.
WEITLING’S FIRST DEFENCE
My lords: I
prepared an answer to the numerous charges against me, some of
which were first made at yesterday’s hearing, and which were
in any case read out too quietly for me to hear them. I have
prepared my defense in answer to the document I received a
fortnight ago which spoke of the disturbance of religion. I will
concentrate on this charge as far as possible.
As long as
interests are not united in the common interest, every new work
— however beneficial its implementation may be for society
— will always find enemies in persons and classes, whose
private interests and privileges are threatened by it. This
opposition will be all the stronger when mammon is against the new
work. This is an old story and this court today will provide a new
version of it.
I am on trial
printing a new interpretation of the bible. I am on trial for
attempting to reinterpret the bible in a reformed canton, a canton
whose people under the leadership of Zwingli and other reformers
carne to the conviction that the interpretation of the bible given
by the priestly cast needed revision, and indeed revised it and the
doctrines derived from it, like other reformed communities, and
they called the new doctrine reformed religion.
From then on
reformed state no interpretation of the bible could reasonably be
called a disturbance of religion, because that is what the
reformation itself had been. The reformation, which accomplished
the translation and distribution of the bible, which criticized the
theology of its time, cannot now censor criticism and
interpretation without standing guilty before the world of the same
errors as popery. The high and mighty of our own day who try to
control faith and knowledge in their own interests should not
not the first to question. the current interpretations of the bible
and religious ideas of their day. Every century of the christian
era provides us with numerous examples. Even Paul speaks in his
letters of divisions among the christians; some believed the
resurrection had happened and others, although they were
christians, did not believe in it.
not the last time, either, that the bible was given a different
interpretation from the official, for the reading and
interpretation of the bible was enormously increased by the
invention of printing, and encouraged by reformed rulers all the
more when they saw the lengths to which Rome was prepared to go to
into numerous sects differing on points of doctrine, particularly
in countries, like North America, which enjoyed political and
religious freedom. No one cried that religion was in danger, as
they did this May in Zurich when some leaflets were printed
concerning the foundation of a new society.
affects the inmost feelings of a man, is a spiritual good, an
inexhaustible treasure, in heaven, from which every man can take as
much as he wants without harming anyone else. Religion is in danger
from no man; no man can be a threat to it. I would be ashamed to
say that my religion, my opinion, my convictions were threatened by
the teaching and opinions of another. No, my lords, we should not
fall a prey to this deception. Religion cannot be threatened by the
doctrine of any man, only the rights and privileges which people
seek to defend by religious formalities. These can be threatened.
Ancient institutions which over the course of the centuries have
become a source of privilege to some and. an oppressive burden to
others, can be threatened, and the more they are threatened, the
less they will be a danger to the freedom, decent life, the future,
the education and the enlightenment of the workers.
It is not
feeling which is endangered but religious oppression. If freedom of
belief is not to be a mockery we must oppose the enforcement of one
interpretation of the faith. We must oppose the use of religion to
appropriate the wealth created by the labour of millions for the
benefit of the few. We must oppose the deception whereby religion
is regarded as the property of a minority which they use for
material support and to win friends and perquisites.
Calvin and all the reformers of the church maintained that the
interpretation of the bible is the right of every man according to
his convictions and not the privilege of a particular
were reformers of the church; they were not concerned with the
reformation of social relations as such, and although this was a
proper consequence of their interpretation of the bible, they went
against their own principles. Luther stormed against the rebellious
peasants who made their own interpretation of the bible because the
lutherans did nothing for their work-sore hands and empty stomachs.
He wrote to the princes whom he was encouraging to repress the
peasants: ‘Strike them dead like cattle.’ Another time
he wrote, ‘The common man must be kept down or he will have
it too good.’ Calvin behaved no better. He allowed a friend
in Geneva to be burnt at the stake because he held different
have passed but in spite of all our enlightenment we are still
living in thick fog. The form of belief is still rated higher than
the freedom of belief and the interests of the powerful are still
tied up with certain forms of belief. The sword of justice has been
put in their hands so that they are able to prevent any attempt to
interpret religion for the common good. This sword is raised above
all against knowledge which could be useful to all men. Every step
forward in religion or politics or social relations is in danger of
tripping up on the golden carpet placed in its way by the servants
of mammon, and the man who dares to take that step gets a knife in
My views on
abolition of judicial punishments are cited under the heading
disturbance of religion. But this abolition of punishments follows
necessarily from christian principles, for I cannot love my enemy
if I maintain laws to punish him.
spite of all the obstacles placed in the way of spiritual progress
and in spite of the enormous increase of laws, has in fact come
closer to the abolition of punishments, not moved further away from
Let us look
the past eighteen centuries and compare the moral progress of
society with the christian principle itself. Must we not
acknowledge that all our progress still leaves us very far short of
the project given to us eighteen hundred years ago? And why?
Because knowledge has been hamstrung by the forms of belief imposed
upon us by those in power.
should obey the commandment to love our enemies, but in order to do
this we must know the best way to go about it. Knowledge must
inform the works necessary to fulfill the christian principle,
works which fulfill the purpose of belief and without which, as the
apostle says, belief is dead.
None of the
discoveries and inventions made since the time of Christ have been
used directly to put christian principles into practice. But in so
far as they have served the improvement of social morals they have
indirectly served the christian principle, not by faith but by
knowledge. The christian principle in the form of faith was kept
frozen for eighteen centuries under an iceberg full of injustices.
Every new enthusiast for the faith added weight to the iceberg and
even the reformation did nothing to disturb it. It was the French
revolution, which the anti-religious Voltaire, the atheist Meslier,
and the nature-philosopher J. J. Rousseau helped to bring about,
which first made social morals more gentle. Because of the form in
which it was preached, christianity in eighteen hundred years, in
spite of its magnificent principles, had been unable to do
revolution a gallows stood at every cross-roads and human justice
felt uneasy if it could not call rods, whips, branding irons,
pillories, the rack, the axe, the wheel and the scaffold to its
aid. In this city a catholic, in that a protestant, could not be a
citizen or a teacher. The peasants were serfs and the burghers were
enslaved by the guilds. The lord of the manor could take a bride on
her wedding night, and this still happens in christian Russia and
in the christian colonies. Serfs were not free to move or marry as
principle is not the cause of these abuses, for they are in plain
opposition to it. But they all happened among christians who, in
accordance with the form of their belief, chattered about God and
religion every day. They were abused among christians, upon whom
repugnant beliefs had not been imposed, but christians who were
governed by so-called christians and plundered by them. In the
fullest sense they took up their own cross together with the iron
cross laid on them by their lords.
It was the
with its abolition of these religious forms which put christian
principles into practice, principles which christianity had been
incapable of realizing for eighteen hundred years. The
revolutionary principle of the sovereignty of the people and
equality before the law abolished evils which neither Rome nor the
reformers had done anything about. And even today there are
Pharisees who refuse to acknowledge the blessings that follow from
the putting into practice of these principles. But the principle of
the revolution are small con compared with christian principles, a
candle held to the sun.
Why is it
refuse to put christian principles into practice? Why is it that we
pay lip service to their promised blessings but fail to put them
realization of christian principles is a difficult matter to
understand and previous interpretations have always been bound up
with the interests of a few instead of the interests of
deflect any teaching from its goal in this way. For example, if a
city favoured this or that branch of the philosophy of Schelling or
Hegel and made the study of it the main requirement for posts in
the teaching profession, appointed professors to give this study
every advantage over others, in time we would have a couple of
philosophical systems which Schelling or Hegel would find even
harder to decipher than their own. Instead of one piece of nonsense
we would have a whole heap of nonsense and this would be the
opposite of what had been intended. For every doctrine, like the
doctrines of the above-mentioned philosophers, is obscure and needs
interpretation, and this will differ according to the purposes of
these who undertake the work of interpretation. This can also
happen with the bible, particularly if those for whom the
interpretation is made are required to believe in it.
So it is not
surprising that in our own day, when nearly everyone can read and
write and has a bible in the house, men of the people also try to
interpret the bible according to their convictions, to resolve the
contradictions encountered by the discerning reader which are
neglected by the priests.
I read in the
that Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. In the
Lord’s prayer I read:
‘Lead us not into temptation’, but in Jas 1:13 Paul
says :5 ‘God cannot be tempted with evil and he
himself tempts no one.’
As I read
wondered did Paul think that Jesus was not God? For Jesus was
tempted by the evil one and taught us to pray to God not to lead us
into temptation. Paul and Jesus contradict each other here. But to
admit this is thought by the orthodox to be a sin or even
blasphemy, although Paul says:
1 Cor 12:3. No one speaking through the spirit of God ever
What does it
speak through the Spirit of God? The bible gave me the answer in
the following passage:
4.Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit,
7. To each is given the
of the Spirit for the common good.
8. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and
to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same
9. to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing
by the one Spirit,
10. to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to
another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another
various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of
11. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who
apportions to each one individually as he wills.
the common good, teaching others for the common good, is to speak
through the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. But how can the
christian use these gifts for the common good? The answer is not
difficult. What is a christian’s duty? To fulfill the
commandments of Christ. What are these? They are summed up in the
sentence: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This, as Jesus
says, is the first and greatest commandment; it contains all
others; it is the law and the prophets.
that we must use the gifts of the spirit for the common good or the
love of our neighbour, it is also certain that every use of these
gifts which is not for the common good is against the commandment
of Christ and the sin is all the greater, the more these gifts are
put to selfish uses. The greatest sin of which a christian can be
guilty is to use these God-given gifts to prevent others from using
their spiritual gifts in the interests of all, or in other words,
of the oppressed. The apostle calls this the sin unto death which
we should not pray to God to forgive a man.
1 Jn 5:16. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say one is to
pray for that.
Mt 12:31. Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven a man, but the
blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be
forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven either in this age or in the age to come.
gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit in us, every misuse of
these gifts is a sin, and indeed the greatest sin, if we use these
gifts for a purpose which is against the commandment to love our
If by willful
misinterpretation of certain formulae of belief we confuse our
fellow men and put their spiritual powers to sleep, in order to
enjoy the fruits of their physical labours, we blaspheme against
the Holy Spirit and we will not be forgiven. If we use our money to
pay for lies and hang the bread-basket of the truth out of reach,
we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. If we justify our dominative
behaviour towards our fellow men by lies and deceit and slander, we
blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Whenever a doctrine is spread or
repressed by dominative methods this is a blasphemy against the
Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven in this age or the
When we find
bible thus condemning the fruits of that faith which is dead, we
are encouraged to pursue our search further. I therefore decided to
make an exposition of the chief passages in the bible on the
subject, and strove with all my might to discover how the command
to love our neighbour ought to be put into practice.
me, I am convinced that the way I have pointed out contains nothing
which is against the realization of the christian principle. The
bible is in every man’s house. Even if I am rendered dumb,
there will be a thousand others to speak for me.
accuses me of blaspheming against Jesus. If in my writing I have
used any expression, which taken by itself could be construed as a
blasphemy against Jesus, this will be seen not to be the case if it
is taken in its whole context. Any sentence can be falsified and
given a different meaning if words are singled out for this
purpose. My intention was not to blaspheme. I did not want my
gospel, to be a fifth wheel to the cart, which it would have been
if I had had blasphemy in mind. But every blasphemy against the Son
of man will be forgiven. Only the sin against the Holy Ghost can
never be forgiven, and that is why I wrote my gospel.
I saw how for
eighteen hundred years the teaching of christianity had served the
interests of injustice, and I wanted to teach it to serve the
interests of justice, if it is indeed a doctrine about justice; and
if it is not I would rather dispense with it altogether. I
understood that the christian principle is communist; this is how
to put the command to love our neighbour into practice. The key I
found was the command to love our enemies too, and this is only
possible if we are prepared to regard all crimes as sickness. This
is the only way to love our enemies, and that is how I came to
regard the christian principle as the quintessence of communism and
personal freedom, which is thus the quintessence of social
intentions are poor defenses in the eyes of human justice, and
count for little in their scales. I give this explanation more to
protect public opinion from the deceptions of my opponents than to
defend myself, now that the manuscript of The Poor
Sinner’s Gospel has for the most part fallen into the
hands of my judges.
have only this to add:
The manuscript was still incomplete when I was arrested. It could
not be properly understood until it was finished. In order to avoid
misunderstandings I did not want to publish it in part and that is
why I kept it locked and sealed so that nothing would appear before
I published it as a whole.
received I understand that people think I advocate the use of force
to put my principles into practice. However, nothing can be proved
to this effect from my own letters and I cannot be held responsible
for what others write. My answer to these letters is clear
I put the
case of a
doctor who announces that he has found the cure for a certain
disease. I imagine that other doctors regard this cure as harmful
and instigate a police investigation. Can this doctor be punished
as a poisoner, when there is no proof that he had given his pills
or medicine to anyone? If the mixtures were found in his house,
incomplete and well-guarded? I do not think so.
passages mentioned from the sheets of my manuscript which were
confiscated provide proof of the accusations which are made against
me. If they are used as proof against me, this will serve as a
further proof to me that the law can be used in any way they want
to protect the interests of the ruling class. Every accidental
death can be called a poisoning, every unfinished sketch a
caricature and every unfinished sonnet a lampoon.
If that is
the freedom of the press in the canton of Zurich is a trap to catch
those who dare to make use of their knowledge and discoveries to
help their poor brothers. To catch those who dare to tell any of
the lords of Zurich uncomfortable truths or to question lies which
serve their self-interest.
This would be
worse than censorship. Before the censor crosses out passages he at
least reads the whole manuscript through, and at most make remarks
en this or that particular page. But here every author would have
to pander to his opponents from the first pages of his manuscript.
This would be barbaric and nonsensical, a censorship of thought, a
rack for mind and body.
bitter. True, it is an oppression and a blasphemy against the Holy
Spirit, but it would not sacrifice so many innocents. It is not a
mere tool of the powerful. Censorship is aristocratic; it says what
it will allow and what it will not. It is not underhand, for it is
conscious of its power. It has more pride and gives the servants of
freedom time to escape from its threats and carry the fruits of
their hard labours to freedom. If the freedom of the press is to be
used only in the interests of the rich and not the poor without
endangering personal freedom, then better the censor. Censorship
steals the fruits of the spirit from society but it does not also
steal a man’s personal freedom.
Now I wait
judgment. Whatever you decide I am certain that it will be for the
good of the cause I serve. And I set my trust in the judgment of
public opinions which, as you know, is what in the last resort
decides on what ought or ought not to be printed.
 G. D. H.
Cole, A History of Socialist Thought, London, 1953, Vol.
told me in Prague by the innkeeper. This tailor had formerly been
his pupil and had always been able through his diligent bible study
and criticism to point out the relevant passages. Once he
interrupted the parson in his church, called him a liar and
referred to the appropriate places in the bible. They could not
give me these references. However, the incident caused such a
scandal that the service was stopped. The young man was arrested
and forbidden to take part in the feast. He owed his release three
years later to the curiosity and probably also the sympathy of the
Archbishop of Prague, who sent for hint to question hint. He
defended himself so well from the bible that the Archbishop felt
constrained to have him released. A little later he was with a
friend in church (for they were careful not to let him go alone any
more) and turned bright scarlet during the sermon. Unfortunately I
have not this reference either, His friend immediately took his arm
and led him out of church asking hint what was the matter.
‘Ah’, he said bursting into tears, ‘I cannot sit
quietly while my brothers inside are being so shamelessly
Translator’s note. The above paragraph condenses a longer
passage in the German.
Translator’s note. This paragraph condenses a longer passage
in the German.
Weitling apparently thought the epistle of James was written by