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 sinner.
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
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
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 conquered it.
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 us.’
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
It will make
pale and 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
release faith from its errors, lighten the way of hope and pour the
warmth of love and freedom into every heart. So be it.
INTO THE MIND OF THE EVANGELISTS
I Faith and
As long as we
are 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
wants to 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 not even 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
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 reach maturity.
truth is 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
as we 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.
societies 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.
nurses, 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
in a 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 own.
classes in 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 knowledge.
The power and
the 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, not knowing.
For years in
the 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
church are 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.
prove what 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.
cannot be 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
knowledge, you 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?
dreadful 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 your strength.
sinners all 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 believe.
At the street
corner 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 sufferings.
despair. Put your trust in God who hears the prayers of widows and
orphans, whispers the parson.
But we poor
sinners 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 need.
sinners 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 lake.
good woman. The dear God will reward you richly for all that you have
done, says her well- meaning neighbour.
sinners do not believe it. We do not hope for such things.
But we hope
that in 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 nature’s
We hope that
a time 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
time 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
We do not
hope for 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
possible to 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
all our 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
man in our own image, says God according to Moses.
Let us make
God from a man who is like him, said Christ. And that was the God-man.
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 still 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.
pharisees. 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 person?
stands 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
not be 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 freedom.
is a teaching of freedom and love and he is therefore a picture for us
of God and love.
sink our 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
AT THE STORY OF JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES TO CONSIDER THEIR PERSONALITIES
I What is the bible?
The bible is
a 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 times.
What a job it
must 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 added.
If in spite
of 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 perfected.
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
the men 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.
the people 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 him.
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.
of 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 reason.
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 own society.
of the 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
myself in 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
about the new testament, as always. The historical details and errors
are of secondary importance.
christianity I 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
understood 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
this and 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 the false.
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
mistaken 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
the Apostles, Disciples and early Christians
us happy and knowledge satisfies us. Let every man choose what suits
his heart and spirit best.
Belief in a
truth, 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
we should 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 taught.
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.
he is 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.
and Jesus 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.
revealed 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.
was a 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.
Pythagoras 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
was 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
today faith is compelled to remain belief, deception, error and deceit
has a hand in it and belief is being used for evil purposes.
fights a 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
Jesus did not believe the whole of the law of Moses, neither did his
disciples believe everything he said, and the people even less.
Nathanael heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he said:
Jn 1:46. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
taught that a man should forgive his neighbour seven times a day, his
Lk 17:5. Lord increase our faith.
found 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 them.
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 had risen.
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 the tomb; stooping
and looking in he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home
wondering at what had happened.
And Jesus had
often spoken to them about his resurrection on the third day:
Mt 28:17. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted.
In Mt 16
Jesus tells 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 you.
He showed his
love 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 the
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 his own.
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
Col 3:1-4 we are already
risen. That 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 dead?
13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead,
then Christ has not been raised.
many other 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 this.’
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 passions,
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
that 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.
doubted that people would believe in him:
Lk 18:8. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes will he find faith on
He found no
belief in 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
Rome said to Paul about the disciples of Christ:
Acts 28:22. For with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is
The story of
the 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?
question 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 he.
Only at the
meal. 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 world.
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 himself.
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
told that 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
certain, 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; Mt 12:1).
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,
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 loaves.
27. Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which
endures to eternal life.’
Jn 6:15 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
to him ‘Lord give us this bread always.’
chiefly 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 a stone?’
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 thirst.’
But this did
not put 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”?’
nothing to 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. He continued:
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
much, 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 was
that even 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
Even in those
days 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
her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame,
resolved to divorce her quietly.
If Joseph had
had a 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 sentence.
For the rest,
I 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.
The disciples 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;
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, 19.
Dispute about circumcision: Acts 15:1-29
are ill 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 15:39
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,
this 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
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 Christ.
Even the best
of us 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
do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
I quote this
remark 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
not 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
forbids his disciples to consort with Gentiles in accordance with the
occasion a 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 Israel.
25. But she carne and knelt before him, saying
‘Lord, help me.’
26. And he answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s bread and
throw it to the dogs.’
gave up 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
always 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.
is his 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
it is 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 brother.
nature reveals itself in Jesus by the fact that he was affected by
hunger and thirst and tiredness exactly as we are.
Like us he
sought to avoid persecution: Mt 12:15; Mk 3:7; Lk 5:16; 9:10; 21:37; Jn
7:1, 10; 10:39;
He hid on the
mount of olives: Jn 7:53.
He was afraid
of death like us: Mt 26:37, 39; Mk 14:33, 34, 36; Lk 12:50; 22:42.
Now let us
take an 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.
forbidden 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.
the 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 about it:
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 burial.
8. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.
could 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 story
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 Judas’ anger.
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
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
71. He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the
twelve, was to betray him.
Matthew Judas only decided to betray him after the anointing, in which
case Jesus showed an unjust suspicion of Judas on the earlier occasion.
Mt 26:16. And
from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
anointing 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 principles.
some of the evangelists that same evening, and according to others a
few days later, they ate the paschal lamb together.
Think of the
effect 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 group.
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
how 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 says:
21. One of you will betray me.
That was 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 was
black 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 sop.
may have 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.
at once 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
also 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 it.
One drank it
for the 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
remarkable that 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.
evangelists 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 with us?
that the virgin Mary first bore a son by the power of the Holy Ghost
and then bore six children to Joseph.
other 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.
is 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 husband.
Mk 1:25. And he did not know her until she had borne her first-born son.
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
in which Jesus Taught
had lost 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 place.
death of 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 laws.
denied angels, spirits, devils and the resurrection of the dead. The
Pharisees believed in all these things.
denied 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 the resurrection.
their way of life they were highly respected by the people, although,
as we are told in Mt 23:13-36, it was all hypocrisy.
two sects there were the Essenes, who held their meetings in secret, as
the freemasons do today in countries where they are not openly
taught 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 before Jesus.
later 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
came 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
all 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
possible that John would preach this greater prophet if he had never
seen him before?
33). Would 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
not 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 plan.
prophet 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 Jesus.
4. This recommendation of Jesus may also have had the intention of
deflecting the wrath of the Roman and Jewish authorities from himself
find it 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 teaching.
have no more certain information than that of the historian Josephus,
who mentions the rise of the Essene brotherhood.
We know for
certain 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.
teaching 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 mission.
course, this 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
society 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 and wonders.
2 Faith was
the Necessary Condition for the Signs and Wonders
Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.
hundred 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.
wanted to 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
found 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.
preached a 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; 8:23.
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 it?
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;
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, 28.
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.
several 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
said this 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?
that 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
suffice that 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.
conclude that 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?
ignorant the 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.
been no 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.
know 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 again.”
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
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.
Socrates 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?
conclude from 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 12:47.
Small Means which Jesus used to achieve his Purpose
If one wants
to 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 whole town.
commanded 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, 36.
to this 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,
mysterious 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.
taught in 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 13:34.)
Why did he
not 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 follows:
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 confusing.’
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;
clearly see the intention to deceive. But why deceive the people
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
arrive at 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
a power 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 truth.
1 Jesus will judge all men:
Jn 5:22. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the
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 the world.
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
1 take this
for a 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
us to help people who are not of our faith! See the parable of the good
Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37).
John tells us
to 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
All that 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
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 accursed.
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
Jn 5:18; 3:9).
John says: We are from God (1 Jn 5:19; 4:6); therefore we do not sin.
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
that John the Baptist is Elijah: Mt 11:14; 17:11-13.
John the Baptist says he is not Elijah: Jn 1:21.
knows all things: Jn 16:30, 31.
Jesus does not know all things: Mk 13:32.
11 Jesus does not accept the witness of man: Jn
5:34. John the Baptist bears witness to Jesus: Jn 1:31-34; 3:26; Mt
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.
sentence 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 secret understanding.
12 Jesus says: If I bear witness to myself then
my witness is true (Jn 8:14).
Jesus says: If I bear witness to myself, then my witness is not true
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
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. (Jn
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
14 Jesus says that God leads us into temptation!
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
the 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.
says: his (God’s) form you have never seen: Jn 5:37.
Paul says: Jesus was in the form of God: Phil 2:6.
to Paul 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 authority is from God:
Rom 13:1. According to Peter all authority is of the human order: 1 Pet
20 According to Luke Jesus appeared to 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
21 Jesus says: Truly I say to you there 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 Pet
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.
made by 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 itself.
consider the 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 principle.
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
an 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
1 Cor 7:23. You were bought with a price; do not become the slaves of
recommends 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
numerous. I quote only a few.
Acts 2:40 can
be read 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 Lazarus.
Rom 8:10. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead
because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.
1 Cor 15:31. I die daily.
category I 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.
THE APOSTLES AND WE ARE ALL ONE
I The Nature
of the Birth of Jesus
The spirit of
man, 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 truths.
In order to
enhance 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,
Perseus, Castor and Pollux, Alexander the Great, Romulus and many
others were given super natural origins.
Jesus came at
a time 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 supernatural origin.
born in 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
save mankind and was boen at the end of December in a stable among oxen
charged her 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 asses.
clearly that christianity continues the traditions of the pagan
religions that came before it.
represents 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.
Rom 1:3 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.
impossible to 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
sentence 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
no one 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 wisdom.
2 How the Apostles Understand the Relationship
Between Jesus and God
1 Cor 3:23.
We are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.
1 Cor 11:3. Christ is our head and God is the
head of Christ.
Eph 1:3. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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
appears in God’s presence for us.
God and 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
it was 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
God is said
to be almighty, omniscient, all-wise, all-good and all-just. In this
case Jesus in his lifetime was not God.
He was not
almighty 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
omniscient 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 13:32.
He was not
all-wise or he would not have cursed the fig tree for bearing no fruit
when it was not the season for figs.
He was not
all good 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
all just or he would not have forbidden the disciples to go into the
lands of the heathens and Samaritans (Mt 15:24, 27).
called ‘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 Cor 15-21.
3 How Jesus
Understands the Relationship between Himself and God
Jn 14:28. The
Father 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 authority.
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
clear that it needs no explanation.
4 We too can
be Without Sin
Rom 5:8. But
God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died
Rom 6:11. So
you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in
1 Jn 5:18. He who is born of God does not sin.
1 Jn 3:9. He
who is born of God cannot sin.
5 We too can
be Children of God
Rom 8:14. For
all who 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;
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 3:1.
If we are
called 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
great scandal. People thought he was himself claiming to be God. But
34. Is it not written in your law, ‘I said you are gods?’
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 God’.
Indeed if the
word ‘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 God.
6 We can
become like God and Christ
above we. 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, follow me.
TEACH1NG OF JESUS
I The Principle of the Christian Community
gospel is 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 hand.
This was the
earliest 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 consolation.
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 Lord.
Christian freedom and equality
Mt 23:11. He
who is greatest among you shall be your servant;
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
by this 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.
Blessed are 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 22:27.)
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
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.
Col 4:1. Masters treat your slaves justly and fairly.
1 Cor 7:21. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the
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.
faith alone, but above all action is necessary to the kingdom of God
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.
Jas 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
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 Christ.
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
those 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.
are at 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
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
this last 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
young man 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 his
We learn that
the 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.
withheld his money was regarded as a thief from the community.
Acts 5:1. But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece
2. and with his wife’s knowledge kept back some of the proceeds and
brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
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 the land?’
That is to
say that 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 return.
christian may 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 usury.
capitalists. 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 against smallpox.
You know the
will of 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
How hard it
is for 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 me.’
14. But he said to him,, who made me a judge and divider over you?’
We see from
this how 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.’
many 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
much money 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
You will find
that 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.
only be 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 purposes.
course did 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
one can 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
present 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 needs.
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 principles.
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 their dead’.
Jesus sat in a house and was told that his mother and his brothers were
looking for him, he said:
Mk 3:33. Who
are my 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 mother.
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.
denial of 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 something shameful.
sacrificed the 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.
attacked the 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 family.
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 families.
was 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
say to you, Do not swear at all.
37. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
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.
no longer 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,
12 and 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
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.’
clearly 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
remember 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.
is full 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
women in 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 brothers.
The Copts in
Egypt 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 over.
supper was 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 to eat 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
33. So then my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one
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
All this must
be 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 resurrection.
The night is
dark and 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
clouds 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 salvation?
2 Love of
When we share
our 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
How should we
set 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 christian teaching.
to love 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
regarded 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 round.
been done 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
sinners 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
sickness, the forgiveness of sins is healing. If sickness and sin go
together, so do recovery and forgiveness. Mt 9:2; Mk 2:5; Jn :14.
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 sin.’
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
The law of
Christ has abolished the law.
Gal 4:1-5; 5:1, 4, 5; Eph 2:14, 15; Col 1:13, 14; 2:14, 15, 20, 21; Rom
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
the 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
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
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
Brethren, if 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.
should not 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 be ashamed.
See Mt 25:32, 33.
All the punishments threatened in the new testament are concerned with
the last judgment and not this life.
has no judge save Christ. Acts 10:42; 2 Cor :10.
who 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
this way to judge us: Mt 16:27; 24:30; 25:31-46; 2 Thess 1:7,9.
We shall have
to give an account of ourselves to him:
Mt 12:36, 41, 42; Lk 11:31, 32; Mt 6:15.
The bad will
be meted 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 Pet
suffer in body and soul. Mt 5:30; 10:28; Mk 9:45, 48.
christians 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.
Evangelist 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 him.
18. He who believe in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is
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.
to John it is the Holy Ghost who will conduct the last judgment. John
calls him light and comforter.
opinion is what we would now consider the most appropriate. It comes to
the same whether we regard our conscience or sound reason as our judge.
Whether it is
the 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.
society laws 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,
do not offend against anyone so that you will not be punished by
anyone. But Christ taught ‘judge no one so that no one will judge you’.
We see the
principle 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 sinners.
Teaching of the Spirit
Jn 16:12. I
have yet 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 to come.
14. He will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it to
that the 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.
Jesus’ 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 written.
He would not
have 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
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.
draws 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.
passages in 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; 1:2.
expresses the 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 Spirit.
Be that as it
may, we 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.
plenty of 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 good.
8. To one is given through the spirit the utterance of wisdom, to
another the utterance of knowledge, according to the same spirit,
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 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; Eph 5:9.
All the gifts
of the 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,
Just as what
I called 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.
can do 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
all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I
Paul 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.
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 wrong, but rejoices in
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 imperfect.
10. But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
us from 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.
should 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 us.
We only know what the spirit is through 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 ‘spirit’.
We must use
these 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 society.
against the Holy Ghost is therefore all that we do with the intention
of maintaining the present state of injustice and inequality in our
whose 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.
must never cease to keep the renewal and growth of understanding within
the confines of christian love so that they do not fail away into mere
which Jesus thought Necessary to the Spread of His Teaching
enthusiastic 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 God.’
61. Another said, ‘1 will follow you, Lord; but first let me say
farewell to those at my own home.’
said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is
fit for the kingdom of God.’
considers 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 the
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.
tried to 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
this rule 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 possessions:
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, invite the poor,
the maimed, the lame, the blind.
Of course the
rich 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
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.
fright 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
In such an
important 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 work.
None of this
should 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
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 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
important task is to give back to these unfortunates the consciousness
of their own value. In many countries they have become far too humble
make 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 him.
Tell did not
bow down 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.
a 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
He to whom
much is 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 fourfold.
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.
hard truths 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
earn 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
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.
especially 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 on.
23. For life is more than food, and the body more
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
passages 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
When we act
thus and 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
So stop being
afraid. 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
anxious 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
plain. 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
have 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
are not 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
power 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
Let us call everybody
to the feast. Comrades, old friends, when I look 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
has no 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 punishment.
what Jesus says about stealing:
Mt 5:40. And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have
your cloak as well.
christian 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
I would like
to speak 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
working 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 following passage:
Lk 6:30. Of him who takes away your goods do not ask for them again.
has no 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
very few 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 seeks
chapter 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
parable 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
justifies many actions which are now labelled unjust. As Jesus
interprets the parable, it is right to use money and goods for the
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 own?
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.
say that 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 world.
This is what
Jesus 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.
already 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
and fight) my kingdom is not of this world.
that his 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, ‘Nothing.’
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
justify 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
Jesus saw 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
those 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.
towns had 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.
Truths in the Teaching of Jesus
truths 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
truths of 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 yourself.
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
Jesus 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?
of mercy and good works and the sacredness of hospitality in the Odyssey
XIV 385-389, and further in XIV 400-406’.
(de 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.
Baptist who began his preaching before Jesus taught the same principle:
Lk 3:10. And the multitudes asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’
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 likewise.’
I call the
unknown 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 practice.
I Jesus’ Attacks upon Property
Mt 12:1, 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 fines.
Mt 8:32, 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.
Mk 11:2 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.
anyone wants to ride a donkey belonging to his christian brother, he is
arrested and condemned to transportation or death. Is that christian?
Mt 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
We also find
in the 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 Egyptians.
That is to
say, steal 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
barbarian 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 hypocrites.’
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
property 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
gospels agree 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
change with 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.
people that 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 disciples.
11. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why
does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
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 sinners.’
gospels agree 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 sinner.’
40. And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to
you.’ And he answered, ‘What is it Teacher?’
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 rightly.’
describes how the woman has shown her love for him and concludes:
47. Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.
her 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
Jesus 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 robbery.
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 and
was not 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
About 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 with
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
the 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 with
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 means.
that 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,
41. who when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered to him.
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.)
and tax 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
Jesus as 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.
sisters, 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
for your 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 in adultery.
Apostles’ Daily Bread
A short time
ago the 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
not 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 18:3.)
communism all 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
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 cause?’
If Jesus had
answered ‘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 law.
two 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 hands.
Baptism of John
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
answered ‘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 answered:
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
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 prophet.’
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
17. tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar
18. But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test,
19. Show me the money for the tax.’ And they brought him a coin.
20. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’
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
said ‘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.)
woman taken in adultery
Jn 8:3. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst,
4. they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of
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 ground.
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 before him.
10. Jesus looked up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one
11. She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn
you; go and do not sin again.’
Why did Jesus
spend 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
unlikely 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 living.’
quoting Ex 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 Lord, how 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.
is from 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 time.
Mt 13:3. A
sower went 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 soil,
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 them.
8. Other seeds fell upon good soil and brought forth grain, some a
hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty.
explains the parable:
anyone hears 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
has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation
or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
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 thirty.
See also Mk 4
and Lk 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 difficult.
parable ‘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, his enemy came
and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared
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 it weeds?’
28. He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’
29. The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather
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 barn.’
explains the parable:
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 leavened.
that 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 Sadducees.
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 Sadducees.
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 field.
The field is
the 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 propaganda.
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 doctrine.
Mt 13:47. The kingdom of heaven is like a net which
was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind;
48. when it
was full men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into
vessels but threw away the bad.
Many will be
won by 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
Mt 20:1. The kingdom of heaven is like a householder
who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.
2. After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them
into his wine yard.
3. And going
out 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 the
6. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing;
and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
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 scorching
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.
do to 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 another country.
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
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
38. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is
the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’
39. And they took him and. cast him out of the vineyard, and kilted him.
40. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to
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 you 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
43. Therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.’
(See also Mk
12:4; Lk 20:9.)
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 happiness.
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 were
3. For when the foolish took their lamps they took no oil with them;
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
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
wise 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 shut.
11. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to
12. But he replied, ‘Truly I say to you I do not know you.’
13. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day for the hour.
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
minimum 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 property;
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 five 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
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 interest.
28. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.
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
Lk I4:16. A man once gave a great banquet, and invited
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 ready.’
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
19. And another said, ‘1 have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to
examine them; I pray you have me excused.’
another said, ‘I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come.’
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 my
bouseholder is 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 enemies.
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 it?
5. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.
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
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
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
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 feed swine.
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 son.’
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 meant.
27. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has
killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’
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.’
everyone 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
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
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 made.
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 the
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,
too, 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 merciful masters.
do not 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.
would 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 exceptions.
We do not
like being 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
Often when in
several 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 different
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.
despise 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?
heart is 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.
nevertheless we 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
forget 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 qualities.
which 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 constitution.
surfaced road 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?
In 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 necessary.
to 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
may not 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.
This 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.
We must 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 want.
for the unfortunate, always.
This is 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.
If you 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.
virtues 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.
is made 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.
must be 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 trusted.
these are 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
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 private.
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 happened.’
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
6. If you
lend 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
9. If you suspect that your friend is in trouble, offer him help.
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.
through these 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.
sisters! 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 following
1. Let every man who has understood the truth of the gospel of Christ
undertake to engage others of like mind in the common project.
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.
banish all 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.
must 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 the propaganda.
member 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 time.
of the 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.
still no 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
talk to 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
this 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 book.
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.
that every 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.
moral 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 in knowledge.
is the 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 communist.
communism is 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 produced?
questions can 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
not 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
should 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 communism.
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 even
This lays us
open to 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 been perverted.4
I have said
elsewhere 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 not 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 governor’.
I am talking
about 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.
show us 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
be afraid 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?
remember the four following principles and draw our own conclusions.
a state 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 been stolen.
the 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
the 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
read 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
have not 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
individual 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
for 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
in a 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 forget this.
were 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
reformation was 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 prevent it.
divided 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.
it 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
religious 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.
Zwingli, 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 class.
reformers 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 opinions.
years 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 his heart.
My views on
the 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.
in 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 it.
Let us look
back over 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.
we 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 this.
French 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 they wanted.
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
revolution 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
that people refuse to put christian principles into practice? Why is it
that we pay lip service to their promised blessings but fail to put
them into practice?
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 all.
possible to 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
bible 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
this I 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 blasphemes
What does it
mean to 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 manifestation 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 Spirit,
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 tongues.
11. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions
to each one individually as he wills.
gifts for 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
teaches 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
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.
spiritual 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 next.
When we find
the 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.
happens to 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.
prosecution also 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 happiness.
philosophical 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.
speaking I 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.
I have 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.
the 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
so, then 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
This would be
a state 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.
would be 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
Now I wait
for 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. 1, p.
story was 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 deceived.’
Translator’s note. The above paragraph condenses a longer passage in
Translator’s note. This paragraph condenses a longer passage in the
 Weitling apparently thought the epistle of James was
written by Paul.—Translator.