“I have conquered the world,” once said Jesus. It seems that he has conquered the world, only a lot of people have yet to recognize it.
Let’s put aside his identity for a moment, whether he was the messiah predicted by the Jewish prophets, the Son of God, or other identities.
Let’s also put aside the historical accuracy of his words, found in the New Testament. Ok, maybe his disciples didn’t spread his words just as he spoke them. Maybe the translators weren’t totally accurate when they translated his words from the spoken Aramaic, to Greek and Latin (which the New Testament was originally written). Maybe at the Council of Nicaea in 350 CE – which gave us the final, authoritative New Testament document — didn’t make accurate editing. Maybe the current translations from ancient Greek and Latin versions of the New Testament (the oldest versions that we have) into English aren’t entirely accurate.
The belief is that God’s spirit guided the transcribers and the translators. But regardless of one’s belief regarding God’s spirit, the reality remains: the words in the New Testament — the only authoritative book of Jesus’ words that we have today — stand on their own. No other book contains this level of wisdom, especially wisdom that is relevant to current political and economic problems.
Some of his followers have said about Jesus, “Search the world, search the heavens, there is none like him.” This seems to ring true as well. Of all the political, philosophical, and religious leaders who have come and gone in the last 2,000 years, Jesus seems to have come on top. When the dust of history settles, he remains standing.
The same is true with his words, regardless of their historical accuracy. Billions of words and theories have come and gone in the historical marketplace of ideas, and Jesus’ words always seem to rise to the top.
On buses and trains throughout the world, you can see no one any longer reading Socrates, Aristotle, Napoleon, Mao, Marx, Hitler, Caesar, Buddha, or Jefferson, but you do see them reading – and studying – the New Testament. They study it to learn how to become better people and how to create a better world.
Most people don’t seem to recognize that the revolution is over. The world has been conquered. Jesus remains the king of kings, until a better king comes along, which hasn’t happened in 2,000 years.
Sure, we don’t know anything with certainty. There is no certainty (quantum theory has revealed this). But we do have one person who seems to know more about reality than anyone else who has ever lived, and he has the words to prove it.
Many modern philosophers say there is no way of knowing what is right and what is wrong, that all morality is subjective value judgements, and that one person’s values are just as true as another person’s values.
But Jesus gives us a very clear value system, and one that has not been surpassed in 2,000 years, especially one that has not been surpassed by contemporary Islam, with its goal of jihad, that is, the – often violent — spread of an inferior moral system.
Jesus clearly states his moral philosophy:
Love one another.
Treat others as you want to be treated.
Love your enemy.
Turn the other cheek.
Return good for evil.
Be charitable to all people.
Forgive to the same extent you want to be forgiven.
If you want to be perfect, sell everything you own, give the proceeds to the
poor, and follow him.
The 6th principle – return good for evil – perhaps was the moral basis of the Marshal Plan in Europe and our treatment of the Japanese after WWII. It was also the moral basis of Abe Lincoln’s policy towards the South after the Civil War: charity towards all and malice towards none.
All good American Christians agree with the first eight of these principles, but most simply ignore the last one: Sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and follow him. It flies right over their heads without the least amount of thought.
In fact, our whole economic policy is based on the antithesis of this moral principle. Our economic moral philosophy is that individuals should make as much money as they can and the national economy should grow at least 3% a year. Plus, everyone’s children should have more consumption of goods and services than their parents had.
Many Christians rationalize their violation of Jesus’ commandment by giving some version of the following argument:
“Jesus came to set us free. So we should be free to accumulate as much wealth as we can.”
I contend that the violation of this moral principle – the infinite accumulation of wealth – is one of the main causes of many of our contemporary problems and the cause of the eventual destruction of the earth and interminable wars. Poor people want the same level of wealth as the rich people, and the rich people want even more.
In an amazing way, the uneducated and non-Christian aboriginals of many countries had a higher level of morality than the most sophisticated moral philosophers and theologians of Harvard and Oxford when it comes to this principle. The aboriginals left the earth in the same shape as they found it. They cared for other species and they loved their descendants. We have contempt for other species (speciesism) and are leaving our descendants with a parking lot, one that is over-heated and one that has a $20 trillion debt.
Our tiny, sensitive earth and our 7 billion – and growing – human family can’t sustain such economic growth.
We can argue about this until the cows come home (and why do we have cows anyhow?), but the argument has been over won for over 2,000 years. The revolution has been won. We can shout Jesus’ name from the rooftops, but we can also read what he said.
We can all reduce our consumption of goods and services to the level that the earth can sustain. We can work towards a realistic plan for permanent world peace – that is, work against an eventual disastrous, international war. We can make God’s work our own.
And we can read the policies of RG Martin.
Well put RG. Being a devout Christian from Iowa I am appalled by the attitudes of these elites who seem to think that they can tell us the people what we can and cannot do. With all the smarts during the Obama era, what do they have to show for that. Reading an article by David Gergen the other day made me realize that these people are out of touch. Lets take their 401ks away from them and see how they survive. My hunch – they’ll vote for Crzy Bernie.
Tx your your comment. Feedback like yours helps make this site an edifying one. Hope to hear from you again.
“Something is going on, and I don’t know what it is (do you, Mr. Jones)?” It seems like DC and all these political commentators have a superiority complex, showing how brilliant they are and why the society should conform to their neurotic ideals.
Thx RG. I really like this site. I can’t believe I did not come across it earlier. Thanks for all your work.
And thanks for visiting the site and making thoughtful comments. I look forward to hearing more from you and your contribution to world peace!
Davina Johns says
Hi Maddox and RG,
Felt the same way towards this site. I would really love to read new ones, RG.
RG or anyone in the community, for the past few years I have been confused as to whether the tenets of Islam promote violence as compared to the tenets of Christianity that RG has so eloquently articulated in telling us Jesus’ moral philosophy in this article. I keep hearing the word Jihad and it seems to me its a war against Christianity.
Great insight into the problem. Your question hit the nose on the head. I hope to soon write an article addressing your question. Your suspicion that jihad is anti-Christian is accurate, just as it is anti-semitic.
The problem, which confuses the issue, is that Islam has no central authority to interpret the Koran. Thus you have left wing, right wing, and center interpretations.
However, the reality stands that virtually all Muslims believe that the Koran is literally true and unchangeable. They believe the Koran accurately describes Allah’s words.
And the Koran clearly states that violence can be — and often should be — used to spread Islam (violent Jihad). It also states the opposite: that you shouldn’t use force. Also Mohammed, in his lifetime, conquered a good portion of the Middle East, using very violent means. After his death, Muslims continued to use violence to convert people to Islam. Even now, the Koran states that a Muslim can be killed if he converts to Christianity.
The majority of Muslims disagree with this use of violence, but obviously the small minority enthusiastically support the use of violence.
So what are Christian and secular nations to do? This is what we will be trying to solve in this discourse.
So keep coming. Let’s put our heads together and create a peaceful world!
And thanks for your comments.
Would it help solve the issue of Muslims and Christianity when it comes to dealing with violence by not doing generalization or stereotypes?
Just a thought..
However, as an antithesis — and we have many antitheses in this site — is that Einstein once said that generalizations are the foundation of all knowledge.
We generalize about everything! While understanding that most generalizations have exceptions (which prove the generalization). If you think about it, generalizing is the only way we get through the day!
We make the generalization that most people will stop at a red light; that the person walking towards us will not punch us in the nose; and that our mother will make us dinner.
If fact, I argue, that the taboo against generalizing about people is at the heart of the black con, the Progressive con, the Hispanic con, and the rich elite con. All these con thinkers say “you can’t generalize about people” while they spit out invalid generalizations all the time. They call their political opponents: “racists, fascists, sexists, Islamaphones, anti-immigrant haters.” and so on.
But I argue, we should work towards making valid generalizations, one’s that correspond to reality.
Tx again for your comment,
Matter Frend says
At least you are speaking plainly, without figures of speech!i strongly believe your article title and i have seen many examples that showed me that indeed he have conquered the world.
Tx for your comment. Yes, Jesus has conquered the world. Now, what shall we do with it? Sure, love conquers all — especially divine love — but how do we put this love into practical political and economic policies. This is what we are all trying to do on this site. So keep coming, and keep thinking.
Davina Johns says
It makes me wonder, can we also say that love is not all that matters in this world?
Yes, love may not be the answer, but it seems to me it’s all that we have, or at least it’s the best thing that philosophers have come up with. Bob Dylan said:
“Love is all there is
it cannot be denied
no matter what you think about it
you just can’t do without it”
I tried, myself, to live without it. It just doesn’t seem to work.
And I’m talking here about universal and divine love which, I believe, romantic love, friendship love, familial love, and agape love are all manifestations of this universal spirit of love.
thanks for your (always) thoughtful comments
Gracia Port says
Christianity conquered the Roman Empire, which executed Jesus, who rose from the dead and defeated death. And no power has been able to extinguish the Christian message. Many have tried, and none have succeeded.
Good points! Yes, Jesus conquered sin and death. Not bad for a 33 year old man. And you seem to be right: few people even CLAIM to do this and no one else has succeeded. Neither Obama, nor Trump, nor Bernie Sanders is going to save us from extinction.
I should point out: many people have a screwed up idea about the word “freedom.” My interpretation is that Jesus freed us FROM sin and death, but most people seem to believe that “freedom” means the right to do whatever they f***n want. And this includes the freedom to sin and to die.
Tx for your comment.
Howard Steff says
I strongly disagree with this “Many modern philosophers say there is no way of knowing what is right and what is wrong” once you are a christian you are subjected to know the wrong and the good ,using myself as an example i know the good and wrong according to my own belief.
Tx for your comment. I think I agree with you. The issue is a little more complicated that I tried to condense into a few pithy sentences — the weakness of journalism.
I was referring to many philosophy students that I have talked to — mainly those who believe in logical positivism– which they state believes that philosophy can’t say anything about right and wrong, and leaves the question to people’s subjective feelings and beliefs. And it seems logical positivism is the current rage.
But I hold that there is an objective right and wrong, and most of us have the ability to discern it — as difficult as this sometimes may be.
And I believe that we need that ability to perceive and agree upon what is right and wrong now more than ever. Is our consumption of non-renewable resources and of carbon right or wrong? Is it right or wrong to go to war with North Korea? Is it right or wrong to have 1% of the population own 40% of the wealth of a country? Is it right or wrong to have a race riot every time a suspect attacks a cop and gets shot? Is it right or wrong to give a whole group of people a moral blank check?
Hopefully, we can climb the latter of truth in these matters with this news site. And I believe people like you can help us on this trek.
James Dier says
Nice article and a good message! You just captured my attention and am so happy reading this article over and over again.
Thanks so much for your affirmation. I would be glad to hear your thoughts as you develop them. It’s readers like you that every writer desperately needs: someone to actually take the time to understand the ideas and think about them.
Without readers like you, writers are just blowing hot air.
Hope to hear from you again.
Davina Johns says
This is an interesting article and a new perspective on this subject matter! I’m glad to have read and come across this one.
Davina Johns says
I’d like to comment on the desire of the people for infinite accumulation of wealth being one of the main causes of our problems–I think that the more we complicate things in our life (lifestyle, new trends, etc) then the more we desire for greater wealth more than we can handle. And we all know that anything in life that is in excess are bad for us.
I couldn’t agree with you more. The whole question of wealth may not be any more complicated than buying children toys. The more toys you buy them, does it make them any happier, increase their quality of life? If I remember correctly the most fun I had as a kid, and the highest quality of life, was playing with my friends, especially if I liked them and they liked me.
Hope to hear from you again,
Davina Johns says
Thanks for the reply. I am amazed on the contrast that you have given in this article. As I am getting it, you said that Christians or people who knew Jesus and his words tend to forget or ignore his words and tend to live in contrary to it but on the other hand, you also mentioned the uneducated, and non-Christian aboriginals of many countries had lived their life on its most simplest terms, left the earth in the same shape as they found it. This only gives us an inkling on how it the earth would be like if we live a much simpler life and follow simple principles.
And like what you said, the highest quality of life, are the much more simpler things.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I guess we’re on the same page. Concerning the earth, aboriginals seem to have been more ethical than modern man, and the more goods and services we consume doesn’t result in a better quality of life nor happier people. My argument is that authentic happiness is found in good relationships (including a good relationship with God, as you understand Him.). Happiness is also found in fulfilling what you perceive is your purpose in life. Neither of these variables seem to be associated with maximum consumption of goods and services.
Davina Johns says
I think Jesus’ moral philosophy that you stated in these article are merely guidelines on how we should go about in this world. These are our standards on how we should handle and live our life and how it should reflect on our political and economic beliefs. But as humans, we are not perfect, so I believe that we can never truly, accurately, 100% stay true to these philosophies. We all have our faults, and shortcomings. The best we can do is to try and to keep on track and hopefully contribute to creating a peaceful place to coexist with others.
Thanks for your — always — thoughtful comments. Readers like you add a lot to this site.
I fully agree with your idea that we are all imperfect, but we still can do what we can to make it a better world. We can put in (our valuable) two cents.
Davina Johns says
Thanks RG! Your article has a lot of points to ponder on!
Freedom is a word that is more often than not, used and abused by a lot of people. I agree with what you said that Jesus freed us from sin and death, but most people have twisted their own truth about freedom being the right to do whatever they want (mostly beneficial to themselves).
I certainly can’t add to that!