By Rudy Barnes, Jr.
Jesus was a maverick 1st century rabbi who infuriated Jewish religious leaders with his radical moral teachings of love over law-- the Mosaic Law then considered the Jewish standard of righteousness. Like ancient Judaism, modern church doctrines ignore the universal moral teachings of Jesus and emphasize exclusivist Christian beliefs never taught by Jesus.
Jesus never promoted a new religion or claimed to be divine. He called his disciples to follow him, not to worship him; but St. Paul reversed those priorities with his mystical doctrine of atonement. It subordinated the moral teachings of Jesus to exclusivist beliefs in a divine Christ, and that enabled a Christianity bereft of morality to become the world’s most popular religion.
The moral teachings of Jesus were debunked by White Chrtistians when they elected Donald Trump as their president in 2016. Trump’s egregious immorality is the antithesis of that taught by Jesus. If the church doesn’t now affirm the teachings of Jesus as the standards of Christian morality, it must acknowledge their irrelevance as standards of political legitimacy.
The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves. It’s a moral imperative taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted by Muslims as a common word of faith. In politics it’s a mandate to provide for the common good.
In the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus taught that our neighbors include those we detest; and the new command in John’s gospel (John 13:14) to “love one another'' confirmed the moral imperative of the greatest commandment. The first priority of the love command is that we seek to be reconciled with our adversaries. (Matthew 5:23-26)
The Sermon on the Mount is a compendium of the radical moral teachings of Jesus in the context of the selfish and sinful inclinations of human nature. (see Matthew 5-7) In Mark’s gospel Jesus taught his followers to avoid evil thoughts that lead to acts of human depravity, such as adultery, greed, malice, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (see Mark 7:21-23).
In politics, Jesus told his disciples that worldly rulers “lord it over others,” and then said to them, “Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.” (Mark 10:41-44) Providing for the common good In America’s polarized partisan politics requires a politics of reconciliation; but our churches either promote divisive partisan objectives or discourage mixing faith and politics.
Jesus never mentioned democracy since it was irrelevant to his ancient time and place; but Americans are masters of their political destiny and must be stewards of their democracy, or witness its demise. Whether they worship Jesus Christ or not, Christians can’t claim to follow Jesus as the word of God unless they apply his radical moral teachings to their politics.
All religions are both mystical and moral. The mystical relates to our beliefs in an unseen spiritual power, or God, while the moral relates to how we treat each other. The greatest commandment in Matthew, Mark and Luke brings together those two components of faith: We love and serve God by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The first letter of John tells us, “God is love...and Whoever loves God must also love his brother/neighbor.” (1 John 16-21). Jesus was a universalist Jew who never advocated one religion over others, not even his own. He taught that Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:35)
Jesus humbly exemplified the spiritual and moral power of God’s love, and his moral teachings are as radical and relevant in America today as they were in his ancient time and place.
Donald Trump is a narcissistic and arrogant bully who “lords it over others” demanding their subservience. He exemplifies the evil thoughts taught by Jesus in Mark 7:21-23, but has said that he has nothing to be forgiven for. Even so, most White Christians continue to support him.
The church has lost its moral compass by promoting mystical and exclusivist beliefs in Jesus Christ as the alter ego of God and as the only means of salvation, while ignoring the radical moral teachings of Jesus in faith and politics. The Christian religion needs to be reinvented as a universalist religion based on following the radical moral teachings of Jesus in both faith and politics. That’s what discipleship and the stewardship of democracy is all about, and it’s the only way Americans can save their church and their democracy from moral corruption.
Christianity is being corrupted by radical beliefs of White charlatans like Jeff Jansen who not only ignore the moral teachings of Jesus but undermine the democratic processes of the Constitution and the rule of law. Jensen has prophesied that Trump will return to the White House with God’s help and the help of America’s military by the end of April. "You have to realize what's taken place in our nation has been a hostile takeover, and just because there was a fake inauguration [of Biden]…for optics and for posture, let them have their day in the sun," Jansen, the founder of Global Fire Ministries International based out of Tennessee, said during a Tuesday episode of the Elijah Streams YouTube program. Right Wing Watch first reported Jansen's remarks. It's a tale of two presidents and right now in America—because President Trump has never conceded, he never agreed to anything, never stepped away, never conceded," Jansen continued. "He basically stepped aside momentarily, while things are being sorted out." The evangelical minister said Trump's effort to stay in office by overturning the elections results in the court was stymied by "corrupt" courts and judges.
"The last defense is military [and] the military is actually in control right now," Jansen said. "They've already made their determination. Now it's about execution. Now it's about returning civil power after the 'we the people' factor, the rightly, duly-elected president from this past election comes forward and exposes the corruption—there will be civil power restored in the United States," he insisted. "And that president will be Donald J. Trump." Jansen later urged viewers to "watch what the Lord does," but he predicted that things will move forward and Trump will be reinstated "by the end of April." See https://www.newsweek.com/evangelical-prophet-claims-military-carrying-out-coup-reinstate-trump-president-1577162.
The future of the many variations of the church in America depends on what kind of radical moral teachings those who consider themselves Christians choose to follow--whether those of Jesus or those of radical charlatans like Jeff Jensen who continue to support Donald Trump.