The Political Theory of Jesus

Published Thu Feb 28, 2019 05:16 PM PST

Not surprisingly, virtually everyone has the political theory of Jesus completely wrong. There's a few common camps that people fall into, and I'll discuss those first, before explaining what I believe Jesus actually taught.

First of all, the left wing usually prefers to think of Jesus as a socialist activist. They see him as someone who condemned the rich and loved the poor, and endorsed paying taxes, and therefore, presumably his message is one of forceful reallocation of wealth. I think this is ridiculous in the wider context of Jesus's teachings but nonetheless it's probably the most popular conception of Jesus today.

The right-wing by contrast emphasizes Jesus's apparent support for self-defense when he told people to buy swords. The right mostly finds Jesus's other statements promoting non-resistance to be repulsive and problematic. Anyway for them his political philosophy is one of worshipping Jesus as God as the sole means of getting in to Heaven; the right tends to diminish the importance of actions on earth in favor of metaphysical belief. The right also believes that non-believers will be punished for an eternity in Hell.

Now there's some other case studies besides that. Rabbinic Judaism for example tends to find Jesus as someone who promoted peace during a time where violent rebellion was the correct course of action. Therefore he is partially responsible for the failure of Judea to liberate itself from Rome through war.

Islam finds Jesus to be... well, he's basically just another faithful Muslim. That's pretty much all he is to them.

Now I will tell you what Jesus actually believed (so far as I can tell). Jesus believed in non-violent truth-telling to the point of being martyred for it. The Sermon on the Mount reads like a treatise on how to survive as a principled person in a world wherein your every act and word can be used to destroy you.

It is very important for Jesus that if you are under occupation such that it is impossible to speak the truth, which I think has probably been the case throughout history, that you not resort to vengeful violent rebellion as your solution because all that does is discredit you and your ideas, and makes those who kill you seem to be in the right. You make your enemies into people who are rightfully acting in self-defense. Therefore, the optimal solution is to keep telling the truth, protecting yourself as much as possible in the process, and gaining a following, until such time you inevitably push yourself too far, and get arrested.

I could present a lot of citations from the gospels to justify this belief but instead I will simply recommend that you read them yourself. Thank you for reading.

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