Was Jesus a Leftist?

SERMON-ON-THE-MOUNT-MichelangeloThe New York TimesNicholas Kristof thinks that were Jesus’s Second Coming to happen any time soon he’d be upset that those religious people most closely associated with him (aka Christians) are rejecting the Democrat party platform. John Ellis does a good job of explaining that Jesus was not a bearded Progressive but was, instead, the incarnate intermediary between man and God. Indeed, Ellis’s article goes much deeper than that, by pointing out that Kristof’s “expert” is, in the classic sense of the word, a “heretic.”

Because I lack Ellis’s depth of knowledge about core Christianity and about heresy, I thought I’d amuse myself by going a different route. I haven’t read the New Testament since 1980, when I took a “Bible as Literature” class at Cal. (Can you imagine a time when a state-funded school could still teach that kind of thing? And yes, even at Cal they still offered traditional learning classes back in the day.)

I’ve placed lessons from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (from the Book of Matthew) in one column and, in the other column, I’ve set out my opinion as to whether those statements mesh with modern Progressive preaching and acts. Please note that, because I am not a religious scholar — especially not a Christian religious scholar — I am taking Jesus’s words at face value when deciding whether Progressives are in sync with his teachings  or not.

I apologize if this post runs too long. The fact is, though, that I rediscovered what I first learned in my class at Cal:  The Sermon on the Mount is vivid, thought-provoking, intensely humanist and, in the King James Version, exquisitely beautiful. In addition to appreciating the philosophy, I enjoy recognizing all the phrases that have worked their way into the English language (although today’s generation has probably abandoned most of them).

What Jesus said Progressive or not Progressive
“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Not Progressive: The only thing Progressives think is at hand, and that should drive repentance, is the very unheavenly climate armageddon.
“Follow me,” he told them [Simon and Peter], “and I will make you fishers of people!” Progressive: The Left is big on casting wide its net to get people to sign on its ideology. Having public schools and federally supported universities do net-casting helps a lot.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Not Progressive: Modern American Progressives are distinguished by spiritual arrogance and material wealth.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Not Progressive: For Progressives, comfort comes from therapy and government funding. I’m pretty sure here that Jesus was talking about faith.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
Not Progressive: Modern Progressivism is an aggressive, angry, proselytizing faith, powered by huge infusions of cash from individuals and foundations.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Progressive:  While I don’t agree with the Progressive ideology, I doubt anyone can argue that its followers are spiritually hungry and that the useful idiots amongst them are seeking a form of righteousness.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Not Progressive:  As is shown by the gay mafia’s quest to destroy Christian businesses that won’t get in line to serve same-sex marriages, mercy isn’t a Progressive virtue.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Only God can answer this one.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Progressive: American Progressives are loudly anti-war, which they claim means that they, alone in America, stand for peace, so I’ll give them this one. The fact that all of their peace initiatives have created countless human tragedies and led inevitably to war speaks volumes about the fact that they probably are doing it wrong.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Not Progressive: Progressives in American today are ascendant. They are actively (and proudly) persecuting everyone who isn’t aligned with their pro-Hillary, pro-gender mania, pro-illegal immigrant, pro-open border, pro-Islam-is-peace, pro-TrigglyPuff feminism, and pro-fraudulent-BLM agenda.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Not Progressive:  Only one word:  TrigglyPuff. For better or worse, today’s Left does not turn the other cheek and is not meek.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Not Progressive:  One of the hallmarks of the Left is its anger and paranoia. Study after study shows that people who hew to traditional religion and politics, while they may be situationally angry (9/11 made me angry) are happier than Progressives and other Leftists.
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” A philosophical question that I cannot fit into this rubric.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Again, a philosophical value judgment that has no place in this chart.
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” Progressive:  To the extent I understand this to mean that the faithful have an obligation to be open about their faith to educate others, Progressives are definitely heeding Jesus’s dictum here.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Progressive:  See above comment. I don’t call Progressive works “good,” but they’re shining them.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Not Progressive:  Jesus sees himself as the fulfillment of Old Testament laws and covenants. Honest Progressives are open about their desire to wipe out the Constitution (e.g., Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and the laws built upon it.
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A promise that does not fit into this rubric.
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” A promise that does not fit into this rubric.
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” A promise that does not fit into this rubric.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”  Not Progressive: The Progressive doctrine calls, not for reconciliation, but for bloodily obliterating the recalcitrant brother.
 “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Not Progressive:  Good practical advice about staying out of trouble by not being a hothead and acting without thinking. As the campus fracases of the summer demonstrate, Progressives are not schooled in the art of diplomacy.
 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Not Progressive: Progressives don’t just dismiss the notion that having lust in ones heart is a moral problem, they embrace lust with animalistic gusto, often doing away with the adultery problem by doing away with marriage (unless one is gay, in which case it’s important).
 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”  Not Progressive:  I understand this to mean that, once you’ve started down the sinful path of extramarital lust, do whatever you can to stop before it goes too far. Again, not a Progressive virtue.
 “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”  Not Progressive:  Do whatever you can to save your marriage, because you dishonor your wife and commit a sin yourself if you divorce her without good cause (presumably to satisfying your own lusts). Incidentally, to the extent that divorce is common in America, and that many decent people opt for a good divorce over a bad marriage, Progressives aren’t the only ones who are not in sync with this dictum.
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Maybe those of you better read than I am and with a deeper religious understanding than I have can work this into the Progressive / Not Progressive rubric. I cannot.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Not Progressive:  Progressives are as good as, if not better than, anyone else when it comes to vindictiveness and, I might add, hypocrisy.
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Not Progressive:  Progressives are primarily generous with other people’s money and energy, not their own. Moreover, forgiveness is not one of the virtues in the Progressive canon.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Not Progressive:  Those who hew to the Judeo-Christian tradition can always do better when it comes to their enemies (as I “#NeverHillary person myself, I don’t have anything good to say about her and don’t want to embrace her), and I refuse to commit suicide by embracing ISIS and other Islamist factions that want to destroy me. Having said that, today’s Progressives are climbing to new and frenzied hates with their hatred for Trump and his supporters, for Christians, for police officers, for white people, and on and on. There is no love there, and no attempt to find a loving pathway.
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” I agree with loving is easy when it’s reciprocated, and much harder to find love for those you find unlovable or who find you unlovable. Having said that, I don’t see this principle fitting into this rubric.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Yikes! I didn’t remember Jesus demanding godly perfection. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to it but achieving it? I don’t see anyone, anywhere having done this — nor does it fit this rubric.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  [I won’t quote the lovely Lord’s Prayer here.] Not Progressive: This is the era of Leftist virtue signaling. They live to have their alms flashily displayed before other people. At a certain point, of course, one must lead by example, but what Progressives are doing is an unseemly kind of political and cultural bullying unrelated to acts of genuine virtue or generosity.

I’m not completely on board with Jesus’s instruction to pray in secret, though. Again, one cannot lead by example if one is invisible. Moreover, to the extent one is genuinely advancing morality and decency, that has to be shared to encourage others in these virtues. Can anyone help me out here?

Perhaps it just means not being a religious show-off (like those Muslims with bruises on their heads), not to push your faith aggressively onto others, and not to turn prayers into demands that God give you things and visibly reward you.

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Not Progressive:  Again, a demand for generosity of spirit, something strikingly absent from the Left ascendant.
“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Not Progressive:  This chastisement against hypocrisy falls on deaf Leftist ears. After all, as the saying goes, “if the Left didn’t have double standards, it wouldn’t have any standards at all.”
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Not Progressive:  There is no one more obsessed with wealth, money, and treasure than a Progressive. They assign everything a monetary value and then assert that they are the only ones capable of controlling these valuable things and apportioning them amongst those the Progressives deem worthy. Socialists know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” I’m not sure what to make of this, other than to say that, at an individual level, when we look for goodness, we find it, and when we look for evil, we find it too — and whatever we look for and find suffuses our being, lifting it up or dragging it down.

Progressive? Not Progressive? I don’t know how to answer that.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Not Progressive: Progressives would argue that, because they seek to concentrate wealth in government, they are abiding by this stricture better than those who seek to leave it in private hands, but it seems to me that the Progressives are only conflating God and mammon, rather than merely serving two masters, which is an escalation of the sin.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Not Progressive:  Progressives are obsessed with the body — with exercise, diet, sex, medical care, etc. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care for our bodies; indeed, no disrespect to Jesus, I would say that to the extent our bodies are in God’s image and are God’s gift to us we have an obligation to care for them well — but certainly not to the exclusion of our spiritual well-being or obligations to others in the world.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Progressive:  It’s Progressive if you substitute “Government” for “heavenly Father,” and mandate that certain humans labor so that other humans (those “more equal animals”) don’t have to sow or reap or buy clothes or sweat or labor or toil or anything else.

As for me, I struggle with this one. It seems to me that humans do well if they must be active in caring for themselves. Moreover, while I understand that “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” I always think I can avert some of the next day’s evil by planning ahead a bit. It’s a control freak thing, I guess.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Not Progressive:  Racist! Sexist! Islamophobe! White Privileged! Progressives live to judge. And to the extent that Progressives hew to old Southern Democrat ideas of race, treating People of Color like infants, measuring their race by a single drop of blood, and otherwise unable to look beyond the color of people’s skin or the contents of their underpants to see the person beneath, they are the racists, sexists, and other -ists that they claim to despise.

I kind of like my sister’s formulation:  “I try to be opinionated, not judgmental.” My life became better (and people liked me more) when I expressed strong opinions rather than mentally consigning to atheist Hell those I deemed flawed.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Not Progressive:  As noted above, if Progressives didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all. Exhibit A, from the White House to Al Gore to Hollywood to Silicon Valley Progressive, is the fact that, living in air-conditioned, heated, oversized car and private jet luxury, they lecture ordinary people on tight budgets about cutting back on our fossil fuel use.
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Good advice; doesn’t fit into this rubric.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Not Progressive:  It’s a beautifully expressed statement about God’s love. Having said that, to the extent it states the golden rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — it states a singularly non-Progressive virtue. Progressives routinely treat “the little people,” their avowed enemies, and the minorities trapped in Progressive hell horribly.

Think of the fact that the path to riches is education, marriage, children, a path Progressive middle and upper-class people follow religiously. Just look how they relentlessly push on poor people policies that have as their logical outcome, no education, no marriage, and children raised in poverty without fathers present.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad isthe way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” It’s hard to be good. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I get the point, but can’t apply it to this rubric.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Not Progressive:  Al Gore and climate change. Socialists and the alleged virtues of redistribution. Islam is a religion of peace. Need I say more? Socialism and Islam are very bad trees, indeed, and they are the ones under which Progressives gather. If only we could purge these destructive ideologies from the human mind and heart.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Not Progressive:  Actions, not words, are what make the difference. To my mind, this again goes to the endless Progressive hypocrisy. It also touches on the fact that Progressives, rather than doing good deeds themselves, like to use the coercive power of government to force upon others whatever Progressives happen to determine are good deeds. Moreover, so many of these government-enforced “good deeds” are terribly destructive.
 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”  Not Progressive:  History bears out the fact that Progressives, who are just another variation of socialism, have been and consistently are wrong about everything. As an ideology, socialism is as flimsy as a house built on sand. The moment other people’s money runs out, socialist economies collapse. The moment socialists have used someone else’s freedoms to dispossess that person or nation, socialism (like Islam) steps in with repression.  It is a failed ideology that inveigles people with promises it can never keep.

On balance, other than the fact that Progressives think well of themselves, and therefore wish to be associated with Jesus, there’s little overlap between his teachings and Progressives’ actions and values.