These sayings may have a Biblical sound to them. But they are not Biblical.
They set aside the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the Hebrew prophets,
but unfortunately fit well with current neo-con (new Republicans’) or neo-lib (new Democrats’) American values. They were written by Eric Mader in the early 2000’s during the Bush years. This is list 2; you may also want to see list 1.
The column on the right shows how some of the original sayings actually appear in the Bible. Please compare!
“The New American Bad Bible”
- When you pray, do not pray in a corner, like the meek do. For they have their reward. But when you pray, do so over an Evangelical Network, and your prayers will gather contributions. For thus does the righteous man get his due.
- Those who die for a cause shall receive their death. And those who send them to die shall receive everlasting life.
- It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a European* to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. [In the early 2000’s the Christian right despised “Europeans” for resisting Bush’s assault on Iraq. Today you could substitute “Muslims” or “Russians” or “black lives” or any number of groups. The religious neo-cons vary their targets frequently, just – it seems – so they can keep their followers riled up.]
- Yes, faith can move mountains. But strip mining is faster.
- The Kingdom of heaven is like a tax shelter.
- Approach like a dove, then devour like a snake. And then, digesting, put on the dove act again.
The Religious and Ethical Experts
- Woe to you, academics and intellectuals! You carp on and on about justice and truth, while the world’s riches are there for the taking! You neither use your wits to grab what you can, nor will you let others grab what they can!
- Woe to you, academics and intellectuals! You quote from laws and statutes as if men were made to follow laws, when it is otherwise; law was made to be changed by the righteous!
- Woe to you, academics and intellectuals! You trouble yourselves washing the inside of the cup, when all the customer sees is the outside! Your ventures will sink under such scruples!
- Blessed are the selfish, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are the rich, for they shall become much richer, and shall keep their riches to the last penny.
- Blessed are those who call themselves righteous, for they shall dictate unto the others, and the others shall find themselves without rights.
- Blessed are those who find loopholes for their misdeeds, for their misdeeds shall be overlooked.
- Blessed are those who are well placed, for they shall receive protection.
- Blessed are the liars, for their lies repeated often and loudly enough shall be called truth.
- Blessed are you when people criticize you and point to your crimes, for you shall be given dodges to evade any truth.
- For my Father in Heaven sees your shrewdness and greed, and you shall be rewarded.
The Real Bible – What Jesus Actually Said.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [Matthew 6:2-4]
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [Matthew 6:5-6]
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple … You blind men!…
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence…
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness…
You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? [Matthew 23:13-33]
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- The revised sayings are available in Mader’s book, Heretic Days: Writings from the Margins of Christianity in the chapter “The GOP Gospel: If Jesus Were An American Republican”.)
- See another article about revising the Bible: “The New Small Bible – Simple, Easy to Wield, but not Very Biblical.”
- The attitudes in the left columns above reveal some elements of how Machiavelli has replaced Jesus in modern American politics – and that is NOT a good thing. Here are a couple of articles that discuss that a bit more:
I have a question:
How in the world
can professing Christ-followers allow themselves
to protect, support and justify
those who live by such false and deadly perspectives?
And I Have Three Crucial Observations:
1. These sayings are not exaggerations.
They are pretty accurate.
Those who do not wish such things attributed to them
should neither live that way, nor promote those who do.
2. Let us not pretend to be surprised or offended
Not in the least. If we knew our Bibles we would know the Bible is full of complaints about exactly these kinds of thinking and behavior. And in Bible days these were often being practiced and promoted by the religious teachers and the political leaders whom they supported. We should FULLY expect it, and be watching for what the Bible indicates we will find around us.
3. We really have to choose.
Which line of thinking – and acting – will we honor and endeavor to follow? Jesus makes it pretty clear which line he is in. We really are being pressed by Jesus Himself to make the right and healthy choice – regardless of how people around us are choosing.