Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.”(Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
Literate Constantinian Christians cannot deny that the words they read on the pages of the Gospels say “Love your enemies,” “Do good to those who hate you,” “Love one another as I have loved you,” “Follow me,” etc. The problem lies not in their inability to read but rather in the groundless and untenable interpretations they claim are included in the content expressed by those word. They maintain that a Christian can love his or her enemies by torturing and killing them, a Christian can love as Jesus loves by burning someone’s face off with a flamethrower, a Christian can do good to those who hate him or her by putting a bullet through the other person’s head, destroying his house and leaving his wife and children psychologically maimed for the rest of their lives and financially destitute. Such aberrant, fatuous, inane interpretations of Jesus’ words are the bread and butter of Constantinian Christianity.
The issue lies not in literate Christians’ competency at reading. They can read well, “See Jack run. See Jill run.” The issue is the farcical interpretation of Jesus’ words, analogous to interpreting “See Jack run” and “See Jill run,” as meaning Jack and Jill are standing at attention, when nothing in the text or context even remotely suggest that is a possible interpretation.
If the method of interpretation—employed to reach the conclusion that the content of the saving love that Jesus teaches allows for violence and enmity, including the mass slaughter and enmity of war—were employed to interpret other documents, what would be the result? Take, for example, documents quoting the words of General George Patton, words such as “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country,” or “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” or “Before he finds out where my flanks are, I’ll be cutting the bastard’s throat,” or “I have no particular desire to understand the Russians, except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them,” or “In the second place, Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals” If the same method of interpretation were used to interpret Patton’s words as is used to interpret Jesus’ words by the Constantinian Churches, then Patton would be understood as nonviolent and what he taught would be interpreted as a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies!
Christian just war theories owe nothing to anything the Jesus of the primitive Church or the Gospels ever said or did. They owe everything to literate Christians who have spewed a continuous, ever changing, ever escalating stream of outlandish, farcical and bizarre interpretations of what Jesus said and did into the minds of those who have come within their scope of influence. The toll of human misery in time that has issued from these preposterous interpretations is well documented. The toll in eternity for persuading people to go down a Way of salvation that is not the Way of salvations is incalculable. But this is known from the Gospels, neither war nor enmity is needed by Jesus to accomplish all He intended to accomplish. Nor, are war and enmity part of the saving love Jesus gives us to share in and live by, and of which He Himself is the incarnation.
It would seem that deceptively toying with one’s own eternal salvation and the salvation of other people would be a permanent non-option, forever off the table for any human being. The risk and possible consequences involved would infinitely override any possible earthly gain that could be envisioned as resulting from such behavior.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)