Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Bess Mandate

I have to admit that when it comes to social issues Howard Bess tends to reach some of the same conclusions and promotes many of the same causes that I do. He does, however, get there by very different means and frequently tries to enlist the aid of others using what I consider bogus arguments. He definitely favors the proto-hippy version of the Jesus figure. If people are going to make the huge assumption that there ever was a Jesus I prefer this version. That doesn't make it either true or historical.

Bess' piece "Jesus Mandate: Peace and Stewardship" is rather foolish. He insists that the "scholarship" supports his favored views on Jesus without ever really providing any proof. I find it interesting that he doesn't site a single historian or scholarly work on Christian scripture. I have read a great deal on the topic and have failed to notice that there is any sort of consensus among such scholars. So, how can there be a mandate?

Sentences like, "...there is no way we can avoid the clear Bible standard of limitation of private ownership", are completely ludicrous. Given that the "Bible" includes both Old and New Testament his statement is at best an exaggerated conflation. Jesus does not appear in the Old Testament so the statement in relation Jesus is false. Once you get past that problem you run into the fact that the passages that relate to "private ownership" are inconsistent and at times alternately vague and confusing. Then you have all the problems that arise from the fact that the Bible as we know it is a mish-mash of recovered fragments that have multiple translations and are pulled together by speculation and conjecture. There isn't a single "book" of the Bible, Old or New Testament, that can be said to be complete. Whole copies of these scripture simply don't exist anymore and haven't for quite some time.

There can be no "mandate" based on scripture. They are far too subjective and divisive.

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