Breitbart has posted an article highlighting some insane leftist comments that the Breitbart author argues are “attacking Christians” on MSNBC. While the leftist’s comments regarding Jesus are indeed idiotic (badly), the unfortunate angle Breitbart misses is that, unfortunately, the guy is right: if Jesus was walking the earth today, modern day “right-wing Christians . . . would be the first ones lining up to nail Him all over again.”
This comment apparently made the conservative author at Breitbart so uncomfortable that he reported the incident with the commentary that “Attacking Christians while assuming he can read Jesus Christ’s mind” is one of this particular leftist’s favorite pass times.
But this is a conservative knee-jerk that has not considered the facts.
Remember, it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who provoked the crowds to shout “crucify him”—and this is our connection. The Pharisees were a lay movement—not clergy, not priests, but businessmen, civil rulers, and families. Theirs was a conservative religious movement meant to restore Israel to national prominence via education and strict Torah observance, i.e. Bible reading. But they went far beyond the Law and the Prophets: they created reams and fences of man-made laws, loopholes, special privileges, and cheats that effectively nullified the Law of God in the name of restoring the Law of God (Mark 7:13). They nullified true religion in the name of true religion. Yet they were prominent national conservative leaders.
And they waged their crusade in the name of nationalistic revival—patriotism and freedom. In their delusion that they were the ones really upholding God and country, they actually thought they were the land of the free and home of brave. Think that’s a stretch? Think again. That is exactly the argument they made against Jesus when He raised the issue of true freedom:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31–37).
These deluded Jews thought they had in fact never been in bondage to anyone, yet they were in bondage to pagan Rome as they spoke, and were completing 70 sevens (490 years) of captivity to the four pagan empires prophesied in Daniel—not to mention the bondage of sin which Jesus notes.
Land of the free, huh?
The larger point of the pseudo “religious right” was one I treated in my sermon on 1 Samuel 14:24–52:
Few people remember that the Pharisees were civil rulers of their day, and thus many of Jesus’ critiques of them, as well as their murderous roles with Christ and with the apostles in Acts, pertain to their civil policies and traditions which had abandoned God’s Laws. . . .
The sin of the Pharisees was not in exalting the Law, but in adding their own series of fences and regulations to it.
Understanding this distinction not only refutes many modern Christians who reject God’s Law as the standard for state law, but it convicts them sternly also. These same people who will fight and ridicule against biblical law, and even wrongly demean it as legalism, will turn right around and advocate politically for all kinds of unbiblical laws they think will make society better. Thus most conservative Christians support unbiblical wars including the war on drugs, social security, government education, laws against prostitution, laws against alcohol and tobacco, sin taxes, many social services including many cases of child-stealing—the list is legion. Even though some of the things such laws oppose are damnable sins, biblical law does not describe them as civil crimes, and thus God did not decree any laws or sanctions for them. Why do we think we can create a society better than God’s? We cannot, and our attempts to do so are the real Pharisaism that is helping to destroy our society.
Christians who desire to pass such unbiblical laws often defend them as a bulwark against anarchy and lawlessness in society. But here they miss the theological point as well. They too often think of antinomianism as the opposite of legalism, but in reality, they are two sides of the same coin of human autonomy. Legalism is the attempt to replace God’s Law with human laws. Likewise, antinomianism is the attempt to ignore God’s Law as well; but the assumed attempt to replace it with no law is merely just the attempt to assert the individual’s human will against God. Therefore the rule stands: there are no alternatives except for theonomy and autonomy. Autonomy just so happens to come in different forms: sometimes legalism and sometimes lawlessness. But since this is the case, Christians who advocate unbiblical laws for social ills should realize that they are not theologically better off than the drug pushers and prostitutes. Both are asserting their own will instead of God’s for social redemption. Consider again that Christ said the prostitutes would enter the kingdom before the Pharisees, etc. It’s just shocking for many politically-active Christians to find themselves so closely aligned with the Pharisees.
So while we need not imagine Jesus as the ridiculous hippie that this leftist portrayed Him as (click through above and read if you are interested), we should indeed examine the difference between biblical law and modern neoconservative platforms with utmost seriousness—because in many instances, conservative and neoconservative platforms represent Pharisaism more than they do Jesus.
And when it comes to nailing Him to the cross afresh, you know what that means.