Beatitudes Not Beautiful

None are more hopelessly enslaved than
those who falsely believe they are free
-Johan Goethe

The word "Beatitude" comes from a Latin word meaning "happy" or "blessed." In the Beatitudes, Jesus heaps blessings on the type of people he is looking for to send to heaven. They serve as a case study as to what religion is all about: human indoctrination.

If we take the view that Jesus is at one with the creator of the universe. Many apologists argue that the universe is awesomely complex and yet beautifully harmonious; it could not have happened by chance. There had some form of intelligence who put it together, namely the God of the Bible.

From that perspective, the god of the Bible is too stupid to have anything to do with the formation of existence. Everything about religion is in conflict with human nature. He gave man pain sensors. Yet he expects man to endure suffering for his sake. He gave man intelligence, yet he demands man to hold belief as a higher priority over knowledge. The eye is a remarkable instrument. Yet he demands us to accept what we cannot see. We would like to be free to live in peace. Yet he is constantly at war to enslave us through guilt and fear.

The gifts we have were meant to be used, not denied. For these reasons, religion cannot be anything else but a human invention. It doesn't take much insight to see that some people crave power and authority for its own sake. They cannot tolerate peaceful activity unless it conforms to their ends. The cheapest weapon at their disposable is language designed to break down individual defenses. Brute force is expensive.

So when we study the Beatitudes, keep these thoughts in mind. Whoever wrote in the voice of Jesus, said it best when he described the kingdom of God as a place inhabited by children.

15Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Mark 10:15)

Children are vulnerable. They have limited perception. They are dependent. They have no knowledge, so they are molded by the information fed to them. Children don't question authority. For many, by the time they reach adulthood, it is too late to grow up. For those who get the feeling they are being bamboozled, it is not too late.

It first appears that Jesus was showing sympathy for the downtrodden who came to unfortunate circumstances through no fault of their own. It is just the opposite. They are qualities to be desired through belief in sin.

Matthew 5:3-12

1. A term more familiar than "poor in spirit" is "broken spirit." Such a person has no self confidence; he is pained by guilt, defeated and maybe depressed. In particular, Jesus wants the kinds who have been broken because they believe they are sinners. Jesus prefers this state of mind because it makes them susceptible to accepting false promises-his false promises.

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

2. On of the worst stresses a person can endure is the loss of a loved one. Such mourning can't be helped. The type of mourning Jesus had in mind is more enduring. It comes from a loss in self confidence. More pointedly, it comes through a loss of self love

4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

3. Meekness ranges from unassuming and mild, to submissive, docile, resigned, ashamed, lowly and spineless. The kind of meekness Jesus advocates comes from a feeling of weakness. By definition, the meek can never inherit the earth. It is a false hope like the type politicians promise when running for office.

5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

4. Generally, to be righteousness is equivalent to being virtuous, fair and just. There is no objective standard for what is virtuous, fair and just. So it is fair to assume that to be righteous in the religious sense means to live an impossibly sinless life. A person who hungers for righteousness is already righteous in his own mind. He feels a sense of injury in the wrongs he sees and wants revenge. It makes him feel better to call it righteousness.

6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

5. Charity towards the less fortunate is certainly a positive act of mercy. But how far do we carry mercy? Do we allow robbers, rapists and murderers to go free? Many years ago, Pope John Paul was shot by a would-be assassin. If I remember correctly, the pope made a public demonstration of his forgiveness, but the man still went to jail. That suggests that the pope didn't forgive the shooter enough to waive charges against him. In practice, Christian mercy is highly selective. It is unmerciful against those who don't fit the mold. As Jesus said in Matthew 12:30: "He who is not with me is against me."

7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

6. To be pure in heart is the ultimate state of holiness. To live within theological strictures requires a lot of self denial. But is it worth the trouble? No one has ever come back from the dead, so there are no witnesses to say they saw God in their afterlife.

Considering that there isn't a whit of evidence that anyone has seen God- except to those children who believe the Bible-it takes a high degree of irrationality to live a life of self-denial on the supposition that purity is the pathway to seeing God. Not to mention that there is no material evidence of an afterlife and a God. Even if there was such a God, there is no assurance of grace because God's grace is arbitrary.

8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

7. Peace is certainly a desirable state of mind. Who wouldn't want to be at peace with himself and the world? But to make peace with someone who imposes on you results in a false peace. True peace requires that two parties are at peace with each other.

To make peace with Jesus means to submit to his demands. Only in this way would he consider you worthy of being called a son of God. If you believe in Jesus and try to live up to his expectations, you will, in essence, be making peace with your taskmaster. To make peace out of fear is to yield to extortion. For example, you make peace with the IRS by paying your taxes without protest. Otherwise you will not know peace.

9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

8. To desire to be persecuted goes against human instincts to avoid suffering. It takes a huge degree of fanaticism to purposely suffer. Most of us suffer for reasons beyond our control. If you believe in Jesus, you can't avoid suffering. You either suffer in this life or worry he will make you suffer in the next life.

10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

9. To endure hatred and persecution could be justified on account of Jesus, if it weren't for the fact that if you don't believe in him, he will hate you and persecute you. If you think Jesus would leave you alone, think again. If that were true, he wouldn't be threatening to send you to hell.

11"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

10. So rejoice and be glad. You have one life to live. If you decide to spend it on self sacrifice and suffering, Jesus promises to make it up to you in heaven. But if there is no such place as heaven except in your fantasies, you will have squandered it for nothing. Do you want to take that chance?

There is a similar case when Russia was ruled by the Communists. Their system was unworkable, so the leaders had to reassure their people that someday their hardships would pay off. That day never came until the people revolted.

12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Luke 6:20-31

Luke's interpretation of the Beatitudes is not as comprehensive Matthew's but they have the same appeal to self deprecation. The weaker you are, the better Jesus likes it.

20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21"Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.
22"Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!
23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:20-23)

After offering his conditional blessings, Jesus follows up with a few threatening woes.

1. Woe to you if you have money. With money you are not dependant on Jesus' impoverishing words.

24"But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.

2. Woe to you if you are happy and full. Jesus likes it better when you mourn and weep.

25"Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

3. Woe to you if you are liked by your fellow man. Jesus likes it better when you are hated and abused.

26"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
27"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

4. Cooperate with your attackers and give willingly to beggars and thieves. This would prove to Jesus that your will is broken.

29To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
30Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.

5. If you wish to be as miserable as Jesus wants you to be, then are likely to be envious towards others who are not so miserable. Jesus give you permission to spread your misery.

31And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

Psalms 119:1-5

Blessed are the blameless. But according to Christian theology, it is impossible to be blameless.

1Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!

Blessed are those who obey the law, despite the fact that the law is confusing and over demanding.

2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
3who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
4Thou hast commanded thy precepts to be kept diligently.
5O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping thy statutes!

Final Thought

Let us dispense with any thoughts that Jesus was kind, forgiving and loving. He had an oppressive personality that feeds on human misery.