Tag Archives: saint paul

Jesusism-Paulism, Introduction: The Revolution of Early Christianity

After a particularly long post, Chirol from Coming Anarchy suggested that when I have a lot to say, I should break it up into a series of articles. I’ve taken his advice, and now for several subjects (Embracing Defeat, Guerrillaz, Liberal Education, and OODA-PISRR) I’ve written four tetrologies.

However, before all that I wrote a trilogy on early Christianity. I described it as essentially a 4G movement, such as Maoism, but one that also drew energy from existing family structures. In that sense it is similar to the religious right in America or al Qaeda in Iraq. Early Christianity was profoundly shaped by two thinkers, Jesus and Paul, similar to the way that Sovietism was shaped by Marx and Lenin.

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Symbol of the Revolution

This insight is not original. About the time I wrote my posts, Jeffrey Obbins of Lebanon Valley College published The Politics of Paul, where he wrote…

Paul is every bit Jesus’ equal as a social and political revolutionary, standing to Jesus as Lenin does to Marx.

The importance of this is at least threefold: First, this recovery of Paul is a repoliticization of Christianity – or, more precisely, the realization of the intrinsically political nature that was and is at the very heart of the Christian identity. Second, as a politicized religion, this Christian legacy (which is distinctively Pauline, if not Paul’s own creation) establishes the conditions of Western thought

Nonetheless, I think my original posts have something to contribute. So with his introduction and some fiddling in the original works, I am reformatting by trilogy as a series. Since then I have continued the story, chronicling the Christian and Muslim battles against Rome

There are five parts

  • Part I, Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
    Christian doctrine was built to win. It emphasized People’s War from its first commandments.
  • Part II, Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
    The High Priest and the Emperor get a bad wrap for attacking a harmless religious. Yet they correctly understood the political implications of the growing movement and attempted to kill it. They almost succeeded.
  • Part III, Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
    The early Christians used gender to their advantage. Exploiting genetic tendencies in men and women, they equipped themselves for unlimited war. They won.
  • Part IV, The Fall of Rome
    Constantine gave the Christians their Army, and with it the Christians gave Constantine his Empire. A short conventional victory to a long unconventional war, the Battle of Milvian Bridge brought about the defeat of Greco-Roman civilization.
  • Part V, The People of the Book
    Hundreds of years after the Christian victory, another semitic religion would emerge to challenge the Christian Empire of the Romans. Perhaps the first Totalitarian faith in history, Islam would shatter the unipolar world of the Christians while replacing itself with a minimum of mutations.
  • Part VI, Embrace and Extend
    While Christianity in the East was shattered by Islam and Islamization, the Church in the west continued its ancient 4G operation. Refusing to look away from the worst of barbarian culture, the Catholic Church embraced and extended the pre-Christian ways of modern Europe, eventually exterminating rival organizing principles.

To all those who have not read these yet, I hope you enjoy.

Jesusism-Paulism, Part II: Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better

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Why was Jesus crucified? Why were the Christians thrown to the lions?

Douglas Adams began his epic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by saying people didn’t want to be kind

And then, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change

While Juanna Hates sees something in the Christian message that the Temple found obnoxious

Surely it was because of these outrageous claims that the leaders of the Jewish community succeeded in having Jesus killed. His real claims struck at the heart of their religion, the identity of their nation.

Both these answers are too easy. They make people feel good about themselves, knowing how foolish and short-sighted their opponents were. But Caiaphas was wise and far-sighted. Diocletian was one of the greatest Emperors in history. Why did they make their decisions?

Joseph Caiaphas, Hellenized Jew, Roman political appointee, and High Priest of the Temple for 18 years, agitated against Jesus to his fellow priests.

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Joseph Caiaphas ruled as high priest for nearly two decades, and other family members would reign for most of the century. He was a smart man. He wanted Jesus dead.

Centuries later, Emperor Diocletian banned Christianity

“It was the nineteenth year of Diocletian’s reign [AD 303] and the month Dystrus, called March by the Romans, and the festival of the Saviour’s Passion was approaching, when an imperial decree was published everywhere, ordering the churches to be razed to the ground and the Scriptures destroyed by fire, and giving notice that those in places of honour would lose their places, and domestic staff, if they continued to profess Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty. Such was the first edict against us. Soon afterwards other decrees arrived in rapid succession, ordering that the presidents of the churches in every place should all be first committed to prison and then coerced by every possible means into offering sacrifice

But Diocletian was not a cruel man. He was an autodidact, a world-system thinker, and a genius. He separated the Roman foreign policy system into what we would call a “Department of Defense” and a “Department of State. He further subdivided DOD into an “Army” and “National Guard.” He defined a system of executive political appointees that would allow for Constitutional succession of Emperors for the first time in history. When his economic reforms caused rapid inflation, he changed them so they wouldn’t. Diocletian was a very intelligent man able to learn from mistakes. Diocletian was smart man. He wanted Christians dead.

These men may not have “known” why, but Caiaphas and Diocletian had a fingerspitzengefühl — a gut feeling — that something was wrong with Christianity. Interrogating witnesses who had heard Christ, Joseph Caiaphas saw a threat that could destroy his nation. The Emperor Diocletian saw a force that could destroy his Empire.

The Empire believed in a steep vertical world. Romans believed that the State ruled men, that men ruled their families, and that this relationship was decided by virtue. Women, children, and slaves were without virtue. They were naturally property of the pater familias — the father of the family — to do with as he pleased. And just as the pater familias has life-and-death power over his dependents, the State had life and death power of its citizens. Socrates execution of Athens was seen to prove Socrates virtue, because he submitted to an unjust execution.

Visually,


State has life-and-death power over Citizens
Citizen-Fathers have life-and-death power over Women, Children, and Slaves

Another way to see this is that the Romans believed that religions should be state cults. Want to found temples to some crazy god? No problem — as long as you worship the Emperor too. Jews were granted a special exemption because of the personal friendship of Julius Caesar and Herod the Great, but even then the Jerusalem Temple worked closely with Roman authorities.

Roman Religions are State-Cults
Judaism, while having extraordinary privileges, is still under Roman guidance

Because religions were state Churches, power flowed from the churches to the State, while authority flowed from the State to the churches

 

Power Diagram, Showing Rome investing power into,
and harvesting power out of, the State-Cults

Christians did not accept that Christianity should be under Roman control. Christians did not believe the Church was under the State. As The Apostle wrote

 

And [God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment— to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Paul (Ephesians 1:10)

Or more clearly, in a different translation

letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in [Christ], everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

The Christian world would be worse than inverted: not only did Christians want their faith to guide the State

The Christian Goal of Subverting the State-Network to Christian Ends

Romans 13:1 “…there is no authority except that which God has established…”

Romans 13:4 “[The Ruler] is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer…”

They also lumped the State into a “Mystical Body of Christ” with all other things, flattening the world and making the State only a subset of Christ’s mystical body

 

Christ, Head and Body

Note that the State, and the Church, are merely subsets of the Mystical Body

As a 4GW religion — a netfaith — Christianity empowers individuals and weakens other bonds

And compound it by stating that women and slaves should obey the pater familias, and that subjects should obey the State, because of the authority of God, not the authority of the State

And, to that, the Christians believed that women, children, and slaves were just as important to God — had just as much virtue — as free men

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul (Galatians 3:28)

To the Romans, this was a nightmare. Christianity was a giant moral isolation attack against the Roman elite, making their women, children, and slaves see themselves as Christians first, dependents second.

This is why Christianity had to wait until the Empire was weak to become the State Religion. Christianity would never oppose the state — that much is clear from its strategy of co-option. But Christianity could only become an energizing force for the State if the State recognized the instrinsic value of every human life.

That is what Caiaphus and Diocletian saw. If Christianity would spread, peaceful society built on some humans being morally worthless would be impossible. The only proven method of social peace would have to be abandoned.

Caiaphus and Diocletian weighed the value of social peace on one hand with the lives of a carpenter and a few thousand fanatics on the other. They understood that violence is disasteful but sometimes necessary. They chose what they saw as the greater good. As, or Priest Joseph Caiaphus put it

 

You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish!

It would centuries before Muslims found the secret to deforming Christianity and nearly eliminating it as a threat. But that is a post for another time…


Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

Saint Paul on Barnett

The Weak and the Strong,” by Saint Paul, Letter to the Romans, http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Romans%2014, circa Anno Domini L.

Describing the works of The Apostle as part of the epistleosphere may be a stretch, but surmising his probable views on The Pentagon’s New Map is not.

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ ”So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Paul was concerned about rule sets, not rules. He was concerned about direction, not speed. He worked for a future worth creating.

Throughout his writings, Paul stressed that rules were important but not important in themselves. He saw no cosmic importance in the drinking of wine or eating of meat or day of worship. However, these cosmically irrelevant rules have the most effect on indivduals. Whether or not to eat a McRib or to rest Sunday morning are the dillemas that make up the day. Paul saw through the situation. What is celestially important are not distinct rules but the sort of actions an individual’s internalized rule set produces. In the same way, it does not matter whether or not invested banks generate “interest” or “dividends” (Islamic banking). What matter are the actions enabled by the socialized rules. If the actions are peaceful and build connectivity, they are good. Else they impede peace and joy.

Paul had to recognize a danger caused by overly strict rules. Condemnation among Christians concerned Paul, because it was self destructive. Still, Paul’s criticisms of Judaizers is very muted. Paul splits people into the “strong” and the “weak.” Barnett prefers the “fast” and the “slow.” But it’s the same grouping. What matters is not strength or speed but direction.

Paul new what sort of future he wanted to create. Paul Who Was Saul wanted a righteous world that one would want to be in. He wanted a world of peace free from revolt and tyranny and terrorism that one would be safe in. He wanted a world of joy one would be happy to be in. None of these conditions are met by the Gap. More than ever in history, all of them are met by the Functioning Core.

Today in the Gap, when there are horrible democides we debate: “how much is a genocide is it, really?” While in the Core, we are justifiably sad when some people are to anxious of nothing to work.

Every person is part of Christ’s body. That person is better and more tenderly cared for in the Core than in the Gap.