Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said

A Series of Flash Podcasts, Episodes 13 - 25
The mystery deepens. People love their Jesus, they may even claim that they belong to Him, and one measure of moral superiority is Jesus Behavior: What Would Jesus Do? But there must be widespread failure to read the gospels, or the texts are read under the close supervision of apologists (preachers and priests) who explain away—well, they try—the nasty and often grim message in many of the sayings attributed to Jesus.

Indeed, the gospels are a minefield; many negatives about Jesus are in full view. Richard Carrier has offered a scathing analysis: “No, the character of Jesus in the Gospels was not the wisest and kindest of beings—he is actually quite loathsome and rarely gives anything but really bad advice.” This pretty stunning: how can that be? Why not accept what I call the Carrier Challenge? Find out for yourself.

Get a huge pad of paper (or create an Excel sheet), and make your way through all the red letters in the gospels (some translators have graciously, and misleadingly, printed all the supposed “words of Jesus” in red). These are possible heading for your chart:

Good Things Jesus Said
Bad Things Jesus Said
We Can’t Tell What He Meant
Bad Advice

There will be problems. Did Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) or “Blessed are you poor” (Luke 6:20)? Is it necessarily a good thing that he said either one? So many interpretations have been layered on both. We cannot congratulate Mother Teresa on her understanding of this text.

Of course, Luke 14:26 (which I discuss in Episode 1), is the biggest challenge: Hatred of family is a requirement to be a disciple of Jesus. What could he possibly have meant by this? Apologists offer plenty of pushback—and a few mistranslations as well—to soften the blow. But the stark truth is that Luke wrote this horrible verse. For whatever reason, he wasn’t bothered by it. It fit his concept of the gospel.

For centuries Christians have been conditioned to “love their Jesus”—by stained-glass windows, great paintings, and majestic music. The marketing campaign has worked. But all you have to do is read the gospels, take the “Carrier Challenge,” to see if the product measures up to the hype.

In this series of Flash Podcasts, Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said, I focus on many of the problem texts; here are 13 episodes. The first 12 episodes are here.

Episode 13: (Matthew 15:22-28, Jesus calls a Gentile woman a dog)

Episode 14: (Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus equates sexual arousal with adultery)

Episode 15: (Matthew 25:41 & 46, Jesus fails as a great moral teacher in describing the Last Judgment)

Episode 16: (Mark 14:62, Jesus tells those present at his trial that they will see him coming on the clouds of heaven)

Episode 17: (bad advice that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-20 and 5:40 & 42)

Episode 18: (more flawed thinking and bad advice in the Sermon on the Mount)

Episode 19: (Mark 2:1-12, Jesus heals a paralyzed man by forgiving his sins)

Episode 20: (Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus teaches that not a single Old Testament law can be ignored or annulled.)

Episode 21: (Matthew 6:1-10, four things wrong with the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer)

Episode 22: (Mark 5: Jesus the Exorcist)

Episode 23: (Mark 3:28-29, Jesus calls blasphemy against the Holy Spirit an unforgivable sin)

Episode 24: (Mark 3, Who is my mother and brother?)

Episode 25: (Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19 The aggressive marketing of Christianity)

Bonus Video: Christianity: Ten Knockout Punches, Number 1

David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was reissued last year by Tellectual Press with a new Foreword by John Loftus.

The Cure-for-Christianity Library© is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here.