“Anyone who doesn’t want me to reign over him, bring him before me and slay him before me.” – Jesus
Sam Harris first started by saying that Jesus, in one of “his moods”, had a lot of “beautiful, ethical precepts”, but then he cited the quote above and referenced Luke 19. Based on this one sentence Sam stated, he made it crystal clear that Jesus wanted his followers to slay all of his enemies. And if Jesus said it, then Christians must follow that command. Slam dunk. Score for Sam Harris… But, for the sake of argument, since this seems uncharacteristic of Jesus and Sam has been known for misquoting things before, let’s look at this a little more in-depth. I mean, just because someone posts something on the internet, doesn’t make it true. Or does it? Because, if this says what Sam makes it out to say, this is “justification for all those violent Christians to justify their behaviors.” Let’s expose Christianity for what it is!
Sure enough. After reading verse 27 from Luke 19, it’s clear that Jesus did say, “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.” Are you good with that one sentence? Is that enough to convince you that Jesus commanded Christians to wage a “Christian Jihad” against other people groups? Tell you what, since we are here, let’s read a little more. Let’s see what else Jesus said, before and after this sentence and see if it gets even more damning for Christians. If we are going to drop the hammer on Christians, let’s go ahead and put all the nails into the coffin for good measure. I’m going to start at the first of this chapter and see how this goes. You can read the text yourself, because I’m not going to write the whole thing, I’ll just keep it to paraphrasing.
Starting at Luke 19, verse 1. Jesus went through Jericho. Jesus came across a guy by the name of Zacchaeus and Jesus was going to stay with him. But the crowd had a problem with Jesus staying with a sinner, to which Jesus starting saying some stuff. Verses 11-12 – “Now as they (the crowd) heard these things, He (Jesus) spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He (Jesus) said: ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.'” But wait a minute. This is a parable? Huh. Ok. As we continue reading through this parable and get to that quote Sam Harris made in verse 27, it all starts to become clear. It’s Jesus talking, to be sure, but he is talking about a nobleman and it’s the nobleman who says, “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.” So, it’s not Jesus telling his followers to do anything and it’s not Jesus telling his disciples to kill his enemies. Weird. David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics made a great statement on this, “I hope it’s not a character in this story that commands people to kill.” But, it is…
What was Sam Harris doing then??? What are we really dealing with???
Sam Harris was either being intentionally deceptive OR Sam Harris simply did not do any reading, other than a quick search for, “Jesus wanted to slay people” in Google. Even though Sam Harris is referred to as a “new atheist” and wiki reports him as “a member of the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’, alongside Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens”*1 he usually seems pretty genuine in what he says and has even gone on record to correct grossly false statements (mistakes) that he’s made in the past. If Sam Harris isn’t being deceptive, then, the only alternative, is that he is simply not doing any type of due diligence. Basically just being lazy, with a byproduct of furthering his atheistic agenda. But, Sam certainly isn’t a trendsetter and he certainly wasn’t the first person to ever to misrepresent this text. Roman Catholicism was first recorded as misquoting this scripture, dating back to the end of the 4th century AD. “Saint” John Chrysostom, considered by the Roman Catholic Church as being a “doctor of the Church”, and among the greatest of the Greek Fathers, wrote this as part of his collection of Homilies: “Eight Homilies Against the Jews” – Homily 1
John Chrysostom, a Sainted Archbishop, one of the only Three Holy Hierarchs quoted Luke 19:27 as being a command of Jesus rather than his parable’s protagonist, to condemn the Jews: [T]he Jewish people were driven by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil; they kicked about, they failed to accept the yoke of Christ, nor did they pull the plow of his teaching. Another prophet hinted at this when he said: “Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer.” … Although such beasts are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: “But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them.” *2
This is another example of someone misrepresenting the text in order to forward someone’s own agenda, namely demonizing the Jews.
But, someone will make a comment here saying, but what about the parable itself? What did it mean then? Or better yet, ask the question – Aren’t parables often written, with the meaning having something to do with God and how he relates to us? I think at this point we have beat the dead horse, but let’s revive him just a little bit… Because we do have to deal with the meaning behind the parable if we are going to expose Christianity for what it really is.
This parable recognized by biblical scholars, whether atheist, agnostic or Christian has to do with what will happen at Jesus’ return when the final judgement occurs. So, verse 27 is not a command that was in place at the time that Jesus stated it. It’s also not a command for today. We can deal with what happens when Jesus returns if you’d like. Email me. Ultimately the point here is that Jesus does not command Christians to hurt, kill or destroy anything or anyone as Sam was characterizing.
This is an example where someone who is decidedly not a scholar in biblical studies, has gone to great lengths to cite a verse to show how bad the Bible is and to show that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said with, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, soul and strength. And love others as your self.” The message of Jesus, was that the truth is hard for many to take. But, with the truth, people can be educated and prepared for a relationship with Jesus himself. You are going to hear stuff about Christianity… Rather than just reading or listening to this stuff, find out the facts yourself. Get educated. But bottom line… Expose Christianity for what it is and not for what it isn’t.