Chapter 41: The Precepts and Practical Life of Jesus Christ
HIS TWO HUNDRED ERRORS
THE exaltation of men to the character and homage of divine
beings has always had the effect to draw a vail over their errors
and imperfections, so as to render them imperceptible to those who
worship them as Gods. This is true of nearly all the deified men of
antiquity, who were adored as incarnate divinities, among which may
be included the Christian's man-God, Jesus Christ. The practice of
the followers of these Gods has been, when an error was pointed out
in their teachings, brought to light by the progress of science and
general intelligence, to bestow upon the text some new and
unwarranted meaning, entirely incompatible with its literal
reading, or else to insist with a godly zeal on the correctness of
the sentiment inculcated by the text, and thus essay to make error
pass for truth. In this way millions of the disciples of these Gods
have been misled and blinded, and made to believe by their
religious teachers and their religious education, that everything
taught by their assumed-to-be divine exemplars is perfect truth, in
perfect harmony with science, sense, and true morals. Indeed, the
perversion of the mind and judgment by a religious education has
been in many cases carried to such an extreme as to cause their
devout and prejudiced followers either to entirely overlook and
ignore their erroneous teachings, or to magnify them into God-given
truths, and thus, as before stated, clothe error with the livery of
truth. This state of things, it has long been noticed by
unprejudiced minds, exists amongst the millions of professed
believers in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Hence the errors, both
in his moral lessons and his practical life, have passed from age
to age unnoticed, because his pious and awe-stricken followers,
having been taught that he was a divine teacher, have assumed that
his teachings must all be true; and hence, too, have instituted no
scrutiny to determine their truth or falsity. But we will now
proceed to show that the progress of science and general
intelligence has brought to light many errors, not only in his
teachings, but in his practical life also. In enumerating them, we
will arrange them under the head:
Moral and Religious Errors
There are many other errors found in the precepts and
practical life of Jesus Christ (which we are compelled to omit an
exposition of here), such as his losing his temper, and abusing the
money-changers by overthrowing their counting-table, and expelling
them from the temple with a whip of cords when engaged in a lawful
and laudable business; his getting mad at and cursing the fig tree;
his dooming Capernaum to hell in a fit of anger; his being deceived
by two of his disciples (Peter and Judas), which prompted him to
call them devils; his implied approval of David, with his fourteen
crimes and penitentiary deeds, and also Abraham, with his
falsehoods, polygamy, and incest, and his implied sanction of the
Old Testament, with all its errors and numerous crimes; his promise
to his twelve apostles to "sit upon the twelve thrones of Israel"
in heaven, thus evincing a very limited and childish conception of
the enjoyments of the future life; his puerile idea of sin,
consisting in a personal affront to a personal God; his omission to
say anything about human freedom, the inalienable rights of man,
- The first moral precept in the teachings of Christ, which
we will bring to notice, is one of a numerous class, which may very
properly be arranged under the head of Moral Extremism. We find
many of his admonitions of this character. Nearly everything that
is said is over-said, carried to extremes -- thus constituting an
over-wrought, extravagant system of morality, impracticable in its
requisitions; as, for example, "Take no thought for the morrow."
(Matt. v.) If the spirit of this injunction were carried out in
practical life, there would be no grain sown and no seed planted in
spring, no reaping done in harvest, and no crop garnered in autumn;
and the result would be universal starvation in less than twelve
months. But, fortunately for society, the Christian world have laid
this positive injunction upon the table under the rule of
- Christ's assumed-to-be most important requisition is found
in the injunction, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his
righteousness, and all else shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi.
33.) His early followers understood by this injunction, and
doubtless understood it correctly, that they were to spend their
lives in religious devotion, and neglect the practical duties of
life, leaving "Providence" to take care of their families -- a
course of life which reduced many of them to the point of
- The disciple of Christ is required, "when smitten on one
cheek, to turn the other also;" that is, when one cheek is pommeled
into a jelly by some vile miscreant or drunken wretch, turn the
other, to be smashed up in like manner. This is an extravagant
requisition, which none of his modern disciples even attempt to
- "Resist not evil" (Matt. v. 34) breathes forth a kindred
spirit. This injunction requires you to stand with your hands in
your pocket while being maltreated so cruelly and unmercifully that
the forfeiture of your life may be the consequence -- at least
Christ's early followers so understood it.
- The disciple of Christ is required, when his cloak is
formally wrested from him, to give up his coat also. (See Matt. v.)
And to carry out the principle, if the marauder demands it, he must
next give up his boots, then his shirt, and thus strip himself of
all his garments, and go naked. This looks like an invitation and
bribe to robbery.
- "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth." (Matt. vi.
19.) This is another positive command of Christ, which the modern
Christian world, by common consent, have laid on the table under
the rule of "indefinite postponement," under the conviction that
the wants of their families and the exigencies of sickness and old
age cannot be served if they should live up to such an injunction.
- "Sell all that thou hast, ... and come and follow me," is
another command which bespeaks more piety than wisdom, as all who
have attempted to comply with it have reduced their families to
beggary and want.
- "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not
in him." Then he must hate it, as there are but the two principles,
and "from hate proceed envy, strife, evil surmising, and
persecution." Evidently the remedy in this case for ... worldly-
mindedness" is worse than the disease.
- "He that cometh to me, and hateth not father, mother,
brother, and sister, &c., cannot be my disciple." (Luke xiv. 26).
This breathes forth the same spirit as the last text quoted above.
Many learned expositions have been penned by Christian writers to
make it appear. that hate in this case does not mean hate. But
certainly it would be a slander upon infinite wisdom to leave it to
be inferred that he could not say or "inspire" his disciples to say
exactly what he meant, and to say it so plainly as to leave no
possibility of being misunderstood, or leave any ground for dispute
about the meaning.
- "Rejoice and be exceeding glad" when persecuted. (Matt. v.
4.) Now, as a state of rejoicing is the highest condition of
happiness that can be realized, such advice must naturally prompt
the religious zealot to court persecution, in order to obtain
complete happiness, and consequently to pursue a dare-devil life to
- "Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it,"
&c. (Luke xvii. 33.) Here is displayed the spirit of martyrdom
which has made millions reckless of life, and goaded on the
frenzied bigot to seek the fiery fagot and the halter. We regard it
as another display of religious fanaticism.
- "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." (Matt.
x. 12.) How repulsive must have been their doctrines or their
conduct! No sensible religion could excite the universal hatred of
mankind. For it would contain something adapted to the moral,
religious, or spiritual taste of some class or portion of society,
and hence make it and its disciples loved instead of hated. And
then how could they be "hated of all men," when not one man in a
thousand ever heard of them? Here is more of the extravagance of
- "Shake off the dust of your feet" against those who cannot
see the truth or utility of your doctrines. (Matt. x. 14.) Here
Christ encourages in his disciples a spirit of contempt for the
opinions of others calculated to make them "hated." A proper regard
for the rules of good-breeding would have forbidden such rudeness
toward strangers for a mere honest difference of opinion.
- "Take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor scrip,
nor purse" (Mark vi. 8); that is "sponge on your friends, and force
yourselves on your enemies," the latter class of which seem to have
been much the most numerous. A preacher who should attempt to carry
out this advice at the present day would be stopped at the first
toll-gate, and compelled to return. Here is more violation of the
rules of good-breeding, and the common courtesies of civilized
- "Go and teach all nations," &c. Why issue an injunction
that could not possibly be carried out? It never has been, and
never will be, executed, for three-fourths of the human race have
never yet heard of Christianity. It was not, therefore, a mark of
wisdom, or a superior mind, to issue such an injunction.
- "And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but
he that believeth not shall be damned." What intolerance, bigotry,
relentless cruelty, and ignorance of the science of mind are here
displayed! No philosopher would give utterance to, or indorse such
a sentiment. It assumes that belief is a creature of the will, and
that a man can believe anything he chooses, which is wide of the
truth. And the assumption has been followed by persecution, misery,
- "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing,
ye shall receive." (Matt. xxi. 22.) Here is an entire negation of
natural law in the necessity of physical labor as a means to
procure the comforts of life. When anything is wanted in the shape
of food or raiment, it is to be obtained, according to this text,
by going down on your knees and asking God to bestow it. But no
Christian ever realized "all things whatsoever asked for in
prayer," thought "believing with all his heart" he should obtain
it. The author knows, by his own practical experience, that this
declaration is not true. This promise has been falsified thousands
of times by thousands of praying Christians.
- "Be not called rabbi." "Call no man your father." (Matt.
xxiii.) The Christian world assume that much of what Christ taught
is mere idle nonsense, or the incoherent utterings of a religious
fanatic; for they pay no more practical attention to it than the
barking of a dog. And here is one command treated in this manner:
"Call no man father." Where is the Christian who refuses to call
his earthly sire a father?
- "Call no man master." (Matt. xxiii.) And yet mister, which
is the same thing, is the most common title in Christendom.
- He who enunciates the two words, "'Thou fool,' shall be in
danger of hell fire." (Matt. xxii.) Mercy! Who, then, can be saved?
For there is probably not a live Christian in the world who has not
called somebody a "fool," when he knew him to be such, and could
not with truthfulness be called anything else. Here, then, is
another command universally ignored and "indefinitely postponed."
- "Swear not at all, neither by heaven nor earth." (Matt.
v.) And yet no Christian refuses to indulge in legal, if not
profane, swearing which the text evidently forbids.
- "Men ought always to pray." (Luke xviii.) No time to be
allowed for eating or sleeping. More religious fanaticism.
- "Whosoever will be chief among you let him be your
servant" (Matt. xx. 27); that is, no Christian professor shall be
a president, governor, major-general, deacon, or priest. Another
command laid on the table.
- "Love your enemies." (Matt. v. 44.) Then what kind of
feeling should we cultivate toward friends? And how much did he
love his enemies when he called them "fools" "liars," "hypocrites,"
"generation of vipers," &c.? And yet he is held up as "our" example
in love, meekness, and forbearance. But no man ever did love an
enemy. It is a moral impossibility, as much so as to love bitter or
nauseating food. The advice of the Roman slave Syrus is indicative
of more sense and wisdom -- "Treat your enemy kindly, and thus make
him a friend."
- We are required to forgive an enemy four hundred and
ninety times; that is, "seventy times seven." (Matt. vii.) Another
outburst of religious enthusiasm; another proof of an overheated
- "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
(Matt. v. 48.) Here is more of the religious extravagance of a mind
uncultured by science. For it is self-evident that human beings can
make no approximation to divine perfection. The distance between
human imperfection and a perfect God is, and ever must be,
- Christ commended those who "became eunuchs for the kingdom
of heaven's sake" (Matt. xix. 12) -- a custom requiring a
murderous, self-butchering process; destructive of the energies of
life and the vigor of manhood, and rendering the subject weak,
effeminate, and mopish, and unfit for the business of life. It is
a low species of piety, and discloses a lamentable lack of a
scientific knowledge of the true functions of the sexual organs on
the part of Jesus.
- Christ also encouraged his disciples to "pluck out the
eye," and "cut off the hand," as a means of rendering it impossible
to perpetrate evil with those members. And we would suggest, if
such advice is consistent with sound reasoning, the head also
should be cut off, as a means of more effectually carrying out the
same principle. Such advice never came from the mouth of a
philosopher. It is a part of Christ's system of extravagant piety.
- He also taught the senseless, oriental tradition of "the
unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost" -- a fabulous being who
figured more anciently in the history of various countries. (See
Chapter XXII.) No philosopher or man of science could harbor such
childish misconceptions as are embodied in this tradition, which
neither describes the being nor explains the nature of the sin.
- We find many proofs, in Christ's Gospel history, that he
believed in the ancient heathen tradition which taught that disease
is caused by demons and evil spirits. (See Luke vii. 21, and viii.
- Many cases are reported of his relieving the obsessed by
casting out the diabolical intruders, in imitation of the oriental
custom long in vogue in various countries, by which he evinced a
profound ignorance of the natural causes of disease.
- Christ also taught the old pagan superstition that "God is
a God of anger," while modern science teaches that it would be as
impossible for a God of perfect and infinite attributes to
experience the feeling of anger as to commit suicide; and recent
discoveries in physiology prove that anger is a species of suicide,
and that it is also a species of insanity. Hence an angry God would
be an insane God -- an omnipotent lunatic, "ruling the kingdom of
heaven," which would make heaven a lunatic asylum, and rather a
dangerous place to live.
- And Christ's injunction to "fear God" also implies that he
is an angry being. (See Luke xxiii. 40.) But past history proves
that "the fear of God" has always been the great lever of
priestcraft, and the most paltry and pitiful motive that ever moved
the human mind. It has paralyzed the noblest intellects, crushed
the elasticity of youth, and augmented the hesitating indecision of
old age, and finally filled the world with cowardly, trembling
slaves. No philosopher will either love or worship a God he fears.
"The fear of the Lord" is a very ancient heathen superstition.
- The inducement Christ holds out for leading a virtuous
life by the promise of "Well done, thou good and faithful servant,"
bespeaks a childish ignorance of the nature of the human mind and
the true science of life. It ranks with the promise of the nurse of
sugar-plums to the boy if he would keep his garments unsoiled. (For
the remainder of the two hundred errors of Christ, see Vol. II.)
The Scientific Errors of Christ
That Jesus Christ was neither a natural or moral philosopher
is evident from the following facts: --
And numerous other errors, evincing the most profound
ignorance of science and natural law, might be pointed out in
Christ's teachings, if we had space for them. It has always been
alleged by orthodox Christendom, that Christ's teaching and moral
system are so faultless as to challenge criticism, and so perfect
as to defy improvement. But this is a serious mistake. For most of
his precepts and moral inculcations which are not directly at war
with the principles of science, or do not involve a flagrant
violation of the laws of nature, are, nevertheless, characterized
by a lawless and extravagant mode of expression peculiar to semi-
savage life, and which, as it renders it impossible to reduce them
to practice, shows they could not have emanated from a philosopher,
or man of science, or a man of evenly-balanced mind. They impose
upon the world a system of morality, pushed to such extremes that
its own professed admirers do not live it out, or even attempt to
do so. They long ago abandoned it as an impracticable duty. We will
prove this by enumerating most of its requisitions, and showing
that they are daily violated and trampled under foot by all
Christendom. Where can the Christian professor be found who, 1.
"takes no thought for the morrow;" or, 2. who "lays not up treasure
on earth," or, at least, tries to do it; or, 3. who "gives up all
his property to the poor;" or who, "when his cloak is wrested from
him by a robber," gives up his coat also; or who calls no man
master or mister (the most common title in Christendom); or who
calls no man father (if he has a father) or who calls no man a fool
(when he knows he is a fool); or who, when one cheek is pommeled
into a jelly by some vile miscreant or drunken wretch, turns the
other to be battered up in the same way; or who prays without
ceasing; or who rejoices when persecuted; or who forgives an enemy
four hundred and ninety times (70 times 7); or who manifests by his
practical life that he loves his enemies (the way he loves him is
to report him to the grand jury, or hand him over to the sheriff);
or who forsakes houses and land, and everything, "for the kingdom
of heaven's sake." No Christian professor lives up to these
precepts, or any of them, or even tries to do so. To talk,
therefore, of finding a practical Christian, while nearly the whole
moral code of Christ is thus daily and habitually outraged and
trampled under foot by all the churches and every one of the two
hundred millions of Christian professors, is bitter irony and
supreme solecism. We would go five hundred miles, or pay five
hundred dollars, to see a Christian. If a man can be a Christian
while openly and habitually violating every precept of Christ, then
the word has no meaning. These precepts, the Christian world
finding to be impossible to practice, have unanimously laid upon
the table under the rule of "indefinite postponement." They are the
product of a mind with an ardent temperament, and the religious
faculties developed to excess, and unrestrained by scientific or
intellectual culture. A similar vein of extravagant religious duty
is found in the Essenian, Buddhist, and Pythagorean systems. As
Zera Colburn possessed the mathematical faculty to excess, and
Jenny Lind the musical talent, Christ in like manner was all
religion. And from the extreme ardor of his religious feeling, thus
derived, sprang his extravagant notions of the realities of life.
This peculiarity of his organization explains the whole mystery.
- He never made any use of the word "philosophy."
- Never gave utterance to the word "Science."
- Never spoke of a natural law, or assigned a natural cause
for anything. The fact that he never made use of these words now so
current in all civilized countries, is evidence that he was totally
ignorant of these important branches of knowledge, the cultivation
of which is now known to be essential to the progress of
civilization. And yet it is claimed his religion has been a great
lever in the advancement of civilization. But this is a mistake --
a solemn mistake, as elsewhere shown. (See Chap. XLV.)
- Everything to Christ was miracle; everything was produced
and controlled by the arbitrary power of an angry or irascible God.
He evidently had no idea of a ruling principle in nature or of the
existence of natural law, as controlling any event he witnessed.
Hence he set no bounds to anything, and recognized no limits to the
possible. He believed God to be a supernatural personal being, who
possessed unlimited power, and who ruled and controlled everything
by his arbitrary will, without any law or any limitation to its
exercises. Hence he told his disciples they would have anything
they prayed for in faith; that by faith they could roll mountains
into the sea, or bring to a halt the rolling billows of the mighty
deep. He evidently believed that the forked lightning, the
outbursting earth-shaking thunder, and the roaring, heaving volcano
were but pliant tools or obsequious servants to the man of faith.
And he displays no less ignorance of the laws of mind than the laws
of nature; thus proving him to have been neither a natural, moral,
nor mental philosopher. He omitted to teach the great moral lessons
learned by human experience, of which he was evidently totally
- He never taught that the practice of virtue contains its
- That the question of right and wrong of any action is to be
decided by its effect upon the individual, or upon society.
- That no life can be displeasing to God which is useful to
- And he omitted to teach the most important lesson that can
engage the attention of man, viz.: that the great purpose of life
- That no person can attain or approximate to real happiness
without bestowing a special attention to the cultivation and
exercise of all the mental and physical faculties, so far as to
keep them in a healthy condition. None of the important lessons
above named are hinted at in his teachings, which, if punctually
observed, would do more to advance the happiness of the human race
than all the sermons Christ or Chrishna ever preached, or ever
- And then he taught many doctrines which are plainly
contradicted by the established principle of modern science, such
- Diseases being produced by demons, devils, or wicked
spirits. (See Mark ix. 20.)
Christ nowhere assigns a natural cause for disease, or a
scientific explanation for its cure.
- His rebuking a fever discloses a similar lack of
scientific knowledge. (See Luke iv. 39.)
- His belief in a literal hell and a lake of fire and
brimstone (see Matt. xviii. 8) is an ancient heathen superstition
science knows nothing about, and has no use for.
- His belief in a personal devil also (see Matt. xvii. 88),
which is another oriental tradition, furnishes more sad roof of an
utter want of scientific knowledge, as science has no place for and
no use for such a being.
- Christ taught the unphilosophical doctrine of repentance,
as he declared he "came to call sinners to repentance" (Matt. ix.
13) -- a mental process, which consists merely in a revival of
early impressions, and often leads a person to condemn that which
is right, as well as that which is wrong. (For proof, see Chapter
- The doctrine of "forgiveness," which Christ so often
inculcated, is also at variance with the teachings of science, as
it can do nothing toward changing the nature of the act forgiven,
or toward canceling its previous effects upon society. Science
teaches that every crime has its penalty attached to it, which no
act of forgiveness, by God or man, can arrest or set aside.
- But nothing evinces, perhaps, more clearly Christ's total
lack of scientific knowledge than his holding a man responsible for
his belief, and condemning for disbelief, as he does in numerous
instances (see Mark xvi. 16), for a man could as easily control the
circulation of the blood in his veins as control his belief.
Science teaches that belief depends upon evidence, and without it,
it is impossible to believe, and with it, it is impossible to
disbelieve. How foolish and unphilosophical, therefore, to condemn
for either belief or disbelief!
- The numerous cases in which Christ speaks of the heart as
being the seat of consciousness, instead of the brain, evinces a
remarkable ignorance of the science of mental philosophy. He speaks
of an "upright heart," "a pure heart," &c., when "an upright
liver," "a pure liver," would be as sensible, as the latter has as
much to do with the character as the former.
- And the many cases in which he makes it meritorious to
have a right "faith," and places it above reason, and assumes it to
be a voluntary act, shows his utter ignorance of the nature of the
- And Christ evinced a remarkable ignorance of the cause of
physical defects, when he told his hearers a certain man was born
blind, in order that he might cure him. (Matt. Vii. 22.)
- And Christ's declaration, that those who marry are not
worthy of being saved (see Luke xx. 34), shows that he was very
ignorant of the nature of the sexual functions of the human system.
- Nothing could more completely demonstrate a total
ignorance of the grand science of astronomy than Christ's
prediction of the stars falling to the earth. (See Luke xxi. 25.)
- And the conflagration of the world, "the gathering of the
elect," and the realization of a fancied millennium, which he
several times predicted would take place in his time, "before this
generation pass away" (Matt. xxiv. 34), Proves a like ignorance,
both of astronomy and philosophy.
- And his cursing of the fig tree for not bearing fruit in
the winter season (see Matt. xxi. 20), not only proves his
ignorance of the laws of nature, but evinces a bad temper.
- Christ endorses the truth of Noah's flood story (see Luke
xvii. 27), which every person at the present day, versed in science
and natural law, knows is mere fiction, and never took place.
Christ as a Man, and Christ as a Sectarian
To every observant and unbiased mind a strange contrast must
be visible in the practical life of Jesus Christ when viewed in his
twofold capacity of a man and a priest. While standing upon the
broad plane of humanity, with his deep sympathetic nature directed
toward the poor, the unfortunate, and the downtrodden, there often
gushed forth from his impassioned bosom the most sublime
expressions of pity, and the strongest outburst of commiseration
for wrongs and sufferings, and his noble goodness and tender love
yearned with a throbbing heart to relieve them. But the moment he
put on the sacerdotal robe, and assumed the character of a priest,
that moment, if any one crossed his path by refusing to yield to
his requisitions of faith, or dissented from his religious creed,
his whole nature was seemingly changed. It was no longer, "Blessed
are ye," but "Cursed are ye," or "Woe unto you." Like the founders
of other religious systems, he, was ardent toward friends and
bitter toward enemies, and extolled his own religion, while he
denounced all others. His way was the only way, and all who did not
walk therein, or conform thereto, were loaded with curses and
imprecations, and all who could not accomplish the impossible
mental achievement of believing everything he set forth or urged
upon their credence, and that, too, without evidence, were to be
eternally damned. All who climbed up any other way were thieves and
robbers. All who professed faith in any other religion than his
were on the road to hell. Like the oriental Gods, he taught that
the world was to be saved through faith in him and his religion.
All who did not honor him were to be dishonored by the Father. And
"without faith (in him and his religion), it is impossible to
please God." He declared that all who were not for him were against
him; and all who were not on the same road are "heathens and
publicans." His disciples were enjoined to shake off the dust from
their feet as a manifestation of displeasure toward those who could
not conscientiously subscribe to their creeds and dogmas. Thus we
discover a strong vein of intolerance and sectarianism in the
religion of the otherwise, and in other respects, the kind and
loving Jesus. Though most benignantly kind and affectionate while
moving and acting under the controlling impulses of his lofty
manhood, yet when his ardent religious feelings were touched, he
became chafed, irritated, and sometimes intolerant. He then could
tolerate no such thing as liberty of conscience, or freedom of
thought, or the right to differ with him in religious belief. His
extremely ardent devotional nature, when roused into action in
defense of a stereotyped faith, eclipsed his more noble, lofty, and
lovely traits, and often dimmed his mental vision, thus presenting
in the same individual a strange medley, and a strange contrast of
the most opposite traits of character. That such a being should
have been considered and worshipped as a God, and for the very
reason that he possessed such strange, contradictory traits of
character, and often let his religion run riot with his reason,
will be looked upon by posterity as one of the strangest chapters
in the history of the human race. But so it is. Extraordinary good
qualities, though intermingled with many errors and human foibles,
have deified many men.
NOTE. One Christian writer alleges, in defense of the
objectionable precepts of Jesus Christ, that "He taught some errors
in condescension to the ignorance of the people." If this be true,
that he taught both truth and falsehood, then the question arises,
How can we know which is which? By what rule can we discriminate
them, as he himself furnishes none? Or how are we to determine that
he taught truth at all? And then this plea would account for and
excuse all the errors found in the teachings of the oriental Gods.
If it will apply in one case, it will in the other. And thus it
proves too much.