In an age when so many have raised inclusivity to the status of a Commandment, I have been pondering how Jesus might have better incorporated this priority into his teachings, priorities, and disciples.
We ought to remember that inclusivity need not mean everyone—in fact, it never has—just those whose views and behaviors correspond to the dominant culture.
Also, when inclusivity is the priority, introspective change and repentance and the like aren’t needed—unless one’s perspectives conflict with the orthodoxies of the age.
Because inclusivity is now a starting point for many religious congregations and religious leaders, perhaps Jesus could have better acknowledged how Roman thinking and culture dominated his world. He could have conducted his ministry with the understanding that the Romans would dominate the world for the foreseeable future, and so could have adopted much of the Roman perspective in his own teaching.
After all, if one paid their taxes and didn’t antagonize the lord Caesar, there was great tolerance in the empire for all types of behaviors, beliefs, and gods.
Take marriage and sexual relations. The Romans were little concerned with fidelity in marriage, and little worried about any kind of sex for that matter. Jesus could have appealed to a broad spectrum of peoples and races by toning down the idea that the sexual act actually has profound meaning.
Sure, many of his fellow Jews would have been peeved by this broadminded approach, but they were small in number in relation to the bigger picture. Besides, they probably needed to be shook from their traditional ways of thinking about such matters, right?
Speaking of traditional, there was a glaring problem with the Jewish Scriptures—they were not inclusive enough. Filled with prophets who could be harsh, many stories of kings and social influencers that didn’t end well, and frequent calls for drastic repentance. And lots of judgment!
Jesus might have commenced his mission by ignoring the Jewish Scriptures, or by relegating them to one of many influential perspectives of the times—Greek, Roman, Persian; paganism, stoicism, hedonism, Zoroastrianism.
This might have produced a “big tent” theology that appealed to vast throngs of people right out of the gate.
The matter of the poor, lepers, the crippled, could have also been approached differently. Teaching that each of his disciples and the Christian community must be brothers or sisters to the poor and weak has always had limited range and impact. Just ask today’s sociologists and economists. The Roman empire, with all its power and resources, would have been a far more effective agent for alleviating poverty and sickness if its priorities could be patiently shifted.
Thus, Jesus might have encouraged his disciples to pursue careers in the Roman government, work within the system already in place, as Joseph did with Pharaoh. He need not have reminded them that Joseph didn’t embark on this mission intentionally. Or as skilled Scytho-Mede administrators did during the hegemony of the Persian empire, even if they performed those services out of self-interest.
What’s important is the result. Why not work for change within a proven system with tremendous reach?
Needless to say, Jesus would have had to recruit the best and brightest to be his disciples if their mission included Roman administration. And with Jesus’s skill set, charisma, and a less confrontational public profile, this could have been accomplished. If the Jews were too troublesome, Jesus could have moved his immediate base of operations to Greece or Rome and have found more capable disciple candidates.
As for that cross thing, why would people who want to be accepted as they are and who had little or no desire to change be interested in something as terrifying as that? Taking up and carrying one’s cross is something that doesn’t sound very appealing, and is needly troubling and even divisive.
My closing thought is because Jesus didn’t take advantage of this fresh inclusivity perspective, perhaps today’s Church leaders could tweak things a bit.
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The church is the most exclusive club there is, yet it is the easiest to join. All good clubs have rules of demeanour. If one does not adhere to the code of conduct there are steps to remediation, up to and including expulsion. Let Christ be honoured in all matters.
Tom, why such exclusivity? Christ was the model of “inclusivity”!
In the country of the Gadarenes, He included(!) the demons into a herd of some 2,000 swine—or maybe it was 2,023!—which then were seen hurriedly “walking together” to the edge of the cliff, where they fell and drowned themselves in the sea (Mark 5:13)—a lot like lemmings.
After which, their corpses drifted on their “endless journey” toward some seven equally-drifting continents (polyhedral Continental Drift?). But the pig owners recovered by redefining the loss as gain, and chanting kumbaya mostly in German. And, mistaking the millstones for collars (Luke 17:2)…
Dear Thomas: thanks for such a beautifully written ridiculing of the hubris of the synodalistas.
Great to have some lite relief amidst the fray.
In the same vein: isn’t it past time for Francis to confess the truth, that He is Christ returned?
Ever in the love & laughter of The Lamb; blessings from marty
You brood of vipers. You wont publish this, but whoever reads this comment must know. This entire article is utter blasphemy, you insult the Holy message of Christ, you insult the saints who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Christ, you insult the Church which Christ established to preach the word of the Lord our God who has set forth His commandments in stone which we His children follow today. The Holy words of God does not change so that you can placate the hedonistic degeneracy of the corrupted and morally bankrupt culture we of Christendom find ourselves surrounded by. This unholy spew of satanic propaganda is an offense to our Holy savior who bore the Cross, suffered and died so that sinful wretches like you and I could have an escape from the damnation which we deserve because of the exact actions which this filth defends. You, or anyone who would stand by this disgusting vomit of anti-Christian dribble should read the gospels of Christ and know them as the inspired word of God, unchanging for your own degenerative sexual gratification.
James: Learn to read and comprehend. Sigh.
I’d recommend taking a look at the Babylon Bee’s site & then rereading this article.
An answer to this tongue-in-cheek article is:
As truth isn’t universally accepted (i.e. because of evil), it is divisive, not inclusive. Moral and religiously doctrinal truths (Statements of morality are doctrinal.) are preeminent in this respect.
Jesus Christ the Son of God came to teach religious truth, not error.
The Church is most certainly NOT a club. And Jesus said “Love God” was #1, and “love ONE ANOTHER” was #2. I don’t know how you can get any more inclusive than that. No exclusions allowed. No matter who or what.
Doran makes a good point in juxtaposing inclusion for its own sake, to the Cross of Christ. Although this contradicts Jesus of Nazareth’s self revelation of the infinite good of the Father, revelation which is infinitely polar to self indulgence and sin.
Radical inclusion, words used by Card McElroy as well as Card Hollerich SJ Pope Francis’ appointment as Relator to the Synod on Synodality is also acknowledged in His Holiness’ favor of an all embracing Church. His recent remarks, that no one be denied the Eucharist, that the only requirement is the garment of faith juxtapose unconditional inclusion to the conversion from sin and practice of the faith evident in good works.
In effect His Holiness intends to justify a dual ecclesial ideology in which perennial doctrine is not formally repudiated, whereas it’s bypassed on the grounds of pastoral advancement presumed to mercifully embrace a suffering, broken humanity. A Martin Luther first premise of faith reduced to belief and tolerance of sin. A duality that’s categorically unacceptable to faith in Christ that must be conveyed by the faithful to the Holy Father for correction.
Good food for thought in this era of “Political Corectness”. To be truly “inclusive you MUST EXCLUDE those who disagree with you.Oh well, we are in the world, but not of the world.😎
This article is just what I needed. The other day I managed to access an article on The New York Times, a site I never frequent. It was a Ross Douthat article and what caught me were the comments. All of them so anti Catholic including the ones from people claiming to be catholics. All of them spoke about the warmth and welcome extended by the Evangelicals and all of them spoke about how God just accepts people as they are. By the end I was left thinking that God too should read the NYT because evidently their readers know more than He does. According to their logic, turfing Adam and Eve out of Eden was completely unnecessary. Seriously, though, it was a worrying read because many of the comments were eloquent and well written and I thought about the people who are searching. If they believe what they read they will.conclude going to church is no different to going to the pub. You will only hear the same.opinions.
Great to see so many searching comments.
For Catholics who genuinely seek the meaning of what is currently going on, it is strongly recommended they set out on a program of New Testament study.
For example, in response to the question: “Does Jesus Christ allow separation of the faithful obedient from the unfaithful disobedient?” See Matthew 13:40-43.
Then: “Why is there so much that is unholy within the Church?” see Mathew 13:44-46.
Hidden within the derelict field and chaotic marketplace of the Church there is a supreme Treasure, even a Pearl of infinite worth. Those who are willing to give up everything for the love of Christ will find there what is of supreme eternal value.
For those who humbly seek, Jesus Christ always provides fulfilling answers.
Blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty:
Words of wisdom and blessing from your pen. Fuller understanding and insight comes from study of the New Testament, not to mention the Old Testament. They compliment one another and help us build bridges of peace.
Yours in Christ,
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 1:18-20 Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Thanks, dear Brian, for your insightful & generous response.
As both a scientist and a theologian one often encounters preposterous claims for Old Testament contradictions of experimentally and observationally secure scientific facts. In the light of good science, the OT needs some considerable re-exegesis. That’s never needed with The New Testament; it is alethically superior.
For the well-versed Bible scholar this is not surprising, in that the Old Covenant is obsolete, and aging, and will soon disappear – Hebrews 8:13. What Moses brought from Sinai was extraordinarily good; yet it was a mere shadow of what Christ brought from Heaven – Hebrews 8:5. Christ is the mediator of a far superior covenant, founded on better promises – Hebrews 8:6. It was because there was plenty wrong with Moses’ Old Covenant that King Jesus Christ had to give us a New Covenant – Hebrews 8:7.
As Matthew 5:17 reports: Jesus self-describes as coming into this world to put right the imperfections of The Old Testament.
Then in Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus becomes highly specific regarding the changes He commands: “You have heard that it was said . . . It has been said . . . BUT I TELL YOU . . .”
Here we have royal instructions, as heard directly from the God’s Mouth, not scribal third-hand interpretations of what Moses heard, felt & said. A competent lawyer could tell us the weight difference between these two contrasting sources of evidence.
When ministering to a seeker or a new Christian, The New Testament Good News is what we should be communicating. Cognitive dissonance arises if we try to combine Old Testament cosmology, violent Jewish history (including revenge psalms), Levitical priestcraft, and Pharisaical ethics, with the far superior revelations of The New Testament.
Once a person is thoroughly imbued with Christ and deeply steeped in all of The New Testament, then they can safely be encouraged to explore the riches of The Old Testament, especially in regard to the awesomeness of God and the power of wholehearted praise and worship. Not OT cosmology, nor OT warmongering.
Years in the Christian ministry of healing and deliverance showed me that freemasons and other spiritists built much on various Old Testament verses; yet they were averse to the absolute, unopposable authority of Christ’s Word.
In short, Catholics and others who claim Jesus Christ as their LORD will always turn to the 27 texts by 9 Apostolic authors of The New Testament, before and above all other texts. They will be careful not to dilute The New Wine of Christ with the old of Moses.
With Jesus, straight & undiluted, we have everything.
Without Jesus, or with a diluted Jesus, we have nothing.
It is the will of The Father and of The Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ rules the earth and its universe; and is appointed Judge of all. We Catholics and every true Christian are sheep that The Father has given to Jesus. It is none other than King Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life (John 10:27-30).
Thanks, dear Brian, for raising this important, rarely discussed, matter. You’ve made me think carefully about it. Hoping my humble reasoning is helpful.
Always in the grace & mercy of King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty;
God bless you in celebrating Jesus Christ and bringing hope to seekers of peace. The Old Testament shows us a better way is to come for mankind. Without the OT there would be no NT, for the OT foreshadows the Messiah and hope for mankind.
In the OT was the promise of the New Covenant, one of grace and hope for the gentile, also. How gracious God is! There are still prophecies that are to be fulfilled, yet in our own time, we see the rebirth of Israel and her greening. Against all odds the Israeli’s prosper and give excellence to the world. This is the hand of God at work.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
As you present godliness and insight to us, perhaps we should not be surprised that you are a “theologian”.
Also being a scientist is complimentary to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are always learning and you aid us. Praise God for CWR, we should not take the work done by them lightly, for causing us to ponder and encouraging us to aid others is not the focus of most news sources.
Blessings upon blessings from your brother,
Thanks so much dear brother Brian for such a clear exposition.
Much of what you say is held to be true by a variety of churches. You have prompted me to think about the context and some consequences.
It helps when we perceive the actual timescale of reality. Our universe is reckoned by physicists to be 13,800,000,000 years old. Yet such authorities as St Paul, St Peter, and St John reveal that Christ existed before any of it (see Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8b).
Cosmogony; cosmogenesis; quantum mechanics; stellar and galactic evolution; chemical element and molecule emergence; planet formation; formation of our solar system and Earth; geophysical evolution of Earth’s atmosphere, waters, and lands; biological evolution of microbes, plants, and animals; emergence of human species in Africa (animals uniquely sharing God’s quality of making free ethical choices); human colonization of the whole Earth . . . and hunter/gatherer prehistory, leading to farmer/civic history and sociology, as we understand it today.
Dear Brian, quite a bit (!) happened under the authority of Christ, way, way before there was an Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, – – – David, Solomon, etc. They came at the very last, farmer/civic, stage of Christ’s awesome and very protracted creative cosmogenesis.
As a side-issue: is it not the preposterously aggressive farmer/civic empires that have been progressively destroying the viability of Earth?
Does not the very recent timing of the historical manifestation of creator Christ, and Christ’s message of peace, servanthood, and low-profile living, provide a lesson for any who perceive the extended duration of our universe?
In terms of our practical, day-to-day faith-life: can we try to comprehend (assisted by scientific discoveries) the ENORMOUS MAGNITUDE of the work, and the unparalleled majesty of who Christ was, is, and eternally will be. The many miracles in Israel amply exemplified, on a very recent and highly local scale, the supra-cosmic Glory of Christ’s Eternal Divinity.
My freemason friends like to put set-square & dividers on top of The New Testament to show that Christ’s witness is subject to their human logic. The same spirit – of trying to dilute or tame the absolute authority of Christ – is found among those who interpret Christ as a product of Old Testament Jewish spirituality and prophetic revelation. Is that not blasphemy?
David confessed that Christ (his descendant) is actually his LORD! As indeed, Jesus Christ is LORD OF ALL – including the prophets that we consider predicted the birth and life and sufferings of Christ, their Messiah.
In short: with Jesus Christ we have everything; without Christ, nothing.
My apologies, dear Br Brian, if this sounds a bit didactic. The intention is to humbly exhort every believer to give our KING something of the unlimited Glory due His Majesty. “Worthy, Worthy, Worthy is The Lamb.”
Ever in the grace & mercy of King Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty:
Not “didactic” but instructive and an ode to God’s excellence and completeness. Thank you for your insight. You and others bring vision from one’s particular discipline and their personal walk with God. We must bear one another up in prayer and delve into God’s eternal truth. It is a challenge, yet our duty is to use the talents that God has given us.
1 Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …
Matthew 25:14-“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. …