Jesus the Humanist
May 20, 2012 by Bill
In religious humanism, people are the first and primary considerations. People are more important than authoritarian, dogmatic, brittle, religious laws, creeds, rules, theologies, beliefs and man-made doctrines. In a very blunt and direct attack on such absurdities, Jesus placed humans front and foremost.
Nothing must have so infuriated him as to see religious doctrine become more important than people. It was against religious law to feed or heal a person on the Sabbath. With scathing words, Jesus let them know that “the Sabbath was made for people…people were not made for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
Religious laws and institutions are not sacred. Creeds are not sacred. Theological dogma is not sacred. Man-made doctrines are not sacred. Jesus attacked authoritarian religion at every turn, replacing it with a humanitarian, humanistic religion. Jesus’ insistence that “the kingdom of God is within you,” as well as many other Biblical passages, is a clear expression of a non-authoritarian position.
The spirit behind Jesus’ parables and teachings is totally humanistic with a blinding emphasis on the importance of human beings, their needs, their potential, their divinity; pointing the way toward the full development of the human potential for excellence, love and brotherhood.
The vast majority of the evils inflicted upon humankind today are the product of dogmatic, religious authoritarianism – not humanism. If you can bear to read the history of the Christian church after it departed from humanism, I encourage you to do so. The beauty, goodness and justice of humanism will become obvious when placed alongside the hundreds of thousands of people tortured and killed by the authoritarian church.
Observe the Islamic fundamentalists or the dogmatic Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Ireland or the nightmare of the conflicts in the middle east or the grotesque performance of a fundamentalist minister leading his congregation in prayer for the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. The followers and propagators of dogmatic, authoritarian religion all have the same mentality, whether Christian, Communist or Nazi, as Eric Hoffer wrote in his classic The True Believer. They live with the fantasy that only they possess the truth.
My Columbia University Encyclopedia defines humanism in this way: “Humanism…a way of life, and a philosophy that asserts the dignity and worth of human beings and their capacity for self-realization and an emphasis on lasting human values.