“God is imaginary”? Really?! Part 39: Realize that Jesus was a jerk

Once again, we sift through the ashes of the straw men that Marshall Brain has torched on his website, “God is imaginary” in order to sort out facts from falsehood. Today, we look at proof 39, “Realize that Jesus was a jerk.”

Marshall begins by giving his readers a working definition of the term “jerk”, which is good because it gives us something to work with, the he proceeds to show how this applies to the person of Jesus Christ.
He begins his argument thusly:

Given these definitions, can we make the case that Jesus was a jerk? Let’s see what we find when we look at God’s word.

A person who is a hypocrite is certainly a jerk. No one likes a hypocrite, because hypocrites are smugly foolish. And Jesus seems to have a problem with hypocrisy. For example, one of Jesus’ most famous lines is, “Love your enemies,” as he says here in Matthew 5:43:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

He reiterates the message in Luke 6:26:

    “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

That seems simple enough. And wouldn’t you expect Jesus to love his enemies? Yes you would, unless he is a hypocrite. Therefore, what we find in Mark 16:15-16 is surprising. It shows us how Jesus treats his enemies:

    He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned [to hell].
Unlike most skeptics, Mr. Brain seems to fully accept those last verses come form the mouth of Jesus, when it can be demonstrated that these are one of the largest textual insertions in the New Testament, so while informative of later understandings of believers in say the late 2nd and 3rd century, they really aren’t relevant to the question at hand, which helps us demonstrate the constitution of the argument. After all, Jesus is clear about who are his enemies:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” —John 14:15 ESV
Those who refuse to do what he has said to do, which is repent and believe, are His enemies. Even those who “believe” in Jesus can find themselves on the wrong end of His justice:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” —Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
This statement here,
This is “good” news? Jesus doesn’t love his enemies at all.
is simply a demonstration of the fact that Mr. Brain does not understand what it is that Christians believe about Jesus, namely that He is the Incarnate God of very God, and he has no obligation to love His enemies, however he did so, by giving Himself to die for the sins of those whom He calls to Himself through the regenerative action of the Holy Spirit so that they are no longer enemies, but are now “sons of the Most High.”
I’m not going to go over his misunderstanding of prayer again, those can be read here and here, however I will deal with this:

What if Jesus tells stories that are completely untrue? For example, take Matthew 4:8 as an example:

    Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

The problem with this story is that the earth must be flat for it to work. From a tall mountain it is impossible to see “all the kingdoms.” Even standing on Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on earth, the farthest you could see is 250 miles to the horizon [ref]. Yet we know that at the time of Jesus, there were thriving kingdoms in China, India, South America, Europe, etc. So clearly this story could not have happened. People who are dishonest like this are jerks.

Aside from his assumption about what the people in that time believed, which is essentially irrelevant, the point of the matter is that Satan was attempting to make a deal, because he understood what it meant by Christ coming into the world, he knew that the jig was up, so in one last assault, he tempts the incarnate God, who knew fully with what he was going to do and what had to be done, with a conditional surrender, to compromise in order to attain His goal. What could be seen is not relevant to the text, what is important is what it teaches us about who Jesus is and what lengths He is prepared to go.
As to the accusation of “bigotry”:

Another easy way to see that Jesus is a jerk is to recognize his bigotry. In Matthew 15:22-26 we find this telling conversation:

    A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

Jesus calls this woman a dog because she is not the right nationality. That is both ridiculous, and a clear indication that he is a jerk.

Yeah, really? Mr. Brain obviously ignores her response, as well as Jesus’ commendation to her,
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters ‘table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” —Matthew 15:27-28 ESV (emphasis added)
Jesus was simply testing the woman for her own good. Marshall is obviously ignorant of the social context, that this was a Gentile woman, a person who, in the culture of 1st century Palestine, had two strikes against her. Context, people: context.
Or how about an accusation of theft:

If you are a person who steals other people’s stuff, you are a jerk. In Mark 11:1-3 we find this transaction:

    As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ “

How many times have you had some jerk say, “let me borrow this and I’ll return it in a minute,” never to see that person again? It is a common scam. And that’s exactly what Jesus does. The disciples take the colt, but if you search the scriptures you find that they never bother to return it. Wow – what a jerk.

Wow! What an assumption! We don’t know what happened to the donkey, maybe one of the disciples returned it, or Jesus returned it that night when he left the city, we simply don’t know because the writer doesn’t say, so it’s an argument from silence leading to a false conclusion. And that herd of pigs that Marshall accuses Jesus of stealing, apparently he missed the fact that Jesus was simply fulfilling the request of the demons that inhabited the man. This guy really needs to learn to differentiate between primary and secondary causes.
Or this thought on Matthew 18:7-9:
This statement is totally ridiculous on several different levels. First, something like a hand cannot “cause you to sin” — your brain causes “sin.” Every intelligent person knows that. Therefore, gouging your eye out or cutting your hand off is useless. If you have a problem with “sin” and you are going to amputate something to solve it, you would need to amputate your brain, since that is where all “sin” originates.
He actually gets this one, somewhat, right, because that is exactly what Jesus is getting at, getting to the heart of the matter: what is causing the sin. Does this mean that you might have to “amputate” a “hand”? Jesus’ direct command is to be reflective, to get to the source of the problem, to root out what is causing the problem and kill it at the source with the extreme prejudice that we would inflict on a gangrenous limb. In other words, it’s a figure of speech, rather than being “emotional and childish”, which makes this statement appear that it is Marshall Brain who is, in fact, being a jerk:
But if you think about it further, you realize that Jesus has completely missed the actual remedy. If you are having a problem with unproductive behaviors, what you need to do is either educate or rehabilitate yourself. You would do that by talking with a counselor or seeing a therapist. Amputation is an absurd prescription, as every intelligent person knows. Jesus is not only a jerk — he is an idiot. He dispenses advice that is completely useless, and recklessly dangerous as well.
Yep, pretty jerkish in its own right, like this unthoughtful statement:

Here is another emotional outburst from Mark 11:15-16:

    On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

Is this a smart thing to do? Is this the kind of behavior you expect from a thoughtful, rational adult? No, it is the behavior of a child. Surely the all-powerful son of God could come up with a better plan than knocking over tables in a one-time outburst.

Um, question, Mr. Brain: if you came home one day and found that your kids were having a yard sale in your living room, selling all of your stuff while having a raucous party in your bedroom, how would you react? I would hope that you would have an emotional outburst of anger and frustration, especially if you had just had a long day of traveling and had come home to relax. Apparently, as always, he missed point:
And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” —Mark 11:17 ESV
Apparently, Mr. Brain was more concerned about the donkey and the pigs to be concerned about the men who operated under the supervision of the temple priests, who cheated the people and made it impossible for true worship to occur in the Temple of God. We like to think that this was a moment of wild anger, but when we look at the parallels in the other gospels, we see that this event was a carefully crafted public relations exercise, meant to draw several necessary connections, as discussed here.
Essentially, the rest of this “proof” is like this, taking the most literal assumptions, making the most wild assertions, repeating the same absurd objections that I have answered constantly in this series of responses. At least it will soon be over.

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