Was There A Real Jesus? And If So, What Did He Really Say?

Due to the number of questions I’ve received about Jesus, I think a podcast devoted to him is in order.

People addressing this material, from whatever angle, tend to have fiercely held opinions, cherry-picking facts around them. That makes these discussions very difficult, and I’ll do my best to avoid that trap. This is a fascinating subject, and removing dogmatic opinions is what opens it to us.

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PJ’s Q & A

This is a set of questions and answers that I included in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men and later removed because the book worked better without them. And even though I’d write it quite differently today (I wrote this 20 years ago), I still think it’s a meaningful discussion. And so I’m passing it along.

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Q: PJ, you are founding your version of good and bad upon self-interest. How can you leave doing things for others entirely out of the picture? No selfless deeds? Sounds like hell to me.

            Seminary Steve

A: Steve: First of all, using the phrase “doing things for others” creates confusion. Who you do something for does not make an action good or bad. It is what you do that makes it good or bad.

Everything people do is for self-interest. That includes giving to charity and nursing the sick. You do it because you value the people you are helping. You think it is worthwhile to birth some kindness into the world. You are doing this because it makes you feel good. It may make other people feel good, too, but you are doing it for yourself.

Choosing not to use other people wrongly – to treat them well and to be benevolent – that is not selfless. That is an expression of integrity, based upon your self-understanding of what being treated wrongly is like.

Using selflessness as the definition of good is a scam. It is contrary to human nature, it is dishonest, and it never works. And don’t think that it comes from the Bible, because it does not. “Loving your neighbor as yourself” assumes that you first love yourself. This commandment is built entirely upon self-interest, and without self-interest it has no meaning at all.

Let me tell you something, I’ve done the “selfless” thing. And I mean that I have really done it, not tried to do it “as best I could.” I did it full-out, with all my strength. And do you know what? It’s a fraud. The people who have really lived altruistically are either in deep guilt over their inner inability to enjoy it, or have realized that it is BS. It is a doctrine that contradicts human nature. It has never worked and it never will, unless we someday become a race of hive-bound robots. If you don’t believe me, go do it! Go live completely altruistically – do everything for others. But really do it! No half-hearted attempts – you go give it everything you’ve got. Then you’ll know the truth of the matter.

Do you want to make the world a more beautiful place? Wonderful, go do it. But don’t ever think you are being selfless. You are being the opposite of selfless. When you are making the world better, you are upholding yourself. You are honoring your own love of beauty, life, and peace; you are working to bring your version of goodness into being. Be proud of what you are doing!

Don’t degrade yourself to say that the only good you can do is when you get your evil self into some sort of coma! It’s a lie. Take credit for the good you do! And unless you are doing it at someone else’s expense, don’t ever feel bad about doing good to yourself!


Q: PJ, I suppose you’ll think I’m not willing to let go of this subject… and I suppose you’re right. Again, you go back to self-reference to establish goodness. I can’t argue with you about the scripture that says “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Yes, that is built on self-interest, though I’ve never had it pointed out to me before.) BUT, isn’t man’s nature flawed? All the evil we see every day should at least tell us that. And if human nature is flawed, doesn’t it follow that it is not a reliable guide, and that a definition of goodness must come from somewhere outside of flawed man? I know I sound like I’m challenging you here, but that’s not my only point. I really think I am correct.

            Seminary Steve

A: Steve: Please don’t ever think that I’d like you to disregard your own judgment. You are to be commended for sticking with it until you are convinced otherwise.

As I see it, you are making a couple of assumptions that I do not. First, I do not think that man’s nature is necessarily flawed. Most men’s actions are obviously flawed, but not necessarily their natures.

Next, even if man’s nature were flawed, that does not mean that he could not use other tools to ascertain the true and the good. In fact, that is exactly what science does. By careful observation, reason, and verification, we can discover truths that we were initially blind to, or even opposed to.

Steve, I know you are a seminary student, so I want to give you a couple of things to think about:

When man was in the Garden of Eden, there is only one thing ever mentioned about their thinking: “and they were not ashamed.” So, the only thing we know about the inner life of someone living in paradise is that they are not ashamed. Interesting, no?

There is obviously a great deal to be said about the Bible’s story of the fall of man. But Adam and Eve’s big mistake comes before they eat the fruit. They erred when they judged their own natures to be insufficient. The serpent says that if they eat the fruit, they will be as Gods. But God had made them in his own image, and had said that everything he made was “very good.”

Were they fully developed? No. But they could have grown and matured into being “as Gods.” They were, by nature, suited to such growth, and they didn’t need the fruit of the tree in order to get it.

Remember now the line in Philippians where Paul says that Jesus “did not think it robbery to be equal with God.” Adam and Eve decided that their natures were insufficient to be equal with God. They were wrong. Jesus, on the other hand, did believe that his nature was sufficient.

Adam’s mistake was to undervalue his nature.

If this is correct, then it may well be the mistrusting and devaluing of one’s own nature that causes the evils that we see around us every day. If our natures are not automatically bad – but if we nonetheless treat them as if they are bad – wouldn’t that lead to a host of problems and mistakes?

If a man did believe in the sufficiency of his own nature, what would he be like? What would it feel like to be completely unashamed?


* * * * *

The novel that helped put the crypto revolution into high gear.

Comments from readers:

“Of the twenty five or so people I worked with last fall, all of them revered A Lodging of Wayfaring Men as a bible. They referred to the house and their community effort as a Lodge. We all felt it was modeled on the Free Souls.”

“Actually, I am somewhat at a loss as to how I might explain how I feel about this book other than to say what a great mind to write such an awesome story!”

“I’m an Old guy and find that Rosenberg has captured many Real-World truths in this novel. I wish the Millennial Generation would read this novel and consider the concepts and rationale presented here.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Good Things in the Bible


The Bible has been loudly, publicly, and repetitively criticized for a long time, and it’s most vocal defenders have been those who demand that it be treated as a divine oracle. In other words, the public has been given a binary choice:

Either the Bible is horrible, or else it’s divine and you’ll go to hell if you don’t think so.

I think that’s a silly choice, but it’s the one most people see.

On top of that, I couldn’t think of a single reasoned defense of the book, though there must be a decent one somewhere. And so, I want to point out its value. Whatever its flaws((And it’s important to note that almost no one takes the really objectionable passages seriously, save for some atheists.)), they pale in comparison.

We’ll start with this:

Compassion for the “Other”

Consider, please, how many lives have been senselessly lost because of stirred-up hatreds. Rulers and court intellectuals have had an easy time portraying the outsider – the “other” – as an object to be hated and killed, and have left mounds of corpses in their wake… often with the two groups trading and intermarrying a generation later!

This barbaric call to butchery has been made over and over and over: People are told to hate the other, one nation rises against another, and so on, again and again. It’s a monstrous beast that rushes in when summoned.

So, can we ignore the benefits of a book that teaches the opposite? That teaches love of the other rather than tribal bloodlust?

This is precisely what we find in the Bible, and especially from Jesus. Consider what he says in this passage:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Here’s one that addresses the same thing from a different angle:

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

Here’s a call for loving outsiders from one of the earliest books in the Bible:

[The Lord your God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Added to all this is the great example of Jesus as he was being crucified: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Where but from the Bible or from people influenced by the Bible do we find such civilized and civilizing thoughts?


Where’s a young person to learn integrity these days? It certainly won’t be from politicians. Fortunately is does come from good families, good teachers, good coaches, etc., but even those channels frequently link back to the Bible.

From the Torah passage above (you were sojourners, so you should help the sojourner) to the wonderful story of Nathan using integrity to condemn David (too long to repeat here, but you can find it in 2 Samuel, chapter 12) to the following sayings of Jesus, the Bible teaches integrity over and over.

Whatever you would have men do unto you, do so to them.

With whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged.

By your words you will be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.

If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It would be hard to teach integrity more directly than that, and those are just some of the relevant passages.

Needless to say, integrity carries benefits into all areas of life and has follow-on effects that long endure.


There’s really nothing that cultivates human happiness, that supports human civilization, more than simple benevolence. Without it, we’re pretty well doomed. And demands for benevolence are found abundantly in the Bible. Here are a few of the more notable instances:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Rend your hearts and not your garments.

Let love be genuine.

If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge… but have not love, I am nothing.

He who does not love does not know God.

And Much More

There’s much more to be said, including things that don’t immediately leap to mind for most of us. Here are a few:

Endless calls for justice.

A God who speaks to the powerless, rather than to the mighty.

An individual spirituality rather than a collective spirituality.

The Bible teaches individuality by making God a distinct individual. With this pattern in the minds of men, they are less afraid to think as individuals. As a result, they tend to come up with better ideas and to produce better results.

The Bible glorifies men who have deep changes of heart. This not only allows us to start anew and improve, but it removes guilt for our past actions. There can be problems associated with this from a justice standpoint, but it has massively assisted human improvement.

A second-order effect of things covered above is the assumption of co-dominance: I’m not dominating you and you’re not dominating me; we can both be strong and friendly at the same time. Where this is absent, anger festers, compassion fails, grudges are never released, and endless volumes of energy are wasted in posturing and scheming. Where it is present, cooperation rules and massive accomplishments can arise. This teaching is also seen explicitly, here:

The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them, but it shall not be so among you.

Still Don’t Like the Bible?

If you still don’t want the book, fine, that’s your choice. But if you want our civilization to drop the Bible and move on without it, you need to give us an appropriate replacement before we ditch it: something that teaches these lessons better than the Bible does.

Without that, we’d be tearing a hole in the heart of our civilization.

* * * * *

The novel that helped put the crypto revolution into high gear.

Comments from readers:

“Of the twenty five or so people I worked with last fall, all of them revered A Lodging of Wayfaring Men as a bible. They referred to the house and their community effort as a Lodge. We all felt it was modeled on the Free Souls.”

“Actually, I am somewhat at a loss as to how I might explain how I feel about this book other than to say what a great mind to write such an awesome story!”

“I’m an Old guy and find that Rosenberg has captured many Real-World truths in this novel. I wish the Millennial Generation would read this novel and consider the concepts and rationale presented here.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

How the Bible Became an Idol


Again I am raising a difficult subject, but again, it’s something that needs to be said. And my title is true. The Bible – the holy book of more or less all Christians – has become an idol. And yes, I do mean idol as in “false god.”

A book, no matter how good, remains a book and should be treated as a book. A deity is something far different.

Not every Christian uses the Bible as an idol of course, but many millions do – probably a majority in North America – including nearly all of the TV preachers.

And if you’re about to start screaming “heretic,” please remember something the book says:

Does our law judge any man before hearing what he has to say?

What Is an Idol?

An idol is something you hold above reality.

A true God – a creator of the universe, for exampleshould be held above reality, since he created reality. If, however, we hold something else above reality, we make it an idol. A created thing should be considered a part of reality, not held above it.

So, when I say the Bible has become an idol, I mean people hold it above reality, putting it into the position of a god.

Christianity Was Not a Book-Based Religion

Christianity very clearly did not start as book-based. When Jesus “preached the good news,” he quoted just a small number of scriptures and usually as a necessity, answering people who questioned him. And several of those were of the “you’ve heard it said… but I say” variety. He read a few lines from Isaiah in his hometown synagogue once, but we see very little more than that.

Even the very literate Paul uses Greek poets in his sermons almost as much as Old Testament passages. (He uses some scriptures in his writings.)

Furthermore, there was no such thing as a New Testament for many generations of Christians. And when we do see them quoting the words of Jesus or the apostles, they are often different from the versions we have today. The fact is that such writings weren’t taken very seriously.

Ernest Renan, one of the finest scholars on Jesus, wrote this:

Little importance was attached to these writings, and the preservers, such as Papias, greatly preferred oral tradition… Hence the little authority which the Gospel texts enjoyed during one hundred and fifty years. There was no scruple in inserting additions, in variously combining them, and in completing some by others.

Whether we like it or not, that’s what happened. The book existed only as separate parts and wasn’t turned into a whole for centuries. It simply wasn’t important.

In fact, the first outside record we have of Christian meetings, a letter of Pliny the Younger from roughly 110 AD, makes no mention whatsoever of scripture readings and expositions, much less altar calls or plate-passing. Their services were very simple and in two parts: early morning singing and oaths, then later in the day, a communal meal… and that’s all.

The first mention I know of reading any sort of New Testament scripture in a meeting comes from Justin Martyr at about 155 AD, a solid four generations after Jesus. And not only does it refer to a small reading, but it doesn’t call the writings scriptures or even holy words; it merely calls them “memoirs.”

The typical excuse regarding this – that God gave a “dispensation of miracles at the beginning, then a dispensation of his Word for us” – is simply a fantasy. There is no real support for such an idea. That doctrine was conjured, being necessary to support current beliefs. People who teach this are openly placing their doctrines above reality.

The Bible’s Flaws

This is the point where authors begin listing the Bible’s flaws and slashing away at them. I, however, don’t want to slash at anything; I find the book to be immensely helpful.

More importantly, anyone who reads the Bible seriously has already seen the flaws.

The problem is not seeing the flaws; it’s facing them.

Those of us who’ve read the book know the laws in the Old Testament that no one follows anymore. We know how the apostles disagreed. But – and this is where idolatry comes in – millions of us pretend that we saw nothing and move on. Or if we’re trying to be very religious, we come up with creative interpretations to resolve the flaws.

And let me be clear on this: Trying to prove everything by the Bible is a deviation from actual growth. If you’ve done this for any length of time, you’ve hindered yourself.

Doing, Or Not Doing

Readers of the book really should know these things. The core of the New Testament – the recorded words of Jesus – require people to do the things he taught. The “Bible as word of God” people, on the other hand, spend endless hours arguing about who Jesus was, comparing scriptures, finding hidden meanings, proving their interpretations right, and proving the interpretations of others wrong. And so they bypass doing.

Because of space I’ll skip past quoting Jesus directly, but any Christian should be familiar with the end of Matthew 7. I recommend rereading it.

The Sad Part

The central requirement for any follower of Jesus is to love. Everything else comes second. Jesus not only taught this again and again; he exhibited it in his life. Christians, however, consistently push it aside in favor of other things. (I could tell you stories, but you probably have your own.)

The reason for pushing it aside of course is that loving is demanding. It forces you to confront all sorts of hidden hatreds, pettiness, envies, and vanities. Once you start to major on loving, you find such things popping up at you. It’s far easier to debate doctrine.

The really sad part of this is that the Bible idolaters – or at least a great number of them – do have experience with the divine impulse, of contact or at least innate yearning for a transcendent ultimate. But they never develop these things, because they’re busy idolizing a mere book, following the traditions and commandments of men.

And they really should have known, because the book says that the letter killeth.

Last Words

A hundred pages would be required to cover this subject sufficiently, but at least this much needed to be said, and rather sooner than later. It could be a very long time before I find the time and energy to produce a book on the subject. Perhaps someone else will take up the job.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Is Bitcoin More Dangerous than “Cartel Money”?

bitcoin cartel moneyI’m going to use a couple of passages from the Bible (the original set of moral standards for our Western civilization), followed by an examination of both Bitcoin and cartel money, to see how they hold up in comparison.

As for my use of the term “cartel money,” it’s the best short description I know for the dollars, euros, yen (and so on) that we use in our daily commerce. They are produced by secretive and monopolistic groups of private banks. That rather precisely matches the definition of cartel.

Principle #1: For wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

I think by now we have all heard the big accusation against Bitcoin – that it is used for “money laundering” – made especially by the money cartels (the European Central Bank first).

First off, that doesn’t make sense to me. A currency is supposed to be neutral – that is its purpose. So, accusing a currency of money laundering is like jailing a knife for murder. But, that’s not precisely the point we’re addressing here.

Rather, the question is: do the cartels do the same thing that they condemn?

You bet they do!

Read this story on HSBC. Then read this one on Wachovia. These banks laundered hundreds of billions of dollars – knowingly – for violent drug lords. And it gets worse: No one from either bank went to jail. Neither bank was shut down. Neither bank suffered more than a minor fine.

So, how much of a concern can money laundering really be to the cartels and their politician partners? Clearly none, or very close to none.

And, since the cartels accuse Bitcoin of being used for bad things, let’s be clear about the situation: Every mafioso on the planet uses cartel money. So do all the drug smugglers, terrorists, and pornographers.

Does Bitcoin accuse the money cartels? Nope. Bitcoin has no official operators to speak for it at all.

It is true that many Bitcoin users accuse the cartels of being manipulators, but, at least for now, there is no Bitcoin cartel that is even capable of manipulating the currency.

So, round one goes to Bitcoin: The cartels very clearly condemn themselves, and Bitcoin clearly does not.

Principle #2: Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light.

When Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto posted his Bitcoin paper in 2008, he laid everything open for all to see. Then he wrote the Bitcoin program and left it “open source,” so anyone could see the programming.

The process of creating cartel money, on the other hand, is mostly hidden, purposely confused, and isn’t even taught to most Econ majors. And if you think that’s just my opinion, here’s one from the esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.

The argument is made, of course, that the process of creating dollars, etc. is very complicated, and that people don’t understand it because of that.

I don’t think that’s true, but even so, let’s compare it to Bitcoin: Making bitcoins is also complex, but Bitcoin enthusiasts have been working night and day to explain their new currency and how it works. I’ve seen them cornering people at birthday parties, trying to make them understand.

Round two goes to Bitcoin also. Bitcoin wants to be seen and known, and the cartels surely do not.

It all comes down to the reason “why.”

Satoshi Nakamoto began the original Bitcoin document by saying that he wanted to, “allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” He goes on to say that he was creating,

an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.

In other words, Satoshi wanted to remove the necessity of one man ruling another in the area of money. Furthermore, he did it, then went away.

As for the motives of the cartel, we can’t really tell. The visible heads of the Federal Reserve are certainly not the owners of the Federal Reserve, and the US government refuses to reveal the names of the owners.

Perhaps the closest real examination of their motives comes from a renowned professor who worked for them for a few years. Professor Carroll Quigley of Georgetown – and a major influence on none other than Bill Clinton, wrote this in his book Tragedy & Hope:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent rewards in the business world.

So, was Quigley right? I have no solid proof that he is, but he would be an awfully hard witness to impeach. One substantiation that comes to mind is a recent comment by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. In the midst of a political fight, he complained, “The banks own the Senate.”

That’s not really proof either, but it is interesting.

You can make up your own mind on the banks, but Satoshi’s motives are fairly well beyond question.

I think it is clear that from a moral standpoint, Bitcoin is far, far better than cartel money. (As are silver and gold.)

So, the next time you hear someone calling Bitcoin dangerous and evil, don’t let them get away with it!

Paul Rosenberg

The Road to Hell Is Paved… With Fear

fearOne of the cool things about the Bible is that it contains some very interesting passages that no one seems to read.

Understand, please, that I’m neither promoting a literal interpretation of the Bible nor giving you a sermon. I’m just pointing out a fascinating fact that most everyone seems to have missed, religious folks included.

In this case, I’m referring to a passage that comes at the very end of the book, where a list is given, itemizing the kinds of people who will be condemned to “the second death.”

Who would you expect to stand at the top of the list? Murders? Idolators? Maybe adulterers?

Nope, none of those. The first people heading off to destruction are “the fearful.”

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Not what you expected?

You can look it up if you like. That’s from Revelation 21:8 (King James Version). And I even checked the original Greek: fearful is the right translation.

Fear as a Tool of Damnation

I’m not going to get into theological engineering here, but yes, this would mean that the promoters of fear are sending people to hell.

And, considering that we live in a fear-based culture, that’s an interesting thought indeed.

Now, if you want to be truly bold, think about this: Who is it that currently promotes fear?

We know the answer, of course. The people who live on fear are the majesties of the age: politicians being chief among them but followed by the entire ‘law enforcement‘ complex, military and intelligence organizations, television news-readers, religious bosses, newspaper operators, and, increasingly, anyone who wants something and has access to the public stage.

If the Bible is correct, people who profit from fear are profiting from the destruction (nay, the damnation!) of their fellow men and women.

Religion Isn’t Necessary, of Course

The conclusion that fear is the enemy of mankind doesn’t require religion, of course. We can reach the same conclusion just by recognizing that fear (and especially the chemicals associated with fear) damage our health.

Literally, people who make you fear are making you sick. (We covered this in issue #38 of Free-Man’s Perspective)

Beyond that, it is clear that fear is the number one tool of manipulators. If you want to get large numbers of men and women to do your will, scare them. Every tyrant in history has known this and used this technique.

What To Do About It

First of all, start paying attention to your feelings and notice when things make you afraid. Stop your thinking and pay attention to the whole fear process. If you do, you can deal with most of these attacks quickly, rather than leaving an indistinct fear to roll around the back of your mind all day.

Second, start analyzing the words that convey fear to you. Are they really true? Is the response the fear merchants deliver to you really the only course of action? The hard part of doing this is that the words come too fast; by the time you’re ready to analyze one statement, another one is halfway complete. Analyzing them in writing is far easier, or getting a live speaker to slow down and go one phrase at a time.

Third, start discounting the people who consistently throw fear at you. If that’s all they have, they’re not worth paying attention to. Turn off the TV; excuse yourself from the conversation; walk away. You don’t have to take it.

Finally, start pointing out these things to other people. They may be defensive at first, but isn’t that worth facing, to clear the minds of your friends and family? Why should they suffer under the lash of fear all their lives?

Paul Rosenberg