Why I’m Committed to Something that Doesn’t Yet Exist


It’s a strange thing that so many people unquestioningly doubt, even oppose, anything that they can’t see, that they can’t count on with absolute certainty, or especially, that lacks the approval of authority.

New and useful things, as we’ve all observed, begin as things that can’t be seen… things with no evidence, no substance, and usually no pedigree. Name your convenience and it probably began that way.

But let’s move past older historical examples and simply jump to things that have happened in our own times:

  • Where were personal computers a generation or two ago? Only in the dreams of a few hyper-technical types. It was a business grown mainly in garages and similar spaces.

  • Where was home schooling a generation or two ago? It was the domain of cranks at best and child abusers at worst. (Or so it was proclaimed by an enthroned and worshiped educational aristocracy.) And yet homeschooling delivers superior results.

  • Where was the Internet in 1990? First it was unknown, then it was a silly tool of “nerds,” then it was a threat to all that is holy (yes, New York Times, some of us remember), and only later, a worldwide infrastructure.

  • Where was encryption in 1990? A regulated munition… a sequestered weapon… until a small group of cypherpunks set it free.

  • Where were digital currencies in 2000? The supposed haunt of the worst criminals on the planet. And now… well, now they’re hated only by people skimming from violence-backed currencies and those who think they’ve missed the boat.

Those of us of a certain age have seen all these things enter the world. Things that were utterly without substance, existing only as ideas in disrespected and belittled minds.

So then, where are the utility, efficiency, and safety in “staying with what’s been proven” and ridiculing the new? Blown away is what they are. The voice of authority is the voice of paralysis and petrification.

Yes, some old things remain lovely, and some new things are stupid. But opposing things only because they are new… smothering them in fear and the implication that unauthorized things will be punished… “paralysis” and “petrification” are not overly strong terms.

Progress always begins from mere ideas… from unapproved ideas and usually from opposed ideas.

This is why I am committed to parallel societies, to decentralized economies, to a voluntaryist ethic and a civilization built around our abilities, not around our fears. I know that good ideas can become reality. I’ve seen it over and over. You have too.

Moreover, none of the things I believe in are entirely new. Humankind has had decentralized commerce many times. It has enjoyed voluntaryist ethics and healthy societies.

Our Model

I’ve heard people say, “You can’t beat the system,” or discouragements to that effect, for a long time, and it simply isn’t true. Yes, the system uses plenty of force and likes to make examples of people who threaten its legitimacy, but where are the great pharaohs? Where is “the Great” Alexander? And where, for that matter, are Napoleon and Mussolini and a hundred other “indomitable leaders.” They’re gone, along with their ruling juntas, their court intellectuals, and their acquiescent subjects.

So, you can beat the system. It may take time, but the system always crashes and burns. The only question is when.

And in our quest to build a voluntaryist civilization, we have one tremendous example: the proto-Christians and decentralized Christians of the first few centuries AD. And let me point out that this was a long time before what people think of as “the Church.”

Nor is this really about religion – it’s about people who believed in and were devoted to a better set of ideas. Ideas opposed by the greatest power ever seen on the planet: the great Roman Empire at its height.

But in the end, Rome crashed and the new ideas triumphed, wiping away the Roman model altogether.

Here’s how the great historian Will Durant described it:

There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.

There is no reason we can’t do the same thing. I don’t know how long it will take or how much turmoil we’ll have along the way, but I can tell you that building a decentralized world based upon the Golden Rule is very definitely possible. But we’ll need to work for it.

We can build a better future or we can “play it safe.” Which will you be more proud of when you’re old?

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

How Similar Are Judaism and Christianity?


This should really be a book-length discourse, and I may write such a book one of these days. First, however, I want to give you some of the highlights and begin to get my thinking in order.

At their cores, Judaism and Christianity are more similar than you might expect. Their appearances of course are different. After all, it is very much in the interests of leaders on both sides to proclaim how very right they are, which means that all others must appear to be wrong… and different.

Whom Do We Hear and See?

When dealing with this subject, there is a first obstacle that must be dealt with carefully… or else we’ll get a skewed picture of both religions. And the choice we must make is this:

To whom shall we pay more attention; to the leaders of the movements, who are few but loud, or to the simple believers, who are many but generally unheard?

It’s far easier to hear from the leaders. We have their writings and their endless disputes, after all. And in fact this is what has nearly always been done, a situation that has begun changing only in recent times.

However, as I see it, the average believers matter considerably more than the leaders. Granted, their voices are harder to hear, but they were always where the weight and mass of these religions lay. And their willingness to follow any particular leader or movement affected the ultimate shapes of these religions.

And fortunately for us, we do sometimes hear and see the average believers. If nothing else, we are told about them from the leaders of their religions as they complain (which they often do) that their followers aren’t following very well. We also find the average believers in the descriptions of outsiders and now in the archaeological record. A picture of these people is emerging.

Now, with that in mind, let’s proceed to the two religions.

Judaism Was Becoming Christianity Anyway

Most of us think of Judaism as being almost entirely law-based. But while this is true for a goodly number of modern, Orthodox Jews, it’s really something of a throw-back. Judaism had long been changing into what Christianity was to become. Here’s what I mean:

A passage from the prophet Micah:

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow myself before God on high? … with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

One from Amos:

Though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them… But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream…

And there are many others. What we’re seeing is Judaism moving away from laws and rituals and into purity of heart. In other words, it was moving directly toward Christianity.

Christians and Jews Intermixed

Here’s a fact that may shock you: Through at least the 4th century, Christians attended synagogues. We know this because it greatly irritated a famous Christian leader of the day, one John Chrysostom. This man complained at length about the fact that Christians were worshiping in synagogues and partaking of the Jewish festivals.

Furthermore, the first people who carried knowledge of Jesus to the Roman world (before St. Paul) were Jews and worshipped in synagogues along with other Jews. On top of that, it was standard procedure for Christians to identify as Jews, since it allowed them to stay within the exemptions that Rome accorded Jews. It insulated them from the wrath of Rome.

Again there is more to say but we’ll move on.

Through the Years and Now

Through the many centuries between 400 AD and today (and that’s a lot of condensing) Judaism’s concern was far less on doctrinal progress and far more on physical survival. And the founding of the state of Israel, less than 100 years ago, has further complicated things. But since Jews gained the status of “citizen” – first in the US, then France, and now in most places – we’ve seen movements, such as Reform Judaism, that focused on “what you are inside” rather than on keeping 613 laws. Even Orthodox Judaism moves that way frequently. After all, it’s in their book just the same as in the book of the Christians, and it’s the obvious line of human development… of human evolution.

How silly is it to pretend that you’re close to a loving and all-knowing God while harboring hate in your heart?

The Modern Differences

Many Jews remain convinced that Christians are their enemies… and not, we should admit, without cause. From the perspective of a modern Christian, this might seem misguided.

“The people who killed your ancestors,” they would say, “were blind sectarians and embarrassments to Christ.”

And while they too would be right, the children of the violated may not forget so easily.

On top of that, the voices of the various leaders can still be counted upon to accentuate the differences between the two religions. As can those who are devoted to doctrines rather than goodness of the heart.

And so, while the foundations of their beliefs (another big thing I flew past) are almost entirely the same… including most of the same stories… the window dressings of the two groups are purposely, and sometimes flamboyantly, made different.

But aside from a few excessive people on either side, Judaism and Christianity are far closer than might be comfortable for many people.

We might even imagine a happy future in which they begin coming back together, however slowly and hesitantly.

* * * * *


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* * * * *

The Dissipation of Moral Energies


Roughly 98% of us have a deep-rooted connection to morality. Even confirmed criminals routinely say things like, “That ain’t right,” which is purely a moral judgment. However well or poorly we use it, nearly all of us hold morality as a central reference.

And this is true across nearly the whole sweep of life. Take a hard look into any workplace and you’ll find that nearly every interaction is tied to some form of moral judgment: “He didn’t treat me with proper courtesy,” “She’s arrogant,” “That’s a man you can respect,” and so on.

Nearly everyone thinks in moral terms: what’s fair, whether or not others keep their word, who has a right to what, and so on((We covered the mechanism underlying and causing this in FMP #79.)). All of these are moral judgments, and they reveal the inherent moral focus of our race. We are morally-focused creatures by nature.

Opposition to Morality

Our present world, however, is an adverse environment for morality. This becomes obvious once we observe two simple facts:

  1. The basic statement of morality is known to nearly all of us and has been championed in nearly identical form by more or less every serious moral teacher.

  2. People are deeply confused on what is or isn’t moral.

If morality is simple and widely known and yet we’re confused, something is intervening.

The basic statement of morality is our Golden Rule of course: What is hateful to you, do to no one else. This was proclaimed by ancient Greeks, Chinese, and Hebrews, and more or less every serious thinker since. And it’s a supremely simple dictum to live by.

Why, then, moral confusion?

There are many reasons of course, but all of them stem from a single source: the people and systems that can’t thrive under a simple and clear Golden Rule.

Our Golden Rule is built upon self-reference: recognizing what we like or don’t like. It is then extended to others with uncomplicated thinking.

The enemies of morality, then, are those who don’t want us to refer to ourselves. And so they demand that we reference outside standards and obey them without self-reference and without thinking. They do this partly with fear and partly with confusion.

The fear-based method of stanching morality is the statement of authority we all know: Obey or we’ll hurt you.

The confusion-based method is the belief that our obedience has been ordered by a super-human authority: the god-king, or the god, or the majestic ancients, or the holy will of the people, or nowadays, by our magic-infused democratic processes.

Here are two statements that express this same concept from a different angle:

Government is an entity that does things we’d be condemned for if we did them to our neighbor, and yet it is held to be righteous.

Anyone with a clear enough moral view and sufficient moral energy is (at a minimum) worrisome to rulership.

Dispersion of Moral Energies

What we’ve described above is the simple opposition to morality. Worse in many ways are the less direct methods: things that drain moral energies in ways that are harmless to morality’s opponents.

Think of it this way: If what you want requires people not to engage their moral energies, it might be best if you got them to spread their moral energies every which way, so that they didn’t have much left in reserve.

Humans have limited amounts of energy after all, and that includes things like willpower and moral energies. Spread them out wildly and there is simply not enough fuel to sustain them. And this is precisely what we’re seeing in our time.

The internal energies of a mainstream, respectable couple, for example, are almost fully directed away from serious moral issues. This couple likely devotes extreme levels of emotion (drawn from the same energy pool as moral energy) to harmless diversions: the environment, their pets, hating one or the other political party, office politics, complaining about all the small moral failures they see, and so on.

All of these are dispersions of moral energy, from which no personal or civilizational improvement results. And once these energies have been expended, little is left over for more productive applications.

The Reverse View

Imagine now that your interests would be threatened if people focused their energies on the Golden Rule. What would you do to ensure your continued prosperity? I think you’d do this:

  1. Encourage and support anything that would keep people afraid.

  2. Encourage and support anything that diverts moral energies into harmless paths.

  3. Encourage and support things that make people surrender their moral energies to blind obedience.

  4. Undercut the development and application of morality among the masses.

  5. Subvert whatever purposeful development of morality remains.

And here are examples of each in the modern West:

  1. (Keeping people afraid.) News channels broadcasting fear 24/7. Political talk shows focusing on the evils of the “other side.”

  2. (Diverting moral energies.) Facebook, politics, celebrity gossip, and other trivialities.

  3. (Surrendering to obedience.) The ubiquitous and uncritical lauding of democracy.

  4. (Undercutting moral development.) The persistent ridicule of Christianity. The perennial hatred toward Christianity’s sibling, Judaism.

  5. (Subverting what remains.) The grafting of evangelical Christianity into the military-industrial complex.

This conversation could go on of course, but I think my primary point has been made.

My only exhortation is that we should leave this status quo and construct a world that does not drain our moral energies.

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

What Jesus Didn’t Say


Most of the things people associate with Jesus are things he never said. I’ll provide a few dozen examples below, but first please understand that I’m not doing this to tear anything down. Rather, I’d like to open a path away from obsolete and moribund beliefs. To do that, I’m drawing a hard line between Jesus and the apostles.

I’d very much like people to differentiate between what Jesus taught and what others taught about him. This is, however, a difficult thought, standing against centuries of assumptions to the contrary. So much so that when I first grasped this concept back in 1976, I was unable to deal with it and it slid off to the side.

I did not, however, forget it. And as I matured, this difficult thought remained with me and became clearer. I’m now convinced that it should circulate.

What Do We Call This?

So, what can we call a set of beliefs founded only upon the sayings of Jesus? I don’t know, but we can’t honestly call it “Christianity.” As you’ll see below, very many of Christianity’s core beliefs did not come from Jesus; they were added by others. However uncomfortable this may be, I really have no clearer way of expressing it, and I think its truth will become more obvious as we proceed.

But because this thought is so odd, those of you who come to agree with it (to whatever extent) will not have the comfort of a tag to place upon it; there is no category to roll it into. You’ll have to stand alone.

So, here’s my list. For convenience I’ve divided it into sections.

On the nature of God:

Jesus did not say:

God is a trinity.

God is three persons.

God is present everywhere.

On his own nature:

Jesus did not say:

I was born of a virgin.

I share the full nature of God.

I am God.

On the nature of humanity:

Jesus did not say:

Man was born into original sin.

Man is born corrupt.

Mankind is a fallen race.

On churches:

Jesus did not say:

          You should form churches.

          I will place you into congregations.

          You must obey your elders.

          Obey your leaders.

          Follow the scriptures.

          Study the scriptures.

          Study the prophecies.

          You must defend the gospel.

          You must prevent heresy.

          You should tithe.

On salvation:

Jesus did not say:

You must believe I was raised from the dead.

You must call me “Lord.”

You must surrender to me.

You must accept the Bible as truth.

You must believe and confess.

You must keep the sacraments.

You must die in a state of grace.

You must confess your sins.

On prayer:

Jesus did not say:

Pray to me.

Revere the cross.

Pray to saints.

Venerate icons.

Pray for your nation.

On Politics:

Jesus did not say:

Pray for your rulers.

Pray for your ruler to do the right thing.

Obey those above you.

Obey rulers.

Sacrifice yourself for your countrymen.

You should kill and die to preserve freedom.

You should form Christian nations.

“But if those things aren’t necessarily true, what is?”

What is or isn’t true is for you to decide. All I’m saying is that Jesus did not teach these things. And I strongly suggest that you mull that over for a while before jumping into another set of grand conclusions.

We should never have believed things because of what churches or church leaders say… not even the perfectly groomed and perfectly confident TV preachers. Nor should anyone have held such things to be true because their parents believed them. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa may have been beautiful souls, but they were subject to misunderstanding and error just like the rest of us. We must examine things independently.

My point is this: What Jesus actually taught is quite distinct from Christianity. And in my opinion, the mix of doctrines that constitutes contemporary Christianity is at a dead end. The ideas that come directly from Jesus, however, stand to liberate and elevate the world… once they’re freed from the chains of doctrine.

What to do about this is up to you.

* * * * *

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  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
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Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

The Inconvenient Sayings of Jesus


Some things just need to be pointed out. I’m not sure I’d go quite as far as P. C. Hodgell when she wrote, “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be,” but truth – so long as it’s for the purpose of building and improving – should be told.

As the title indicates, I’ll be discussing several of Jesus’s sayings today. And I’m doing this because I think there’s tremendous potential among the world’s 2.4 billion Christians. As I’ve said before, these are people who have committed themselves to a great man and to a generally useful book. There is a tremendous amount of good that could come from them. I write this to remind them that “church” should never be more important to them than Jesus.

So, let’s begin.

“Call no man ‘father.’”

This one’s obviously going to be hard for Catholic and Orthodox Christians, who call their ritual leaders “Father,” but truth matters, and we may as well start here:

And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

That’s from the 23rd chapter of Matthew, by the way. And yes, it flatly condemns calling a religious leader “Father.” Don’t blame me for this. Jesus said it; I’m just pointing it out.

And if this bothers you, please decide who is more important to you: Jesus or a church organization. You really can’t have it both ways here (as much as many have tried). Jesus said a specific thing, and while we are free to say, “He was wrong,” or “The book was wrong,” we cannot claim that Jesus and the book are right and still call a man in a robe “Father.”

That’s just the way it is.

“When you pray…”

This one will hit nearly all the big churches and most of the small ones too. Nonetheless, here it is:

When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So, that’s how Jesus said to pray. Notice that he didn’t say anything about praying together at a church… or even holding hands and praying together at home. Nor do we see Jesus presiding over any such thing in the New Testament. But we do read, “after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.”

And in the verse just prior to this one, Jesus said:

When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners…

Where then, does this leave public prayers?

So, if you think your church knows better than Jesus, pray in unison as much as you like. But if your church bosses don’t know better than Jesus, you might want to take your advice from the rabbi from Nazareth.

These passages are from the 6th chapter of Matthew, by the way, which
continues this way:

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

You might want to give that one some consideration too.

“He that is greatest…”

Here’s what Jesus had to say about being a “great man” or “great woman”:

He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

The word for servant, by the way, means “one who runs errands.” So, in modern speech, the saying goes like this:

The greatest man or woman will be the one who runs errands for you.

I’ll leave you to compare the actions of the big-name ministers to this verse (from Matthew 23), but I think we all know how that’ll turn out.

“My kingdom is not of this world”

Jesus wanted nothing to do with the governments of this world. It would be hard to be clearer than this statement from John 18, though there are others that are similar. Jesus defied the state agents of his time, and his first followers did the same. These things are obvious to any reader who isn’t hell-bent on evading them.

Christian “leaders” have whored themselves out to governments since the third century, and their ideas currently dominate many Christian minds. But with every theological excuse they spin, they push Jesus farther away from themselves.

“A new commandment…”

This last saying, from John 13, is, in my opinion, of central importance:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.

Church people (and yes, I am generalizing, which isn’t entirely fair) are happy to debate doctrine at any length, but they consistently evade loving. Indeed, they become agitated or worse if you press the subject.

And to love one another the same as Jesus loved his disciples? They won’t accept that as a serious possibility.

But Jesus did think of it as a serious possibility. He thought his followers could do this. If not, he was simply being cruel.

So, again, you are free to shuffle past this saying with all due haste, but you are not free to call yourself a proper follower of Jesus at the same time.

You could of course call yourself a faithful churchgoer, son of the church, daughter of the church, or whatever. And that’s my point:

I hold that you should be free to choose whichever way you like, but I also hold that you should be honest about it: Jesus and church are not the same thing.

* * * * *

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  • 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

The Truth About Hell


Before I drop yet another “sensitive” article into the world, I’d like to add that I’m not writing these to be destructive or to garner controversy. I write on these subjects because they matter a great deal and because no one else seems to. Other people have to have seen the same things I have, but somehow they don’t show up in print.

“Hell,” to be sure, is a touchy subject. Millions of people think their eternal destination rests upon an acknowledgement that hell and its eternal torture are real. Some of them will almost say, “If there is no hell, there is no God.” Furthermore, they believe that without the fear of hell, we would all degenerate into monsters.

Nonetheless, the truth about hell is that it began as Egyptian propaganda. I’m sure some people will be shocked by that statement, but it’s true, it’s clear, and we should have been told this a long time ago. (This is covered in depth in issue # 64 of the subscription letter.)

From Egypt, “hell” made its way to Greece, where it was embellished. Finally – and later than people think – it made its way into Christianity, where it has remained till the present.

When Hell Began

The earliest Near Eastern religions had no concept of hell. Instead, they had a dreary underworld, almost like a purgatory where people lived as ghosts. That’s an awfully rough description, but it’s the best I can do in a few words.

“Hell” was an innovation of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, after the Old Kingdom (the bosses who built the pyramids) broke down in 2181 BC. The priests needed a better set of mythologies to keep people paying their taxes and obeying the pharaoh, and this story worked. A group of texts from this period (the Coffin Texts) describe an underworld as containing fiery rivers and lakes, as well as fire demons who threatened the wicked.

The Greeks added a place called “Tartarus,” a pit of punishment that existed inside the larger underworld, which was called “hades.”

Neither the Sumerian religion nor the ancient Hebrew religion had any concept of hell, and later-day Judaism seldom ventures farther than an underworld. (Jesus is said to have used a version of this underworld in one of his stories.)

The modern version of hell doesn’t appear in Christianity until long after Jesus’s death. The earliest explicit mention I can point to is from Hippolytus (Against Plato), in about 230 AD, eight or 10 generations after Jesus.

Jesus Taught Hell!”

No, he didn’t. Again, this is carefully explained in issue # 64 of the subscription letter. Suffice it to say that half of the mentions of “hell” in the King James Bible shouldn’t even be there. They wrongly translated the name Hades – the Greek god of the underworld – as “hell.” Newer versions use “the grave.”

The word from the scary hell passages – gehenna – was simply the name of a garbage dump: The Valley of Hinnom, where the people of Jerusalem discarded and burned their refuse. Furthermore, the word for “destroy,” apollymi, means “to eliminate entirely.”

And so, doctrines of hell are contradicted by literal translations. Here’s a scary passage from King James:

… but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

Literally translated it says:

… but rather fear him which is able to annihilate you, body and soul, as refuse.

Now, the scariest one:

… to be cast into Gehenna, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

“Worm,” here, is actually “maggot,” creatures that abound in refuse piles. And so, the verse could be translated as:

… to be cast as refuse into a pit… where maggots and fire consume all.

I invite anyone committed to the scary interpretations to get an interlinear New Testament and a lexicon and to look up the words.

The Implications

It would be hard to find a worse contradiction than a God who loves everyone but who will torture most people for billions of years simply because they didn’t express the right flavor of religious devotion… something they had no way to be certain about.

This belief portrays a “loving God” who is worse than serial killers. The killers, at least, have some point where they weary of inflicting torment. What kind of being is this God who will torture fathers, mothers, and children forever?

And make no mistake; people who advocate for hell are calling torture “righteous.”

The Fruits

Hell, the ultimate terror, is the enemy of what’s best within us, not its aid.

And it’s true that “hell” began as Egyptian propaganda. It was a useful myth to keep the taxes flowing.

One last thought:

We can choose to see or we can choose to be blind. Choose wisely.

* * * * *

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

How Jesus Condemns Christianity


People I love and respect are committed to Christianity as it exists today. And so I’m relieved that they’ve acclimated to me and won’t take this personally… because it needs to be said:

Modern Christianity is something Jesus would condemn.

And yes, “condemn” is the right word. Do you remember all those passages where Jesus rails against the religious “hypocrites” of his own time? Well, he’d be doing the same if he were here now.

Let’s take these three lines as a warm-up:

Jesus never mentioned the virgin birth.

Jesus never mentioned original sin.

Jesus never used the word “trinity.”

None of these doctrines originated with Jesus. All of them were religious additions… later additions. Jesus never taught them.

Does This Offend You?

I am openly driving a wedge between Jesus and “Christianity” here, and I’m not going to apologize for it. My sympathies lie with Jesus rather than Christianity. If this offends anyone, I dare suggest that they consider their priorities.

The truth is that Jesus was more radical than religious people have ever been able to accept. How many of his original “disciples,” after all, were from a religious background? They were mostly fishermen and construction workers.

How strange, then, that within a century or two, intellectuals would take over entirely. And they did: Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Ambrose, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, and Augustine were all professional intellectuals before they encountered Christianity. They changed a great many things.

We do, however, have records of average believers in the early days. We haven’t space for details here, but you can find them in several issues of our subscription letter. And what we find in those records looks nothing like modern Christianity. We see people devoted to good works rather than incessant talking. And we see no Bible devotion. In fact, the first mention of reading anything like a Bible reading in a meeting comes at 155 AD (several generations after Jesus), and calls the passages “memoirs.” Whether church people like that or not, it’s a fact.

“But the Apostles Taught Jesus’s Way”

Sorry, they didn’t. They were good men, and they tried. But they didn’t understand Jesus very well (lots of evidence for that), and they soon fought among themselves. And here’s a very telling fact:

In the New Testament, Jesus is noted as expressing “compassion” in six separate incidents and weeping over a death in a seventh. In a striking contrast, such actions are never attributed to any of “the apostles.”

The Way of Salvation

Christianity offers “salvation” to people based upon keeping sacraments, membership in a group, appeals to “accept his Word,” admonishment to “surrender to him,” and so on. Jesus’s teachings, however, are wildly different:

No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.

Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.

All that the Father gives me will come to me.

In all of these cases, internal enlightenment is the only path to salvation. Either you get something from the Father, or you don’t. And that’s it. End of discussion.

This passage makes the same point:

You are blessed… because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father….

We also see this in the earliest followers. At about 130 AD, an old man – old enough to have known some of the very first believers – tells a young man this:

Pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and his anointed have imparted wisdom.

It would be hard to overstress the implications of this teaching. And it’s incompatible with the doctrines of the churches.

One Final Point

There’s much more to be said on this (again, see the subscription letters), but I can summarize this way:

All that matters to Jesus is the real, the essential. He flatly rejects the value of form, ritual, and symbolism. Everything hinges on actual substance and on nothing else.

Jesus declares authority to be worthless. He declares tradition to be worthless. He declares acts of devotion to be worthless. The only thing that matters is what you are. No exceptions; no wiggle room. And if what you are isn’t sufficient, then change your mind (that’s the actual meaning of repent) and get busy fixing it.

Perhaps that’s still too radical for mankind to bear, but it is what he taught.

* * * * *

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

Proof that the Bible is Anti-Government

anti-government religionsJudaism and Christianity are, at their cores, subversive, anti-government religions. This is strongly reflected in the holy books of these religions, a.k.a. the Bible.

So, I’m going to provide a quick cheat sheet for biblical anarchy – a list of passages that make a clear case: The God of the Bible has nothing to do with the governments of Earth and, in fact, considers them evil.

This list may offend people. But their anger doesn’t make it any less true.

The List:

Starting with the Hebrew Scriptures, then moving into the Greek, here are the relevant passages:

In Exodus 1, Hebrew women openly defied the king of Egypt:

And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives… when ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools, if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

You can find other defiance passages in Daniel 3 and 6.

The classic passage on rulership is from 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites, then living in a tribal anarchy, go to Samuel the prophet and request a king. Samuel was displeased by this, but prayed to God anyway. God tells Samuel to warn the people how badly their king will abuse them (He gives him a detailed list) and then tells Samuel:

They have not rejected you, they have rejected me.

Another great story involves King David: God hand-picks this young man and says that he possesses a “heart like God’s own.” After a few years in power, however, he is corrupted and kills one of his soldiers, in order to steal his wife. This is the great example of “power corrupts.” (2 Samuel 11)

Neither Abraham nor Moses gave Israel a king or a government, and they were fully aware that such things were the way of the world. The Hebrews lived in their own land, with no ruler, from perhaps 1400 BC to 1000 BC. Then came the 1 Samuel episode mentioned above and lots of trouble.

What people sometimes fail to grasp about the Hebrew Scriptures is that they initiated a permanently subversive concept: Placing justice above the ruler. That concept alone undercuts every government on Earth.

But, But, But…

Leaving the Hebrew Scriptures, let’s continue by addressing the great refuge for statist Christians, a few verses in the 13th chapter of the letter to the Romans. The passage says:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.

To interpret this as referring to presidents and princes, every one of them would have to “be a terror to evil works” and not to good works. Shall we apply that to Stalin? To Mao? To Pol Pot? To Nero?

If “there is no power but of God,” and if these powers are Earth’s rulers, we have to say that Hitler did good works, and so did Vlad the Impaler. That cannot be honestly argued. (Though it can be blanked-out.)

Was it right for the Christians of Germany and England to kill one another in WW1? Will we really say that God orders his children to destroy each other?

Beyond this, nearly every major figure in the New Testament defied their rulers. For example:

  • Jesus refused to answer any of Herod’s questions (Luke 23:9).
  • An angel broke Peter out of jail in Acts 12. (And Paul and Silas in Acts 16.)
  • In Acts 5, Peter and John defied their rulers and ended up telling them, to their faces, “We should obey God rather than men.”

Now, with that silliness behind us, let’s move on.

Back To Our List

The government of Judea tried to kill Jesus as soon as he was born. An angel had to appear to his father and tell him how to evade the government. (Matthew 2.)

In Mark 8, Jesus tells his students to “beware of the leaven [the teachings] of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” In other words, “Don’t believe the religious people, and don’t believe the government.”

In Luke 4, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the Earth and says, “All this is mine, and I give it to whomever I please.” He offers it to Jesus, who considers it a legitimate offer but rejects it.

Jesus said on two separate occasions that Satan is the ruler of this world. (John 12:31 and 14:30) So writes Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Jesus flatly denies any association with the rulers of this world in John 18:36:

My kingship is not of this world.

Jesus warns his students not to be like rulers in Mark 10:

You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, warns Christians not to use government justice systems.

I’ll conclude this section with the big one, from Luke16:15:

That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

So, what is “highly esteemed among men”? That’s easy: The entity people give the right to take their money, to order them to be punished, and to kill. Nothing on Earth is more highly esteemed than government.

And yes, this passage says that government is an abomination. If you don’t like that, blame Jesus, not me.

“Wait! There’s Another Scripture!”

People always grasp for reasons to ignore what they don’t like. For anyone so minded, here’s your “gotcha” list: Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1; Tit. 2:9; Tit. 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-15, 18.

After everything I’ve pointed out above, I’m not going to waste my time on desperate objections. People determined to hold their current beliefs won’t change their minds anyway.

The Truth

The hard truth is that people want to align God with government, because they want an easy way out. They don’t want to suffer for righteousness’s sake.

Which of the prophets weren’t abused? Which righteous man didn’t suffer for his righteousness? Cowardly believers are simply trying to avoid this.

Here are a few of Jesus’ comments on the subject:

  • You shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. (Mark 13:13)
  • You are blessed when men hate you, when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of me… Their fathers did the same to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)
  • If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:20)

By turning the state into a polished fantasy and inserting it into “God’s plan,” people convince themselves that there is no need to suffer. It makes for a cheap, painless (and spineless) religion.

Jesus, however, says that this is false. So do Abraham, Moses, Samuel, the prophets, and the apostles.

If you’re not willing to suffer for your beliefs, you’re not much of a believer.

Paul Rosenberg

The Free Man’s 7-Point Bill of Rights

free man bill of rightsThe Roman Catholic Church was guilty of many abuses in Europe all through the Middle Ages, and I think the people of Europe had good reason to walk away from it. But as they did, they made a massive error: They didn’t replace it with anything better.

The Church, regardless of its errors and crimes, taught virtues to the people of that continent. Medieval Europe became home to a culture founded largely on some very positive values, and you can’t deny that the Church had a hand in that development.

After all, not everyone involved with the institution was corrupt and abusive (in fact, such villains were the minority). A significant percentage of local priests, monks and nuns were decent, caring people, trying to help the people of their diocese. However many and evil the inquisitors were, the number of kind and decent clergy was higher, and they had their effects.

Europe’s error was that they didn’t just reject the Church; many of them rejected everything that was associated with it. The virtues that the Church taught, however poorly, had given Europe a moral core. Those virtues should have been preserved.

The New Enlightenment

Europeans of the 17th and 18th centuries removed themselves from the mental bondage of the Church, much as the current people of the West are starting to remove themselves from the mental bondage of the state. And this got me to thinking…

Are there things that we, in our disgust for the state, might foolishly throw away, like many Europeans did with their cultural virtues?

Honesty, I couldn’t think of much.

A lot of us, from the Tannehills to Murray Rothbard to myself and many others, have written about justice in the absence of state force. That’s pretty well covered.

Roads and fire protection are simple too, and they’ve been covered as well.

The one thing that I could think of beyond these is a Bill of Rights.

A Great Concept, an Inadequate Term

A lot of people think that a Bill of Rights is a statement from a government, outlining what rights they give the people. But in the better cases – such as the US Bill of Rights – that is false. A good Bill of Rights is a set of restrictive statements, detailing what the people do not permit the government to do.

Now, we all know that our US Bill of Rights is broken every day, but the principle is a good one, and the concept itself can be a useful thing.

So, I propose a Free Man’s Bill of Rights. Not a statement of rights that we expect someone to give us, but a set of rights that we will defend. In other words (take notice):

These are rights that we demand and will defend.

* * * * *

The Rights of Free Men and Women

We hold these as inherent and inalienable human rights:

  1. We are free to do whatever we wish, so long as we extend this same right to others.
  2. Every individual stands equal to any other person or group. We accept no person or group as inherently superior.
  3. No person or group has a right to aggress against us.
  4. We hold the right to defend against aggression.
  5. Our property is our own, and our will regarding it ought not to be opposed. Any person or group that attempts to counter
  6. our will regarding our property is an aggressor.
  7. Our sole obligation to others is to do no harm. Cooperation, compassion, and kindness are positive goods that we choose to
  8. bring into the world, but so long as we harm no one, we have committed no offense.
  9. We claim the freedom to trade, to express ourselves as we wish, to move and think as we wish, and to be free of surveillance.

We will defend these rights, both for ourselves and for others.

* * * * *

Please discuss.

Paul Rosenberg

What the World Would Be Like Without Capitalism

slaverySome people say that the search for profit is abusive, heartless, evil, and so on. I’m not particularly in love with profit for its own sake (and I certainly don’t think it justifies abuse), but a reflexive condemnation of profit is deeply ignorant.

The truth is, “profit” killed the ancient abomination of human slavery. To eliminate the ability of people to profit would draw slavery back into the world. And we obviously don’t want that.

Here’s why:

Slavery Was an Economic System

What is not understood is that slavery was the foundation of economics in the old world – such as in Greece and Rome.

Slavery was almost entirely about surplus. (Surrounded by creative justifications, of course.) It was a type of enforced thrift.

An undeveloped man, left to himself, will spend almost all of what he earns. If he does earn some surplus, he’ll likely spend it on luxuries, frivolities, or worse. Until he develops a strong character, little of his surplus will remain for other uses.

A slave, on the other hand, never holds his earnings in his hands and therefore cannot spend them. All surplus is transferred to his or her owner. It was precisely this kind of surplus that made Rome rich.

But then Christian Europe came about. Prior to that, I cannot point to a single ancient culture that forbade the practice; it was seen as normal. So, for Europe to expel the slavery it inherited from Rome was a monumental change.

Europeans replaced slavery – slowly and because of their Christian principles, not because of a conscious plan – by doing these things:

  1. Developing personal thrift. This required a strong focus on building up virtues like temperance (self-control) and patience.
  2. Replacing the enforced surplus of slavery with profit. That is, by mixing creativity in with their commerce: innovating, inventing, and adapting to get more surplus out of commerce.

Under a new system that was eventually tagged capitalism, thrift and creativity generated surplus, and no human beings had to be enslaved.

A World Without Profit

On the other hand, we have recent examples of what happens when a culture forbids profit: the “socialist paradises” of Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, and the enslaved states of Eastern Europe. (Among others.)

These examples are bleak indeed, featuring the enslavement of everyone to a ruling party.

Profit provides an incentive to work, and when it is gone, not only does work suffer, but those who want to get ahead have no honest way to do it. And that drives them either to despair or to crime.

If you eliminate profit – innovative, rewarding commerce – you get slavery. The form of that slavery may vary from one case to another, but it will be slavery of some type.

This result is the same, by the way, whether the elimination of profit occurs via communism (make a profit, we shoot you) or fascism (all profit-making is taken over by friends of the state).

The core issue is surplus:

  • If surplus can be gathered by average people via honest means, slavery can be eliminated.
  • If average people are not allowed to create and hold their own surplus (surplus being skimmed off to the state and/or state partners), slavery of one sort or another will be the result.

Profit is simply a tool – a way of generating surplus without the enforced thrift of slavery.

You cannot get rid of both slavery and profit. You can eliminate whichever one you wish, but you’ll be stuck with the other.

Profit Rests on Virtues

To live in a civilization that prospers by profit, we need to move beyond gorilla-level instincts like envy. We need to develop self-control, patience, and a focus on more than just material possessions.

It’s a shame that the West has turned away from traditional virtues over recent centuries. If the Church that previously taught these virtues was found to be wanting, we should have replaced it with something better, rather than casting everything aside and pretending that virtues were nothing but superstition.

If we ever lose enough of our virtues, profit will lose its protections, and the ancient way of slavery will return.

What we do matters.

Paul Rosenberg