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spiritual truth, gathered largely out of the
scattered veins of the Old Testament ore, and
here fitted as it were into a coronet. I have
already raised the question who first put these
great verses together. The same question
arises as to the whole structure of the so-called
Sermon on the Mount, as contained in Mat-

1 There are about fifty verses in Mark that may be fairly
called notable or universal teachings. Adding similar ma-
terial found in Matthew and in Luke we may estimate the
amount of this high quality at about two hundred and twenty-
five verses, or four to five chapters.

34



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 35

thew. 2 We can hardly think it possible that all
this most solid of ethical teaching was given
by Jesus in a single block, either to his un-
learned disciples, hardly able yet to unravel
the parables, or much less to a multitude of
people, in a single sitting. We have here,
however, doubtless the greatest and most
characteristic ideas of Jesus; about the chief
end of man's life, about the relations of broth-
erhood, about forgiveness, about purity; about
oaths and vows, about non-resistance; about
alms-giving, fasting and prayer ; about the true
treasure; against anxiety, against harsh or
hasty judgment, or perhaps even any judg-
ment of one's fellows ; about the test of charac-
ter by its acts; about doing the good will of
God as compared with saying the good words.
The culminating sentences of the whole collec-
tion are not at the end of the section, but at
the close of the fifth chapter of Matthew,
where Jesus likens the divine goodness to the
constancy of the sunshine, and lays down the
rule that man's goodness or good will ought

2 It is noticeable that the form is quite different and much
more quotable than the similar material in Luke. Compare
the Beatitudes with Luke vi. 20, etc.



36 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

normally to be like God's, equally all around
and constant to all men. There is no teaching
higher than this. One wonders if he who first
uttered it could possibly have realized how
profound and far-reaching this is. Why
should we insist upon thinking this?

Jesus is sometimes credited with original
teaching about the Fatherhood of God. He
certainly seems to have taken up, and adopted
and realized this idea. Of course it was run-
ning in the thought of his people. 3 It was not
an uncommon idea among early peoples who
often assumed that men were sons of the gods.
The sentences known as the Lord's Prayer
bring this idea into prominence, and what is
more, into familiar use. We are obliged even
here, however, to notice the mixture of
thought. It is a father up in heaven, a father
who tempts his children, a father set over
against "the evil one." The substance of the
prayer is in the words "Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done." 4

Outside of the Sermon on the Mount, the

3 See I Chron. xxix. 10; Isa. vi. 16; Mai. ii. 10.

4 See the prayer in the revised version.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 3/

greatest positive teachings of Jesus may be
briefly summarized as follows : First and most
important of all, is the Parable of the Good
Samaritan. 5 The great law of universal love,
already taught in the Old Testament, but al-
most buried under the mass of priestly cere-
monies, ritual and ecclesiasticism, needed clear
illustration which this parable very beautifully
furnishes. Perhaps the beauty of Jesus' story
is not so much that the conduct is new or
strange, as that it is told of a despised and
alien class. It is as if a story of heroism were
told to white men of a negro or a Chinaman.
The next great parable is the story of the
Prodigal Son. This parable has always made
an appeal to the imagination of the world. It
is the everlasting justification of the lover of
the outcast and the fallen. It is a story of the
absolute radicalism of the law of forgiveness.
No atonement — no sacrifice is here called for.
The single essential requirement is that the
wrong-doer shall repent and return to his duty.

5 Luke x. It is curious, that the early memorabilia of
Mark do not contain this story.

6 Luke xv.



38 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

The parables of the kingdom of heaven 7
form a cluster by themselves. They would
seem to be Jesus' own words, if anything is.
The interest in them to modern minds is the
rather remarkable suggestion of the doctrine
of quiet development or growth, whether of
the individual character, or of social and
human betterment. This goes with the famil-
iar words, "The kingdom of God is within
you," or shall we say, "among you," or
"here" ? 8 This doctrine, taken by itself, is
very fine gold, but as we have presently to see,
it is involved with much alien material. In-
deed, the passage in Luke that follows these
striking verses is one of the most tremendous
warnings of how out of a quiet appearance the
day of doom may suddenly sound.

"He that findeth his life shall lose it and he
that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," 9
carries the memorable hint of a great law,
namely "To die to live." It goes with the
splendid verse quoted by Paul in Acts as from

7 Matthew xiii. ; Mark iv.

8 Note also, "The kingdom of God cometh not with ob-
servation." Luke xvii. 20, 21.

9 Matthew x. 39.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 39

Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to re-
ceive." 10 That is, life is not in mere getting
but in outgo and expression. "Whosoever will
be great among you, let him be your minis-
ter" n is the same teaching. There is nothing
greater. The familiar and tender text,
"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy
laden" 12 deserves mention here. It is to be
observed however that it probably fits in with
the Messianic passages, and stands or falls
according to our interpretation of them.

Memorable and characteristic is Jesus'
teaching about the Sabbath. 13 In short, all
forms and rules are for man. Likewise, his
teaching about things clean and unclean, 14
"That which cometh out of the mouth, this
defileth a man."

Closest to Jesus' heart and oftenest re-
peated seems to have been the doctrine of for-
giveness. "I say not until seven times, but
until seventy times seven." 15 Strangely

10 Acts xx. 35.

11 Matthew xx. 26 to 28.

12 Matthew xi. 28 to 30.

13 Matthew xii. 1 to 14.

14 Matthew xv. 11.

15 Matthew xviii. 22.



40 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

enough, however, Jesus seems to threaten, in
the parable of the two servants which follows,
that God himself may not always forgive, as a
man ought, but being wroth, will turn over the
unforgiving man to the tormentors for ever!

The grand law, "Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself," 10 is
given us very interestingly in Luke x. 25 as
from the mouth of the questioner, as if indeed
it were already in the common teaching of
Jesus' people. It draws of course from ear-
lier prophetic traditions, as, for example, from
the beautiful teaching of Jonah. 17

The parable of the Pharisee and the Publi-
can praying in the temple 18 is a plain object
lesson of Jesus' constant teaching against ar-
rogance and pretense. We find here the key
note of his life, recurring like a refrain. It is
the Old Testament idea, "Every one that ex-
alteth himself shall be abased and he that
humbleth himself shall be exalted." Another
of Jesus' mottoes, prominent in the Lord's

16 Matt. xxii. 37.

17 See the remarkable passages in Lev. xix. 10, 15, 17, 18,

34-

18 Luke xviii. 9. etc.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 41

Prayer and emphasized in the story of Geth-
semane is the word, "Not as I will, but as thou
wilt." 19 The words, though lacking in the
other Gospels, attributed here to Jesus,
"Father forgive them, for they know not what
they do," 20 seem to set the crown upon our
highest idea of Jesus.

We have already observed that, beautiful as
the highest teachings of Jesus are, they are
not to be supposed to stand as the only sum-
mits of ancient thought. Not to speak of other
writings, there are passages as grand in the
Old Testament, for example, the words from
Micah, "What doth the Lord require of thee
but to deal justly, to love mercy and to walk
humbly with thy God." 21 The splendid pas-
sage from the Wisdom of Solomon 22 about the
heavenly wisdom also occurs to our minds,
which "in all ages entering into holy souls
maketh them friends of God and prophets."
Also "For thou lovest all the things that are
and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made. 23

19 Matthew xxvi. 39.

20 Luke xxiii. 34.

21 Micah vi. 8.

22 Chapter vii.

2S Wisdom xi. 24.



42 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

The great teaching from I Corinthians xiii,
about love, is quite as wonderful as anything
in the Gospels. There are also certain re-
markable verses about love in the Johannine
writings: "Every one that loveth is born of
God, and knoweth God." 24

One might gladly wish that Jesus' teach-
ings matched throughout with the remarkable
and universal passages which we have already
cited. But our study, if candid, must now pro-
ceed to take account of a large number of pas-
sages, greater far in volume than all which we
have instanced, which stir anew very difficult
questions touching Jesus' personality and doc-
trine. 25

Take first, the text "He that shall blaspheme
against the Holy Ghost hath never forgive-
ness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." 2G

24 I John iv. 7.

25 We find in the Synoptic Gospel, besides the two hundred
verses or more of greater teachings already referred to, per-
haps four hundred verses or the amount of eight chapters,
which must be classed as of distinctly lower, and some of it
even dubious worth. Such is the considerable volume of
eschatological teaching, as in Matt, xxiv., and the passages
touching demonology. Some of this material, perhaps a third
of it, or as much as three chapters, presents real ethical diffi-
culty to the modern mind.

26 Mark iii. 28, 29.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 43

Even Professor Schmidt in The Prophet of
Nazarctli, free as he is in discarding many of
Jesus' supposed sayings, leaves this as a gen-
uine and characteristic utterance. But perhaps
no word of Jesus has carried more terror, or
imposed heavier suffering upon tender con-
sciences. It constitutes almost a radical denial
of Jesus' own doctrine of forgiveness. Here
is "a sin unto death," not clearly described,
which the Almighty will not bear with. God
is not so good then, as man ought to be!

This is not a random teaching of Jesus. It
runs through the warp and woof of the New
Testament. In Jesus' common thought the
world, so far from being a universe, is a
theater of divided powers, a scheme of dualism.
There is heaven above and angels ; there is hell
below and devils. There are men like "the
good seed," "the good ground," the good fish
caught in the net; the good sheep. There are
also bad men, as if by nature, like the tares in
the wheat, the bad fish, the evil ground, the
goats on the left hand at the judgment seat.
There is a constant doctrine of opposition in
the New Testament. Jesus loves the poor and



44 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

oppressed. Does he love the Pharisees? It
would seem not. But why not ? This doctrine
of antagonism perhaps will prove to account
for the mode of Jesus' death. Toward a con-
siderable class of his fellows, he never shows
a touch of that graciousness and kindly for-
bearance which he inculcates among his own
disciples toward one another. Is not this so?
Look at some of the evidences of this fact.
Thus Jesus likens the towns which reject him
to Sodom and Gomorrah, and threatens them
with the same fate. 27 His teaching of hell and
torment is as clear, full and tremendous as any
hyper-Calvinistic divine could have made it. 28
His teachings have been the inexhaustible ar-
senal from which passionate men have drawn
their material for the inhuman and unbearable
doctrine of eternal punishment. The faith of
"Universalism" has its severest blows from the
mouth of Jesus.

This type of teaching is just as conspicuous
in the group of parables concerning the king-
dom of heaven as anywhere else. 29 The tares

27 Matthew x. 14, etc.

28 Matthew xviii. 8, etc. ; xxiii. 33.

29 Matt. xiii.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 45

are burnt in the fire. "There shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth." This is the repeated
refrain. Moreover, it goes with the thought
of the parables. Recall also the refrain:
"Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not
quenched." 30

Do you try to urge that these numerous
teachings were added by another hand ? Even
if this were possible, the fact remains that
Jesus' disciples never understood him as put-
ting aside or doubting the current popular
ideas about the next life, the judgment of the
world, and the overwhelming fate of the mass
of human kind. "Are there few that be
saved?" they enquire. And Jesus says, "Wide
is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to
destruction and many there be which go in
thereat." 31 Speaking of the case of the relapse
of a man from whom an evil spirit had been
expelled Jesus explains that "seven other
spirits more wicked" than the first have en-
tered the man. "Even so," he adds signifi-
cantly, "Shall it be unto this wicked genera-

30 Mark ix. 44, 46, 48.

31 Matt. vii. 13.



46 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

tion." 32 He teaches in parables. Why? Not,
as you would suppose, in order to help people
understand, but he is made to quote by way of
answer to this question a tremendous passage
from Isaiah, "Because they seeing see not, and
hearing they hear not, neither do they under-
stand." 33 Jesus warns even his disciples to
"enter into life halt, or maimed, or blind, rather
than to be cast with two hands or feet into
everlasting fire." 34

I have mentioned three noble parables out of
nearly thirty. The fact is, if you remove these
three, the parable of the sower, the short ones
about the kingdom of heaven, the beautiful lit-
tle parable of the lost sheep, and the story of
the Pharisee and the Publican in the Temple,
you will have left indeed considerable interest-
ing and suggestive matter, but you will have
exhausted pretty nearly all high ethical and
spiritual value from the parables.

32 Matt. xii. 45.

33 Matt. xiii. 15.

34 Matt, xviii. 6, etc. Luke is especially full of teachings
quite as hard for the conscience, as the wonder-stories of the
Bible are difficult for the reason. Luke iv. 24-28; vi. 23-27;
x. 11-17; xi. 29-33, 46-S3; xii. 9, 10, 46-49, Sr-54; xiii- 2 ~ l0 >
24-31; xiv. 21-27; xvi. 23-31; xvii. 26-37; xix. 22-28; xx.
9-19; xxi. 34-37-



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 47

Take, for example, the rich man and Laz-
arus. 35 There is no clear moral teaching here.
The poor man goes to Abraham's bosom ap-
parently only because he has been poor, not
because he has been holy or patient. What a
terrific picture of Dives in hell, where he can-
not be forgiven or respited, even though his
humanity is awakened to go and save his
brethren ! The Wedding Feast, 30 the Wise and
Foolish Virgins and the Talents, 37 picturesque
as they are, are morally more or less vitiated
for our use by the inhuman ending of each of
them. They overshoot the ethical mark, and
make the way of religion unlovely.

The parable of the Sheep and the Goats like-
wise blends splendid teaching, as to the true
test of men's lives, with the awful and radically
unjust idea of the spectacular judgment day,
and the final separation of the bad and the
good. 38 Do these unfortunate "goats," selfish
and thoughtless as they have been, deserve
eternal damnation, as if they were a caste

35 Luke xvi.

36 Matt, xxii and Luke xii,

37 Matt. xxv.

38 Matt. xxv.



48 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

apart from the rest of humanity? Neverthe-
less, Jesus' mighty authority has been cited,
and with overwhelming reasons, through
nearly twenty Christian centuries for a mode
of doctrine, touching our common human na-
ture, which has helped to sanction almost every
conceivable barbarity and torture. Did not
God hate his enemies, as in the story of the
Marriage Feast? Did he not turn over the
guilty to torment? Did he not separate the
bad from the good? If Jesus' word was ap-
parently good for anything, it held good to
support all this baleful eschatology. You can-
not easily get rid of it and only save such ma-
terial as pleases you, for example, the Sermon
on the Mount. The same teaching is also ex-
plicitly in the Sermon on the Mount. 39

I am aware that many students believe that
the long chapters, especially in Matthew,
touching the end of the world and the last
things, are a late addition to the Gospels. If
this is so, Jesus surely never seems to have said
a word to discourage these current ideas. You
have also at once to suppose another author

39 See Matt. v. 22, 29, 30 ; vii. 13, 14, 22, 23, etc.



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 49

for a number of the parables. Grant, however,
that a later hand is responsible for all this mo-
mentous teaching". This teaching had without
doubt a most powerful influence in the recep-
tion and spread of the new religion. We are
then confronted with another interesting prob-
lem of authorship. It was no feeble hand that
composed the tremendous chapters to which we
refer and these grand and awful parables.
This is the hand of a prophet. It would look
now, contrary to the ordinary impression, but
in line with all the analogies of history, as if
we had not merely the figure of one man, Jesus,
all alone, but a group of remarkable personali-
ties — Paul, the anonymous author of the Jo-
hannine writings, the author of the Epistle to
the Hebrews, besides those who put the Synop-
tic Gospels into shape. It may be true as Mat-
thew Arnold has suggested, that Jesus was
above the head of his disciples, but it begins
now to look more as if the new religion must
have owed its existence to a succession of great
individualities, all of them worthy to be com-
pared with the earlier prophets.

The supposition, however, of unknown but



50 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

powerful writers, who may have supplemented
Jesus' teachings with more or less fresh ma-
terial, leaves the figure of Jesus himself even
more obscure and fragmentary. Where does
the authentic teaching of Jesus leave off and
these others begin ? No one knows or ever can
know. How far was Jesus responsible for the
more extreme and terrific doctrine, which was
evidently in the air while he lived, and which
he seems to have done nothing to controvert?
It is evident that the point of view to which
we have come, though it may at first seem dis-
appointing, brings immediate compensation.
The common idea of Jesus' unique personality,
or perfectness of character, carries almost in-
evitably a subtle respect for the authority of
all his teaching and for every motion in his
attitude. Even when modern men will not
quote the New Testament doctrines, however
explicit they are, about devils and hell, they
still use Jesus's mighty example for treating
their fellows with antagonism and denuncia-
tion. 40 There has thus been a profound ethical

40 In the recent report of a minister's farewell sermon he
says : "We, all of us, forget what maimer of man Jesus
was." He goes on to say : "That same Jesus pronounced



TWO KINDS OF TEACHING 5 1

difficulty in the theory of Jesus' uniqueness
from which we are now relieved. The fact is,
that our highest spiritual ideal will not permit
us to believe that the sanguinary words put
into Jesus' mouth could proceed from a man
wholly possessed with the spirit of God. We
shall have occasion to refer to this fact again.

upon the aristocracy of Jerusalem such woes as have never
been matched in the world's language of doom. That same
Jesus, finding the money changers in the temple, lashed the
sordid crew out of the holy place and hurled their money
after them. If a minister to-day following his Master should
do any of these things, he would not only be pronounced
uncharitable, but ungoverned in temper, possibly insane."
We ask, would not this be a fair judgment upon such a min-
ister? Unfortunately, this use of Jesus' words and example
is too common, even with most estimable people. Did such
use of Jesus' authority ever do any humane service or help
to overcome evil? Is it not well to free men from the
bondage of a theory which thus sets up antagonisms and
alienates them from one another?



IV

THE QUESTION OF MESSIAHSHIP

We have now to consider one of the most
perplexing of all the questions about Jesus'
personality. How far did he take himself to
be in some sense or other the special messenger
of God, a unique being, a Messiah, or anointed
one, a King of kings, if not to rule the nations,
yet at least their lord in a spiritual domain?
Conflicting opinions rage over this point. On
the one hand, the keynote of all the Gospels is
doubtless the idea of Messiahship or Christ-
ship, out of which the creeds of Christendom
grew. On the other hand, it is now held that
Jesus was quite or almost innocent of such
teaching and that this idea grew up after his
death. Professor Schmidt's new book, The
Prophet of Nazareth, makes this contention
the learned issue of his study. The term "son
of man," he tells us, so far from having a
unique and personal application to Jesus'

52



THE QUESTION OF MESSIAHSHIP 53

office, is simply the Syriac term for man. Thus
man, not Christ, is lord of the Sabbath. Not
Jesus alone, but man then is come to seek and
to save the lost? Shall man then preside at
the judgment ? 1

It seems to me most likely that the Messianic
idea of Jesus grew up, doubtless with the help
and suggestion of his disciples, from the seed
of his original words. It is not easy at all
otherwise to explain so numerous a group of
passages ascribed to him. The origin and
growth of the resurrection stories seem also
more likely to have come with Jesus' help, by
way of preparation for them, than without any
such help. They also came, I surmise, along
with a wave of interest and belief in occult and
psychical phenomena, of which we get hints in
the Gospels, as for example, in the story of
Herod's theory of the reincarnation of John
the Baptist in the person of Jesus, 2 in the story
of Jesus walking on the sea, 3 in the legend of
the transfiguration, 4 as well as in the ghostly

1 Matt. xxv. 31. Compare xii. 32; xx. 18, 28; Mark viii.
38; xiv. 21 ; Luke vii. 34; ix, 44; xii. 40; xviii. 8; xix. 10.

2 Matt. xiv. 2.

3 Matt. xiv.

4 Matt. xvii.



54 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS

appearances in Jerusalem after Jesus' death. 5
Would it not be far more likely that Jesus, the
child of his age, might have shared in, and
given occasional expression to ideas which
were immediately in the air all ready to be
uttered, than that he should have been free of
such ideas — a modern man before his time?
No one can easily explain his very frequent as-
sumption of some species of unique and au-
thoritative character, except by the quite nat-
ural belief that he took himself to be — I will
not urge more than a man, but a man appointed
by God for a peculiar mission.

This idea was congruous with the prophetic
office, and specially with the passages which
he loved to quote from the book of Isaiah.
You certainly have to do violence to his lan-
guage in order to dissociate the centrality of
his own person from numerous passages. The
more than prophetic "I" and "mine," while not
so exaggerated as in the Fourth Gospel, yet
run all through the Synoptic Gospels. The
very words "Come unto me all ye that labor,"

5 Matt. xxix. 52, 53.

6 See Luke iv. 18.



THE QUESTION OF MESSIAHSHIP 55

emphasize this centrality of thought. He
seems to call disciples to him and to be known
as their Master. What does the verse about
the bridegroom being taken away, after which
his disciples will fast, mean ? 7 Why does he
seem to say so much about "my sake" and "my
name?" "Whosoever shall deny me will I also
deny." Why should the least in the kingdom
of heaven be greater than John the Baptist ? 9
The words "son of man" hardly make sense, if
you always insist upon translating them to
mean merely man. "The son of man came eat-
ing and drinking and they say, 'Behold a friend
of publicans and sinners.' " 10 Here is a very
emphatic mode of saying "I," as apart from
ordinary men. "He that soweth the good seed
is the son of man." 11 This is another emphatic
/. Why again does Jesus seem to put away his
own family relations in favor of the wider re-
lationship to his disciples ? 12 Shall we rule out
altogether the tradition of the profound inter-
est of people generally, of Herod, of John the


1 3 5 6

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