Jesus preached love and forgiveness, giving, and that the kingdom of God was in the present and inside everyone. He said “the kingdom is within you” and “the hairs of your head are all counted.” He didn’t condemn people for what they put in their mouth or what they did in privacy. He didn’t claim to be God or tell people to worship him. He said that the kingdom of heaven “is at hand,” and “has come close unto you,” not that it’s somewhere else far away.
What Jesus taught and what other people taught about Jesus are very different. The records closest to the real Jesus, like the book of James his brother, focused on his teachings more than on his personal life. Jesus taught that all are sons and daughters of God, and could do what he did. His formula for making a better world and living happier lives contained one primary instruction: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
What Jesus said about brotherly love is such a powerful force for liberty that it’s been suppressed with lies and fear. Threats of an angry God made peasants toil and starve. When slaves and factory workers came to the New World, religionists looked on while human beings were worked like beasts. This book shows which scriptures they used and who wrote them. Some of the violent, negative doctrines Paul and others added to what Jesus taught, should not be read on an empty stomach. The difference between Jesus’ teachings and theirs jumps off the pages like a freight train.
Don’t expect to fully understand Paul’s doctrines. Through the ages teams of theologians with funny hats couldn’t figure them out. With holy books giving the right to steal and kill, with machines and marching armies, with global investment scams, their “dominion” continues to devastate the Earth and make their ugly prophecies come true. Clearly, some “holy writings” can have a bad effect on society when they are embraced by those in power. They use push-button issues to mislead good people who are trying to do the right thing.
As Thomas Jefferson worked on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it’s clear that the teachings of the Prince of Peace were foremost in his mind. He thought this issue was so politically important that he spent years writing the Jefferson Bible, which divides the sayings of Jesus from the sayings of others, like this book has attempted to do. He bought several copies of several Bibles, including early Latin and Greek editions, then with scissors and paste he separated what the Bible says Jesus said, from what Paul and others had added.
The Way of Peace, the respect and regard for others which Jesus taught, may be our best resource for survival. Most of the poor Jesus loved already do their best to practice the Golden Rule, are already “saved.” The powerful policy-makers of the earth could learn a lot of what Jesus taught from the unemployed and the foreclosed, the homeless and the working poor.