For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



A Response to Marek Glogoczowski's Open Letter to Michael Jones and Israel Adam Shamir

by Ken Freeland



Now that Dr. Glogoczowski's piece, subtitled "The Poisoning of the Earth by Ahriman’s Inspired Fairy Tales of Redemption and Natural Selection," is available on Shamir's website in clearer English, I would like to make a lengthy response to this very provocative dissertation by the good doctor. 

 If I wished to be critical, there are many parts of his desultory piece I could challenge:  Off the bat, for example, Dr. Glogoczowski (whom I will hereinafter refer to as Marek not out of lack of respect, but simply because his first name is so much easier to spell)  asserts that Original Sin consisted of natural human curiosity about good and evil, or, as his beloved Greek philosophers might put it, by curiosity about the nature of the good.  More recently, I read a piece by another author who more plausibly asserted that Original Sin consisted instead of putting self-serving, rationalized definitions of good and evil in place of the innate, God-given principles of right and wrong.  I think the case can easily be made that Jesus is all about trying to restore awareness of the latter, not about obscuring them,  and certainly the prologue to John's Gospel indicates as much.  Later in Marek's piece, we are treated to an argument that innocent minds, like those of his students, prefer the Muslim/Marcionite version of Christ's death to the standard Christian one…as if this made some kind of difference.  The question of whether Jesus was crucified or not can hardly be settled by voice vote of a group of young student.  Unless we wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater we must be concerned here with the matter of historicity, and not of which version of Christ's death gives us the most warm fuzzies. I found impressive his later, somewhat philological arguments that the Bible served as a meta-framework for the theory of evolution, yet I would hasten to add that the participants in the Scopes "monkey trial"  would scarcely have thought so!


But all of these points of Marek's that are so susceptible to criticism are really beside the point, because the gist of what he is really about in this piece hasn’t got all that much to do with them, and can stand or fall on its own without respect to any of them (though we can certainly see how they are related: He is trying to adumbrate the repercussions of his central thesis as it plays out in intellectual and historical terms).  What he is chiefly about here is  the exposition of an  ethical (we must say in fairness, possible) contradiction at the heart of the Old Testament, and of the New Testament to the extent that Jesus' crucifixion and death are regarded as sacrificial and salvific, following the example of Abraham and the sacrificial tradition of the OT. 


I identify three theses at the base Marek's piece: 


1) The OT god is not the same as the Christian God, and is in fact antithetical to it (the Marcionite "heresy" )

2) Jesus' death was not sacrificial in the sense in which mainstream Christianity tends to project it (as in "Jesus died for your sins")

3) The claim that the crucifixion of Jesus ( an evil thing) is somehow productive of good has warped the Christian ethical sense (or perhaps, more accurately, its teleological sense) in a way that has resulted in later attempts by Christians to do evil so that good may result from the suffering of the innocent, which suffering is seen to reflect the atonement wrought by the "sacrifice" of the innocent Lamb, Jesus, a practice destructive to human life and ecology.  (In other words, once people internalize this deleterious belief about the past sacrifice of Jesus, they tend to effect its recapitulation in the present.)

 The first thesis, as Marek wryly notes, is commonly appellated the Marcionist "heresy,"  of which some of his colleagues consider him a votary.

The second, which I shall deal with at greater length below, points to a problematic ethic, but one which Marek appears to want to circumvent by suggesting that the historicity of Jesus' suffering and death is in itself problematic , which if true completely moots the question.

And the third is perhaps the most poignant of his theses, as it takes up much of his argument where he points to historical crimes allegedly perpetrated on its basis.


Let me admit at the outset that I am at least a little sympathetic to all of these theses.  And that I say this not as an unbeliever, but as one who, to use Marek's words, would like to see a Christianity corrupted by  unchristian ideas "renovat[ed] along ideas (the 'Logos') outlined by Jesus as reported by the Gospels."  But of course, these same Gospels all report the crucifixion of Jesus as a real (not imaginary or illusory) event, so to the extent that Marek wishes to be a pure Marcionist and challenge the historicity of this event, I must part ways with him.  Yet Marek performs an enormous service by introducing the conclusions of  apostate Catholic priest Weclawski and their implications:


 The reason for his painful apostasy (Weclawski had to change his name in order to avoid harassment in Poland) was his realization that the Catholic Church has become an institution completely different from the one Jesus of Nazareth wanted to set up. In a short communiqué published by the Polish media we read that according to Weclawski “Jesus was defeated in his battle for the reconstruction of the existing (in Israel at his time) socio-religious hierarchy. He become a victim of messianic expectations, which led to his rejection by the elite, and to his condemnation to death. But Jesus’ most painful defeat happened after his crucification – it was the interpretation of his defeat as a sacrifice.”


Indeed, these Three Great Defeats, which Jesus of Nazareth suffered in Israelo-Palestine two thousands years ago, bear enormous consequences on the fate of the planet, taken as a whole:

1st. The New Testament of Arhiman’s Evil People suggests that no revolt is possible against the clique of “robbers and thieves” atop the Chosen People flock.

2nd. The NT warns that everyone who attempts to fight for more just social relations – and for a clear vision of how society works – will be condemned as a criminal, and mercilessly punished.

3rd. It informs us that precisely those enterprising individuals, like St. Paul and his hidden masters, who have organized the Calvary of the truth-telling Galilean, by turning it into a sacrifice, have managed to impose themselves as the Pastors of naive Christians.



It is  obvious from even the most cursory reading of the Gospels that Jesus had a clear mission (inaugurating the Kingdom of God/ Kingdom of Heaven) and that he failed to accomplish it during his brief lifetime.  This is the signature tragedy of the life of Jesus, which recalls at points the tragic life and death of Socrates.  Whether or not we agree with Weclawski's second contention about the reason for this failure, it is the alleged third, posthumous failure (or "defeat")  he asserts that is most relevant.  Was the "sacrificial" interpretation of Jesus' death integral to his mission, or was it a subversive overlay introduced by Paul and  other epistle writers? It is difficult to imagine a more poignant historico-critical question.


Now since what we are ultimately seeking, as Marek formulates it, is a Christianity "renovat[ed] along ideas (the 'Logos') outlined by Jesus as reported by the Gospels,"  it can only be to the Gospels that we turn to answer this question.  And so, to  some relevant exegesis.


Before treating the question of sacrifice in a Christian or any other context, though, due consideration must be given to the work of Rene Girard, and his groundbreaking theory of sacral violence visited on a scapegoat as a primitive means, however vile and vicious, of providing a foundation for social stability in the bellum omnia contra omnes.  The scope of my response to Marek here will not allow for treatment of Girard's hypothesis, but we do not in any way challenge it by noting that Jesus, in the Gospels, is not concerned with the possible social benefit of sacrifice.  I cannot now recall all the writers familiar to me who have considered this question, but the long and the short of their conclusions is that Jesus appears to have considered the Temple sacrifice cult a kind of racket.  His implicit (and occasionally explicit, Matt 9:13; 12:17) challenge to it is the only plausible explanation for the mortal enmity towards him of the Sadducees, the franchisees of the Temple sacrifice cult.  The cleansing of the Temple, a central act of Jesus shortly before his execution, certainly bears greater witness than mere words ever could to his attitude towards this practice. And while he seems at times to have condoned the sacrificial ritual as an ingrained cultural habit of his audience, he never in the course of his preaching allows that it has any value apart from the rectification of social relations which must be its concomitant.  The pericopes in which Jesus makes this clear in the Gospels are almost supernumerary.  Jesus was constantly focusing on psycho-socio-spiritual health, to which he obviously considered the Temple rites at best ancillary.  Obviously, his attitude did not stand well with the Temple authorities, who sought to preserve their racket against this rabble-rousing Upstart.


Clearly Jesus was ultimately challenging the whole ethic of Temple sacrifice, holding out instead for social healing and reconciliation which remain the fundamental values of authentic Christianity -- the values of practical agape.   Is it conceivable, then, that the Man who stood for these practical spiritual principles over the empty rites of atoning sacrifice could have thought that his own sacrifice of himself was called for to propitiate the same angry god?  Did Jesus experience a last-minute change of heart so that , like the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, he thought that only a human sacrifice could seal the deal with God that his New Covenant required?  (In what way was it really "new" then?)  The most plausible argument for this theory is Rene Girard's:  that by allowing/provoking the Jewish authorities to scapegoat him, Jesus was exposing the corrupt nature of the whole sacrificial cult, of which he was made the ultimate victim -- all necessary in order to explicate the vile process.  But the alternative, that Jesus had no such intention and regarded sacrifice as an abomination to the authentic relationship with a loving, forgiving Father he himself modeled is ably represented here by Weclawski et al. :  He argues that  it is only the reactionaries (such as Paul the Pharisee), lacking any other paradigm than the sacrificial relationship to God, who overlayed the tragedy of Jesus' death with a triumphalist sacrificial meaning, thus exploiting it to restore the very propitiatory relationship to God  that Jesus had quite openly challenged.  But while the Gospels are chockful of evidence that Jesus was no believer in the efficacy of the sacrificial cult, there are nevertheless those words attributed to him at the Last Supper, where traditional theologians traditionally have argued that Jesus is consciously presaging a bloody sacrifice of Himself in order to seal the New Covenant, and these form the central ritual of the Catholic Mass, which is therefore termed by ecclesiastical authorities "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."


Let us leave this controversy aside and move on to consider Marek's third thesis:  Can good result from an evil, or is this notion contradictory?  Is this the way God works historically?  What did Jesus have to say about this?  I believe Jesus taught clearly on this question in his favorite pedagogical form:  the parable of the fig tree and the thistles.  Jesus likens the good and those who do it to a fig and a fig tree, and evildoers and their product as thistles and thorns.  He argues quite clearly that you cannot get good from evil, any more than you can get figs from thistles.  This moral dichotomy is echoed in many other parts of the Gospel, perhaps most notably when Jesus is infamously accused by his enemies of driving out devils by the power of Beelzebub.  Jesus challenges his accusers by reasserting the integrity of evil and the integrity of good:  you cannot drive out Satan with Satan…a house divided cannot long stand.  Moreover, in this particular passage he underscores the importance of this principle, because he condemns as the one unforgivable sin the (willful?) misidentification of good as evil  (and presumably the reverse as well).  One may further conjecture that this is because such action  disables the very moral compass by which  man can correct himself (what Marek earlier alludes to as the natural capacity to discern ethical truth). But whatever the reason, Jesus is underscoring that good and evil are neither confluent nor congruent, and that to (deliberately?) confuse  one with the other is the gravest sin of which man is capable.  So in his third thesis here, I believe Marek is walking on extremely solid ground, at least as far as the Gospel texts are concerned.  But this brings us back to the conundrum of his previous thesis:  if good cannot come from evil (and it would appear that Jesus taught quite clearly that it cannot), how then can the evil done to Jesus be productive of saving good?  And how could Jesus have believed that this would be the case… does it not stand in the face of his  "identity principle" of good and evil?  This contradiction is so extreme that one is almost tempted to argue that there are two Christs here:  one who idealistically preaches the "unum necessarium" as a possibility for all men to choose over corrosive worldly values, thereby gaining entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven which is "within"  -- the other  a somewhat cynical Christ who simply bides his time, knowing full well that in the end his very life will have to be brutally sacrificed as the only way to fulfil certain obscure Old Testament prophecies and to seal a new covenant with a God who might otherwise not be so forgiving of ubiquitously sinful man.  I am not sure that reason can take us any further than recognizing that a contradiction exists here.  It is important to note this contradiction, but whether it is historically real, or whether it is the result of later interpolation by scribes or missionaries with a regressive agenda, as suggested by  Weclawski, is a matter for extensive debate for biblical scholars that would take us quite beyond the limited scope of this response.


But let us leave off these questions and consider for a moment the historical significance of the "Jesus revolution."  The Old Testament books are themselves a hodgepodge of many, sometimes very contradictory, beliefs and opinions (not to mention problematic histories).  But essentially there is one contradiction that especially concerns Christians:  The Old Testament god is of course vindictive, jealous and extraordinarily violent….an all-punishing kind of god.  His "chosen people" are steeped in what must be termed exophobia, fear and hatred for all that is different from their own belief system.  In the course of time, however, a second tradition springs up alongside of it, which is called the "prophetic" tradition.  While this is also a mixed bag, in the fullness of time it develops a kind of cohesion around principles of social justice, equality before God's law, and preaches a causal relationship between the virtue of the Israelite citizenry, and the ultimate success of the state.  The ancient belief was that military success was given by Yahweh, and that social welfare followed as a consequence.  The prophetic tradition increasingly argued the opposite:  that it is precisely the level of social justice manifest by the people that determines the social integrity and therefore ultimate success of the state, the outward manifestation of the people.  Still, these two tendencies subsisted side by side in the Judaic tradition, and the social justice mandate itself was limited in its application to the traditional tribe….one's fellow Hebrews  Now Jesus does certainly assert that he, like the John the Baptist before him, stands in succession to the prophetic tradition, but unlike all of the earlier prophets (from some of whom he freely borrows), he is NOT willing to tolerate the opposing school of thought.  It is in this light that we best understand his often misunderstood statement that he came "not to bring peace but a sword."  These two traditions, in his view, are incompatible, and one must clearly separate them and choose between them, even though this will lead to serious social division.  And so he maximizes  the social justice ethic of the later prophetic tradition to the point where it alone has ethical value (and in fact a universal, not merely tribal, ethical value) so that exophobia is categorically and explicitly rejected, and exophilia takes its place.  The agape of Christianity is exactly that:  universal love.  All mankind are included in its sweep, and there is no ground left for the old exophobia.  Jesus warns that those who continue the old tradition (and he knows many will) must face calamity in the inevitable clash with stronger outsiders, such as the then-dominant Roman empire.  And this comes to pass, exactly as Jesus has prophetically predicted, in 70 AD. 


Now, this is an important precursor to our large questions, because those who conspired against Jesus and brought about his execution, the Pharisees in particular, gained de facto political control of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple, which destroyed the power base of their rivals,  the Saducees and their sacrficial cult.  The new Judaism was based on the oral traditions, the same ones Jesus had remonstrated against because they were used to supplant the Law of God, and these were eventually formulated in the Talmud, which is now the principal scriptural authority of Judaism.  Its essence is exophobic, and it represents the survival of that branch or tradition of Judaism which Jesus categorically rejected, and which in turn, necessarily,  rejected Him.  It harks back to a god of ethnocentrism and malevolence towards all who are not part of their biblical "tribe." The same god that tells them to love their friends and hate their enemies, and not only hate them but exterminate them root and branch.   That Jesus explicitly repudiated this posturing tells us that Marcion was not far off the mark…the same god that tells his people to exterminate all their heretical neighbors cannot be the same Father of Jesus who commanded us to love our enemies.  There is just no way to reasonably reconcile these two gods.  It is remarked in the Gospels that the people hearkened to Jesus because he did NOT teach as the scribes and Pharisees (i.e., by citing unchallengable precedent), but "as one having authority,"  in other words, as one whose teachings were independent of that entire legal tradition.  This is the moral revolution wrought by Jesus for everyone who had eyes to see and ears to hear.  But of course, insofar as he moved people AWAY from the desire for the violent conquest of power, he was, in the view of the traditionalist leaders, an " anti-messiah.” Because they were seeking a military hero/leader, one who would vanquish the Romans and the rest of the gentile powers.  And Jesus had not the slightest interest in that (as he tried to convey to Pilate).   In any case, we must see that both of these traditions, the late prophetic tradition revolutionized and universalized by Jesus of Nazareth, and the contrary exophobic tradition amplified by the Pharisees and their allies, continue today in the form of radical Christianity on the one hand, and Talmudic Judaism on the other.  These two make OPPOSING claims to the nature of God and to the moral obligations of man, that form the real "clash of civilizations"  in today's world.  It is, at base, less of a political struggle (though its poltical ramifications are real enough) than it is a moral struggle between two diametrically opposed world views which are, as Jesus was the first to argue,  totally incompatible.  The universal ethic of Christianity, however much breached in practice, can never be reconciled with the exclusivist, particularist mania that permeates the Talmud.  And while it is certainly important to examine contradictions that may be located within Christian doxology, they pale by comparison with this far more important OPPOSITION that must never be lost sight of.  It is a foundational truth of Christianity, and is still playing itself out in the contemporary world. 


It seems likely that Marek is correct in asserting that if the sacrificial interpretation of Jesus' execution is abandoned, then recognition of his various "defeats"  must follow. An interesting exercise, perhaps grist for another essay, would be an existential analysis of a Christianity which openly recognized these defeats, at the same time that it recognized for this very reason the heightened importance of continuing Jesus' struggle today, in memoriam, as it were.  It is unfortunately impossible for reasonable people to deny that evil has not been vanquished from the earth since Jesus' crucifixion.  That being the case, how efficacious can his "sacrifice"  have been, if we observe evil flourishing in the world today as never before, and often perpetrated by the spiritual heirs of the same people who orchestrated the evil against Jesus two millenia ago?  Such a streamlined Christianity would recognize the extreme heroism of Jesus, who remained faithful to his alternative divinity even to the point of incurring the death penalty for it.  In this respect, even if in no other, he truly conquered "death,"  which can be reinterpreted as the hold over us that oppressive religious and political forces maintain by the THREAT of death  (which can be extrapolated to the lesser threats we see them using more commonly in the contemporary world).  Jesus would remain as the paragon of the good life, or as he himself put it, " the way, the truth and the light."  Such a down-to-earth Christianity would not be expecting miracles at every turn, but for that very reason would be clearer about those who obstruct progress to the Kingdom of Heaven today with their earthly power structures, whose methodologies are ethically opposed to those of the Man from Galilee and his followers.  Would this be throwing the baby out with the bathwater?  We can expect mainstream Christian religious leaders to tell us that it is, but after all, the rituals of Christianity are what provide them stature (as noted by Marek) and sustenance.  Reasonable people must independently ask themselves, which Christianity best approximates the life and teachings of Jesus? Which would he vote for? Which gives us the clearest and most useful understanding of good and evil in the world today, and the actual relative power of both?  These and related questions will not trouble rational Christians, but serve as useful guideposts in deciding such matters. 

On the issue raised by Marek about whether Christianity opposes moral reason, I would suggest that the Natural Law thinking of the medieval Scholiasts demonstrates otherwise (of course, to be fair, this did come after the introduction of Aristotle to the curriculum).  But it must be noted in passing that Jesus himself  constantly appealed to (and therefore honoring and recognizing, we might rather say, empowering) human moral reason.  How else are we to understand the questions he posed to his listeners, such as "What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?"  Every Christian understands that question and its answer fully, but that answer requires the use of moral reason, not blind faith. Indeed, at one point Jesus remonstrates his audience for NOT using their moral reason:  “Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” Luke 12:57  I am reminded here of the engraving on the cornerstone of a church I once passed:  "Religious maturity is having a faith worth trying to understand."  I think Jesus would be the first to agree.

In any case, it is my hope that others on Shamir's list will contribute to this dialogue, and that Marek will continue his invaluable contribution to it.  The issue is not an easy one, but once provoked commands our attention to resolve it.  Marek is to be commended for his boldness in raising it, but it is up to the rest of us to respond to his challenge.