Casting Out The Money Changers by Carl Heinrich Bloch (May 23, 1834 – February 22, 1890)
I have noticed that, from time to time, liberals attempt to claim that Jesus was a liberal. I think the claim stems from the notion that Jesus was "anti-establishment" (which isn't entirely true), that Jesus preached about forgiveness and encouraged leniency (primarily because of the severity of the punishments meted out during His public ministry, not because He didn't believe in punishment; he mentioned the reality of the threat of hell far more often than He spoke of heaven), His concern for the poor, and His teaching that we would be judged on whether or not we practiced the corporal works of mercy (To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To shelter the homeless; To visit the sick; To visit the imprisoned; To bury the dead).
The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following in its article on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy:
The Divine command is set forth in the most stringent terms by Christ, and the failure to comply with it is visited with the supreme penalty of eternal damnation (Matthew 25:41): "Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, in everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you covered me not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me", etc. Here it is true there is mention directly and explicitly of only the corporal works of mercy.
Here's the problem: Liberals tend to reduce the entirety of the Gospel message to love of God through love of neighbor, which is wholly erroneous. The precept to love God and neighbor aren't the primary message of the New Testament, nor do they find their origins in the New Testament. Those precepts come from the Old Testament and were well known to the Jewish people:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "And when the LORD your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities, which you did not build, and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, then take heed lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name. You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you; for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 6:4-15)
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I command you this day for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18)
This was confirmed by the Lord:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40)
Our Lord also taught:
So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
Christ taught that keeping the Ten Commandments was essential for eternal salvation:
And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 19:16-19) (See also, Mark 10:17-19 and Luke 18:18-20)
In my experience, liberals are not generally inclined to warn people that they are going to hell if they don't keep the commandments!
The Gospel tells us that Jesus taught the following:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15) (See also, Matthew 4:17)
Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chora'zin! woe to you, Beth-sa'ida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Caper'na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you." (Matthew 11:20-24)
"An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:39-42)
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32)
Our Lord clearly taught that repentance and conversion are necessary for the acceptance of the Gospel message and entry into eternal life. How often do you hear liberals say that?
The primary message of the Gospel isn't love of God and neighbor. Those teachings are essential to Christianity and essential to attaining eternal life, but they aren't the "Good News". They were old news, in a sense. The Good News of the Gospel is the Resurrection of Christ, and consequently the Divinity of Christ (of which His bodily Resurrection is the crowning proof), as well as the fact that the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ has redeemed us and opened for us the gates of heaven, which we can attain through cooperation with God's grace, leading to repentance and conversion. So, The Good News is that Jesus is God and He has redeemed us, founded a Church to preserve His teaching and His Sacraments, and that we can enter eternal life if we cooperate with His saving grace.
St. Paul put it this way:
"...if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
The good news is not that God loves us all and doesn't judge us, but only wants us all to love and tolerate one another, remaining silent and "non-judgmental" when our neighbor falls into sin, and that all of us will go to heaven as long as we love one another and interpret the corporal works of mercy as a mandate for socialism, communism, liberation theology, or the Democratic party platform! Yet that's what liberals seem to believe.
An excellent article on the subject of Christ's "liberalism" can be found here: Was Jesus a liberal? by Selwyn Duke.
Here's a quote:
Liberals will sometimes buttress their argument that Jesus is one of them by labeling conservatives as being the modern day version of those who conspired against Jesus: the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who believed in strict adherence to Judaic law. Jesus chastised them for being hypocrites and for acting only on the letter of the law while completely ignoring its spirit. For, these leaders would faithfully perform their rituals, make a great show of their religiosity and admonish others to exhibit a formulaic devotion to the faith, while at the same time deviating from it when it was convenient for them to do so.
Liberals' contention that conservatives are the inheritors of this group's modus operandi seems to be based on the notion that conservatives share their lack of compassion, their hypocrisy and "do as I say but not as I do" approach. However, I think this begs the question: what group in our time seems to be enamored of the practice of rule-making and rule-breaking? In reality, it is the liberals who propose a rule in the form of a law as a solution to every perceived problem. And like the Pharisees, they will violate their own rules when it pleases them. Why, these are the people who tell us that there are no absolutes, ergo all standards are negotiable. This belief is what enables them to tell us with a straight face that judges can interpret our Constitution to suit the times because it is a "living document."
Liberals' contempt for standards is a corollary of the moral-relativism that is so often espoused by them, and relativism is completely antithetical to what Christ propounded. After all, Jesus did emphasize the spirit of the law, but He never said that this spirit was negotiable. If it were, Jesus wouldn't have ridiculed the Pharisees, but rather would have said, "This is the spirit that I live by, but hey, whatever works for you." No, Jesus was speaking of something real and specific, something immutable and eternal when He spoke of the spirit. It's the unchanging spirit of the real thing called the LAW, not the mercurial spirit of a different real thing called an individual's emotional realm. Also, as I pointed out before, Christ said "I am the Way, [and] THE Truth . . . "; He didn't say A Truth. Contrast this with the oft-uttered liberal sentiments, "That is your truth, someone else's might be different," "Truth is relative" and "What is Truth?" By the way, do you know who else posed the last question? The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate did — right before he condemned Jesus to death.
And what of the nature of Jesus' teachings? Well, liberals like to point out that Jesus preached love, charity, compassion and forgiveness, implying that their ideology has a monopoly on those qualities. It's as if they believe that conservatives are opposed to these virtues. But, correct me if I'm wrong, I never heard a conservative say that love is a bad thing. "Yeah, we really need less love in this world." In reality, conservatives only differ on what they believe love dictates — on what they believe constitutes genuine love.
I think the comparison between conservatives and the Pharisees bears closer examination.
Our Lord said the following in reference to both groups and the Law:
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)
Brief Facts About The Sadducees
The Sadducees were the elite, priestly class. The Sadducees only believed in the Torah, the five books of Moses, which they interpreted more literally than the Pharisees. The Sadducees rejected oral tradition. The Sadducees were mainly concerned about Levitical and ceremonial purity and priestly rituals. The Sadducees did not believe in angels or an afterlife.
Brief Facts About The Pharisees
The Pharisees believed that the oral tradition was just as authoritative and inspired as the Torah. Hence, for the Pharisees, the outward observance of the Law and useless, vain traditions surpassed the authority of the Law itself, at least in practice. The emphasis of Pharisaical teaching involved ethical minutia that governed every area of life, but which made it virtually impossible to keep the Law. The Pharisees believed in angels and an afterlife where the good are rewarded and the wicked are punished.
Although many of Pharisees hated Jesus and were condemned by Christ for their hypocrisy, there were a few who were sincere and who sought to know the truth, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 3; 7:50-53; 19: 38-42). Sacred Scripture does not explicitly mention any Sadducees who came to believe in the Lord.
The Lord clearly agreed that many, if not most of the scripturally based teachings of the Pharisees were correct:
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice." (Matthew 23:2-3)
The primary problem the Lord had with the Pharisees was not their doctrine, but rather, their hypocrisy. (Though Jesus did disagree with the Pharisees on some doctrinal interpretations.)
Whereas with the Sadducees, who were much more like modern liberals in their denial of the supernatural, and who were the educated, elite, priestly class, Our Lord's primary disagreements were doctrinal.
Our Lord told the Sadducees:
"Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mark 12:24)
Translation: The Lord told the Sadducees they were wrong in their understanding of Sacred Scripture and their rejection of the supernatural.
It should also be noted that the Sadducees tried Christ in the Sanhedrin and handed Him over to Pontius Pilate. (The Pharisees did not have the authority to do that.)
Bottom line: Our Lord had more in common doctrinally with the Pharisees than with the Sadducees. Our Lord supported Pharisaical teaching on the Law. His disagreement with them due to their placing purely human traditions on par with the Law and even allowing such traditions to negate the Law, as well as believing mere observance of the Law can save us, as opposed to dependence on God's grace (which doesn't mean throwing out the Law). Jesus said "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven". Jesus said Christians must, "Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect". (Matthew 5:48) This kind of perfection can only be accomplished by God's grace, but it doesn't involve rejecting Divine positive law.
Jesus was not a "liberal", especially in the modern sense of the term.
Modern liberals generally support what Pope Benedict XVI called “the dictatorship of relativism”, including: abortion on demand, the legal recognition of homosexual unions, the abolition of traditional standards about modesty, the abolition of traditional values about sexual morality, the abolition of almost any civil law and/or social norm related to morality, the distortion of the nature (definition) of marriage and families, dissent from legitimate authority, a false notion of the autonomy of conscience, false notions about the nature of freedom, a denial of objective truth (or at least the rejection of any belief that the objective truth on moral issues can be known with certainty), religious indifferentism and/or hostility to religion, the denial of the supernatural, the deification of empirical science and scientific authority, extreme skepticism about anything that appears to contradict core liberal beliefs (often to the point of being irrational), and the demonization of anyone or anything that contradicts liberal values (generally through slander, libel, and/or irony, which involves straw man arguments, poisoning the well, and distorting the truth about a person or a belief system in such a way that the caricature presented as the representation of the person of belief opposed by liberals engenders hatred and/or mistrust of those opposed to liberalism).
Liberals seek to constrain the freedom of others by controlling their speech (through political correctness), and even their lifestyles (through laws about smoking, seat belts, helmets, what kinds of faucets and toilets people can use, how much energy people can consume, having their cars smogged, the fat content in foods, and on and on). Meanwhile, liberals pretend to be the champions of personal freedom and point to their defense of things like legal, elective abortion, freedom of speech and expression (but only when it’s liberal speech, pornography, the advocacy of something licentious, or an attack on religion, especially Christianity) as evidence of this. They ignore the fact that in many ways, the restrictions they seek to place on the lives of others are more invasive and tyrannical, because they involve almost everybody’s day to day lives. Additionally, they ignore the fact that the desire to end abortion isn’t about controlling women, it’s about ending the elective murder of innocent, unborn, human beings. A women’s rights do not extend to the right to end the life of an unborn baby for the sake of convenience just because that poor baby happens to have been unfortunate enough to have a woman who wants to kill it for a mother.
Liberals even seek to control what people do with their money and/or how much of the money a person earns they are allowed to keep for themselves. Despite the fact that lowering taxes consistently brings in more revenue, liberals like to raise taxes, because their primary goal isn’t increasing revenue, it’s perpetuating their own power and the dependency other people have on them. Yes, liberals love spending money (though George W. Bush hasn’t been fiscally conservative either), but the reason liberals love spending money is to control people and create dependence, which secures their ability to retain power.
Liberals also tend to deny the right to private property (which contradicts the Seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal", which presupposes the right to private property). Liberals' denial of private property can be seen in their frequent support for Marxist ideologies (e.g., liberation theology, communism, and socialism, and in a softer sense, the Democratic party in the United States).
Christ would not have supported any of these beliefs, as is evident by the four Gospels, as well as the teachings of the Apostles and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, which is the Church Christ founded.