Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part 9 - Who would Jesus hate? WWJH

Dear Johnboy,

Forget WWJD, you need to figure out WWJH, Who Would Jesus Hate. Because there are some verses in the Bible, Old and New Testaments, that declare God's hatred for some people. In fact Jesus even commands us to hate some people.

Wait a second. God can't tell us he loves the world in one place then tell us to hate those he in fact loves, can he? Is he self-contradictory? Is one of these paths the Christian way and one not?

Some Christians, really intelligent ones even, refuse to resolve this tension and hold these opposite commands in tension. They refuse to prioritize "God is love" and believe that the God who is love hates. Here is a link to one example. Here are a couple videos (1, 2) of pastors preaching about God hating people. We all agree the Westboro Baptist Family Cult focuses on the hate verses and tries to share the bad news as often as they can.

The thing is, does hate mean what we think it means in the Bible? There is little help from the original languages. Hate means hate in Greek, as well. You have to look at context and genre to figure this all out. For example, Jesus tells us to hate in order to be true believers.
Luke 14:26 "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
I don't think even the Westboro folks take this verse literally and hate each other. Then again, hardly anyone takes the next verse literally either and lugs crosses around. How can we not take Jesus literally here? Well Jesus has a tendency to say crazy things, like this one from the Sermon on the Mount,
Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
Jesus is not speaking literally, he is speaking literarily. There is a term for this in literature, it's called hyperbole. Here is a definition from wikipedia, "the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally."

The Bible is chock full of hyperbole. In fact some evangelicals appeal to this literary device in regards to Joshua's genocidal conquest of the promised land. In brief, the detailed command to kill every living thing was hyperbolic and not literal and the history recorded after the command agrees that plenty of enemy nations that were supposedly destroyed were living and breathing quite well. For more on this, check out my book report here. When the Psalmist says in 5:5 that God hates all sinners, he certainly cannot believe himself sinless. The fundagelical work-around is to insert a silent prefix, God hates all (unrepentant) sinners.

The reason this is done, is because no one takes this literally. Instead of inserting silent adjectives, the simplest solution is to understand hatred is a de-prioritization. Jesus's challenge in Luke's gospel, the first verse above, is not to let our love of family exceed our love of Jesus.

We know God loves the world. We know Jesus wants us to love our enemies. We know Jesus wants us to turn the other cheek when we are struck. We know when we see Jesus, we see God clearer than anywhere else in the Bible. We see Jesus asking God to forgive his killers. Killing Jesus couldn't be an easier way to get God to hate you, but Jesus, is not hating but still loving.

Who does Jesus hate? No one. What would Jesus do? Tell people God loves them. Tell people stop eating the apple of temptation and turning towards death and darkness. Tell people to put the apple down, and turn towards life, light, and healing. God does not send sunshine and happy days only on the good people. According to Jesus, he sends sun and rain on those whose posture is closed to him as well as those who are open to him. Jesus says,
Matthew 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  
Perfection is found in the way of love. God keeps pouring out his love. He does not have hate to pour out. Can salt water come from a fresh water spring? Likewise, can hate come from love? How the love is received though depends on our posture towards God. When we receive his love we feel blessed, when we reject his love, we feel oppressed. St. Paul wrote
Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What does God's wrath and vengeance look like? Just like his love. It all depends on if we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and open arms to receive. Eastern Orthodoxy thinks hell is the afterlife condition of those who refuse to see or hear or receive God's love. God who is love keeps emitting love, a blessing to those who receive it and oppression to those who reject it. What is light and life and goodness to those who believe and receive is darkness, heat, and misery to those who refuse God's kindness.

Westboro Baptist, among others, believe in a false Jesus, the "asshole Jesus" (who happens to have his own twitter account). You have friends who have rejected a Christianity based on asshole Jesus, the one who hates. You have embraced asshole Jesus, and have taught about him. He's easier to see in the Bible because that is the Jesus more like you. The God of love is so foreign to you, that you stick with what is safer and easier and more popular. But the God who is love is so much better. You need to find Jesus who is God who is love. Not everything biblical is Christian.

Series review----------------------
This is part nine of the series, Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part one points out that the words of Satan recorded in the Bible are not Christian doctrine. Part two shows the Sermon on the Mount overruling the cursing of enemies exhibited in Psalm 137. Parts three and four show Moses getting overruled by Ezekiel and Jesus. Part five merely brushes the concept of source criticism.  Part six looks at the  Old Testament application in the early church: a brief summary of the book of Acts. Part seven looks at how the church has worked this out regarding slavery. Part eight, showed how one example of how an unchristian part of the Bible helps tell the Christian story.


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