The Washington Post's "On Faith" section is a forum for trashing conservatives again. After seeing their reaction to the latest critique of "trickle-down" capitalism by Pope Francis, leftist Muslim author Reza Aslan argued Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh would probably call Jesus a Marxist.
In a piece also published inside the Saturday Washington Post, the man who mangled the "historical Jesus" (not to mention his own resume) is arguing someone else doesn't know the real Jesus. Palin merely expressed how the pope sounded liberal in his apostolic exhortation. Limbaugh went further:
Rush Limbaugh went one step further. “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope,” he harrumphed into his giant microphone.
Limbaugh, in his trademarked conspiratorial style, speculated that the pope’s tirade against “widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion” must have been forced upon him by somebody else. “Somebody has either written this for [the pope] or gotten to him,” he said.
Limbaugh is right. Somebody did get to Pope Francis. It was Jesus.
Self-styled “defenders of Christianity,” like Palin and Limbaugh, peddle a profoundly unhistorical view of Jesus. Indeed, if you listened to those on the far right you would think that all Jesus ever spoke about was guns and gays. [Guns?]
But even many modern Christians who reject the far right’s perception of Jesus tend to hold an inaccurate picture of the historical Jesus, viewing him as some kind of celestial spirit with no concern for the cares of this world – a curious assertion about a man who not only lived in one of the most politically charged periods in Israel’s history, but who claimed to be the promised messiah sent to liberate the Jews from foreign occupation.
If Jesus had set out to "liberate the Jews" from the Romans, the mission failed. Jesus doesn't exactly look like God then...but that fits nicely with Islam. Aslan ignores all that Bible stuff about how Jesus isn't a king of this world, imagining him a "chilling" socialist revolutionary who will overturn the social order:
Jesus is not simply describing some utopian fantasy in which the meek inherit the earth, the sick are healed, the weak become strong, the hungry are fed, and the poor are made rich. He is advocating a chilling new reality in which the rich will be made poor, the strong will become weak, and the powerful will be displaced by the powerless...
As one can imagine, such a radical vision of the world would have been both profoundly appealing for those at the bottom rungs of Jesus’ society, and incredibly threatening for those at the top. The fact is not much has changed in two thousand years, as Palin and Limbaugh have proven.
Yet if these “culture warriors” who so often claim to speak for Jesus actually understood what Jesus stood for, they would not be so eager to claim his ideas for their own. In fact, they’d probably call him a Marxist.