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If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Jesus never said love yourself, but did say NOT to
The Great Commandment of Jesus
Christians regard Jesus as the only truly good man and also as the infallible God in human form.
Jesus, when he was asked what the greatest commandment of morality was, replied as follows.
“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31, King James Bible). It is not, "Love yourself and love your neighbour as yourself."
The two commandments seem to contradict one another. You are told to love God alone and then to love your neighbour. But the solution is that love is not meant in the same sense. Loving God means valuing God. Loving your neighbour means obeying God in relation to what he says concerning how he or she should be treated. In other words, you are using your neighbour to serve God.
The Bible never says that I must love myself in the sense that it clearly approves of this love. We always love ourselves in some way though it is distorted in the case of the person with low self-esteem. Jesus may have the thought in mind: “It is not a sin to love yourself because you cannot help it. But if the nearest you can get to getting rid of this love is by distorting it then do so. If you see asceticism and anorexia as a way of respecting yourself, do it.”
How could God command you to love yourself? It would be like commanding you to breathe. It would show a sadistic streak in him if he commanded that. A command by definition is about force, "Do this or else!"
Break up the commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. Have it as, "Love your neighbour." "Love as yourself." This does not indicate any approval at all for loving yourself. It only comments that you love yourself and so go and love your neighbour as much. It is worried about the neighbour not you.
Are you loving your neighbour as yourself when you tell your friend to go to the doctor for your sake if he won’t go for his own? No you are asking him to love you more than him so you are not. Are you loving your neighbour as yourself when you and your wife agree to compromise for she believes in hitting the children and you think it is wrong? You are weakening your principles. You are allowing what you think is wrong and encouraging her to do what you think she is degrading herself by doing. It will be said that you have to do it but compromise is always surrendering your principles and what you think is right and at least partly encouraging what you think is evil.
Jesus' teaching that you must love your neighbour as yourself really means love your neighbour as if he were yourself but not yourself.
Love yourself is not to be found in the chief commandments. Jesus stated those commandments were a summary of the rest. Clearly self-love is unimportant and even bad in the authentic Christian view. Always treat others as you would like them to treat you is about how you treat others and not yourself. It reinforces what we are saying.
People should not follow a man who did not help them in their self-love but who frowned on it. They should walk away from the King of the Slaves.
The sin of self-esteem
You must have self-esteem if you are to love other people. You can only love others if you love yourself. For example, if you hate yourself it is wrong for you to associate with friends for that is intending to inflict what you believe to be a terrible person on them. But if self-esteem is just delighting in your own good qualities then everybody has got it though some do not see it.
Cult victims usually have little self-esteem. Sometimes the cult leader tries to make them feel good about themselves but only in so far as they do what he wants. All cults frown upon the self-esteem that comes from keeping your own identity.
Jesus was an extreme case of a cult leader who tried to control people by putting them down and getting themselves to put themselves down. 
There are right and wrong forms of self-esteem. Self-esteem that cherishes your badness and perceives it as goodness is not good. Self-esteem in which you see that you are not so bad and that there is plenty in you that is valuable is fine.
Jesus commanded intense hostility to sin so he did not allow the former kind of self-esteem. He said that concern for what God wants alone matters not what you want meaning you are very bad if you fail even though others may love you and like you. He even said that hands that sin are best cut off.  He said we are all sinners and said sin must be hated intensely so much that it is like gouging out your eye to stop you lusting. He said this to simple people who would have taken it literally so that was how it was meant. He also forbade the second for he counsels that you must see yourself as very bad. So bad in fact that you are better off blind than seeing to sin with your eyes intact.
Christianity and its Christ aim to weed self-esteem out of you and to mould you into a pathetic hag ridden wretch with absolutely no confidence. Religion has found much success by putting people down or persuading them to do it themselves. Its victims don’t trust their minds and just let the clergy hypnotise them and endeavour to punish themselves so that they observe the heartless edicts of God. Don’t be fooled by sneaky priests and ministers who run courses on making and nurturing a positive self-image. If they really wanted to help you would they be encouraging you to let the Christ of the Bible run your life? If they really wanted to help you, they wouldn’t be claiming to be loyal to the faith and then polluting it. Polluted or not they are defending something evil and they try to take upon themselves responsibility for the evil of their religion.

Paul and Jesus’ doctrine that nobody is good but God shows that Christianity taught that all are sinners from the start.

Jesus said that if your hand or any body part leads you into sin you have to cut it off to be saved. He meant this literally in the sense that to make that work you have to cut your heart out too and kill yourself so he was saying that sin is the worst evil and death is not as bad. The Catholic Church got that right for it teaches that sin is the worst evil and that death is better though it does not command suicide but says death is God’s decision. What Jesus said then plainly implies that human beings cannot avoid sinning and are totally bad and should not be alive at all. It also implies that good works cannot lead to salvation. He never explained how to be saved when he said such things which shows the extreme cruelty of his character.

If we are all sinners then it is a sin to have self-esteem. That is claiming that your sins are good. Even holding on to one sin means that the good you do is artificial.

The only thing a sinner is allowed to intend for themselves is repentance of every taint of sin because anything else would be sinful. The sinner would be allowed to pray to be punished if she or he remains in sin. And religion says nobody is wholly free from it so nobody can repent validly to be able to have self-esteem.

Jesus did not directly admit that he came to destroy all regard for ourselves which can only lead to an early grave after years of stress, fear and ulcers but said he came to help us. But his commanding us to believe that we are sinful always shows the terrible thing he really came for. His idea of helping us was to make us suffer in order to be good in his eyes.

Jesus commanded us to love God alone. Instead of self-esteem we are to have God-esteem. Instead of approving of ourselves we are to approve only of God. Does that mean that a person can walk into a job interview and be confident of doing their best? No for God is unpredictable and his ways seem bizarre to us. You can only have self-confidence by believing in your own abilities not God’s. If God exists all you can trust him to do is what is best for him. You cannot say that God will do this or that for you. You might think he has saved you forever but nobody can be sure that they have been saved. The Devil might be giving you a counterfeit supernatural born again experience. God is no good when you need self-esteem for you don’t know what he thinks of you.

Also, when you have to be more sure that you exist than that God exists or is good meaning that self-esteem comes before God-esteem how can God-esteem be any good? You only have it at the expense of degrading yourself. You would not be looking for God-esteem unless you had no or too little self-esteem. If you do not love yourself in the sense that you believe you should be treated right for yourself and not God then how can you love others? I feel that the happy Christian has self-esteem that is dressed up as God-esteem.

Jesus said that if people could do everything God commanded they would still be useless servants and ought to accept no praise (Luke 17:10). This astounding advice came after he said that you have no reason to be grateful to a servant who is only obeying orders and does all you want. Gratitude is due to the servant for he does not have to work for you and orders do not force him to be so honest and he might be obeying but be motivated by generosity. Here, Jesus wants the servant looked upon as a doormat. One wonders where he got his snobbery from. Only a mental case or a fiend could propound such nihilism. It is base ingratitude to God to deny that you are good when you are good. We see that Jesus forbade self-esteem and honesty in that regard.

Some object that Jesus only meant that when you do all you are commanded it is not good for you have not done all literally. There is much that could have been done that you couldn’t do. This is a stupid and warped interpretation disproven by the context which compares the people Jesus wants to obey him to a servant who does all that his master tells him. Why should we put ourselves down over something beyond our power? Jesus is not saying that they will be able to obey him completely on earth for it seems to be hypothetical. He is saying you should not praise yourself even if you fit the ideal of perfection.

Jesus is saying that it is a sin for people to help others when they are needed. You only help people who do not need it. When you are useless no matter what you do you should not try to be useful. You just carry on doing good and consider it useless.

Jesus says that he did not command people to do more than their duty which contradicts his doctrine that we must serve others and be generous. He said God was generous to us and that we must be generous in return. To be mean is a vice and it is evil. The notion of good deeds over and above the call of duty is and always has been logically unacceptable.

Jesus told people who were confident that they were good and disliked others who they thought were not as upright that they were not God’s friends. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Jesus said that God was displeased with the Pharisee for the Pharisee thought he was a better person than the Publican and told God about his good points (Luke 18:9-14). The Publican pleased God for instead of concentrating on his good points or even mentioning them , he just prayed for mercy. The Pharisee really believes in his goodness for he wouldn’t be reminding God of it when God could see what he really was. The Pharisee was not pretending. The Pharisee probably saw his own wrongdoing as a series of mistakes to be amended but not as sins to condemn himself for.
Was the Pharisee mistakenly claiming to be sinless? Some say he was. But the Pharisee doesn’t say, “Lord I have no sin”, but only, “Lord I am better than this tax collector and I do this and that.” He doesn’t claim to be sinless or perfect.
The Pharisee may have claimed to be without sin at the time he was praying but he may thought he sinned earlier than day and was now holy for he had repented and now he could tell God how good he was.
Some will say, “Jesus said that nobody is sinless. This Pharisee claims to be sinless so he is a fictional character - a person who exists only in Jesus’ story. Jesus is not saying that a person can be all holy. He is just saying somebody can be perfect and yet rejected by God for God doesn’t accept good works as meritorious for salvation”.
The parable certainly warns that one can think and live like a saint and yet God may not be your friend nor you his. Sincere confidence in your own righteousness and therefore right to heavenly happiness will not save. This is terrifying and detrimental to confidence. It reflects the doctrine of St Paul that good works get nobody into Heaven but only faith alone without good works does.

In the parable of Matthew 20, Jesus says that God has the right to pay people the same as those who have done a lot more work the same as the latter. The last will be first and the first will be last. He gives no evidence that this has anything to do with merit. On the contrary, when the other men took the pay they were not entitled to it would imply that their merits were not up to much. The idea that God can do as he pleases with his gifts no matter about merits or needs or whatever is sinister. Christians say that it is only fair for God to have this freedom for we don’t deserve anything from him. If Jesus saved us from the consequences of our sins and paid for them then we should be treated equally. Everybody however bad deserves gifts that will draw him to become a better person. Jesus was denying this. He was also implying that it is right for rich men to behave this way for he approves of the parable man’s behaviour. If he hadn’t wished to give that impression he would have used the illustration of God sitting on his throne getting men to work for him and paying them all equally with gold. The parable also was expressly declared to illustrate the point that many are called but few are chosen. This being in the context of the last being first and first last implies that many are called to be first and few are chosen for only the last called make it for anybody that is a follower of God for long falls away and that is why the last get saved.

Jesus strongly advocated humility. Humility is usually considered to be believing yourself to be less good and less talented than you really are. It is impossible for it to be a good thing or a virtue if that is so. It is based on a lie you tell yourself and others about yourself. It is a lie. But perhaps humility is not belittling yourself but is just realising that not what no matter how good you are there is room for improvement? That would entail being honest with yourself instead of thinking that you cannot be any better. Now to do this would take some confidence and pride because you look to improve yourself and because you believe you can do it. But this is not Christian humility for Jesus forbade pride.
It is nonsense to command humility for everybody no matter how arrogant must be humble. Even the most smug and self-satisfied individual there is knows he or she makes mistakes and there are improvements to be made. The person might talk and act as if they think they do not but they are not practicing their humility but trying to disguise it. Since everybody knows they have faults they know that there are certain things they can do better than other people and it is these things they are unable to be humble about. Jesus wanted you to say you are useless all the time.

Jesus stated that humility requires behaving like a slave (Luke 17:7-8). He approved of this behaviour (page 377, Reason and Belief). Christian humility entails making yourself worse than what you are.

God is ungrateful if you return to him the talent he gave you without making it grow for if you do not develop your talents he will be to you as a hard man who reaps where he has not sown (Matthew 25). Jesus would not have put this in the parable unless he thought God was like that man for the parable could have done without it. The message is that God is never satisfied so we should never be satisfied with ourselves.

St Paul was the first Christian writer and so the way he lived can tell us a lot about his Jesus, his exemplar. St Paul called himself the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He was a bad man, it is true, but by no standard could he have been the worst. He put himself down. He said that he did not deserve to be called an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9) though if all are sinners nobody does. It was as if he thought himself to be lower than anybody else in the world. He revealed his attitude to himself as an example for Christians.

If Jesus Christ could have been the Son of God then let us hope that he was not for then we cannot properly believe in him unless we swallow all of the New Testament doctrine, hook, line and sinker. Suppose there are errors in the gospels. They would mean that the Devil inspired them for God does not err. God would not leave it to some books to bring the world to his son unless he inspired them. If they are not inspired then Christians are letting dead men tell them what to think about God and that is wrong for it is preferring human teaching to the truth. Jesus rejected it when he told us to love God with all the power that is within us.
The Christian claims that love is an absolute. It says that it is better to be murdered than to live and to fail to love somebody. That is why it says that sin is the greatest evil of all and even worse than death. So if somebody attacks you to kill you, you should be examining yourself all along to make sure you love this person attacking you and that you are not letting yourself or sin. If you start doing that you can be sure they will succeed! The hatred we feel for the attacker and the anger is necessary for us to get the strength and concentration to fight them off. It is an evil faith that teaches such things to children. It only makes the child feel guilty about exposing the priest who is abusing her or his body.

Jesus was an ethical nihilist because he wanted us to pretend that some evil is really good. He was a slave-master because he then said that we must do this on pain of sin and divine retribution.
Christians who lie that Jesus wants you to love yourself
An excellent Christian booklet, Robert Schuller by Cecil Andrews proves that real Christianity is against self-esteem and even the religious variety propagated by Robert Schuller of The Hour of Power fame. Schuller said that the Christian practice of convincing others that they are sinners to prepare them to accept salvation is terribly harmful to the human personality and weeds out self-esteem. But the foremost duty of the Holy Spirit according to Jesus in John 16 was to do just that. Jesus named this job first. Incidentally, he said in the next line that the Spirit would convict the world of the sin of not believing in Jesus. This tells us that the first convicting was about sinful and dishonest actions and the second one was about the sin of unbelief. This tells us that this unbelief is not a deliberate refusal to believe in Jesus knowing that he is the son of God for that would be covered the first time for that would be a sinful and dishonest action. But it means that if you do not believe in Jesus and have a clear conscience in doing so you will still be counted a sinner. This is in the vein of the Old Testament doctrine that you can commit sin while meaning well.
Schuller attacked those who propagated the belief that we are all unworthy sinners in his book, Self-Esteem. But the Bible says we are unworthy sinners (Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 3:23 and 1 Timothy 1:15). Schuller’s doctrine that Jesus died to show us that we are somebodies is totally contrary to the Bible which says Jesus died for sins to open up for us the way to self-denial and humility and repentance. When Jesus said we must love God with all our hearts and minds and described it as the first great commandment he could not have made it clearer that any form of self-esteem is immoral. If you are a disturbed person and you cannot get help and going to the doctor gets in the way of your love for God then it is a sin for you to go. Schuller said that the Spirit of God indwells the whole world whether they believe it or not contrary to Romans 8:9 which says that any Christian who does not have the spirit of God is not a friend of Jesus’. Tragically, Schuller is devoted to the head of the world’s most dangerous cult, the Roman Catholic Church.
Jesus was an extreme case of a cult leader who tried to control people by putting them down and getting themselves to put themselves down. This god-man needs to be exposed for the evil he truly represents. His legacy of evil and self-hate must end. 

St Francis knew that what Jesus meant by love your neighbour as yourself was not that you are to love yourself but to love rather than be loved.  Such love cannot be given to yourself but only to another.

If you love yourself because Jesus said so and because you think you reflect him that is actually a way of NOT loving yourself.  You project Jesus unto yourself and you love that creation for you do not truly love yourself in the first place.  Thus obedience to Jesus explains why so many Christians are unhappy and vindictive and manipulative.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas. Dublin, 1995
Christ and Violence, Ronald J Sider, Herald Press, Scottdale, Ontario, 1979
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Moral Philosophy, Joseph Rickaby SJ, Stoneyhurst Philosophy Series, Longmans, Green and Co, London, 1912
Objections to Christian Belief, DM Mackinnon, HA Williams, AR Vidler and JS Bezzant, Constable, London, 1963
Putting Away Childish Things, Uta Ranke-Heinemann, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1994
Reason and Belief, Bland Blanschard, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1974
Robert Schuller, Satellite Saint or High Flying Heretic, Cecil Andrews, Take Heed Publications, Belfast
The Hard Sayings of Jesus, FF Bruce Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1983
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
Why I am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell, Touchstone Books, Simon and Schuster, New York, undated