The opposite of good according to Augustine is not evil but a different good – a good that has fails to be best. The good is the enemy of the best. Malice ends up being more accepted and condoned than indifference.  Hate is seen as related to love and is not its opposite.  Indifference is the opposite of love.  Augustine worked all that out from Jesus' insistence about how God is perfectly good.  Evil in Christianity is not the enemy of the good but the enemy of the best.  Evil is good in the wrong place and time.


Some people go on about how great their clergy are ad nausem. This is extraordinary for the Jewish clergy were esteemed like that otherwise they wouldn’t have been clergy and yet time and time again in the gospels, Jesus scathingly denounces the ministers and priests of the Jews as rotten frauds. He admitted they did a wonderful job in seeming holy and pious and caring and were good religious teachers. He said that people must obey their teachings. But he stated that it was all transparent to him. Evidently, it wasn’t obvious to the people. If Jesus were God’s Son then his rantings should remind us that we ought to be wary of religious leaders. Jesus didn’t prove what he said. He just said it. He didn’t say, “Look at Rabbi Samuel going about praying and preaching and he has Anna from Bethany as a mistress!” He never said, “The Scribes and the Pharisees, your rabbis, are always looking for money.” The inescapable conclusion seems to be that we should not trust clergy.

He gave out about their wearing special clothes in order to get praise and special treatment. Catholic priests do that. Their excuse is that it is so that they will be easily identified if anybody needs a priest. But since the Church is able to break up the sacrament of order into diaconate, priesthood and episcopate it should have given all Catholics the power to anoint the sick to take away their sins and send them to Heaven if they die. Deacons used to have that power centuries ago. So their excuse is invalid. The bishops could defy the Vatican and give the power to the people and put everybody on the same level. Like the Catholics, the Jewish people would have supposed that it was tradition to dress like this and the clergy had the right and need to do it. But Jesus was having none of that.

He gave out about the fasting of the Jewish clergy. They did not hide it. They let their facial expressions show that they were abstaining from food. They did not have to fast at all. They could have gone about down in the mouth as if they were fasting though they were not. Clearly Jesus was just being mean. Jesus would not have been impressed then with priests showing their celibacy. He knew that some who were not fasting could look like they were. And he suggested that if you fast, wash your face and act as if you are not fasting God will be pleased. Washing your face will be of no avail! Why would these men fast when they could fake it and pretend they were fasting. Jesus didn’t accuse them of faking but of fasting just for show. It is hard to see anything other than extreme hatred and antagonism towards the idea of clergy in this. Just because they were clergy he thought they were fakes!

He criticised the long prayers of the Jewish clergy feeling that they were done just for show. Clearly claiming to be a holy person can be as selfish as claiming to be a good person. People are put off more by holy people - whether sincere or not - than good people who like to have an audience.

He despised many of their rules because they were burdensome and only created in order for an excuse for looking down on those who failed to keep them.
In Matthew 23, Jesus called them vipers – complementing their craftiness. He called them bastards. He told them that they were too devoted to evil to escape the sentence of Hell. He told them that they would go to tremendous lengths to get a single convert just to turn him into a hypocritical devil. Such persistence would seem to indicate that they are genuine and sincere but Jesus strongly holds that the Devil can masquerade as an angel of light. The message is clear: don’t regard the clergy as good men or having any rights over you just because they make a lot of sacrifices for their religion.

Christians might try to deceive you into thinking that Jesus was only speaking of the bad members of the Jewish clergy. He meant all the Jewish religious leaders. He stated that though they were to be respected in the sense that they sat in Moses' chair and taught holy doctrine that they were not be respected otherwise. His scathing condemnations were directed at men who everybody would consider decent and normal men.
It is said that Jesus would not have meant his friends such as Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. But he mentioned no exceptions.
The Bible never says that these disciples were good disciples. Don’t try to quote them as evidence against the facts. It was indeed a blanket condemnation. In fact their hiding their discipleship would indicate that they were dishonest and hypocritical disciples. Real disciples are open and proud.

The Jewish leader who told Jesus that he believed that mercy was better than any sacrifice or holocaust is not evidence against the position that Jesus’ condemnation was of all of them. Jesus told him he was not far from the kingdom of God. But that could be condemnation as well as praise. The person who is near to goodness is worse when she or he does wrong then the person who is far from it for it is so easy for her or him to do much better. The man was near the kingdom but did he commit the ultimate sin by not going in?
Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money. No matter how much you value money, it is how it makes others you care about see you that matters to you not the money. For example, you can’t enjoy a spectacular world cruise if nobody treats you nice on it. To serve God the last thing you need is human approval. This implies that you cannot serve God and clergy even when the clergy claim to speak for him and represent him. Jesus did ask people to do what the Jewish clergy said when it agreed with God’s word but not to treat them as mouthpieces of God or to copy them. He said that nobody must be called teacher in his Church for there is only one teacher the Christ.
Evil is not to a person’s advantage according to the Bible. Sin brings with it the threat of divine retribution. Evil is making a sacrifice, but the wrong kind of sacrifice. If people sacrifice marriage and family for religion they could do it out of evil and for evil.
Paul had plenty of popular rivals in the Christian Church. “Such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13,14). So they seemed to be good men but were just out to con. Paul gave us no reason why we should listen to him and not them. All he had to prove he was an apostle was the story of a vision. And even later in life the apostles in Jerusalem were wary of him and accused him of possibly disobeying the Law of Moses. Christians forbid rash judgment and then they deploy it when their scriptures, so Spartan when it comes to honesty and consistency, tell them to.
God cannot be pleased with the worship of those who don’t make much of an effort to know him. You cannot sincerely worship what you don’t know. Most Christians aren’t interested all the same. God will reveal a simple religion. Religion has to be Catholic, that is universal. Such religion is meant to attract all people and be suitable for all even the simplest for the world is full of deceivers. But the Catholic faith and most Christian faiths are complicated which shows that they are neither Catholic or from God.
As Jesus insisted that it is divine law that we love God with all our being it is obvious why he was against the Jewish religious ministers and leaders and priests despite admitting that they were teachers whose teaching should be followed and trusted. It was because they were good men but only in the eyes of society. They were not heroically holy. Jesus recognised that good people may get in the way of the best people. Good and best are sometimes opposed.

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