Bryan Fischer Says Jesus Had Capitalism in His DNA

The European, “Capitalist” Jesus, God of Entrepreneurs

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” - Matthew 6:24

“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” – Luke 12:15

According to AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fischer, Jesus was a capitalist; it “ran in his DNA.”

Leaving aside the question of whether or not a tripartite, wholly divine, wholly human being has DNA in the first place (time to call a Church Council!), I have to point out that this isn’t something you’re going to find in the Gospels. Really, you’re not. This is something you’re only going to find in the heads of people like Bryan Fischer.

Now it has to be admitted here that all through history people have been trying to bend Jesus into one thing or another. I’ve written about it here before and I’ll lay a few examples on you again here just to get the ball rolling, just from this century alone:[1]

  • As a Galilean holy man (hasid): Geza Vermes Jesus the Jew (1973), A.N. Wilson, Jesus: A Life (1993). A.N. Wilson, Jesus: A Life (1992).[2]
  • As an eschatological prophet: Michael Grant, Jesus (1977), E.P. Sanders Jesus and Judaism (1985), J.P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (1991), Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (1999), Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant (2006). Note: Gary Wills believes that to tame the gospels in order to put them to humanitarian uses goes against Jesus’ teachings.
  • As a Magician: Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician (1978). Note: Celsus, author of the True Doctrine, agrees: “It was by magic that he was able to do the miracles” (Contra Celsum 1.6).
  • As an innovative Rabbi: Bruce Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible (1984).
  • As a trance-inducing psychotherapist: S. Davies, On the Inductive Discourse of Jesus: The Psychotherapeutic Foundation of Christianity. Jesus Seminar (1992).
  • As a political revolutionary: S.G.F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots (1967), G.W. Buchanon, Jesus: The King and his Kingdom (1984). Note: This is how the Romans saw him, as evidenced by his crucifixion.
  • As an Essene Teacher: J. Allegro, Jesus and Qumran: The Dead Sea Scrolls (1986)
  • As a Proto-Liberal Theologian: J.M. Robinson, The Jesus of Q as Liberation Theologian, Jesus Seminar (1991)
  • As a Cynic Sage: J.D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1991), F.G. Downing, Cynics and Christian Origins (1992), Burton L. Mack, A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (1988), idem, The Last Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (1993), Note: Burton Mack denies to Jesus any association with Judaism and its apocalyptic mythology. His Jesus comes from a completely HellenizedGalilee.
  • As a Charismatic Prophet: Marcus J. Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teachings off Jesus (1984), idem, Jesus: A New Vision (1987). Note: Borg denies the significance of eschatology in Jesus’ message. In his own words, Jesus “was a charistmatic heatler or ‘holy person,’ a subversive sage who undermined conventional wisdom and taught an alternative wisdom, a social propet, and an initiator of a movement the purpose of which was the revitalization of Israel.”[3]
  • As a Prophet and Messenger of Sophia (Wisdom Prophet): Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (1983). Note: For Fiorenza, Jesus and his movement challenged patriarchy and were sociopolitical in orientation rather than eschatological.[4]
  • As a Radical Prophet: Richard Horsley, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs: Popular Movements at the Time of Jesus (1985), idem, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence (1987), idem, Sociology and the Jesus Movement (1989). Note: Horsley places Jesus in the eschatological traditions ofIsrael but Jesus is a social revolutionary who took the side of the poor against the ruling elite.
  • As Rightful King of Israel and Messiah: James Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty (2006). Tabor’s Jesus “was a political revolutionary who expected nothing less than the violent overthrow of the kingdom of the world.”[5]

You can of course add capitalist and socialist to that list.

Others deny his existence altogether and see the Gospels as nothing but myth. But I will accept Jesus as having a historical (if debatable) pedigree.[6] As should be clear by now, Christopher Bryan’s statement that “the historical Jesus” is “an expression that is hardly without problems of its own” is an understatement.[7] And the list above does not even cover, for the most part, the various views held by the various Christianities of antiquity.[8]

All the authors above make arguments in favor of their thesis and Bryan Fischer attempts to do the same but he runs into trouble at the outset when he puts his thesis in the following terms:  “The stories that Jesus told could have only come from a capitalist’s capitalist.”

Right: from a guy – Jesus – who had nothing whatsoever good to say about rich people and their slim to none chances of entering the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24Mark 10:24-25, and Luke 18:24-25; Luke 12:15; Matthew 6:24). Look especially to Luke, where you find a blessing for the poor:  ”Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20-22) and an accompanying curse on the rich: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24).

Jesus the capitalist? Hardly. Poverty is a virtue in the Gospels and Jesus is even preaching to the poor, not to those who “control the means of production” (Matt. 11:5; Luke 7:22). But if you’re eager to hear how that works, exactly, wait no longer; Fischer can’t wait to tell you:

“In one of his most famous parables,” Fischer explains, “the parable of the talents…Jesus refers to a man who called his servants together and ‘entrusted to them his property.”

For those interested, this parable can be found in two places in the New Testament:  Matthew 25:14-30 and the Luke 19:12-27.

For further reference, the two versions are dissimilar. According to Geza Vermes, Matthew’s version is “the more straightforward” while Luke’s version “seems to be a shambles.”

The moral of the story, he explains, “is that in the context of the expectation of the Kingdom those who work for it must not fear taking risks to achieve success.” That’s religion; not economics, which is what you’d expect from Jesus since he was a religious figure, not an economist.

Vermes goes on to say that “Understood in this sense, the parable would not be alien to the outlook of Jesus,” but “the two objections against attributing it to him arise from the urban, as against the usual rural topic” and mention of the Parousia (Jesus’ return) “after a long time” (Jesus made it clear the coming of the Kingdom was at hand, as did Paul, and the idea that it would come only after a long time originates from the period when, after a long time, it had not yet come).[9]

It all seems pretty straightforward in an eschatological context. Right?

Wrong.

“Hold it right there!” Fischer exclaims. “It was his own property! He owned the means of production – it did not belong to the community at large! The capital used in economic exchange was in private hands! And what he does with his wealth is clearly nobody’s business but his own.”

Clearly, Jesus acknowledging that people in first century Judaea, as elsewhere in the ancient world, owned property does not in fact make him a capitalist or anything else, other than observant to an at least average degree. You’d expect that, at least, out of a God-figure, tripartite or otherwise.

But Fischer is sure he’s on to something here in the same way that putting “Year of the Lord” in a founding document makes that document somehow Christian. Entirely missed by Fischer is the point Jesus is making about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Instead, Jesus seems to be teaching about the wonders of capitalism?

Leave it to a fundamentalist Christian to entirely miss the point his supposed Lord and Savior is trying to make. Rather than focusing on the Kingdom of God (as was Jesus) Fischer is claiming that “Accountability in this story does not rest with some government agency. Rather it remains in private hands, with the entrepreneur who called his servants together upon his return and ‘settled accounts.'”

But Jesus isn’t talking about capitalism or private enterprise or private or public hands. He is talking about the Kingdom of God.

Fischer takes the parable too literally when he says “Jesus’ businessman had no intention of rewarding or subsidizing irresponsibility. The lazy servant had no right to anything he wasn’t willing to work for.”

Actually Bryan, people have no right to the Kingdom of God if they’re not willing to work for it. It’s somehow difficult to imagine Jesus congratulating Disciple Bryan on his deductive powers.

In fact, rather than preaching his apocalyptic message, that people should get right with God before he inaugurates his Kingdom on earth, Disciple Bryan teaches that Jesus was preaching an early version of the inalienable rights of the “pursuit of happiness” and preaching the evils of government interference.

No, what Jesus was preaching is that the Kingdom of God wasn’t free. He wasn’t talking about welfare or leftist social engineering. He wasn’t pre-empting Marx eighteen centuries before Marx was born.

Clearly Jesus did not approve of any earthly government since in the view of Jewish apocalypticism earthly governments were corrupt. Besides his own government being pro-Roman, he believed like other apocalyptic prophets, that the rich and powerful were in the thrall of Satan and his aid was the only way such people gained their power and wealth.

You have to admit that isn’t a capitalist-friendly outlook.

And it’s a bit of a stretch to turn him into an opponent of a government of the people, by the people, for the people; a government that actually tries to help, rather than rape, its people.

This is the conclusion Disciple Bryan draws instead:

So let’s sum up. In this story, capital is in private hands. The owner of the capital is free to invest it as he chooses, and to entrust his private resources to anyone he chooses. Economic gain comes through investment, risk-taking and smart choices. The enterprise is based on ability and there is no quota system of any kind in place. Achievement rather than mere effort is rewarded. Accountability rests in the hands of private enterprise rather than in the hands of government. Laziness is punished rather than rewarded, and resources are not involuntarily transferred from the producers to the non-producers but the other way round.

All this means, concludes Disciple Bryan, that Jesus…had capitalism in his DNA.” And that Bryan Fischer needs to go back to Sunday school, cause he’s one aberrochristian who done missed the boat.


[1] This list is based on categories suggested by Paul Rhodes Eddy, “Jesus as Diogenes? Reflections on the Cynic Jesus Thesis” JBL 115 (1996), 449-469.

[2] For Anglican scholar N.T. Wright’s highly critical review of Wilson’s book see N.T. Wright, Who was Jesus? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 37-64.

[3] In “Portraits of Jesus in Contemporary North American Scholarship,” HTR 84 (1991), 1-22 Borg examines not only his own views of Jesus but several of those others mentioned here, including Sanders, Fiorenza, Horsley, and Mack.

[4] See also Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation,” HTR 90 (1997), 343-358, where she argues “that historical Jesus research is a critical practice and process that must continually attempt to re-envision on historical-critical grounds our knowledge about Jesus and the discipleship community that carries his name.” Gerd Ludemann’s evaluation (Primitive Christianity, 88) is that “The theological zeal behind this book is at least as absolutist as the patriarchalist exegesis of primitive Christianity and modernity which  Schüssler Fiorenza attacks.”

[5] James Tabor, The Jesus Dynasty (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2006),  161-162.

[6] See, for example, George A. Wells, Who was Jesus?: A Critique of the New Testament Record (Open Court, 1989).

[7] Christopher Bryan, Render to Caesar (NY: Oxford University Press, 2005) 7.

[8] For these various views, see Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (NY: Oxford University Press, 2003)

[9] Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (Penguin Books, 2004),  136-139.

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20 Replies to “Bryan Fischer Says Jesus Had Capitalism in His DNA”

  1. Christianity, another phony religion and ponzi scheme. All holy days plagerized from other cults and pagan rituals. It really a sad excuse for a deity worshipping cult.

  2. Odd, that people who do not believe in evolution should be so insistant on the dictates of DNA (not the frst time I’be heard it, either).

  3. …something in Bryan’s DNA has failed, mostly the part having to do with interpreting empirical facts accurately in reality.

    Jussayin’.

    Really? Trying to use Jesus, sacred sacred Christ, to justify what must be an allusion to our modern form of crony capitalism, not to justify say… laissez faire capitalism. As it is. What a guy. Someone Jesus can forgive, but until he gets his mind together, someone… we cannot.

  4. Unbelievable that any Christian would believe this absurdity. But then absurdity seems part and parcel of these “Jesus” people.

  5. You cannot earn your way to heaven, Grace is a gift from God. To receive this gift, one must belive in Christ and love him with all your heart. Once you start loving Jesus, the gift of Salvation is yours. Doing good works is a great thing, and can help you learn to love Christ, but Good works alone will not allow you to enter into Heaven. When Jesus Died for our sins, he did it so no one else would be doomed to darkness, so the price is paid, Doing good works is definitely a great thing because people see Christ in your actions and may want to know Jesus themselves, so that the can be joyous and saved in Christ.

  6. How amazing that Christians think that the only place on earth that god thinks is a godly place is the U.S. Or. how Christians think that they are the only people He cares about. I guess with there hit and miss way of reading and interpreting the Bible they didn’t read where God declares his favorite people. Those people would be 144,000 people drawn by 12,000 from each tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel. Not a christian but Jews. God loves his people the Jews and makes Christians jump through hoops to try to measure up. By the by using their own actions they will never come close to measuring up.

  7. Jesus warns us about false prophets, and this guy totally fits the bill. These guys are nothing more than a bunch of reborn christians with a lot of birth defects!

  8. …for the record, this comment is a bit more harsh than I should like to condone, so take this with my best intentions for the world, and not as an ego attack on a man who is selling us a bill of bads. Thassall.

  9. Bryan Fischer reminds me of Paul Ryan, that pro-“personhood amendment” and Pro-vaginal probe anti-abortionist, “Family Values” Roman Catholic who suddenly became a “deficit hawk” AFTER Barack Obama became President; who supposedly was a devotee of Ayn Rand but somehow didn’t notice that Ayn Rand was an atheist (until the Nuns pointed it out), didn’t notice that Ayn Rand opposed Ronald Reagan’s Presidency (because she was staunchly PRO-CHOICE, and didn’t know that she flatly stated that “the family is NOT a necessary unit of society”.

    Xians like Bryan Fischer and Paul Ryan “love the Bible” because, when and IF they read it, the see only what they want to see and ignore (the root of the word “ignorance”) the fact that the Bible disavows the rich and advocates FOR the “poor, the weak, and the downtrodden (i.e., the oppressed)”.

  10. What’s this about Jesus having capitalism in his DNA? Hey wasn’t Jesus a Jew? Bryan Fischer, can you say antisemitic-stereotype?

  11. If there were a Kingdom of God on earth, it would be pretty placid. You probably wouldn’t NEED government because there wouldn’t be those trying to get one over on everyone else, Fischer stule.

    The point of Christ’s teachings was to bring about the best kind of world you could, right here on earth. It did not require rite, rule, ritual, church edifices, robes, jewels, or any other damn thing religion has imposed on itself and thus on us.

    It would be a world of equity, compassion, and inclusion and would NOT celebrate private accumulation and hoarding. No one would be excluded: Gandhi, Buddah, Muhammad (p) Russell and Hume and every other good hearted person would be welcome, NO EXCEPTIONS. What would NOT be acceptable would be selfish accumulation.

    And there is nothing at all in the Bible to justify what Fischer is so desperately trying to say. You cannot for a moment find a justification in the New Testament and Jesus’ words for power and money and privatization anywhere.

    Sorry Fischer – it’s a fool’s mission you’re on. What a waste of time.

  12. Let us not for get…”give to Caesar, that which is Caesar’s, and to God, that which is God’s.” Mark 12:17. The Christians were complaining about (what else?) paying taxes to the Romans…and Jesus answered.

  13. I never noticed one of the most famous parables he never mentioned at all…The Rich Man and Lazarus. Jesus said that Abraham told the Rich Man from Paradise in Luke 16:25: “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”(ESV) For some reason when these literalists don’t like something or it disagrees with them…it doesn’t exist. In this case and to dispute Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand…you can have it all here and screw over everyone else…but you will get your reward in the afterlife.

  14. I call that “Pie in the sky by and by” and absolutely despise and reject it. It’s only an “out” for “Good Christians” to ignore doing justice and mercy… after all, if things are hell on earth, “God will make it right” (indeed, I’ve heard arguments for that scripture being a justification for making people miserable). People have used that scripture and thrown it in my face… I’m supposed to be submissive and tolerate the abuse (including theirs) in this life in order to “win God’s blessing” in the other. I’m supposed to be happy that life is a living hell, because “better is coming”.

    They can ALL Go to Hell! If you never see justice (only see it in the inverse – in seeing injustice after injustice), how can you believe that God is just – especially when it’s “Good Christians” that have created all of the misery?

    To me it’s just like the “Karma” lie… that if bad things happen to you it’s because of “Karma” (always your fault), or if someone is evil, “what goes around comes around!”.

    Sorry Charlie – 54 years old and I’ve NEVER have seen it happen – just the opposite in fact. I’ve seen really evil people get miracle after miracle, and good people get disaster after disaster. In fact, the book of Job is a diatribe against the idea that “God rewards good people with good things and bad people with suffering and hardship”. The inverse is all too often true (and if it’s true in this life, how can anyone expect it to be different in the next?).

  15. Actually, it tickles the projectile feces out of me when people talk about the ‘bastardization’ of ‘the Holy Word’ — when 90+% of the so-called “christian” believers don’t even KNOW that their precious bible was re-written, edited and approved by a Roman emperor who was falsely ‘converted’ by ecumenical ‘missionaries’ in the 4th Century CE. THAT’S why all those pagan holidays are embraced, Constantine was told by those cowards that all his SUN-GOD holidays were actually worship of “the SON of GOD”. Religion has been a bad joke ever since.

    Fischer has publicly embraced a view that I, with tongue firmly in cheek, equate with calling Alexandr Solzhenitzn a domestic terrorist. Both concepts — my obvious bull**** and Fischer’s transparent rant — are equally at home at the bottom of the septic tank.

    Much ado about nothing — but it does illustrate that Fischer needs long-term psychoanalysis.

  16. Jesus warned us of there being many false prophets to look out for and Bryan Fischer is certainly one of them.

    The rich need and have their consolation. :)

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