What about Caesar's Image on the Coin?
If one's image is engraved on an object, does that mean that the object belongs to the person whose image adorns the object?
Do you really think that Jesus told his disciples to pay taxes to Caesar because Caesar's graven image was on all of the coins?
Do you think that just because the Emperor's face was on the money, that everybody had to render the coins to the Emperor whenever he asked for them? Does this make sense?
Can you think of any parallel examples in society where ownership is conferred by way of having one's picture on an object? Can Bob Richards fill up his supermarket basket full of Wheaties boxes, bypass the checkout line, and cart them all out to his car trunk free of charge just because his picture is on all the boxes?
Below in his classic pamphlet entitled "Jesus as an An-archist Tax-resister", Joffre Stewert explains why only someone who has graduated from divinity school could possibly believe that Jesus told his disciples to pay taxes to Caesar because Caesar's image was engraved on all of the coins.
Below, ronpaulblimps.com has transcribed for you Stewart's original intricately and beautifically hand-scripted 8 page essay with original capitalization, underlines, script (italicized), and punctuation preserved:
JESUS AS AN An-ARCHIST TAX-RESISTER
The material below formed the basis for discussion in a workshop of a DON'T-PAY-TAX conference sponsored by CHICAGO AREA WAR RESISTERS SUPPORT GROUP, and held at the Wellington Ave United Church of Christ, 615 Wellington, CHICAGO, IL (SAT 12 FEB 83). It resulted in a consensus that the historical Jesus was indeed one of us tax-resisters.
"An-ARCHIST" was supposed to be in the description of this workshop. The fact that it is not, says something about what we are up against.
Note that in the tax-refusal brochure composed by the CHICAGO AREA WAR RESISTERS SUPPORT GROUP* the historical Jesus is not listed among tax-resisters. If this workshop is successful, it will be able to recommend that the historical Jesus, the an-archist, be included in any listing of tax-resisters. And we may as well benefit from this fact about Jesus.
First, what anarchism is not.
In this regard, people coming into the workshop late may bring their misunderstandings with them. It is up to you to see that they do not destroy the usefulness of this gathering by boring you with misunderstandings that we have done away with.
Second, what an-archism is.
Finally, how Jesus fits in under the correct definition of an-archism, as a tax-refuser, of course.
An-archism is not what (Webster's and) the newsmedia assume it is: It is not chaos, disorder, violence, terrorism, bomb-making.
For what an-archism is, let's go to an an-archist, not a newshack. George Woodcock, an an-archist, writes the Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for an-archism, which begins:
"Anarchism is a term describing a cluster of doctrines and attitudes whose principle uniting feature is that government is both harmful and unnecessary." p. 808; 1974
From that I emfasize: GOVERNMENT IS BOTH HARMFUL AND UNNECESSARY.
and here is my own definition:
An-archism is nonviolent revolution against Authority such as would yield a STATE-LESS, classless, non-chauvinist society on a basis of: FREE LOVE
My definition is larger than Woodcock's minimal definition but it includes the essential of that definition. Also, by negating Authority, my defintion intersects Jesus' definition for his an-archism, particularly where we find it in Mark 10:42-43:
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them Ye know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles, exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them
43 But so shall it not be among you; (Scofield-KJV)
Jesus negates Rule, Lordship (a word for which americans might substitute "domination") and Authority. Authority means Command-Obedience. Thus Jesus wiped out Government and wiped out everything from which you might make any kind of Government whatever: democracy, dictatorship, despotism, republic, socialism, theocracy, aristocracy; the Marxist, Zionist, Vatican, Puritan, Islamic, Fidelista: you name it. Jesus would NOT tell you to vote. NO COPS NO COURTS NO JAILS NO TAXES.
Consequently, Jesus had to be opposed to taxes, opposed to the assessment or collection of any tax whatsoever.
Jesus was an an-archist tax-resister.
And Jesus was an an-archist tax-resister because he was not a hypocrite. He was not a wishy-washy liberal, and he was not, with all due respect to those who include an-archism in their curricula, a tenured academic revolutionary.
And that does it.
The rest is overkill, as far as establishing Jesus as a tax-resister is concerned. There is one place in the record where Jesus actually refused to pay tax & removed all obligation to pay tax and another place where he answered that no Jew nor anyone who followed the 10 Commandments could pay tax.
Jesus specifically destroys tax-collection in Matt 17:24-26:
24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou Simon? Of whom do the Kings of the earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Scofield - KJV)
Note that in Jesus' time taxes were exactions imposed by a foreign power. It was unheard of that people should rob themselves. People robbing themselves is called "democracy". Therefore you may look on democracy as a form of imperialism that pervades the body social entire. Democracy is the worst form of imperialism from this point of view. What we call totalitarian societies come out of democratic antecedents or democratic theory.
Since the tax was the imposition of a foreign power, tax-refusal was more than the evasion of a money charge. Tribute was a test of loyalty and refusal of tribute was revolution. Jesus obviously was a nonviolent revolutionary. Tax-refusal, now as then, is the most important avenue to nonviolent revolution. It is not strictly an individual or personal matter, it is a matter of fundamental social change.
The Temple tax (the particular tax in question) was not a Jewish tax but a Roman imposition. When the Romans tore down the Temple, the tax did not end: the tribute flowed to the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolanus.
Establishment Christianity, that which put this roof over our heads, exists by keeping people from knowing Jesus as Jesus knew himself. They do this by being ridiculous. Believing in miracles is one way to be ridiculous. Matt 17:27 is ridiculous, therefore they tell you that it means pay taxes. The Jesus of Establishment Christianity MUST BE A HYPOCRITE. Matt 17:27 reads:
27 Notwithstandnig, lest we offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish, that first cometh up. And when thou hast opened its mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take and give unto them for me and thee. (Scofield - KJV)
Nowhere does it say that Peter followed that ridiculous advice and paid taxes. But Establishment Christianity is so desparate to get taxes paid that it has Peter doing the impossible.
I don't know how to account for the language of Matt 17:27. If it is not a mistranslation or an editorial fraud then it could very easily be some Jewish joke, the meaning of which is lost the same way jokes in Shakespeare no longer have meaning. I myself am disinclined to attempt jokes because they are so often taken seriously and badly received. Christianity in a sense may be based on Jewish jokes.
Jacques Ellul is an an-archist theologian who sees Matt 17:27 as not referring to any actual event, like tax-paying. He writes:
"Jesus' attitude on political authority in the Gospels is a radically negative one. He himself refuses to exercise a juridical type of authority. He counsels his disciples not to imitate the kings of nations ("Kings and governors have dominion over men; let there be none like that among you..."). He refuses to become king or to participate in the political conflicts of his time It is very significant in this regard, that there were both Roman 'collaborators' (Matthew) and Zealots, the violent anti-Roman patriots (Judas, Simon) among his disciples. He knew quite well the resistance party and refused to join it. He held political authority up to derision. Consider the famous and interesting affair of the two coins found in the mouth of a fish, an occasion to talk about tax. This is the sole and unique miracle of this type, bordering on the exorbitant, done precisely to demonstrate that the duty of paying taxes is simply ridiculous. (emfasis supplied) Katallagete, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 20, col .1.
I'm an atheist: miracles don't happen. Whether you are a theologian or an atheist, Jesus did not pay tax and in Matt. 17:24-26, removed all obligation to pay tax. Matthew had been a tax-collector. When he fell in with Jesus he was no longer an agent of internal revenue. Matthew tells us what he learned.
Where Jesus says, "Render unto Caesar..." etc., Jesus is saying: DON'T PAY TAX. Establishment Christianity tells you the opposite. Establishment Christianity must and does falsify the historical situation, falsifies religion itself, in order to have Jesus contradicting his an-archism.
Let's take it from Luke 20:20-26. It was a question of law. A question of Jewish law, not Roman law which was alien and had no standing (or respect). In the New English Bible, the passage reads:
"So they [the lawyers and chief priests] watched their opportunity and sent secret agents in the guise of honest men to seize upon some word of his as a pretext for handing him over to the authority and jurisdiction of the Governor. They put a question to him: 'Master,' they said, 'we know that what you speak and teach is sound; you pay deference to no one, but teach in all honesty the way of life that God requires. Are we or are we not permitted to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor?' He saw through their trick and said, 'Show me a silver piece. Whose head does it bear and whose inscription?' 'Caesar's' they replied. 'Very well then' he said, 'pay Caesar what is due to Caesar and pay God what is due to God. Thus their attempt to catch him out in public failed, and astonished by his reply, they fell silent."
Note first that the person who asked the question recognized that Jesus was of such independent character that he would not be expected to show the subservience that comes with rendering tribute. "You pay deference to no one...".
Note next the coin. The coin was a direct violation of the 1st & 2nd Commandments. The coin designated Caesar as a divinity. The Jews to whom Jesus spoke knew how to differentiate God from Caesar.** The theologians who tell you Jesus was saying pay tax don't even know the 1st Commandment. Note that the image of Caesar is on the coin. The 2nd Commandment forbids graven images. In other words the person who handed Jesus a coin, convicted himself. There was an absolute conflict between rendering unto g-d and rendering unto Caesar. Only a hypocrite man might attempt both. That was the person who handed Jesus a coin. Caesar had nothing coming except the effort it took to kick him out of Palestine: The only thing you owe Caesar is revolution, overthrow, desctruction. And note: those who heard Jesus could not say that he had said pay taxes. Only someone who has been to divinity school can tell you that.
And when Jesus came to trial before Pilate, he was charged with encouraging nonpayment of taxes and the charge was correct.
Futher note: in later years of the empire, the Romans met the Jewish objection to graven images by taking their mugs off coins.
Now the answer Jesus gave in Luke 20:20-26 was given to get a stool pigeon off his back. All it means is that Jesus had more than one way to say: DON'T PAY TAXES. Jesus' fundamental objection to taxes is the nonviolent one that The State has no right to exist.
A final word: if you understand Jesus correctly as an an-archist tax-resister, then you never ever refer to him as "Christ". The Jews were looking for a sanctified politico-military leader of armed struggle to oust the Romans. Somebody like Ariel Sharon. The Jews wanted to be the little Caesars that they were before the Romans. They wanted to be what Zionists are now. Because Jesus was nonviolent, he told them again and again that he was not "the Christ": John 6:15, Luke 17:20-21, Mark 10:35-43, etc.
When he stood before Pilate, Pilate asked: Are you king of the Jews? In John 18:36 Jesus answered: "My kingship is not according to this world, if it were, my servants would fight.." Kings kick ass. Jesus was nonviolent therefore completely opposed to any war-making, tax-collecting thing like Caesar, boss, Khan; like King, like Rex, like Christ. In terms of the languages that were nailed overhead at the crucifixion Jesus was anti-King, anti-Rex, anti-Christ. Jesus ANTI-Christ. If you understand Jesus correctly, you know how (to) call him ANTI-Christ, never Christ. You know a "Christ" by the draft s/he imposes and the taxes s/he collects.
It follows that in our report and recommendations to the plenum, if we recommend that Jesus be included as an historic DOWN-WITH-THE-STATE tax-resister, then we do not refer to Jesus as "Christ", a term Jesus not only avoided, but destroyed in Luke 17:20-21, where his teaching takes on the meaning of FREEDOM NOW.
Somewhere in John, Jesus says: I call you not servants, but friends. It is Quaker practice not to refer to anyone by title, not even "Mr". Let's all be advocates of the ANTI-Christ, let's all be friends.
Joffre Stewart, advocate of the ANTI-Christ, 6238 S. Aberdeen, CHICAGO, IL 6062x
*"A CALL TO WAR TAX RESISTANCE/the choice is ours". 1982
**Rendering tribute to Caesar meant giving loyalty to an alien divinity, in contravention of the first principle of monotheist faith.