D.M. Bennett’s An Open Letter to Jesus Christ was first published in the November 1875 issue of the Truth Seeker
It is quite possible some people may deem it improper that a letter addressed to the distinguished personage named above should be written, but we cannot so regard it. Countless prayers and appeals are daily made to him from all sorts of people, from all sorts of places, and upon all sorts of subjects. Every one says or asks what he pleases, and no man is authorized to dictate what shall be said. A prayer is an appeal, a letter is another form of appeal. Any individual has a right to either form. That a letter is any more improper than a prayer is not obvious, and in this case a letter is preferred:
To His Excellency, IMMANUEL J. CHRIST, otherwise called “Prince of Peace,” “Sun of Righteousness,” “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” “Wonderful,” “Counsellor,” “The Messiah,” “The Redeemer,” “The Savior,” “The Bridegroom,” “The Lamb of God,” “Captain of our Salvation,” “Son of God,” “Son of Man,” etc., etc.
Respected Sir: Learning from our daily papers that it is expected you will pass a few days in our immediate vicinity, in company with your agents, Moody and Sankey, who are supposed to be in your special service, and who have just commenced a grand starring engagement through our principal cities, in your interest, I embrace this opportunity to address you in this manner, hoping I may be able to attract your attention and to receive a reply. I am in quest of truth, and many say it is to be found with you, and to attain any good gift whatsoever of you, it is only necessary to ask. I wish knowledge and information on many subjects, and I hereby make my wants known, I trust with due respect and in a proper spirit. If I have not troubled you latterly as often as many do, I hope it will not disparage my chances of recognition.
If your memory serves you, you probably can bring to mind that something over a quarter of a century ago I was in the habit of addressing you regularly four or five times a day, and from one year’s end to another, but finally coming to the conclusion that my appeals were not heard, or that they availed me nothing, I discontinued them, thus saving much time and breath, as well as disappointment also, and losing nothing, so far as I was able to judge. After a silence of more than twenty-five years, it is hoped this effort will be successful; but if it is not, I shall not be greatly surprised.
I shall not have room in one letter to enquire of you all I wish to know, but if I am successful in obtaining answers to these questions, I may some time address you again, but, in any event, I trust I approach you in a proper spirit, and that I give no offence. I wish not to be impertinent, but to indicate to you the points upon which I need light. If you are truly the source of light, may I not hope to be successful?
. . . . [unbelievably long, but oh so interesting compilation of specific complaints from a probable genious]
. . . .
Among all the nations of the earth, is there one nation where there is more stealing, more lying, more cheating, more fraud, more oppression upon the poor, and more cruelty, more heartlessness and more murder than in Christian lands?
Are not the precepts, maxims, and moral sentiments you enjoined used by your professed followers more as a cloak for their heartless deception and their self-righteousness, and as a weapon in their controversies with themselves and their antagonists, than as a rule of life or the governing principle of conduct?
Does not the worship of gold, of avarice, of power of fashion, of respectability, of selfishness, control their actions and inspire their lives far more than the meek and lowly doctrines you enunciated?
In a few words, is not Christianity, as known and practiced in the world, a cheat, a fraud, a costly and an expensive luxury which mankind could well spare, losing nothing by its rejection?
Finally, as you now view the field, the past, the present, and the future, would it not, in your opinion, be better to wipe out from the face of the earth all priestcraft, superstition, sectarianism, falsehood, all the absurdities and monstrosities which have so preyed upon mankind, and to inaugurate an era of truth, reason, common sense, science, education, simplicity, fraternity, and humanity; discarding false gods, base devils, useless saviors, and degrading creeds. and to devote our time and attention to the improvement of this world and to the happiness of the human race?
Pardon me, Dear Sir, if I have been importunate or bold in my interrogatories. I feel that it is perfectly safe to inquire of you on all the subjects here touched upon, and upon which I wish information.
Should I be successful in obtaining answers from you, I will be encouraged to ask for more information. But as hinted at in the beginning of my letter, judging from the success I formerly met with, years ago, in the appeals I made to you in thousands of instances, I am prepared to not be disappointed if I receive no reply to this. I am respectfully, duteously, and hopefully,
A TRUTH SEEKER