Why Is Jesus A Minor Character In The Religion Named After Him?

Why Is Jesus A Minor Character In The Religion Named After Him? March 9, 2020

Honestly, this is one of those things that seriously drives me batty. Christians who major on Moses, or study Nehemiah, or focus on Paul’s epistles and hardly ever talk about Jesus [except on Good Friday, Easter or Christmas], are very curious to me.

I really just don’t understand it. They call themselves “Christians” but don’t know what Jesus taught. They wear t-shirts with his picture on it, but can’t tell you what the Sermon on the Mount was about. They sing songs about Jesus on Sunday morning with tears in their eyes and then sit down to hear the pastor preach through his series on the life of Abraham, or Moses, or some other Old Testament character.

Really?

Why are Christians so fired up about keeping the Ten Commandments in the court house but never even consider displaying the Beatitudes in their own Church building?

Why are Christians so focused on “an eye for an eye” when Jesus specifically told us not to follow that rule anymore?

Why are Christians so well-versed in the writings of the Apostle Paul but so uninterested in the teachings of Jesus?

I’m stumped.

It’s like meeting a Muslim who says, “I don’t really follow this Mohammed guy.” Or hearing a Buddhist say, “I have no real interest in what Buddha taught.” Or visiting a Jewish synagogue where they never taught anything from the Torah.

Seriously?

But, somehow, it’s totally one-hundred-percent normal for a Christian to attend a church where the words of Jesus are almost never spoken, taught or followed.

How can this be?

Well, I think part of how this has happened is that Jesus was all about how we live our lives on a daily basis. He’s mostly concerned with ethics: how we care for the poor, how we treat other people, how we love our neighbors, how we respond to our enemies, how we handle our pride, how we handle our money, etc.

Most Christians are not very comfortable with anyone messing with this part of our lives. We’d much rather listen to a sermon about how to obtain God’s blessing, how to have a happy marriage, how to raise godly children, how to prove we’re right and everyone else is wrong, etc.

So, simply put, I think it’s a matter of supply and demand. People won’t keep their butts in the seats if we preach what Jesus said, so we keep everyone happy by crafting sermons that avoid the teachings of Jesus and focus more on the promotion of our own religion. Problem solved.

The ironic thing is that these same churches will loudly proclaim that they “only teach what the Bible says and not what people want to hear,” and then they proceed to preach what people want to hear and avoid what Jesus says as much as possible.

Now, not every pastor does this. I’m happy to say I know several pastors and Bible teachers who are quite fascinated by Jesus and who focus almost exclusively on following Jesus and making disciples of Jesus [by first becoming disciples of Jesus themselves].

I’d love to see more of that, please.

But, unfortunately, I tend to see a lot more Christians focused on the Old Testament scriptures, the Law, and the teachings of Paul [as they understand them].

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Bible. I also see a lot of value in studying the Old Testament scriptures, if what you do is to point out when and how these scriptures illuminate Jesus. That’s sort of why they’re still relevant for us today: because they point us to Christ.

What the Old Testament scriptures never do? They never point us to the scriptures. They always point us to Christ.

What is a Christian’s foundation? It’s not the Old Testament, or the Bible. It’s Jesus.

What is a Christian’s ultimate source of authority? It’s not the Bible. It’s Jesus.

Where can Christian’s look to see the exact representation of the Father? Not the Old Testament. Only Jesus.

What is the Christian’s final source for truth? Not the Bible. Jesus.

See, the revelation of Jesus was simply this: “No one had ever seen God at any time, except for the son who came to make Him known to us.” [John 1:18]

This means that no one [not Moses, not Abraham, not David, etc.] had ever seen God. No one. Only Jesus knows the Father. And the reason Jesus came? To make God known to us and to clear up the confusion left by those guys who thought they saw God, but clearly did not.

This is why the New Testament can boldly proclaim that Jesus was “the exact representation of the Father” [Heb. 1:3], and that Jesus was “the image of the invisible God” [Col. 1:15], and that “to this day the same veil remains when the Old Covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away” [2 Cor. 3:14].

Yet, fast-forward a few thousand years and the religion we’ve made in the name of Jesus relegates him to a minor character who hardly ever gets referenced except to remind everyone that he was born, he died, he rose again and he’s coming back to slaughter his enemies.

How is this possible? Well, I think it’s partly because we’ve suffered under sermons that reverse the polarity of what Jesus actually accomplished. Rather than focus on how Jesus corrected the misconceptions of the Old Testament prophets about God, we’ve been told that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Therefore, it’s not that Jesus corrected that blurry image, it’s that the blurry image is who Jesus was all along.

So, instead of understanding that Jesus removes the veil over our eyes when we read the Old Testament, we’re told that Jesus affirms that veil and doesn’t want us to remove it.

Rather than teach us that Jesus reveals who the Father actually is, we’re told that God has always been exactly what we assumed he was; vengeful, wrathful and very disappointed in us.

This leads us to believe that Jesus ordered the slaughter of infants and toddlers in the Old Testament. Jesus wanted us to commit genocide. Jesus commanded people to take young girls as sex slaves.

But, this is not what Jesus means when he says, “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.”

In fact, if that’s what Jesus meant, he would have said, “If you’ve seen the God of the Old Testament you’ve seen me,” but that’s not what he said. Not at all. He pointed to his example as a loving, kind, patient, merciful, compassionate soul who genuinely loved the company of sinners and forgave people immediately, and healed people who were suffering, and blessed those who cursed and rejected him.

THAT is who God is. God is like Jesus.

But, frankly, some of us just cannot handle that. We need God to be the fearsome wielder of mighty thunderbolts who rains down fire on his enemies.

To that, Jesus says, “You know not what Spirit you are of.” [Luke 9:55]

I guess I just can’t help but wish that our gatherings be focused more on Jesus and less on the Law he came to fulfill. I wish that our churches were more focused on the words of Jesus than on the stories about people who were longing for someone like Jesus to arrive on the scene. I wish the people who called themselves “Christians” actually knew, loved and followed the words of Jesus.

We’ve become what my friend Dallas Willard once called “Vampire Christians” who only want enough of Jesus’s blood to get into heaven, but have no intention or desire to follow anything Jesus said or did.

Honestly, I really don’t care how we ended up with a Christless Christianity. I just want us to put Jesus back in the center again and start taking him seriously.

Frankly, not only would our churches be better off for it, so would our Christians and the world we live in.

So, can we get back to following this Jesus guy, please?

If not, I don’t think I can continue to associate myself with a belief system that takes the image of Jesus like some corporate mascot but isn’t interested in anything he actually stood for.

How about you?

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife have returned to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure. They hope to start a new house church very soon.

 Keith’s new book, “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” is available now on Amazon.

Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Send an invitation HERE

 Can’t get enough? Get great bonus content: Patreon page.

 


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  • RollieB

    Another provocative post that asks the perfect question of those that call themselves a Christian. A new book by Jan G Linn, Unbinding Christianity: Choosing the Values of Jesus over the Beliefs of the Church, asks virtually the same question. You two seem to be cut from the same cloth.

  • Bob Peacock

    Another excellent article by Chris. I love reading your posts, and other’s here as well., but, I must admit, it is to your blogs that I am most inspired and which make me pick up my bible and do fact checks and to see how exactly right on your are.
    Unfortunately it seems that to be politically correct these days you need to take the blood out of everything, the Majesty out of the awesomeness of Jesus just to fill the pews these days. A feel good Theology, however, I am so blessed to be in a Church where out Pastor (Beth) uses everything that God encompasses and more in particular as you said God is Jesus., and without Him we are nothing. Amen brother. keep up the great blogs.

  • cr johnson

    Go Keith, you are a wise man. I have a problem with Jesus. Its more comfortable to read and study and discuss what ifs rather than engage in loving the messy masses. Jesus modeled how to love the Father, Himself, His followers (one another), the neighbor and the enemy. He invites us to do likewise partnered with the Holy Spirit. I encourage friends to pursue an experience as a servant, not another Bible study to find life to the full.

  • Herm

    A “Christian” told me today the following, possibly a dozen times:

    Herm, you are not a Christian!!!

    Somebody needs to tell you that, so, it might as well be me.

    You made it known when you wrote:

    Herm XXXX • 5 days ago • edited
    The Bible isn’t the word of God, it is a testimony of mankind’s relationship with God as each author could bear.

    Each time I replied back using different, but always applicable, Bible references, sharing my credentials, and pointing him to Jesus and the Spirit of truth, especially when he added the accusation of blasphemy to virtually the same reply, of course then to thank him while showing him biblically why I thought he put me in good company. I got a little childish though, because I asked, “Do you judge me, also, “worthy of death”?”

    He was so proud that his “Christian” non-denominational church turns away, “Homosexuals, atheists, perverts, fornicators and those who reject sound doctrine”. He didn’t accept that Christ does not.

    He condemned me as though not being his acceptable “Christian” was a bad thing. If I didn’t know Jesus, by the example of this “Christian” representative judge, I would have actually preferred not ever having anything to do with the Christ in “Christian”, really.

    The only Bible reference he shared with anyone was “Jesus in Mathew 13:49-50” to prove hell was an eternal place of punishment.

    He never did understand when I asked and asked for Bible references, from what he worshiped as the sacrosanct (not his word) word of God, for why I could not be a Christian if I said the Bible isn’t the word of God. And I’m the only one using the word of God, and the Bible, in our entire back and forth conversation to help him see that the Spirit of truth, written of in the Bible, is real and in his midst.

    If Christians don’t know Jesus, the Christ, they can’t really be “Christ like” or “little Christs”.

    John 14:17 (NIV2011)

    the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

    When I was in the business I thought I understood that scripture. Only when I became a child of God, born of the Spirit, baptized by Jesus, did I realize that I had had no clue what being filled by the Holy Spirit really was. Most “Christians” cannot accept him, because they neither see him nor know him. I don’t know how to point the blind to him if they’re allegiance is to their “Christian” non-denominational church that turns away, “Homosexuals, atheists, perverts, fornicators and those who reject sound doctrine” … and those blasphemers who accept to be filled with the Holy Spirit boldly speaking the word of God, as it is written, Acts 4:31.

  • Brandon Roberts

    cool article.

  • Real Christians understand that Jesus is God so he authored all of the Bible not just the red letter portions of the Gospels. We can learn about Jesus but studying Moses, Paul, Peter and John.

  • Tedd Ludd

    Look, your so called “Jesus” never existed. But despite that fact, even if he had existed his name never had the word “Christ” in it. So to say that “Christianity” is named after Jesus is just another example of so called “Christians” once again not even understanding their own mythology. This is why we laugh at you and mock you.

  • RollieB

    Why are you here, reading and commenting?

  • Herm

    Thanks Tedd, for your concern, appreciated for what it is worth. To you, my dad never existed, but I knew him better than you. To you, my heavenly Father never existed, but I know him better than you. For the historical record, Jesus of Nazareth, was actually the prophesied Christ, Messiah, and apparently I know him better than you.

    Just because you don’t know something, of which there is an eternity’s worth yet to know, doesn’t mean you can so assuredly decide that that something “never existed”. Galileo Galilei was laughed at, mocked, and house arrested by the blind and ignorant of his time, also.

  • Herm

    You’re having a difficult time with votes, Roger. It is strange, considered from your comment, that not one book/letter of the Bible displays the author’s name as God, though each author demonstrates an inspiration from God. Have you considered that many who comment today may be inspired by the same God equally, even more time sensitive, as were the authors of the Law and the Prophets and the Newer Testimonies? The only difference may be in the canonization by mankind’s religious authorities; like the Pharisees, teachers of the law, or the Sadducee high priests Annas and Caiaphas???

    Matthew 5:20 (NIV2011)

    For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • Milo C

    “Real Christians” isn’t a phrase that should be used, in almost every circumstance. There will always be divisions between truly faithful people on the petty details and defining tales of the New Testament. Attempting to discredit someone else’s interpretation by saying they aren’t “really” Xtian wins you no converts, it just reinforces the walls of your camp.

  • Nimblewill

    Have you ever heard this scripture read, much less preached in your churches?

    But their minds were closed. For to this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. It has not been lifted, because only in Christ can it be removed. And even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.…

    Jesus also points us to the true character of the Father and we want our mean OT god who hates the same people we do.

  • Nimblewill

    But their minds were closed. For to this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. It has not been lifted, because only in Christ can it be removed. And even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.…

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    Prove it!

  • Herm

    No, really, my dad really did exist, but you’ll never believe me, right?

  • Mr. James Parson

    Are Mormons “Real Christians” ?

  • Herm

    As real as any who believe, and/or know, that Jesus of Nazareth was the prophesied Christ … and no, I am not a card carrying member of the Latter Day Saints.

  • Brennan Schneider

    A church that never mentions Jesus is not a church at all. That being said, a Jesus separate from the God of the OT is not Jesus, no not at all.

  • Alan

    I do think Jesus is rather incidental to evangelical Christianity. They will say that the miracles demonstrate that he was the son of God, which justifies why his death saves us, but the rest of his life is really just filler.

  • Paul

    I was born again, classically discipled Navigators, FCA, Campus Crusade for Christ, Bible Study Fellowship, attended a Calvinist Reformed Church, went into full time ministry and became a pastor before I was introduced to Jesus and began following him. Ironically I met Jesus outside of the church!

  • RollieB

    Unfortunately your biography is not unusual.

  • Herm

    All of scripture, that Jesus summed up as God’s intent (the Law and the Prophets), tell us simply that, in everything, do to others as we would have others do to us, measured as we love ourselves. He made certain to be quoted telling us that, even though written as such in the Law, God never intended for us to love our neighbors and hate our enemies. I don’t carry my cross, as the Messiah’s student, for other children born of the Spirit, but for those who have yet to become children of God, siblings of Jesus, the Christ. His church is spirit, not in any way physical, where all true worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

  • Brennan Schneider

    I would rather say God’s intention is to know and have fellowship with Him, and such a true fellowship would surely lead you to love your fellow man. Last 2 sentences, well said

  • Herm

    Thanks Brennan, it is nice to know that I’ve communicated at least somewhat well. I’m but a little child of God (an old human) and am not always understood.

    Having first been raised in physical (born of water), relationships are first understood as external one to another. I was 50 before I began to be raised in spirit, 26 years ago. When you introduced fellowship, which is what I loved the most in this world’s churches, I now know fellowship is not just rubbing shoulders with one another. Fellowship in the Spirit is now understood as each in each inclusive of all accepting to share in the moment. True fellowship in the Spirit hides nothing. Empathetic love is undeniable when you know each unique heart, soul, mind, as much as each of us can bear, is in the same image as one with another, without any physical handicaps or boundaries. Then, in that fellowship, we know the truth and the truth sets us free.

    I once was in prison ministries. An all too simple statement from then comes to my heart and mind now, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

  • Al Cruise

    A Church that doesn’t teach what Jesus taught is not a Church at all. A Church whose attendees are not living out what Jesus taught are separate from God.

  • Androw Bennett

    I wish to find a sermon based on Jesus’s instruction (as quoted in Luke 12 v 33): “Sell your possessions and give to the needy”. I’ve tried (inter alia) Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and Jim Bakker with no success…

  • Rainbow Warrior

    St Basil of Caesarea’s Sermon to the Rich is a good one

  • Androw Bennett

    Thanks for that. Why don’t Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and Jim Bakker, etc. live their lives in accordance with this? And, as for the Donald and the Republican greedy, as well as other such politicians (especially in Britain where I live, e.g Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Douglas Smith), not forgetting the English royal family, why don’t they share their huge wealth.

  • Herm

    Andrew, you can add me to those “other things”, this time with no more professed authority than of one who loves you as an equal sibling, as I love myself. My “in the business” training kicked in when I empathized with your query. Yup, though most often very nervous, I never refused an opportunity to accept an offer of the pulpit, but never with the “success” (?) of Misters Osteen, Graham and Bakker.

    The verse you want to hear more about is spoken directly and only to Jesus’ immediate students (his small flock), his disciples. Jesus, more widely, told the crowd what it takes to be accepted as his pupil, Luke 14:25-27.

    There is only one living Teacher today who can answer exactly what you seek, to the fullest you can constructively bear, Matthew 23:8-12. The one Teacher, the one Instructor, and the one Father (filled by, baptized, “in the name of”) is not Joel, Franklin, Jim, Herm, Keith, … . None of Jesus’ disciples, then to now to forever, have been left orphaned since the temple in the Spirit was rebuilt, John 14:16-20.

    For every truth that each sibling student of Christ seeks, there is a one real live Guide on this earth who the ascended Messiah promised, John 16:12-13, and is evidenced through following biblical testimony, Acts 4:31, 1 John 4:4-6.

    To bring this back around to focus on your singular verse of question, please, go to the verse preceding by 11, Luke 12:22.

    I can only testify that the Good News (Gospel) truth is that seeing, to know, to accept the Spirit of truth as your one guide into life in the Spirit, as a child of God, sets you free from fear of offending Man and God. All adorable infant children, of Man (water) and/or of God (spirit), make destructive (evil) mistakes as they make every constructive (good) effort to maturely, equally and productively walk, talk and share with the body of their kind, who they are in the image of, for as long as they are influential and aware (alive). Love without forgiveness is not love and God is love far and above any love mankind has ever known to be responsible to. I have been filled with the Holy Spirit, hopefully my fruits reflect that, fulltime without any pause, promised to be without end. You may be, also, I cannot nor need to judge, so I share as an equally mature sibling, ask directly from he who knows exactly what your heart, soul, mind of spirit can bear to know today. Relax, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.

    If you are materially wealthy our Father and our Lord can use you as their steward, but only if your shared values are founded on love for Man and God, as you would have others love you.

    Thanks for the opportunity, whether this helps you or not, it helped me. Love you Andrew!!!

  • Walter Schumm

    I often feel/think exactly the same way. When I was selected as a substitute pastor for a non-denominational church, I took these issues to heart.

  • rationalobservations?

    “Why Is Jesus A Minor Character In The Religion Named After Him?”

    A better question appears to be:

    Why is there no authentic and original first century originated historical evidence of the existence of Jesus?

  • This essay verges on anti-Judaism, to the point that it is really shocking. There is interpretive movement throughout the Hebrew Bible which continues on into biblical interpretation of rabbinic Judaism that is every bit as profound and nuanced in understanding the God of Love as anything found in the Christian tradition. This idea that the ‘Old Testament’ gives us a view of God as a terrible tyrant, contrasted with the God of Love revealed by Jesus, is nothing but an anti-Judaic trope, totally unworthy of an serious theological reflection. Please Keith, either drastically revise this posting or, better yet, remove it altogether and try to find yourself a better hermeneutic than this ‘Jesus only’ approach. There is, after all, no Jesus at all without Judaism and the beauty of the Jewish tradition, which should act as a corrective to the kind of Christianity you are trying to criticize here. If you want to know where things got off track with Christianity, the Constantinian synthesis would be a good place to start, and this had nothing to do with Jews and Judaism.

  • Superb questions, Keith. Especially “Why are Christians so well-versed in the writings of the Apostle Paul, but so uninterested in the teachings of Jesus?”
    . . .and ” somehow, it’s totally one-hundred-percent normal for a Christian to attend a church where the words of Jesus are almost never spoken, taught or followed. How can this be?”
    But there’s no need to be “stumped.” You are so close to the answer for all of your questions.

    These people don’t really like much of the teaching and example of Jesus that Christians like you and I were taught from the FOUR GOSPELS . It’s much too LIBERAL for them. If only they were honest with themselves as well as everybody else, they would come out of their closet as the followers of the apostle of conservatism that they really are, i.e. Paul of Tarsus!
    See what I mean at http://www.WhatWouldJesusThink.info/AboutBadNewsPaul.
    Rev. R D

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3c3638ec829585679821af0044d0062b90fe8a1715098312a5b629da565a327d.jpg

  • Adrian

    That’s the simple truth of the matter. Most Christians are actually Paulists. If the only thing we’d been handed down were the four Gospels, Christianity would look remarkably different from what it does now — which only proves the point.

    For my mileage, I see far more of Jesus reflected in the words of James, who actually knew Jesus personally, than I do in Paul, who never met him.

  • Adrian

    Rob Bell made a great point about how skeptics and fundamentalists are mirror images of each other. Take any fantastical story from the Bible, whether the Fall in the Garden, Jonah and the whale, Noah and the Flood, or anything else. The fundamentalists expect everyone to take the stories literally, exactly as they’re written, while the skeptics scoff and ask how any modern rational human being could ever believe such ancient superstitious nonsense. What both sides ignore are the deeper meanings of scripture, beneath the literal surface meanings. Rather than ask whether a historical Jesus existed, ask what we can learn from the teachings attributed to him, in terms of how they effect our relationship with other human beings, with the world, and with whatever might lie beyond the world.

    I take to heart what Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:

    “To take the Scriptures seriously is not to take them literally. Literalism is invariably the lowest and least level of meaning. Serious reading of Scripture will allow you to find an ever-new spiritual meaning for the liberation of history, the liberation of the soul, and the liberation of God in every generation. Then the text is true on many levels, instead of trying to prove it is true on just the one simple, factual level. Sacred texts always maximize your possibilities for life and love, which is why we call them sacred. I am afraid we have for too long used the Bible merely to prove various church positions, which largely narrows their range and depth. Instead of transforming people, the Biblical texts became utilitarian and handy ammunition.”

  • Marc Wagner

    I have often wondered this very thing. Ironically, Jesus did not want to worshiped. He want to be FOLLOWED. Jesus was a Jew — all he asked was for his followers to share his message with the world — not just Jews.

    Jesus would not recognize the Christian Church. For that matter the word “christ” does not imply divinity. It is merely the Greek Word for messiah — meaning deliverer — as in Moses delivered his people out of Egypt.

  • Marc Wagner

    It is ironic that so many “Brands” of Christians reject all the other “Brands” of Christians as NOT Christian.

    Anyone who professes being a “Christian” deserves just as much respect as the person who professes to be “Buddhist”. Oh, wait …

    These people don’t respect anybody that is not their “brand” of Christian. Many hate Jews. Their “brand” is usually represented by “straight white males”. Women in leadership are not welcome. No member of of the LGBT+ community is welcome. Often no “person of color” is welcome. They reject their offspring who reveal any “LGBT+” leanings. They believe that everyone not a member of their church will go to Hell when they die. The same goes for any member who “sins” (as judged by the pastor) or the congregation. Only those approved by the pastor and the congregation will be determined to be worthy of Heaven in the Afterlife.

  • Marc Wagner

    I am not surprised … but I am glad you did.

  • Marc Wagner

    As I said above ,,, no respect for anyone who is not their “brand” of Christianity … or apparently, whatever some profess to be.

    Whether or not another human being agrees with you, they all deserve respect.

  • Marc Wagner

    Often, the people who yell the loudest that they are RIGHT and everyone else is WRONG are those who are least sure of their position. They proclaim their beliefs for fear that they might be wrong. This is just as true for the adamant Atheist as it is for the Religious Zealot. Otherwise, they would ignore forums such as this.

  • Marc Wagner

    Because Jesus audience, was largely illiterate. Jesus spoke Aramaic, The Scripture to which he referred was written in Hebrew — which he undoubtedly could read. The earliest NT letters were from Paul of Tarsus (a Pharisee and a Jew — through his mother, was also a Roman citizen — though his father. Paul read & wrote in Greek and used a scribe so his letters were in Greek. Unfortunately, they were written twenty to thirty years after the crucifixion. The Synoptic Gospels, were written between thirty and 50 years after the Crucifixion. John, the fourth Gospels was written at least 90 years after the Crucifixion. The oldest extant NT documents date back to the Third Century CE.

  • Marc Wagner

    “What both sides ignore are the deeper meanings of scripture, beneath the literal surface meanings. Rather than ask whether a historical Jesus existed, ask what we can learn from the teachings attributed to him, in terms of how they effect our relationship with other human beings, with the world …”

    Exactly! This is what discernment is all about. Yea, Richard Rohr!

  • cr johnson

    Paul would disagree with your statement. He convinced the followers of Jesus that the encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road did indeed take place. Without Paul’s ministry, one could surmise gentiles would not be included in Jesus’ ministry unless a conversion to Judaism occurred. Paul defended and lived out his faith to his last breath.

  • Christiane Smith

    It is EASIER for men to ‘twist’ the words of St. Paul, and others in sacred Scripture to fit their own agendas for power, greed, and control over others;
    but the words of Our Lord stand on their own, inviolate, and will not be the victim of ‘in other words’.
    When Our Lord has spoken, there ARE NO ‘IN OTHER WORDS’;
    and that has frightened those who seek to play games with ‘interpreting’ sacred Scripture to their own ends, because when they attempt to put HIS words into ‘their own words’, they fail utterly and completely.

    So what have they done? They created a myth: that Christ the Lord, He Who IS ‘The Word’, was no more important in voice than any other in sacred Scripture, so they had the power to ‘speak’ using their own interpretations of all the others as just as meaningful as what the red letters were in Scripture.
    They tried. And again, they failed. Utterly and completely.

    When Our Lord has spoken, His Words stand on their own. No ‘blblical inerrancy’ committee can change that. No fundamentalist leader can say we do not need to follow the Royal Law of Christ as the guide because we have the voice of others who command us to take up other priorities, such as have led to acts of misogyny and brutality in the Church.

    As for Our Lord, He is the central figure in all Creation and in its maintenance in existence and in its final Salvation. Jesus Christ, Son, Savior, Who has mercy on us all. He must be kept at the center of the faith because He IS the ‘logos’, ‘The Word’, the Kyrios before Whom we all kneel in allegiance as God in the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Send those who diminish Him back to read the Holy Gospels of Our Lord again and again and again until they understand this, for their sakes.
    https://youtu.be/ihJAJA4ibEs

  • Christiane Smith

    hence the worship of the new ‘annointed one’, a political ‘leader’ who is followed unquestioned and promoted from the pulpits of fundamentalist-evangelical Churches by those who have need of a ‘golden calf’ . . .

    why? when the most powerful thing in the Universe is ‘love’ would God ‘annoint’ a man who harms little children who are taken from their mothers’ arms?

    why? we are told in sacred Scripture to STAND UP for those who are persecuted, not to harm innocents

    I ask ‘why’? But no one answers me. silence

  • Christiane Smith

    do they trust in Jesus Christ?

    do they count on His mercy?

    do they love and serve in this world?

    can they stand up to the evil of this world publicly?

    I think yes.

    Their ‘doctrines’ are different. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit? If we see the fruit, they are being nourished from the deep well of the Holy Spirit in some way connected to the Paschal mysteries of Our Lord.

    I hope they don’t go the way of the ‘christian’ fundamentalists who preach hatred for others and follow a political golden calf unquestioningly.

  • S.C. Beam

    7. The Vulnerability of Materialism
    195:7.1 (2078.4) How foolish it is for material-minded man to allow such vulnerable theories as those of a mechanistic universe to deprive him of the vast spiritual resources of the personal experience of true religion. Facts never quarrel with real spiritual faith; theories may. Better that science should be devoted to the destruction of superstition rather than attempting the overthrow of religious faith—human belief in spiritual realities and divine values.

    195:7.2 (2078.5) Science should do for man materially what religion does for him spiritually: extend the horizon of life and enlarge his personality. True science can have no lasting quarrel with true religion. The “scientific method” is merely an intellectual yardstick wherewith to measure material adventures and physical achievements. But being material and wholly intellectual, it is utterly useless in the evaluation of spiritual realities and religious experiences.

    195:7.3 (2078.6) The inconsistency of the modern mechanist is: If this were merely a material universe and man only a machine, such a man would be wholly unable to recognize himself as such a machine, and likewise would such a machine-man be wholly unconscious of the fact of the existence of such a material universe. The materialistic dismay and despair of a mechanistic science has failed to recognize the fact of the spirit-indwelt mind of the scientist whose very supermaterial insight formulates these mistaken and self-contradictory concepts of a materialistic universe.

    195:7.4 (2078.7) Paradise values of eternity and infinity, of truth, beauty, and goodness, are concealed within the facts of the phenomena of the universes of time and space. But it requires the eye of faith in a spirit-born mortal to detect and discern these spiritual values.

    195:7.5 (2078.8) The realities and values of spiritual progress are not a “psychologic projection”—a mere glorified daydream of the material mind. Such things are the spiritual forecasts of the indwelling Adjuster, the spirit of God living in the mind of man. And let not your dabblings with the faintly glimpsed findings of “relativity” disturb your concepts of the eternity and infinity of God. And in all your solicitation concerning the necessity for self-expression do not make the mistake of failing to provide for Adjuster-expression, the manifestation of your real and better self.

    195:7.6 (2079.1) If this were only a material universe, material man would never be able to arrive at the concept of the mechanistic character of such an exclusively material existence. This very mechanistic concept of the universe is in itself a nonmaterial phenomenon of mind, and all mind is of nonmaterial origin, no matter how thoroughly it may appear to be materially conditioned and mechanistically controlled.

    195:7.7 (2079.2) The partially evolved mental mechanism of mortal man is not overendowed with consistency and wisdom. Man’s conceit often outruns his reason and eludes his logic.

    195:7.8 (2079.3) The very pessimism of the most pessimistic materialist is, in and of itself, sufficient proof that the universe of the pessimist is not wholly material. Both optimism and pessimism are concept reactions in a mind conscious of values as well as of facts. If the universe were truly what the materialist regards it to be, man as a human machine would then be devoid of all conscious recognition of that very fact. Without the consciousness of the concept of values within the spirit-born mind, the fact of universe materialism and the mechanistic phenomena of universe operation would be wholly unrecognized by man. One machine cannot be conscious of the nature or value of another machine.

    195:7.9 (2079.4) A mechanistic philosophy of life and the universe cannot be scientific because science recognizes and deals only with materials and facts. Philosophy is inevitably superscientific. Man is a material fact of nature, but his life is a phenomenon which transcends the material levels of nature in that it exhibits the control attributes of mind and the creative qualities of spirit.

    195:7.10 (2079.5) The sincere effort of man to become a mechanist represents the tragic phenomenon of that man’s futile effort to commit intellectual and moral suicide. But he cannot do it.

    195:7.11 (2079.6) If the universe were only material and man only a machine, there would be no science to embolden the scientist to postulate this mechanization of the universe. Machines cannot measure, classify, nor evaluate themselves. Such a scientific piece of work could be executed only by some entity of supermachine status.

    195:7.12 (2079.7) If universe reality is only one vast machine, then man must be outside of the universe and apart from it in order to recognize such a fact and become conscious of the insight of such an evaluation.

    195:7.13 (2079.8) If man is only a machine, by what technique does this man come to believe or claim to know that he is only a machine? The experience of self-conscious evaluation of one’s self is never an attribute of a mere machine. A self-conscious and avowed mechanist is the best possible answer to mechanism. If materialism were a fact, there could be no self-conscious mechanist. It is also true that one must first be a moral person before one can perform immoral acts.

    195:7.14 (2079.9) The very claim of materialism implies a supermaterial consciousness of the mind which presumes to assert such dogmas. A mechanism might deteriorate, but it could never progress. Machines do not think, create, dream, aspire, idealize, hunger for truth, or thirst for righteousness. They do not motivate their lives with the passion to serve other machines and to choose as their goal of eternal progression the sublime task of finding God and striving to be like him. Machines are never intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, ethical, moral, or spiritual.

    195:7.15 (2079.10) Art proves that man is not mechanistic, but it does not prove that he is spiritually immortal. Art is mortal morontia, the intervening field between man, the material, and man, the spiritual. Poetry is an effort to escape from material realities to spiritual values.

    195:7.16 (2080.1) In a high civilization, art humanizes science, while in turn it is spiritualized by true religion—insight into spiritual and eternal values. Art represents the human and time-space evaluation of reality. Religion is the divine embrace of cosmic values and connotes eternal progression in spiritual ascension and expansion. The art of time is dangerous only when it becomes blind to the spirit standards of the divine patterns which eternity reflects as the reality shadows of time. True art is the effective manipulation of the material things of life; religion is the ennobling transformation of the material facts of life, and it never ceases in its spiritual evaluation of art.

    195:7.17 (2080.2) How foolish to presume that an automaton could conceive a philosophy of automatism, and how ridiculous that it should presume to form such a concept of other and fellow automatons!

    195:7.18 (2080.3) Any scientific interpretation of the material universe is valueless unless it provides due recognition for the scientist. No appreciation of art is genuine unless it accords recognition to the artist. No evaluation of morals is worth while unless it includes the moralist. No recognition of philosophy is edifying if it ignores the philosopher, and religion cannot exist without the real experience of the religionist who, in and through this very experience, is seeking to find God and to know him. Likewise is the universe of universes without significance apart from the I AM, the infinite God who made it and unceasingly manages it.

    195:7.19 (2080.4) Mechanists—humanists—tend to drift with the material currents. Idealists and spiritists dare to use their oars with intelligence and vigor in order to modify the apparently purely material course of the energy streams.

    195:7.20 (2080.5) Science lives by the mathematics of the mind; music expresses the tempo of the emotions. Religion is the spiritual rhythm of the soul in time-space harmony with the higher and eternal melody measurements of Infinity. Religious experience is something in human life which is truly supermathematical.

    195:7.21 (2080.6) In language, an alphabet represents the mechanism of materialism, while the words expressive of the meaning of a thousand thoughts, grand ideas, and noble ideals—of love and hate, of cowardice and courage—represent the performances of mind within the scope defined by both material and spiritual law, directed by the assertion of the will of personality, and limited by the inherent situational endowment.

    195:7.22 (2080.7) The universe is not like the laws, mechanisms, and the uniformities which the scientist discovers, and which he comes to regard as science, but rather like the curious, thinking, choosing, creative, combining, and discriminating scientist who thus observes universe phenomena and classifies the mathematical facts inherent in the mechanistic phases of the material side of creation. Neither is the universe like the art of the artist, but rather like the striving, dreaming, aspiring, and advancing artist who seeks to transcend the world of material things in an effort to achieve a spiritual goal.

    195:7.23 (2080.8) The scientist, not science, perceives the reality of an evolving and advancing universe of energy and matter. The artist, not art, demonstrates the existence of the transient morontia world intervening between material existence and spiritual liberty. The religionist, not religion, proves the existence of the spirit realities and divine values which are to be encountered in the progress of eternity.

  • rationalobservations?

    You reference “THE” bible as if your cult or sect’s version of that much altered, historically inaccurate and historically unsupported, internally contradictory and scientifically absurd human authored book is the only one.

    The oldest 4th century originated Codex Sinaiticus differs from the KJV ok n over 14,800 significant ways including two whole books, a different order of content and many many quotes and blocks of text added to later bibles that do not appear in the oldest prototype.

    You appear to agree with the third largest and fastest growing human demographic (of the godless non-religious) that the content of modern bibles is not true (therefore lies) so we are not so different in our non belief in all the millions of imaginary undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men and the myths, legends and lies of those who invented them?

  • James Elliott

    Oh the frustration! Isn’t this what Elijah (i think it was Elijah) when he thought no one in Israel cared, much less followed? Keep in mind the faithful who need the reminder to “keep on, keepin’ on” (as i heard in an African American congregation). Some of the responses just to today’s blog is evidence that there are Christians who are following Jesus. And Jesus’ message is preached in my pulpit.

  • Turbulance

    Then according to you, when Jesus prayed to the Father ‘I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one– …. coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the
    name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. … ‘ that the Father withheld the request? Do you believe Jesus was lying when he promised: ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth’?
    Or when he said:’and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it’. Do you seriously believe that Jesus has failed on all these counts? Winning converts is not what it is about. Interpreting the the Bible is mot a matter of personal opinion – at least it shouldn’t be. The Bible is best interpreted through Holy Tradition, as it was once and for all received from the Apostles and faithfully handed down to the present day.

  • RollieB

    It seems to me your wall is keeping you inside your camp. Meanwhile, we pass by uninterested in what’s inside.

  • ‘A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client’.
    And “No man can be the judge in his own trial.”
    Paul did much more damage to Christianity from the INSIDE than he could have ever done from the outside, as we show at http://www.WhatWouldJesusThink.info/AboutBadNewsPaul.

  • Cletus Safari

    Sir, this is an Arby’s.

  • Even tho I consider myself post-evangelical or progressive and grew up attending Assembly of God churches, thankfully I cannot think of a time when church was more about the OT than the NT, or a time when Jesus wasn’t always foremost in teaching. Now, I do know there was certain dispensationalist slants that undergirded that teaching, and the classic understandings of doctrines such as hell. And, yes it could be legalistic, especially back in the 60s and 70s. there were fads as well. However, I always felt i could take or leave certain things like the rapture or inerrancy of scripture. Some of this has to do with being a Californian and never having attended So. Baptist churches I suppose. The other aspect was the Charismatic movement, in which I felt at home in. It was more diverse. I realize there are churches that do flaunt that they are “Bible believing,” we have a big one across town. Currently I attend my mother’s church, Assemblies of God, because she is 95 and needs a ride to her church. There are some great, wonderful people there, and the pastor avoids divisive issues like Trump or abortion, etc. The sermons are usually spot on…if not overly inspiring. However, I will not become a member as I find myself at odds with too much of what the Assemblies of God stands for. The church also tries to help out in the community. I am hoping to see if there can be a switch in the near future to a UMC or Evangelical Lutheran church, both of which are much closer to us than the AofGod across town. Will see.

  • Yes, tribalism seems to be a problem we all face regardless of denomination, religion or race. I wish more people could see the universal aspect of Christ’s teaching. He cut through all these barriers we throw up. 2000 years and we’re still fighting these battles.

  • I think the problem we have with Paul is that we read him through our own lenses and our own cultural biases. Am currently reading Scott McKnight’s “Reading Romans Backwards.” It is an eye-opener. We have to remember we have two Thousand years worth of interpretation being read back into Paul. Paul’s letter were pastoral, dealt with specific circumstances, divisions, etc., and it is only after we acknowledge these things first that we can go on to seek application to our own situations. How the church has traditionally used Paul’s letters often tells us more about ourselves than Paul and his beliefs.

  • A church that never mentions Jesus is not a church at all. That being said, a Jesus separate from the God of the OT is not Jesus, no not at all.

    What aspect of Eternity isn’t being understood here?

    the God of the OT“?

  • A Church whose attendees are not living out what Jesus taught are separate from God.

    Not possible. Just ignorant. More or less than any of us, who can say?

  • Brennan Schneider

    @brmckay:disqus I do not understand your question

  • I’m not specifically Christian, and so more easily understand that the there is no horizon line when it comes to God.

    That understanding applies to Jesus as Christ.

    When there is too much religion that gets lost in translation.

  • Brennan Schneider

    @brmckay:disqus I still do not understand what you’re saying. I was saying that Jesus embodies every characteristic of God, and a consistent Christian cannot accept Jesus while rejecting the God as revealed in the OT. You may have heard this said before: “I love Jesus but can’t worship the wrathful God of the OT.” This is wrong, they are one.

    Does that make sense? is that what you were addressing?

  • I was saying that Jesus embodies every characteristic of God, and a consistent Christian cannot accept Jesus while rejecting the God as revealed in the OT.

    The infinitude of God is not measured, by any person or people’s experience or realization. Jesus as Christ is not bound by time at all.

    Which is what gets lost in translation. Jewish prophets, and a wrathful and yet forgiving God represent Creation’s relativity. But the Eternity of God is not bound by Creations relativity.

    I can only understand Jesus as Christ to embody that Infinitude. Which is in Truth, empty of characteristics. It is we creatures of God that measure and experience.

    But there is only God.

  • Brennan Schneider

    Thanks for that answer, it was definitely thoughtful. That is why we marvel at Jesus, because he does embody that infinitude, yet for a while became finite and “measured and experienced” as we do.

  • Al Cruise

    All your opinions are subjective. Your someone who is frightened of death.

  • All your opinions are subjective. Your someone who is frightened of death.

    On the relativity side of the equation, everything is “subjective“. But, relativity is not what informs us about God’s nature.

    I’ll repeat, it is not actually possible to be “separate from God“.

    Not sure why saying that makes me “frightened of death“, since death is a change of state in a continuum of change.

    The life that ends is not something owned by “me“. That sense of self is the absolute “I AM” expressing relatively.

    But there is still only the singular infinitude of God.

  • Al Cruise

    Your anxiety is through the roof.

  • Your anxiety is through the roof.

    And you are obviously a troll.

  • Steven Smith

    You might not like this, but what you say here backs up Gnostic Christianity, not the political Roman empire church we see as the one true church, with protestants hanging on to much of the doctrine from that church. The Gnostics believed that the Father that Jesus refers to is not really the Jehova of the old testament, who was vindictive and cruel as well as capable of repenting from his nastier actions at times. You open a whole can of worms here as to what the real God Jesus was talking about was really all about.

  • RollieB

    I see good discussion as helpful and healthy, not a can of worms. In my mind it’s not who is correct, but rather exploring concepts of the creator of all things.

  • I see good discussion as helpful and healthy, not a can of worms. In my mind it’s not who is correct, but rather exploring concepts of the creator of all things.

    And the quality of our attention is guided by the spirit of God’s immanence and transcendence.

    Attachment to this or that idea about God, isn’t “God”. Conceptualization getting abandoned in the moment of realization.

  • Apostalypse

    Because as you almost intimated, Christ’s teachings were anti-authoritarian, anti-establisment and non-judgemental, and as such are not useful to those trying to consolidate power.

  • James Vivian

    Ok, but if u and the author want us to take all Jesus words seriously then remember not to selectively attend to those that support your preexisting worldview, in many cases here, largely “progressive “. Don’t forget, for example “go and sin no more”, “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”. John 6 in its entirety. And Jesus clearly believed in hell and demons. He certainly did not make things easier for us, morally, in the sermon on the mount, than under the old covenant. I’m all for making Christ the center of Christianity, but don’t expect to be in any way persuasive if you present a highly selective reading of the Gospels. Dont forget also what he said to Peter et al about the keys and binding and loosing etc. The teachings of Jesus, as best we can know and understand them, came to us through the Apostles, including Paul. Don’t forget that Paul is largely responsible for spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. I really hope the author is not suggesting that Paul’s understanding of Jesus and his teachings was not recognized as authoritative in the early church. It clearly was and it is primarily modern folks who have rejected what he said. But I’ll take the word of a martyr for the faith over arm chair Christians any day of the week
    Jim

  • James Vivian

    His Church is spirit? An invisible chirch then? Do you really believe that? Didnt Jesus make the invisible God visible? I am more of an incarceration theology guy myself

  • James Vivian

    I follow you and agree

  • James Vivian

    Excellent and critically important point

  • James Vivian

    Um, there are at least a few well recogized extra biblical sources. I didnt think people actually questioned his existence, but his nature etc

  • James Vivian

    Ok, but his import is more than his “teachings ” is it not? There have been many great and challenging teachers. But did they die for u and can it be said about them that “by his stripes you are healed”. If Jesus was just a great teacher and did not rise from the dead, then I’m not interested in being a Christian

  • James Vivian

    U seem to know a lot more about the bible than most scholars throughout history. Btw, the bible isn’t and never was considered to be, a history or scientific treatise. I suggest you investigate St Thomas Acquinas, Pascal, and others who know much more than I do

  • James Vivian

    As far as I know, the greatest theologians, the ones of proven sanctity themselves, invariably held that the meaning of scripture can be understood on different levels, but that includes the literal. Literal doesn’t necessarily mean historical. In other words, read the story, where there is such, at face value. Mamy of the stories in the bible are not written as history or meant to ne taken as such. But some are. And if you rile out the possibility of the “miraculous” then your reading of esp the NT is going to miss, as far as I’m concerned, the point of Jesus. And you’ll demote him to another teacher. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not interested in just another teacher. And i wonder, then, why all of those writers were lying? And then giving up their lives for those lies. . .

  • James Vivian

    Wasn’t Jesus the Word of God, made flesh. But scriptures, nevertheless, are “holy” are they not? They point us to God in Christ. They’re not a catechism or a theology textbook, but i happen to believe, along with many of the best people who have ever lived, that they are uniquely inspired and therefore trustworthy in pointing us to the truth. Why bother with them otherwise?

  • James Vivian

    Agreed

  • RollieB

    Please tell me this is sarcasm, James! Please!

  • James Vivian

    They’re full of judgment as one would expect from the Son of God. We were told not to judge people, their souls and such. But passed very severe judgement on some, right? I trust his judgment

  • James Vivian

    There are a number of them actually. Do you really question whether Jesus of Nazareth existed?

  • Marc Wagner

    I am a disciple of Jesus. The only other description that corresponds to me is “Progressive Christian”. In my view, Jesus does not have to be divine in order for me to try to follow his teachings.

    “There have been many great and challenging teachers.”

    Yes, this is so. But many Christians will not listen to these teachers simply because they came from other faith traditions — those that have no need for a (false) promise of everlasting life.

    Jesus did not die for my “sins” (in the First Century CE, to “sin” (in Greek) was to “miss the mark”). Jesus died because the religious leaders of his time were threatened by his influence — and his willingness to speak truth to power. In short, Jesus was a threat to their power. That is why they demanded that Pilate crucify him.

    When speaking, Jesus repeatedly told his audiences that their faith (or the faith of their friends) “healed” them. Whether literally or metaphorically, the message is the same. “The Kingdom of Heaven” is here — if the people are willing to live itnto it — to love thy neighbor as thyself, to love thine enemy, to turn the other cheek.

    “If Jesus was just a great teacher and did not rise from the dead, then I’m not interested in being a Christian”

    Does this mean that you are a Christian ONLY BECAUSE “the Church” promises you Everlasting Life in Heaven?

    Long ago Church Doctrine became more important than the teachings of Jesus (a Jew who did not wish to be worshiped, instead Jesus urged his listeners to follow his example).

    Church Doctrine became a convenient way for The Church to “control” its congregations through the Promise of Heaven — and the Threat of Hell for non-compliance to this Doctrine (including tithing).

  • rationalobservations?

    Claiming evidence exists is not the same as naming actual evidence and revealing the location in which it is conserved.

    There is no evidence.

  • James Vivian

    Not at all. Im a Christian, a follower of Christ Jesus, because for a variety of reasons i have become convinced that the fullness of the truth lies with him. He i choose to follow. Has nothing to do with everlastinf life, but i certainly don’t disregard what he’s said about everlasting life

  • rationalobservations?

    You still reference “the” bible singular. Which one and why?

    Oh.., and I have studied the opinions of Acquinas and the ideas and non applicable “wager” of Blaise Pascal that assumes only one “god” when there are millions of equally fictional undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men rendering the possibility of existence of any one of them millions to one.

    Your personal ignorance was obvious btw. Why do you offer opinion regarding that of which you are ignorant?

  • rationalobservations?

    So who are these modern scholars and upon what evidence do they claim “Jesus” actually existed?

    There was a time when everyone offered no objection to the evidence devoid myths and legends on pain of a long slow agonising death.

    Since that threat has been removed, the third largest and fastest growing human demographic are the godless non-religious across the peaceful law-abiding godless non-religious population of the now predominantly secular developed world.

    I have searched and researched the origins of the mythology of “Jesus” for quite a few decades and find there is no historical evidence.

  • rationalobservations?

    I know the propaganda, myths and legends. Where is your evidence?

  • rationalobservations?

    The “Golden Rule” predates all current religions and that is all the godless instinctively have evolved to enact.

  • Marc Wagner

    The OT is full of myths and legends, allegory, and metaphor. Treat them as stories, shared by word-of-mouth for millennia, before being recorded in the Sixth Century, BCE.

    If you understand that the hearers of these stories knew nothing abut the physical world around them. They believed in magic and gods and demons long before they adopted monotheism.

    There is no reason to believe that these stories were “propaganda” — malevolent in their intent.

    NT Scholars (with backgrounds in Hebrew, Aramaic, Ancient Greek and Ancient Latin) have been studying ancient texts for decades. Mostly Academics (not religious zealots) there is no reason to suspect they have malevolent intent either. My favorite source is the Oxford Commentary for its unbiased treatment of these texts.

    The entire New Testament was written under Roman occupation so much more of the writings were written in symbolic language to shelter them from Roman scrutiny.

    It wasn’t until the Fourth Century, CE (with the First Council of Nicea) and the adoption of Christianity by Rome, concerns about malevolent intent first appear. This “malevolence” takes the form of Church Doctrine. This is when the teachings of Jesus were abandoned in favor of the injection of “Roman Sensibilities”. The Canon was heavily edited and Doctrine created to “control” congregations with the promise of everlasting life in Heaven and, more importantly, the threat of Hell for non-compliance to doctrine.

    Those of us who reject these Doctrines are outcasts to many (if not most) Christians — but this does not make these people evil — just ignorant, and too scared to question Doctrine created for just that purpose 1600 years ago.

  • Marc Wagner

    I’ll take your word for that. Buddhism dates to the Sixth Century, BCE and I believe that Hinduism and Sikhism pre-date that tradition. The same principle applies to them all.

  • Marc Wagner

    Because Jesus’ audience was illiterate and the religious authorities of the day would not want Jesus’ work to be preserved. Paul’s letters (from the 50’s & 60’s CE) were the earliest writings but those original materials simply couldn’t survive. Instead they were copied, and copied over again. Along the way, they were mis-transcibred, edited and re-edited — eventually by Roman-Christian scribes (with Roman (not Jewish) “semsibilities”). The oldest know original documents date back to the Third & Fourth Centuries — and those are exceedingly fragile.

  • Herm

    James, why would God’s church not be spirit, when God is spirit, as it is written that Jesus said? John 4:21-24

    Why would the image of God (Genesis 1:27), made in Man, be physical when God is spirit?

    How physically could Jesus be in the Father and the Father in him, and he be in me and I in him? John 14:20

    Isn’t God still invisible to the world, but not to the sibling disciples of Jesus? John 14:17

    I was a minister of God in Folsom prison. I definitely have opinions from incarceration theology myself.

    God blesses you!

  • Herm

    Accepting that “holy” is an adjective defined as dedicated, or consecrated, to God, or a religious purpose; sacred, what is to keep what we are writing from being considered “holy”? If you are seriously, and in all honesty, testifying as to your dedicated relationship with God, then as far as you’re concerned, as much as you can bear to understand, this can be God breathed in the Spirit of truth. God does not canonize scripture, authorities of mankind in the study of God, who they do not know personally in them, do. Those authorities need not recognize God, or children of God, anymore than Saul (Pharisee) before Paul, or Caiaphas (Sadducee) and his ruling council did. All testimony of mankind’s relationship with God is worth the bother if it brings one of Man (born of water, physical) to become one of God, a child born of the Spirit. John 3:5-8

    It is my testimony, my sincere and honest personal witness, that I know in me and boldly speak the word of God today. Acts 4:31

    Jesus’ ministry, boldly speaking the word of God through the flesh, did not begin until the one appearing like a dove came to him, remained with him, and sent him into the wilderness. Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10-12, Luke 3:12, John 1:32-34

    I hope this helps you on your journey. Love you!

  • Herm

    Brennan, according to the Gospels, you are wrong. The Spirit of God is not contained wholly in the OT. Read and research the “You heard it said…” witnessed from the mouth of Jesus. If the Spirit of God does not perfectly match, in everything, do to others as you would have others do to you, then it is not of God. All of God’s intent and inspiration in the OT (the Law and the Prophets) is summed up for our understanding today. None of the Christian Bible is more than a testimonial witness of mankind’s inspired relationship with God. Jesus, asking his Father, made the word of God available to all of mankind who are filled (baptized, so born again, to live with and in forever, no pause) the Spirit of truth.

  • James Vivian

    I am undountedly ignorant. Guilty as charged. But the historicity of the man Jesus has been accepted by virtually all scholars including those who are no friends of Christianity. The few who view Jesus as a myth derive mainly from 18th and esp 19th century people whose names escape me. There is a vast literature on this topic and i think it is a fair question. The extra biblical sources are josepus and pliny the younger, but the biblical and early church sources are overwhelming. Why, for example, are specific historical events and leaders mentioned in the gospels? In any event there must have been a vast conspiracy to fool the world if there was never a Jesus of Nazareth, executed by the Romans etc. But i dont want to argue with you. I only suggest that you investigate the question examining arguments made by a wide range of people

  • James Vivian

    But there were many writings, many testimonies that emerged somewhat later than the 4 gospels and other NT writings that provided different and sometimes contrasting accounts of who jesus was and what he asked of us. The apostles were the first authorities of his message by virtue of their intimacy with him and experience as eyewitnesses. No one questioned their authority on matters of faith. When questions emerged, as they invariably would, chosen leaders got together to resolve the question. As always, God worked through people. Eventually they had to determine which writings could be trusted as reliably representing the message of Jesus. If any individual claims to speak the word of God, then we have chaos and comfusion and the fruits of this understanding are division upon division. I don’t trust my own mind or heart to claim any authority whatsoever in the things of God. I am biased and prejudiced in ways that i am not even aware of. So I’ll trust rather to revealed truth and beg our Lord’s help to live the way he asks.

  • Herm

    So, for the last 1,950 years God is incapable of sharing their word directly with any of mankind, is that what you believe? Is that written so in your Bible and where? … or are you winging it on your own?

  • rationalobservations?

    There exists historical references to several Messiah claimants and messianic cults that actually appear to have existed between Circa 8 BCE and Circa 140 CE yet not one single mention of “Jesus” among them.

    Simon Christ (Simon Bar Kochbah aka Simon Ben Cosiba) was briefly hailed as “the” Messiah in Rabbinic circles and the rebellious government of northern Judea made coins depicting him under the messianic star outside of the temple.

    You are correct when you observe that the Roman religion they called “christianity” appears to have been cobbled together in the late 3rd century (from mostly “pagan” components and exclusively pagan feast days and festivals) before being so brutally and murderously imposed (“convert or die”) in the 4th century shortly before the oldest prototype bible (Codex Sinaiticus) was cobbled together.

  • rationalobservations?

    The mythology designed to terrorise folk into accepting the mythology is anti-humanitarian.

    The business of “Christianity” remains the most obscenely wealthy tax exempt confidence trick in the history of our very recently evolved species of ape. The vast wealth hoarded by religion and deprived from humanity has to be one of the greatest evils outside of the many genocidal crusades, jihads and wars of religion past and present.

  • rationalobservations?

    To challenge the validity of the myths, legends and lies within bibles resulted in a long slow agonising death for many centuries.

    I know of no other contemporary historians who have found a single item of 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” and my own diligent first hand search among the leading museums, libraries, universities, Vatican museum has also revealed no historical evidence.

    It’s been interesting for me to also follow up each and every claim of authentic historical evidence only to find it originates in or after the 3rd century with the vast majority of texts and all the artefacts fabricated no earlier than the 11th century peaking around the 14th century.

    If you have a claim I have not already traced to origin and dismissed it will very much surprise me.

    Best wishes to you and yours.

  • rationalobservations?

    Humanitarianism requires no supernatural superstition.

  • James Vivian

    I seem to have gotten under ur otherwise imperturbable (?) Skin! Not intentional i promise. I absolutely do not mean that God doesn’t communicate with us individually or privately. God can certainly do as God pleases and there are many many examples of what is sometimes called private revelation, perhaps uve experienced this yourself. But even, and perhaps especially, the great mystics of the church spefically warn against building doctrine or churches on these experiences. That doesn’t mean that their or your own mystical encounters with God were not real. But, the argument goes, we can only discern the validity of those experiences ny their fruits and conformity to apostolic tradition
    There is much more to be said about this but the moderator doesn’t appear to allow my lemghtier posts. Im thinking here specifically of theresa of avila and john of the cross, but u can go back much earlier than these to fimd the same arguments. The point is, as far as i understand it, the public revelation concerning Christ Jesus ended withe apostolic age and from that deposit of revelation all supposedly christian teachings should conform. Otherwise, they can be considered untrustworthy. I realize this is an orthox position that you probably dont accept, but it makes perfect sense to me. You have to admit that many have claimed revelations of God that yielded some very bizarre and sometimes destructive fruit. But please understand that i cannot and do not dismiss the transformative power even a momentary encounter can yield. God bless you abundantly!

  • Herm

    Please, James, don’t flatter yourself. I am not perturbed beyond having to continually witness the same blind religious proselytizing of religious orthodoxy that justified the crucifixion of the Son of God in God’s name. By your fruit you did not read any of the Bible scripture I used to help you understand from whom you are learning.

    You wrote, “But please understand that i cannot and do not dismiss the transformative power even a momentary encounter can yield.”

    You cannot seem to understand that Jesus promised, and written first hand witnessed testament confirms was true, one Teacher available to all who are born again in the Spirit. My first hand witnessed testament confirms, if you are sincerely listening, the “possibility” for you to be born of God the Spirit today. I am not talking “a momentary encounter” for the promise from the Christ was for eternity, without pause.

    The first book of the Bible that you refer to was not written for another 40 years after Jesus’ ascension. The Christian Bible, compiled in a like form of yours today, was not canonized for another 255 years. The first Bible printed was in the year 1455, finally allowing the masses to read their own, without a scribe (teacher of the law). The first King James Version was not published until 1611. There is no original copy of any of the letters or books of the Christian Bible known to be available today by any scholar.

    Wouldn’t the truth really free you if your had your own one in one Teacher of God, as did Paul, Peter and all those who accepted to be students of the Messiah, as is written in Acts 4:31? He is here, right now, you just don’t see him, to know him, to accept him:

    John 14:17 (NIV2011)
    ” the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. ”
    John 16:13 (NIV2011)
    ” But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. ”

    You, as do most who claim the Bible as some form of the word of God, refuse to read for yourself what is written. Invite the Holy Spirit to be your “momentary” counselor to help you discern the truth. I cannot make this more simple for you to learn to be a spirit child of God, with complete faith that you will never be left orphaned. All of you who worship the Christian Bible attempt to logically make spirit God fit to be like physical Man. Until you can accept how finite the physical animal species mankind (with definable beginning and endings for all) is relative to the omnipotence of an eternal spirit God (with no beginning and no end) you will not be able to be humble enough to accept being a newborn child of God, offered by my Father and sibling Lord Jesus, with all authority in heaven (spirit) and on earth (in spirit).

    You’re sweet James, in your demeanor, thank you for that. I love you. I want only the best for you as I would want you to want only the best for me. I cannot lie to you, unless it is an omission because I am only a child student learning the rudiments. This I know because I’ve been where you are at and, now, none of my valuables and rewards are stored in or on this world. You don’t know the Spirit of truth, in your immediate midst, except possibly “momentarily”, and that’s the truth!

    Go back and read to discern for yourself what I have already shared with you as inspired testimonial scripture, dated today, no less honest that any of Paul’s letters to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, or John’s letter to the seven churches, none of which were addressed to be a part of God’s inspired scripture. Paul couldn’t bear to know that the earth was round, was not created in the equivalent time of seven of earth’s full revolutions, and that all the heavens did not revolve around the earth and mankind. We can bear to know that truth as Jesus and our Father knew then.

    It is not the length that Keith restricts on this blog, but certain key words.

  • RollieB

    Perhaps, Herm, you could direct all of us to your blog where we can post our comments on your theology… that might be fun.

  • James Vivian

    Hi Herm, I don’t think this is the venue for us to continue this discussion as it appears to me to be straying from the authors article, post. But I’m happy to continue with u off line or in another forum perhaps. My immediate frustration is that you have apparently pigeonholed me in some way that i dont umderstand. But what really concerns me as a Christian person (and im not thinking in tribal terms at all), is that you appear to me, from what you say, to be claiming almost the status of a prophet or specially enlightened soul? You are your own magisterium? That is where we will continue to disagree i imagine. . But maybe we’ve veered too far from the original topic. Peace, jim

  • Herm

    Rollie, let me ask you this, “did Christ maintain a blog, temple, or a physical location to exchange comments?” … did Paul, James or Peter? This isn’t my “theology” that I share with all who will listen, this is my relationship with and in God today, in the example of my sibling Messiah. You live under the same constraints as I do. Keith is moved and seeks counsel from the same Teacher I do.

  • RollieB

    Ok, got it. I’ll stop listening.

  • Herm

    “Why Is Jesus A Minor Character In The Religion Named After Him?”

    This is titled intent of the author’s article.

    You wrote, “The point is, as far as i understand it, the public revelation concerning Christ Jesus ended withe apostolic age and from that deposit of revelation all supposedly christian teachings should conform.” Who told you that?

    This is what was written Jesus promised and had no end date:

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)
    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    This Jesus gave a beginning date, “has now come”, with no end date:

    John 4:21-24 (NIV2011)
    “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
    You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    Ask yourself, “who is my guide into all truth” and “do I worship in the Spirit and in truth only”?

    Go for it, here and now, no excuses, but use the word of God as you know it with and in you and/or use the Gospels’ promises, teaching and commands of the Messiah, as your one Instructor, not some philosophical/religious scholar’s teaching who may or may not know the Spirit of truth living with and in her/him forever. Make it as simple or as complex as you can bear, please!

  • rationalobservations?

    Without reference to any of the many diverse and very different versions of bibles that first appeared in the late 4th century in prototype form, what actual tangible authentic and original first century originated historical evidence of the existence of Jesus can you offer?

  • Herm

    I didn’t say that and hopefully didn’t even imply that. If you are moved to speak, please do. If I am move to reply, I will. None of us will learn if we don’t risk sharing with others as we would have others share with us, merciful neighbor or bitter enemy. Really, God loves this world more than enough to risk the mortal lives and shame of all his children, even if to save just one more born of water by accepting to become born in the Spirit, as their child.

  • James Vivian

    Hi. Im sorry for belaborimg the point, but this question about the historicity of Jesus appears really important to you. So much so that you have spent years pursuing the question. Honestly, that commitment to discovering the truth is admirable. You note that no 1st century and or original docs exist that testify to the existence of Jesus. Now i don’t pretend to have any expertise here but just a few thoughts ours to me that you might keep in mind as you pursue this question. 1st, in most cases, there are no reords no evidence of the existence of most of the people who habe ever lived. That’s different today of course where we have birth, drath records and anundant means for documenting lives. 2nd, I think records, as such, in first century Roman empire must have been in scroll form etc. Most of these have been lost to us through decay among other reasons. 3rd keep in mind that the vast majority in people in world were illiterate, so couldn’t keep records even more they wanted to. 4th, to the powers that be at that time, i imagine the events concerning Jesus were of little, if any, importance to them. So there wouldn’t be any need to document the life death of some vagabond preacher from a remote outpost of the empire. So the people most likely to document his life would be his followers, who were very small in number relatively speaking and lsthely illiterate. All of this is to say, therefore, that im not surprised by the fact that you cant find original first century evidence. . . But we know accounts of his life were eventually produced in the first century. Tho we dont have them, many later docs but not that much later , consistently refer, not just to Jesus, but to the gospels and other writings about him. And these are not limited to Christian people. Early Rabbinical writings also mention Jesus, albeit, not favorably! But they didn’t question his existence, more his resurrection and his character etc. . . Anyway, i wish you well and want to suggest that there is as much evidence that Jesus walked the earth as there is for just about any other figure from that time. Most historians, i think, indicate much more in fact. Yours, jim

  • Avy Varghese

    A-dvaita. Non-duality.

  • Avy Varghese

    Superb article. There are many of us who are thinking like you today. For instance, today’s study in a church was on Deborah as a person who saved God’s people. Yeah, it was cool learning about some character called Deborah but the study had no connection to Christ. People do random character studies but Christ is not revealed in the the scriptures they tout. Increasingly, I find these expositions rather unfruitful. If I can find Christ in the Scriptures and see Him as the exact representation of God, I can find myself as part of an amazing adventure. Thanks for this article.

  • Yes, the center everywhere; time only now. Ahaṃkāra (the I maker) imagining it otherwise.

  • Chari McCauley

    They are part of the “prosperity” “gospel”; and I am sure trying to figure out where in The Gospel.
    Where does it say to gaslight people for riches,…in the gospel?

    If they did want to go back to the OT, they could read Father’s displeasure with how we act, in Jeremah, who was worried that he would be too “young” a voice for people to listen. Father even covers the fact that He gave them paradise, and they abused the land so much, it became diseased, and desolate.

  • Chari McCauley

    Oh, contraire!

  • Chari McCauley

    Nobody, who trusts The Father and His Son are afraid of death.

  • Chari McCauley

    All of infinity is Father’s church.
    A house (space); with many rooms (solar systems). John 14:2 Which, to me, means many children to teach and look after. Father is NOT all by Himself,…He IS loved.

    There ARE two spirits (lest you think Father, and His Son have a reason to lie). There is a difference between The Father, and the jealous sons described in Job. None of those sons, who accused Father of protecting His kids, would put themselves into our skin, like Father’s Son did; and allow those same jealous sons to murder the flesh. (Father gets the final decision for every soul, according to The Book of Job, including the souls of the jealous kids He is STILL trying to save. The last will be first; the FIRST to fall will be last.

  • Chari McCauley

    All forms of bigotry, that is judging attributes no single person chooses, (people used to be harrassed for being BORN left-handed, for instance), is an insult to The Creator.

  • rationalobservations?

    You appear to be under the misapprehension that I hold some form of antipathy to religionists?
    I follow the concept of hating the delusion while loving the deluded enough to disillusion some and try to educate and inform others who reject all such offers of help…

  • Hillside

    Anyone who believes that Paul’s teachings contradict the teachings of Jesus is a fool and not someone whose opinion matters to real Christians. To deny that, is to deny that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Period. End. Of. Story.