Posted by: Jim | October 16, 2008

Imagine

I know I’ve been rather hostile to people of religion lately. I’m working on my attitude, and was having some thoughts today that might help us find common ground. Indulge me, please, and read on.

Imagine that ALL the miracles about Jesus’s life were put into the stories long after Jesus was dead, by men of religion with the intent to manipulate us, give their religion sharper teeth, etc. 

No Son of God.
No virgin birth.
No water. No wine.
No loaves and fishes.
No healing the blind.
No Lazarus.

Again, I’m not trying to offend. This is just a thought experiment. After all, Jesus himself said, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign.” Many Christians point out that this teaching was Jesus’s rebuff to those of us who need to see a miracle before we believe, right? So maybe you should believe in a Jesus who never performed miracles or raised himself from the dead?

What would you be left with? Would you still worship him? Would you worship differently?

Because now we’re  talking about just another dude here. A remarkable dude, and a brilliant dude, who is more spiritually evolved more than any of us–but still just a dude. So now Jesus as a role model is not something that’s impossible for us to aspire to, because he WAS just another human like you and me. His role model becomes something that is difficult, but doable.

He cared about sick people.  He said, “He who has two cloaks should give to him who has none.” He preached about how riches are not a key to enlightenment, and that the poor in spirit are blessed. But he also instructed us to FEED the poor. He risked his life to speak out against oppression and hypocrisy. Ultimately, he pissed off people so much that they killed him.

And he died because of our foolishness. There was no resurrection. No floating into space. He just died. There’s no big revenge coming from his “Dad.” There will be no Armageddon.  No Heaven. No Hell. No afterlife. Just this life.

What are you left with? His teachings on how to live, and his own example. Most of his teachings were lessons I can completely agree with.  There would be little controversy–as much as there is about Gandhi or Dag Hammarskjöld.

Would you Christians still follow Jesus if this were true–if you had only his words to follow? If so, do you really follow his words now? Or do you just follow the meta-Jesus, whose example is impossibly difficult to follow, who cared only about the after-life at the expense of this life? Do you only follow the Jesus who represents strength and victory and power, and opposes the redistribution of wealth? Or the real Jesus who represented compassion and sacrifice?

I think I could follow the real Jesus, and the meta-Jesus is why I struggle so much with today’s Christians.

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Responses

  1. Back in my 20s, when I was really starting to think about the Christianity in which I was raised (even though we rarely went to church), I decided that I would still call myself a Christian, even though I no longer believed that Jesus was Christ, Our Savior and the Son of G-d. Why? Because I did believe that Jesus existed and that he was a hell of a humanitarian, teacher (possibly even a prophet), worthy of emulation and respect.

    I no longer identify as a Christian, because I don’t believe in the whole Son of G-d/Savior thing. But I still think Jesus was a pretty good egg.

  2. Oops! That comment from leechristian? Actually from me. I forgot to log out of another WordPress site that I was working on for someone else.

    D’oh!

  3. No worries Carol. Great to hear from you!

  4. The whole Jesus story is allegorical, compiled from a zillion pagan traditions that predate Christianity by centuries. It was a way to bridge the views of the monotheistic Hebrews with the pantheistic pagans and create a universal religion that could appeal to everyone.

    There were a thousand stories of mythical god-men-savior-kings who were sacrificed and resurrected as symbolic of the rising and setting of the sun and the passing of the seasons. There were a thousand virgin births and a thousand supposed miracles way before Christianity came along; the only thing that was new was the attempt to incorporate the idea of the pagan Godman into the role of the Jewish Messiah, thus attempting to break down the wall between Jew and Gentile that was a destructive element in the world at the time. The teachings were essentially about the universality of Love and that one must die to the old way of thinking about self as a separate entity, and be ‘resurrected’ into the realization of the connectedness of all, that all is one, and that one is Love (or, if you prefer, God).

    It was only later, after Rome adopted Christianity as its official religion/control mechanism, did the stories solidify into retroactively literal events. The meaning was pretty much relegated to the back burner while the literalist interpretation (or at least the one the Church allowed to be Correct) became the dogma to justify continued Roman/Western hegemony, much like the whole ‘spreading freedom/democracy’ crap serves to give the US a cover story for its pursuit of empire. Scriptures were doctored or destroyed; different sects were persecuted as heretical and eventually obliterated, and Christianity As Tool Of Conquest was born.

    And no, I don’t just make this shit up. I have years of theological etymology studies under my belt. Wanna know more? I can recommend some fascinating and very well-researched books. Think I’m full of shit? Well, all I can say is ‘back atcha’ — if you wish to remain ignorant, that is your call.

    * * *

  5. I’ll just add a relevant line from P K Dick’s Valis…

    “The empire never ended.”

  6. Actually, reading Beyond Good and Evil today was interesting, for a remark that picked up on three phases of religious sacrifice:

    Firstly, sacrificing what you love most to your God

    Secondly, sacrificing yourself to your God

    and the last phase, one we are in perhaps now, and that springs to mind each time I see Sarah Palin on my screen:

    Sacrificing your enemies to your God

    God’s really been downgraded

  7. Jim,
    I will weigh in here. My faith tradition has been Roman Catholic (post Vatican II Council) since birth. It is very different than a fundamentalist Christian tradition. I have a perspective that has morphed through the years and of course, I have Bri who has shared his knowledge with me.

    >”Would you Christians still follow Jesus if this were true–if you had only his words to follow?
    If so, do you really follow his words now?

    Yes. And yes. Without the miracles, we would indeed be left with just his words and actions. I would still aspire to imitate Jesus because the words attributed to Christ speak of qualities that are the key to Love, which I believe is the primary way we can experience ‘God’ as humans. And yes, I continue to try every day to follow his words the best I can, knowing I am human and fallible.

    >”Would you still worship him? Would you worship differently?”

    Without the miracles I would continue to regard him in high esteem and admiration for his philosophy and demonstrated wisdom. At the same time, ‘Worship’ as defined by adoration and/or reverance would change.

  8. I’m going to answer your question a little differently, I hope you bear with my story.

    When I was 12 my mom had a series of heart attacks. She ended up have a heart valve replaced which was very experimental in the late 70’s. She died on the operating table, she was gone for 4 minutes before they brought her back. When she woke up in the hospital she was a different person. She told me and my family that she spoke with Jesus and that she was returned to us to finish up her business, make amends, and prepare us to live without her. She wasn’t a “God Freak” about it. She was very quiet and didn’t advertise her experience at all. I can only tell you she glowed and that she was totally at peace. She died 2 months later and I KNEW when it happened even though I wasn’t at home. I was at a friends house at the time.

    Fast forward: My husband and I lost our first child due to a Strep B infection in the hospital. Brianna was born very sick and the NICU docter wanted to life flight her to Denver. I found myself in deep prayer. If you have never experienced deep prayer it is an altered mind state. It is PROVEN that brain waves change when in deep prayer. Every time I prayed the doctor would come in to say they had stabilized her. So they sent for the helicopter. I relaxed and she’d start to slip again. I’d pray and she’d stabilize. This went on for 12 hours. I was exhausted. I decided that if I could just get to the chapel and pray at the altar that maybe that would be enough, that maybe God could take me instead. At that very moment the doctor came to the door and said, “Lynette, it’s time to say goodbye” It was my message from God that I had to let her go. I went to the NICU and I held her, sang her a lullabye and said goodbye. She died immediately following my goodbye.

    Is it God? Is it faith? Is it the power of the human mind? I can’t answer those questions for you. I can only believe what I know in my heart to be true. What I have felt with my heart and seen with my eyes you cannot talk me out of. What I experienced you can not take away. You may study anything you wish and interpret it the way you want. What I take offense to is that just because I believe differently or have different experiences than you that you label me ignorant.

    I have an unshakable faith and I have NEVER shoved it down anyones throat. I would also NEVER presume to call someone names for their beliefs because that would be prejudicial and intolerant.

    Jim, I never got a miracle. My mom and my daughter are both gone. My answer to you is simple. I would believe no matter what. A Christian isn’t a Christian just because they say they are.

  9. Lynette,

    While your experiences may relate to something supernatural, to the will of God, to untapped powers of the human mind, and so forth, I do not see any link between your experiences and the figure of Jesus Christ, who was the subject of the post. Could you explain why an experience of a higher power or something beyond human understanding necessarily leads you to be a Christian?

    This question is posed out of genuine interest.

  10. Lynette,

    I’ve been fairly criticized recently by people who know me and care about me for using overly harsh language toward believers. I’m trying to find a more loving approach while also maintaining a stance of intolerance. Yes intolerance. It’s hard to do.

    Are these metaphysical experiences proof that Jesus is up there, waiting for us to die and fulfill our purpose on earth, or send us back? If it is, then Krishna is also up there, and so is Mohammad, and Ishtar, and a myriad of other gods, who have been met by other people during their near-death experiences. I *do* believe those experiences are most likely genuine. I seriously doubt that you are lying, or that your mother lied to you. She probably *did* see what she said she saw.

    As an atheist, I cannot deny that people experience “other-worldly” phenomena. It would be foolish, because they do. Now … don’t take this the wrong way … but people who reach altered states by drugs *also* experience visions of things that don’t exist. If death isn’t an altered state, then I don’t know what is.

    What if our mental projections of Allah or Buddha or Zoroaster or Cthulhu come from a place in our brain that fires off under certain circumstances?

  11. King Felix, Without the resurrection there would be no Christians, because Jesus of Nazareth would never have been the “Christ”. So the question posed is unanswerable. I do not play “what if” scenarios either philosophically or in my life. I said at the beginning of my post I was going to answer the question differently. Respect my right to do so please.

    Jim, I don’t presume to know what the after life is. For all I know everyone is up there including Hitler and all the child molesters of the world. I will find out when it is my turn to take the journey.

    As for drug induced hallucinations, I don’t even want to walk that road with you. This was my personal experience. I don’t ask you to believe it but don’t belittle it. Besides the fact that my brother has enough experience on the drug end so I leave that up to the rest of the family to debate.

    <>

    This would be a spiritual statement you just made. You may be an atheist but you have some sort of spiritual beliefs.

  12. As an atheist, I cannot deny that people experience “other-worldly” phenomena. It would be foolish, because they do.

    (oops, somehow the quote you made was left out of my previous post, the above was the quote I referenced in my last sentence.)

  13. Yes, Atheists can be spiritual too. 🙂

    I’m a seeker just like anyone else. If we find God, we’ll stop calling it “God” because we’ll know what it is.

  14. “King Felix, Without the resurrection there would be no Christians, because Jesus of Nazareth would never have been the “Christ”. So the question posed is unanswerable. I do not play “what if” scenarios either philosophically or in my life. I said at the beginning of my post I was going to answer the question differently. Respect my right to do so please.”

    Pure passive aggression. Defend your right not to answer the question, but what you wrote here is a nonsense.

    “Could you explain why an experience of a higher power or something beyond human understanding necessarily leads you to be a Christian?”

    This is not a “What if?”

  15. Lynnette, you summed up my faith very well with your experiences. I agree that Christians are not Christians just because they say they are. My entire life, I’ve always asserted that going to church every Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian, and simply believing doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s how you believe what you believe, and how you live your life, in my humble opinion.

    Jim, with regard to your comment above, am I reading you correctly that when you find your God, why would you call it anything else? In other words, why would it cease to be God simply because you know what it is?

  16. Jesus H., Felix, know when to quit. Is it that hard to respect an opposing opinion instead of challenging the same question over and over using slightly different words until you get an answer you like, or at least one that doesn’t make you look so clueless?

    I for one understand completely where Lynnette is coming from. Perhaps I’ll give faith the assist on this one.

  17. Ooh, assistance from Todd. Guess we’re all way outclassed here by the awesome power of collective delusion. After all, if you get enough double-digit IQs in a room, you get a combined potential of three+ digits, and the rest of us just have to stop asking our foolish questions and accept the circular reasoning as self-evident.

    It’s kinda like those zombie movies. Doesn’t matter how slowly they move or how handicapped they are by their rotting flesh and lack of coordination; once you get enough of ’em, you’re gonna run out of shotgun shells.

    BRAAAAAAINS!!!!!

    * * *

  18. Hey now…I don’t think Felix’s question makes him look clueless; in fact, au contraire. He didn’t pose it but once and the second time he was signifying that his question was not a ‘what if’ scenario. I think it is an honest logical question that deserves an answer. Jim states he is wanting us to find common ground. Thank you Jim. It’s in sharing WHY we are Christian that allows others to gain understanding and tolerance.

  19. God, please forgive Todd, just as I forgive you for creating him.

  20. Also, Todd, your continual mischaracterizations of what I say are not fooling others (see above).

    Likewise, if Lynette wants to refrain from answering my question, she can, it was just that her grounds for doings so were disingenuous as I did not pose a “What-if?” question, as has been noted (by Suzanne).

  21. Kingfelix did not pose the “what if” scenario. It was Jim’s original post that I was referencing.

    Your question was:

    “Could you explain why an experience of a higher power or something beyond human understanding necessarily leads you to be a Christian?”

    I gave you my explanation.

    In order to be a “Christian” you must believe in Christ. If, as in Jim’s scenario, there was no resurrection then there would be no “Christians”.
    It’s basic.

    If I were a “spiritualist” for lack of a better term. I would respect Jesus’s teachings and his way of life just as I do the same for John the Baptist, Paul, Moses, etc….. and for me this would include Ghandi as well as others. I would not worship Jesus because I do not worship him now. I pray to God. I worship God. This is why I started my very first post with a disclaimer.

    As to why I believe, I gave my life as my example with actual experiences. I have more but do not see the point in continuing down this road.

    Kingfelix, I’m sorry if you don’t understand my answers but I can only answer in a way that is truthful to myself. I am neither passive aggressive nor disingenuous, and I respectfully suggest you look at the true definitions of both words before using them again.

    Jim, I do enjoy some of your posts. I only post when I truly feel I have something to give to the discussion such as when we were discussing progressivism. However I think I may be missing the necessary hostility in my psyche to continue to post on your site. I have enjoyed your opinions, and I admit that while I may not always agree, they are well thought out and researched. Peace to you in your journey of life my friend, where ever it leads you.

  22. “Kingfelix, I’m sorry if you don’t understand my answers but I can only answer in a way that is truthful to myself.”

    It’s fairly clear that I did not understand you were addressing Jim rather than myself, as this was not made clear.

    You run a nice line in sanctimony, with regards to your sign-off, and certainly show that it’s possible to be rude without employing rude words, thus heightening the overall effect. Congratulations on it.

  23. As for the remarks concerning my vocabulary, believe me, those words were deployed as required, in the full light of their meanings. Likewise, “sanctimony”, amen.

    Really, the notion that you can play the victim after what was a misunderstanding and indulge yourself in such a display proves very little. I would’ve made a full apology, but the barbs in your retort make that impossible, and that those barbs lurk beneath a veneer of reasonableness, that, to me, just makes it even more tiresome.

    Here, claim the moral high ground, it’s yours.

  24. I truly intended this to be a peaceful post … as I may have been unfairly hostile to Christians in the past. Indeed, some of my commenters continue in this hostile vein. But in the world of ideas, both sides of this dialog should be prepared for hostility. I certainly am.

    My challenge was intended to work both ways: I was just asking that IF you strip away the miracles, would Christians and I find common ground? My problem, after all, isn’t with Christ, it’s with faith! As Todd said, “It’s how you believe what you believe.” If we were to examine Christ without any requisite irrational leaps of faith, would we agree on the remainder? If we do, my challenge to you is to follow the teachings of what you see, and I will admit that your life is consistent with your faith, and any subsequent dialog should (on my part) be free of hostility.

    For me, the hostility has come for people who not only decide to modify their life and change their behavior based on something that they have NO evidence for, but they claim to base this faith on a person whose life and teachings recommend a lifestyle and belief system that is profoundly different from theirs. THAT my Christian friends, is a faith worthy of hostility.

    Todd asked: “When you find your God, why would you call it anything else? In other words, why would it cease to be God simply because you know what it is?”

    Answer: because it will cease to be or appear even remotely like God. God requires a shroud of mystery so that his faithful can insert him as the answer to any unsolved mystery. Once you shine a light on it, the mystery is gone and it stops being God.

    If science discovers a sentient being that created the universe, I’ll stop being an atheist, and yes, call it God. But how much do you wanna bet that that never happens?

  25. The hostility makes me wonder why professed people of faith are so damn sensitive, as if any mention of God acts directly upon their nervous system, to the extent that voicing any question about their beliefs is seen as a de facto attack on they themselves.

    This is the fundamental difference, I feel, that atheism offers, that people talking about their God, etc, by way of contrast, is not taken so personally (until people wish to legislate in the name of their God), it is indulged or pitied or tolerated, but an alternative viewpoint can be heard and processed without such outrageous sensitivity to every slight, both real and wholly imaginary.

  26. Kingfelix, I think it’s because they know, deep down, that their beliefs are unsupportable. Their hostility is partly born of frustration at being unable to adequately defend what they believe against even the slightest of logical questioning. For them to admit this to themselves would only chip away at their already fragile faith, so they fight all the harder to hide the truth from themselves.

  27. Deep denial is a powerful force. It operates in the realm of Nationalism/Patriotism just as fiercely. Hence the whole Bush=America nonsense, in which criticizing an administration means you hate America. Any moron can see that criticizing a particular administration is in essence saying “hey man, you are not acting like American government was set up to act” and is therefore a powerful display of patriotism (these days often risking oneself to do so), while blind subservience to whatever agenda the powermongers set is the opposite of patriotism.

    The difference is that at least we have a Constitution to fall back on, one that was written by men we are familiar with, whose other writings are available, all in relatively plain English that is only occasionally ambiguous due to the unforeseen changes taken place since it was penned. No one claims it was handed down by some mysterious supernatural force, and it is a living document, open to being changed as necessary. Surely there are, as there is with anything else, differences over differing interpretations of those gray areas, but at heart it is a document we can stand behind with reason rather than blind faith. (lately this doesn’t seem to matter much, as the status quo renders the Constitution ‘just a piece of paper’, but my hope is that it will still serve as a grounding to return to when the usurpers are defeated — or else we will have simply proven to have been a failed — and rather short-lived, by historical standards — experiment).

    The religious crowd, however, relies on a cobbled-together and endlessly edited (in secret by Church scribes with agendas) collection of medieval and prehistoric tales that have mysterious origins and often contradict each other, with no way to verify any of it other than to refer back to the circular reasoning that somehow it’s from ‘God’ because it says it is. On top of that, each of a zillion sects has its own set of interpretations, many in complete opposition to the others.

    Well, how about this:
    This post is from God. Prove it isn’t.

    * * *

  28. Hi Jim,

    I am really happy that you began this line of questioning. I think it is very noble of you and can lead to genuine insight on both sides.

    If you took out all of the miracles of Jesus and just saw him as a dude like Ghandi, then I believe it would be easier for anyone to NOT have hostility toward him.

    They would see a peacemaker or perhaps a crazy person (because he said that he and the Father were one and he equated himself with God to the Jewish people) with some pretty great ideas.

    They would look at him like they would look at any other human with ideas (Marx, Einstein, Joe the Plumber, Al my next door neighbor).

    You said… “Would you Christians still follow Jesus if this were true–if you had only his words to follow? If so, do you really follow his words now? Or do you just follow the meta-Jesus, whose example is impossibly difficult to follow, who cared only about the after-life at the expense of this life? Do you only follow the Jesus who represents strength and victory and power, and opposes the redistribution of wealth? Or the real Jesus who represented compassion and sacrifice?

    I think I could follow the real Jesus, and the meta-Jesus is why I struggle so much with today’s Christians.”

    That is really beautiful introspection and questioning. Let me try to offer an opinion…

    The first question, would I still follow Jesus if I only had his words to follow? I don’t think I would “follow” in the sense of making him an idol or a god of sorts. I would see him as a wise leader like Ghandi, or Confucious and probably take it as advice. I say this probably because I most likely wouldn’t have really even read much about him.

    I would know him like I know George Washington or Patrick Henry, through history books. Those guys probably said some great things, but I don’t “follow” them. You know what I’m saying?

    I will try to get to the other questions and answer them as honestly as I can at another time. I’ve gotten a bunch of interruptions (I’m at work) and I have to head home for the weekend.

    Great topic.

  29. … okay, the second part of your question was, do I really follow his words now?
    That is a key question in a believers faith/walk/life. Christ gave us so much to think about and to do. As a Christian, I am always trying to do the things that Jesus has taught me. I don’t always do it well, but he gives me a path to follow, and he gives me wisdom.

    When I am doing what Christ set an example for me to do, I am at my best as a person. My battle to be the best person I can be in God’s eyes is a lifelong journey.

  30. The third part was … “Or do you just follow the meta-Jesus, whose example is impossibly difficult to follow, who cared only about the after-life at the expense of this life?”

    I’m not certain what meta-Jesus means. When you say the Jesus who cared only about the after-life at the expense of his life, we have a problem in understanding.

    Did Jesus care about the after life, yes. Did he care about the present life, you bet. He said he came to give us life and to give us more abundant life. I would say that to live as a Christ follower you learn to treat others better. You value life. You see your possessions as a blessing. You honor your parents. You don’t take for granted your health, your state of mind, each breath and each heartbeat.

    You find joy regardless of circumstance. You cry with those that are crying and learn the value and righteousness of service. There are hundreds of other things.

    These things and more make the quality of my life better in my opinion. I don’t just hope for the afterlife, but I have hope in my earthly journey.

    I’m heading to the beach with the family now and will have to get back to try reflect on your great questions at a later time.

    Oh, I realize again that I was not invited to this conversation, so to not be rude, I am asking for the opportunity to continue.

    If you don’t want my opinions, just say so, and I’ll go away from this site completely.

    Ted

  31. Ted, everyone is welcome! This is a public blog. 🙂

    I would argue that most Christ followers do not know how to treat other people better–they only THINK they do. Prop 8 is a classic example. All the Christians were very very concerned that everyone talked very nicely to each other, but were perfectly fine with marginalizing 7% of our population. Pure hypocrisy.

    Have fun at the beach!

  32. Hey Jim,

    Thanks. I understand what you’re saying about Proposition 8 and the 7% thing. It’s really what I said before about trusting God that he knows more than I do. He says that sex before marriage is not good. We can scoff and say it’s outdated.

    But I trust God still. In the case of premarital sex, I see the emotional scars that can hurt a married relationship when sex was treated too lightly before marriage. There are issues that can take place like jealousy and mistrust, plus there are the obvious health risks, etc.

    If I believe that God is real and if I believe that he says he made us then I would tend to trust what he says, right?

    IF He thinks that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, then I don’t like the idea of it being celebrated and made to look like something that is good, because it would be misleading to future generations and to the present day humans.

    If homosexuals are allowed to marry and if homosexuality is taught in schools as a regular choice and part of the “carnival of human life” (as I think bri or Kingfelix put it), then it would be like a lie is being concealed and made to look like the truth.

    Now if I take God out of it, and if I don’t believe in God at all then I’m with you on this thing for sure. I would see all people and their non violent behaviors as justifiable because that is a human freedom that shouldn’t be oppressed (unless there were other things that pointed to it’s danger like health risks and emotional risks, etc.).

    So, just being honest with you as I’ve tried to express to you all the time, I really DO believe in God. I do. I mean my chips are all in on this. I don’t sorta believe in him, everything in my being tells me that he is true and he is who he says he is (Jesus, The Father, The Holy Spirit in one as written in the Torah and the New Testament).

    I know there are a thousand and one choices of religions out there but this is the one that my soul resonates with completely. It’s weird I guess, but also very cool for me individually.

    So, if you can have compassion on my situation at all, then you can see that I must vote my “trust in the God of the Bible.” That doesn’t mean that I’m on a witch hunt or that I hate gay people! I love all people, I really do. We could hang out and have a great time and laugh and enjoy each others company I’m sure.

    I don’t look down my nose at gay people and think that they are bad people. People have a hard enough time in this life with all the complexities of relationships and feelings and economic stress and just trying to survive on this big blue planet as it is.

    I try to humble myself before all men. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from.

    But this was a side note to this particular thread on your blog, so I don’t want to start that all over again here. This was a different subject and one that I’ll get back to later.

    Just got back from the beach and putting the kids in bed.

    Ted

  33. Jim,

    Your comment: “I would argue that most Christ followers do not know how to treat other people better–they only THINK they do.”

    Hope that’s not the case. I would like to THINK that most Christ followers KNOW how to treat other people better, but unfortunately they don’t live up to the standard. I’ve known Christians, as well as non-Christians who are bitter, mean, ugly (on the inside) people.

    I guess the other thing is that there are Christians who are really spiritual and are honest Christ followers, and then there are those who call themselves Christians but they really aren’t. Either they do it for social reasons or have it in their head, but not their heart and soul.

  34. Jim,

    Okay, I’m attempting to finish answering honestly your other questions…
    “Do you only follow the Jesus who represents strength and victory and power, and opposes the redistribution of wealth? Or the real Jesus who represented compassion and sacrifice?

    I think I could follow the real Jesus, and the meta-Jesus is why I struggle so much with today’s Christians.”

    I’m interested at your question of what appears is TWO kinds or two personalities or two images of Jesus.

    I believe that God is and always was and always will be. I believe he is triune in nature (as much as we can understand this) Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

    The Jesus that you say represents strength and victory and power but who opposes the redistribution of wealth… well, I know that Jesus represents Strength in the form of being mentally, and spiritually strong. He would not back down from what he knew was right, and he would voice unpopular opinions even in the sight of death and persecution. That’s pretty strong.

    He represents victory, because he did not succumb to temptation and he was victorious in his mission and he was victorious over death.

    I can’t think of the Jesus that was against the redistribution of wealth, you’ll have to help me out on that one. He was certainly giving and he said to give unto Caesar what is Caesars (representing government) and give unto God what is Gods.

  35. Jim,

    I’m thinking about the concept of following something. When you take out religion, there are a lot of things that people follow. I’ve seen it mentioned somewhere on this blog that people kind of follow the Constitution and other documents in our country’s founding.

    Some people follow Karl Marx’s, or Ronald Reagan’s ideas. Other people follow a political party and see the ideals of Democrats or Republicans or Independents. These all have certain ideals and can be followed earnestly.

    If you looked at the Bible as just a large document, it might be less offensive to you.

    I think that perhaps because it is considered by some as the ultimate infallible document written by the very hand of the God who created the universe and everything in it, that it is pushed away.

    It can be looked at like “how dare you say that there is only one way to God! How dare anyone be SO certain that what they believe IS ACTUAL TRUTH, real TRUTH? and then the NERVE to push that belief on others that don’t want anything to do with it! That is conceited and vain and single minded and intolerant!”

    I’m trying to look at it outside of myself and outside of my beliefs. I can see this.

    Do you know the Cat Stevens song “If you Want to Sing out Sing out?” It talks about there being a million things to be, and that you have to make a choice.

    What one of us decides to be or what one of us decides to follow is up to us. America is awesome because they allow us to be who we are within limits. So everyone is trying to make America what they think is ideal! We all have ideas and are trying to get through it together.


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