Thursday, October 29, 2009

The religion about Jesus

Excerpt from the Conclusion of chapter seven "Who Invented Christianity?" from the book Jesus, Interrupted, written by Bart D. Ehrman:

"What we might think of as traditional Christianity did not simply drop from the sky, full grown and fully developed, soon after the ministry of Jesus. Nor did it emerge directly and simply from his teachings. In many ways, what became Christianity represents a series of rather important departures from the teachings of Jesus. Christianity, as has long been recognized by critical historians, is the religion about Jesus, not the religion of Jesus."

I read that paragraph last night and it seemed to make so much sense to me about why I have such a problem with Christianity. Firstly let me say I did not grow up in a religious household. In fact I was the only one in my family to not get baptized. I never went to church and my understanding of Christianity in my early years was pieced together from what I heard people say and what I saw on TV. So to me many things that are traditionally believed by church goers is new and strange to me at times.

Nothing made that more clear to me than when I was talking with a friend about a novel I was reading back in high school. There was a scene in the book where the main character was taken back in time by the devil to point where the devil was tempting Jesus in the desert after his baptism and the devil was talking directly to God in Jesus about how the devil had been exiled from heaven for the exact reason of coming down to Earth and taking human form but now that's what God was doing.

To me the idea that Jesus was God was new and surprising and just plain wrong at the time. I had always pieced together that Jesus was the son of God, not God himself. So to find out in this talk with my friend that this idea is actually the tradition view of Christians, that Jesus and God are two aspects of the same being or however you want to look at it, was a little shocking to me at the time. I think that's when I decided I needed to know more about what the Bible actually said, which of course lead me to many of my own current theories and thoughts and ultimately lead me to deciding I can never be Christian, at least no traditional orthodox Christian.

So back to the excerpt from the book above. When I read what Jesus supposedly said, I believe it is currently impossible for us to say with any accuracy what he might have actually said two thousand years ago but will take what survives in the bible as at least the general message he was trying to say, I have to say that most of the time he was saying some pretty interesting and important things about how people should live their lives and treat other people and what not.

But when I look at the history of what the church, and when I saw that I mostly mean the Roman Catholic church since they are the ones that invented and maintained most of the traditions of orthodox Christianity through out the ages, has done and continues to say and do in some instances, I'm appalled that these people claim to follow teachings of Jesus. Never more so than when I look at history of the Crusades.

I have long ago realized that Christianity has nothing to do with the actual religion of Jesus, he was a Jew after all. But instead it has become more of a religion about him. And personally I believe more a religion about thoughts and ideas and traditions that had nothing to do with what Jesus himself preached.

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