Tuesday, December 17, 2013

At the Risk of Sounding Blasphemous, What Was Jesus Really Like?

I'm going to say this carefully, with full understanding of the implications:

If we take out the theological assumptions inherent in the typical acceptance of Jesus, of Nazareth, being "The Savior and Redeemer of the World", I would say he was a faithful, heterodox Jew.  He was a radical, revolutionary itinerant preacher who was "extra-establishment" (meaning outside the establishment) at the core and anti-establishment when dealing with what he saw as abuses of power. I also believe there is a strong possibility that he intentionally played a role in facilitating his death - or, at least, the trial that ultimately led to his death.

Without the theological assumptions I mentioned above, I see Jesus of Nazareth as very similar to Moses - and Mohammed - and Martin Luther - and Joseph Smith - and Gandhi - and any other revolutionary prophet. I think he would be rejected by the vast majority of Christians now, including Mormons (and, probably, me) as the "Savior and Redeemer of the World", if we was re-born tomorrow and lived the same life he did then.

I have no problem defining "sinless" in such a way that I can believe he was sinless; I define "perfect" in such a way ("complete, whole, fully developed") that I believe he was perfect only at the moment he died.

I have no problem accepting him as "The Savior and Redeemer of the World" - but that is because I can interpret those titles in ways that make sense to me.

However, in the end, we really have no objective idea. The faith that animates our belief provides our understanding, since even the Biblical claims cannot be proven objectively. We just don't have anything that we can accept as objective fact upon which to base our beliefs. Every bit of it is a matter of faith - one way or the other.
Having said all that about what I believe, I have a HUGE problem with the image of him portrayed in quotes like, "Little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes," and, "He never got vexed when the game went wrong, and he always told the truth."  I've written about that in other posts, so I won't explain further in this one.

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