Wednesday, 24 December 2008

On Jesus of Nazareth

The primary message of Jesus was love and social inclusion. This is clear from the traditions recorded in the various gospels.

Accordingly there is a contrast between this message and that of the "Christian" churches which preach in his name.

The word Greek-based term "Christ" was probably unknown to the historical Jesus. To call him such turns him from a historical figure into a theological event.

And, by doing so, love and social inclusion are replaced by an arrogance of religious certainty.

There was no historical inevitability that Jesus of Nazareth would be transformed into "Jesus Christ"; indeed, there was no reason why the traditions of his life would be written down at all.

The early history of the Christian church is a series of contingencies which could have gone in any direction, or no direction at all.

But each move does seem to me to have sadly taken those involved further from the ethical traditions of Jesus of Nazareth.

For me, "Christian" churches are not primarily concerned with love and social inclusion, but with asserting and imposing "truth". And, for me, that is where all the bad things about Christianity come from.

For Christian "truth" is not one that cannot be tested, challenged or verified, but one which provides the grounds for inflicting hate and social exclusion.

So I will be celebrating the birth of Jesus and not the birth of "Christ".


marmitelover said...

Hear, hear.
My own feeling about Christmas is that the excitement is all about the shortest day, the solstice. Stonehenge, for instance, can best be understood on the winter solstice rather than the summer solstice, when it tends to be celebrated.
It is a magical time of year. Celebrating the darkness, warding it off with fires, food and drink whilst awaiting the seasonal rebirth.

Crispian Jago said...

hear hear


Hmm... Very interesting point of view about nature of Jesus Christ...

There is a special term for his determination - "God-Man". In fact you reject the godlike side of his nature and revere his human side.
This point is a feature of mentality of conservators and paradoxically - of marxists. Yes, it's so. These two opposite social groups have some common ideals. Both groups are more interested in rational, material approaches to the life than idealistic and mystic. They hope rather for weak, but real human's abilities, than for illusory great God. Probably just because of it, political history knows strange examples, when conservators and socialists-marxists were allies.
And maybe we (you and I) have sometimes mutual understanding just because of it - you've proclaimed yourself as "conservator" and I was raised as "marxist".
Though, in reality I am sure that neither you nor I stand by classic dogmatic doctrines. I clearly see your endeavors to reform old "-isms" and I do so. And rather our real aims are more similar that even we think...

So - viva humanism!

Merry holidays! :)

Lafayette Hubbard said...

I often find myself wondering what the Church has to do with Jesus at all. Even if you take the gospels as, erm, gospel, he travelled around basically telling people to be nice to each other and that maybe, just maybe, we ought to try and find our own moral code, rather than wave scripture at one another. He never said that we should gather in dusty piles of stone to sing dreary songs and, every so often go about the place telling people they're going to burn in hell because of accidents of birth.

Ben Murphy said...

What of Luke 6: 24-36

But woe to you that are rich for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you that are full now for you shall hunger.
Woe to you that laugh now for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

This is not so much social inclusion as social reversal. Inclusion is when high status people allow those of low status a seat at the table. Reversal is when the the rich are sent away empty so that those who are starving can be fed.

Jack of Kent seems to be contrasting the Jesus of Benedict XVI with a liberal Jesus, but what about the radical Jesus of liberation theology?

jim said...