love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

Liar, lord, lunatic ….and, or….

And so there has recently been a great debate regarding the actual existence of not only Jesus Christ, but Julius Caesar as well,  brought to the front-lines from the endearing Ark, here. and the following posts.  (If you enjoy rousing debate/discussion, and have not visited his blog, you are missing out on some fun).

I find the subject of their actual existence, less important in my mind as men when both have left behind, (or those who wanted us to know/remember/believe/hope/ in them or at least the words they were promoting) words worth reading and knowing.

To explain better, I am not super concerned over the fact of whether or not Aesop actually existed , and actually wrote Aesop’s Fables.  His actual existence would not change the value or enjoyment of the materials left to us in his name.  (please note I am not attempting to even question his existence in this post… 😉  )

I feel rather the same about the man Jesus.  It is possible, very possible, such a man actually walked the earth. And I get the distinct impression that had I met him, I would have been intrigued at the very least.    The problem to me is not in whether or not he actually existed and walked the earth, I do believe that we cannot know that for sure and to argue that specific point, with which I do not think one will make ANY leeway with those who firmly believe it to be true…..Is indeed a waste of time. My apologies in advance to Ark as he obviously feels very differently on this issue. And I feel the need to offer Pie and coffee.  Please note the capitalized P….. 😉

What I find infinitely more of importance, is two things.  Was he more than a man? As christianity claims? And are his teachings /words misrepresented? Are any willing to look at the differences between the Jesus of history and the Christ of dogma?   Of course this leads to questions such as were there actual…miracles? Could he have actually been “born of a virgin” and “raised from the dead”? or where those merely legends and myths added to ensure that this man, an inspiring man men were willing to give up all for…did not die for nothing?

The infamous Trilemma…made popular by Lewis, but used earlier by Rabbi John Duncan,

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”

This of course leaves out many possibilities.  Jesus may have meant very well…he may have been charismatic, and kind and caring, and those around him so infected that they believed he….HE….must somehow live on….

And so i am going to forgo the argument of whether or not such a man existed and walked the earth, and go with questions about that very man being god?

I do believe we see a change in Jesus’ pleading with mankind.  Even possibly the delusions of grandeur setting in as he desperately was willing to do anything to cause a stir, in his people…to care about one another.  We see a man who’s heart is stirred, by the injustices around him…one willing to devote his entire life and death to such…

And then we see a man willing to fast, (40 days?) which would indeed lead to some imbalances to any normal human being….

I think the idea that he could sacrifice himself…..give himself up…the ultimate sacrifice…praying so fervently about this mission…believing wholeheartedly it was the only way….that he sweat and cried blood while praying?

a possible martyr complex brought on by the desire to change others, to make things better, to change the world…….a noble desire, to be sure, but left unbalanced….brings…well….unbalance…

His promises to his followers….recorded right alongside his proclaimed miracles…

“Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:21-22 NAS)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NAB)

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)

And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 NAB)

 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:16-18)

I have seen various explanations and attempts at justifying why we do not see these promises being fulfilled today…

but none that are satisfactory.

In the end, I enjoy many of Jesus words, as a man, just as I do Aesop.

(whether he actually existed or not)

Much as Thomas Jefferson, I have no problem cutting out the good stuff….and keeping it.

Keep what is good…. 😉

But I do not grant him any sort of deity status…nor do I take all his words without thought, testing, weighing with tools of critical thinking….

And now ark…do you take your coffee black? or with one lump or two?

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29 Comments

  1. Interesting post 🙂 I remember somebody saying the same about buddhism: would it matter to buddhism if we had proof that buddha never existed. I think it’s an interesting thought experiment. It might be so much easier to appreciate Jesus as you might appreciate Aesop, if people were prepared to look at it in an un-attached way. For an atheist like me, I find I can’t look at Jesus with a clear head, just because there’s so much baggage… 😉

    • understood. I suppose I was tempted to throw it all out upon deconversion, but well….
      confession time..
      Jesus had been my confident, my hero, my very bestest friend….the one you tell all your secrets to….(ever seen the movie…Drop Dead Fred?) my…invisible friend. It was very very difficult letting it all go. I very nearly fell off the edge of the cliffs of insanity.
      But even after cutting all the ties…..striping the gears clean…and beginning anew…I was haunted by so many of the words that had effected me so….that had made me willing to give my very life to follow him…(aside from the fact that he had died for me….)
      things like…the Sermon on the Mount…and the …social gospel…
      caring for the poor….the weak…his inspiration to me carrying for the world…
      (if this makes…any sense at all)

      • Tell you what….sent me a check for 5 dollars and I will write you a mini gospel of Ark.
        All brand new, with enough positive sayings and stuff to having you walking around with a grin that with convince everyone that you Got It All This Morning…as the Cornflake Commercial says?

        Five bucks? Hell, its a bargain, and I won’t even die for either of our ‘sins’.

        Babe that’s an offer of a lifetime.

        Don;t say I;m not trying to walk on water for you?

      • It does Holly. Same here… perhaps we walked the same path? Recovery is long and hard I think. There are so many dents and bruises. :-/

        • thanks Emmy! we may very well have journeyed the same path, there are so many things I find myself having to completely unlearn, and start over at the bottom to be able to make sense of it. morals, free will, purpose, life… 🙂 very hard to come out of a black and white/binary type outlook.

          • Yes it is. Took me years… and some things, like free will, I can’t nail down. Not yet anyway.:-/

  2. Thing is, dear heart, Aesop never said you could not have sex with a condom, even at the risk of a deadly disease, or condemned it as evil.
    He didn’t start or was the impetus behind an organisation, , that condemns to hell your homosexual, sister, brother, cousin friend favorite pop star. yourself, even.

    Not did Aesop make any claims about his ability to walk on water, raise the dead, or offer any instructions on how to start a cheap feeding scheme using on two fishes and five loaves.

    Neither did he live in considerable wealth, as many of is his earthly representatives do from across the whole 40,000 spectrum of sects while millions starve, not least of all those wh reside in the Vatican.
    Choice is a wonderful thing.
    I choose not to offer the time of day to those who would push or even tolerate an agenda of subterfuge and a myth based religious system built largely upon fear and lies and awash with the blood of more people than I care to think about.

    Milk, one sugar, please.

    May your ‘god’ go with you…you might need it.

    • Ark, I agree with you and couldn’t have said it any better. Caesar or Aesop doesn’t make any such claims nor are there followers of Aesop who demand that you go to church every Sunday or be damned!

    • Well…i did ask for it didn’t i? 🙂
      I suppose my point was that I really don’t think we can prove one way or another Jesus actually ever walked upon the earth..or not. We can speculate, that there is not enough info…But let us say….even if he DID exist…
      we have his own unfulfilled words/promises that are sitting around witnessing to the fact that he was not a deity. So….I am left with…if he DID exist….he may have indeed had (and is stress) SOME good things to say…and share…and challenge humanity with ….(do unto others as you would have them do unto you, give away your wealth, and feed the hungry and the poor…shelter the homeless, forgive as you would like to be forgiven, etc)
      But…the danger lies in a willingness to shut off questions, leave stones unturned, not ask…is this good? is this true? were the promises actually fulfilled? or not…? am i willing to consider this?
      Am i willing to cause others harm because of my unwillingness to consider this? am i willing to commit evil, because of what i believe? THIS , my friend, is the danger i see. And i am willing to admit that i know many christians who live good lives, devote their time to those in need, volunteer at nursing homes, animal shelters, and at work are willing to jump in and help and never say…”that’s not my job”…I also know many who are willing to live and let live, and do not believe it is their place to judge others…only to encourage others to seek…

  3. I think the question of whether Jesus or any of the prophets existed is a pertinent one and should not be treated as a side issue. My argument here is, we have 1 billion plus followers of the said Jesus who want to determine how people live their lives basing their arguments on the supposed teaching of the said Jesus. This being the case, it is of utmost importance to provide at least some proof that the said person lived, we also must know what this person believed and so on. In fact the person comparing Caesar and Jesus existence I think commits a fallacy because for one no one is asking that we worship Caesar nor that we live by Caesar’s dictates.
    Next regards what is claimed to be the teaching of Jesus, we have to look at the truth content, usefulness and originality of thought in any claims made about a statement having been uttered by Jesus.Lets take for example

    And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)

    One, if as many people want us to believe that he was just a man, then he couldn’t know whether a god existed or not and such a claim then becomes superfluous. Two has any of this been seen to work?
    That is my two cents and I lean on the side that believe the fellow is a myth through and through.

    • Yeah…the brothers in the hood got to stick together. Yo!

      Who the eff is Aesop anyhow? 😉

      • Aesop was a Greek story teller whose existence is uncertain.

        • So Aesop and Jesus are , like… interchangeable? Cool!

          • I have just recently learnt that. This week has been an interesting one, first I had a guy questioning the existence of his liver, then Caesar and now Jesus and Aesop are interchangeable.

        • but whose stories were rockin awesome… 🙂

          • I hear that of his stories, though I haven’t read any.

            • Aesop Fables—if story telling didn’t exist, neither Aesop nor his fables would have survived.

              “They were among the first printed works in the vernacular European languages, and writers and thinkers throughout history have perpetuated them to such an extent that they are embraced as among the essential truths about human beings and their ways.”
              -D.L. Ashliman
              like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, he made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he adds to it the advice to do a thing or not to do it. Then, too, he was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be true, told the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events.
              —Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana,
              They are wonderfully fun to read. And a great way to teach a lesson for children.
              Would you like a link to some? you can find them free to read online, and many read on youtube as well. 🙂

              • Thank you for the offer, I have found a link with a epub version from where to download. I will add it to my to read list, a list that however much I try to reduce keeps growing 🙂

      • Both of your points were fair, and i would be willing to restate that it is indeed more important to consider his existence than the likes of Caesar and Aesop, because of the willingness of others to build followings, charge money, hoodwink, deceive, and brainwash, all in the name of Jesus. But are you really so sure that we can indeed prove that Jesus , (AS A MAN) never existed? I do not think you can…..

        more coffee?

  4. He didn’t sacrifice himself, he was crucified by Rome for the crime of Sedition. Did Bin Laden sacrifice himself? No, he was hunted and executed for the crime of Sedition as well. Why do People still cling to the barbaric concept of blood sacrifice? God was created in man’s own image, not the other way around. It’s quite entertaining to observe religious people spewing forth one nonsensical argument after the next. News Flash: the Emperor has no clothes on.

    • Hello Lexborgia.
      I am only familiar with the stories told of Jesus from the bible…(and of Josephus)
      Are there others? (for that record reflects rather clearly that he felt he must die for his cause…and was willing to do so, and in fact helped the events that caused his arrest and did not defend himself when asked to do so) etc.?

      • Others? There’s only one, the only relevant one. It’s called Roman Occupation. Crucifixion was common, he didn’t cause it. Christians today simply don’t seem willing or intelligent enough to understand what that entailed; it was brutal, Rome did not fool around, they ruled all and punished indiscriminately. The only Thing today that can be compared with then is the Israel Occupation of the West Bank, which is a joke when compared to Rome. The Roman burned and looted their temple; did God do anything? No. Because they were only to continue with their ‘temple and rituals’ because Rome said so. Rome crucified People, period.

  5. Aesop’s fables are great! I think you make an excellent point by comparing them with the words attributed to Jesus. Aesop was born in New York! Shock, horror, I can no longer extract anything useful from the stories!

    I’ve said it on more than one occasion to Ark – even if he could prove beyond all doubt to every Christian in the world that Nazareth never existed, it would have no effect. Most Christians wouldn’t care and the rest would find a suitable re-interpretation for the references in the Bible, and Christianity would trundle on.

  6. You post reflects my thoughts exactly. Its always been about what he represented and not him.

  7. Thanks, Mike. I was afraid the point of the post had been lost…especially after getting a few likes from christians…I thought perhaps the last paragraph had not been actually read by most ;).

  8. archaeopteryx1

    I found it difficult to get past, “the endearing Ark,” but after overcoming actual, physical illness, I was able to read the rest of the post, feeling, as it were, only minor nausea.

    An anonymous writer, later pen-named, “Mark,” wrote of Yeshua (Jesus, in the Greek) 40+ years after the event, based on what could not possibly have been first-hand information. Another anonymous writer, pseudo-Matthew, copied 90% of his own Gospel directly from pseudo-Mark, about 5 years later, ascertaining in the process, that he wasn’t there either. Pseudo-Luke, writing roughly ten years after that, copied only about 60% of his gospel from pseudo-Mark, and finally, pseudo-John, writing at the turn of the second century, wrote his tale, basically saying that the entire, “fishers of men” fable never happened (and “John” was presumed to have been one of the four selected as “fishers,” and so should know more than the other three) – this, a full 70 years after the fact.

    The vast majority of the events described by these four gospels were drawn directly from OT prophecies, in order to make it appear that those prophecies had been fulfilled. How much of what remains actually happened, and how much sprang from the fertile imaginations of the authors, will never be known.

    You mention the 40 days of fasting in the desert, yet “40 days and 40 nights” was a popular phrase, used often in the Bible, and which of the Gospel authors was present to record the event? The same thing goes for sweating blood during prayer in Gethsemane, when the book itself states that no one stayed awake to share the prayer vigil.

    It’s a good story, but so much of it can be traced to other sources or to outright implausibility, that it is impossible to determine, as Doyle put it, “whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

    In 1800, Mason Locke Weems, part-time preacher and full-time Bible salesman, concocted a story for a Sunday School class of little children that he found himself teaching when Bible sales were down. He wanted to teach these bright-eyed little minds the value of always being honest – he did that by telling them a lie, a convoluted tale of little George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree with his little hatchet. That lie remained in US History books until it was finally removed after the mid-1900’s. Should we applaud Weems for leaving us with a valuable moral, or condemn him for lying to children?

    Do we really need sugar-coated lies to be kind? Jerry Springer sums it all up in a single sentence, in the closing line of each of his shows, when he says, “Be good to yourselves, and each other.” But Ella Wilcox probably put it best:

    “So many Gods, so many creeds,
    So many paths that wind and wind,
    When just the art of being kind
    Is all this sad world needs.”
    — Ella Wheeler Wilcox —

    • So sorry for causing tummy pain! I had no idea you had it that bad.
      As for the rest, I will admit I have come a lot further on letting go. That post was a bit ago. Before John affected me with some of what you shared above, and more regarding even the old testament and lack of historical value. In addition I have run into some teachings of Jesus I no longer feel are best. Even when I first let go, it was still hard to let go of my admiration of Jesus. He had been my hero for so long. And my formerly held beliefs, of his great sacrifice were embedded deeply into my psych. The teachings of forgiving seventy times seven and turning the other cheek, I have seen to cause suffering and pain, and help allow abuse. But, as for stories, I don’t think sugar coated lies are necessary. I do think stories are. There is a link to reading fiction and empathy. Studies show that readers of fiction tend to have better abilities of empathy and theory of mind. http://www.nationalreadingcampaign.ca/research/reading-and-empathy/

      • archaeopteryx1

        Oh, don’t even get me started on the OT – the fact that the first five books were written, not by Moses, but by four independent groups of priests over a five hundred year time span and stitched together like a patchwork quilt – the plagiarized Mesopotamian flood of 2900 BCE, incorporated into the first known work of fiction, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” and “borrowed” by the Bible authors 200 years later – I could go on for days. And have.

        And yes, John is VERY knowledgeable, a lot can be learned from him.

      • archaeopteryx1

        I AM a bit surprised that the Arkster hasn’t crept out of his sarcophagus to respond – takes all the fun out of it. But maybe THAT’s his diabolical plan —

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