What Do You Make of Jesus?

What do you believe about Jesus? Check all that apply.


  • Total voters
    51

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
This thread/poll is an offshoot of Is There a God? and a certain tangent from another thread.

I invite you to vote in the poll if you're willing, and as a bonus perhaps you'll post here as well and describe your beliefs about Jesus in detail.

I personally think it's 27% likely Jesus was a made-up man, and 71% likely he existed but was technically just a lowly mortal like you and me. He seems to have been a significant spiritual leader with extraordinary wisdom, and left us some teachings that many people have deeply identified with. I think he was turned into a Deity by later humans who wanted to cash in on a religious empire built in his name. Many of the scriptural stories about him (particularly the ones that make him literally divine) are obviously borrowed from earlier mythologies.

If he existed, then I think it's 65% likely he was put to death for his "radical" ideas. Whether by crucifixion, I don't know. 50/50 on that one I guess. I don't think he rose from the grave. I don't think he performed any miracles.

His message was probably about seven parts peace and love, and about three parts discrediting the Pharisees and Sadducees, decrying hypocrisy, and putting the Kingdom of God first in one's life.

He must have been a loving man, a pleasant man, a forgiving man, a charismatic man, a man who was a joy to know and be around. People must have missed him when he was gone, and people intensely want him to still be alive and well, and with us (and many of their beliefs reflect that desire). He was much beloved and is still much beloved.

I think that many Christians today -- even some very liberal Christians -- feel hurt, angered, or threatened when anyone's beliefs (e.g. mine) purport to defrock Jesus of his Godhood. It's important to them that Jesus be (a) God -- to wit, the Word of God, God manifested in the flesh.

What's your take on the matter, and why to you see it the way that you do?
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
In my humble opinion:

Jesus the Christ (Messiah) may or may not have existed at some point in the first half of the first century CE. There is no record of him except in the Bible, and in banned so-called heretical scripture. There are so many stories of Jesus that were not included in the Bible.

He was a Jew. He spoke as a Pharisee (sage, rabbi) of that time would. His disagreements with the Pharisees is ahistorical. He may have had issues with the High Priest and Saducees, who were quislings of the Roman overlords. Him being called Messiah did not mean he was divine. A Jewish Messiah was always merely a human liberator.

Paul, who wrote of Jesus' atoning death, was probably a Greek convert to Judaism, and not a Pharisee. He didn't even speak Hebrew. The ideas he puts forth about Jesus would have been completely ridiculous for a Torah believing Jew like Jesus is shown to be in the Synoptic Gospels. The Book of John, where Jesus claimed to be God) was written late and has even less historical value than the Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, Luke). Acts of the Apostles is muddled and fictional. Paul, in his Letters, also lied about his own history. He was one part charlatan and one part sincere, like the founders of Mormonism and Scientology.

Jesus came to be thought of as a dying and rising god of Greek mystery school style, in the manner of Attis, Dionysus and Tammuz and 100s of others of ancient days. A grain god who rose and fell and rose again like a plant. His mother being human and conceiving by a god is a pagan idea, not a Jewish one. No human could be a god according to Judaism, and Jesus was a Torah believing Jew.

I am also fond of the idea that Jesus, as an archetype, was married to Mary Magdalene just as sure as he was born from Mary Virgin. 2 Marys, mythologically, is not an accident. Moses' (upon whose life Jesus' was based) wife was named Mary (Miriam) as well. Moses spent 40 years in the desert, then his brother Aaron crossed the Jordan. Jesus spend 40 days in the desert, then was baptised in the Jordan, becoming born again.

Myth. A cool myth!

PS, I hold my views from studying this subject for over a decade and reading the New Oxford Annotated Bible at least 3 times, plus many books on Historical Criticism. No one is going to tell me to believe something supernatural. I took issue with the magic Bible stuff my church tried to force me to believe at age 11. It sounded like fairy tales then, and still does.
 
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LovingRadiance

Active member
I honestly think-It doesn't matter.

I tend to believe it's probably much a myth. Was he a real person, who knows, that is arbitrary.
I think people as a rule put too much emphasis on whether or not a story is "true" or "real" and less on whether or not the point of said story is valid.

I'm ALL FOR the truth. But sometimes a truth is too complicated to explain. (more like oftentimes).

So we create a story that conveys our point.

I think there are some valid points in the stories, ESPECIALLY if considered in regards to time/place. As in-they were valid at the time and place they were written. But that doesn't mean that we understand HOW they were valid, nor does it mean that they remain valid.
If that makes sense.
 

YouAreHere

Well-known member
I believe that, whether or not he existed as one man or as something else (an offshoot church, perhaps?), his message is a good one. His divinity only serves to detract from that message, as people pay more importance to that than to treating others well, which would probably have him rolling over in his grave... figuratively speaking, of course.

Christianity as an organized religion now is this weird mishmash of politics, Old Testament, and New Testament doctrine that cherry-picks its tenets, with splinter branches up the wazoo. While I appreciate the community aspect of churches, I think the game of telephone has gone on waaaaay too long and his message has been obfuscated by other "important" things, which is too bad. The message itself is a good one. "Love thy neighbor." And it's made all the more poignant by his death. The resurrection just seems to undo that for me.
 

InsaneMystic

New member
Great teacher who taught us to love one another.

The only reason why I didn't check "just a man" is because being such a teacher is more than most people accomplish in their lives. I don't think "brother Yeshua" had more divinity in him than you or me do (as a panentheist, I believe human is to god as drop is to ocean), but he sure made an unusually strong impression about showing it to the folks around him, and didn't back down from what he believed in even when threatened with one of the most horrible forms of execution humans have invented. That's pretty impressive in my book... it doesn't make him superhuman, but it does make him a mighty fine human specimen.
 

bookbug

New member
I realize your question is primarily about our take on Jesus, but I am going to go off on a tangent.... :D

What I fail to understand is why any devout Christian cares about what I believe to the point that my disbelief causes them pain and anger. I NEVER tell anyone what he should or should not believe. I don't try to convert them to my atheistic / philosophically Buddhist viewpoint. I simply do not allow them to convert me.

It almost strikes me as though they feel that the more people who believe, the more true it is - like a huge game of The Emperor's New Clothes.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Excellent feedback so far guys.

Re (from Magdlyn):
"He spoke as a Pharisee (sage, rabbi) of that time would. His disagreements with the Pharisees are ahistorical. He may have had issues with the High Priest and Sadducees, who were quislings of the Roman overlords."

Interesting; I did not know that.

Re (from bookbug):
"I realize your question is primarily about our take on Jesus, but I am going to go off on a tangent ... :D"

As bonafide OP, I officially permit tangents. ;)

Re:
"What I fail to understand is why any devout Christian cares about what I believe to the point that my disbelief causes them pain and anger."

I'm not sure ... I sometimes wonder if on some level they're afraid that they'll "catch" your unbelief like a disease ... and then they'll go to Hell too ...

Or maybe they're afraid that "your kind" will badly influence their kids ...

Or they've been conditioned to assume that all unbelievers must hate Jesus ... making them feel like a little tyke might feel if somebody said they hated Santa Claus ...

Re:
"It almost strikes me as though they feel that the more people who believe, the more true it is -- like a huge game of The Emperor's New Clothes."

Right; exactly. Hence the notion of unbelief being a dread contagion. "Shhhh! Don't speak like that!"
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Great teacher who taught us to love one another.

The only reason why I didn't check "just a man" is because being such a teacher is more than most people accomplish in their lives. I don't think "brother Yeshua" had more divinity in him than you or me do (as a panentheist, I believe human is to god as drop is to ocean), but he sure made an unusually strong impression about showing it to the folks around him, and didn't back down from what he believed in even when threatened with one of the most horrible forms of execution humans have invented. That's pretty impressive in my book... it doesn't make him superhuman, but it does make him a mighty fine human specimen.

The Roman punishment for sedition was crucifixion. "Jesus," and thousands of others, were executed in this way when under Roman occupation. What Jesus believed in, Judaism, loving your neighbor, was not a crime. And he wasn't a heretical Jew, he never said he was God (the Book of John, where this idea is promulgated, is late and ahistorical theology).

His story has been redacted, edited, to show he was killed by "the Jews," but crucifixion was a Roman punishment. No Jew was crucified in those days just for being Jewish. Zealots were crucified for organizing rebellion against the Roman occupiers. One of Jesus' apostles was called Simon the Zealot. Another was called Judas Iscariot. His name bears a resemblance to "Sicarii." The members of the Sicarii group were anti-Roman hit and run assassins (a sicarii was a short sword, easy to conceal under your clothing).
 

InsaneMystic

New member
The Roman punishment for sedition was crucifixion. "Jesus," and thousands of others, were executed in this way when under Roman occupation. What Jesus believed in, Judaism, loving your neighbor, was not a crime. And he wasn't a heretical Jew, he never said he was God (the Book of John, where this idea is promulgated, is late and ahistorical theology).

His story has been redacted, edited, to show he was killed by "the Jews," but crucifixion was a Roman punishment. No Jew was crucified in those days just for being Jewish. Zealots were crucified for organizing rebellion against the Roman occupiers. One of Jesus' apostles was called Simon the Zealot. Another was called Judas Iscariot. His name bears a resemblance to "Sicarii." The members of the Sicarii group were anti-Roman hit and run assassins (a sicarii was a short sword, easy to conceal under your clothing).
I'm aware of that (except the Sicarii/Iscariot bit - that was news for me, so thanks for telling me :)).

His beliefs were quite a tad beyond and more radical than just the usual love thy neighbor bit, though, so summing it up as just run-off-the-mill Judaism is misleading. There is a lot of "political dynamite" in things like the Sermon on the Mount/in the Fields alone - commonly held to be the core of the historical Yeshua's teachings, which then later got embellished by miracle stories written a handful of decades after his death - when seen as something preached to the masses in a land under military occupation by a foreign empire. ("The meek shall inherit the Earth" all by itself has a Gandhi-esque vibe to it that the Romans can't have been fond to hear of...)

Not backing down from these beliefs is most likely what led to his execution for reasons of incitement of rebellion/sedition (an execution that, as you correctly said, "the Jews" in that historical situation simply cannot have had a hand in ordering the way the Bible accuses them of; that's just not how Rome ran its occupied provinces).
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Crucifixion: not one of humanity's finer moments. :mad:
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
There wasn't "run of the mill Judaism" back then. There were many different sects, many different men who were self styled "messiahs" with followers, and also self styled prophets. The Essenes from the wilderness of Qumran, who wrote and stored the Dead Sea Scrolls, were one more radical group, probably with views something like John the Baptist of the Gospels. They separated themselves from the Temple, which was "corrupted and defiled" back then with pagan altars and worship alongside Yahweh's sacrifices.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I was always made to understand that there was an uneasy (at best) relationship between the Jews and the Romans at that time.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I was always made to understand that there was an uneasy (at best) relationship between the Jews and the Romans at that time.

LOL. Judaea was just part of the Roman Empire then, and previously was almost always part of one Empire or another. Poor little Judaea, a tiny nation squished between Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and by Jesus' time, Rome. And so it continues up to the present day. Never having peace. No wonder observant Jews still long for a true Messiah.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
A Messiah with the (rather supernatural) powers to put all those large empires at bay? and what of their ongoing hostility with the outcast Palestinian people? How does that figure into the Jewish dream of freedom from oppression? I have to wonder about such things.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Jesus being married should be an easy one to contemplate. A more challenging idea that I've heard was that Jesus may have (also) had homosexual relations with his disciples.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Jesus being married should be an easy one to contemplate. A more challenging idea that I've heard was that Jesus may have (also) had homosexual relations with his disciples.

The unnamed Beloved Disciple, from John's Gospel, who rested on Jesus' bosom at the Last Supper? Might actually be Mary M, whose role is downplayed in the New Testament to the point where they may have switched her gender in that episode.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
No, the Messiah is not supernatural. All miracles would come from Yahweh. The idea that a human can be a deity is anathema to Judaism. Jesus may have been thought of as a special "Son of God" but that does not make him a god.
 

Savedbygrace

New member
I think I may be in the minority here but I checked four boxes.

1. I believe Jesus is God and that He came to Earth in the form of man. So Jesus was both man and God.

2. I checked that He is my Savior....cause He is :)

3. I checked that He taught us to love one another.

And 4. He suffered for our sins on the cross. He took my place.

So without going into great detail that was how I answered the poll.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Thanks for your votes, Savedbygrace. I was hoping we'd get some believers to join in.

@ Magdlyn ... do the Jews believe and/or hope there'll be a messiah comparable to Moses? not a god, but a great prophet?

Does anyone (of any faith) believe that God/s will work any epic miracles in the future? I don't think anyone is holding their breath right now ...
 

JaneQSmythe

Well-known member
Kevin, seems like I always have to answer "other" to your polls!:rolleyes:

IF Jesus existed, then I think that he was a charismatic teacher/philosopher who had a way of inspiring people to be their best selves. No divinity required.

IF Jesus is an amalgamation, then the lessons are STILL valid.

IF there is a "god" (which I doubt, but I don't know everything) then maybe any person that helps people be their "best self" is part of that as well.

In any case, whether god(dess)(e)(s) exist/s, whether Jesus was one person/many/none, we all benefit when we make choices that help us be our "best selves". If it helps for some people to hang those choices on the framework of religion...at least they are trying? The framework makes no sense to me, personally, but I am just one individual. It's where people take religion and turn it to hate/blame/persecution/guilt that I take issue. How someone who "believes" in Jesus can take the teachings and use them to justify...murder/persecution/homophobia/racism/etc. ...is beyond my understanding. (This applies to most religions, not just Judeo-Christian ones - most religions have "good" ideas as their basis and somehow that gets twisted into some bizzarre - "be like us or be miserable" philosophy.)

"Love one another." Yes. All the rest is theological masturbation (IMO).

Jane("Don't-know.-Don't-much-care.")Q
 
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