Monday, November 29, 2004

Who Was Jesus Christ?

As a general rule, I am willing to respect and entertain the possibility that views with which I disagree may be correct. However, when pressed for an honest answer as to what I believe, I will not equivocate. On this note, I confessed my lack of faith in the Bible as a canonical source of Christian wisdom in a previous blog post entitled Are You a Christian? To wit, it seems self-evident to me that many of the events that are narrated in the Bible have not been recorded accurately, and I have no doubt that this confession will alienate me from many people who consider themselves to be "true Christians." So be it.

As most biblical scholars know, the Bible is not one book, but a collection of books. Moreover, there are many versions of the Bible, and biblical scholars frequently debate issues such as which books should or should not be included in the Bible and what certain biblical passages actually mean. Wars have been fought over such issues, and it should be self-evident to anyone who has actually read the Bible that Jesus Christ would not approve of blood being spilled in His name by those who claim to be His followers.

Who was Jesus Christ? The Bible claims that Jesus was the son of a woman named Mary who was a virgin at the time that Jesus was conceived. This is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary proof, and I have never encountered anyone who has given me that proof. I'm not saying that this claim is untrue, but neither am I willing to accept it at face value. Moreover, I don't understand why some people seem to think that I need to accept this claim to be a "true Christian."

I am willing to accept as true the fact that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure. However, I think that the gospels give a rather glorified and exaggerated version of His purportedly miraculous birth and the various miracles that He is supposed to have performed during His life. As for the story of Christ's resurrection and ascension into heaven, . . . once again, I believe that such extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and I have yet to see such proof.

Was Christ God? Interestingly enough, I think that this particular extraordinary claim is one that has a certain amount of empirical evidence to back it up. To wit, whether or not the Bible contains a complete and accurate account of Christ's life and teachings, Christ spoke to His followers with an authority that resonates strong and clear to this day through the Bible. Moreover, I have seen many people pray to Christ for spiritual guidance and actually get that guidance. On the other hand, I have seen just as many people delude themselves with wishful thinking.

In the final analysis, I believe that those who are seeking salvation without any sort of hidden agenda will find salvation no matter where they look. This sentiment is summed up quite well in the gospels of Matthew and Luke:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13.

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