Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jesus vs. Christianity

What are we to make of the differences between the Jesus of the gospels, setting aside the historical questions, and the Christian religion?

Jesus presents himself as a charismatic rabbi who gives ambiguous signals concerning his own identity; Christianity asserts Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus preaches a divine order that upturns the human order, particularly as regards socioeconomic privilege; Christianity feebly affirms almsgiving and sets up specialists of charitable doing, but entreats the bulk of its adherents to submit to the existing, unjust human order.

According to Jesus, religious ritual is almost invariably of secondary moral significance in a follower's way of life outside worship, in particular in relation to human needs; Christianity has developed elaborate rituals, rubrics and sacramental theologies and even sets apart its ritual leaders, creating a Sunday religion of empty gestures.

Jesus asserts that peacemakers are blessed and that if someone strikes your cheek, you should offer the other cheek to be stricken as well; Christianity blesses armies and the right to wage wars called "just."

Jesus tells his followers to rejoice in persecution; Christianity has persecuted those who do not adhere to its beliefs or its ecclesiastical rules and regulations.

Jesus in the gospels comes across as an impressive charismatic figure who nonetheless leaves the observer stunned, puzzled and thinking. Christianity comes across as a religion that provides some an entertainment to distract masses from the struggles of reality.

This fellow Jesus seems at least worth considering. Christianity, on the other hand, leaves a great deal to be desired.
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