Recently, an old college friend of mine asked me what my thoughts were on Jesus Christ. I know she is Christian, but I don’t know the details of her religious practice. She said she is “a believer” but that is all I really know. I could make some assumptions based on our previous interactions and her location in South Carolina, but that isn’t really relevant to my view point.
I answered her openly and honestly, as I try to do in all my interactions. It was an interesting experiment writing my thoughts on Christ down so I figured I’d share them with my blog audience. (I’ve made some minor edits to my original message for clarification and ease of reading).
I think that there are two likely scenarios with regards to Jesus Christ. One is Mythology and one Universalism. I’m not sure which is “true” but I lean towards the former.
First, mythology. Jesus (like many deities before and after him) is primarily a work of fiction that are used by people in power to control others or as a way of explaining/dealing with the world. There is not much real evidence for the miracles mentioned in the Bible. The copies of the New Testament that we have were all written 100+ of years after the events supposedly happened and came from oral tradition. It seems likely that the stories could have evolved from real events but had supernatural elements added. There may have been a man named Jesus who lived in that time and preached to the masses, but the walking on water, water into wine, loaves and fishes stuff was added later to show divinity and convert people, or to provide hope for believers.
There is also the problem that comes from humans translating and removing books over the last two thousand years. If a book is truly divine then I don’t know how to explain all the editing and changing that has gone on over the millenia. Even within modern Christianity there is no agreement on which books belong in the Bible. So, it seems possible that Jesus is primarily a work of fiction. This would mean that there is no real afterlife or supernatural world.
Now, Universalism. If there is actually a supernatural world then I think there is another explanation of Jesus. He could be one of many prophets who have appeared to spread knowledge and morality. It seems that if there is a god that wants humans to know him then he would send many messengers at different times to different people. If you look at the spiritual leaders from the dawn of history you see a lot of similarities. There are common threads, teachings, and stories that run through lots of spiritual practices.
So, I don’t know if he was the son of god. If he was the son then I doubt that he was the only one and I don’t think it is likely that allegiance to him is the only way to heaven. To be honest, if god would send a good person to hell because they didn’t believe in Christ then I think god is a terrible being and not worthy of our praise or obedience (it is even worse if you believe that god will send aborted children to hell). I don’t think it is some sort of hoax, I think it is likely either a myth or it is only part of the story.
I consider myself a follower of many of Jesus’ teachings because I think they are a decent guide to living a good life. But I don’t think you need to believe in the supernatural to see the value in his teachings.