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Is Jesus Relevant?: Through The Eyes Of An Ex-christian


R. S. Martin
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Maybe I'm just different. I know many people have been sated on Jesus. But I am finding consolation in the story of Jesus' message, life, and death. Like many of us ex-Christians, Jesus endured rejection and persecution from his immediate family and faith community for the sake of integrity. From that angle, I find the story of Jesus deeply relevant to my life as an ex-Christian. I actually retell the story in light of the deconvert's experience on my blog and it would be interesting if interested parties would post their thoughts on it here.

 

I wrote it in two parts. The first part is fairly theoretical. In it I try to figure out how the crucifixion might possibly have religious value--without brain-twisting. So please bring your brains to the table! In the second part I just tell the story of Jesus message, life, and impending death through my eyes as a deconvert. I think Jesus was a deconvert, too.

 

See RubySera's Blog, For The Sake Of Integrity

Entry: Sat. Oct. 7, 2006.

 

I'm sure Christians will disagree with the whole thing but I don't want their feedback. I'd rather burn in hell.

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Your link didn't take me to the blog. Don't know whether it's just me or if there's a problem with the link.

 

I would be interested to read your blog entry. But my own personal view is that because Jesus advocated hell, it overshadows everything that he did and his life and crucifixion would mean nothing to me, even if it were real, because the doctrine of hell is so hideous.

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You might try re-creating that link, Ruby...it didn't work for me either. :shrug:

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Thanks for your interest. Aqueduct and Piprus, I've been offline and didn't find your posts till now.

 

I'll try again with the link. If it doesn't work, it's on this forum. You can click on the Blogs link in the bar right under the forum title. That will bring up "Community Blogs" with the names of people on this forum who have blogs here. Mine is on there.

 

On my screen it shows as the first one but I suspect that is because it's my account so I don't know how it appears on your screen. The best I know to advise, if the link doesn't work, is to go through until you find the one with my name on it.

 

RubySera's Blog http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?auto...;blogid=89&

 

See if one of those works for you.

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I would be interested to read your blog entry. But my own personal view is that because Jesus advocated hell, it overshadows everything that he did and his life and crucifixion would mean nothing to me, even if it were real, because the doctrine of hell is so hideous.

 

 

How do we know that Jesus really did advocate hell? Perhaps the writers of the Gospell or some subsequential scribe inserted the concept in order to make the religion more appealing. There are dozens of gospels out there, and many of them have no record of Jesus talking about hell.

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If you can take a bad situation and make it work for you, then you've done a good thing. If an ex-xian can take the Jebus stories from the Babble, pick and choose personally meaninfgul bits, and get something good out of it, then good for that ex-xian.

 

Personally, I dispense completely with Jebus and totally deny his existence, but if Ruby or anyone else can make something useful out of the Jebus myths, then way to go. It's all about persepctive, in the end :)

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I would be interested to read your blog entry. But my own personal view is that because Jesus advocated hell, it overshadows everything that he did and his life and crucifixion would mean nothing to me, even if it were real, because the doctrine of hell is so hideous.

 

 

How do we know that Jesus really did advocate hell? Perhaps the writers of the Gospell or some subsequential scribe inserted the concept in order to make the religion more appealing. There are dozens of gospels out there, and many of them have no record of Jesus talking about hell.

 

I had also meant to comment on this but forgot. I've had a pretty good look at what liberal Christians believe. I'm learning it at a Lutheran seminary and I have also had conversations with people via online discussions and emails. The most common interpretation of hell is that Jesus was alluding to the garbage heap burning outside the city. I think they burned more there than excrement and other garbage. I think they also cremated the dead bodies of criminals there.

 

Another common interpretation is that hell is a separation from God, or a mental state. I think this last one fits in well with the humanist perspective I advocate on my blog. In my mind, "absence of God" means absense of peace with oneself. And I can testify that absense of peace with oneself IS hell.

 

Back to the fire pit for burning garbage. I think it's not a huge step to think that Jesus, or later scribes, merely used it as an analogy. Common Greek thought at the time was that the souls of dead people went to an underworld. The descriptions of this underworld that I have read sound a lot like a cellar. Dark, damp or dusty, and absolutely dreary. I forget how long that state was believed to last. Maybe the stories ended when souls were deposited there.

 

I forget what Jewish thought was on the topic at the time but I understand there was interest (or the beginnings of belief) in an afterlife and in the end of the world (or apocalypse). In the classes I attend, this thought is presented as being a way of hope out of a hopeless situation under the Romans. It is fairly easy to imagine that Jesus saw it as a way to get revenge on his enemies. I wonder if he imagined the Pharisees and Romans thrown together in his burning trash heap. Now THAT would have been hell!!! Just think--the imperial Roman emperor and governors tangled in with proud self-righteous Pharisees.

 

More on apocalypse. The Jews were looking to the Messiah to re-establish the Kingdom of David in an independent nation under God. In my mind it would make sense to believe that Revalation (and other passages like Matt. 24) were written in that vein of thought. If the world would end (heaven and earth pass away) and a new heaven and a new earth came in their place--only then could David's Kingdom (or the kingdom of God) be re-established. The Romans were almighty so far as any Jewish person could see. They had conquored the entire known world. The only way out was with an apocalypse.

 

Some other ideas held by the Greco-Roman world at the time. The astronomers of the day knew that there were different ages measured by the visibility of certain planets. Are we in the age of Aquarius at the moment? I forget all these different names but I'm sure some readers know them. I also came across the idea (of the time) that the world would end in an explosion of fire when the celestial bodies lined up in a certain way.

 

A word on their view of the universe. First of all, the earth was the centre. There is probably something on the internet if one takes the time to dig it up. Think of those ornamental glass snow balls we have now-a-days. Inside the glass ball there is a scenery and if you turn the thing upside-down or shake it up, it snows. That's the universe. There is (according to ancient thought) a dome like an upside-down bowl set over the earth, exactly as described in Genesis 1.

 

As described in Job and in Genesis 1, according to ancient thought there are waters above the earth that come down through holes in this dome in various forms of precipitation. Job talks about the "store house" of hail, etc. I am not sure if the stars and planets and other celestial bodies such as sun and moon are lights on the inside of the dome (light bulbs?) or if there are holes for each but I know that astronomers observed and tracked these bodies very closely using what technology was available to them.*

 

The underworld. Under the table of the earth's surface as known to the ancients, was the underworld where the dead went. Just think what a vivid Jewish imagination could do with all of this information. My profs say the idea of hell as we know it (a pit of fire and brimestone where the wicked spend eternity) did not emerge in Christian thought until the Middle Ages. I understand it hit its peak with some piece of art by Dante. That piece of knowledge gave me considerable power over hell.

 

Disclaimer. I have never read a single book or heard a single lecture where things were put together and explained in exactly this way. This is how I make sense of information I picked up from a wide variety of sources, including lectures and scholarly literature. My obvious interest was getting some handle/power on hell and the apocolypse. Also on the view the ancients, including biblical writers, had of the universe.

 

Based on the bit I've read, I don't think this view made any drastic changes across millennia. It seems like it was the enlightenment with man's intentional, impersonal, and objective (as opposed to religious/superstitious) exploration of the universe that drastically changed changed this view. (Let's not fight over the concept of objectivity; in the 17th century--and for a long time to come--they thought they were being objective.) In light of all this I can begin to make some sense of the biblical stories.

 

I operate on the premise that the human brain and pscyhe has not changed much in the past six thousand years. Thus, finding a way to at least make the stories in the Bible seem logical given the world view of the writers goes a long way toward making my world hang together. Maybe that is why I am studying theology--who knows. :shrug:

 

*About a century or so before Jesus' time one of these astronomers noticed a significant difference between what he observed and what had been recorded by an astronomer about a thousand years before him. I understand this is the foundation of the idea of ages.

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If you can take a bad situation and make it work for you, then you've done a good thing. If an ex-xian can take the Jebus stories from the Babble, pick and choose personally meaninfgul bits, and get something good out of it, then good for that ex-xian.

 

Personally, I dispense completely with Jebus and totally deny his existence, but if Ruby or anyone else can make something useful out of the Jebus myths, then way to go. It's all about persepctive, in the end :)

 

Sounds like you were sated by Jesus and that's okay. I have no idea if he existed. I think most people on here have more exposure to movies than I do and most people probably use some character or other subconsciously for a hero or role model in life. Jesus just happens to be mine because there is no story I am more familiar with. Besides, he was quite the rebel. But we're all at different stages of the journey and we all bring our own baggage.

 

I'm curious if anyone has tried out the links I gave. Do they work from your computers? Do I have to change something in the settings? I don't fully understand the settings--how to set it so people from this site can see my blog, providing they want to. No obligations whatsoever.

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I've read a number of books that provide a number of comparisons between Christianity and other ancient religions, such as Mithraism. The similarities are too uncanny for it to be just a coincidence, IMHO.

 

I suspect that Christianity was taken bit by bit from other religions, kind of like making a pot of soup by throwing in what you have around the house.

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