An exercise in questioning Christians

Every now and then I am afforded an opportunity to spark up significant conversation with some Christians that frequent the Matt Walsh Blog.  It has actually been a great proving grounds for my unorthodox view of Christianity.

Of course, Easter offered me an opportunity to slip in a suggestion about how the supernatural elements of the Bible tend to get in the way of what I have come to understand Jesus’ teachings as.

Below is the current conversation on Matt’s posting entitled Hallelujah, Happy Easter.

jasonjshaw says:

Christianity has the potential of being more universal once we get the supernatural stuff out of the way and focus on what Jesus really meant, as he was quite wise in his teachings.

  • Bro says:

    What Jesus really meant was eternal life. If that isn’t supernatural, I don’t know what is, and if you take that out of Christianity, I don’t want any part of it. All the rest is temporary. What really matters is what’s eternal, what’s supernatural.

  • johnnyzone says:

    So are you throwing out the parts where Jesus claimed to be God himself? Jesus cannot be simply a wise teacher. As C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Jesus only clearly claimed to be Son of God in the Gospel of John from what I can recall. About half of translations suggest he did so to Pilate in Luke 22:70, which suggests to me the affirmative translations were done in such a way to fall in line with what John writes. Typically, Jesus claims the title Son of Man. For him to change his common claim to Son of God seems a bit inconsistent.

  • yakcheese says:

    I disagree as there is no way to do what Jesus called us to do without the supernatural power He promised. Without the supernatural, the spiritual, there is no true life. It was after the Spirit came upon the disciples that they were able to push forward in obedience to what Jesus commanded them to do. Before that power, they were hiding out, afraid of the same fate of their Master. After, they changed the world. Lose the supernatural, and Jesus is only another good, moral, nice, teacher, not so different than another of the prophets of the world religions and beliefs. The major difference is that He rose from death and is living now, by the supernatural power. Please don’t reduce Jesus or His teaching to anything but supernatural.

  • Ted Luoma says:

    Jesus didn’t come to teach us cool stuff. He came to save us from judgment.

  • The ‘supernatural stuff’ was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry and message. ‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
    Matthew 9:5-7

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Jesus was working within the context of Old Testament belief. He had to incorporate such belief in order to connect with people of the time to get his message across.

  • Desert Rat says:

    In other words, ignore all that other inconvenient stuff He said and just follow the part that you find unobjectionable.

  • falconerd says:

    The supernatural stuff is the whole point of Christianity…

  • It’s really all or nothing. Christ wasn’t just a teacher. He is the son of God, present at Creation, made flesh and blood, to die & rise again. He is resurrection.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      It’s not all or nothing. God sacrificing Himself to Himself to save us from Himself seems a bit questionable. I imagine God would be much more efficient than that. But there is much truth within the story of Jesus too in order for it to become so widely accepted.

      • Not really. The Bible is straight-forward on it. You pretty much agree with the fact that Christ was the Son of God or you don’t. Hot or cold, but lukewarm doesn’t count.

        But honestly, if you would like to know more, feel free to email me. I don’t want to come off as smug or all “holly-roller” as many people do on blog comment threads. I’d be more than happy to discuss my faith and the Biblical account of Christ. If not, then we can agree to disagree. I just didn’t want to sound like a jerk when I responded haha. Thanks man!

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        I appreciate your approach! As for Jesus being the Son of God, on that issue, I do agree that you either do accept it or you don’t.

        Now, not accepting him as the Son of God does not negate the usefulness in his teachings though, as I discovered first-hand. I attended church and studied the Bible and who Jesus was quite hard for a good 6 months – and have continued to do so in conjunction with my blog for about a year beyond that. I didn’t for a second believe Jesus to be the Son of God, but in understanding his teachings from an earthly perspective, I found that the majority of it was quite applicable!

        Believing Jesus to be divine is a good device in helping people become more receptive to the great things he taught. I am personally under the impression Jesus was well aware of this in the way he approached what he did.

  • Cwest says:

    ^things no one would have ever said in Jesus’ time…

  • Naturalistic soft versions of Christianity are far less universal than the normal kind… From a raw (ignorant of anything you haven’t in person seen) naturalistic perspective Christianity isn’t even very compelling at all. The only way it can hold any sway under that light is if you add a bunch of humanistic assumptions that happen to somewhat line up with what Christ said.

    But then you no longer have anything like something universal, you have something extremely niche. And I think that’s what you’re actually looking for. A religion to fit your niche of presuppositions.

    Christian at large has been and is far more expansive, compelling, and global with real honest to goodness transcendent super-natural events. Frankly, not enough people are dumb enough to really cling to naturalistic assumptions, and the ones that are dumb enough to beleive in nothing beyond basic senses are very often not humanistic enough to appreciate Christ.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      And the arrogance of belief you exhibit is one of the troubles that come along with Christian belief. Claiming superiority in your belief separates one from the majority of humanity that sees things differently. Jesus taught more on being humble and connecting with humanity. Be mindful of hypocrisy in your belief.

    • Eric Hyde says:

      Wow, well said, whoever you are!

  • bobbi says:

    Get the supernatural stuff out of the way? God IS supernatural! His death and resurrection is supernatural. It is only by going into the mystery and mystical, that we can even hope to know divine truth.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      God is a placeholder for the unknown. Just think of how many versions of God or Gods have become obsolete along the way as we’ve come to understand the world around us better. Of course, there is always room for God as our understanding will likely never reach too far beyond the Big Bang.

  • Rob Furia says:

    Hey man, don’t take offense to this, but I don’t think you know what Jesus actually said. Maybe you’re being sarcastic, but wht you’re saying is quite literally impossible. Check out this C.S. Lewis quote:

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    • jasonjshaw says:

      C.S. Lewis neglects to consider the possibility that Jesus could have essentially been a daredevil magician with a heart for humanity. I explore this idea more in-depth on my blog if you are curious to explore it.

  • stevent92 says:

    Jesus’s message was supernatural, not secular.

    I know that offends the humanists, but He cares not. He died to save souls from hell, not ensure tranquility and peace on Earth.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Jesus’ message had to seem supernatural in order for people to take notice of his teachings. Just because it seems supernatural doesn’t necessarily mean that it was.

  • marycatelli says:

    Ah, what He really meant. Which, through a TOTAL coincidence, just happen to be exactly what Jason believes.

  • That guy says:

    I know a couple people have already commented along the same vein as this one, but this is important. If you accept that Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, was real, and historians throughout the past two thousand years have confirmed he is, then there are only three things the real Jesus could have been: a liar, a lunatic or the exactly who he claimed to be. If Jesus was a liar then why was he so stubborn in his convictions. He died an extremely painful and brutal death. The easy way to get out of that death was to recant everything he said and admit to lying. Which he didn’t, which means he believed in his cause which rules out the liar aspect. This leaves us with lunatic and the real deal. If he was a lunatic than how did he perform all the miracles that are attributed to him and confirmed by the gospel writers and first century witnesses? If he was a lunatic than how did the people closest to him not realize this? If he was a lunatic then how has his wisdom lasted this long? No, the evidence is heavily against Jesus being a lunatic. So we’ve ruled out liar and lunatic, which leaves the real deal. Jesus claimed the title of Christ, assumed the authority of God and claimed to be God himself. Jesus was and is the messiah. He came to earth as a man, lived a sinless life, died as a sacrifice to sin and physically rose again from death. Jesus was and is exactly what modern and ancient versions of the Christian Bible claim him as, the Son of God incarnate.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      What about daredevil magician with a heart for humanity?

      Clearly, early on in Jesus’ life he understood the Old Testament really well. There were clear troubles in society at that time as well as Jesus would have come to see. For Jesus to affect any sort of change, he would have needed to portray himself as the Messiah otherwise who would listen? He had plenty of time to come up with a plan. It was risky, sure, but with the poor likely being the ones with the job of carrying out crucifixions, Jesus had an opportunity to have mercy shown on him by those he helped.

      If this was the case, maybe there was some deception on Jesus’ part, but it was intended for the betterment of humanity.

  • Mo says:

    If “the supernatural stuff” is not true, then Christianity is worthless.

    Jesus didn’t come to tell people to be nice to each other. He didn’t come to tell us to take care of poor people.

    He came as God in the flesh, to take on mankind’s sin and offer a pardon to those who are under God’s condemnation for their crimes against Him. (That would be all of us.)

    He rose, proving who He was and that what He claimed was true. If He had not, then He was a liar and no one should follow Him.

    Period.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      So if someone lied to you in order to keep you from harm as telling you the truth in the moment would lead you into trouble, you would hold that against them?

      I never believed that Jesus was the Son of God in my learning about Christianity, not for a second. Did I find Christianity worthless? Absolutely not. Jesus’ teachings actually can be aligned with reality quite well from a metaphorical perspective.

      The atonement of sin part was about ending the needless practice of animal sacrifice.

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9 Responses to An exercise in questioning Christians

  1. Soduhson says:

    If Jesus claimed to be divine, then suggesting that he’s anything less, yet a “good person” is patronizing drivel. You really can’t take the supernatural elements from Jesus’ nature according to the Gospels, even if you thoroughly examine the Gospel of Mark (the oldest, least ostentatious of the four). It isn’t to say Jesus’ teachings aren’t beneficial to all people, but they are ultimately Incomplete when the supernatural elements (or claims) are ignored.

    • Soduhson says:

      Additionally, you also have to deal with Paul, whose writings predate all of the Gospels (debatably) who presented a clear divine Jesus. And, like I mentioned earlier, Gnosticism denied Jesus’ humanity stating that he was fully God and his body was an illusion.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I’ve also heard (from Arkenaten) that there were debates on Jesus’ divinity in the other direction as well before there was agreement to see Jesus as divine.

      • Soduhson says:

        While Arkenaten is genuine in his beliefs, his statement is based on the assumption of naturalism (a lack of belief in the divine/supernatural).

        For Arkenaten, if Jesus was a real person then there “must have” been followers who objected the supernatural teachings. If Jesus is a made up figure, another point Arkenaten suggested on my blog, then Jesus could have been conceived as Supernatural from the beginning. This actually comes from the Jesus seminars, and the “Historical Jesus” movement.

        Otherwise, there was no written attestation for Jesus’ followers denying his divinity. At least not a large movement. The earliest written sources were from believers in the supernatural. Now opponents of Jesus were a different story, but they also tended to believe he was possessed by a demon or a (false) Prophet.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Interesting info. It does make sense, I can imagine that the initial Christian movement wouldn’t have been of much significance to those not involved with it.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Thing is, the supernatural claims aren’t ignored. They are understood by way of how legends develop in conjunction with what actually could have happened without supernaturality.

  2. Believing not the whole truth of the bible is lukewarm. And GOD would spit out the lukewarm out of HIS mouth.

    GOD comes in three forms, while HE is omnipresent. HE comes in the form of the HOLY SPIRIT, JESUS CHRIST and THE FATHER; YAHWAH. They are the SAME GOD. GOD died on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled back to HIM.

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