or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › What makes Jesus so special?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What makes Jesus so special? - Page 2

post #21 of 187
Thread Starter 
So, taking away the mythological aspects....why Jesus? Why not anyone else? What is so 'sticking' about Jesus that millions of people devote their lives to following him? FWIW, the same can be asked about Islam and several other major religions, I'm not saying it can't.
post #22 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Not so special in my book. More like a fictional person, fabricated by those in power.
not to sound snide... but fabricated by people in power.... why? for their own purposes, I assume you mean? but who do you think fabricated it, is what I mean..
post #23 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
So, taking away the mythological aspects....why Jesus? Why not anyone else? What is so 'sticking' about Jesus that millions of people devote their lives to following him? FWIW, the same can be asked about Islam and several other major religions, I'm not saying it can't.
to be honest I'm not sure what you mean by this question...

do you mean why did Christianity (jesus) last so long through all the ages? why do we believe in him instead of others? or??
post #24 of 187
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HennyPenny View Post
to be honest I'm not sure what you mean by this question...

do you mean why did Christianity (jesus) last so long through all the ages? why do we believe in him instead of others? or??
Sure to both of the questions...those are both great and essentially what I was asking, although you prob said it more concisely.

I just meant that the thread was derailing into the whole 'is this mythological story similar to Christ or not'. I'm happy to get into that, but it wasn't the intent of the thread, so I was wanting to get it back to where we were. So...mythology aside....there we go
post #25 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
So, taking away the mythological aspects....why Jesus? Why not anyone else? What is so 'sticking' about Jesus that millions of people devote their lives to following him? FWIW, the same can be asked about Islam and several other major religions, I'm not saying it can't.
Timing I think.
The Jesus stories were becoming established about the time when books/manuscripts were becoming more accessible, prior to the advent scientific thought. The church inserted itself into the politics and ruling class of the time and was well established at the dawning of the age of exploration. Christiainity became the dominent religion of the western world and I think tradition - for the most part - is what keeps it there. From what I have read, Christianity (as a percentage of total population) is in decline now and I would expect that trend to continue.
post #26 of 187
one thing that isn't often brought up is that thoguht "christianity" was brought into politics in many ways, and incorperated into many goverments of different cultures through time, that wasn't what was taught to us from Christ... infact just the opposite. (I'm Anabaptist, remember? heh)

Mat 5:43-45a -- "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

John 18:36 -- Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

2Cr 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the fleshFor the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds

Luk 6:27-30 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the [one] cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not [to take thy] coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask [them] not again.

(obviously there are many more vs... I'm just giving a handful)

My point is just b/c some political figures, and governments decided to adopt some offshoot ideal if "christianity" as their religion... is that truly what Christianity was meant to be? Religion was always a big part of goverment... and it wasn't unusual (as still isn't) to see a particular religion be "used" by the governmental forces to pursue or push it's own agenda.

(you know, how many people feel that America is somehow God's chosen nation and we somehow feel the have God's blessing to do whatever we want with other countries? that isn't biblical! it's political entirely.)

ok sorry for going off topic there for a second... my apologies... you know.. me and my bunny trials

I know I surely don't by into America's popular idea of Christianity.... btu I follow the actual Christ and his messages... and I know many like myself do as well.
post #27 of 187
I wouldn't call the timing super. Christianity was in its early days very closely associated with Judaism, a religion despised by the extremely powerful ruling Roman Empire. For the first few hundred years of its existence Christianity was persecuted almost to extinction.

I don't see how 'scientific thought' comes into it either. The average first-century citizen would have had quite enough knowledge to realise that miracles went against the usual workings of the world, virgin births were physically impossible, water was not the same thing as wine, and so on. The miracles were noted by the people precisely because they were seen to be 'scientifically' impossible, if you like; nobody would have batted an eyelid if they thought walking on water was a commonplace occurrence. Unless you're saying that the lack of a naturalistic worldview was a useful factor in the rise of Christianity, which would be a rather odd claim as most worldviews, whether naturalistic or otherwise, are natural skeptical to some degree about the paranormal.
post #28 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
I wouldn't call the timing super. Christianity was in its early days very closely associated with Judaism, a religion despised by the extremely powerful ruling Roman Empire. For the first few hundred years of its existence Christianity was persecuted almost to extinction.

I don't see how 'scientific thought' comes into it either. The average first-century citizen would have had quite enough knowledge to realise that miracles went against the usual workings of the world, virgin births were physically impossible, water was not the same thing as wine, and so on. The miracles were noted by the people precisely because they were seen to be 'scientifically' impossible, if you like; nobody would have batted an eyelid if they thought walking on water was a commonplace occurrence. Unless you're saying that the lack of a naturalistic worldview was a useful factor in the rise of Christianity, which would be a rather odd claim as most worldviews, whether naturalistic or otherwise, are natural skeptical to some degree about the paranormal.
Christianity began its rise about the same time the Roman Empire was in decline. Until then it was a minor religion. It started to expand as the political sands were shifting.

When Christianity was becoming established mythology was still the primary way people made sense of the natural world. As such I would expect there would be less inclination to dismiss stories of 'miracles' like Jesus walking on water than there would be in an age of scientific thought, when that story would be viewed as a parable or myth. They became part of the mythology of Jesus precisely because people of the time were willing to accept these sorts of explanations or myths to explain their world.
post #29 of 187
A quick google came up with this website about researching the Horus/Jesus similarity: http://creativecounterpart.wordpress...f-horus-jesus/

Now, why I believe Jesus is who He says He is, that is God incarnate. I'll tell you and bear in mind this is just from me, explaining what makes sense to me... it's not a scholarly authority or anything.

It starts back with a fundamental belief in God Himself. As the Creator, the One God, the God that existed before the world began. God, the Judeo-Christian God (possibly the Islamic God due to the whole Abraham/Ishmael thing) created the physical universe (when and how I don't know and don't particularly care. Whether He did it in 6 earth-days or created the stuff that went "bang" it doesn't matter to me...just the fact that the physical universe originated from the creative mind of a higher being.) So He's got this universe that He created including mankind created to be like Him in some sense, created not only to worship Him, but also created to fellowship with Him, to be friends, if you will, not just yes-men but with a freedom to choose. Then at some point there was a fall from grace, an entering of Evil. The character of God is pure, perfect and holy so the choice of the created to embrace evil means they embraced the antithesis of God. A schism happened; it meant that mankind forced himself apart from fellowship with the God who created him. And God let him do it. Why? Because I believe that God desired fellowship and only free choice meant true fellowship.

Because God IS life and good and purity and truth, it meant that when mankind chose evil (evil being everything that is not God, remember, just as darkness is an absence of light) it meant that mankind chose death. Death, both in a shortening of lifespans (if you believe the biblical ages of the patriarchs) and death in a separation from God in the afterlife.

Time went along in prehistory and then in recorded history. Mankind, created by God, instinctively longs for a restored relationship with the Creator. He invents other gods to take the place of God. He also tries to be good enough to restore relationship on his own. God gives the Jewish Law saying "if you want to try to be good enough, go ahead." Mankind tries, but cannot overcome the choice toward evil through any kind of effort (law-keeping or behavior changes).

God knows this and longs for restored relationship with His creation as well. He knows the only way that it can be accomplished is through redemption. God gave the ancient Israelites a picture of what this looks like with the Passover, the perfect sacrifice and the blood over the doorway, sending Death away (Exodus). God began preparing the world for that perfect sacrifice through hundreds and hundreds of prophecies about a Messiah.

As usual, people didn't quite get it. They thought the prophecies meant a political King. But God wasn't talking about a kingdom here on earth. He was talking about restoring for all mankind for all time the broken relationship between a Creator and the created. The fellowship that was intended from the beginning.

When Jesus came, he proclaimed himself to be that Messiah. He told people about God and the Kingdom of Heaven. He fulfilled every one of the hundreds of prophecies God gave the people. He lived a sinless life, the perfect spotless Lamb. Then He was killed and bled the blood of the perfect sacrifice, the only thing that can restore mankind to God. The only thing that can reverse the effects of the evil choice made by the first man who chose to disobey God and sever the perfect tie they shared.

Jesus proved His divinity by his forgiving of sins, his miracles and by rising on the third day. He eventually left the earth but still lives to advocate to God on behalf of mankind. Accepting that He is who He says He is means a person is willing to accept His blood sacrifice and admit that he or she is unable to meet God's standards of holiness without it. It means that a person accepts the existence of a monotheistic God as ruler and Lord of the created universe and also of their lives, a God who is not only omniscient but also all-good, all-loving and who longs for the love of the beings He created for that sole purpose. A God who weeps at those who reject Him.

That is what Jesus means to me and the reason I accept Him as who He says He is.

Edited to add: I realize this is a HUGE oversimplification and every point eminently debatable. I don't intend to offend, just explain my own thoughts.
post #30 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by HennyPenny View Post
not to sound snide... but fabricated by people in power.... why? for their own purposes, I assume you mean? but who do you think fabricated it, is what I mean..
http://freethought.mbdojo.com/josephus.html

Happy reading.
post #31 of 187
Quote:
Christianity began its rise about the same time the Roman Empire was in decline. Until then it was a minor religion. It started to expand as the political sands were shifting.
That doesn't account for its survival throughout the three-odd centuries of obscurity followed by persecution. The 'timing' as you put it was 300 years too early; you need to account for the early success of Christianity despite massive opposition.

Quote:
When Christianity was becoming established mythology was still the primary way people made sense of the natural world. As such I would expect there would be less inclination to dismiss stories of 'miracles' like Jesus walking on water than there would be in an age of scientific thought, when that story would be viewed as a parable or myth. They became part of the mythology of Jesus precisely because people of the time were willing to accept these sorts of explanations or myths to explain their world.
There are a lot of assumptions in that argument:
1. First-century Jews and Gentiles were more gullible/likely to accept miracles than people living after the advent of 'scientific thought'.
You have yet to define exactly what you mean by 'scientific thought'; certainly methodological naturalism and the scientific method were not codified in ANE times, yet that hardly means that such people were not intuitively practicing the tenets of the scientific method (observation, repeated experiments) in their day-to-day lives. Indeed, they would have been extinct if they had not! An acceptance of the paranormal is hardly an indication of not being aware of the difference between the normal and paranormal. Joseph resolved to divorce Mary because he knew that virgin births were not, as it were, scientifically possible; the crowd worshipped Jesus because they recognised that His healings were out of the ordinary; the guests at Cana accused the host of bringing out the good wine last because they didn't expect a miraculous transformation. The people weren't gullible fools; they were skeptics. And today, after 'scientific thought' has presumably well and truly permeated society, we have horoscopes and ley lines and earth spirits and reincarnation and angels and ghosts and seances and all manner of belief in the paranormal... not to mention those millions of Christians who know enough of literary genre not to view Jesus' miracles as parables or myth. Spirituality and religion are rampant today, whether they be full-on burqa-wearing monotheism or vaguely-conceived ideas of angels and one's grandmother being in a happy place; which leads me to the conclusion that a society with a high regard for science need not be a society which rejects the supernatural.

2. You are also failing to engage with the eyewitness, documentary nature of the Gospels and the (alleged, at least) reality of Jesus' life. The story of Jesus is rooted in history: names, dates, places, events. Someone living in first-century Palestine would have heard about Jesus' miracles in that context: not 'a long time ago in a galaxy far far away', but 'did you hear what that guy, the son of Mary who your mum goes to coffee group with, did?' In such a context people would be far less likely to blindly accept the truth of miraculous claims. It's relatively easy to believe in miraculous deeds done by a hero back in the dark days when the Titans ruled; less easy to swallow that someone you know about town has been raising the dead. And of course, the Gospels record many such instances of skepticism. Jesus didn't 'explain their world'; he made it more complicated! (It'd certainly play havoc with my worldview to learn that my next-door neighbor was changing water into wine!). It's also significant that at the time of Jesus the miracles of the Old Testament were long over; so while miracles were a part of the worldview of Jews at least, they weren't used to them experientially or expecting them on a daily basis. (Just as many people today believe, theoretically, in the existence of ghosts or aliens but still react with skepticism when presented with apparent evidence of them).

3. I've already sort of covered this, but it bears repeating: why in an age of scientific thought would Jesus' miracles be viewed as parables or myth? It doesn't follow at all. Science deals with the natural world: it has officially no comment on the supernatural. The Bible is very clear that Jesus' actions were unusual and went against the laws of nature, so any objections that 'people can't walk on water!' or 'that's impossible!' have no teeth: that's the whole point, after all! Under a scientific worldview Jesus' miracles could be seen as either true or false, but calling them 'parables' or 'myths' would simply be very unscientific bad scholarship. The New Testament contains examples of the literary genre 'parable'; the story of Jesus' life isn't one of them. Likewise, the Gospels are not written as myth; they are written as historical narrative.
post #32 of 187
Re people in power: In my observation, genuine Christianity (as opposed to "church on Christmas and Easter" Christianity) is a *threat* to those in power. Christianity is one of the first things that oppressive regimes try to control, and if they can't control it, they try to get rid of it. Happens time and time and time again. Even when it was the Catholic Church in power in Europe, the free exercise of Christianity, informed by the Bible (as opposed to informed by the priests) was so scary they felt they needed to squelch it. And they tried. This is not a commentary on Catholicism so much as on the way authority and power really, really does not like people having a personal, individual, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.

Looking at the way authority has reacted negatively and violently to CHristianity, I find it ludicrous to assert that Christianity is a plot of a powerful few to control the masses.
post #33 of 187
double post - oops sorry
post #34 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
That doesn't account for its survival throughout the three-odd centuries of obscurity followed by persecution. The 'timing' as you put it was 300 years too early; you need to account for the early success of Christianity despite massive opposition.

There are plenty of "minor" or persecuted religions that survive for centuries.
Pagans are just one example.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
There are a lot of assumptions in that argument:
1. First-century Jews and Gentiles were more gullible/likely to accept miracles than people living after the advent of 'scientific thought'.
You have yet to define exactly what you mean by 'scientific thought'; certainly methodological naturalism and the scientific method were not codified in ANE times, yet that hardly means that such people were not intuitively practicing the tenets of the scientific method (observation, repeated experiments) in their day-to-day lives. Indeed, they would have been extinct if they had not! An acceptance of the paranormal is hardly an indication of not being aware of the difference between the normal and paranormal. Joseph resolved to divorce Mary because he knew that virgin births were not, as it were, scientifically possible; the crowd worshipped Jesus because they recognised that His healings were out of the ordinary; the guests at Cana accused the host of bringing out the good wine last because they didn't expect a miraculous transformation. The people weren't gullible fools; they were skeptics. And today, after 'scientific thought' has presumably well and truly permeated society, we have horoscopes and ley lines and earth spirits and reincarnation and angels and ghosts and seances and all manner of belief in the paranormal... not to mention those millions of Christians who know enough of literary genre not to view Jesus' miracles as parables or myth. Spirituality and religion are rampant today, whether they be full-on burqa-wearing monotheism or vaguely-conceived ideas of angels and one's grandmother being in a happy place; which leads me to the conclusion that a society with a high regard for science need not be a society which rejects the supernatural.

2. You are also failing to engage with the eyewitness, documentary nature of the Gospels and the (alleged, at least) reality of Jesus' life. The story of Jesus is rooted in history: names, dates, places, events. Someone living in first-century Palestine would have heard about Jesus' miracles in that context: not 'a long time ago in a galaxy far far away', but 'did you hear what that guy, the son of Mary who your mum goes to coffee group with, did?' In such a context people would be far less likely to blindly accept the truth of miraculous claims. It's relatively easy to believe in miraculous deeds done by a hero back in the dark days when the Titans ruled; less easy to swallow that someone you know about town has been raising the dead. And of course, the Gospels record many such instances of skepticism. Jesus didn't 'explain their world'; he made it more complicated! (It'd certainly play havoc with my worldview to learn that my next-door neighbor was changing water into wine!). It's also significant that at the time of Jesus the miracles of the Old Testament were long over; so while miracles were a part of the worldview of Jews at least, they weren't used to them experientially or expecting them on a daily basis. (Just as many people today believe, theoretically, in the existence of ghosts or aliens but still react with skepticism when presented with apparent evidence of them).

3. I've already sort of covered this, but it bears repeating: why in an age of scientific thought would Jesus' miracles be viewed as parables or myth? It doesn't follow at all. Science deals with the natural world: it has officially no comment on the supernatural. The Bible is very clear that Jesus' actions were unusual and went against the laws of nature, so any objections that 'people can't walk on water!' or 'that's impossible!' have no teeth: that's the whole point, after all! Under a scientific worldview Jesus' miracles could be seen as either true or false, but calling them 'parables' or 'myths' would simply be very unscientific bad scholarship. The New Testament contains examples of the literary genre 'parable'; the story of Jesus' life isn't one of them. Likewise, the Gospels are not written as myth; they are written as historical narrative.

I am trying to address this without being insulting. We come at this from different assumptions. I don't think that we are going to convince each other. I think the Bible is a book of myths, created by man, passed on to the masses as a way for the church to consolidate power and acquire wealth. I believe there are elements of recorded history to it as there may be in any work of fiction, but that it was constructed at a time when people were willing to believe the fantastical because myths were commonly used to explain the world, and parables were used to teach. That is why it adopted so many elements of previous mythology. I don't believe there is validity to "eye witness" accounts of Gospels from an historical perspective, or that we can know that Joseph was planning on divorcing Mary, to use your example. They are simply stories to me, with context in history but which were written "after the fact" not primarily as a way to record history but to shape it.

With respect to scientific thought, my point was this: If a people was used to hearing fantastical explanations for things and did not have scientific knowledge to dispute it or to come to an alternate understanding about it, the stories they hear would be more likely to be accepted into the mythology of the time and pass those stories on over time. If Jesus dropped into 2009 and turned water into wine or walked on water, our collective scientific knowledge would allow those of us who choose to to evaluate it against other things we know are true ( ie chemistry, physics, biology) and determine for our selves if there are other explanations for the situation which are reasonable. In the time of Christ, people were both lacking in that scientific knowledge and/or used to accepting myths as explanations. It's one of the reasons I believe the stories were more likely to be accepted as "truth".
post #35 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
I will give it a read... but I'm not sure why the snarky reply? (or did misunderstand?)
post #36 of 187
I think the people of the past are being greatly underestimated in their intellegence while the people of present are beng greatly OVERestimated in intellegence!

Considering lost civilizations, the inventions of the pyramids, the underground cities, heck... the invention of the wheel... why do we think these people lacked scientific thought?

and think of all things people believe in now that could be easily considered mythology (albeit modern mythology) if people looked back on us in 1000 years... Fairies, witches, good luck, bad luck, mother nature...

they may have different ways of "scientific thought" back then (perhaps no sterile labrotories) and we have different ways of "mythology" to explain what we can't see. but people now, just like then, woudl be able to argue that the "paranormal" we believe in now isn't mytholgoy, but real. but you know? it could be just as easily explained away as us trying to come up with some sort of way fo explain the things we don't scientifically understand...

the problem is... how can we be so sure of our scientific data if we are so unintellegent that we still make up myths to explain what we can't understand scientifically? that just doesn't add up to me at all.
post #37 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by HennyPenny View Post
I think the people of the past are being greatly underestimated in their intellegence while the people of present are beng greatly OVERestimated in intellegence.

Considering lost civilizations, the inventions of the pyramids, the underground cities, heck... the invention of the wheel... why do we think these people lacked scientific thought?!.
The difference isn't intelligence - it's the body of knowledge and an understanding of how to test things scientifically (scientific thought) that helps us understand our world that is different. Myths have been used to explain things we don't understand. The body of scientific knowledge has expanded dramatically since biblical time and so we understand much more. Yes people still believe in myths but much of what we encounter in our day to day lives we can now understand scientificially if we choose to.
post #38 of 187
yes but there has ALWAYS been scientific thought. always. that is my point. have you ever seen the tombs in Egypt? or the way they preserved the bodies? it is AMAZING! so beyond our abilities now in many ways.

and this was based on both "myth" and science. (meaning the did this stuff for spiritual reasons and yet used science and very advanced mathematical thinking to do it)
post #39 of 187
I'm following this discussion with interest. I get what Karen is saying about myth, but given that there were others besides Jesus that claimed messiah-hood around that time, not to mention other religions being practiced at that time which didn't survive, I don't think timing was a decisive factor. To me, the decisive factor was Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christianity and Islam are the two most widely practiced religions in the world today, and they also happen to be the two which have been most historically intertwined with and spread by empires. It's a pretty simple explanation, but it works for me.

The religions that are really puzzling to me are the ones that have survived without ever being adopted by an empire or political power of any significant size. Judaism for example. When you think about it, it is astonishing that Jews maintained their identity for thousands of years without a homeland and in face of horrible social persecution. Buddhism too, although not to the extent of Judaism, as it occasionally was the favored religion of some Chinese and Indian emperors, then other times fell out of favor and was persecuted.
post #40 of 187
Quote:
Originally Posted by HennyPenny View Post
yes but there has ALWAYS been scientific thought. always. that is my point. have you ever seen the tombs in Egypt? or the way they preserved the bodies? it is AMAZING! so beyond our abilities now in many ways.

and this was based on both "myth" and science. (meaning the did this stuff for spiritual reasons and yet used science and very advanced mathematical thinking to do it)
I'm not sure we are talking about the same things any longer.
I am not disputing the fact that there was advanced science and math in ancient cultures. But science wasn't what was used as the basis for explaining the world. Mythology was. That has changed. I don't think the stories of Christ would take hold of the world in the same way in this era as they would have in the past because our understanding of how the world operates isn't based in mythology.

Karen
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Religious Studies
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › What makes Jesus so special?