Current mood: awake
Probably the biggest wedge between me and the current practice of Christianity in this country concerns the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. In short, I don’t buy it. I do not believe Jesus is my Savior, my Father, God incarnate, any of that. It does not matter to me that he said it. What matters is that to me is that it means nothing, because there is nothing for it to apply to.
The way I see it, there is no afterlife. No heaven. No hell. No purgatory. No nothing. We die and that’s it. You, reader, do not have to believe that for your own self or soul or whatever you call it, but you do have to accept that that is what I believe, and there is no need for you to change that, no need to pity me or pray for me. Just never mind. It’s what I believe.
The way I see it, heaven and hell are states of mind within our own selves, and states of being we set up for others. That, dear reader, IS something you can do something about. I’ll say it again more plainly: What heaven are you making for someone in your life? What hell did you create for someone yesterday?
Back to divinity. A great deal of this Son of God stuff came out of decisions made by the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, in the fourth and seventh centuries. The Nicene Creed was a product of the First, as were a few other things that have come down to us through the ages. This stuff was added onto mainline Christianity centuries after Jesus lived. These were attempts to get divergent views of thought into some semblance of order. Today we might call it a PR campaign, or maybe “protecting the brand name”. It might have justification in scripture, but scripture itself, as we know it, was partially assembled there. The creators of this early church framework had knowledge of, and were influenced by, books that we no longer use. A few have come down to us despite two millenia of burnings and purgings, but are unused by mainline churches, and little known outside of researchers. Those decisions affect what you believe today, but they are the work of men, not Jesus of Nazareth, and I don’t buy it.
Another major piece of mainline Christianity I do not care for is its dependence on English translations. Be it the 1610 King James, the relatively recent New International Version, or one of the many that retell in modern terminology, they are all translations into English, and only those of the books approved by the First Council of Nicaea. I would like to see (probably translated into English) some of the books that came down through channels other than Western Europe, ultimately approved by Constantine in the 4th century. What did those other tellings of life in the early 1st century have to say? How would they change our view of the teachings of Jesus, given equal status to the ones we are more familiar with? Even today, the greatly differing Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible make for interesting comparisons. Think of the dozens of books neither sect knows!
Peel back the onion. Lose the Nicene stuff, all the pieces added by the Middle Ages Catholic Church, and all the stuff added by the various irritants along the line like Luther and Calvin and such, even Paul. Maybe especially Paul. Get back to what Jesus said and did, and what he meant by what he said and did. What does THAT mean to us today?
That’s my Jesus.