Post 2 – The Jesus/Christianity Contradiction
By: Wendell Krossa
The Jesus Seminar has prepared the way for understanding that there was an actual historical person named Jesus (Joshua Ben Adam) that was notably different from the Christian Jesus Christ. In fact, these are two quite radically different persons with distinctly different core messages. But the Jesus Seminar, for all its good research on the contradictions (dissimilarities) between these two persons, does not appear to have really made clear the central contradiction or dissimilarity. Yes, people like James Robinson offer bits and pieces regarding this great contradiction here and there but present no real coherent and thorough explanation of what is involved. Robinson comes closest in admitting that this is about “the greatest contribution of Jesus to the history of human ideas”. He is referring to the fact that Jesus countered the dominant view of antiquity that deity was about retaliatory justice with a new view of deity as non-retaliatory. And, as he says, this new contribution of Jesus was lost after a generation as Christians returned to the old view of deity undergirding retaliatory justice.
But there is much more going on here in this greatest contribution of Jesus to the history of human ideas. Much more.
Anyway, here is another attempt at refining the presentation of this grand contradiction between Jesus and Christianity, using some hyperbolic language to focus attention and make the point.
Worst, Greatest, Best, Most- Hyperbole to Focus
The greatest human blunder ever committed was built on the greatest human error ever made. First, that worst ever error was made by ancient people who assumed that there were retaliating, punishing gods operating behind life. We find their views expressed all through the earliest written mythologies. Later people then refined those primitive beliefs into systems of justice as payback, or eye for eye justice.
The consequences of people believing that the gods engaged in retaliation or punishment has been devastating for humanity all down through history. The belief that retaliation is at the core of reality and life has been more devastating to humanity than any other single perception ever concocted by people. What people think or believe in terms of ultimate reality, they will then practice in their lives by retaliating, seeking revenge, and punishing others (in anthropology this used to be referred to as replicating the divine model in human existence). Retaliation mythology/theology has consequently produced a bloody trail of religiously inspired suffering and death throughout history.
Others, with the dreamer’s gleam in their eye, envisioned an entirely different possibility- that of creating a radically new human existence. Their dreams and voices culminated in the teaching of a Palestinian secular sage known today as Historical Jesus, a distinctly different person from the Christian myth of Christ.
The historical Jesus introduced the most profound and most liberating insight ever made in the long history of human ideas and discovery. He advocated a life of no retaliation and no conditions- no judgment, no punishment, no more eye for eye justice. He urged, instead, an authentically human form of response and relating that would forgive without demanding the making of amends first, that would include all people unconditionally, and that would express generosity toward all alike, whether good or bad. It would even love enemies without condition.
His insights into unconditional love offered humanity the grandest liberation ever dreamed of- freedom from the endless violence of animal-like retaliation into a truly human manner of existence. He offered humanity a fresh and singular opportunity to liberate human consciousness from the darkness of revenge thinking into the light of unlimited forgiveness.
But then the greatest blunder in all history occurred. Jesus’ own followers and later converts (notably the apostle Paul) retreated from his breakthrough insight and reverted back to the payback outlook- choosing to view life in terms of retaliation and conditions. The outcome was two radically opposing ways of viewing reality – the Historical Jesus view and the Christian view.
Christianity then argued for a new super condition of a great blood sacrifice to pay for sin before any forgiveness could be offered. This was retaliation epitomized as never before. And Christianity advocated for severe punishment of any free spirits that would refuse to believe its message of ultimate payback. The outcome was that the Christian religion, that claimed to be the religion of Jesus, completely contradicted his core message of unconditional.
This was arguably the greatest blunder in all history. Christianity built on the worst error ever made- that God was about retaliation and punishment- and confounded this error by rejecting the most profound counter insight to that error- that God was unconditional love. Christianity then missed the best opportunity ever to liberate human consciousness from the darkness of a past enmeshed in base revenge and punishment thinking. Christianity, instead, retreated to payback thinking and created a Christ myth with a dense mess of theology that affirmed and intensified as never before that retaliation/punishment defined the meaning of life. Has there ever been such a complete rejection of Jesus and the gospel of Jesus? No. Never before.
Worst error ever. Most profound insight and liberation ever. Most egregious rejection of the Jesus gospel ever. Greatest blunder ever made. Yes, it all converges there in history’s grandest contradiction- the Jesus/Christianity contradiction.