Where Christianity Went Wrong – Book Review
Written by: Robert D Brinsmead
In her book, Where Christianity Went Wrong, Patricia Williams demonstrates she has a good grasp of best of the historical Jesus research. She makes the comment that Jesus sounds like he has had something similar to an NDE experience. Her book is no superficial, wishy washy thing, but an excellent overview of the key findings of the historical Jesus research. Then what does she mean by her comments about the teaching of Jesus and the NDE?
Some suggest that the NDE is pre-occupied with the afterlife. We know that Jesus says virtually nothing about the afterlife, and nothing about apocalyptic. The wisdom teaching of Jesus avoided a whole range of doctrinal and sectarian issues to focus on the barest minimum of things of supreme importance. His teaching was so uncomplicated, so simple and transparently humane that it made religion, at least religion as it came to be, appear as both ridiculous and redundant. I don’t see that the essential focus of the NDE is on an afterlife, but rather on the question of who we really are; upon what our relationship to God is founded, and how that works out in our relationship with others. It also does this in a way that appears to make most traditional religious questions that divide people, irrelevant. For instance, the typical NDE would not impress a hard-line Christian when it makes full acceptance by God possible, quite apart from either the person of Jesus or the efficacy of his blood. Wouldn’t that sound like an ultimate heresy?
I have just read a book called ‘The Bad Jesus’. By Hector Avalos. I would have to agree with the author that if I evaluated all the things that Jesus was supposed to have said according to the Gospels, then there would be things about Jesus that are contrary to good ethics and good sense. Yes, I find things in what Jesus is reported to have said that are contrary to what I can judge to be his core teaching. I can either come to the conclusion that Jesus was a Jekyll and Hyde kind of teacher, or come to Jefferson’s conclusion that some of the words attributed to Jesus were the work of other inferior minds, and that sorting it all out is as easy as findings diamonds in a dunghill.
There is stuff in the NDE literature that is a bit like the matter of the good and the bad Jesus. What stands out to me is the fundamental affirmations in respect to who we really are, and the ability to do that in a way that could appeal to a person with any kind of background, whether that be Hindu; Christian; Muslim; Buddhist; atheist or Callithumpian. That is the very thing that can be said about the core teaching of Jesus too. One only has to look at the great many non-Christian thinkers who have been mightily impressed by the words of Jesus but not impressed by Christianity.
What makes the difference is the mindset we bring to our investigation of the NDE – whether it is one of trying to find what is good about what is said, or trying to find what is not good about it.