No, I haven’t forgotten Jesus

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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I started The Quest with the desire to conduct an exploration of various theologies with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the Light of Truth. Somehow when I began to dig into the Kabbalah it led to the Torah and then I became consumed with studying just that. I suppose because I had discovered that there existed a tremendous body of literature (Talmud, Mishna, Zohar, and other rabbinical commentaries) that I had never been exposed to (when I was a Christian) that interpreted the various layers of the Torah, I began to focus on Jewish scholarship so much that I began to stray from my universal view of the Divine. In doing so I even began dismissing and even discrediting the Christian religion. The truth is I have nothing but respect and admiration for the teachings and morals of the character attributed to Jesus. In fact I think Thomas Jefferson said it best when he stated:

“Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christians.” ~Thomas Jefferson

His point being that it was the teachings and not the man himself that he followed.  The evidence of this is in his Unitarian beliefs and his theological compilation known as The Jefferson Bible. The following is an exact quote from a letter Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Rush in April of 1803:

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others.” ~Thomas Jefferson

I have had a few folks accuse me of Jesus bashing lately and I can see how that impression can be made.  To clear it up – I actually really like Jesus.  I am convinced that someone of significance existed a long time ago with that name (the actual interpretation of his name in English is really Joshua though).  The problem I have is the additional doctrines and teachings that were adopted by the church long after Jesus’ death.  Things like eternal damnation for lack of faith and predestination. 

Jesus was a rabbi.  Rabbi means teacher and you do not need a theology degree to know that he was really good at teaching.  Like all the great teachers and scholars throughout history he taught in allegories and symbolism.  Before you cast doubt on what I am saying,  show me one instance where Jesus did not teach in a parable.  You won’t find any because he always spoke in parables.  Even though one can not with absolute certainty know for sure how accurate the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) are due to the lack of any original or complete manuscripts, the various councils used to canonize them, and the several subsequent translations – there is no way to mistake the message Jesus was trying to convey – Love one another.  This message dates all the way back to the very beginning when man chose to take the reins from the Divine and seek knowledge of both good and evil.

“‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  ~Deuteronomy 6:5

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself…”  ~Leviticus 19:17-19

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40

I believe the message of Jesus has to be studied and not the dogmas and doctrines that were created by those with motives of control or power.  Jesus taught that the moral code in the Torah should not just be an outward exercise but an internal one.  So while I do not worship the man, I do firmly believe his message was pure, timeless, and applies to all of us.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

6 thoughts on “No, I haven’t forgotten Jesus

  1. Do you think that what you find significant in Jesus’ teachings requires either belief in God — or that God exists at all?

    In other words, does his message stand on its own merit in this world, regardless of the existence of any other?

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    • Sastra. No, I do not believe the teachings of Jesus require the belief in God. The message to Love one another is not unique to Jesus nor is it unique to Judaism. It is an example of moral purity and it stands on its own merits.

      I do believe in a Divine essence (or God). There are laws in nature and laws in science, to me those laws had to have an author. However, I do not hold to the view that any religion holds all the answers. Nor do I believe it is something we are capable of understanding entirely – nor do we even have to. What we believe is not what’s important, it’s how we treat eachother. Make sense?

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  2. “What we believe is not what’s important, it’s how we treat each other.”

    Yes, it makes sense: it’s ethical humanism.

    I’m just not sure Jesus was really supposed to be considered an ethical humanist. It would seem to make that first and most important commandment (“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ) a poetic restatement of atheism, with ‘God’ used rather flexibly.

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    • Sastra in the Torah Moses asks what the Divine’s name is and he gets the answer – “Ehyeh asher ehyeh”. This translates to “I shall be what I shall be.” This essentially means our Creator shall be what “He” shall be to you and it may not be the same for you as it is for me or someone else. The Torah when not taken literally can reveal a lot more than dogmatic ritual.

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  3. You, me, and someone else is a very inclusive group indeed.

    If the meaning of the term “God” can be stretched to include the completely bottom-up naturalism of atheism, then it seems to me that the term has become so different, so non-traditional, so all-encompassing, that it can pretty much mean everything … and thus nothing. “God shall be however you shall have it.” Very ecumenical. Jesus has been transformed into a secular philosopher, and the first commandment is become an encouragement to love nature/the universe/reality. Which is not bad advice. It might even be called wise.

    So I think yes, you’ve got a universal significance for the teachings of Jesus now — but at the cost of cutting out everything that was unique about Christianity. As an atheist, I’d cautiously go along with this. I’m not so sure about most Christians, though. In fact, I very much doubt they would, which makes me even more cautious.

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