511: WHAT ALL CHRISTIANS BELIEVE, A SUMMARY

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the post-Christian blog that’s sometimes a bit confused, probably because it’s written by a human, not by a robot. Over 15000 hits to date: that tells me that I’m not the only person looking for clarification! You are welcome to eavesdrop on my scribblings.

Our motto is More Jesus, Less Christ, No God!

Why am I here today in the palatial new British Library in London, an institution made famous by the fact that Karl Marx sat right here to write Das Kapital? (He wrote The Communist Manifesto at home, standing up because the boils on his bottom made sitting down too painful!)
Could it be that I’m not just here to read books about Jesus. Could it be that the real reason I come here is because of Peyton and Byrne’s excellent coffee and walnut cake (£3) and their brilliant Jamaican blue mountain coffee (£2.50)? (They run the catering side of things here). There are some temptations I just cannot resist! Now back to more serious matters.

In solidarity,

Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

WHAT ALL CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

This is a summary of the beliefs shared by liberal and conservative believers alike. They differ only in their emphasis. For example, in the C. of E. parish in Gloucester where I was baptised and confirmed, number 3 was put on the back burner and rarely brought up in polite conversation. I’ve spelt out their distinctive versions of the faith elsewhere (see links below). One has to speculate why people believe what they do, and what the origins of these beliefs are. Also, one needs to ask whether society as a whole loses or benefits from having members who believe such things. That’s the point of this blog.

1/ the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, God’s divine son, based on his sacrificial death on the cross
Comment: these ideas come not from Jesus’ teaching but from the epistles of Paul who received them in a series of visions or hallucinations, as he is the first to admit.

2/ receiving the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life guaranteed by faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead
Comment: this is Jesus’ Unique Selling Point; no other first century Jewish teacher (and there were many, e.g. Judas the Galilean and John the Baptizer) was believed by his followers to have risen from the dead. This led the followers of Jesus to believe that he was the son of God.
There is, of course, no historical evidence for this, nor by the nature of the claim can there ever be any proof.

3/ a glorified heavenly reign with Christ when he returns in the clouds of heaven
Comment: once again this originates in the fevered brain of St Paul, and bears no relation to the teachings of Jesus. The early church, led by Jesus’ brother James in Jerusalem saw things quite differently.

4/ the mystical rites of baptism and the “Lord’s Supper” function as experiential verification of this understanding of “salvation”.
Comment: source-Paul, not Jesus.

Sources:
Tabor, J.D. “Paul and Jesus: How the apostle transformed Christianity” Simon and Schuster (2010)

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Jesus’ U.S.P.
The kingdom of God, a kingdom of nobodies and nuisances
What conservative Christians believe (and I don’t)
What liberal Christians believe
Post 508: How Paul and Luke rewrote history to marginalise James’ early church
Jesus’ communist brother James (i) his life
Jesus’ communist brother James (ii) his epistle

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4 comments

  1. Just about to read your next post but:
    “Comment: these ideas come not from Jesus’ teaching but from the epistles of Paul who received them in a series of visions or hallucinations, as he is the first to admit.”

    As he alleged! The self-proclaimed apostle … I am with Nietzsche on Paul … I thought Scorsese got it across quite well in ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ when Jesus (Will Defoe) has a word with Paul (Harry Dean Stanton).

    1. thanks for your comment. I love kazantzakis’ film and quote the imagined conversation you mention in a Post. Back in the first century people were asking how Paul could be sure his visions came from God and not from some demon. Quite!

  2. Although I don’t claim to be Christian, there are those in my faith group that do self identify as Christian, and would claim that the four beliefs you mention are unnecessary and in fact meaningless, even in an allegorical sense.

    1. Thanks for your comment Barry. They’re meaningless because they all come from paul’s fevered imagination, not from the teachings of jesus. A student of the teachings of jesus – a ‘jesusite’ such as myself – would reject all of them.

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