Monday, July 14, 2008

Do You Like the Teachings of Jesus?

If you are an atheist, agnostic, or are just plain non-religious, but still profess to like or follow the teachings of Jesus, make sure you read this posting from Greta Christina's Blog:

The Messed-Up Teachings of Jesus

After reading this it is hard to argue that many people actually even know what Jesus taught...


G said...

While I obviously disagree with her view of Jesus and the Bible (and aside from translation and interpretation issues), she's done a very good job making her point... at least the anti-ecumenical part.

I've heard the same comment many times: "I only follow Jesus' words... the red ones in my Bible" or "I just follow the golden rule and the sermon on the mount." Whenever I hear someone say something like that, it's obvious to me that they haven't recently read what they claim to follow.

Either biblical Christianity is true and every other religion is false, or biblical Christianity can't be true. It's as simple as that. The whole "many roads to heaven" idea simply doesn't fit with what the Bible clearly says.

But I disagree with the idea that a Christian can't be a "progressive" (or any other political affiliation). I have strong Christian friends who cover almost the entire political spectrum. Jesus' message was not a political one. It's quite possible to have various views on the issues and still remain faithful to biblical Christianity.

coreydbarbarian said...

i can't even be as generous as g.

while greta clearly put time and effort into the post, she (often) seems confined to interpreting various verses from her post-modern perch in space-time, rather than considering the context at the time the phrases were (possibly) uttered.

greta also seems intent on defending her personal peccadillos at times.

the only thing she does with consistency is point out the conflict with biblical christianity and the "many paths up the mountain" idea.

okay, so maybe i do agree with g... i just find it hard to be as generous.

the only way to understand any great thinker or teachers philosophy is by viewing it as a framework to explain and/or defend against the prevailing philosophies of their day.

me personally, i find jesus's philosophy much less egregious than greta does. it's the early history of the church and its bible that ruins it all for me.
jesus-as-philosopher, i can live with.

Ceroill said...

I'm with corey on this one.

G said...

If you're talking about properly contextualizing what was said and written in order to understand it correctly, then I agree. If you're talking about deconstructing it, then I strongly disagree.

But any amount of contextual study won't change clear statements like John 3:18, John 3:36, John 14:6, Mark 16:16, etc. The Bible clearly teaches a literal heaven and hell, and only one way to reach heaven.

Of course, if you deny the accuracy and authority of the Bible (which I assume you do), then it doesn't really matter anyway. I'm speaking strictly from the perspective of "biblical" Christianity.

coreydbarbarian said...

no, g, i think we agree on these points. this discussion (as far as i am concerned, anyways) deals strictly with biblical christianity, and greta christina's criticisms of it.
while i do deny the accuracy and authority of the bible, i believe that is a completely separate issue here.
your examples are clear enough, as was her anti-ecumenical argument. it was the rest of her scattered arguments that were taken out of context, imo.

did i clear that up, or make it worse? sometimes it is hard to tell...

csm said...

I think, to be fair to Greta, she clearly outlined her intent as outlining the things Jesus supposedly said that many of the people who only follow the red words probably haven't really read and probably won't agree with. Yes, to do the bible justice it should be read in an historical context and its statements gauged against the times during which it was written. Then again, many believers won't do this stating that the bible is the inerrant word of their god and should be followed (without any alteration due to the age of the document).

Those are hust some thoughts of mine to add to the discussion...

Ceroill said...

Here's another two cents: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this, but long ago I heard that the reason some words are in red is because they are the ones that the translator had to interpolate, not translate directly. As example, take the phrase "He went to the shop", with "went" or maybe "the" printed in red.

G said...


I think you cleared it up.


That's the point I was trying to make.


Actually, the red letters (they are not red in all Bibles) are the words that can be clearly attributed to Jesus Himself. I think what you are referring to are the words in italics, which the translators add to "help" us understand (usually because of grammatical issues that aren't obvious). Unfortunately, in many cases they bring confusion rather than clarity. If one is willing to do the work, it is better to ignore those italics and dig into the original languages oneself, thereby avoiding any potential "interpretation" that the translators have inserted.