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Are We Over Analyzing Christianity & Jesus ?


JosephM
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There have been and are some really great discussions on Jesus, the historical Jesus, Christian theology and progressive thinking, heaven and hell, religion, the churches, books, etc. In all of this do you think we might be over analying the simplicity of the essence of the message of Jesus, or so to speak, " getting lost in the forest " for all of the different looking trees?

 

Just musing,

Joseph

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Guest billmc

...the simplicity of the essence of the message of Jesus...

 

Joseph, what would you say the essence of the message of Jesus was?

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In all of this do you think we might be over analying the simplicity of the essence of the message of Jesus, or so to speak, " getting lost in the forest " for all of the different looking trees?

 

Joseph

 

I would say that depends on what one's interest is. If one is interested in history (like me), no. If one is interested in what the real person thought, no. If one is interested in the various perspectives that have developed, no. If one is interested in a simple creed to follow in life, probably yes. However, that would not necessarily preclude study of the other aspects.

 

George

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I can only speak from my own experience but for myself I've switched my position on Jesus so many times in my life. I started out as a fundamentalist Christian who saw Jesus less as a messiah and more like a divine monarch who should rule all of America to eventually rejecting organized religion and God entirely to exploring different ways of being spiritual than traditional understandings of God and religion. I've switched my position on the historicity of Jesus and whether he existed or not several times throughout my life. Sometimes I think it's possible he existed and other days I want to say there's no way he ever did and he's just like Zeus and other mythological characters. My own views of the historical Jesus have shifted several times throughout my life; from seeing Jesus as a Cynic sage to a Jewish mystic or seeing Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet. I'm now taking the pessimistic position that whatever the truth about the historical Jesus is, we can never know that truth because the truth has been lost to time and mythology and it's the Christ of faith that's more relevant to today's society.

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Joseph, what would you say the essence of the message of Jesus was?

Bill,

Perhaps it is different for each individual, according to his/her situation, but for me it was the message of forgiveness as we forgive others and that the kingdom of God was here now. Without true forgiveness of others and then self which naturally followed, I could not fathom the message of love and God in us which was at the heart of what I saw of his teaching.

 

How about you Bill. What do you see as the essence of the message?

 

Joseph

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Guest billmc

Perhaps it is different for each individual, according to his/her situation...

 

I suspect that is true, Joseph. I doubt that any of us "come to Jesus" with no preconceptions.

 

...for me it was the message of forgiveness as we forgive others and that the kingdom of God was here now.

 

In my experiences, the second part of your understanding of Jesus' message, the centrality of the kingdom of God and how it was/could be now, was hardly ever mentioned. But our need for forgiveness certainly was emphasized. In fact, the way Jesus was presented to me was from the standpoint of first informing me that I was a sinner in need of forgiveness and that the death of Jesus made this possible if I believed in it.

 

As you know, I eventually tried to seek out a different understanding because 1) I grew weary of constantly being reminded of what a sinner I am and 2) even a forgiven sinner is still a sinner. In other words, transformation does not necessarily follow forgiveness.

 

Without true forgiveness of others and then self which naturally followed, I could not fathom the message of love and God in us which was at the heart of what I saw of his teaching.

 

A good way to put it, IMO.

 

How about you Bill. What do you see as the essence of the message?

 

Shorthand: The kingdom of God (as you mentioned).

Longhand: The kingdom of God is God's dream for humanity and for the earth where Jesus' two commands are lived out from the heart - loving God and loving others, which, of course, also encompasses forgiveness and responding to God's presence inside and outside of us.

 

I don't mind looking at all the different trees. But I am mostly drawn to the one's that are bearing good fruit. :)

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I think the key thing is to ask for what purpose are we having these discussions.

 

There are situations where certain intellectual, historical, or theological discussions are just not relevant. To bring them in is to offer a distraction, just as you say, Joseph. There are, however, 2 uses I can think of for this stuff that isn't hair-splitting.

 

If we're discussing a critique of a certain christology because we have a problem with the sort of Christianity that promotes it, well, that's good as far as it goes. Specifically, it's good at tearing down and making critique. Now, this is a useful thing to do, but it better not be the only thing.

 

I think we need to offer positive arguments about what we do believe, which is substantially different than the first. If we don't do that, we end up as by-default nihilists who have knocked everything down, or worse, the worldview we have that has survived critique is probably one we have not reflected upon fully. I'm a supporter that to the degree there is an essence to Christianity, it should be elaborated in both word and deed, as that is how we become more familiar with it.

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There have been and are some really great discussions on Jesus, the historical Jesus, Christian theology and progressive thinking, heaven and hell, religion, the churches, books, etc. In all of this do you think we might be over analying the simplicity of the essence of the message of Jesus, or so to speak, " getting lost in the forest " for all of the different looking trees?

 

Just musing,

Joseph

 

 

Joseph,

I've been saying this for years. An old priest friend of mine would give a homily on this subject every year or so.

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i think it is clear, the Message is Christ, so belief in him is the fulfillment of the prophets and the law, no? ill show you why the thread question is a confusing one because it doesnt take much analyzing to understand.

 

 

Deleted lengthy additional portion of post per request by PM from Steve. JM (as Moderator)

Edited by JosephM
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Given the amount of fragmentation within Christianity that is linked to doctrinal disagreements, I do not believe we can claim the Message of Christ is simple in practice. I do not think all those disagreements can be reduced to nothing but political and economic power relations. While I definitely agree that there are situations where over-analysis can create problems, there is a time and place for analysis, and merely proclaiming its simple doesn't cover enough bases.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Given the amount of fragmentation within Christianity that is linked to doctrinal disagreements, I do not believe we can claim the Message of Christ is simple in practice. I do not think all those disagreements can be reduced to nothing but political and economic power relations. While I definitely agree that there are situations where over-analysis can create problems, there is a time and place for analysis, and merely proclaiming its simple doesn't cover enough bases.

 

Nick,

I agree 100%. Would you not agree your assessment mirrors the time of Jesus? Pharisees and Sadducees, especially, couldn't agree on things and did not like the teachings of Jesus as it 'trampled' their own beliefs.

 

Doug

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Nick,

I agree 100%. Would you not agree your assessment mirrors the time of Jesus? Pharisees and Sadducees, especially, couldn't agree on things and did not like the teachings of Jesus as it 'trampled' their own beliefs.

 

Doug

 

Ecclesiastes has some relevant comments about how innovate and ever-changing human nature is ;)

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There have been and are some really great discussions on Jesus, the historical Jesus, Christian theology and progressive thinking, heaven and hell, religion, the churches, books, etc. In all of this do you think we might be over analying the simplicity of the essence of the message of Jesus, or so to speak, " getting lost in the forest " for all of the different looking trees?

 

Just musing,

Joseph

 

Amen to your musings, Joseph, because I think if we refer to being "Christians", which is based on the life and stories of what Jesus is supposed to be about, just what are we looking at?

 

In my mind, the messages of what Jesus has reportedly been about, is what Christianity should be about, plain and simple. Although Jesus wasn't a Christian (that would be time travel) and I'm not completely convinced that Jesus actually ever existed, although I have strong thoughts that he did as well as other Jesuses before him, my response to your musing, is that yes, all of it is way to over-analyzed and the message has been diluted by perspective.

 

Kath

Edited by Kath
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  • 3 weeks later...

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