Friday, January 1, 2010

The Character Assassination of Jesus Christ

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Mahatma Gandhi

It has been said by many people in various ways that Christians are like strangers in a strange land or that they should stand apart from the world they are in. Most people when they want to get an idea of "what Jesus would do", they turn to the Four Gospels. Some people are disappointed that Jesus himself was not known to have written any letters and if he did, we aren't aware of them. Much discussion especially around Easter center on "Who Killed Jesus?".

Other people aren't too thrilled that what is written about Jesus comes decades after his time and written by people who generally did not know Jesus personally or actually having met him. Today, biographies, magazines, talk shows, you name it talk about every little detail of people's lives. We want to know Jesus through the views of our modern culture and even if Jesus was here today claiming to be the Messiah, we would declare him insane. About 2,000 years ago, he was hanged on the cross. I guess you could say we are more civilized to a certain extent. Other people try to find scriptures in the Bible that addresses specific issues that are part of current political and social discussions.

Mark is generally thought to have been the first Gospel written sometime in the 70's A.D., Matthew and Luke in the 80's and John in the 90's. Many of Paul's letters (or letters dictated by his scribes) beginning with 1 and II Thessalonians were written between 52 A.D. and the time of his death in 64 A.D. But Paul certainly could have written more letters, but they just don't all appear in the Canon.

The Gospel writers used a method of writing called BIOS (You would not read a love poem in the same manner as you would a recipe for chocolate chip cookies)! If you wanted to capture the essential character or nature of a person, you would use stories that reflect on this criteria. You would not be concerned about his bathroom habits or what brand of shoes he wore unless it was to reflect on his character. What does this have to do with the title of this post? Just about everyone has their own take on the "Bible" and what Jesus was like. The King James Version completed in 1611 is the most referenced version today.

Matthew portrays Jesus as fulfilling the Old Testament, a redeemer, restorer of the Law. Mark portrays Jesus as one who suffers, is misunderstood and he goes out of his way to not be heard or seen, but to do his deeds quietly. Luke portrays Jesus as being one who came to save the outcasts, the blind, the poor, the sick, women, and Lazarus. John portrays Jesus as one who goes out of his way to let people know he is divine and even on the cross, he is the one in control. The disciples doubted him, his family doubted him and the authorities doubted him. Only the demons and the Centurion acknowledged that perhaps he was who he said he was.

It has been said that God doesn't change His ways to suit our agendas and desires. If this is how Jesus was portrayed in the decades after his death and if indeed the writers wrote because they were inspired by the Spirit of God, are we anywhere close to mirroring this portrayal?

Take for example the Progressive Movement. While the "Progressives" claim that they are doing God's will in feeding the poor, clothing the naked and providing shelter to the homeless, they are doing it via the authority of Earthly kings and institutions which in essence would be making Jesus out to be a hypocrite, a liar and a thief. Notice that Jesus himself rejected political power when Satan offered him the chance to take it.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the view of Jesus as a warrior, a liberator, one who conquers sin. This view of Jesus was twisted by the church in the Middle Ages in order to justify wars in God's name, burnings at the stake, and witch-hunts. This view has also been adopted by the neo-conservatives in their supposed "War on Terror". So in essence, by their words and actions, they are claiming that Jesus was a fraud, a murderer, and a rapist.

Basically our modern way of viewing Jesus is far from the view as portrayed in the New Testament.

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