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Written by Subject: Religion: Believers

WhatJesusMost of the things people associate with Jesus are things he never said. I'll provide a few dozen examples below, but first please understand that I'm not doing this to tear anything down. Rather, I'd like to open a path away from obsolete and moribund beliefs. To do that, I'm drawing a hard line between Jesus and the apostles.

I'd very much like people to differentiate between what Jesus taught and what others taught about him. This is, however, a difficult thought, standing against centuries of assumptions to the contrary. So much so that when I first grasped this concept back in 1976, I was unable to deal with it and it slid off to the side.

I did not, however, forget it. And as I matured, this difficult thought remained with me and became clearer. I'm now convinced that it should circulate.

What Do We Call This?

So, what can we call a set of beliefs founded only upon the sayings of Jesus? I don't know, but we can't honestly call it "Christianity." As you'll see below, very many of Christianity's core beliefs did not come from Jesus; they were added by others. However uncomfortable this may be, I really have no clearer way of expressing it, and I think its truth will become more obvious as we proceed.

But because this thought is so odd, those of you who come to agree with it (to whatever extent) will not have the comfort of a tag to place upon it; there is no category to roll it into. You'll have to stand alone.

So, here's my list. For convenience I've divided it into sections.

On the nature of God:

Jesus did not say:

God is a trinity.

God is three persons.

God is present everywhere.

On his own nature:

Jesus did not say:

I was born of a virgin.

I share the full nature of God.

I am God.

On the nature of humanity:

Jesus did not say:

Man was born into original sin.

Man is born corrupt.

Mankind is a fallen race.

On churches:

Jesus did not say:

          You should form churches.

          I will place you into congregations.

          You must obey your elders.

          Obey your leaders.

          Follow the scriptures.

          Study the scriptures.

          Study the prophecies.

          You must defend the gospel.

          You must prevent heresy.

          You should tithe.

On salvation:

Jesus did not say:

You must believe I was raised from the dead.

You must call me "Lord."

You must surrender to me.

You must accept the Bible as truth.

You must believe and confess.

You must keep the sacraments.

You must die in a state of grace.

You must confess your sins.

On prayer:

Jesus did not say:

Pray to me.

Revere the cross.

Pray to saints.

Venerate icons.

Pray for your nation.

On Politics:

Jesus did not say:

Pray for your rulers.

Pray for your ruler to do the right thing.

Obey those above you.

Obey rulers.

Sacrifice yourself for your countrymen.

You should kill and die to preserve freedom.

You should form Christian nations.

"But if those things aren't necessarily true, what is?"

What is or isn't true is for you to decide. All I'm saying is that Jesus did not teach these things.And I strongly suggest that you mull that over for a while before jumping into another set of grand conclusions.

We should never have believed things because of what churches or church leaders say… not even the perfectly groomed and perfectly confident TV preachers. Nor should anyone have held such things to be true because their parents believed them. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa may have been beautiful souls, but they were subject to misunderstanding and error just like the rest of us. We must examine things independently.

My point is this: What Jesus actually taught is quite distinct from Christianity. And in my opinion, the mix of doctrines that constitutes contemporary Christianity is at a dead end. The ideas that come directly from Jesus, however, stand to liberate and elevate the world… once they're freed from the chains of doctrine.

What to do about this is up to you.

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Charlie Patton
Entered on:

"So, what can we call a set of beliefs founded only upon the sayings of Jesus?" Don't know if you are aware of this, but a set of scriptures (or expurgated New Testament, if you prefer) created using precisely this criterion was compiled by none other than Thomas Jefferson, and I believe it is still available today.

Comment by Martin Jones
Entered on:

It seems to me more important what Jesus DID say. John 3:7 "Ye must be born again",Luke 13:3 "I Tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish"

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

If it is in the Bible, Jesus said it. Why? John 1:1-5: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Bible scholars will tell you that John, above, is talking about Jesus as the Word. The Word is the whole Bible. - Further, when the Old Testament says, "the angel of the Lord," it is talking about Jesus. Jesus said lots of additional things, that He didn't say in the in the Gospels of the New Testament.

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