Origins of Christian Mythology

This is the time of year for phase two of the Christian mythology. Phase one was Advent ending with Christmas. Now it’s Lent which ends with Easter. At least phase one is a happier time, even if the gift wasn’t quite what was expected. But then, neither was the “Messiah.”

That disappointment needed a lot of explanation by the Doctor of Law, Saul, who was advised to change his name to Paul, probably due to his notorious reputation among earlier followers of Jesus’s sayings. He supposedly had a reawakening that had something to do with forgiveness and mercy without punishment for his past inhumane treatment of these Jesus-followers.

The simplicity of such a concept, mercy without sacrifice, was more than his training could handle. After all, nothing was more important to him than keeping the Law. And the Law demanded just punishment for not keeping it. The guilty had to pay for wrongdoing.

Enter the idea of the “Messiah” as a substitute rather than the expected political leader, an innocent lamb of God, a savior to pay for the sins of the world, and a resurrection to prove that the payment was worthy – a fulfilling of the Law and the birth of a new religion, Christianity. And why believe Christianity’s teaching? Well, because there will be a final judgment to face if you don’t. That concept was borrowed from Judaism and the Eastern religions.

Paul’s teaching and letters became the background for the Jesus narratives written one and two generations later. Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter details were all filled in there.

200 to 300 years later the Church Councils added their confessions to summarize the teachings of this new religion. But nothing is said in those confessions about what Jesus actually taught. He taught what Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, David, and many others trusted. Mercy and forgiveness and acceptance without payment or sacrifice. It was what several prophets complained was not being taught to the people by the religion of the priests.

Judaism and Christianity demanded payment and promised eternal punishment for not believing their sacrificial/salvation concept . But Jesus taught and lived a life of love, caring, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance without demands and punishment. Mercy without sacrifice. That was the new message of the Father, the message found in the Law (salvation from tyranny) and understood by those who searched and had ears to hear. It was “new” because it was totally opposite from what humans had always demanded and recorded.

His good news was that the Father’s justice is his forgiveness and his salvation from tyranny, and his judgment is his acceptance into his reality. And trusting this good news leads to treating others with the same forgiveness and acceptance, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they believe. It is called Love, and it is proof that the Father’s reality is already here and not some future event to wait for or to frighten us with.

Our past is not an issue with the Father and there is no penalty for being human. There never was! The concept of punishment came from humans and was so recorded in the scriptures; and the Father considers it to be unjust. He knows what we are made of and loves us in spite of it. Just as Jesus called himself a son of humanity, so can we call ourselves a daughter/son of humanity and not be ashamed of it.

The Father’s image is sacred to him, and we are it, each a very unique part of it. This is what Jesus taught. When humanity trusts the Father’s new message found in the scriptures and learns to treat each other as sacred images of the Father who made us, it sets us free to explore and learn and invent and produce for the good of all. It sets us free to love each other. God is patient with those who are slow to learn. And the scriptures are not the only place to learn this good news. I can learn it from your love for me!

The scriptures need to be searched to find it. Finding the Father’s message there is like finding a jewel in a pile of stones. Being inspired to write something does not make the product perfect and holy. That is why Jesus challenged the stoning of the woman taken in adultery, the “eye for an eye” concept, and many other religious teachings, all found in the scriptures, yet unjust when compared to the Father’s good news message. The simple truth is that not all that is written in the scriptures is holy. Whatever demands payment and punishment is not God’s way.

Knowing and trusting and living this message also hints at what happens to our sacred image, our real personhood, after death finally overcomes our mortal body. We do not have to make up something like a resurrection or an apocalyptic judgment to explain it. Let it suffice to say that the Father, who promised that he would never leave us or forsake us, will not ever give up a part of his own image. Never! As to this passage and the rest of such a life, just wait and see…and expect to be surprised by who you find there.

~ Henry Hasse, March 13, 2011


Afterthoughts:

These observations on Paul or the other Apostles are not meant to say that they never finally arrived at the same comforting and simple message of Jesus’ teaching. I have no doubt that they did. They lived in far more trying times than most of us can even imagine, so cut them some slack, and know that they are cheering us on with our searching today.

Since I have questioned the validity of the Christian confessions, I hereby offer my own:

I believe and trust and depend on the words of the Almighty, my loving Father, who created all things and sustains all things.

I believe and trust His justice, that is, His love, mercy, and forgiveness; and I depend on His acceptance which is His judgment.

I believe that His reality surrounds me and all humans, and I know that His justice and love for me is the source of my justice and love for my neighbor.

I believe that we were made to enjoy his reality both now and forever.

And so I borrow from Jesus’ prayer:

  • Father, may all humans honor your holy name.
  • May your reality come to us all.
  • Give us our daily bread.
  • Forgive us as we forgive our neighbors.
  • Keep us safe from the injustice of men who still do not know you. Yes, let it be so.

H. Hasse

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Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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