Saturday, 21 November 2009

Who was Yeshua?

Who was Jesus really? Some scholars think he was an apocalyptic prophet of the end times who went around shouting at the liberals of the day (the Pharisees); others think he was a radical left-wing type. It's difficult to know now what he was really like, after so many centuries of obfuscation, interpretation and re-interpretation. Did he really say that people would go to hell, or was that a later insertion or mistranslation? Or were the liberal bits of the text a later insertion?

Maybe it doesn't matter who the historical Jesus was (it's quite possible that he didn't exist, like King Arthur, Robin Hood and Ned Ludd). One thing that is certain, is that if he existed, he was only human.

What matters more is how others of a liberal persuasion have interpreted his teachings and been inspired by them, and by each other: Francis of Assisi, Rammohun Roy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many more people who weren't famous but did their best.

What matters is the ideas of compassion, social justice, truth and love, and the people who put these ideas into practice. Something is good and true and right in and of itself, not just because a particular teacher endorsed it.

Classical paganism celebrated the virtues of compassion, justice and love; they weren't invented by Christianity. These ideas would have come to the fore no matter which religion happened to be promoting them. But it's a great tragedy that Christianity wiped out the great pagan traditions, and a shame that so many illiberal ideas appear in the New Testament.

2 comments:

Matt Stone said...

I'm not sure "liberal tradition" can be projected so easily onto Martin Luther King or Francis of Assisi. Certainly they were social justice focussed, but theologically they were also quite conservative. Francis, in particular, was quite extreme in some ways. Have you considered they may transcend the labels?

Yewtree said...

Hi Matt, thanks for dropping by.

I meant politically liberal at that point in my blog-post (but should have specified).

That said, Francis of Assisi was opposed to the Crusades and the wealth of the Church, which was pretty liberal for the 13th century.