I got a kick out this. It’s a series of letters from the Knoxville News Sentinel, starting with Ralph C. Isler, who’s making a case that Jesus is a mythical figure and the product of interpretations about him published years after he supposedly died by people who, obviously, never met the guy. He mentions a book called “The Jesus Mysteries,” by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy and describes some of what they wrote about this mythic storytelling masquerading as actual history.
Deep divisions over the nature of Jesus among early Christians were only resolved when those who interpreted the symbolism literally were able to crush the dissenting “heresies” and a legendary Jesus, poised to return to earth in the flesh, became the orthodox view.
Perhaps it is not surprising that a superstitious society, naive about the workings of nature, took this direction. What is surprising, however, is that so many people today still misconstrue the mythology and cling, childlike, to the fantasy of eternal life.
Testified! Ramen, brother! Jesus himself is quoted as saying, “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” in Matthew 18:3-4. So they’re supposed to want to be ignorant of reality or else they won’t be allowed into heaven.
I was so stupid as a kid; it’s hard to believe heaven is meant to be a nirvana filled with dopes and idiots. But maybe they’re the only ones who won’t get bored or tired of having nothing to do.
Anyway, onto the “I heart Jesus!” replies. The first comes from H.A. Hall:
Recently the News Sentinel published a letter from a reader questioning the return of Jesus Christ as predicted in the Bible.
The writer’s doubt of his return is also predicted to occur. This disbelief is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy as spoken of in 2 Peter 3:3-4, nearly 2,000 years ago. And just as accurately as this prediction has and is coming true, the promise Jesus made, that he will return, is also certain.
There’s a prediction in there that a man named Isler would deny Christ as God? No, nothing so specific. There are scoffers, therefore these are the end days. Yeah, like there haven’t been scoffers for 2000 years already and where’s this apocalypse everyone’s excited about? Nobody’s in a big hurry to get that party stared, I guess, no matter what they might say to the contrary. He’s coming, he’s coming… it’s like those guys waiting for Godot.
Margaret employs the tired wager named for Blaise Pascal, known by anyone with sense to be a nonsense argument. Go ahead and believe in your god. What happens if Zeus was the one you were supposed to be following, or Allah, or Kali? You die and some other god rips your innards out for believing the wrong shit and throws you into that other hell, the one you said all your life didn’t exist. Sucks to be you now, dunnit?
Last quote from Roger Pugh:
my greatest concern is that the resurrection of Jesus has been denied by the letter writer.
My question here winds up being, what business is it of Pugh’s? Why does he care what a stranger thinks? How can Isler’s lack of belief be Pugh’s “greatest concern”? That boggles my mind. He then tries to pass off a story about 5000 people witnessing the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) as absolute proof the resurrection was real.
Surely if this was a hoax, the early leadership of both Judea and Rome that opposed Christian expansion could have produced a body or at least evidence to show that Jesus had failed to rise from the dead. However, Christianity continued to expand in the very city he was crucified in. Such evidence should not be lightly dismissed.
Paul was reporting on something he didn’t witness firsthand, and likely heard the story from someone else who hadn’t witnessed it firsthand either. Anecdotes can’t take the place of evidence. And lack of evidence has allowed a lot of mysteries to go unsolved. No body doesn’t automatically equal raised from the dead. That’s a hell of a leap is what it is and something only superstitious people could have come up with. They didn’t want to deal with the reality that a guy they admired got cut down in his prime and to make themselves feel better they invented the idea that he’s just gone away for a while and will be back later. Don’t kids rationalize death that way sometimes? People really want to believe it’s not permanent. Why, because endings suck? Because it’s prettier to think there’s someone waiting to collect you on the other side? That another better life awaits those who’ve earned it? Doesn’t that reduce the importance we should be placing on this life? If this is all we get, shouldn’t we feel some obligation not to waste it?