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Jesus: Died for Teachings, or Ego?

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by PatsFanInVa, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Many who've read the gospels believe that Jesus' crucifixion was acceptable to him along the lines of Socrates' acceptance of his own death; in fact, though there is no cup involved in crucifying a man, Jesus speaks of the "bitter cup" of his fate, a clear allusion to Socrates' death by hemlock when condemned by the state of Athens.

    Obviously, dying (martyrdom) for one's teachings was a pre-established habit in the Greco-Roman world, and one Jesus himself is quoted as alluding to.

    Jesus' teachings in, for example, the sermon on the mount/sermon on the plain, are primarily concerned with radicalized notions of coexistence with one's neighbor.

    Jesus taught comparatively little in public regarding his own death for others' sins. In some gospels his "messiahship" is even confided to the apostles as a "secret."

    So, a question for those permitted to question this subject:

    Do you really believe Jesus was preaching a better way for humans to relate to one another, or do you believe he died as a way to redeem humans for their sins?

    Did he die for his message, or for himself as messenger? Did Jesus require worship, or transformation, of his early Christian (perhaps more accurately, pre-Christian,) believers?

    By the way, yes, I am a Jew who believes in Judaism -- and I believe Jesus preached a good deal of interest to Jews, prior to the Christian focus on establishing his divinity. This does not mean I believe he was a lunatic, a liar, or a God. I believe he is a figure from history.

    Full disclosure, and all that.

    Interested to hear responses, and I for one would love to keep it civil.

    PFnV
     
  2. 3 to be 4

    3 to be 4 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Jesus referred many times to fulfilling the prophesies as well as his own divinity. I find the attached link to have many good answers regarding this.
    I too would love to keep it civil, and I appreciate the coversational spirit of your very good question.

    http://www.wcg.org/lit/disc/07whydie.htm
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  3. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    3, the link you supplied seems a good wrap-up of an argument that I, for one, find unconvincing.

    To me, it seems that if I die for your sins, I don't really need you to change your behavior. Similarly, if I change your behavior and make you a better man, I don't much need to die for your sins.

    Jesus preached "to the multitudes" a message of radicalized Jewish behavior, as if in the belief that, indeed, the end times were near. Though the end times turned out not to be occuring, Jesus' exercise in moral imagination resulted in a sort of distillation of many Jewish principles, which he preached should be carried even further -- since the "end times" made it possible, and laudable, to approach perfection.

    But why this concern with message, and seeming unconcern with the messenger, in his public preaching? And why is there a "messianic secret" in some gospel passages?

    One argument is that all must unfold in due time, etc.

    For a nonbeliever, it seems likely that the public teachings of Jesus were his message, and what he believed he was born for. His acceptance of death for his beliefs -- martyrdom for his message -- is consistent with the content of his message.

    What seems inconsistent is the redefined messianic mission and timeline:

    1) the traditional Jewish messiah figure would be a king who united the nation, in real time, and who brings about the rule of God on Earth, through an idealized Davidic kingdom;there is no Jewish belief in a messiah dying and coming again. There is no parousia in Judaism.

    2) For a nonbeliever thinking about the life of Jesus, we can substitute another historical figure, imagine recordkeeping to be less complete in the first century CE, and conclude that there is indisputeable public memory of public teachings, but that private occurences among Jesus' entourage could be invented as the later writer sees fit.

    So imagine it is Nixon, not Jesus, we are talking about. We can consider what we know of his public behavior, his speeches, his actions, etc., and come up with a face-value picture. But without the tapes and other records pertaining to Nixon, we would not know any other agenda. Oddly, the private behavior of Nixon seems to have been in line with his public "teachings," rather than at odds with them.

    But let us say a cult of Nixon worship were to grow up, and there were no tapes. Well, he could be quoted as believing he had a messianic secret, he could be quoted as saying he had to be impeached for all of our sins, etc. etc. etc.

    The point is, the public teachings of Jesus must be regarded as enshrined in the minds of the believers for whom the gospels were written. In fact, biblical scholars say the gospels most likely drew on a pre-existent source document of publicly known sayings. These point to a good idea of what Jesus preached, and Pauline Christians could not discard.

    However, Pauline Christians were free to record less well known details of Jesus' life as they desired, and to emphasize the "death-for-your-sins" message to their hearts' content. Later Christianity, likewise, was free to magnify "death for our sins".

    As a non-believer, which do you think is the more likely read: That Jesus preached better behavior for people who could never, ever measure up; or that Jesus preached (to Jews) a radicalized concept of Judaism, in the belief that their own behavior (works) would be the crucial aspect of their disposition in the eyes of God?

    He spoke of "the Father" (God) and "The Son" (himself), even in the privately related passages; he says that blasphemy relates to God, not to himself (Whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven, whoever blasphemes against God will not be.) Etcetera.

    To the outsider, Jesus does not seem to believe in the divinity of Jesus. He does, however, seem to believe in the message of Jesus. And the message of Jesus seems to be about social justice, compassion, peace, and right behavior.

    The message of Jesus does not seem to be about Jesus.

    PFnV
     
  4. 3 to be 4

    3 to be 4 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Jesus very clearly claimed His divinity. the following is from the website Probe ministries which lays out many examples of where Jesus did indeed claim his place.

    Jesus' Claims to be God


    This article is not an exhaustive list of Christ's claims to be God, but it does cover the major ones. I suggest you read this with a Bible open, as I have not posted all the scriptures listed.
    1. Mark 2:1-12--Jesus heals a paralytic. He had authority to forgive sins, which is something only God Himself can do. Then, to authenticate His claim, He demonstrated His power by healing the paralytic.
    2. The miracles Jesus performed are a very strong indication of His divinity (because no mere human can work actual miracles by his own power). Jesus referred to the miracles in John 10:24-39 as proof that he was telling the truth. This passage is Christ's own response to the unbelieving Jews' charge of blasphemy (dishonoring God by claiming to be God). Incidentally, this section also includes a beautiful promise that once you are saved/born again/become a Christian, you can never lose your salvation. Verses 28-29 say we will "never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (Here is another strong statement that He is God.) We can have the assurance of eternal security because we didn't earn salvation in the first place; it is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8,9).
    3. During Christ's trial, the chief priests asked Him point blank, "Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." And He said,

    "I am." (Mark 14:60-62)
    "Yes, it is as you say." (Matt. 26: 63-65)
    "You are right in saying I am." (Luke 22:67-70)
    These are all ways of saying the same thing, written by different authors.
    In John's gospel, he recounts Jesus' interview with Pontius Pilate (John 18:33-37). Pilate wanted to know if He were the King of the Jews. Jesus then talked about how His kingdom was not of this world. Pilate said, "You are a king, then!" Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king..." The truth is, he is King of the whole universe.
    4. Jesus says in John 10:11-18 that he is the Good Shepherd. When you read this passage along with Ezekiel 34:1-16, you can see that Jesus was identifying Himself with God, who pronounced Himself Shepherd over Israel. The Jewish people, being an agrarian and shepherding society, knew and dearly loved this section of the Old Testament because God was using a metaphor they lived every day. So when Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd," and that whole John passage so clearly parallels the Ezekiel passage, there was no doubt that He was claiming to be God.
    5. John 4:25-26. This is where the Samaritan woman, whom Jesus went to meet at the well, gets into a discussion of "living water" with Jesus. He pinpoints her sinful lifestyle (knowledge He would not have had as a mere human passerby), then He admits that He is the long-awaited Messiah: "I who speak to you am He."
    6. John 5:1-18. Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath, which the unbelieving Jews gave Him a hard time about. His answer was, "My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working." It was a well-known Jewish line of thought that, although God rested on the seventh day after Creation week, He continued to "work" in being loving, compassionate, and just, as well as keeping the earth producing, keeping the sun moving, etc. In other words, although the creating had stopped, the maintenance went on--even on the Sabbath, and that was the only "work" allowed on that day. So Jesus is putting Himself on the same level as his Father in working on the Sabbath. And by calling God "My Father" (instead of "Our Father"), He was claiming an intimate relationship with God that far exceeded anyone else's. So in these two ways, He was making Himself equal with God.
    7. John 16:28. "I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." What Christ is saying here is that he existed along with the Father before being born. He "entered the world" by wrapping Himself in human flesh and being born as a baby. He grew up, fulfilled His mission/ministry, was crucified and raised from the dead (all part of the "mission") and then left the world to go back to the Father in heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of God (the place of honor). He is the only person who ever existed before conception. That Christ was in a "pre-incarnate state" means that He is God.
    8. (This is many people's favorite argument for the deity of Christ, including the author's.)
    First, turn to Exodus 3, where Moses encounters God in the burning bush. God tells Moses that he is the one He has chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses says to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me 'What is His name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God replies to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God has said that His own name, His personal name, is "I AM."
    Now...

    a) Turn to John 8:56-58. Jesus is talking to the unbelieving Jews. "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet 50 years old," they said to Him, "and you have seen Abraham?" "I tell you the truth," Jesus announced, "before Abraham was, I AM!" Jesus was the great I AM from before the beginning of time; He existed before Abraham ever was. He is claiming here to be the I AM of the Old Testament. Verse 59 says the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but the Lord Jesus slipped away. The reason they wanted to stone Him was because stoning was the death penalty for blasphemy. He was claiming to be Yahweh--Jehovah--Almighty God--I AM. (Of course, it wasn't blasphemy when Christ claimed to be who He truly was!)

    b) John 8:24. "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I AM, you will indeed die in your sins." In your Bible, it may read "if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be...." The extra words are supplied by the editors; they're not in the original text. If you're familiar with Exodus 3 you don't need the extra words for it to make grammatical sense. The Lord Jesus is again claiming to be God.

    c) John 18:4. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas and some priests and soldiers are about to take Jesus prisoner. "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it that you want?' 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I AM,' Jesus said. When He said, 'I AM,' they drew back and fell to the ground." (Again, in your Bible the editors may have supplied "I am [he]" to make it grammatically correct. The Greek just says, "I AM.")
    The force of Jesus' claim to be Yahweh (I AM) was so powerful that it literally knocked the arresting officers and the Jewish priests off their feet!


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The above points are by no means exhaustive, and are given to contribute to the reader's understanding that Jesus Christ is Lord because He is God. In this vein, I would like to close with one of the most powerful quotes ever written on the subject, by noted author C.S. Lewis in his classic, Mere Christianity:
    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
     
  5. grogan2767

    grogan2767 Banned

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    Christianity only has a few serious problems.

    1. Hell is utterly wrong, immoral, and false

    2. The Bible is absurd

    3. The Bible is false

    4. It causes the humand race great harm

    Other than that it's pretty good.

    http://www.ex-christian.net/
     
  6. 3 to be 4

    3 to be 4 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    im just going to let you keep talking. YOU never answered the question, what happened in year 22?
     
  7. grogan2767

    grogan2767 Banned

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    I've your answers completely. YOU have answered none of my questions. And I'm the sheep that's lost, that you are supposed to help!

    You're just ******* dumb and brainwashed.

     
  8. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think we've dispensed with Lewis' false "Trilemma" elsewhere, but I'm glad to do it again:

    Although Jesus was, in my eyes, wrong if he indeed thought himself the traditional Jewish messiah, he was also right in much of his admirable teaching. Lewis is, in fact, wrong on this point. I do not consider Jesus necessarily a liar, a fool, or God, nor is there any real need to do so. But I do hear good things about the "Narnia" books, so Lewis, too, had a purpose.

    As regards my question about what Jesus thought of Jesus, my question has to do with historical understanding about the historical Jesus.

    So it is less convincing to examine the stories that do not have to stand the test of popular memory. That is to say, the story of what the historical Jesus said to a high priest, to a woman alone at a well, etc., is immaterial, since that could be created outside of the life of Jesus, by those writing the gospels. What cannot be manipulated in the life of such a public figure, is the public proclamation of that figure.

    Jesus did speak to crowds; the content of Jesus' message when he taught, seems very different from these more private occurences.

    3, why don't you go ahead and focus on the characterization of Jesus' message in front of crowds, and dispel with the recountings of Jesus' unverifiable non-public meetings and utterances, then trim down your response to only that material said to be spoken to crowds, multitudes, what have you. We can tackle other problems later, but the first most obvious test to pass, is whether Jesus' public message to the people was, in fact, salvation through another's death -- or whether he in fact accepted death to underscore his message of righteous behavior and human compassion. Pare it down, have another go at it, and we'll see what we come up with.

    Thanks,

    PFnV
     

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