The Sinless Lamb (Part IV)

Today our goal is to explore three Bible words/concepts that have been mistranslated and misconstrued, giving us a distorted sense of the real Jesus and what he also urged his followers to become. The three words (and their various forms) are sin, righteousness, and perfection.

Jesus as “sinless.” I could only find one verse in the entire NT that depicts Jesus as sinless:

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

We have a lot riding on this sinless doctrine and probably whole books have been devoted to it. But I’m going to keep it brief. I’ve been contemplating the meaning of sin for a long time now, based on my suspicions that we have been completely misled, thanks primarily to the Middle/Dark Ages traditions that grew up through the iron-fisted assertion of ascetic, personal piety (while purchasing indulgences to fill the coffers of the Church) in exchange for heaven. This teaching of sin being equated with personal morality goes completely against the developing plot of the Bible. I mean the real Bible, not the heavily mistranslated, distorted one that we read today in English.

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The Celibacy of Jesus (Part III)

I’ve begun to wonder why Christians have readily accepted the inner conviction that Jesus had to be ascetically celibate in order for him to be divinely appointed. I realize this isn’t merely assumption, as he is portrayed that way in our modern Bibles. But, as a Christian, I felt that there was some unspoken rule conveying that the success of Jesus’s mission depended on heroic, pious sexual abstinence that transcended any human desires, as if sexual desire was unfitting, evil, or wrong.

As far as I know, the vast majority of early Jews placed undeniable importance on marriage and family, as a fulfillment of God’s edict to “be fruitful and multiply.” Did Jesus suddenly introduce the idea that there was something holier and better about being single and celibate? Would sex—even in the confines of marriage—somehow pollute any fitting son or daughter of God?

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Evaluating the Virgin Birth (Part II)

This continuation looks at reason number two why I suspect Jesus may be different than we think. When looking into ancient religions, there is understandably a lot of conflicting information. However, there appears to be significant patterns and similarities between the mythical deities of the past and the legendary Jesus. Ancient cultures heavily adopted, exchanged, and passed down religious beliefs and practices between them, as evidenced repeatedly by the Israelites in their close proximity to the Babylonians and Egyptians.

Certainly Jesus got people’s attention in his day, demonstrating that there was something very special about him, but just what it was, his fellow Israelites were also in the process of trying to understand through first century lenses. In other words, when it comes to religion, humans lack creativity. It’s easier to look back than up when trying to figure out how one would perceive and interact with a newly discovered divine messiah in the flesh—this had not exactly been done before. We find the disciples constantly questioning and misunderstanding Jesus, so it is easy to see why they and the parable-contemplating crowds may have entertained legends and speculations of all kinds. Ironically, Christianity claims that their version of a messiah and a religion are unique from all the others (religions of history), yet history apparently has a different story to tell.

As mentioned last week, I have some legitimate reasons to suspect a false virgin birth rumor (and perhaps a distorted portrayal of the real man Jesus). The first comes after a long list of similarities between the Jesus we know today and some of the well-known deities and demi-gods of ancient world religions such as Attis, Adonis, Buddha, Krishna, Mithras, Osirus, Tammuz, Zoroaster (from which the Pharisees were patterned after in many ways), all long before his time. Some scholarly works suggest the following parallels between these gods and our legendary Jesus[1]:

  • Were born on or very near Christmas Day
  • Were born of a virgin
  • Led a life of toil for mankind
  • Were called by the names of Light-bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer
  • Were vanquished by the powers of darkness and descended into the underworld
  • Rose again from the dead, and became the pioneers of mankind to the heavenly world
  • Were commemorated by eucharistic meals

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Jesus, A Regular Joe? (Part I)

Imagine with me for a few paragraphs…what if. What if Jesus was a lot different than the story we have today—one that has morphed and enhanced over two millennia? What if, instead, Jesus was more of a regular guy—albeit certainly a guy with a unique anointing and mission? Would it necessarily change anything about his importance and crucial role in The Story for any of us? Is there any chance it might it make him even more relatable and significant to us, not less? For example…

What if Jesus wasn’t really born of a virgin. What if “sin” is a bit different than what we now think and that maybe Jesus threw tantrums as a toddler, fought with his siblings, and had to learn how to “be good” for his mother. What if, during the course of growing up, he had a big crush on a girl, or played poker with his buddies on the weekends (while smoking cigars), went to school dances, drank a couple beers at the local pub, and maybe even went to an R-rated movie a couple times—all things worthy of a ticket to hell in my conservative Nazarene upbringing. What if he got married to the woman he loved, and had a child or two. Would that REALLY change anything about his importance in God’s plan or his ability to save/heal everyone from death (not hell, mind you)? And if our answer is “BLASPHEMY! YES!” could it perhaps be merely because we are missing perspective, not because it is actually so?

Before you write me off as worthy of a stake positioned over green, water-logged wood, hear me out.

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Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

I’m a little bit locked up inside this week, trying to put into words some of the happenings in my heart. Not to sound overly gloomy, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death, and what a tearing, shredding, gouging, bleeding, gaping—LONELY—separation it is for everyone involved. None of us can escape losing those we love (or being the one lost); the only variable is time, which is neither guaranteed nor measurable.

The finality and devastation of the death of a deeply loved one is unfathomable. No one can bear it—it’s a lonely, empty, solitary journey that is only mildly lessened by time, but never erased. In the case of a lengthy illness, it is the same kind of lonely, painful journey for the one dying.

To be honest, I sometimes fear the valley of the shadow of death, more who it will take from me than when it will be my turn. I dread the pain of losing anyone else close to me, after knowing the pain of losing my mom.

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What’s The Point Of All This?

My husband and I were on an afternoon hike recently, discussing the mysteries of life and faith, when we slipped into a melancholy moment. Specifically, we’d been discussing the usual questions of why suffering, and why did God do it this way, and how can the suffocating pain and injustice endured by people in this lifetime ever be made worth it in the hereafter? —all questions I am NOT going to tackle in this post (we’d be here for eons).

Toward the end of the hike, discouragement at the lack of answers and understanding had set in, as it often does when we analyze this subject particular matter. In the last hundred yards before we reached the car, Shucks turned around to look at me, “What’s the point of any of this?” His question was honest, but it suddenly sparked a ray of light.

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