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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Who is Jesus?

Well, my little Christmas-colored nativity maps have generated much interest. Of course, there are a couple of other stories about where Jesus came from in the Gospels. In Mark, Jesus reminds me of a Clint Eastwood character, coming out of Nazareth with a mysterious past, but clearly identified as the One. In John, Jesus is a kind of blow your mind character who was with God and was God. Luke spends must more time with Jesus in utero, showing destiny perhaps? Matthew, clearly demonstrating Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. And then there are some non-gospel understandings of who Jesus was. I believe Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet; I don't know about all Jews, but I know Al Franken thinks Jesus was a pretty good rabbi who said a lot of good things, but none of it new. I've heard philospher poet Jim Corner refer to Jesus as a good friend. Product of Aristotelian philosophy that I am, I can't resist semi-completeness by speculating that one could also see Jesus as a fictional character or a villainous cult leader who started a movement to oppress women, gays, and non-believers.

My point is that I hope discovering the factual contradictions of the Nativity stories will spur you to investigate who Jesus is for you. I was just out of college when I read some stuff by Bishop Shelby Spong. He is marvelous for shaking things up. But then I looked into the work of Marcus Borg and really started putting things back together again. I can say with certainty that my faith is stronger and my life is richer as a result. I suspect I would have been stubborn enough to remain Christian without the shake up, but less so.

Question: Who is Jesus?

4 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

I agree with you that Spong is good for shaking things up and then Borg and Crossan are good for putting things back together again.

I think that the "Saving Jesus" seminars are a good way to explore who Jesus is or what he means in the light of a progressive faith. I attended a couple of seminars built around those DVDs, and one thing I came away with was the realization that many people really do have different takes on who Jesus was and what he was about. Some people in the seminar saw him as a prophet, some as a pacifist, some as divine, some definitely not as God.

Matt Dick said...

A story told by 3rd century Jews, fulfilling prophesies expected of their messiah?

JimII said...

The historic Jesus was a man who understand the world, and how humans relate to it, more deeply than any who have came before him.

The resurrected Christ is the manifestation of the historic Jesus's profound peace that surpasses understanding.

I feel confident will never tire of studying his thoughts. Likewise, I believe that I will continue to grow in spirit reflecting on his nature.

He is one so uniquely worthy of emulation, so thoroughly connected to this world, and so full of special wisdom, that I profess him to be the Son of Man.

JimII said...

I wonder if this is a harder question for folks than I think it is?