The Jesus Problem

What role does the historical Jesus play in our faith today? I have consisted resisted images of Jesus predicting an end to the world because Jesus of the Gospels does not. Of that I am quite confident, although I've changed my mind about many thing for which I was once confident.

However, it seems Paul's letters are a much more reliable source of what the historical Jesus thought, and Paul thought the world was coming to an end–e.g., no reason to get married because it is happening so soon. Perhaps the Gospels served as a rebuttal to Paul–who never saw Jesus in the flesh–but my understanding is that this is not the case.

Jesus wrote nothing down and neither did any of his closest followers. That is an undeniable fact. There is a phrase "the post Easter Jesus" that is usually employed by folks who claim that not just the ministry of Jesus, but the Spirit of Jesus continued on past his death. The problem with this understanding for me is differentiating between (1) the holy spirit (2) post Easter Jesus and (3) the eminent God with us. Sort of a Trinity without a Distinction.

4 replies on “The Jesus Problem”

The easy answers are (1) I study his teachings as reported in the Gospels and the Epistles; (2) I remember his life through rituals passed on to me from members of the church; and (3) I participate in the movement that he started to bring the God's Kingdom to earth.

Anyone of those three are equally possible if Jesus Christ was the product of midrash written by the author of Mark and expounded upon by the other Gospel Writers. Of course that leaves the problem of Paul–who was he talking about? But, my point is not to argue against the existence of a historical Jesus, my point is to ask (1) how does the historical Jesus impact my life, if at all; and (2) what is the difference between the post Easter Jesus and either the "Father" or the "Spirit"? Do these three view reduce to one?

You left me wanting to say that the historical Jesus impacts my life by way of a kind of mystical solidarity. I really am into the idea of the incarnation, so J represents to me the flesh-and-bone presence of G. Because I can relate to him (J) & am assured that if he were sitting here with me, he would be relating to me as well, I get this amazing comfort from understanding that G relates to me.

So then if you want to talk about Spirit, and the life of the Spirit is active through the church, we have a great image of that same relating of J & G to me actually dispersed among the church. That leaves me with a whole passel of people with whom to share empathy and compassion & joy & celebration. Humanity in the context of community was the whole point of the J ministry, wasn't it? Isn't that what the "kingdom of G" is?

So I checked out your blog today because I've missed this kind of dialog & can see that your life has been pretty busy lately. Thinking of you and your family.

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