Hearty Heresy


Jesus’ Mission Statement Redux
June 28, 2007, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Bible, Buddhism, Christianity, God, Jesus, Religion, Theology

Way back in February I blogged on a passage in Luke that a friend of mine referred to as Jesus’ Mission Statement. Well that passage (when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry) came immediately to mind when I read this in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, by Matthew Fox:

In this dwelling of Perfect Wisdom…you shall become a savior of the helpless, a defender of the defenseless…a light to the blind, and you shall guide to the path those who have lost it, and you shall become a support to those who are without support.

Sounds awfully close to Jesus quoting Isaiah in Luke to me. The above quote is about the Buddhist counterpart to Sophia, or cosmic wisdom. And it reinforces something that I’ve been mulling over for sometime–that the Buddha nature and the Christ nature are, indeed, one in the same. And that Jesus of Nazareth claimed no more for himself than Siddhartha Gautama claimed: that the spirit of the Eternal was upon them, that they had found a way to access the cosmic wisdom that lies at the core of all being, and that justice and compassion were the key elements of the way.

I’ve often felt that the only kind of Christianity I could profess would have to look a lot more like Buddhism, with Jesus as an enlightened being whose teachings point the way to wholeness, both for the individual and for all of creation. This connection between the passage in Isaiah and the Buddhist figure of wisdom (the “Mother of all Buddhas”) definitely moves me in that direction.

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18 Comments so far
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ah yes, the buddhist connection…

oh wait, there’s one small problem. this is only part of Yeshua’s mission. the other half is to be a sacrificial offering as atonement for our sins. read the book of hebrews and one cant miss this.

ok i lied, there are two small problems. the other is that Yeshua didnt claim to be filled with God. he claimed he was “one” with God. he claimed he was God’s one and only Son. Gautama never claimed anything of the sort.

i know there are many critics who deny the historicity of all of the accounts of the canonical gospels. however, read through an entire book, and tell me if Yeshua didnt have a “god complex”. it pretty clear that at least his disciples believed that he believed he was the Son of God. no two ways about it. they couldve been exceptional liars, but all four writers who all have different perspectives and conflicting information, agree on this one thing, Yeshua was the Son of God.

peter

Comment by PB and J

There’s a LOT of disagreement these days about the “sacrificial offering” business. The way it works for me is this: If the God Jesus was one with is a “strict father” God that requires a blood sacrifice, then I am perfectly happy to spend eternity in burning hell (hence the flames on my header) to stay away from that bad mother fraker. If, however, the God of Jesus is a truly loving father, an unconditionally loving parent (NO SACRIFICE REQUIRED, JUST LOVE), then I’ll take a listen to what Jesus has to say. Of course listening to what Jesus has to say is difficult since those four writers you mention were writing for their own audiences in their own times (which were, as I’m sure you know, at least 50 years after the fact). I’ve just finished reading John Dominic Crossan’s The Historical Jesus, and he gives a lot of useful tools for finding the diamonds (the true teachings of Jesus) in the dunghill (the mish mash of the Good Newes). (The diamonds in the dunghill metaphor is from Thomas Jefferson, BTW…one of my favorite heretics!). Thanks for the comment, PB & J.

Comment by heartyheretic

hearty

i hear your pt. i think there may be some other authors besides just one who have a good “historical jesus” perspective. but that wasnt my pt. if you throw out the disciples’ belief that he was Son of God, then you throw out the canonical gospels. they are filled to the brim with language and hebraic cultural facts that make it impossible to be a different claim.

but aside from all that, i am not askin you to burn in hell for not believing in atonement, but that doesnt mean God doesnt believe in atonement. what if God was that way? would you truly truly in your heart of hearts, want to burn in hell because you didnt like that God?

anyway, i dont mean to judge, i am just asking you if you are truly serious about your comments. i think it is good to question things. i think its good to take everythin in perspective. but wouldnt that even include a book by someone saying that Yeshua didnt say what he said and didnt do what he did and didnt mean what we think and and and? why no questioning crossan? or jefferson? or any critics?

its great to question the gospels, i do all that time. i dont believe in “inerrancy” of gospels, but its pretty hard to throw out the Message that is SO prevalent in them.

just my perspective.
peter

Comment by PB and J

Hmmm. It’s not so much throwing out the canonical gospels as it is treating them as document written by human beings and not as the inspired word of God. There’s absolutely nothing in them that indicates they are anything other than that. As far as the atonement goes, it’s only necessary if one believes in original sin and eternal damnation. I believe in neither. And if they are true, I would just as soon exert my right to say, “That sucks. Count me out.” And I am critical of everyone, Crossan and Jefferson included. For example, I’m highly suspicious of any scholar who considers Joseph (Jesus’ stepdad) a real person. I’m also suspicious of anyone who leaves out even a hint of the resurrection. (I don’t believe in the physical resurrection myself, but I do think the myth is essential for explaining the enduring nature of the story.)

Actually, I don’t see how my approach differs from anyone else who stops short of believing that the Bible is the literal word of God. I use certain parts to validate my point of view (whether or not I think they’re historically accurate) and leave out the parts that don’t. As I’ve mentioned before (quoting Bishop Spong), the way to Jesus’ divinity is through his humanity. Or as Matthew Fox put it, one moves from the historical Jesus to the Cosmic Christ. In the end, I’m just following Paul’s advice and working out my own salvation.

Comment by heartyheretic

You have been tagged. Check out my site for more information. To touch backs.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Hi, HH…

One of the most shaking (and I use that term literally) experiences I had as a person who believed in a literal Jesus was when I discovered how much of the Jesus “story” can be found in the mythologies of ancient civilizations way before his time. Mithras, for example, from India (who was morphed from the god Murrugan). Some of the similarities is astounding. In fact, it is said that Tarsus, where Paul was from, had been the center of Mithras worship and that he (who had never met Jesus in the flesh) used the Persian god in his Jesus story.

If one is objectively looking at facts rather than theology, it’s a littler weird. I had to come to some sort of personal ‘conclusions’ on my own as well, since I had 20 years experience with Jesus.

I consider now that he may be a Cosmic being…and not the only one. We are ALL sons and Daughters of God. I like to refer to Christ Consciousness – or the SPIRIT of Christ that I pick up from the Bible accountings. This is how I’ve come to a place of peace with that.

Comment by Grace

I’m with you, Grace. I also like to look at similarity of teachings by enlightened ones. There does seem to be some sort of consciousness trying to get through, telling us that it’s all about being here and now, living with love and compassion, and working for the common good. Thanks.

Comment by heartyheretic

hearty

good pts. i agree that at some pt there is no proof of any of the gospels accts. i do believe there is substantial evidence for their truth, but ultimately one either decides to believe or not believe there accuracy or the message.

i respect your position as you clearly have spent long and tortuous hours thinking about this and many other things. whatever comes, i am glad to have had this discussion with you. keep up the blogging

may the shalom of Christ be with you
peter

Comment by PB and J

PB&J – thank you. There’s a “blog of the day” post wherein the author is telling us that he doesn’t want to hear anymore circular arguments from Christians who use these circular arguments to prove or promote their faith. My biggest struggle right now, and what I seem to always be coming back to when I question my faith is, to what extent can I believe the Bible to be the infallible, Spirit-inspired word of God? It’s entirely too frustrating to someone like me, who knows she believes in Jesus who is God, who laid His life down for all sins. I do believe that. But I believe that based on some assumptions – some of which come from the Bible. I know the “in” thing to question right now is how God as Father could send His Son to a brutal death, and to me, that seems pretty clear-cut. But this is where faith comes in. God is God. And His love FOR US is bigger than we can imagine. We screwed up an opportunity for perfect peace and existence with Him, so out of His love, He came to die. Too much emphasis is being placed on the name of “son”. If you believe in the Trinity, which I do, God Himself came down in the way of Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. If we refuse the gift, we refuse the very essence of God and how can He then invite us into His house? Would you invite a person into your house who spat in your face? Who spoke badly about you to others? Hell is simply the absence of God to the highest degree. It’s what those who find themselves there asked for. And that goes to the argument of free will.

See what I mean? Every argument made, whether spiritual or scientific is cyclic and circular. To ask someone to not refer back is impossible.

Comment by Tana

“Would you invite a person into your house who spat in your face? Who spoke badly about you to others?” I think that’s what the whole forgiving 70 x 7 thing was about, Tana. If Jesus said we should do it, then I pretty much have to believe that God is capable of doing it.

Comment by heartyheretic

tana

i think that we always (what ever we choose to believe in) have to assume certain things.

hearty

i do believe God forgives. i think that is a clear message of Scripture. i also believe God renders justice. i think that is a clear message of Scripture.

how does God reconcile the two?

i believe that He did this is penal substitution. but whatever i say, this isnt an attempt to convince you. i am just telling you how i reconcile what Scripture says that can seem to be contradictory.

peter

Comment by PB and J

Peter–
I think God desires justice, but not in the sense of retribution for sins. Rather, I believe God sets a pretty high bar for how we are to be in relation with one another, which is pretty clear from scripture. Jesus seems to be an example of how one does it. Seventy times seven, as I said. God’s forgives would have to be something like infinity times infinity (with NO penal substitution required!)–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

HH

i can see the logic in your statement. i think it is a rational point of view. i also respectfully disagree for my own understanding. i think that God does and has forgiven again and again and again. but i also believe that there will be a day when he says enough.

just for curiousity, would God want evil people in the new earth? even a forgiven person doesnt have to be a good person. so then there would still be evil in the new earth, right?

peter

Comment by PB and J

Peter–
As you might guess, my concern is with this old Earth and how we treat each other in the here and now. As far as evil goes, I see that as institutionalized sin, with sin being, of course, missing the mark in our relations to one another. Would God want such institutions on a new Earth? Probably not. Does God want such institutions on this Earth? All the justice-oriented prophets of the OT and Jesus as well say, “No!” But it’s up to us work toward justice and dismantle institutions that profit (politically, economically, and spiritually) from the suffering of others. If we can do that, the new Earth will be here. Thanks for the comments–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

Hi Hearty,
A question for you – have you come across the writings of the new age author Neale Walsch called “Conversations with God”? And if so, what are your thoughts on his books?
Thanks,
Jon

Comment by Jon

Jon–
I haven’t actually read the books, but I did see a movie based on the story behind the book, and I was very impressed with Neale Donald Walsch (he lost his family, his job, was homeless and still found hope). My impression of the snippets from the book I heard in the movie is that they were pretty much the same kinds of truths revealed through similar experiences: God loves us unconditionally and is always available to us–we need only open our hearts. Thanks for asking–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

Thanks Hearty,
I’ll probably be popping over here with a question or three over the next little while as I read through these three books. They represent a significnant departure from orthodox Christianity and I’m not sure just how far I’m ready to leap.
Jon

Comment by Jon

Looking forward to hearing more from you, Jon!

Comment by heartyheretic




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