FRIDAY, 6 APRIL 2012
What do I believe in? Let me try to explain:
– I do not believe a photographic representation of an urban landscape can be sketched with a blunt pencil. Similarly, I do not believe people can expect to know the absolute, all-encompassing truth without having access to all relevant information, and without breaking through the limitations of the sounds in which we communicate.
– I believe that many people have a deeply emotional need for a strong cosmic figure with whom a close connection can be maintained, and who can be relied on for help in times of need. This need can be seen in the mythology of primitive communities, and it manifests, amongst many other examples, in the institutionalised religion of the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Churches.
– I do not believe the historical Jesus ever cherished any ambitions to start a new religion. Most serious research confirms that he regarded himself as a member of the Jewish faith community.
– I believe that what we know today as the Christian religion is to a significant extent the work of a talented, intelligent, and competent first-century community leader and organiser called Saul of Tarsus – better known as Paul the Apostle. To claim that he was inspired by God is, in my opinion, to uncritically accept a traditional version of a story because it legitimises the religious ideology that you accept as an explanation of life on earth, without which you may not be sure your life has any meaning.
– I believe that the Christian religion, as we know it today, has gone through an interesting development – from its roots as a Jewish sect, to comfort-and-hope movement popular among the lower classes of the Roman world, to a more sophisticated religion with the incorporation of more advanced Greek concepts to make it more palatable among the wealthier and better-educated classes of the later Roman world. I find it furthermore interesting that many people who profess to be members of the Christian religious community are not only ignorant of this history, they even proclaim that it does not matter.
– I accept verifiable and credible historical information that points to several groups during the first few centuries after Christ that had different views of the person Jesus of Nazareth, of his nature, and of his relationship with the other figures in the Trinity. I further accept as historically accurate that for the sake of political benefits the emperor of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century invited the leaders of diverse Christian communities to assemble in one place in order to finally decide what the correct dogma would be about Christ, and what not; also to decide which religious texts should be given official recognition as guidelines of the Christian religion, and which not. To claim that the emperor and bishops present at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 were inspired by God is, as I have already mentioned, to uncritically accept a traditional version of a story because it legitimises the religious ideology which you accept as an explanation of life on earth, without which you may not be convinced your life has any meaning.
– I believe that the Gospel of Love contained in the Christian tradition is a radical and potentially transforming guideline of personal morality. I believe that the world would be a better place if the Gospel of Love were taken seriously by more people – confessing members of the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Churches, or not. I further believe that – with some exceptions – the Gospel of Love was pushed aside at an early stage of the development of the religion and replaced with an institutionalised movement with an accompanying worldview that bears little resemblance to the original teachings of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, I believe I have the right to express my view of Jesus Christ, the “Christian” religion as well as “Christian” dogma, and to spread this opinion as widely as possible. I believe that it is my right as a citizen of this world, as a friend, brother, son and relative of people who regard themselves as Christians, and as someone who grew up with the Christian religion, and up to his early adult years regarded himself as a confessing member of the Christian faith community. I further believe it is my responsibility to point out to people that I am of the opinion that they are being deceived. I do so, not because I believe anyone will go to hell if they do not see the light, but because I see it as a massive waste of human potential. Finally, I see this deception, this false theology, as a daily renunciation of the spirit of Christ.