• Moses
    158
    He's identified as the messiah, and called the Son of God, but the messiah wasn't necessarily God, and there were quite a few sons of gods in antiquity. I don't think he was ever claimed to call himself God except in JohnCiceronianus


    I've never found haggling over the exact definition of the messiah to be particularly fruitful. Even if we go to the Bible we get a number of different interpretations. Jesus very much implies that he is the messiah. I like some of the theological/philosophical points that he makes and how he seems to patch some of the holes in Pharisaic society. He points out areas where the Pharisees would deny that there's sin, but common morality would still point to it. At its most basic, the Christian case presents Jesus as the heart that is to be joined with the law of the Old Testament that is to "complete" Judaism. Judaism is a religion more focus on the external while Jesus stresses internal purity.

    If we choose to believe in the miracles I'm certainly sold. I'm baffled by the position that claims "well sure Jesus performed miracles but who's the say he's the messiah!" I mean come on, what more are you asking for? That's religious stupidity right there. One genuine miracle is enough for me.
  • Tom Storm
    4.6k
    If we choose to believe in the miracles I'm certainly sold. I'm baffled by the position that claims "well sure Jesus performed miracles but who's the say he's the messiah!" I mean come on, what more are you asking for? That's religious stupidity right there. One genuine miracle is enough for me.Moses

    This is a bit odd to me. One genuine miracle? What is a genuine miracle? There are men all over India right now doing miracles. There are healers 'faith healing' people from illness from all kinds of cultures and religious traditions. I once watched a man throw a sword in the air which then vanished. He was a magician.

    Why would being able to do magic tricks or 'miracles' be any evidence of a spiritual truth or divinity? There is no necessary connection. Human technology now would look like miracles to people 100 years ago. And then there's mythology more generally - Satan can do miracles too. Miracles are stunts and do not have much value.
  • Moses
    158
    Why would being able to do magic tricks or 'miracles' be any evidence of a spiritual truth or divinity?Tom Storm


    Here's where we differ: Magic tricks have rational explanations, miracles by definition fall outside of the laws of nature. There are plenty of great magic tricks, but there's always an explanation behind them. Not the case for miracles.

    If Jesus is just performing magic tricks and claiming them to be miracles then he is evil.

    And then there's mythology more generally - Satan can do miracles too.Tom Storm

    I guess one could attribute Christ's miracles to the work of Satan but we're still within a religious framework where Christ is either the messiah or a false prophet sent by Satan/evil.
  • Tom Storm
    4.6k
    Magic tricks have rational explanations, miracles by definition fall outside of the laws of nature.Moses

    Think bigger - miracles may just be tricks which have not been explained rationally yet. Also, I have seen magic tricks that look to be defying the laws of nature. Good ones do. Hence my question what is a genuine miracle?

    I guess one could attribute Christ's miracles to the work of Satan but we're still within a religious framework where Christ is either the messiah or a false prophet sent by Satan/evil.Moses

    No. I said Satan can do miracles too. No attribution was made. This goes to your point:

    I mean come on, what more are you asking for? That's religious stupidity right there. One genuine miracle is enough for me.Moses

    In other words as I wrote, a miracle is no good evidence of divinity or goodness.

    Why would being able to do magic tricks or 'miracles' be any evidence of a spiritual truth or divinity? There is no necessary connection.Tom Storm

    This goes to your point:

    If we choose to believe in the miracles I'm certainly soldMoses
  • Gnomon
    2.5k
    Hi, I am preparing my post-graduate entrance examination(philosophy), after I read the Chinese version of medieval philosophy of religion, our textbooks tend to explain the birth of Christianity in terms of class struggle, but I wanted to know the subtle reasons why people chose Christianity over other religions in the first place.guanyun
    One novel idea of Christianity that may have appealed to the upper classes as well as the downtrodden classes, was the hope for divine justice in an afterlife. Judaism, and most pagan religions, assumed that you only get one life to live. So, stoic acceptance of arbitrary Fate & Fortune was your best option, compared to depression & suicide.

    Before Apostle Paul's version of Christianity, the only other alternative to One-Life Fatalism was the theory of Many-Life Karma (cycling souls). That theory-of-reward-for-good-works (work-out your own destiny) probably arose as a sort of philosophical observation that the world system (Nature) tended to balance polar extremes (e.g. hot vs cold) to result in a moderate environment where life can flourish. So, they reasoned that the undeniable natural & cultural injustices (Evils) should eventually balance-out. But, not necessarily in this life ; so maybe in a future time, place & body. Unfortunately, such postponed justice has little practical here & now effect, and only provided a glimmer of speculative hope, that good or bad behavior in this life would be rewarded or punished in the next -- even though you may not then know why you deserve it. And, like all prophecies of the future, that grain of hope had to be taken with a heaping-spoonful of Faith in the Seer or Storyteller or Mythmaker.

    Judaism traditionally had no concept of a spiritual afterlife, with only a few exceptions, such as Elijah, who was taken directly up to heaven. However, after a remnant returned from Babylonian captivity, they tried to pick-up where they left-off, with a physical this-worldly materialistic temple-based religion. But, that came to an end when their second temple was destroyed by invading Greek overlords. Consequently, the Jews began to develop a more spiritual & other-worldly synagogue-based religion. They also spun-off some more radical & reclusive mystical groups (e.g. Essenes), which tended to interpret their official priestly scriptures from a spiritual (Holy) perspective rather than the traditional materialistic pragmatic view. They also developed novel notions of personal -- as opposed to collective (family, tribe, nation) -- Sin against God. Some even practiced symbolic baptism, as a visible metaphor for washing away invisible sins. And that graphically-illustrated innovation was gladly incorporated into Christianity, as a step-toward and sign-of personal salvation -- not in the body of another person or animal, but your own spiritual Soul.

    Therefore, Christianity had several religious innovations that distinguished it from Pagan & Greek & Roman beliefs & practices. However, as a message of hope for the downtrodden classes, the expectation of a Utopian Afterlife, was hard to believe, so the necessity of Faith was emphasized. For One-Lifers though, "Justice Deferred is justice denied" (Gladstone). Yet, for After-lifers, future justice might be enough incentive to live stoically for now, and to expect to be rewarded for their long-suffering Faith in a glorious heavenly hereafter. So, perhaps the subtle reasoning of extolling spiritual Faith over mundane Works appealed to people desperate for relief from life's trials & tribulations. Those who were not so hopeless though, could find other "subtle reasons" to adopt a Religion of Personal Salvation, and to abandon their old Religions of Social Order. :smile:
  • baker
    4.8k
    If you look at the core teachings of Jesus, you have things such as
    Love God.
    Love your neighbor and enemies.
    Treat others the way you want to be treated.
    Forgive others who have wronged you.
    Don’t judge others.
    Now these things may not resonate with you, but these teachings appeal to many people even outside of Christianity.
    Paulm12

    Show me someone to whom those teachings "appeal", and I'll show you someone who expects, even demands, that _other_ people should behave in line with those teachings, while they themselves absolutely abhor being expected tobehave that way.

    For most people, morality is all about how _other_ people should behave.

    Furthermore, there are many parallels to Jesus's teachings and the teachings of Buddha

    If I had more time, I'd take you up on this.

    When I say Christianity speaks to the human experience, I mean that whenever people appeal to a "common humanity," they are usually doing so under the influence of Christianity, especially in western society.

    That's a claim that esp. Christians and those Christianity-adjacent people like to make, but a study of cultural history suggests otherwise. (As has been already addressed in this thread.)

    Either way, the fact that these ideas are still around are either a testament to the influence of Christianity or a testament to how Jesus's insight/the teachings of Jesus do resonate with many, perhaps most, people on a fundamental level.

    Jesus brought the sword. Yeah, that really resonates with many many people, on a fundamental level.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k


    What Jesus is said to have said is largely laudable. I simply don't think it unique.
  • Moses
    158


    Largely laudable, yes, but also a definite element of insanity/radicalness that frequently flies below the radar with modern Christians who use selective reading. Jesus says he's not here to bring peace, but division (book of Luke), the parables he uses to describe salvation are divisive and imho fairly terrifying like getting shut out of a narrow door and being left to suffer for eternity, the insane demands and self-abnegation he makes of his followers. I feel like this is lost on modern Christians but this man/God/whatever is genuinely terrifying. It's the contrast between the love he preaches and his other teachings. He is either very good or very bad.

    Who else preaches what Jesus says in that time period? What's similar?
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    Largely laudable, yes, but also a definite element of insanity/radicalness that frequently flies below the radar with modern Christians who use selective reading.Moses

    Particularly that bit about the rich and the eye of a needle.

    Who else preaches what Jesus says in that time period? What's similar?Moses

    I don't know who preached similar ideas, as "preach" has religious connotations. But the pagan philosophers taught the desirability of virtue, and to the extent Jesus did so he had many predecessors. Plato touted the four great virtues, Wisdom, Temperance, Justice and Courage. Aristotle's virtue of "generosity" is similar to the Christian concept of charity. Roman great men were expected to give benefits to the poor through public works. The Stoics taught the brotherhood of man, the common good, and love. According to Seneca, "No school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love for human beings, nor more attention to the common good. (Seneca, On Clemency, 3.3) Friendship was valued by the Pythagoreans and Epicureans; Cicero believed it essential to good life.
  • Tate
    954
    But the pagan philosophers taught the desirability of virtue, and to the extent Jesus did so he had many predecessorsCiceronianus

    He didn't talk much about virtue. His focus was on love and forgiveness.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    He didn't talk much about virtue. His focus was on love and forgiveness.Tate

    That may be, but it strikes me a virtuous life would include loving and forgiving. I mentioned the Stoics refencing love. Both Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius thought highly of forgiveness, and recommended it as proper.
  • Tate
    954
    That may be, but it strikes me a virtuous life would include loving and forgiving.Ciceronianus

    Why?

    . I mentioned the Stoics refencing love. Both Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius thought highly of forgiveness, and recommended it as proper.Ciceronianus

    How could Jesus learn something from Marcus Aurelius?
  • baker
    4.8k
    He didn't talk much about virtue. His focus was on love and forgiveness.Tate

    You mean hatred and contempt?
  • Ciceronianus
    2.4k
    How could Jesus learn something from Marcus Aurelius?Tate

    Didn't say he did. I said the Stoics (and others), who were walking the Earth long before before the Holy Spirit or whoever it was magically impregnated Mary, taught values taught by Jesus centuries later.
  • Tate
    954
    Didn't say he did. I said the Stoics (and others), who were walking the Earth long before before the Holy Spirit or whoever it was magically impregnated Mary, taught values taught by Jesus centuries later.Ciceronianus



    There are some unique features to the kind of preaching Jesus did. He and others like him were probably connected to desert dwelling, apocalyptic Essenes. It can be seen as a response to a crisis within Judaism in Jerusalem. The message is about authenticity versus false spirituality (as shows up in the condemnation if the Pharisees.) It's a dramatic turn inward, away from society and whatever it holds to be virtuous to the love one finds in one's heart.

    Christianity later absorbed every religious view in its domain. Don't let that cause you to overlook the beauty and profoundness of its purely Jewish origin.
  • Moses
    158
    I don't know who preached similar ideas, as "preach" has religious connotations. But the pagan philosophers taught the desirability of virtue, and to the extent Jesus did so he had many predecessors. Plato touted the four great virtues, Wisdom, Temperance, Justice and Courage. Aristotle's virtue of "generosity" is similar to the Christian concept of charity. Roman great men were expected to give benefits to the poor through public works. The Stoics taught the brotherhood of man, the common good, and love. According to Seneca, "No school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love for human beings, nor more attention to the common good. (Seneca, On Clemency, 3.3) Friendship was valued by the Pythagoreans and Epicureans; Cicero believed it essential to good life.Ciceronianus



    Now that you mention it I'll have to give the Stoics another look. I haven't studied them in depth.

    When I'm evaluating morality the central questions that I'm looking at is how a society deals with the poor and disabled. The Greeks do not have a stellar record on this; or rather I should say that they have the record that one would typically expect from an ancient civilization that prized certain ideal body forms and physical strength and skilled rhetoric. I'm not here to blame the Greeks or Romans for not being sufficently woke. Ancient life was tough and the strong survived.

    The OT is actually insanely woke on these two issues -- so woke that I cannot pinpoint the source to anything in nature. Exodus 4:10-4:14 for instance directly addresses the issue of disability and I believe it is the most morally advanced position on disability to ever be written. The Greeks at their best will say that the disabled are just deficient (as opposed to cursed by the Gods) and in need of care & support; the OT will directly affirm their validity and deny that there is a deficiency for the deaf or blind or mute.... even today that position is radical. This is a statement by God. The OT is also amazingly consistent on caring not just for the poor but for the orphan, the widow, etc. IIRC they found a tablet from the 10th century BCE that had the aforementioned written on it.

    As for Jesus he finds faults in a culture/society with a pretty strong moral track record by expanding their conception of sin and questioning their focus ("what about the sinners?") He calls for an externally facing society focused on duties and rituals to look inward. Hillel preaches something similar but Jesus goes past Hillel. The OT humbles kings and boosts the marginalized; Jesus focuses nearly exclusively on the marginalized and tells those in power behave like them -- thus, Christian humbleness/modesty. Money for the first time becomes a dirty word in the NT; that is a distinction from the OT, not that the OT idolizes money but it never carries that connotation.
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