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Faith and Deconstruction can be difficult
The definition of a Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Notice how it’s not someone who agrees with the teachings of Jesus, or someone who worships Christ; it is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus.
Let’s pose a few questions based on some of the points brought out in the book, and consider them in light of the definition of a Christian.
1. What if Jesus was not born of a virgin? What if God didn’t impregnate Mary? What if Jesus was born a human?
- The first Gospel written, the Gospel of Mark, makes no mention of Jesus’ birth.
- The two Gospels that do document Jesus’ birth, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, contradict each other on numerous accounts.
- The Gospels of Matthew and Luke were probably written in the ninth century of the Common Era – at least 50 to 60 years after the death of Jesus; at least 80 to 90 years after his birth.
- The birth narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are the only passages in any ancient manuscripts – in all of human history – that mention the birth of Jesus.
- The first writer of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, described Jesus’ birth as natural, and he goes on to say that Jesus became the Son of God at his crucifixion – indicating that he was a mortal being until the time of his death and resurrection.
If a person accepts the above-listed bulleted points, and believes that Jesus was conceived just like every other human being, can that person still call themselves a Christian? Can a person still follow the teachings of Jesus even though they don’t believe he was born of a virgin nor that he was born the Son of God?
2. What if Jesus really didn’t perform miracles or raise the dead? What if those accounts in the Gospels were stories told about him throughout the decades in order to explain who people thought he was and what he represented?
- The Gospel of John was written at least 65 years after Jesus’ death.
- Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is only mentioned in the Gospel of John.
- After four days in the tomb, Lazarus’ body had already started to decompose (the smell of it was noticeable outside the sealed tomb).
- Only in the Gospel of John does Jesus say his miracles were signs of who he was.
Both modern science and our own experiences allow us to understand the extreme improbability that a dead person, whose body had already started to decompose, can somehow be brought back to life after four days. Can someone call themselves a Christian if they don’t believe the literal words in that passage from the Gospel of John? Can someone still be a Christian if they see that the miracles that are recorded in the Gospels were written to be symbolic of how the writers were trying to portray Jesus?
3. What if there wasn’t a physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus? What if the resurrection story is just that – a story?
- The Gospel of Mark, as originally written in the earliest available manuscripts, makes no mention of the resurrection of Jesus.
- The Apostle Paul, the earliest Christian writer, makes no mention of an empty tomb in any of his letters.
- The New Testament books that do record the resurrection are conflicting in numerous areas, including how long Jesus stayed with the disciples, who he first appeared to, and where he first appeared to his disciples.
Can a Christian not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus? Can a person use logic and reason to conclude that there wasn’t a resurrection and still consider themselves to be a Christian?
4. What if Jesus wasn’t the literal Son of God? What if the “Son of God” moniker given to him by the Gospel writers is the same as the Son of God descriptions of other biblical characters?
- The earliest Christian writer, Paul, gives an adoptionism view of Jesus’ divinity, claiming Jesus became the Son of God at the crucifixion.
- Another adoptionism view is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, the first Gospel written; in it, Jesus doesn’t become the Son of God until he is baptized by John the Baptist.
- The apocryphal Gospel of Peter and Peter’s statement in the Book of Acts both say that God adopted Jesus as his Son at his baptism.
Can a person call themselves a Christian if they accept the adoptionism view of Jesus as the Son of God? If a person doesn’t believe that Jesus was born the Son of God, can they call themselves a Christian?
5. What if Jesus is not God? What if Jesus and God are not one and the same?
- Jesus does not equate himself with God until the fourth Gospel (the Gospel of John) is written – 65 to 70 years after Jesus’ death.
- The Apostle Paul, the earliest writer in the New Testament, never calls Jesus God, nor does he compare him as being equal with God.
- Jesus was raised a Jew and practiced the Jewish faith throughout his life, including his ministry; Jews would not have accepted the idea that there was more than one God or that a man could be God.
Can a person who doesn’t believe that Jesus was/is God be considered a Christian? Can someone who sees Jesus as a gifted prophet who was adopted by God (as were other prophets in the Bible) call themselves a Christian?
6. What if the Holy Trinity isn’t true? What if the concept of the Trinity is just that – a concept?
- There is no mention of a “Holy Trinity” anywhere in the Bible.
- The early Church father Tertullian was the first to coin the term around the end of the second century or beginning of the third century.
- The concept of the Trinity directly opposes a monotheistic religious view.
- The closest a biblical passage gets to describing a triune God is found in the First Letter of John; it was later determined that verses in the older manuscripts were changed to reflect this view.
Can a person be considered a Christian if they don’t accept the Doctrine of the Trinity? Can someone who rejects the mystery of there being three distinct Gods in the Trinity call themselves a Christian?
In addition to the Recommended Reading page in the book, you might also enjoy Robin Meyers’ book, Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshipping Christ and Start Following Jesus.
Group support: TheDeconstructionNetwork.com
- Skeptics and Seekers
- The Deconstructionists
- Rethinking Faith
- Almost Heretical
- Nomad Podcast
- Shipwreck Over Safety
- The Phil Drysdale Show