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Majority of Christians Think Jesus Was Just a Good Teacher, Not Divine

I have described myself as a “Christian atheist“—denying any supernatural influences but practicing certain Christian principles. Anyone growing up in the rural Midwest, even the least churchgoing, is bound to absorb some Christian ideas. But I don’t cling tightly to the label “Christian atheist.” I am willing to accede to the kindly rigorous theologians in my life who tell me I can’t correctly claim the adjective unless I accept that that carpenter Jesus from Nazareth was who he said he was—the Son of God, the Divine made flesh to work some mysterious cosmic sacrifice that would wipe away our indelible sin. The divinity of Jesus defines Christianity. One can’t say Jesus was just a nice guy and claim to be a Christian any more than one can say that the interior angles of a triangle add up to 181° and claim to be a Euclidean geometer.

Yet 53% of folks professing Christianity and 43% of evangelical Christians agree with the statement, “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”

Lifeway Research, "The State of Theology" survey results, 2022.
Lifeway Research, “The State of Theology” survey results, 2022.

Lifeway Research, the conductors of this survey, are some Jesus-y people in Nashville who collect public opinion data to inform church leaders about “faith in culture and matters that affect churches.” Lifeway Research says denying the divinity of Jesus “is contrary to Scripture, which affirms from beginning to end that Jesus is indeed God (John 1:1; 8:58; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:1-4).” (Many respondents won’t sweat that critique, as 53% of all Christians and 26% of evangelicals agree that the Bible “contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.”)

I don’t have the same keen personal interest as Lifeway Research has in preserving theological consistency among Christian evangelicals, but I’ve read enough C.S. Lewis to know that the “great teacher” line means those survey respondents are either unwitting Jews or theological dimwits:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952].

Jesus said he was the Son of God. Why, dear “Christians” telling us that Jesus was a great teacher but not the Son of God, would a great teacher tell us something that is not true? And why would you disbelieve a great teacher’s central, defining claim?

I’ve had lots of great teachers. But I don’t go to any of their houses on Sunday to worship them. I don’t wear t-shirts or charm bracelets saying What Would David/Mary/Nancy/Rodney/Doc/Jill/Martin/Char/Pete Do? Why would Jesus deserve any more hype, not to mention massive international institutions funded by enormous financial contributions, than the great teachers who touched our lives much more directly?

My great teachers made tangible differences in my life. They taught me ideas and skills that I didn’t have and that I would not have acquired without their effective teaching.

By that measure, I ask you “teacher, not Divine” Jesus followers, how was Jesus a “great teacher”? What tangible difference did teacher Jesus make in your life that couldn’t have been made by your parents, your school teachers, your basketball coach, or a really good science-fiction novel? What does Jesus teach you that you can’t get more clearly and entertainingly (and without all the gratuitous Roman intrigue and cruciform bloodshed) from Marianne Williamson or Stuart Smalley?

If “teacher” were all that Jesus put on his résumé, would he get hired? What about his teaching methods distinguished him in the only field to which a majority of Christians and a shockingly large minority of evangelical want to limit him? He told some memorable but open-to-interpretation parallels and one big supernatural claim that the followers I’m addressing here think is bunk. He copied his whole “walk around and talk to people” method from Socrates, and the old Greek did a better job of promoting critical thinking and active learning with his Socratic questioning. Even in his own field, Jesus may be outdone by better-spoken theologians. Heck, I’ve learned more about Christianity from C.S. Lewis than I have from Jesus himself. How does an objective comparison of Jesus’s teaching methods to the methods of other thinkers distinguish Jesus as a “great” teacher?

I welcome readers, Christian and otherwise, to offer their thoughtful assessments of Jesus’s teaching skills. But establishing Jesus’s teaching cred doesn’t answer the bigger question of Jesus’s divinity and whether people who believe Jesus was just a human teacher can accurately call themselves Christian or if they are just poorly educated Jews or agnostics or something else other than what they think they are.

58 Comments

  1. Ron Jon 2022-12-14

    No one is a Christian because they claim to be. Conversely, someone can believe that Jesus Christ is Diety, fully God and fully man, and still not be a Christian. It is not an identity that is obtained through human cleverness or good deeds, it is conferred by God on someone through His grace (undeserved favor.) There is a hard truth for many, Jesus says to “repent and believe the gospel.” Yet no one will ever arrive at that point unless God grants them repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith in Christ is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8,9). The hard truth is no can become a Christian through their own effort or merit and won’t unless God acts on their behalf. “Mere Christianity” is a great book and the quote you included explains the problem clearly for those claiming Jesus was just a good teacher.

  2. sx123 2022-12-15

    Let’s assume there was a historical Jesus. Maybe he was a good teacher because forgiving others may have been crazy talk at the time. Love your enemies may have been a radical new idea in the region. (What? Prostitutes and tax collectors should be treated like humans too? Cra Cra)

    Some think Jesus grabbed ideas from Buddahism.

    There isn’t really much in the Bible that’s correct or has great insight except some things we consider obvious/trivial today, so not a great teacher by todays standards.

    And that poor fig tree…

  3. P. Aitch 2022-12-15

    Jesus taught by example. He was but didn’t need to be a victim to teach. Needing to be a victim to justify your wisdom is fraud.

  4. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    I am willing to accept that Jesus was God every bit as much as you, I, the stars, and the hollyhocks and oak tree growing in my alley and their inhabitants are God. Which is to say – 100% sure. We are all “made” of the same stuff. There is no other stuff. And therein lies the lesson for today.

    Avowed pantheo-animist here.

  5. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    Ron Jon – and so after one becomes a Christian – then what? It’s all over – pure monkish surrender? Next steps? Or is life still (or remain in – unmoved and unmoving) an “imperfect” state in need of constant renewal – just as it was before – not REALLY changed?

  6. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    Ron Jon – Lewis also describes the problem for those who claim they have fully accepted Jesus as God but haven’t fully.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-12-15

    Jesus of Nazareth cavorted with prostitutes and had multiple dalliances with other men. Jesus Christ is a myth created in Roman Judaea as a means to weaken the grip of an empire in the eastern Mediterranean and to counter the rise of middle Eastern traditions.

  8. John 2022-12-15

    Razib Khan has a good reading list here, that covers the reformation emergence of the Jesus culture.
    https://razib.substack.com/p/rkul-time-well-spent-12122022?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

    Thankfully, modern Christianity is fast becoming a minority institution in the US. This cultural shrinking of US Christianity is directly the result of those professing failing on nearly all counts of even trying to walk-the-talk. Few things put off people more than hypocritical behaviors.

  9. jim 2022-12-15

    In this dimension, our universe is believed to be about 14 billion years old. The future could add another ten or twenty billion years. Who knows. But I am a sentient being from a habitable planet in the tiniest fraction of time we know as the present. I choose to believe that this is not just some random occurrence. I believe God said “let there be light” and bang.

    Maybe it’s because of life experience. I once asked God, if he was real, to prove himself to me. He did so in ways I do not expect you to believe. But I do. Put a gun to my head and demand that I renounce God… then I will choose death. I will exit the here and now. So help me God.

    As for Jesus. I believe he spoke the truth. I believe he is the son of God but exactly what that means is above my pay grade.

  10. Donald Pay 2022-12-15

    I think, Cory, the problem is the Bible contains some truth and some fiction. Figuring out what is true and what is not in that book is a massive task. Did Jesus really think he was the Son of God, or were such statements put into Jesus’ mouth decades later by some Gopel writer with his own particular spin to meet his own needs at the time? The historical Jesus movement is something that I got interested in a few decades ago, reading several books on what is true, what is not about the scriptural Jesus. I found the man compelling, but the manufactured savior, fake. There are lots of takes on who Jesus really was, but “The Historical Jesus” by John Dominic Crossan is the best one, in my opinion.

    In the end we all take what we want from any particular human being. If you need a savior, well, Jesus will do as well as anyone else. But, I’m like you, but rather than “Christian atheist,” I consider myself a “Jesus atheist.” Going from “Jesus” to “Christ” seems to me where the problem comes in. I love Jesus, but the Christians, not so much.

  11. larry kurtz 2022-12-15

    President Jefferson scoffed at Jesus’ divinity but put the Nazarene on a par with Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton. Jefferson thought the idea of a 6000 year old Earth was preposterous and believed it was more like 60,000 years old, so there is that.

  12. bearcreekbat 2022-12-15

    Jim’s comment that “I choose to believe” raises an interesting question: can belief actually be a choice? One can choose to pretend to believe or pretend not to believe, but actual belief, or non-belief, seems more like a condition that is inescapable and completely outside our ability to choose, Either we think we know a fact or we don’t know a fact, regardless of our desire to know. Once we think a particular reality exists, regardless of our desire for something different, any effort to deny that reality or create a different reality through the magic of choosing to “believe” something different seems self-delusional. A terrible example is when someone is diagnosed with a fatal disease. All the choosing in the world cannot that reality nor can it change our knowledge of that reality. We can always choose how we react to whatever reality we find ourselves in, but we have no real choice in forming that actual reality.

  13. 96Tears 2022-12-15

    Funny, intriguing and disturbing, let me recommend reading “Live from Golgotha: The Gospel according to Gore Vidal.”

    Interesting discussion. Thanks, Cory, for kicking this one off. My own path on faith/religion has had plenty of twists and I am grateful for the experiences — even when they lead to blind alleys. These days, I find the pictures produced from the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope are more exciting and insightful than the ramblings of Middle Eastern goat herders or the so-called early Christians who “wrote” the books we call the New Testament 50 and more years after Jesus reportedly was killed. I’ve come to accept biblical writings as, at best, allegory. I leave the door open to the idea they were divinely inspired. Face it, the books of the Torah and the Gospel were oral (hi)stories for a very long time until attempts at writing them were made. Yet, today’s Christians in America will scream and fuss to coerce us to believe the Bible is historically correct (offering no proof) right before they beg you to send them your life’s savings via Pay Pal. (Interesting that this kind of absurd thought control is what’s really behind Christian nationalist politicians engaged in brainwashing us that Critical Race Theory is taught in schools and must be aggressively weeded out of history curriculum.)

    I do respect others who’ve made serious efforts at pursuing The Divine and discovering their spirituality. I applaud those who aren’t afraid to kick the tires and ask questions rather than sitting a pew and blindly accepting what’s being preached at them. We weren’t given brains with the capacity for critical thinking if we were also meant to refuse to explore and stare at those space telescope photos in jaw dropping awe.

  14. Mark Anderson 2022-12-15

    Try walking on water, multiplying fish, raising the dead. He wasn’t that good of a teacher. If you want all your bases covered you’d better believe in all religions. A happy nihilist. Don’t tell my wife, she’s happy spiritualist.

  15. Jake 2022-12-15

    well spoken words, bcb! I concur.

  16. Jim M 2022-12-15

    Really good topic, again. So, 1/3rd of the world is “Christian”. More people probably eat at McDonald’s Golden Arches..y(es a bad pun). It’s also concentrated. China and India have over 1/3rd of the world’s population, but are less than 5% Christian. The highest % of Christians nations seem to be the ones “conquered” by Christianity (otherwise known as genocide). So how much Christianity is organic? I mean Jesus’ home country is only 2.5% Christian,.,people might forget Jesus himself was Jewish..yeah like Lou Gehrig never actually got Lou Gehrig disease. Shouldn’t beliefs be organic? Where do our souls go after we die? I see ads on TV that dream about how you pet dog’s soul will meet you in Heaven. So do all the cows and chickens and pigs we eat go with us too? What about my favorite hoodie? My 65 inch tv?

  17. P. Aitch 2022-12-15

    Subconscious Thoughts ~ Cory posts about Jesus and the first word is: I, me, myself, or mine. That’s a holiday tell. #grins

    – Nationwide, just 1 percent of public-school teachers are Black men. Even in Boston, which has the highest number of Black male educators, the proportion is just 7 percent.

  18. jim 2022-12-15

    Is belief a choice?

    It surely can be. You can choose to ignore facts. It’s done all of the time. You can deny reality, can you not? Nobody can force you to believe in truth. God is truth.

  19. ABC 2022-12-15

    The Bible both Testaments is largely parable.

    Kristi Noem and Dennis Daugaaaard are a Governors, parable.

    Intelligent voters in South Dakota, parable.

    We can make South Dakota, USA and Earth a better place, Divine action time!

    Yes we are. The D word.

  20. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    jim – “I believe God said…..” Oh, so there was language, and thought (bio-electrical pulses) before there was light? Interesting theory. Where did it come from? Any testing? Oh of course not – it’s merely a human “belief” (self-delusion).

    How about the productive reaction of “light”? So far as our human physics can ascertain – light requires a chemically reactive source for production (stars for ex:) – like hydrogen. So, is God the hydrogen necessary for the atomic/chemical reactive production of light? Or didn’t the people who wrote those words you believe in possess any knowledge of chemistry?

  21. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    jim – “God is truth.” Would that be human truth or earth worm truth? How about supernova truth? The devil’s truth?

  22. jim 2022-12-15

    I am skeptical as anyone. But, if God proves himself to me (and he did), I can still choose my own ego over this truth. I may try to place myself first. Free will.

    Richard writes “light requires a chemically reactive source for production of stars… so, is God the hydrogen…”

    Usually something begets something. Right. I believe that to be an intelligent being. The author of this reality.

    God : the supreme or ultimate reality (Merriam-Webster)

  23. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    So, the simple hydrogen atom has the ultimate eternal intellect. I’ll go with that. Does it have a gender identity? Does it’s free will allow it to choose which one – or none?

  24. Richard Schriever 2022-12-15

    BTW – humanity has just caused 2 hydrogen atoms to join, thus creating light.

  25. P. Aitch 2022-12-15

    This Schriever guy has some strong negativity bias, huh? He’s living in the right place, then. Complaining and spending more energy thinking about why something new won’t work than spending more energy in thinking about how to make it work is pretty commonplace, huh? I remember what it was like.

  26. DaveFN 2022-12-15

    Those who wish to understand belief might begin by trying to understand self-deception:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-deception/#OriSelDec

    Philosopher Herbert Borenstein Fingarette (1921-2018) has written extensively on self-deception. His contribution is that self-deception is characterized by a persistent refusal to “spell out” (explicitly acknowledge) and to avow some aspect of one’s own engagement in the world.

    An interview with him the last year of his 97 year life is here:

    https://aeon.co/videos/an-ageing-philosopher-returns-to-the-essential-question-what-is-the-point-of-it-all

  27. Ron Jon 2022-12-15

    Richard Schriever – Christian or not, everyone is imperfect. After you become a Christian, you are still imperfect, but God begins a lifelong work in the Christian known as “sanctification.” The idea is that the “baby” Christian begins to mature as God works to bring about Christlikeness in their lives. To be sure, some cooperate with God more than others in becoming sanctified but there will be growth if you are a Christian. Your use of the word “surrender” is very accurate. Essentially, people have rebelled against God and are at “war” with Him. It is a war we can’t win but we can surrender if we surrender according to God’s terms. The terms of surrender is faith in Jesus Christ with extremely favorable results for us rebels – adoption as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). Forgiven, based on the Christ paying our death penalty on the cross. God’s love and His justice are both satisfied, and we win by surrendering. Or shake your fist at God and see how that works out for you.

  28. larry kurtz 2022-12-15

    As a result of ingesting psychoactive fungi Heȟáka Sápa or Nicholas Black Elk rejected catholicism and returned to Lakota ways after he realized the Roman Church was committing crimes against his people.

    The End Times fulfill a prophesy and welcome a supernatural extraterrestrial to create a one-world government. No higher being could be anything but predatory. It’s dystopian fantasy run amok.

  29. grudznick 2022-12-15

    That’s St. Nick to you, Lar.

  30. jim 2022-12-15

    Richard writes: “Does it have a gender identity? Does it’s free will allow it to choose which one – or none?”

    Gender identity? God created a billion galaxies.

  31. larry kurtz 2022-12-15

    Caution should also be exercised when relating flying reindeer to the effects of the hallucinogenic (actually a deliriant) fly agaric mushroom, or Amanita Muscaria, which was, and presumably still is, consumed during shamanic rituals by the Lapps and some Siberian peoples. The mushroom is the quintessential toadstool, usually bright red with small white spots and has long been depicted in stories and paintings.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2011/12/21/144023187/flying-reindeer-and-the-bethlehem-star-when-science-and-myth-intersect

  32. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-12-16

    I underanticipated how many responses this subject would draw.

  33. grudznick 2022-12-16

    Mr. Evans says the universe is only 6,000 years old.
    grudznick says his god drowned in a bowl of cereal.

  34. grudznick 2022-12-16

    “Where would Jesus, if he really existed, fall on the SILT scale?” I think that’s what Mr. H is really asking here, as he once again confirms the Seven Indisputable Levels of Teachers.

  35. Dicta 2022-12-16

    BCB swinging in with the critique of Pascal’s Wager.
    Nice.

  36. David Bergan 2022-12-16

    Hi Cory!

    Heck, I’ve learned more about Christianity from C.S. Lewis than I have from Jesus himself.

    Similarly, I learned more about Hamlet from Cliff’s Notes than from reading the play, but that doesn’t make Cliff greater than Shakespeare. I learned more about Being and Nothingness from bearcreekbat than I did from reading the book, and here I am totally ok saying that bcb is greater than Sartre. :) However, bcb didn’t create the ideas that he explained to me. Without Sartre’s being, he would either have to invent that branch of phenomenology himself, or attach himself to some other philosophy.

    So too with Lewis. Lewis has a gift of explaining things, and, in some ways, may have understood Jesus better than the disciples who were walking with him. (Not a high bar considering some of the stories about the disciples.) But Lewis and bcb and Cliff all also have the advantage of time and cumulative human reflection.

    But with time and cumulative human reflection, has anyone developed a greater moral compass? Yes, with time, more depth has been found in Jesus’s compass. e.g., The abolition of slavery and universal sufferage are extensions of his call to love the lowest among you (prisoners, prostitutes, tax collectors), but has a better compass been found?

    How does an objective comparison of Jesus’s teaching methods to the methods of other thinkers distinguish Jesus as a “great” teacher?

    There are several great moral teachers throughout history, but is there a best one? I think so. I wrote about this in your earlier thread.

    Consider a similar assessment from Thomas Jefferson:

    Notwithstanding these disadvantages, a system of morals is presented to us, which, if filled up in the true style and spirit of the rich fragments he left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man.
    The question of his being a member of the god-head, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others, is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merit of his doctrines.

    1. He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only god, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.
    2. His moral doctrines relating to kindred & friends were more pure & perfect, than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews.
    and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants, and common aids. a developement of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.
    3. the precepts of Philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. he pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.
    4. he taught, emphatically, the doctrine of a future state: which was either doubted or disbelieved by the Jews: and wielded it with efficacy, as an important incentive, supplementary to the other motives to moral conduct.

    There are very few things I have read in my life that combine terror and tenderness the way Jesus does. Lewis can help understand the big picture of Jesus, but he doesn’t convict my heart the way, say, the parable of the talents or the sheep and the goats does. If anyone has found another teacher on par with this, please let me know.

    Do I understand everything Jesus says? No. Do I understand everything said about Jesus? No. Do I agree with all the appropriate labels about Jesus and the Bible? No idea. But where else would I go? To the second best moral teacher? To the one that makes everything comfortable and soothes my ego? The one who tickles my ears? Impresses my friends? If I want the highest morality, if I strive to bring the most good I possibly can with my life, I can’t breeze past the teacher who actually calls me to that level.

    It may seem like life might be easier to be free of the command, “Be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect.” But whatever I’d replace it with would be an obviously inferior self-delusion… “Be pretty good, because perfect is way too hard. God can’t possibly expect you to be good all the time. He might not exist anyway. Just love the people you want to love and don’t be too hard on yourself.”

    (“Do not even the pagans do that?”)

    When I find that moral ideal that I know that I should be aiming at, and at the same time it pains me by showing me how far I am from reaching it… how is this experience explainable without some sort of higher power? The other moral teachers rarely go into those depths. And why would a self-made subjective morality ever do that? Why doesn’t my conscience just continually pat me on the back for the choices I’ve made and encourage me to scratch the itches I want to scratch?

    Moral conviction might not be a universal human experience, but for anyone else who knows what I’m talking about, what explanation is possible besides God?

    Kind regards,
    David

    Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

  37. bearcreekbat 2022-12-17

    Dicta, you got it!

    For anyone that is interested in reading David’s reference to “I wrote about this in your earlier thread,” he has linked to Cory’s DFP thread “Atheology #3: Christian Atheist, Hamlet Fan” started back on 2017-07-24, with something like 86 comments. If you jump ahead to the comment marked: David Bergan 2022-01-14 23:08, I think that is where David begins to set forth his thoughtful and interesting comments about Jesus as a teacher of morality.

    And if you have insomnia and need a sleeping aid you might try reading on a bit further in that same thread to find a lengthy discussion about the philosophy of John Paul Sartre that David and I engaged in, which David also very kindly referenced.

  38. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-17

    Ron Jon, I’ve been shaking my fist at God all of my life. Things don’t seem to be working out quantifiably worse for me than for the folks engaged in the magic (i.e., incomprehensible) word games you describe.

    What is that “sanctification” that God spends my lifetime working in me if I “surrender”? How does he make me more “Christlike”? And is that really anything Jesus taught? Did Jesus say, “Hey, let God make you a saint?” Is that the primary teaching we’re supposed to take from the New Testament? Is that the primary teaching that all those Christians in the survey are talking about when they say Jesus was a great teacher but not divine? Is “let God turn you into a saint” really practical life advice that will get us through our daily trials?

  39. P. Aitch 2022-12-17

    Cory ponders, probably cynically, ” Is that the primary teaching we’re supposed to take from the New Testament? ”
    A teaching Cory could learn from Jesus is to stop being a “control freak”.
    If he’d ponder that assessment he’d possibly surrender to life as it is comes naturally.

  40. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-17

    Count on David for some rigorous thinking. Yes, let’s not confuse the interpreters with the source. A good teacher can help me recognize the good created by the past masters, but those masters are still the source of that good. I don’t read Lewis and say, “Hey! It all clicks now! I’m a Lewisian!” I read Lewis and say, “Now I get what Jesus was saying! I’m a Christian now! Whoo-hoo!”

    Heavens forfend.

    But should we call the source a teacher? Jackson Pollock was a great artist, but he wasn’t a great teacher. Jill Frederick was the great teacher who taught me the principles I needed to look at and appreciate Jackson Pollock’s work and create a few similar objects of beauty myself (surely not as meritorious, perhaps immaturely derivative, because I can’t replicate Pollock’s original genius any more than I or any other mortal can be “Christlike” and make myself into God incarnate, but still pleasing to me).

    My analogy to art and Jill Frederick’s art teaching is shaky: Pollock may have stirred my soul whether or not I had taken art class at MHS.

    But let me work with David’s interesting phrase, “convict my heart.” If I take the phrase correctly, it doesn’t just mean to stir the heart, but to convince me deep down of my sin or error.

    I’ve read Jesus. I’ve cited Jesus in blog arguments. I’ve spoken Jesus’s words while pretending to be him amidst a circle of mostly Christians pretending to be disciples responding emotionally to the power of the moment recreated in Godspell. Yet Jesus himself, the words ascribed to him by his disciples and translators in the Bible, have never convicted my heart. CS Lewis did persuade me that I was in error to blithely dismiss the teachings of Jesus. In that regard, if the ability to show a student that he is in error counts toward merit as a teacher, then Lewis was indeed a more effective teacher than Jesus. Jesus has not wrought change in my life; CS Lewis has.

    Jefferson’s argument for the greatness of Jesus’s teachings independent of his alleged divinity is remarkable. I’d love it if all the survey respondents that got me writing this post would offer, if asked, a similarly deep and detailed explanation of the purely earthly merits of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. And perhaps Jefferson’s argument provides a means for challenging my argument about the availability of good moral teachings from other sources: perhaps Jesus got a truly new moral ball rolling, and all the modern self-helpers preaching kindness, gentleness, helpfulness, etc. are really only recycling Jesus’s material.

    As I think about it, I’m liking Donald’s distinction. Could we say Jesus is the earthly dude, while Christ is the title applied to deem that fellow something more than just a teacher? Of course, Donald’s distinction would still allow us to say to those “great teacher, not divine” respondents, “Hey, y’all have a point, but if that’s what y’all really believe, y’all aren’t really ‘Christians’.”

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-17

    P, I don’t think Ron Jon’s talking about surrendering to “life as it comes naturally.” That’s a very different sentiment, on which I’ve been making some progress. Ron Jon seems to be talking about some mystical process of communing with an invisible supernatural being who will start tinkering with my innards to my benefit if I just say the magic words. I can make sense of the words you are using, P. I don’t know hat the heck Ron Jon is talking about.

  42. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-12-17

    When I was eight years old, I (reluctantly) attended Sunday School at The Christian Church in Clayton, Indiana. This was in 1964, and it was de rigueur for young, rural white girls to get appropriately brainwashed into Christianity, marriage, motherhood, and slavery.

    My Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Beckelheimer, casually mentioned “the Jews” killed Jesus and he died for our sins. Since I’d actually read the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to the Christians I knew, I told her that Jesus Christ our Savior was born Jewish and a Jew himself.

    I was politely disinvited from Sunday School.

  43. P. Aitch 2022-12-17

    Good story, Bonnie. Thanks – I just watched the new film, “The Fabelmans” about the youth of Steven Spielburg. At one high school in Northern California he was held down by jock bullies and made to recite, “Jews Killed the Lord”, over and over.

  44. All Mammal 2022-12-17

    Romans killed Jesus. Ah, yes, Rome. The home of the Vatican. All gold winds up there. What relics and knowledge of our history belies up under the ancient roads. . Those Romans did many things, including crucifixion. They had a trump right before they couldn’t hold the republic together.
    As far as I know, the Romans were not Jewish. They tolerated Judaism, as long as they didn’t go around riling things up and making radical claims. Jesus wasn’t a sneaky radical. He was flamboyant.

  45. All Mammal 2022-12-18

    Jesus’s look-a-like is Colin Kaepernick. As far as activism and physical appearance, they could pass for twins.

  46. grudznick 2022-12-18

    2 Corinthians 6:4-7

    4 Therefor, Jesus rolled left as a servant of God and commended himself in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, sackings and roughings; 6 in purity he heaved the ball back across his body; in the Holy Spirit; and it fell into the outstretched hands of his disciple with sincere love; 7 and Jesus tore his helmet off and pointed at the heavens with the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; he mocked his opponent thusly

    Jesus can throw,
    Kappernick can only run the pitch.

  47. All Mammal 2022-12-18

    Actually, Kaepernick was drafted by the Chicago Cubs for his pitching talent. So, the boy can throw a ball. He ended his senior collegiate year with 20 passing tds and 20 rushing tds. That’s a feat. He was first collegiate qb to have over 10,000 passing yards and rushed over 4,000 yrds. He is still the only player to have done so in 4 yrs of college football. He also maintained a 4.0 gpa, but that is besides his fb record. He joined Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Randall Cunningham, and Marcus Mariota as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least three passing touchdowns and 100 yards rushing in a game. I don’t know Big J’s fooseball stats, I just know he must have striking physical resemblance to CK.

  48. e platypus onion 2022-12-18

    I doubt during the alleged lifetime of jeebus they had afro hairstyles. Id also elevate Kaepernick to a higher plane than any alleged magat kristian ever.

  49. bearcreekbat 2022-12-18

    e platypus onion, that is a great poem by Shel Silverstein. Thanks for posting it. It reminded me of the first tune I ever heard by Fish Karma (Terry Owen, a Tucson, AZ songwriter), “God is a Groovy Guy.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR7K9ln4GjM

  50. Mark Anderson 2022-12-18

    The only religious thing I like is Warrior Nun and it got canceled. Can’t watch it now, where are all those Catholic’s rising in protest?

  51. All Mammal 2022-12-18

    He may have had a Jheri curl, who’s to say? Queen Nefertiti sure looked like she sported a sharply shaped afro hairstyle. I cannot conceive the notion there were no afro hairstyles in any age, including Jesus’s time.
    Mr. Anderson- they jailed all the protesting nuns from Hells Kitchen for sabotaging heavy machinery up in ND while standing with Standing Rock to protect water. Their sentences are looooong.

  52. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-12-18

    Also, Mrs. B. believed Jesus was his first name and Christ was his last name. No idea “Christ” was the tille of the awaited Messiah.
    This is making my head hurt.

  53. All Mammal 2022-12-18

    BB Fairbank- I was always under the impression God’s name was Howard.

    While in a debate about this, I pointed out the prayer even tells us it is so, “Our Father, who art in Heaven. HOWARD be Thy name…” my sister laughed so hard she peed and went on to tell everyone what I said. My family probably laughed at me for a month straight.

  54. All Mammal 2022-12-22

    I should have known that story would oust myself to those still getting a good yuck. You’re welcome(:

  55. All Mammal 2022-12-28

    Sis- thank you. IOU. Blessed be thy fruit. May Howard open.

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