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Religion of Jesus vs. religion about Jesus #Life #religion

Every Sunday (except during summer, when most things Unitarian go on summer vacation), my church has a First Hour discussion group before the church service. This week, Russ Alberts presented a topic called "World Religions: Who the Real Founder of Christianity Was". Here's the description from our e-mail newsletter:

Most lay Christians would say Jesus, but scholars name other men who really created the religion we know today as Christianity. Who were these men and how did they change it from Jesus' religion to the religion of Jesus?

This is actually a topic that has interested me for a while — since high school, at least. Between this topic, and the fact I had promised to talk to our pastor about redesigning our Web site, actually got me out of bed this morning and to church for the first time since last spring. (I really should go more often — I always really like it once I'm there. It's getting out of bed that's the problem.)

I asked Russ if I could reprint the material from one of his handouts, and he said sure. It's interesting stuff to ponder, especially if you've ever wondered how people reconciled Crusades with "turn the other cheek", or why many Christian churches (especially the Catholics) restrict communion to members, even though Jesus dined with tax collectors and Gentiles.

As I've long since realized, most of the stuff I've never liked about Christianity never came from Jesus. I think that when Russ referred to the "cult of Jesus" in this table, he was referring to exactly that: the people who warped Jesus' message to their own ends. Interesting stuff.

  Religion OF Jesus Religion ABOUT Jesus
Jesus Man God
Politics Apolitical.
Jesus did not care who was emperor
Allied with Constantine to make him emperor
Attitude toward Unjust Government Unconventional antagonism.
Only God rules in Israel; Do not pay taxes
Support government
Pay taxes.
War Near pacifist
Turn the other cheek when struck, but no comment on what to do when the other cheek is struck
Make war to support pro-Christian rulers
Kingdom of God It is here and now. No need to wait for a future time.
Must wait for death or for the return of Christ.
Religion is about Living the here and now Worship of the cult of Jesus
Religious tolerance Followed Jewish holidays, but ate, drank and socialized with people of all classes and religions. Pagan and Jew made no difference. Restricted ritual bread and wine to just fellow cult members. Gentiles and Jews are only equal after they have converted.
Holidays Observed Passover Reinterpreted Pagan holidays to the Cult of Jesus
Repentance Did not call for people to repent Emphasis on guilt and repentance
Jewish Scriptures Took a liberal interpretation. The Sabbath was made to serve man, not man to serve Sabbath. Completely reinterpreted to condemn Jews and make Christians the chosen people.