Would Christianity still exist if...

I started thinking about this question while posting in another thread a few days ago and now decided to bring it up.

What if, through recent historical evidence and irrefutable proof, Jesus was proven to have never actually existed. He was just a myth passed down through the ages, borrowing from other religions like Krishna from Hinduism. Would Christianity cease to exist?

All other major religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Confucianism, Shintoism, and Islam, were founded on beliefs seperate from their ‘messiahs’. If the ‘messiahs’ of their religions were defunct, they would still have their basic beliefs, norms and doctrines.

But take Jesus Christ out of Christianity, and there would be nothing left. Biblical Christianity is not just a philosophy of life, nor an ethical standard, nor obedience to religious ritual. Christianity is based on believing in a series of rules set up by Christ, and a relationship to him and his God. The religion itself is based on the man.

Would christians regroup and change the bible to reflect a still to come christ? Would they still abide by existing christian beliefs? I doubt christianity could survive such a critical blow.

A question to any christians…if such a thing happened would you feel betrayed? Would your way of life change? And how would the world’s other religions react to such a find. Or would you chose to ignore the evidence and continue on like normal.

I mean, I still believe that Jesus actually existed, rather or not he was the son of God remains a mystery to me. But the resemblence to other god like beings and messiahs are uncanny.

Just a bit of useless pondering on my part, but interesting to me nontheless.

I’m not sure - I have witnessed a lot of Christians who successfully live in what they concieve to be the Old Testament and lack completely the compassion of Jesus.

I am sure that such ‘evidence’ would be refuted vehemently and that some believers would go on believing anyway. Some would probably say ‘I told you so’ and people like me wouldn’t be moved. The reason is that mystical faith doesn’t rely on historical figures. It helps us in no way to claim that something happened thousands of years ago, which has a bearing on my life today.

Far more important is the stance that the Mythology of Christ invokes, saying that this is the way the world is and this is the archetype we need to overcome. Not that this archetype existed, but exists is important - and existence in some far off realm doesn’t help us either. The fact that there are archetypes is comforting, giving us an example to derive from, copy, use as pattern or emulate - but that archetype must be graspable.

The Mythology of the New Testament tells us that he is present in the Holy Spirit - always present. That means that we only have to reach out spiritually to be able to derive from Christ’s example. We only have to allow the Holy Spirit to ‘rule’ our being, and we will emulate Christ. These are typical statements of mystical faith and not something to be confirmed by science. It is ‘known’ intuitively, not by means of any kind of hard facts presented by archeology or whatever.

Christ is the current archetype in a long line of examples - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Josef, Moses, David, Elijah … all portray a stage of faith in the Eternal One. One could argue that each presents an enhancement on the other - but I’m not sure. They derive from each other, and NT Mythology portrays a rise to perfection - Christ being ‘sinnless’, or not separated from God, but it is an exclusive view that I don’t support.

Therefore there could be people devastated, should such conjectural ‘evidence’ exist, but only (to my mind) because they have fallen into the trap of using rationalism and ‘belief’ instead of having faith in timeless wisdom.

Shalom
Bob

What precludes religious texts from being read as fiction? Thus, whether the characters in the stories did not exist, it would still be possible to extract from the stories.

I understand what you are pointing at, but we mustn’t mix up our terminology. Our languages define the different types of narrative and literature in a variance of ways. Fiction can be an imaginative creation or even a ‘pretense’ that does not represent actuality but has been invented for entertainmant of some kind (i.e. oral or spontaneous storytelling). It can be a literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact (i.e. novels and short stories). There is of course the legal sense, when fiction is something untrue that is intentionally represented as true by the narrator.

The narratives of Religion are often unverified stories handed down from earlier times, especially those popularly believed to have an historical background. They are traditional, typically ancient stories dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining principles of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society.

These traditions are not fiction in the legal sense, because the people who created them and passed them on were not intentionally presenting them as ‘historical’ in the modern sense, but transport acknowledged truth in an accepted form. It is modern humankind that has developed problems with such traditions - for thousands of years it was accepted wisom, which doesn’t mean that those people were any least intelligent than we are.

As well as the well known myths, such as the myth of Eros and Psyche or the creation myth, we do tend to create our own romanticized or popularized myths in modern times. Even the most rationalised society does this - or perhaps it is such a society in particular - because we need these forms of narrative to transport aspects of life that are either too complex, too emotional or too damned boring when transported in another way.

Shalom
Bob

You know umm I really love talking to people who know nothing about Islam its kinda fun. Well its more like talking to a child you try to tell the child something and he can listen to what you have to say or he can go watch tv. Anywho Jesus did exist he is talked about in the Quran if you’d bother to read it, or know muslims refer to him as Isa. And to muslims he was a prophet as his own companions believed he was. Not the son of God, but they changed that in the council of Nicea and took 4 out of 80 scriptures that pronounced he was the son of God and burned the rest of the 80 that said he was a prophet. Hey the more you know… please check my facts, cuz i could just be lying. But please do some research.

Well, we probably wouldn’t call it christianity, since the “christos” would no longer be present. But as Bob pointed out, the collected wisdom and allegorical stories that comprise much of any or all religious texts, up to and including the Quran, is unlikely to go away. It is not the historical person(s) or even a religion’s prophets that are important, since they are simply the messengers. It is the message that is important. It seems highly unlikely that a body of work such as the bible or quran, rich with the wisdom and mythology of it’s people would be much changed regardless the messenger.

JT

Who are you referring to?

Shalom
Bob

actually everything about christ in Islam is taken from the New testament or apocrypha that was floating around at the time. and they didn’t change that in the council of Nicene, they took writings that supported their current catholic beliefs. Like stories of the resurrection, and pauls writings to various churches. very little was changed from original latin scripture, as is evidenced by the dead sea scrolls, the latin vulgate etc.

As for them burning the “rest of the 80” where did you find that information at? apocrypha that says christ was a mere prophet STILL exists and more is being uncovered every year.

in conclusion (long way around I know) jesus appearing in the Quran PROVES NOTHING, because it is derived from other writings of that era.

A very well thought out response Bob…I thank thee. And now for my very late response…

Sure, I would think a true spirtualist (such as yourself it would seem) would say “Ok, he didnt exist on earth…but perhaps that isnt important. Rather he was actually on this earth or not, the message is still the same.” But wouldnt the fact that you were so decieved leave you doubting the rest of the ‘truth’ in the religion itself?

Hi ShadowandLight,

You assume that I was ‘actively’ deceived? I think that most of us deceive ourselves in an number of ways, but I believe that ‘something’ is behind the religious phenomenon. It may not be what we have reasoned it to be, but all Religious teaching gives us an indicator for a direction, and it is direction that mankind needs.

Most of us with a computer and the chance to communicate as we do have lost contact with mater earth, don’t smell the soil, have lost our natural immunity to bacteria, seldom see a panoramic view, and generally don’t feel the pulsating life of nature. The first time we do, it often scares us or even hurts us. The challenge of life has left us, everything is expected to take a preset course and we get into great difficulties if it doesn’t. We even have a blinkered view of the earth, allowing others to form our opinions through a selection of news material and protecting us from the hard truth ‘out there’.

The truth of the Bible is the truth of hard facts, of endangered life, of rigorous necessities, of binding community, of the essentials of a pre-technological life. Although we are protected to a certain degree, this truth has not gone away. Three-quarters of the population of the world know that and understand instinctively. It is the minority, the supposed ‘educated’ people who think that technology has changed anything - and may soon be confronted with a few natural truths to help change their mind.

Shalom
Bob

Would Christianity still exist if…

Saul had not become Paul?

How much of the work of Paul was responsible for what would become Christianity? Without his efforts would Christianity had ever spread beyond a small Jewish reform movement?

Speculation, yes, but what do you think?

Without the Biblical Christ and Faith in Him, Christianity would cease to exist, without a doubt. Perhaps people would continue to pattern their lives in a way that resembles Christianity in form, but the essence of Christianity is finding communion with God through the work of Christ on our behalf. Christianity is not simply obeying a set of laws or standards; it is having your relationship to God restored through the forgiveness of the sin that damages the relationship. Forgiveness of sin is only available through Christ. Not through an institution. Not through a counterbalance of good deeds. Not through believing the right thing.

I think many Catholics would disagree with this.

I thought belief in Jesus was the key identified in the Bible as necessary for salvation. Is that incorrect?

Hi xanderman,

You are quite right, Paul’s intervention has changed an awful lot - regrettably. The poor man is probably turning in his grave at the consequences of his letters which are often quoted out of context, taken literally, and even Paul’s exasperation at the schisms of his own day is hallowed and misused for abuse and antisemitic statements.

If Paul hadn’t called to order, the church would have fallen apart earlier. He was an inspiration for the later leaders of the church because he was interested in making the church a survivor. He was trying continually to reconciliate Antioch and Rome with Jerusalem, trying to raise support amongst the greek Jews and Christians for those in Jerusalem - and finally was arrested and tried as an agitator.

He definately left the church a lot to build on, even if he was apparently a stuffy old bore whose doctrine was beyond most of the simple people who had become Christians. The clou was the forming of Jesus of Nazareth into the Resurrected Christ ‘according to scripture’ - which was true in a sense, but not in the way Christians view the dogma today.

Shalom
Bob

The Bible said that even the demons believe and tremble. The application of that belief is what’s essential. Certainly belief is fundemental. But, a person must repent of their sins, receive forgiveness, and make Jesus Lord of their life. You can live by the morals taught in the Bible, but that will not lead to salvation. Salvation is through faith, not works. “Without Faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God” (emphasis added).

Jesus is the crutch of Christianity without him it will not carry on, but so far so good for the Christians, thier Calendar system is even based on him, B.C. or before Christ, A.D. stands for Anno Domini or year of our Lord. (January 6, 2010 A.D.). If I were to ask Gentlemen, I believe many theists will mutate and turn into an evangelical atheist predisposed in obliterating the remnants of the Christian legion.

70 times 7

It may be just me, but this:

seems at odds with this:

The application of belief would seem to be works.
If not, then what does the application of belief mean?

On the other hand maybe one could say that salvation is through BOTH faith AND works?

Howdy Bob,

I often wonder what Christianity might have been like without the influence of Paul. Then I think that it is likely that Christianity may have never grown so much without him.

Maybe Mithra would have been promoted in Rome as the world-savior?

I still wonder how much of what Paul did that Jesus himself would have actually endorsed?

From what I’ve managed to read, the intent and the “message” brought by Jesus of Nazareth probably ended at the cross. All else is commentary. The ‘religion’ and church begun by Paul most probably came close to the message, but was compromised to accomodate the diverse groups attempting to call themselves “Christians”. It leave’s one to ponder, just who was Jesus? What was his message? Given the ‘filtering’ of the so-called NT scriptures, we may never know.

It’s the Achilles heel of most religions that the message of whatever prophet is buried under layers of “this is what he meant” commentary.
So I would have to finally say that Christianity probably wouldn’t have changed much, since the ‘change’ occurred at Jesus’ death.

JT

Hi JT,

I’m not so sure, it may have been pursued by Paul but have gone wrong because it is one thing to resist non-violently in Israel, but another thing to try the same in the Diaspora. I think that Christians tried to follow ‘the Way’ of Christ in the Diaspora but that they came into deep trouble because the Roman society was so close-knit.

The various Temples, the idol-makers etc. and the economy were all interwoven and as long as everybody adhered to the practise within the towns there were no problems. That is why the Christians were persecuted - not because of their Religion but because of the assumed lack of Religion. They were ‘troublemakers’ and ‘subversive elements’ within society who opposed the Caesar as ‘God’ - enough to have them executed immediately if they were not willing to swear allegiance to Caesar.

In effect it was the polarisation between the ‘sacrilege’ of the Romans in Hebrew eyes and the forbidding of ‘images’ of God that was one of the issues that Jesus had taken a clear stance to. The thought that a man could claim to be God was a sacrilege, and to pray to his image (swearing allegiance) was even worse. The Jews of the Diaspora had found an arrangement or acceptance within the Empire, but it was a very unfirm acceptance. That is probably why Jews very often rejected the message unless they believed in the eschatology that the end of days was close.

What remained was a deep reluctance to commit the lives of their families to a teaching that wasn’t mainstream - none of the schools foresaw a cross and a second coming of the Messiah, even if there were jewish apocalyptic visions. What Jesus had wanted was the non-violent resistance from Jerusalem, which would have been a message for the world. If Constantine hadn’t picked up the church, it would have died. But in so doing, he reformed the teaching and the Bishops were too far away from Judea to appreciate the difference. In fact, if you read the account by Eusebius, he is portrayed as the redeemer of the Church.

But that is where a lot went astray.

Shalom
Bob