I used to be a Christian many years ago when I spent a lot of time discussing my faith on Christian forums. It was quite an exciting time but also a period of serious soul searching. I spoke with so many people about the faith and it was revealing to see how deeply beliefs are held that no rational argument could sway either party. I spoke to Moslems, to Jews, to Buddhists, to Christians of different persuasions, to practitioners of Wicca, White Witches, Satanists and many others holding some faith or another. I spoke a lot with Atheists and Agnostics and many people who were still searching.
As a Christian then I had one conviction, that my faith is not just like any other faith. I believed that I had found the truth that set me free. I had evidence for this. I used to have a troubled live until I gave my life to Jesus. I used to smoke heavily and with one prayer my graving for cigarettes had gone. I received the gift of speaking in tongues. It happened against my wishes suddenly during an Advent celebration of a traditional church that did not believe in such things. I had prophetic experiences where I saw things before they happened. I witnessed miraculous healings that could not be simply put down to psychosomatic phenomena. I was convinced I had the real thing.
I always had a very strong sense for truth. It was not enough for me to just tell people to believe something but I wanted them to experience God for themselves. Christianity for me was not simply the embracing of a theory about God or joining a social club but being in relationship with the living God himself. I believed I had this relationship and I saw it as my mission ordained by God to lead other people into this wonderful personal experience.
For over twenty years I was an active member of what we would call a vibrant church. I went to bible school where I met my wife and we went afterwards as missionaries to Scotland. I always felt drawn to Scotland, so this was a good excuse. Things however didn’t go very well in Scotland. After less then two years I fell out with the pastor of that church. The pastor started to do things that I felt went strongly against biblical principles. He made it out that God had given him special revelation. We’re in a spiritual war and we have to use the weapons of faith to war against the satanic forces in this world. He said that he’s God’s voice and that we have to follow him. We’re either for him or against him.
When he said this I told him I didn’t agree. I said that it’s Jesus voice I follow, not his. As soon as I said this his face turned red and he stood up from behind his desk and came round towards me, grabbed me by my shoulders and began shouting prayers over me, casting out demons. I don’t know what he expected, foam coming out of my mouth or that I would get sick and vomit out the devil. I tried to stay calm and prayed silently, but this seemed to provoke him even more. He pulled me from my chair and pushed me around the room and against a wall, continuously shouting for the devil to come out. I wanted to leave and tried to escape from his clutches. He however kept me, I don’t know for how long, until eventually he gave up and with a demonstrative foot action told me to leave the church and never to come back.
My wife and I had a visit the other day from him together with another elder trying to talk me into repentance, but I stayed firm that I believed I did nothing wrong. The pastor then dusted his trouser and both of them left. On following Sunday the congregation was told that both my wife and I were excommunicated and that nobody was allowed to have any contact with us.
Having left this church wasn’t the end of my faith, but I would say it was the beginning of it. It made me question a lot of things. I found another church that practiced the love of Jesus and stayed with it for a few years until the so called “Toronto Blessing” or “Laughing Revival” hit us. I didn’t mind the laughter or people acting funny (at least they had fun barking like dogs or howling like wolves, dancing wildly on chairs and tables or doing other silly things). Something clearly came over the people but as long as they were happy I didn’t mind. What I did mind, however, was when suddenly the drift changed into something darker. People were told that if they criticised, they were in danger of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. For those who know the bible, there is a passage which says that every sin on earth can be forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Because of this some people left the church and went somewhere else.
At that time I was still very much into Christianity but became more strongly convinced that all churches somehow don’t really practice what the bible teaches. Each church picks a few things from the gospels or the letters that are important to them but ignores nearly everything else. I also became more and more involved in debates with Christians over the internet and also with people from other faiths. I saw myself as an apologist, defending the true faith not only against accusations by unbelievers but also against those who call themselves Christians but who I thought were not really following Christ.
I studied hard, day and night, to find out what Christ really taught, what was most central to his message and how he wanted us Christians to live. I put my findings into a forum for open discussion to see if they would stand up to close scrutiny. Unfortunately what I discovered was that even in Christian forums that claim to be willing to discuss theology, most minds were pretty made up to simply follow whatever their particular church doctrine was. Instead of having a balanced debate with pro and cons it mostly ended up in heated discussions where each party tried to put the other into a box and label it. So we had ‘Calvinism’ versus ‘Arminianism’, ‘Jesus only’ versus ‘Trinitarians’, ‘Charismatics’ versus the ‘Gifts have passed’, etc . Each person was mostly interested to put their opinions across and hardly anybody was willing to listen to the other side.
For me Christianity was always about truth. In church we often hear the saying repeated “I am the way, the truth and the life … ” but how many pay attention. It is often said, that religion is just about faith, trying to believe into something that cannot be proven. Yet the gospels tell us a different story, Jesus seemed to make it clear that there is a truth out there to get hold of. He wanted people to follow him in this belief. This is different from simply stating something as being true and believing it blindly.
Christians, Moslems, Jews and many other religions make the same mistake. They just declare something as being true without just cause. They demand that one simply has to believe and that one will be damned if one doesn’t. Fear is being used to drive people into the faith. Even where Christians speak about love, it’s often just sugar coated preaching but be sure a stick is not far behind.
The more I studied Christianity, the scriptures and it’s history, the more I came to the conclusion that what Jesus was really about has very little in common with what most Christians believe today. The Jesus that most Christians have in mind is a figment of the imagination. It is shaped by the context of one’s upbringing, the stories one has heard, the media and of course how he is being portrayed from the pulpit in one’s church. When people pray to him they have this image in their mind of who they think he is and this image is far removed from any reality.
Is it really important to know who Jesus is? Doesn’t it matter as long as one can get consolation from one’s faith? I do believe it is because deception is exactly what I think Jesus tried to dispel. Jesus stood for truth and this is what makes Jesus unique amongst all prominent religious figures. He hated hypocrisy and anything that tried to keep people from finding the truth.
In this article I’m not going into the evidence why I believe this but merely make a statement. My belief who Jesus is will possibly shock a lot of people once I reveal some of the things that I have learned. The things that I know I know not from revelation but from studying and asking lots of questions. They are not conspiracy theories that are merely based on speculation but are thought through ideas carefully based on evidence we can find in scripture, history and the many documents we have about this time.
Do I still believe in Jesus? Yes and No. I do still believe in Jesus as a man who lived thousands of years ago and whose teaching has been preserved but also been added to and changed over time. I do not believe in Jesus as a literal son of God because there is no real evidence in the scriptures or anywhere in history. The term “Son of God” in history was often used in a figurative sense. David was a Son of God because he was King of Israel, chosen by God.
Allow me to drift off now into expanding this point a little bit deeper:
When Jesus was baptised, the Syriac says “This is my son, today I have begotten thee”, quoting the coronation psalm. It was changed at some time to “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased” when sentiment in the church dictated that Jesus couldn’t have been born then, but must have been born as God’s son to the virgin Mary.
Quoting the coronation psalm at the baptism was uncomfortable to the church because it implied not only that Jesus was not born by a virgin but also that the baptism very likely was not merely a baptism but a coronation. Jesus was made King of Israel.
We know that it must have been the coronation verse because the letter to the Hebrews also uses it. The sentence “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased” really doesn’t make any sense in that context. It is kind of a waffle as if God had nothing better to say. Oh, yes, this is my son, and yes, I like him, he pleases me. How many sons does God have? Think about it. “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased” implies that he chose Jesus amongst many sons. Of course he might have referred to all the Kings in Israel and that Jesus pleased him most, but what about David then? Did David take second place now, was God not pleased in him anymore? (Well maybe David was demoted considering that he did some very bad things) Who knows? It just makes a lot more sense if the Psalm was quoted as it should and how it was quoted in the letter to the Hebrews. I will explain why:
The entrance in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Jesus had a great following, people were prepared to lay down their clothes for him in honour as their new king. “Hosanna to the son of David”. I always thought when reading this in the scriptures that it was a bit of a long leap. How can a guy who taught disciples for three years, who seemed just to be a travelling preacher come to suddenly be revered as a King. If however the baptism was in reality a coronation than it all makes sense. Jesus was already the anointed king and as such entered into Jerusalem to claim the throne. His disciples were not just disciples, but his loyal subjects. There was a kind of regimented order and we can see a little bit of that if we scrutinise the passages about the feeding of the thousands.
The betrayal. We often play down the betrayal of Judas as a mere act that needed to happen so that a sequence of events could be put into motion. Some even go so far as to portray Judas as a hero who somehow took it upon himself to do the dirty but required task that nobody else wanted to do. Even though Judas is often a hated character in Christian history he is that necessary evil that was all part of God’s plan for our redemption. If Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus then there would have been no Salvation which in a perverse way actually makes Judas the real saviour by forcing the hand of fate to put Jesus on the cross.
This of course is nonsense. Jesus did not enter Jerusalem to be crucified no matter what people try to read into the scriptures. None of his disciples ever thought he would be crucified which is clearly evident by the many rebukes of them not really understanding. Rebukes that very likely were added after the event to try to make it appear that Jesus did really know about his death and was preparing for it.
The fly in the ointment of this is clearly this. Had Jesus really known that he was going to be crucified and that this was the plan all the time there wouldn’t have been the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweated blood. Until that point Jesus must have thought he would take the throne in Jerusalem and rule as king. Only after it dawned on him that Judas betrayed him did he reflect on the consequences and what it would mean. He was indeed betrayed, and this with a kiss, it wasn’t part of the plan – truly betrayed as one can only be betrayed if one had a different outcome in mind. If the outcome should have been crucifixion, there would not have been a betrayal but a fulfilment of one’s plans. Judas would not to be blamed but to be rewarded for his loyalty to this plan.
The Trial. Pilate had an audience with Jesus. He even sent Jesus to Herod who ruled Galilee. Why would he do this with somebody who was thought to be just a common criminal or rebel. Jesus was clearly treated with the respect a king would expect under Roman law. Because Jesus was King that was why he was crucified because Rome could not tolerate another king. And so Pilate had it inscribed over the cross in three languages, Jesus, King of the Jews. This was not some cheap rhetoric or kind of a joke. It was the real reason why Jesus was crucified.
Now, this is just an example and I only used scriptural evidence here in a loosely manner. There is other evidence and to which even Robert Graves came very close in his book “King Jesus”. I read Graves after I made some discoveries of my own and found confirmation in what he says although his interpretations only went so far when he put a final own spin to it. What we agree upon, though, is, that there is strong evidence that there is a clear link between Jesus and the royal house of Israel. Not just a spiritual one to King David, but via the Herodian House.
If time allows I will publish some of my findings in more detail. Nothing can be said as absolute truth and this is not what I try to do. I simply like to put forward a theory which I believe has more evidence in favour than the traditional accepted idea of who Jesus is, including the scriptures and the very verses that Christians like to quote in their favour.
It is possible to claim with strong certainty that there was a historic figure called Jesus (or better Joshua, as is his Jewish name). There is also strong reasons to believe that this Jesus was crucified because Rome saw him as a political threat, a legitimate anointed king whom they could not tolerate.