Jesus, Liar, Lunatic, Lord, Legend or Spiritual Master

November 11, 2019

The Rev. Bro. Robert Barker is a retired clergyperson with BSc and MDiv degrees.

Jesus was likely a historical person.  What is debatable is whether what is written about him in the canonical gospels are accurate.  Scholars believe that Mark, the oldest of the gospels, was written about 75 CE (Common Era).  Matthew was written 15 years after Mark about 90 CE  Luke was written about 95 CE.  John was the last written around 100 CE  Prior to being written oral traditions about Jesus circulated for up to 10 decades.  Conservative biblical literalists would have us believe that these oral stories about Jesus, passed around by many thousands of people until finally written down, were handed down unchanged for decades.  Biblical scholars have shown this is extremely unlikely. 

The canonical gospels may hold a few gist memories about Jesus that are historic but scholars have shown that there are many distortions, contradictions, and inaccuracies throughout all the accepted gospels.  The gospels are stories about different faith beliefs about Jesus, not historically accurate biographies.  To understand why this is so I would recommend the books by Bart D. Ehrman; e.g. Jesus Before the Gospels: How he Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior.

Is the Western calendar system of BC/AD evidence for believing the so-called orthodox Christian view of Jesus being Savior and Lord?   To answer this question we must review how this calendar system came to be.  The one reason that the BC/AD calendar has become the predominate calendar in our present time is because a monk named Dionysius Exiguus introduced the BC/AD system to count the years before and since the birth of Christ beginning in AD 525 to replace the Diocletian system, named after the 51st emperor of Rome, who ruled from AD 284 to AD 305. He did this to try and erase the memory of an emperor who had persecuted Christians.  His BC/AD became more popular after Charlemagne adopted it for dating government acts in Europe and by the 15th century it had become the standard for all Europe. In 1988 it was adopted as an international standard. 

It is only because of the pervasive authoritarian, dictatorial power of a church and state joined at the waist since the time of Constantine that we even have the BC/AD system of numbering our years.  It is certainly not because it is god ordained.  It was ordained by mere humans.

Millions do not acknowledge this religious nomenclature of BC/AD  and use the alternative of “Before the Common Era” and “Common Era” (BCE/CE).  Also other religions and cultures keep their own calendar systems for measuring the years such as the Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Muslim, Hindu, and indigenous calendars that are used by these cultures for religious and cultural reasons.  They only use the Gregorian system for practical purposes, not to necessarily honor Jesus as lord and savior. 

Metaphysical spirituality understands Jesus to have been a spiritual master who taught humanity to understand that the Christ, the Divine Spirit/Mind, exists in us all, whether we believe it or not;  more on this in my next column.  

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