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Did Jesus Mean to Start Christianity?

Posted by Roberta Grimes • January 01, 2015 • 27 Comments
Afterlife Research, Death, The Teachings of Jesus

This Christmas brought more of the same old battle over whether Jesus was the founder of Christianity. It’s origin_2184637971a spurious dispute. The fact that the Apostle Paul and not Jesus was the founder of Christianity seems incontrovertible to me. Jesus died before the religion began. Yes, he sent out his disciples to spread his teachings after his death, but those teachings on love and forgiveness had nothing to do with the doctrine of sacrificial redemption upon which Paul’s Christianity is based.

 In trying to put the notion to rest that Christianity actually was founded by Paul, the author of the article linked above makes arguments that miss the point. He says, Every year, it seems, an attempt is made, usually around the Christian holidays, to debunk some aspect of Christian belief— usually involving the Virgin birth, or Jesus’ resurrection, or his relationship with women. This year features an effort to depose Jesus as the founder of the Christian church, replacing him with the apostle Paul.” I don’t see comparing the Gospel words of Jesus with the dogmas of the religion that bears his name to be an attempt to depose anyone. Rather, it is an attempt to better understand what actually happened. The author above insists that the notion that Paul and not Jesus founded Christianity “is a reheated version of an old theory that has been exhaustively debated, and basically put to rest among serious scholars of Christianity.” But then the author makes no attempt whatsoever to support this statement.

So, what does Jesus have to say about religions? First, here is his opinion of clergymen:

“Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” (MK 12:38-40)

And his opinion of religious traditions:

“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?… You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” (MT 15:3-9)

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men… You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.” (MK 7:8-9)

He was emphatic in telling us that we should worship God as individuals:

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (MT 6:5-6)

Indeed, far from trying to establish a religion, the focus of Jesus’s Gospel ministry seems to have been upon freeing us from religious dogmas and encouraging us to approach God individually:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door is opened.” (LK 11:9-10)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (LK 6:46)

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (JN 8:31-32)

He says, “the truth will set you free.” But, from what does learning the truth set us free? Based upon what Jesus says in the Gospels, it is hard to avoid the creeping suspicion that what he actually came to do was to free us from religions altogether so we could approach God on our own.

With all of this in mind, the debate over whether or not Jesus founded Christianity seems nonsensical to me. There is no Gospel evidence beyond a couple of remarks that are likely edits that Jesus meant to start a religion. And there is plentiful Gospel evidence that his primary purpose was to enlighten us about the nature of God and the meaning and purpose of human life, so perhaps we might move beyond needing religions and learn to relate to God directly.

Of course Jesus didn’t mean to start Christianity! Obviously Christianity is actually “Paulianity”! Anyone who disputes that fact displays a lack of understanding of the Gospels and of early church history. Christianity is based on the ideas of a man who never knew Jesus in life, and who used Hebrew prophesy and first-century Hebrew sacrificial practices to establish a set of dogmas around which he could build a religion. Nothing in the Gospels suggests that Jesus thought he was a human sacrifice. Nothing suggests that he knew a God so petty and so unforgiving that such a barbaric sacrifice was necessary. The core dogmas of Christianity were Paul’s ideas. And they made sense to people at the time, back when Jews still sacrificed animals in the Temple. But why do they make sense to anybody now?

Please let me be clear. My point here is simply that Jesus doesn’t seem to have intended to found a new religion, and the religion that now bears his name doesn’t bear much relationship to what Jesus taught.  Paul’s New Testament letters set forth a doctrine of sacrificial redemption that did not originate with Jesus, and that now is the core of  Christianity.

I think it’s important to add here that the doctrine of sacrificial redemption has been refuted by the afterlife evidence. Scholars have found no hint in nearly two hundred years of communications from the dead that God ever has judged anyone, and nor have we found any evidence that the death of Jesus on the cross has redeemed a single human being. Instead, the afterlife evidence abundantly indicates that Jesus in the Gospels tells us things about God, reality, death, and the afterlife that we could not have origin_3393763298confirmed by any means until at least the twentieth century.

So Christianity is wrong, but Jesus is right!

And had Christianity been based not in Paul’s ideas, but rather in the teachings of Jesus, its dogmas today would be so different. The least that we owe Jesus now is an open-minded re-examination in an effort to better understand his actual meaning and his message.

I am grateful to Paul. If he hadn’t packaged the teachings of Jesus in first-century Hebrew religious ideas, we would not have those teachings today. Thank you, Paul! Now perhaps it’s time to open your gift.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2184637971/”>Lawrence OP</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/36829113@N05/3393763298/”>angelofsweetbitter2009</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Roberta Grimes

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27 thoughts on “Did Jesus Mean to Start Christianity?

    1. Thank you for reading, Janice! And thanks for your support – I seldom hesitate before hitting “Post,” but I hesitated over this one. Wonderfully, gloriously, we have discovered that the Gospel words of Jesus agree in even little details with what the dead have been telling us for more than a century. WOW!! Isn’t that the biggest news you’ve ever heard? Because of all those correspondences, we can prove now that Jesus (a) actually lived, and (b) came to us as God’s messenger. We can prove that!! You would think Christians would be all over our big discovery. But for the most part, they’re not. They consider their religion to be synonymous with the man. Which, of course, it is not. This “Jesus founded Christianity” canard is another attempt on the part of diehards for the traditional faith to claim ownership of Jesus, sad to say.

      It’s important that we speak out, because in this century or the next, all religions as sources of divine authority are goin’ down. As better means of direct communication with the dead are developed, more and more people will learn that (a) God is for sure real! But (b) religions get God so wrong that there isn’t much in most of them worth salvaging. Then people will look more closely at the core Christian dogma of sacrificial redemption, will see how it insults God and humiliates Jesus, and will recoil in horror, as you and I have done. Until then, speaking out to defend Jesus is a brave thing, and I hug you for joining me in doing that!

    2. I also agree with Janice. Jesus had a sermon against building a temple in order to worship GOD. He said to go outdoors (amongst nature and GOD’s creations). He also warned about “false prophets” also… he said they are liars. (Could he mean Islam, who treat women like second class citizens, etc.?). Most of Jesus’s early followers were women. He may indeed be the first one for women’s rights. He did a lot for women. I agree that Jesus wouldn’t approve of organised religion. I believe he would be absolutely livid. I may be going off topic here, however people worship “THE CROSS” in Jesus name. They pray to mother Mary INSTEAD OF DIRECTLY TO GOD, THROUGH JESUS. He would not approve of all of the statues and symbols like the cross. He was for the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, and the weak. All that pomp and circumstance in church would NOT be one of Jesus’s teachings either. What would he say about the Pope and certainly the Vatican (who has more wealth than any banks)……what about feeding the poor? What about not praying to anyone but GOD? WHO TOLD THE PEOPLE THAT THEY NEEDED A POPE, BISHOPS, AND THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. IT WAS NOT JESUS! I don’t like or trust any organized religions. I pray to my Lord and Savior and GOD directly; and I have a much better connection to them than any church could ever do for me.

  1. Perhaps all brick-and-mortar churches, temples, places of worship will become EERs.

    What is an EER?

    It is an Emotional Emergency Room where people who are having sadness, grief, anger emotions can go to have someone witness them and assist in transmuting their emotional heat or destruction into a new energy to move them to a place of understanding.

    I’m not at all sure, but this might open that path to Heaven On Earth some of us wonder about. What would Earth and Humanity look like if all people were respected and honored for their feelings? Where difficult emotions and fun-to-have emotions can learn about contrast and balance and every action/emotion has an equal and opposite action/emotion?

    1. This is a lovely, thoughtful comment, Mary – thank you!! Churches as places of human kindness that are based in and dedicated to spreading the teachings of Jesus as they have been validated by afterlife communications do indeed have a future role to play. And won’t the Lord smile when the religion that bears his name turns to following only his ideas, and not Paul’s?

  2. You’ve inspired me to dig deep into my Religious beliefs. Since the untimely death of my 36-year old daughter in April 2014, I always wondered where she is actually at. The afterlife research I’ve conducted brought immense peace to my troubled mind because I came to know a very loving , non judgmental God as opposed to a vindictive Creator who metes out punishment for all the bad things we did. I still long to hug my daughter but I really know now that she is in a much better place. I’m starting to work on ADC! Looking forward to practicing it soon!

    1. Oh Jocelyn, I’m so sorry for your loss! I have a daughter just that age. But you seem to be handling it all just right, and growing from the experience – that’s the best gift you can give to your daughter. Yes, she is indeed in a much better place! The God that you are coming to know is in truth the only God that exists, and loves you and your daughter infinitely. All will be well, dear. Big hug, and please keep letting me know how you’re doing!

  3. Love and enjoy all of your post. If everyone walked the walk Jesus did on earth, this would truly be a better world. Wishing you a wonderful and blessed “2015”

    1. Thank you, Susan! I hope your 2015 will be joyous as well. You’re certainly right about Jesus. There are so many who believe they are following him now who are following instead St. Paul’s religion – think what a better world it would be if we could free them from the religion so they could begin to really follow the man!

  4. The structures of manistream religions are valuable assets that will come to play in the so-called future as focal points for people to come together to hear the new messages of unification. Let’s look to the day soon to come where the church buildings, the tabernacles and mosques, the meeting rooms and the monasteries all work on the same wavelength. That we are one, facets of The Creator, unconditionally loved individually and collectively perfect.

    Waller

    1. This is so beautifully said, Waller! I do agree that the structure and habit of coming together spiritually will be even more important when it isn’t based in dogmas and fears, but rather it is based in the pure impulse of the human mind toward ever more perfect spiritual unity. The future is beginning to look bright!

  5. It appears that Paul may have divided God’s people by creating a new religion and calling it Christianity. Since Paul’s creation, the religion has continued to split into many denominations – all claiming to be the religion Paul called Christianity. Which is the true Christianity? Jesus did not create this division – so it appears that are man made religions dividing all believers.

    1. Yes, dear – it’s evident from the Gospels that Jesus didn’t want what happened, which was the packaging of His teachings in a sect of first-century Judaism. And I agree with you that the extreme divisions among Christian versions today is a good bit of evidence that what we have now is not what the Lord wanted. But I don’t blame Paul, really, since if he hadn’t started Christianity we would almost certainly not have those precious teachings today. Thank you, Paul!! Now at last we can open your gift.

      Thank you for commenting, Bob!

    1. Dear, most of what Jesus is quoted as saying in the Gospels is entirely consistent with what the dead tell us now about God, reality, death, the afterlife, and the meaning and purpose of human life. All of that is genuinely from the Lord. What Paul did was to take those precious teachings and encapsulate them in a first-century Jewish sect that is laid out in the balance of the New Testament. Paul seems not to have messed with the Gospels at all, but rather that was the work of a few early church councils – Nicea in 325 foremost among them. Fortunately, we still are able to work out and read the Lord’s genuine words!

  6. I enjoyed your brief article. I have long held the idea that Christians would more accurately be called Paulists. I have considered the possibility that Jesus could have been so disillusioned with Judaism that he might have given his apostles permission to ignore Mosaic Law but I have found no solid evidence to support that idea. I am currently reviewing scripture and other historical sources to determine the precise evolution of the followers of Jesus from Judaism into the establishment of a new religion. Any specific references would be appreciated.

    1. Hello Ken! Indeed, Christianity is Paul’s religion. None of its dogmas come from the teachings of Jesus, and in fact there is a lot of Gospel evidence that Jesus actually meant to abolish all religions and teach us to relate to God directly.

      In attempting to understand the Lord’s mission, we can’t really look beyond the four walls of the Gospels; and even at that, we’ve got to ignore the things that Nicaea added (you can spot these edits easily, since they are generally anachronistic and directed at church-building). Fortunately, we don’t need to look beyond the Gospels for proof that Jesus meant to replace Mosaic Law, since He comes out and says it directly.

      Of course, in interpreting the Gospels we have serious problems with understanding the Lord’s intent that I have addressed elsewhere and can’t restate here for space and time reasons, but if you would like more detail please just contact me through this website. Briefly:

      When Jesus was asked whether He was just abolishing the Law and the Prophets, He said: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (MT 5:17). So what did He mean by “fulfill”? His saying that He meant to mess with Judaism at all would have put Him under immediate arrest and probably on a cross by the end of the day, so He had to be cagey about it. The simplistic and self-serving Christian notion that He was talking here about sacrificial redemption is not the answer, according to those we used to think were dead. But He later does tell us what He meant by the word “fulfill”. Humankind had at last progressed beyond the need for Old Testament rules, and we could begin to live the underlying principle of love! To reveal that fact to the world and teach us how to live in love was in fact the true mission of Jesus.

      Different day, different Temple guards trying to catch Him saying something against the prevailing religion so they could arrest him, and someone asked Him what was the greatest commandment. Jesus didn’t name any of the Ten Commandments, or anything else from the OT. Instead He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40). That last sentence is the tell. He was taking the entire OT – which the Jews of His day called “the Law and the Prophets” – and replace it with the Law of Love. Period. End of religious superstitions and new day of living in God’s truth! As He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (JN 8:31-32)

      Jesus warned his followers against putting the “new wine” of His teachings into the “old wineskin” of their religion, but His death demoralized the movement to such an extent that Paul – bless him! – had to package those teachings in first-century Judaism in order to preserve them. Unfortunately, of course, this means that to this day Christians are using that temporary wrapping as if it came from Jesus. Christians continue to follow first-century Jewish dogmas and mostly ignore the Gospel teachings on forgiveness and love as mere suggestions.

      I don’t think you’ll find any early textual reference to what the church-builders were doing because, to be frank, the first Paulists had no idea that Paul had distorted the message of Jesus. I don’t think that even Paul himself understood that was what he was doing! They were all naive, with the best of intentions. And then when the councils came along they had a couple of centuries of church-building and religious power behind them, and they flat-out edited the Gospels and built a religion for their own day. I would submit that their intentions weren’t quite so pure ;-). But we can undo their harm and go back now and resume the great work that Jesus started. It still isn’t too late. And the modern world sorely needs the truth that Jesus came to share!

  7. I think if we truly believed in what Jesus taught we would all become Jews, just as he was an observant Jew his whole life.

    1. Actually, Tony, Jesus wasn’t really very observant. He deliberately broke Old Testament rules, especially the Sabbath rules; and He urged us not to go to the Synagogue, but instead to relate to God in private prayer. In fact, the Gospel evidence suggests that Jesus came to replace Judaism, and not to espouse it! He was speaking at a time when to say anything against the prevailing religion would have meant an automatic death sentence, so He had to do it carefully; but it is clear even after 2000 years that He was trying to help the world’s first true monotheists to take the next step, move beyond the need for religions altogether, and learn to relate to God on their own. His teachings were instead packaged in first-century Judaism, so His true work remains for us to do today.

      For example, when someone asked Him what was the greatest commandment, He didn’t mention any of the Ten Commandments; instead, He quite literally replaced all ten and he replaced the entire Old Testament to boot! “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40).

      He seems to have disdained religious traditions, and in this He echoed the Old Testament Prophets: “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (MT 15:3) “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (MK 7:8).

      And He specifically told His followers NOT to package His teachings in Jewish beliefs… which of course is precisely what they did. “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (MT 9:16-17).

      He came right out and told us that He had come to teach us the truth, and thereby to free us from false beliefs. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).

      You could write a whole book on the fact that Jesus came to lead us to the next stage of human spiritual development, and in fact I did: it’s called Liberating Jesus!

  8. I stumbled upon your article…because every year at Easter I think about this. I know in my heart that Jesus did not intend to create a religion. I have a Rels Studies degree where I focused on Asian religions and philosophies. Jesus is just another Buddha to me, and Buddha also didn’t intend to create another religion either. They were also born within 500 yrs of eachother.
    I love Jesus’ teachings but I have never been able to fully accept that he was the founder of a religion. I actually respect him and his teachings more in that sense.
    Growing up in a Southern Baptist tradition made me question Christianity entirely by the time I was 8 yrs old. I just can’t get on board so I do it my own way…which honors Jesus’ teachings even more.
    Thanks for your post:)

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Melissa! Wow, you were far ahead of me: I was devoutly Christian into my early fifties. But you are right, of course, and you are likely destined to be a trail-blazer, since your Southern Baptist background, your religious studies degree, and your thoughtfulness about this whole area all makes you uniquely qualified to write and teach about the Gospel truths! Have you yet begun to do that? My hunch is that you are feeling called now to do it. If you don’t have responsibilities that are in the way, you might think about giving your life to God. Simply pray, “Thank You for giving me work to do! Thank You for showing me how to do it!” I began to pray that prayer in April of 2009, and I have prayed it every day since. From that simple and trusting surrender to God came all the wonderful work that God has given me to do!

    1. I’m happy to help, Jeanie! And the wonderful news is that, based upon His Gospel words, the movement that Jesus actually did mean to start should have the power to actually transform the world!

  9. hello roberta, to me the death of jesus on the cross was in large part, “look you people, you’ve crucified my son, and i still love you and forgive you. when are you ever going to get it? I AM love.” and if we are forgiven for that, we are forgiven for anything and everything. free! to be! and that, to me, is the redeeming power of the cross. blessings to you and yours, roberta!

    1. Hello Su! There are indeed many ways to look at it. When even as an ardent Catholic I found it impossible to swallow that God had ever needed the death of Jesus, a clever priest finally said to me: “God didn’t need the sacrifice of Jesus. We did. We couldn’t forgive ourselves for being so sinful unless we had this perfect sacrifice to give to God.” I said, “But did Jesus actually suffer?” He said, “Jesus is God! He couldn’t suffer.” “Oh, so it was all just a show?” “Oh, well, no, the human part of Jesus could suffer. But the fact that He was God meant it wasn’t really painful.” Something like that. Like you, He had found a way to make peace with the crucifixion. I suspect that many people find their own way.

      But that doesn’t make the harm that the crucifixion story does to all of humankind go away! Because the harm is not so much the human sacrifice story itself. The deepest harm is the whole idea of “sin.” That notion produces guilt – a very low-vibration emotion, so it is the literal opposite of love – and Christianity even compounds that guilt by making up “original sin” and saying it’s a collective thing that we are born into! When Jesus Himself tells us that we must forgive everything, no matter how bad it is and no matter how often any miscreant repeats it; and when He tells that God doesn’t judge us, and He doesn’t judge us either; and when He then tells us that we will be our own judge, then Jesus right in the Gospels negates the very notion of the kind of guilt that Christianity drills into us. He negates the very foundation of the religion itself!

      Always remember that Jesus had to give us these truths in pieces, since to speak against the prevailing religion was a capital crime. He said:

      “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23).

      “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47). But, save the world from what? Not from being judged by God, clearly, given His assuring us that God doesn’t judge us; but from the very notions of sin and guilt and all other low-vibration emotions, especially fear! He came to teach us how to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (MT 5:48).

      He tells us that neither He nor God judges us, and He also tells us who our own judge will be. He says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (MT 7:1-2).

      All of this is perfectly true! It is endlessly confirmed by communications from people that we used to think were dead, who also consistently tell us that the death of Jesus on the cross has never made an afterlife difference for a single human being.

      Dear Su, many people rationalize the Christian crucifixion story, but that is just rearranging the deck chairs on a Titanic that is so deeply flawed that it MUST sink for the good of all of humankind! If it was not what Jesus came to start – and His own words assure us of that! – then the sooner it sinks, the better. Our whole work now – yours and mine – must be to save the perfect teachings of Jesus from the sinking of Christianity, and we cannot do that until we remove every tie between the false religion and the genuine Man.

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