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Yeshua in Context » Answering Objections, Beginners, Gospels as History, Identity of Yeshua » “Yeshua (Jesus) is Just another Religious Figure”

“Yeshua (Jesus) is Just another Religious Figure”

In the category, “Answering Objections,” I will address common reasons people either deflect serious consideration of the identity of Yeshua or deny that he has any relevant identity for them or for humanity.

If you are not religious, the idea of some great importance being attached to the figure of Yeshua might seem ludicrous. Religious figures (Buddha, Mohammed, Zeus, Krishna, Israel’s God) are a dime a dozen. Why should Yeshua command any special inquiry or attention?

If you are religious and, in fact, Christian, the same question may be at the back of your thoughts. Are we overemphasizing this guy from Galilee?

If you are religious and not Christian or Messianic Jewish, you may be absolutely convinced that Yeshua is not worthy of such devotion, study, and faith. So, is Yeshua just another religious figure?

Some religious figures present a philosophy which you may or may not find compelling (Buddha). Yeshua does more than that. Even if you have grave doubts about some of his sayings, he left an impression on history that is tangible, real, and hard to explain away. Perhaps you have not evaluated the evidence that Yeshua did, in fact, rise from the tomb and leave behind a Presence in this world that is not easily dismissed.

Some religious figures are not credible in their literal sense (Zeus), although the meaning of myth is much deeper than the literal sense. Much can be learned from myth on the level of human needs and archetypes. Yeshua is more than that. He is myth become real, the Presence of Omnipotence in the real world (or at least that’s what he claimed and left signs indicating was true). He deserves a closer look than mythical figures do.

Some religious figures came along late to the scene and simply modified existing religious ideas in ways that are not credible (Mohammed). Yeshua is not like this. His take on the Hebrew Bible, the identity and ways of God, the realization of the hopes of Judaism, is compelling. His message is beloved even by those who do not follow him explicitly (look at the impact of the image of the cross and sacrificial death and resurrection in art and literature).

Yeshua is not just another religious figure. He broke into history and changed something fundamental (the finality of death). He left an imprint that is about more than sociology (a religious movement) and more than philosophy (a teaching). He left a movement of eyewitnesses claiming that the Realm Above broke through to Here Below. It is history as surely as events you more readily accept as true.

The real question is why so few people give Yeshua the inquiry and attention his legacy deserves.

For an in-depth and rather academic case that the resurrection of Yeshua truly happened, see N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God. For a simpler case, see Jesus, the Final Days by Craig Evans and N.T. Wright.

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Filed under: Answering Objections, Beginners, Gospels as History, Identity of Yeshua

6 Responses to "“Yeshua (Jesus) is Just another Religious Figure”"

  1. Dan says:

    The most compelling reason that Jesus is a figurative expression of something is that there is no sign or evidence of a supposedly resurrected person.

    Or let me put it this way. If your old man is long gone and one day, someone comes up to you and say he has been resurrected, would you accept the shocking news without demanding for evidence? Surely historical hearsay is not good enough? Ultimately, a resurrected individual must continue to show evidence in the physical realm that he is still alive and kicking.

    If your old man was resurrected before – if that is even true at all – and shows no sign that of his physical presence after or anymore, we have to assume either he has gone back to his rest or, and this thought may cause cardio arrest to the millions of worshippers, such an event never took place..

    A person who was once dead and is alive again must show evidence that he still is PHYSICALLY alive ….. always or your security/ identification card becomes invalid.

    Hence, the demand for evidence is NOT an expression of doubt but of justice, faith,truth, goodness ,decency and love. And the lack of it? Evil, hatred, chaos, injustices and deaths – everything that’s against the essence of your God!

  2. yeshuain says:

    Dan:

    Think through the implications of your claim. You will believe only things you can verify with your senses? Extreme empiricism? You don’t really believe that. For example, with this philosophy of knowing (epistemology), you would deny all of history (you can’t touch or see any of it).

    Maybe what you meant to say is that we should not believe in miracles since they contradict known laws of nature. This is naturalism. Feel free to be a naturalist, but know the problems with that view as well. I commend C.S. Lewis’ book, Miracles.

    If you are a naturalist, you will not accept any supernatural or metaphysical reality. That’s fine, but very limiting and I doubt you will be able to be consistent with it. And how is it more rational to assume that because something happens 999,999 times a certain way, the millionth way MUST be the same? Philosophically, the idea is without evidence.

    Let me know your further thoughts.

    Derek Leman

  3. Dan says:

    Do I or rather should I demand proof of such claims before I believe? In the case of someone claiming my old man, who is certifiable long gone, is alive again, YES. So it depends on how important the case or story is to our present, and or future, and the impact it makes on our lives, work, society and the world.

    For instance, if you say Confucius existed thousands of years ago, I have no compelling reasons to dispute historical findings because, as wise as he is, do you see anyone claiming he is returning to rule our world?

    Look, we are not going to kill each other over dinosaur bones or over the date of the bones.

    But here, unlike all others, we are talking about a religious figure who is alive today and mind you, not only in spirit, which is harder to proof, but claimed to be PHYSICALLY alive.

    Now let me ask you, should you not or – maybe I should correct my emphasis – shouldn’t it be imperative we demand proof of the living when the living is alive to provide it?

    Let’s go back to Confucius again. All things being equal with the historical Jesus, would you demand he manifests himself and verify all the stories about him in the past? No. And why? Not Because he is no longer alive or is DEAD.

    It will not only be inappropriate or unreasonable to make such a request or demand but insane to do so too.

    So in the case of Jesus, the doubt of his incredible stories/claims is sending millions to hell or eternal damnation. Besides that, he is the cause of much bloodshed today.If we don’t come up with a betters script and buried the current one, the religious blood spilling will continue into the future as evident in the middle east.

    Derek, if your old man is dead and buried, no one is going to war over any of your creative storie, true or false, of him.

    But not Jesus.

    If you get his story wrong, there will be unending bloodshed.

    I say, let’s buried the dead/wars and move on. If christianity insists that the historical Jesus is still alive -and not a religious figure of expression – we, the rational people of the world who are created in the image of a RATIONAL God will demand reasonable proof of such claims – for the sake of peace and our vulnerable world.

    Otherwise, you have no case.

  4. yeshuain says:

    Dan:

    You prove in your response to me that:

    (1) You found me randomly on the internet and that you don’t know what I believe or where I am coming from.

    (2) That you lump religious people and Jesus-followers into one camp and assume we are all alike.

    (3) That your objection to Yeshua, as raised from the dead, as presently alive, is not based on philosophical or historical grounds, but on a rightful sense of anger at the violence done in history in Jesus’ name.

    So why not clear out the smokescreens and make your actual argument. It is a good one, one I am hard-pressed to answer. I think I can do a better job than you of laying it out:

    a. Followers of Jesus claim he is alive, benevolent, and all-powerful.

    b. In his name people are mercilessly persecuted in this life and the life to come.

    c. Therefore, Jesus must either be: not alive, not benevolent, or not all-powerful.

    Now that is a good argument. I can discuss theodicy. No theodicy can be final. Truth is too complex to think our theories about such matters are more than the guesses of school children.

    Now, if we agree that the problem of evil in Jesus’ name is your real issue, can I get you to admit that believing a person like Jesus could have risen from the dead as the eyewitnesses claim is not impossible? How about, not implausible given the historical evidence? If so, then at least we can rule out one of the three possibilities: that Jesus is not alive.

    Derek Leman

  5. Dan says:

    What is so difficult? Christianity has a message of love that is inconsistent with a living God or at least how he was portrayed – I am actually rather surprised where theologians got their brain from

    Put it this way, if you as a living person can save an entire city by turning up in congress, would you not in your power as a living individual gladly oblige?

    Unless you are dead, the right thing to do is a no brainer.

    Point is: What constitute life or being alive?

  6. Ed says:

    If I might interject… The fault here is not with God, but our understanding of who we think He should be. Let me be blunt. Jesus has turned up “in congress” so to speak, through His ministers, messengers, followers, etc. He literally stood before rulers and judges when He walked among us, but we are to carry His mantle today. We are the body and bride of Christ. If our God is not visibly present in a powerful way, the fault is not God’s but our own. We stand guilty as charged. God did not take Jesus into the clouds two thousand years ago and then pull out of interacting with the world. We are living in the Church age. We have a specific purpose in existing here at this time.

    You imply that God does not exist because of suffering, much of which has been caused in His Name, because it runs directly counter to claims made about Him. Read the claims Jesus made Himself. Do we stumble? Yes. Are we weak? Often. Do we sometimes act like hypocrites? Yes. These are all true, but not so of all Christians all the time. We exist in a body of believers because we ought to help each other. Have you never heard that no man is an island?

    Consider: If we all lived by the words of Christ–to love God with all we are and do, and to love others even as ourselves (just go along a moment), would there be any problems caused by humanity in a perfect world where we could all obey as well as robots? No, there would not. But we are not robots, you will say and would likely be glad for that. We have God to thank for that, too. God gives us a choice because without it all of our actions would become meaningless rituals. With choice comes either evil or good, and who can claim to always choose to be good without fail? I do not believe many sensible Christians make this claim.

    “But what about natural disasters?” you might ask. What about them? If we all followed Christ, they wouldn’t happen. Don’t believe? Well, that’s the rub. You have to have faith for miracles. I tell you the truth, if you have as little faith as a grain of mustard, you can move mountains.

    The problem is essentially that we are messy and fallen–having forgotten our once noble state (or is that estate?). God is longsuffering and kind. He is merciful as well as just. Have you never had a moment of joy? Have you never seen beauty? Have you never admired something or someone for a natural gift of talent, grace, or generosity? Have you never enjoyed the laughter of children or the loyalty of a dog? Have you never had a cat purr as it rubbed against your leg? Have you never seen anything outside of yourself that you truly faced with silent awe? These things are all gifts of God, which makes it clear that He is merciful, kind, and generous.

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