Sunday, August 10, 2014
Can Everyone Make Their Own Jesus?
Reza Aslan while trying to sell his book and promote his movie claimed that everyone can make their own Jesus. In that clip, he called some preachers, “charlatans”. That doesn't make him more genuine than the others he calls charlatans. He bases his book on Josephus who was the epitome of Jewish history. By using Josephus who endorses the biblical narratives about Jesus, he shows the Bible to be authentic and infallible. If the things written therein are true, then everyone cannot make their own Jesus. It is normal to have a kaleidoscope of opinions in matters of doctrine in each religion as they deal with the mind; however, eisegesis has its limits because it eliminates grounds for absolutes. If absolutes are eliminated, then Jesus cannot be the only way to God; meanwhile, we all know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father without passing through Him. People may differ on whether Jesus wants them to pray standing or sitting or sleeping or crying, but they must all agree that Jesus wants them to pray. No doubt, we do agree that there will be varying opinions because the human being should live by reason and not by instinct. In using reason, people think. We just don't agree that those tenets which are the core of Christian ethos should undergo relativism.
Others have claimed that we cannot even talk about Christianity and Jesus because Paul invented the religion and Constantine made it a state religion. A quick question: how can Paul would have invented a religion that started before he came? Christianity already had its roots before Paul's conversion in chapter 9 of Acts. Paul could not be trusted easily by the disciples in Jerusalem, so he went back to Tarsus. From that time until the when the nickname "Christian" was coined in Acts 11:26, Paul was not yet back in Jerusalem. I want you to bear with me because I will take you step by step. In 313, Constantine and Licinius passed the Edict of Milan which granted all religious freedom. That was a year after making Sunday an official day of rest. During the first council of Nicea in 325, they were merely dealing with the Donatist and Arles controversies. However, it was rather Theodosius (emperor 378-395 A.D) who made Christianity the state religion. Therefore, they may want to revise their history. If Constantine was Roman emperor from 306-337 and Christianity was made a state religion in the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, how can Constantine be the one who codified it? It seems people have been memorizing the wrong stuff, my friends!
Moreover, the conclusion that the Bible and Jesus are fiction is baseless because anything, person or event that can be ascertained in time and place as having existed with historical, archaeological, customary and traditional proofs cannot be called fiction. You will do well to memorize the correct dates and events. I have read almost all of Shakespeare and most prominent literature books on this earth, but none of them transforms like the Bible. The Bible has been a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet. In the midst of hopelessness, the Bible has always vivified my hopes. Read and put into practice the prescriptions of the Bible, and you will feel the same as I do!
Furthermore, Reza claimed that the preachers are preaching wealth despite Jesus being against it. Jesus was not against wealth; he was against wealth hoarders as we read here, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Mt 6:19-20). If wealth was inherently evil, Jesus would not have asked them to store them anywhere, whether in heaven or on earth because he was without sin. Jesus wanted those with two coats to give one to the person who has none. He wanted "the haves" to share with "the haves-not", the privileged to share with the less privileged. In short, he wanted people to love their neighbors as they loved themselves. Therefore, even Reza Aslan is selling his own Jesus he made for his books and movie promotion.
Some people have claimed that Mt 6:19-20 was metaphorical. In that case, the allusion to “mansions in his father's house” (Jn 14:2) are metaphorical too. Why did Jesus not condemn the wealth of the prodigal son's father (Lk 15:11-32)? Jesus was never against wealth! It is not sustainable in the bible. The metaphor of the rich man and the needle simply means that wealth puts one in a more precarious position to follow God. The wealth hoarder must first unburden himself by storing in heaven rather than on earth. To store in heaven is not as giving to a pastor or a preacher. That is why the love of money and not money itself is the root of all evil. If money was the root of evil, God and Paul would have said; "you cannot go near evil, so you should run."
No, no, no, that is not what it means. It means you should give to those who do not have. There are many churches that are too rich to be given anything! When a pastor starts to own Rolls-Royce, private jets and more than three cars, they do not more need the offerings of the people. When the pastor's family wear expensive clothes, drive expensive cars, live in expensive mansions, then they have outlived the level of church offerings. When a pastor changes new suits and shoes everyday, it means he has outgrown your offerings and tithes. You should give them to the church that needs them. He should sell what he has first and use the proceeds for the ministry.
Until then, everyone cannot make their own Jesus.
St Arrey of Ntenako.
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