Tuesday 21 May 2019

What difference did Jesus make to history? How did The World change in AD 1-33?

In the Fourth Gospel, much is made of the question of whether Jesus was King of the Jews; and, if so, what this meant. The conclusion seems to be that he was indeed 'king' but not in the usual sense of the word.

Jesus was king, but not of this world. So, the advent of Christ was not, apparently, intended to usher in a new kind of politics and social organisation...

The life of Jesus himself seems to have made little or no immediate and large impact on anything in this world - it was only after several generations of growth in the Christian church that the world began to change.

From the moment he became divine (at his baptism by John); what Jesus immediately did - with permanent effect - was to change what happened after death.

The situation was immediately changed for all of humanity that had lived before Jesus and died, and all who died from that moment onwards. This is indicated, and was demonstrated, by the miraculous example of Lazarus, a man that Jesus loved who died and who Jesus resurrected to eternal life.  

This is worth remembering - since it is easy to suppose that Christianity is 'about' living in a certain kind of social or political arrangement. That is how many or most religions see things, and it is how Christianity has often seen things.

But of course Christianity is not just about ourselves as individuals, because it is about love. I think that Jesus's ministry was substantially about planting a seed of love among Mankind. What was needed was that there were people who knew that: 1. That Jesus was the Son of God and 2. Loved him.

When Jesus died, he left behind a small family of Christians. It was Not an 'organisation' - it was a group of people joined by their love of Jesus And of each other.

So The Christians formed a network of love that was joined to Jesus. This is - and always has been - the true 'church'.

How this loving family of believers relates to society and to politics is extremely varied by time and place, and the extent to which it is reflected in formal organisations is likewise extremely varied. But it is the family structure of Christianity that is primary.

In sum: Jesus had an immediate effect on the afterlife, by his offer of resurrected, eternal divine life. And he had a delayed effect on society by his founding of a family of believers, who grew through history (or not) by person to person inclusion in a 'loving web' of Christ-believers.


Dividualist said...

Jim has this idea that if you want to have science, you need a God small enough to fit into a Man. With a too big God (Islam) you get Occasionalism: no laws of nature, God does everything directly and without any necessary regularity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@D - If you mean the Jim of Jim's blog, then he is a secularist/ non-believer who is merely trying to choose and engineer a state-religion to support the kind of society he favours.

But that will never happen - a genuinely motivating religion must come before politics.

Of course, there already is such a religion - the biggest pure monotheism - but I suppose that is too sexually restrictive for what JD wants.

Dave said...

Jim's critique of Christianity is that (a) the Bible is taken as literally true in every word, e.g. that Satan really did take Jesus to the top of a mountain where they could look down upon all the world's nations, (b) Biblical sex laws are selectively enforced against men while ignoring, or even celebrating, blatant female misconduct, and (c) Christianity is a dead religion, and reviving it would only create an undead religion, as Julian the Apostate briefly revived Roman Paganism.

Jim fully supports the restoration of Christianity as it was practiced in England from 1660 to 1800, the faith that birthed the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. This would however require ripping out a great many heresies of the 19th and 20th centuries -- literalism, feminism, equalism, socialism, to name a few.

All denominations of Christianity that allow women to divorce their husbands are doomed. They will be replaced by Islam, by old-style patriarchal Christianity, or by something else.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Dave - It doesn't matter what he says, what story he tells - because for him it is just a means to a political end; a myth to rule-by.