Thursday 26 October 2023

Too much information! (On gossiping about Jesus, etc.)

Christians sometimes develop a spiritually-unhealthy desire to gossip about Jesus; and, maybe, a craving to know more and more information about Jesus's life and teachings - then we could answer some burning question, or another; get fuller guidance of what to believe, how to live etc...

I have come to feel that this is a spiritually unhealthy attitude for the 21st century. 

But what about Jesus? Surely it would be good to know more about Jesus?...

Well, I feel we 'know' far too much about Jesus! 

(And most of it is wrong.) 

If everything known about Jesus had been the Fourth Gospel ("John") - that would have been better than what happened; but even that is really too much. 

There is too much so that people get confused, bits have been added, errors have crept in... The simple and necessary truth is there (and oft-repeated) but (history shows...) that isn't enough!

Once people get that craving for "more information", once they need (for whatever reason - professionally, to fill-in-time) to gossip and speculate about Jesus... Well, there is no end to the business, and it soon swamps and displaces the needful.    

But what is the needful, and how could people know it? 

In the end, this question can only be addressed and (maybe) answered by paying personal attention to knowing, understanding, experiencing in-and-for ourselves. 

Supposing that we only knew about Jesus that he died and he rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven, and said that others could do the same by 'following' him. 

Suppose we each then had to try and work-out what this meant, understand what it meant for each-of-us; and what it meant for this problem or question in my everyday life now? Suppose that we were trying to know this for our-selves, and not trying to justify ourselves to others?...

Supposing we needed to find answers to the innumerable and open-endedly-varied questions and difficulties of our life, by working from the simplicity of understanding Jesus? 

What I am suggesting is almost the opposite of the traditional idea that being-a-Christian is a matter of learning a lot of stuff and then doing what it says - and refraining from whatever it prohibits - and (if in doubt) only doing what it says. 

Opposite to a top-down, complexly-attempting to be a comprehensive notion; opposite to "Christianity as a blueprint for life"... 

What I am advocating is that the real Christianity is something very small, simple, and quickly graspable about Jesus... Yet its existential and specific understanding is a lifetime's work; and (unlike many other religions) it is a life's work for each and every Christian.

And realizing-this and doing-this is (pretty much) what makes you a Christian.

(Even if you reach no stable conclusion, or a mistaken conclusion.)


Epimetheus said...

This is a fair point. You yourself have pointed out that the iron-hard pagans of old converted to Christianity based on the idea of Christ's offer of eternal life, with no other detail than that.

It's interesting to see endless debate about how Christians are supposed to respond to violence, aggression, evil, and war, and to see endless pilfering of this or that sermon he delivered, then to compare what he said about treating one's enemies with how he treated his own enemies. He could actually be an extremely confrontational and aggressive man, but also he was full of spontaneous healing and sudden enigma.

But everyone always debates endlessly about what he said about enemies. No-one seems to pay attention to how he treated his own enemies, many of whom were both dangerous and powerful.

a_probst said...

The mistaken 'conclusion' to avoid is damnation!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Epi - Good point about pagan converts - I had forgotten to make that link. I am, in the post, stating an extreme view - and there is no need to forgo all extra information; but it is probably true even at the extreme.

Whereas the opposite view is not true at the extreme. There is no end to talking about Jesus, and it does not necessarily go anywhere -- consider the past 200+ years of scholarly Bible scholarship - has it *really* helped modern Men understand the Bible better?

@ap - Yes, that was implied. Yet, that is indeed what plenty of people actually seem to want. For instance, Transhumanists often describe a kind of technological hell as if it was the paradise for which they yearned.