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  arrow pointing to the right   Home arrow My Thoughts arrow Pop Culture arrow Pop Culture arrow Was Jesus a Humanist?


Was Jesus a Humanist? PDF Print E-mail

Jesus was a Humanist

If Jesus existed, he was probably a Humanist.

Was Jesus a Humanist?

I realize that there is an academic debate about whether Jesus truly existed or not. It’s possibly his story was made up as a way to control the masses. I like to think he existed though.

My Christian friends are always surprised when I say this, but I like the Jesus story. It would be nice if it were true. The problem is that I only like his story if he is human. If he is divine, his story doesn’t interest me at all.

I am, after all, a Humanist. Human stories of oppression and redemption enthrall me. All stories, fiction and non-fiction, help inform who I am and more importantly, who I want to be.  It doesn’t matter to me if the Jesus story is true or not. What matters is, is it a good story and can I learn anything of moral value from it?

The Jesus story is about a philosophic revolutionary. He told people to stop paying the money changers and the priests. You don’t need them. You can be moral on your own and here is a new covenant to guide you. One that makes more sense and is based on compassion!

Or course, a cult grew up around him, but I’m not sure that’s his fault. Humanism is pretty powerful stuff. Even Silo, a Humanist from Latin America, had a cult grow up around his teachings. It’s something humanist “gurus” have to be wary about.

Anyway – here’s who I think Jesus was.  Jesus was a Humanist, from a Humanist family, leading a small group of Humanists. Which is all very consistent with modern Humanism when you think about it. Humanism throughout history seems to be filled with individuals and small groups shouting out how important it is to be reasonable and compassionate with the religious masses ignoring them for the most part.

Jesus, the Humanist, developed a little bit of a following and those followers. He taught people to basically be self-sufficient and to love thy neighbor, but he also had a nasty temper and disdain for the arbitrary authorities of his time, which is what got him in trouble. All very consistent with how humanists act today. We are alternately combative and compassionate depending on the situation.

I like to think he got married, had a child and that everyone in his family were Humanists. Sure, there is the bodily resurrection, but that can be explained. If he were a criminal, he would not have been allowed a proper burial. So they stole the body and when asked – said I have no idea where his body went. To throw the authorities off of them, they said that he was spotted in the next town over – you should look there!

Anyway – true to Humanism, he was only able to amass a small following and his followers tried to keep the memory of his teachings alive after his death, but couldn’t get any traction (so far totally consistent with modern Humanism). So, they allowed the rumors about the bodily resurrection to take hold as it added a supernatural element to his story that the masses apparently needed.  Suddenly everyone is paying attention. There was just one problem. People cared, but not about his original Humanist message.

When I talk to my Christian friends, they will often tell me, if he didn’t bodily ascend into Heaven then it’s all a lie and they shouldn’t believe any of it and the morality he taught is no longer valid. I’m always shocked when they say this. Because to me, his teachings are what we are supposed to pay attention to and aren’t those teachings worthwhile even if he wasn’t divine? 

I know I’m going to catch some crap from both Christians and atheists about this.  And I realize that I TOTALLY simplified his story and his teachings. I get that. Get over it.  My point is that I think there is value in consider the values that Jesus taught on their own merits assuming he was human and not divine and that is superior to rejecting the morality because it is divinely sources and accepting it because it’s divinely sourced.

As far as I am concerned (as a Humanist and as an atheist), it’s all made up anyway- so let’s assess it for what it is; an attempt to teach morality in ancient times.  So, what are you favorite teachings of Jesus? What should we keep from his teachings and what should we reject.


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