Jesus Did Not Preach Christianity

Jesus Christ: Christianity is a cult that I never knew about.

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Christian apologists love to have a laugh at the Islamic claim that Jesus was a Muslim. Poking fun at that Islamic proposition is a longstanding tradition in the Christian apologetic ministry. The Christian apologist would gleefully say, in misplaced victorious fervour, that “the Islamic or Muslim claim that Jesus was a Muslim is nothing but the ravings of a delusional desert man, who had no clue what he was talking about, which resulted in anachronisms, that is, historical errors, as he went along inventing his cult that he labelled Islam.” Whether Jesus was a Muslim or not is a subject that we will not delve here. That has been discussed in a previous article called ‘Jesus was a Muslim and not a Christian’. What we will discuss in this article is the fact that the above mentioned Christian apologetic argumentation is the psychosis of Christian apologia as it tries to deflect its own insecurities for its own shortcomings, which is symptomatic of what psychologists term ‘psychological projection’.

History bears witness to the obvious reality, that many Christians conveniently pretend to not exist, that Christianity– in its primitive sense –is a first century post-Christ cult whilst orthodox Christianity is really a new religion divorced from its alleged founder, at the very least, by a few hundred years.

Jesus was a religious personality that preached his religious message within the framework of his own religious tradition without intending in any way to start a new religion with a new name; complete with a new set of rules and doctrines. His mission did not envision a global community of Jewish and non-Jewish people. The so called Gentiles (non-Jewish nations) had little to no share in even the crumbs of his ministry (See Matthew 15:26-27; and Matthew 7:6 where Jesus disclaims the ‘goyim’ or gentiles as “dogs and pigs” who have no share in holy and sacred things that he was offering to his own people). The truth of the historical claim that Jesus’ message did not encompass what we call today Christianity is writ large in the Christian Holy Bible for all to see.

“Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have not come to destroy their teachings but to do what they said.” (Matthew 5:17; International Children’s Bible)

The Matthean text above that quotes Jesus shows that the mission of Jesus was restricted to the parameters of the blueprint set by his forebearers.

His dispensation was limited to his own people as he says in the following verses:

Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)

“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24; King James Version)

The above verses should persuade the unbiased reader to the obvious conclusion that Jesus had no pretensions to start a new global religion to compete against the faith of his ancestors. For a fuller discussion on Jesus’ limited dispensation, you may read my article ‘Was Jesus the Messiah for the Whole World?’ which can be accessed here http://unveiling-christianity.net/…/03/16/jesus-messiah-wo…/.

The consensus of Christian scholars and historians puts to shame the psychological projection that typically plague the mind of the Christian apologist. Dr. Thorwald Lorenzen, who is Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University, guest lecturer at St. Mark’s Theological Center and Whitley College, University of Melbourne and a Principal Researcher within the Public and Contextual Theology Strategic Research Centre (PACT), Charles Sturt University, in Canberra, Australia, writes:

“Yet, on further reflection, one must say: “no”. It is quite certain that Jesus did not intend to leave the bounds of Judaism and start a new religion… He did not call for faith in himself.” [1]

Founder and president of the Hebraic Christian Global Community Dr. John D. Garr writes:

“Jesus never intended to start a “new and vibrant religion” called “Christianity” to replace the “failed and lifeless religion” called “Judaism.” Indeed, “Jesus did not intend to found a new religion separate from Judaism.” As a matter of fact, even “the earliest followers of Jesus did not intend to create a new religion. The Master gave his word that he had no such intentions, and he emphatically underscored that fact to his disciples: “Don’t even begin to think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.” [2]

The highly influential American philosopher and theologian Howard Thurman insisted that Jesus did not start Christianity as Alonzo Johnson notes:

“This is a significant point for Thurman because he insisted that Jesus did not start a new “religion” as such; his religious faith was rather an extension of Israel’s vision of God.” [3]

The theologian Dr. Harry Lee Poe, who holds the Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, writes:

“The Gospel writers took great pains to show that they did not proclaim a new faith or religion. On the contrary, their stress on fulfillment demonstrates their conviction that faith in Christ stood in direct continuity with all that God had been doing since creation. Jesus did not start a new religion; he fulfilled all of the hopes and aspirations of Israel.” [4]

Noted Christian Theologian Dr. Vincent Brümmer, who was the Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Utrecht, writes:

“Jesus did not think of himself as the founder of a new religion. On the contrary, he was a rabbi who wanted to renew the faith of Israel and not to change it. ‘Do not suppose that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish but to complete’ (Matthew 5:17).” [5]

Regarded as one of the greatest biblical scholars of the 20th century, the late Dr. Brevard Childs, who was Professor of Old Testament at Yale University, writes:

“Jesus did not start a new religion. The promise: ‘I will be their God and they shall be my people’, remains in an unbroken continuity.” [6]

Catholic apologist T. L. Frazier writes:

“Jesus did not start a new “religion”; rather, there was a schism within Judaism in the first century between those Jews who accepted Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and those who did not.” [7]

Catholic theologian and prolific scholar Dr. Gabriel Moran, who is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Humanities and the Social Sciences at New York University and is also attached to the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, writes:

‘It seems certain that Jesus did not intend to start a new religion. Like most teachers who are identified as founders of a religion (Moses, Gautama, Muhammad), Jesus addressed his particular teaching to the tradition of his own people.” [8]

Theologian Professor William Nicholls, who is a former minister in the Anglican Church and the founder of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia, writes rather emphatically that Christianity was invented after Jesus:

“We can say with assurance that Jesus did not found the Christian church, as that (as Wellhausen said long ago) he was “no Christian but a Jew. ” He had no intention of starting even a sect, still less a new world religion… Between Jesus and Christianity there is discontinuity. The Jesus Christ of historic Christianity is not the Jesus of history. He is a product of the mythmaking mind, basing itself upon historical mistakes and misunderstandings, and even upon some falsifications of history, ultimately shaped by a revolutionary and untraditional reading of the Jewish Scriptures. Christianity did not start with Jesus, but with his followers after his death.” [9]

Ordained Methodist minister Wessel Bentley, who is chief researcher at the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa, references the world renowned Catholic theologian Hans Kung who says that Jesus did not establish a church beyond his own inherited religious tradition:

“Describing the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, Hans Kung starts from a premise that most Christians may find surprising: Jesus did not start a church (Kung 1968:72). By this Kung means that Jesus did not see His teaching as the etablishment of a religious movement outside of Judaism, but that He saw His own teaching as a continuation of God’s active self-revelation in his history.” [10]

Chemist and educator James Baxter writes:

“Christianity, whether pre-modern or modern, holds its identity through Jesus Christ. But as already noted, the historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, was not a Christian. He did not even start Christianity.” [11]

Dr. V. George Shelling, who is Professor Emeritus of Biblical and Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University, writes:

“I shall begin with a negative assessment, which seems easier, Jesus did not intend to found a new religion separate from Judaism, a worldwide religion that developed an anti-Jewish perspective, a religion that would influence some adherents to bring pain and death to millions of Jewish people, a religion that hoped to displace Judaism and the Jewish people, of whom Jesus was one.” [12]

Eminent Fuller Theological Seminary scholar and theologian, Dr. Donald Hagner, who is the George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament, stresses that if Jesus were alive today, he would be offended by Christianity, which he would regard as an invention of men:

“Furthermore, Jesus did not intend to create a new faith. The historical Jesus is fundamentally about Judaism, not about Christianity, He came, it is commonly argued, as a reformer of Judaism. Jesus thus did not intend–on the contrary, would have been offended by–the creation of a new community of faith, over against the Jewish faith, and especially one that made him the center of its theology and worship.” [13]

And thus ends the imposition of Christianity on the historical Jesus. In lashing out against the origins of Islam, the Christian apologist, unwittingly so, projects his own insecurities about the origins of his own religion, which are, without a shadow of a doubt, anachronistic to the historical Jesus. Christianity was a first century cult that later developed into a new religion, neither of which belonged to the Jesus of history.

Before we end our discussion, it is noteworthy to mention that ‘Judaism’ as a term was never the official brand of the faith and religion of Jesus in his time or at any time before that. Scholars and historians typically use that term as simply a convenient and time-saving way to identify the belief system of Jewry in history.

Notes:

[1] Lorenzen, T. (1995). Resurrection and Discipleship: Interpretive Models, Biblical Reflections, Theological Consequences: Eugene, Oregon: Wipf&Stock Publishers. p. 298

[2] Garr, J. D. (2014). Christian Fruit Jewish Fruit: Theology of Hebraic Restoration. Atlanta, Georgia: Golden Key Press. p. 15

[3] Johnson, A. (1997). Good News for the Disinherited: Howard Thurman on Jesus of Nazareth and Human Liberation. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. p. 52

[4] Poe, H. L. (1996). The Gospel and Its Meaning: A Theology for Evangelism and Church Growth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. p. 83

[5] Brümmer, V. (2006). Brümmer on Meaning and the Christian Faith: Collected Writings of Vincent Brummer. Great Britain: Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 421

[6] Childs, B. S. (1993). Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 519

[7] Frazier, T. L. (1999). A Second Look at the Second Coming: Sorting Through the Speculations. California: Conciliar Press. p. 88

[8] Moran, G. (2011). Living Nonviolently: Language for Resisting Violence. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 135

[9] Nicholls, W. (1993). Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 83

[10] Bentley, W. (2010). The Notion of Missiology in Karl Barth’s Ecclesiology. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 64

[11] Baxter, J. W. (2013). The Book of Deuteronomy and Post-Modern Christianity. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 4

[12] Shellington, V. George (2011). Jesus and Paul before Christianity. Their World and Work in Retrospect. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. p. 225

[13] Hagner, D. A. (2011). The Jesus Quest and Jewish-Christian Relations. In Tom Holmen & Stanley E. Porter (eds), Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. p. 1062

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