A movement, not a religion. An idea, not a label. A lifestyle, not a sect.
The 9 Guidelines of Jesism
Jesism (pronounced: Jēs-ism like Jēsus) is an inclusive movement for those who have a connection with the Jesus tradition, but who also value exploration, science, scholarship, and any other practice, teacher, or philosophy that better informs our reality and helps us live a better quality of life. It’s a paradigm that offers an exciting and liberating alternative to many of today’s mainstream expressions of Christianity, which tend to focus on strict agreement to a prescribed set of creeds and biblical interpretations, and are often co-opted with far right wing politics and religious fundamentalism. It is applicable to Christians and post-Christians alike.
The naming etymology is similar to the construction of the term Buddhism, which is based around the teachings and example of the Buddha, and is pronounced Bood-ism. And like Buddhism, it can be applied as an over-arching philosophy, practice, and path that can be integrated into one’s existing institution or community. One can refer to themselves a Jesist, a Jesist Christian, a Christian, or whatever one wishes. It has a range of supporters, from dogmatic to non-dogmatic, and from those focused on a historical Jesus to those who view the enduring message within a mythical context, or “cosmic Christ” as some say. It is a fresh paradigm for how we can understand and follow Jesus if that is something we wish to do.
It also acknowledges that we really don’t need another “ism” in the world, and that there are plenty of good examples to follow, but it exists as a paradigm shift, or a pun of sorts, for those who may have a connection with Jesus. If your initial reaction is to think that you don’t want another label, sect, or ism, see the response to Question 4 here. Below are the 9 “guidelines.”
1) The core of Jesism, both theologically and socially, revolves around the responses of Jesus when his followers asked him their biggest questions; such as “what is the greatest commandment,” and Jesus responded with “Love God, and Love others as you would want to be loved” (Matthew 22:36-40). Similarly, during his ministry Jesus articulated only one new commandment, when during the last supper he told his followers: “a new commandment I give to you, love others as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Therefore, love of our creator, and compassion for others, ourselves, and all of creation is the core and primary tenet of Jesism.
2) Jesism is conceptually an alternative paradigm to the literalized and creed-based Christian paradigm that some practice today. Particularly, some of those theological explanations from the councils of Constantine, and modern day fundamentalist evangelicals. Jesism is not at odds with the Church. But Jesism is an alternative expression in spirit to today’s mainstream / evangelical Christianity, in order to clarify its distinctions more readily than the platforms of emerging or liberal Christianity have sometimes been able to do.
3) Jesism is in no way in threatened by or in competition with most other spiritual paths or “ism’s. A follower of Jesus can and should share and explore a multitude of beneficial paths – understanding that no path is perfect, and every path has the potential for corruption and fundamentalism if attempted to be made exclusive. Jesism does not consider itself the “only way,” nor is it afraid to explore and embrace beneficial practices and insights from other religions and customs. Jesism is often most relevant to those who have a cultural paradigm within a Jesus based tradition, and who continue to value the Bible and the Church in some way.
4) Jesism is closely aligned with other eastern spirituality and philosophies as it regards the key practices of mindfulness, alignment, non-attachment, simplicity, gratitude, and joy. Jesus and his followers encouraged meditation by name (Phil 4:8) and Jesus took frequent times away from the action to pray and meditate quietly (Matthew 6: 5-8). He was a promoter of a simple life, unattached to material possessions (Matthew 6:19) or worry about the future (Matthew 6:25-34). And the earliest followers of Jesus began a beneficial tradition of peace and joy despite life’s challenges (1 Thess 5:15-19). These teachings often go largely ignored by mainstream Christianity and its primary creeds, but many eastern and new thought traditions have offered deep insight into these areas, which most “Jesists” value highly.
5) Jesism focuses on social justice and helping address sociological ills. Like the life of Jesus, it does not only focus on transcendence or an escape from suffering, but directly embraces the opportunities for advancement in the world, and seeks an overflowing spirit that supports, embraces, and advocates for others in need, especially those in the greatest need (Luke 10:25-37). Additionally, when Jesus was asked how one could find life, he told the parable of the good Samaritan, which suggested that people in spiritual alignment would help others even when it may seem inconvenient or difficult.
6) Jesism does not support a number of social platforms that are championed by many of today’s mainstream Christians, such as being anti-gay, ignoring climate justice, and denying the pursuit of science. Nor does it support systems that encourage massive wealth concentration at the top, mass militarization, mass armament, and mass incarceration, or blanket deportation. Jesism focuses on loving others and being open, affirming, forgiving, and inclusive; while valuing equality, education, and scholarship.
7) Jesism requires no specific literalized beliefs or creeds about God, Jesus, or the Bible. During his ministry, Jesus spoke of God but did not attempt to define God, or argue that the Bible was the inerrant word of God. He also never focused on a requirement to believe in a virgin birth, physical resurrection, or eventual return, therefore Jesism also does not put the focus of following Jesus on these elements.
8) Jesism doesn’t focus on specific miracles, but rather views all of life as a miracle. Just as Jesus did not try to define these concepts, neither do most Jesists. Jesism encourages honest and genuine exploration of the mystical elements of life, with faith and humility.
9) Jesism highlights the teachings of non-duality, non-exclusive incarnation, and the “Kingdom of God.“ It is recorded in Luke 17 that Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.” John 10 records Jesus as saying “the Father and I are one.” But Jesus didn’t just think that God was just one with him, or just his personal literal father. He acknowledged God as everyone’s father equally. The level of divinity in Jesus was the level of divinity in all of us, although certainly levels of actualization and alignment with Source will vary. When Jesus was asked by his followers how to pray, he didn’t start it with my father, but instead he said our Father (Matthew 6:9). That prayer is often called The Our Father for that reason. Jesus related to God in completely equal ways to the others he was with, and he said his followers could do greater things than him (John 14:12). This is the very idea of the Christos, which Christianity was based on in the first place.
And, see 5 Common Reactions to Jesism