One of the reoccurring comments we get back about Jesism has to do with the mythic Jesus. Friends will respond and say they like Jesism, but their Christianity is not contingent on whether the historical Jesus existed or not. They will often expound that even if Jesus was completely made up, i.e., mythical, they find their peace and hope in the story of Jesus, and the Christ in their hearts. Sometimes they think this differs from the tenants of Jesism in a one vs. the other type of dichotomy. And since it is very important to us here at Jesism to be clear about this point, we’ve taken a recent comment from our facebook page that was very well articulated and offered a response to each question inline in red. In this response, the author offered a question and answer to his question to state his position. To which we commented below each one. Your comments are also welcome.
Question: Do I believe in Jesus? I believe in the mythical Jesus. That is, the story of Jesus and his alleged teachings has brought me inner peace and joy. Whether or not the story is historical has no bearing on my experience of the Christ within.
Response from Jesism: That is perfectly harmonious with Jesism. In the preamble to The 9 Guidelines of Jesism, we state “Like Buddhism, Jesism has a range of supporters, from dogmatic to non-dogmatic, and from those focused on a historical figure to those who view the enduring message within a mythical context, or “cosmic Christ” as some say.” In other words, by referring to Jesus it doesn’t mean we are specifically taking it all at historical or mythical value, which will bring us to the response in the next question. Portraits of the cosmic Christ as offered by Meister Eckhart and adapted by folks such as Fr. Richard Rohr and Rev. Matthew Fox are very valuable to most Jesists.
Q: But do I think the story isn’t historically accurate? The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy the peace and joy either way. The historicity of the story may be somewhat congruent with my experience, but it is not necessary for me to know for sure. I experience the risen Christ within my heart when I follow the teachings of Jesus, and that is all the evidence I need.
Response from Jesism: We agree. We believe that Jesus was indeed based on a historical figure named Yeshua of Nazareth, who lived and died around Jerusalem during the Roman occupation. And we believe that some of his sayings, as recorded in the gospels, are likely accurate, even if not captured verbatim. We also believe that many of the stories around him were never meant to be taken literally, but instead to be used as literal devices to capture the importance of Yeshua, which was a common method in cultures of oral tradition. In ancient cultures, stories had to be memorable to be passed down, and we believe the readers wouldn’t have ever cared to literalize much of the gospels, but instead to focus on their message.
Q: But if the story isn’t accurate, why did Jesus die? I didn’t say the story isn’t accurate. I said it doesn’t affect my spirituality because my spiritual foundation is a universal foundation independent of the veracity or probability of historical events. It is possible to be a follower of Jesus and an agnostic regarding the details at the same time.
Response from Jesism: We agree 100%
Q: Further, how could anyone possibly say that Jesus died for nothing, when his teachings have helped so many. One might also claim that Martin Luther King Jr. died for nothing as well, but it would be a lie.
Response from Jesism: Again, we agree 100%
Q: But don’t you have to have faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus to experience the Holy Spirit? I believe in merely the mythology of the cross and that brings me overflowing peace and joy. I feel guiltless and clean by understanding the principle of the cross. The principle of dedicating one’s life to doing what is right. The principle of forgiveness and reconciliation. I need not invoke a vengeful God that could be pacified only by a human sacrifice to experience the psychological and emotional benefits of Christianity.
Response from Jesism: We say bravo! Well said!