Isn't Jesus a good role model?

Most Christians I know don’t fret about whether the Bible describes historical events with perfect accuracy. Rather, we focus on the profound moral teaching contained within.

Even if you don’t believe in God, don’t you agree that Jesus gave us an excellent example of how to live?

Posted: October 17th 2007

SmartLX www

I’d just like to contribute a Jesus quote I’ve been shown recently which demonstrates just how he applied “love your enemy” to those who oppose the indoctrination of children.

Luke 17:2 –
bq. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

That’s the best example of hypocrisy I’ve found yet from “El Saviour”.

Posted: November 22nd 2007

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Russell Blackford www

I’m not even sure that it’s possible to construct a coherent picture of Jesus’ character from the biblical texts, if they are looked at coldly. We tend to interpret his character through the filter of centuries of interpretation.

In any event, no.

For a start, I can’t accept someone who appears to have preached a doctrine of hellfire and eternal torture as a good role model. At the same time, his “nicer” teachings also leave something to be desired: I don’t think it is healthy to love your enemies, for example, though it may well be healthy to avoid treating them cruelly, and thus to restrain your feelings of anger and hatred.

Posted: November 3rd 2007

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flagellant www

Firstly, the problem with Jesus is not simply about minor historical events; it is about major historical and fantastical claims, integral to Christianity. Can you really divorce Christ’s 'profound moral teaching’ from all the supernatural stuff like virgin birth, the Trinity, resurrection of the dead, Jesus as son of God, and the Ascension? Remember that all of these are part of formal Christian declarations of faith. Does any Christian seriously try to suggest that Jesus was on a par with (say) Mahatma Gandhi and that it’s all right to dismiss the mumbo jumbo and simply stick with the moral teaching?

Secondly, besides the 'cuddly’ teachings, there are some nasty bits; many aspects don’t bear much examination. For example, that Jesus was crucified for our sins. A really warped concept, if you think about it: What sins? Whose sins? When? Look at this sado-masochism critically. Then there are the doctrines of heaven, hell, and eternal damnation. Never mind that this New Testament stuff is unpleasant, can you really believe in life after death or in sinners being tortured forever? Some 'carrot and stick’ ideas are, quite simply, incredible.

If, as you imply, Christians are cavalier about the Bible, how can they be certain that the teaching has survived unchanged? Ancient moral precepts, subject to copying, editing, and recopying in the intervening years, must surely have been corrupted, both accidentally and deliberately.

Further, even if the teaching has survived unscathed, life is so different now, that 2000-year old teachings have dated alarmingly. Many things have changed: slavery, the place of women, homosexuality… Morality evolves.

Finally, it appears you are suggesting that some Christians cherry-pick from Christianity. Wouldn’t it be better to do something much more sensible, modern, and appropriate? Do as most atheists do: divorce morality and ethics from religious superstition, dump the dogma, and discuss behaviour using reason alone.

Posted: October 26th 2007

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Unfortunately, careful reading of the bible will show that Jesus certainly had his failings.

Freedom From Religion, Inc. has a relevant article about this topic.

Among the many undesirable points made by Jesus in the Bible, the most despicable was his focus and promotion of eternal punishment.

I am afraid the teachings of Jesus has been as well cherry picked as the many other aspects of Christianity.

In addition, one must be suspect of guru worship. The adoration and worship of a character who lived a couple of thousand years ago, behooves us to question why is there such a need to put all our moral eggs in such a basket? Especially to the extent that we do not even notice the immoral holes in such a basket?

The golden rule, which is probably the aspect of the teachings of Jesus that holds such resonance with many, predated Jesus. So, why not make an even bigger fuss about the philosophers and cultures that came up with that nice rule of thumb?

Richard Dawkins has mused about that if Jesus was alive today, he would be an atheist! The meaning is that if Jesus was living NOW, he would get with the modern program, the program based on all the progress, knowledge, and experience humanity has gleaned since the time of Jesus.

Posted: October 25th 2007

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brian thomson www

Well, good ideas are good ideas, regardless of where they come from, but it’s not as if Jesus, if he existed, was the first person to come up with the idea of “be good”. I could refer you to Confucius, for example, who formulated the “Golden Rule” over 500 years BC, and (if you think about it) in a better form:

To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue: gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.

What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.

In other words: the ideas are separate from the Christian religion, and don’t serve as an argument for adopting it. I agree with Confucius, but that doesn’t make me a Confucian. 8)

The superior man… does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow.

Posted: October 25th 2007

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