Start with the most important thing Jesus taught us
By JON KOONSMAN
At times I’ve found myself at odds with traditional Christianity. Some years ago I wrote, “To allow dogma dominion over truth honors nothing.”
That statement sums up my take on just about everything – not just religion.
I am a chronic study. If I find it of interest – I want to learn everything about it. Of the hundreds of books in my office, there are several shelves and three decades dedicated to the study of Christianity and the life of Jesus.
I prefer books that offer facts, not doctrine. Historically, doctrine has been as often a product of politics as faith. And though I consider myself a man of faith, it is my aversion to ‘blind faith’ that has sometimes put me at odds with the church.
Most instructive in my studies have been the contemporary discoveries of ancient texts. The ‘Church’ has put forth tremendous effort to suppress the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hamadi Scriptures since their discovery in the caves at Qumran, preferring instead the political works of Constantine and the Council of Nicea.
The New Testament contains 27 books. It originally contained over 3 times that many. You can still read them. You should.
Some years ago I had a gentleman take issue with my thoughts on the subject. He informed me that for thousands of years the Bible had been the beneficiary of divine protection. I asked him if he had read it in Hebrew. His response was decidedly un-Christian.
So, what have I learned?
The relatively modern concept of ‘collective salvation’ is nonsense.
You are responsible for your own salvation. It is an ongoing process of study, reflection and the search for truth. Not your truth. The Truth.
Faith and blind faith are two very different things. Faith is the product of experience. Blind faith is the product of ignorance.
Jesus walked this Earth. He was not a carpenter, he was a Rabbi. He was a Davidic King, the descendant of King David and King Solomon and the rightful heir to the throne of Jerusalem.
He was not the gentle fellow clutching a lamb on the wall of your grandmother’s house; he was a revolutionary and freedom fighter who returned to free his people from the Roman occupation of the Holy Land.
His ‘prophetic’ arrival in Jerusalem was orchestrated - as much a message to the occupying force as it was to his followers.
It was His way of saying, “This is our house. I am the rightful King. Get out.” He knew he would probably die for it. He did.
I like that Jesus.
That crown of thorns. That sign around his neck that said ‘King of the Jews.’ Those were not in jest. That was a message.
Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews – and the Romans knew it. And they crucified Him for it. He died trying to free His people from a foreign occupying force.
That’s my Jesus.
The Rosicrucians had an interesting take on Jesus. They didn’t believe that Jesus was a god who became a man who became a god again. They believed that Jesus was a man who became a god – a man who achieved immortality.
However heretical this may seem on the surface, I always found it to be a beautiful idea. If Jesus was born a god, all we can do is worship Him. If He was born a man, then we can follow Him.
He didn’t ask us to worship Him. He asked us to follow Him.
I’ll follow that Jesus.
It is a long way from here to Salvation. For me, it’s a pretty good haul to redemption. Jesus gave us a road map. I’ve tried to follow His map. Not the one some church asks me to follow – the one He asked me to follow.
Sometimes that’s unpopular. Sometimes that gets me labeled a heretic. But that’s my road.
Over the years I’ve spoken candidly about my religious beliefs but only with a select few. I believe in honest discussion and don’t like preaching or being preached to.
I was overwhelmed when I started this journey and wasn’t even sure where to start. Occasionally someone will solicit my advice on the topic, and I offer the same piece of advice that I offer every day.
Start with the most important thing Jesus taught us. Go straight to the top.
Just love each other.