Finding the Essentials of Christianity. To ferret out the essential teachings of Jesus may seem difficult, but many scholars have undertaken the task for us. The most successful, in my opinion, is Stephen Mitchell. His book The Gospel According to Jesus separates what he believes to be the truth of what Jesus said from the chaff put in later by church hierarchies. Mitchell states (1991, p. 8):
"For me, then, Jesus' words are authentic when scholarship indicates that they probably or possibly originated from him and when at the same time they speak with the (authentic) voice that I hear in the essential sayings… No careful reader of the gospels can fail to be struck by the difference between the largeheartedness of such passages and the bitter, badgering tone of some of the passages added by the early church."
Mitchell's book makes sense, is logical and fits quite well with the essential teachings of Lao-Tse, Buddha and Krishna. If you are strongly invested in a strict reading of the Bible, then Mitchell's interpretations will be offensive. But if Christianity as taught today seems lacking to you, then studying this work might revitalize your thinking and possibly your faith.
Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood and Socrates and Jesus and Luther and Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882
© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze
|Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "Just because I am presently one way does not imply that I will be or have to be that way this afternoon. Unfortunately, the possibility of change is usually not even considered by those voicing the phrase, "That is the way I am" and its close relative, 'That's the way we've always done it.'"|