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All history--meaning all that historians write, all historiography--is an inextricable combination of fact and interpretation...In the Gospels we have, of course, unambiguously such a combination. Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Wm, B, Erdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006, p. 3
Perspective of the Non-Christian Jesus
Books that are written about the J-person are written from a position that includes a variable mix of some of the underlying preconceptions of Christianity that dearly need to be challenged. Even though some authors try to clear the slate they have not found the way. In his book Jesus Before Christianity, Albert Nolan has titled the first chapter, "A New Perspective". After cogently making a simple case that such is much needed, he is endeavoring to give us just that. But he has also pointed out that one cannot take a look back at something in the historical past unless he is doing so from a certain perspective:
"Is there no way in which all of us (with or without religious programming) can give Jesus the chance, once again today, to speak for himself?
"It is clear that we would have to begin by putting aside all our preconceived ideas about him. We cannot begin by assuming that he is non-human or that he is the Messiah or the Savior of the world. We cannot even begin with the assumption that he was a good and honest man. Nor can we begin with the assumption that he was definitely not any of these things. We must put aside all our images of Jesus, conservative and progressive devotional and academic, so that we may listen to him with an open mind.
"It is possible to approach the J-person without any presuppositions about him, but it is not possible to approach him without any presuppositions at all. The complete open mind is a blank mind that can understand nothing at all. We must have some kind of position, some kind of vantage point or perspective, if we are to see and understand anything....We cannot obtain a view of the past except from the place where we are standing at the moment. 'Historical objectivity is not a reconstruction of the past in its unrepeatable factuality, it is the truth of the past in the light of the present.' (E. Schillebeeckx, God, the Future of Man, p 24) To imagine that one can have historical objectivity without a perspective is an illusion.
"One perspective, however, can be better than another. The perspective of each successive age is not equally valuable and true....Not that we have any choice in this matter. The only perspective open to us is the one given to us by the historical situation in which we find ourselves. If we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of the J-person from the vantage point of our present circumstances, then we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of him at all."
Nolan then proceeds to make a serious attempt to achieve this unobstructed view but offers only the possibility of a similarity between our time and that of the J-person, along with an "open" mind, to give us some added clarity for this to be accomplished. However he has just previously and rightfully said, "The complete open mind is a blank mind that can understand nothing at all." By his own logic we are here at the mercy of two dilemmas. First, we have no assurance that we are "lucky" enough to have a particular historical perspective that will give us any or enough advantage that we can intrinsically count on. In understanding truth on this level, what person can get excited about undertaking something extensive that may be doomed to failure from the beginning, without even knowing he has no chance to be successful? Second is the dilemma of the open mind that cannot be entirely open. What is needed here, is some way to break out of the uncertainty of the first dilemma and the circular whirlpool of the second.
Is it not obvious that we need to deal with the context in which we find ourselves, and deal with the real issues that matter to us? This seems to be almost universally avoided, but why? I think the answer to this is obvious. You either choose to have faith, believe in goodness, or you don't. If you don't choose to believe in absolute goodness, then what is the point to finding answers and truth?
A Radical and Correct(?) Perspective
This site will be an attempt to take a fresh look at the J-person from a RADICALLY different perspective, one that I find no evidence for ever having been committed to and consistently used before, yet one that is essentially open to anyone who chooses to use it, regardless of their informational or historical advantage. This perspective is based on the concept, which I choose to believe, that in a human being there is a spark, an image of the creator buried in us which we will call, for lack of a better word, Idealism, the internal reference point. The word used in the gospels for this, our inner core or absolute, internal reference point, is translated as "heart".
Anybody that maintains there is a Good Creator who created human beings, regardless of what means or method he may have used to do that (creationist, evolutionist, or somewhere in between) must take the position that, since God created these human beings that seek him, endeavor to understand him at least to some degree, and seek to have a relationship with him, he must have created them with the reasonable potential to succeed at this.
This implies surely and purely that the true nature and character of God is not only acceptable to human beings and human nature, but is something that has to be characterized as good and wonderful to us by our human valuation system. In short, if we are going to project goodness upon the Creator and use the term "God" then we should adopt the ideal perspective and understand that we CAN SUCCEED in understanding god. To not do this would be to accept that the whole point is to forever raise our level of frustration or in the end give us the ultimate nasty surprise, in which case our application of the term "good" is misplaced.
This leaves us with the situation of trying to understand God in the context of something that is within the definition of our idealism, something that we can know the truth about because it rings true to our internal reference point. This site is an attempt to show that what the J-person tried to do with his ministry and his message was to speak to this internal reference point and to get us to look from the perspective of our idealism FAR HIGHER THAN ANY MAN HAD EVER DONE BEFORE IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF HUMANITY ON THE EARTH.
The framers of the US constitution did a marvelous and wonderful thing, something quite extraordinary in terms of the historical development of nations, when they stood up as a group and had the courage to say, "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Did you catch it? "Self evident!" They did NOT say we hold these truths because the Bible—or any other selection of "sacred" writings—holds them to be so, or because it is traditional, or because they heard a voice from the sky, or because they had a sleep dream in common. This ultimate foundation is the internal HUMAN reference, and IT MUST BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH ANY EXTERNAL SOURCE, AND THE EXTERNAL SOURCE MAY ONLY SUPPLEMENT AND RESONATE, NOT OVERRIDE!
Author Albert Nolan does a marvelous job of dispensing many doctrines that are really in the realm of superstition and fail the most basic criteria of reason and support from what the J-person personally did and said. He has also come up with a number of fresh partial perspectives, although he is still locked into many Christian misconceptions.
The one aspect of humanity that Jesus railed against is
Let us understand right from the start that the J-person is saying something incredibly different; something that Gnosticism and Christianity have not dealt with adequately, if at all; something fantastically good that has for the most part, been completely missed, overlooked and buried.
See studies on Teachings of Jesus