Tim is the only person in town who eagerly invites a Jehovah's Witness into his home. He likes to debate them. He has two things that he wants to know; what is it that this person believes, and how did he come to the conclusion that this belief was true. Pierre, a well dressed, clean cut man in his thirties gives the usual speech. He holds up his bible and says that this is the word of God. It reminds Tim of a discussion he once had with an ex girlfriend who is a southern Baptist. She believed (rather loudly) that every word in the bible is the word of God, and it says in the Bible that in order to get into the kingdom of heaven, you must accept Jesus as your personal savior. In response, Tim points out that the bible also says that the Jews were the "chosen" people. It is a well known fact that many Jews do not believe that Jesus was the son of God, or even a savior. So what does this mean? Is the bible contradicting itself? Are all Jews going to hell? Is Jesus anti-Semitic? His girlfriend responds with a very cold stare. Now you know why she's his EX girlfriend.
This notion of Jesus as savior seems to be a major issue among the Christian religions. Some say he is God (one and the same) others say he is not. Which should you believe? We could ask the question of just how mandatory are these acceptances of Jesus as savior, but the more interesting question seems to be, should you accept Jesus at all. While this writer has nothing personally against Jesus or even Christian religion as a whole, there are a few things that need to be ironed out. Perhaps if we can answer the smaller questions about religion, we can answer the question, just what does it take to be a Savior?
Jesus as God. Is it just me, or does anyone else think it strange that Christianity is the only religion in the world that turned its founder into God? The Jewish people didn't do it with Abraham, the Buddhist didn't do it with Buddha, and the Muslims go out of their way to make sure that it doesn't happen with Muhammad by outlawing any depiction of the prophet. Even with the premise that Jesus is to God what steam is to water, it still begs the question; do you really have to accept steam as your personal savior in order to enjoy the clean feeling you get after you take a shower?
Do words speak louder than actions? The bulk of Jesus life in the New Testament is about words; He said this, then He said that. There are descriptions about actions; mostly about where he went (there seemed to be a lot of walking) and the miracles he preformed. Setting the miracles aside for a second and focusing on the actions, what exactly are the criteria for gaining Savior status? If speaking alone is the standard by which we choose our saviors, then every politician will be running to the Pope for sainthood. Or is it just a matter of turning away from the material world? If so, does Mother Teresa qualify or for that matter Gandhi? What's really interesting to note is that even though Jesus never had any possessions, and no place to lay his head, he sure seemed to have a lot of friends (usually wealthy) that took him into their homes, filled him up with wine, and gave him a place to sleep. We seem to forget that even on those nights when he slept in the desert, he had twelve men to take care of the task of collecting wood for the fire or fish for the meal. You just don't read a lot of stories about Jesus picking up a bucket and going down to the well to get his own water. It seems someone else was always doing it for him. Just how much hardship is there in giving up materialism when someone else does all the work?
What is Christianity? Ask a Christian what they believe Christianity is and you will get an answer, just not necessarily the same answer. The best definition seems to be "to live the life of Christ". The disappointment seems to come from observing those who claim to be the most Christian. If you watch some Christian believers, you would come to the conclusion Jesus believed his way was the only way, he wasn't that big on taking women out of the kitchen, and wanted to kill gays. But other than that, he was a pretty nice guy. You've heard of the red letter bible where all the words of Jesus are highlighted in red. Isn't it interesting that no one has ever created a red letter bible for what God actually said? Here is an idea for anyone publishing a bible. Go through the Old Testament and highlight the actual words that came from God, then we can compare and see if Jesus was on the same page.
Sacrifice. Whether you believe it was for your sins or not, you got to give dog his props for dying for what he believed. Then again, Socrates died for what he believed and no one refers to him as a savior. But the real question of the sacrifice comes down to choice. Would you willingly choose to die for another man's sins? Is this the foundation upon which "Savior-ism" is based? Did Jesus really have a choice? The story of Jesus agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane doesn't exactly read like a discussion. When I asked Tim what he thought, he left me with the following.
"The book of Jonah is without a doubt the most revealing book in the bible. When God called Jonah to testify in a foreign land, not only did Jonah say no, but he got on a ship and traveled in the opposite direction of the land in which God told him to go. Apparently God don't play that, so he sent a storm to destroy the ship and a whale to swallow him and carry him back (so much for free will). The real question here is this; When God tells you to do something, do you really have a choice? And if you don't have a choice, does it really count as a sacrifice?