Interactive Gospel
- Grounds for Considering Jesus -
by Paul Hazelden


1.   Summary

We believe there are good grounds for considering the message of Jesus.

It is hard to find any major thinker or religious leader in the past two thousand years who does not recognise the importance of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Agree with Him or disagree, they all recognise the importance of the things He taught and the impact His life has made on history.

In passing, we should note that historians agree that Jesus was a historic figure. Whichever angle you look at the evidence from, someone or something must have caused the gospel writers to write the gospels, and whoever could invent such an incredible character with such simple and deep teaching must themselves be a pretty amazing person.

So either Jesus is historic fact, or there was someone else, even more mysterious, who came up with these amazing teachings, invented a fictional character and then persuaded everyone around him to believe in the fictional character and forget all about himself... It's not very plausible.

Oh, yes: this author, who invented fiction, also managed to write five fictional stories that fit together so wonderfully, illuminate each other in subtle ways, appear to contradict each other in lots of unimportant ways, and convince generations of historians that they were written by four very different people with different perspectives, agendas, experiences, priorities and linguistic skills. And who never wrote anything else, and who remained anonymous to his death... Let's just forget this as a plausible option.

Beyond His teaching, we see in the life of Jesus - as recorded in the four gospels - a personality shining through that is unlike any other in recorded history. A personality which has fascinated and attracted people through the centuries. Nobody else has ever combined such humility and simplicity with a total assurance of His own importance and centrality in God's purposes. Such a combination is impossible to believe - until you read the accounts of His life.

  1. I'll go along with that
  2. Please explain further
  3. I object to what you've said
  4. What are the alternatives?

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2.   Further Details

As well as the historic importance of Jesus, we also have the importance and relevance of His teachings and actions to consider. To take a few examples, almost at random...

Jesus taught: love your enemy. This has entranced, fascinated, annoyed and perplexed generations since. Many have claimed it is impossible, or was never intended to be taken literally. The early Church managed to follow it literally for a long time, and since those days groups of Christians (such as the Anabaptists and Quakers) have continued to try to work out how to live this way.

The New Testament contains the very first record in human history of the belief that all humans are fundamentally equal - that your religion, your race, your occupation, and your sex do not determine your worth. This is such radical and revolutionary material it is not surprising that it took the world centuries to catch up with such an astonishing, surprising, world-changing idea.

Jesus taught that God is your loving heavenly Father. Another radical departure from the understanding and expectations of His day. It is a revelation that grounds morality not in some abstract legal code, but in the requirements of a loving relationship. It affirms that our significance as human beings is not dependent on what we can produce or achieve.

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3.   Objections

I believe I have already covered the objections above. Do let me know if you can think of any others.

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4.   Alternatives

The obvious alternative is to claim that there are no good grounds for considering the message of Jesus. I have yet to meet anyone who is interested in exploring the important questions of life, who did not recognise that the message of Jesus is important and relevant, even when significant parts of that message were subsequently dismissed.

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http://hazelden.org.uk/ig/ig_grounds_consider.htm was last updated 5 May 2008
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