Jesus?" part 10
The Alternative Views
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 13, 2010
That’s how many emails I’ve received so far in 2010. That’s just in 5
months. That puts me on track to receive over 12,000 emails this year…
most of which I don’t want to get. Oh, there are some emails I get from
actual people I know, some that I subscribe to, but you know what most
of them are, don’t you?
[AUDIO – Play Monty Python’s “Spam” song]
It’s that unsolicited email, usually trying to sell me some product
that’s going to enrich my life or get me to invest in precious metals
or get me to help some poor widow get her millions of dollars out of
Nigeria with a tidy profit for me. I guess those emails are just a fact
of life, and if you have an email account you just have to deal with
But do you know the emails that are the most annoying to
me? They’re the ones that come from people I actually know, and they’re
warning me about some virus that’s going around or some conspiracy that
I need to be aware of… and when I actually check them out they’re
completely false! I have friends and family that email me warnings
about a these computer superviruses that are going to do incredible
things… like they’re going erase my computer memory, order 200 pizzas
on my credit card, shut off my power, and spoon-feed my children sugar.
maybe nothing that bad. But when I check out these warnings, I discover
they’re nothing more than urban myths. They’re made up. Somebody
sometime thought it’d be fun to warn people about a virus that doesn’t
even exist, and that warning gets forwarded from person to person until
it ends up in my inbox.
Do me a favour… before you forward me an email like that, check it out
first. Chances are it’s not even true.
and they’re not just limited to virus warnings. Have you gotten emails
about the 9/11 Conspiracies? Apparently, the terrorist attack nine
years ago was orchestrated by the U.S. Government. I haven’t seen them
yet, but I’m sure there will be similar theories about the oil spill in
One of my personal favourites, other than the whole
Roswell/Area 51 thing, is that the moon landing was all a hoax. It was
all filmed in a studio someplace. In fact, there was a movie based on
this hoax made back in 1978 called Capricorn One.
appeal of these kinds of theories? Well, I think we like to feel like
we know something someone else doesn’t. I think we like to feel smarter
than other people. I think we find the idea of a conspiracy intriguing.
I think it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the drama of it. They
captivate our imagination, we end up believing them, and so we convince
other people they’re true, too.
Well, Jesus has not been
spared from these kinds of conspiracies. There are all kinds of
theories and conspiracies and conflicting beliefs about Him that have
been spread over the past century or two, they’ve been almost
universally refuted, but they’ve found new life on the Internet.
at Sunrise, we’ve been going through this series on the identity of
Jesus, trying to answer the question, “Who Is Jesus?” And so we’ve
talked a lot about who He is. Today, we’re going to reverse that bit
and talk a little bit about who He is not. We’re going to look at some
of the popular but erroneous views of who Jesus is.
beliefs and opinions you may have heard other people express to you.
You may have found them online, you may have read them in books, and
some of them actually sound like they might be plausible. They sound
appealing. They make you think, “well, maybe…”
I don’t know if these are the biggest myths about Jesus or not, but
these are the ones that I’ve heard a lot. Staring with…
(but wrong) Views of Jesus Today:
The Christian Jesus is a copycat of other religious figures
this is where we’re going to spend most of our time this morning. But
have you heard anyone say that? It’s the idea that everything we
believe about Jesus actually came from other pagan religions. And
Christianity just kind of absorbed these other beliefs and created this
person we call Jesus Christ.
If you remember back to The DaVinci Code, this was one of the ideas
promoted in that book. In fact, it made the claim…
“Nothing in Christianity is original.”
~ Teabing, in The DaVinci Code p.232
view of Jesus and of Christianity really emerged back in the 1800s. In
1875, there was a book published called “The World’s Sixteen Crucified
Saviours”. And it claimed that Jesus wasn’t a real person but was
actually a compilation of stories of other “deities or god-men saviours
who had been crucified, and descended to and ascended from the
problem was, the author Kersey Graves was basically just a conspiracy
theorist. He didn’t actually do his homework. In fact, number 16 on his
list was Mohammed. But Mohammed did not die and rise again. And
besides, he came centuries after Jesus. But somehow our beliefs about
Jesus came from Mohammed? That’s obviously false. According to
“[The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors]’s accuracy
has been questioned by both Christian and atheist scholars, with the
general consensus being that the book is unscholarly and unreliable.”
And even the secular, naturalist, even atheistic website Infidels.org
says this about the book…
“Readers should be extremely cautious in trusting anything in this
yet, this book gave rise to what is known today as the Jesus Myth
Hypothesis, and there are a lot of people today who belief that the
Christian concept of Jesus is drawn from pagan religions.
not going to go through all of them this morning. But the most common
comparison is drawn to the Persian sun god Mithras, which became
popular in the Roman Empire particularly among the military. Mithras
supposedly had a virgin birth on December 25. That’s what you’ll be
told. But when you look into it, what you discover is that his virgin
birth was that he emerged fully grown from a rock. And yes, I expect
that rock was a virgin. Hey, I have olive oil that’s a virgin, so why
can’t a rock be?
Besides, while the Mithras cult existed before
the time of Jesus, many of the beliefs about Mithras weren’t developed
until at least half way through the second century after Jesus. So it
was actually Mithras who borrowed from Jesus, not the other way around.
pagan icon, Attis, was killed in a hunting accident. One of the people
who was supposed to be protecting him threw a spear at a wild boar, and
hit Attis instead. So Attis was impaled by a spear. Jesus was impaled
by nails. And that’s about as close as you can get to a parallel
There’s another pagan god named Osiris who
supposedly had a resurrection. Actually, his story is that after he
died he came to life in the Underworld in an almost perfect replica of
earthly existence, and he rules over the dead not the living. He’s
actually kind of an Egyptian mummy. Not anything like the resurrection
But do you see how far you have to go to draw the
comparisons? But people make these allegations… they just give you the
headlines like “Mithras had a virgin birth”, and other people believe
them without really thinking about them or looking into them.
to be fair, there are some comparisons that can be made. For example,
Baptism was a pre-Christian concept. And Jesus took that practice that
was already in existence and He infused it with new meaning…
identifying it with His own death and resurrection.
once a pagan holiday and even a pagan term. But Christians now
celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on that day. But so what? It
coincided with the Passover, which was the weekend of Jesus’ death and
resurrection. So today, this holiday that was once pagan, has been
infused with new meaning and is now a celebration of the most
significant event in history. It’s not the same pagan celebration; it’s
a Christian celebration that happens to be on that same day.
suggest that Christians worship on Sunday because it was a day set
aside to worship the sun-god. Actually, we worship on Sunday because
Sunday was the day Jesus rose from the dead.
As for December 25,
we have no idea what date Jesus was actually born. And yes, there was a
pagan celebration on that day. So like Easter, Christians took a
celebration that was already happening and infused it with new meaning.
issue is less about the church ‘borrowing’ pagan concepts and more
about authentic Christianity’s magnificent capacity to adapt and adopt
without losing the core of its Christocentric message.”
The DaVinci CodeBreaker, p. 48
many of the alleged parallels between Christianity and pagan religions
don’t really exist. And some of them do. But so what? What do the
parallels really prove, anyway?
Parallels are really
fascinating, aren’t they? And you can draw parallels between almost
anything. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup this week, and a lot was
made about how Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were the same ages as
Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita the last time the Blackhawks won. And I’ll
admit, that’s interesting. But did it have anything at all to do with
them winning this year? I seriously doubt it. It’s trivia, but it’s
Let me show you something I came across this week about Abraham Lincoln
and John F. Kennedy…
1. Both Lincoln and Kennedy were concerned with civil rights.
2. Lincoln was elected President in 1860. Kennedy in 1960.
3. Both were slain on a Friday and in the presence of their wives.
4. Both were shot from behind and in the head.
5. Their successors were both named Johnson.
6. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson in 1908.
7. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald in 1939.
8. Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy. Whereas Kennedy’s secretary
was named Lincoln.
9. The names Lincoln and Kennedy both contain seven letters.
10. Lincoln was shot in the Ford’s Theatre. Kennedy was shot
in a Ford car (a Lincoln!).
those amazing parallels? Almost hard to believe. Obviously, Kennedy
borrowed from Lincoln. In fact, it’s quite possible Kennedy never even
existed. Actually, this is a great example of how you can take examples
of parallels and present them in a captivating powerful way. First of
Power of Parallels:
parallels do exist...
Numbers 2 through 6 are actually true.
• Some are
exaggerated in significance...
That’s number 10. It’s true, but so what? Fords were a pretty popular
car. A lot of people drove Fords.
And number 7. My name “Gregory” has seven letters. So what?
1? Kennedy was elected on a platform which included civil rights. But
during his presidency, he did nothing and signed no legislation to that
effect. His presidency was overshadowed by international conflicts, and
then it was cut short. So was he concerned about civil rights? Yes. But
it’d be an exaggeration to compare his impact on civil rights with
But the best way to use parallels to convince people
of conspiracies and cover-ups is to use some real and exaggerated
parallels and then throw in some that are just made up…
• Some are
twisted or untrue!
Wilkes Booth was actually born in 1838, not 1839. But it sounds much
better if you say he was born in 1838. And there’s no record of their
secretaries having each other’s names.
Okay, so there are
people today who draw these parallels between Jesus and other pagan
religious figures (like we just did between Lincoln and Kennedy). But
many of the comparisons don’t really exist. And the ones that do, they
don’t really matter. So we need to be careful when people try to use
this kind of an argument and realize that they’re just twisting facts
and using cleaver techniques to try to convince you of something that
just isn’t true.
Ephesians 4:14 (NLT)
We won’t be tossed and
blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced
when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the
And by the way, if you’re really concerned about the
alleged parallels with other contemporary religions at the time of
Jesus, remember that everything of significance that we know about
Jesus was prophesied centuries earlier in the Jewish Scriptures.
Christianity came out of Judaism. Jesus and His disciples were Jewish.
Jesus was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies, not the co-opting of
pagan beliefs. Parallels may exist, but that’s not where they came from.
what really sets Christianity apart from all these other beliefs is
that they are about how we can reach out toward God; Christianity is
about how God has reached out toward us.
Okay, I told you we’d
be spending a bit of time on that first one. Let’s move on to the rest…
the second erroneous view of Jesus is this:
There’s the vague historical Jesus, the abstract Jesus of theology, and
then there’s the enlightened Jesus
this is the kind of Jesus that is championed by people like Deepak
Chopra. A couple years ago, Chopra wrote a book called “The Third
Jesus” and then another book called “Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment”,
and he promotes this Jesus as one who…
Deepak Chopra’s Description of “The Third Jesus”:
Jesus “taught his followers how to reach God-consciousness,” and “is
not the saviour, not the one and only Son of God”.
Jesus that is promoted by Chopra was something of a Buddhist… a man who
achieve God-consciousness. There was nothing special about Jesus… he
just achieved a level of enlightenment. Just like you and I can.
who promote this kind of a view of Jesus are the same ones who claim
that we’re all divine. That we look within ourselves to find God.
me ask you this: What is the oldest lie in the world? The lie that you
can be God. You can trace it all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
God had created the first two people, Adam and Eve, and placed them in
the beautiful Garden of Eden and put them in charge of everything.
There was just one tree that was off limits to them… the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil.
But then that serpent came along and
tempted Eve. “Did God really say you can’t eat from any of the trees?”
“No,” Eve said, “just this one tree. God told us we can’t even touch it
or we will die.” How did that serpent respond?
Genesis 3:5 (NLT)
“You won’t die!... God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as
you eat it, and you will be like God…”
will be like God.” Eve liked the sounds of that. So she ate from that
tree, and she gave some of the fruit to Adam to eat, too. But they
didn’t become like God at all. Instead, they experienced sin for the
very first time. And we’re still experiencing the results of that sin
today. And we’re still hearing that same lie today. That we can become
like God. We can achieve God-consciousness. And that we find it within
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NLT)
But I fear that somehow
your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as
Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up
with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus
than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you
received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.
Jesus was not some man who somehow achieved God-consciousness. He was
God in the flesh. And He didn’t show us how to achieve
God-consciousness; He revealed how God was already conscious of us. How
we can know Him, not by looking within, but by looking to Jesus. And
what does the Bible say about Jesus?
Acts 4:11-12 (NLT)
Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures… There is salvation in
no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must
Way back in the letters of John that are included in
our New Testament, John warned us about people like Chopra. Like when
1 John 2:21-22, 26 (NLT)
So I am writing to you
not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the
difference between truth and lies. And who is a liar? Anyone who says
that Jesus is not the Christ…. I am writing these things to warn you
about those who want to lead you astray.
Jesus is right for some, and not for others
talked about this many times before. But it’s probably the most common,
most politically correct, most wishy-washy thing that people say about
Jesus. And you hear it from people on the street and you hear it from
people as influential as Oprah.
“I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths
to God other than Christianity.”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Well, okay. But is that true? Are there more paths? Jesus says, “No.”
books of the New Testament were written by people who hung around with
Jesus and who heard Him teach and who worked alongside the disciples.
We’ve talked in the past about how these books are a historically
accurate account of the life of Jesus… what He did and what He said and
what He taught. And what did Jesus Himself say?
John 8:23-24 (NLT)
are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.
That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you
believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
He said “Believe in Me or else…” There is no other option. You are
going to die in your sins unless you believe that He is who he claimed
to be. And who did He claim to be?
John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father
except through me.”
He claimed to be the one and only way to God the Father. He says there
are no other ways. There’s just Him. He claimed to be the only way. He
claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed
to be the Saviour of the World.
So when I say that Jesus is the
one and only way to God the Father, it’s not really me saying it. I’m
just repeating what Jesus Himself said. So if you choose to reject what
He said, you’re basically calling Him a liar. Or at least a
self-important lunatic. And you’re free to do that; just realize that’s
what you’re saying.
1 John 5:11-12 (NLT)
And this is what God
has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his
Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does
not have life.
So again, we read that Jesus is the only way. If
you have the Son… if you have Jesus… you have life. If you don’t have
Jesus you don’t have life. You might have Muhammed or Buddha or Krishna
or Bramah or Allah… you might have good deeds, you might have
generosity, you might have religion, you might have perfect attendance
at church… but if you don’t have the Son… if you don’t have Jesus… you
do not have life.
You can accept what Jesus said or reject it.
You can believe it or deny it. But you can’t just number Jesus as one
way out of many ways. He doesn’t leave that option open.
1 John 5:10-11 (NLT)
who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony
is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar
because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and
this life is in his Son.
lot of people today including me believe that Jesus is God. Other
people believe he was just a man. They may even say, “you can believe
He’s God if you want to and that’s right for you. But for me, he’s was
just a good man.” But explain that to me. It can’t possibly be true. It
defies the rules of logic. He cannot be God and be just a man at the
same time. He is God of all or He’s God of nothing.
Whatever else you believe about Jesus, it’s His teachings that matter
there are a lot of people who would claim to be spiritual who believe
this. You might not have any sort of belief in who Jesus was and is,
but as long as you adhere to His teachings that’s all that really
And yes, Jesus had a lot of good things to say. He did
have a lot of teachings about how to love, how to be a good neighbour,
how to be generous, how to live selflessly. All of that is good. And we
should certainly pay attention to His teachings and apply them to our
But His teachings are not the most important
thing about Jesus. They are important, but even more important is who
Jesus is and what He’s done.
Because while following His
teachings might make you a good person, they don’t earn you salvation.
While they might keep you honest on your taxes, they don’t connect you
with God. What’s most important is for us to accept that Jesus is God
and that through His sacrifice on the cross He rescues us from the
power of sin and death.
Should you do what He says in His teachings? Yes. But that obedience
should flow out of your faith in Him.
Romans 3:22-23, 27 (NLT)
are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this
is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone
has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard…
boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No,
because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on
Being a good person and living the right way does not
earn you forgiveness; it’s offered to you only when you place your
faith in Jesus. Galatians 2:16 says the same thing…
Galatians 2:16 (NLT)
Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus
Christ, not by obeying the law.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for
this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good
things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
those are some alternative views about Jesus. Four views that I think
are wrong. But what do you believe? You’re free to choose what you
believe. But understand, believing something doesn’t make it true. You
can be sincere in your beliefs, and be sincerely wrong. So what do you
believe, and why do you believe it? Have you examined your beliefs? If
not, isn’t it about time you did?