If Jesus had not died?

Dave the Web

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If Jesus had not died, would you still believe? I have just read a post by victor claiming that the Essenes say that he did not. I believe the Koran says similar. So I am now thinking on the importance of the event and as to whether Christianity falls if Jesus is not dead?

If he had not died would we all have ignored him, despite the greatness of his being and teachings?
It is however an essential principle of the plan for salvation, and something I have not as yet managed to find a comfortable stance.
Firstly I don't believe or dismiss, but this is a really interesting question actually. From a purely organisational perspective, had there been no alleged resurection, christianity as we know it would not exist. One of the fundamental principals of christianity, is the resurrection. I think it is highly likely that had this event not become an integral part of the Jesus legend, then the religion would not have spread with anywhere near the same level of rapidity. The crusades would probably never have occured, and being considered a christian today would most likely be considered "cult", after all there is an incredibly thin line between what is considered a cult and what is considered an organised religion. To be a christian would be to simply follow the moral teachings of a man who lived almost a hundred generations ago, any miracles supposedly performed juring his life would probably be forgotten, since he would have simply been remembered as a prophet and a spiritual healer. If the religion had not spread, then all the dogma that is in existance today would not have been created, and very few would actually follow the doctrine of christianity. It is for this reason that I do not adhere to the teachings of any particular religion. Certain events such as this, (which cannot realisticaly be proven anyway, so are hence very often prone to hearsay and conjecture,) are very often pivotal to those who follow these religions. Once you start to probe religion at this sort of level, sans the usually myopia; I at least, find that the term "blind faith" is simply used as an excuse to dismiss the unexplainable. If you cannot present a single shred of respectable evidence to support (or even suggest) the fundamental principals of a given religion, then why simply follow blindly because your "parents did", or "thats how you were raised". The message in Jesus' teachings would remain regardless, but it is likely they would have fallen upon deaf ears without the possibility that he was both the son of God, and able to resurrect from the dead. You would be right to question everything, and believe nothing blindly, only then will you be able to find a passage by which to truly free your mind.
There are fundamentals of Christian Faith. Without those fundamentals there is no Christian Faith just a personality cult. Fundamentals of Faith include: Jesus was the Son of God, He died and rose ont eh third day, His Resurrection was to attone for the signs of Adma and all humanity, the Bible is our guide to the calling, teachings, example, and purpose of Jesus Christ. So if Jesus Christ had not died on the cross then there would be no Christian Faith. Salvation is an essential tenet.
It's interesting to note how the fundamentals are essentially Pauline in origin. Apparently, the Gospels by themselves are not enough. So the teachings, example, and purpose of Jesus according to those scriptures actually appears aside from the fundamentals - which essentially exist upon the principles not of teaching, but of salvation. Thus the writings of Saul of Tarsus take prominence over the sayings of Jesus.

That's how it appears a little from this perspective, anyhow.
I have noticed that even the liberal thinkers can suffer a similar form of fundamentalism. It does seem that too many people are dismissive of other interpretations. Fundamentalists are dinmissive of liberal interpretations and liberals are dismissive of fundamentalist interpretations. In both respects there is a closed mindedness and self-belief. Humility can be distinctly lacking.

I suppose that is why I posed the original question. I am curious as to what other Christians here would think of the issue?
Is it possible to question as deeply as that and consider so fundamental an issue in another light? Does our faith permit such questions even if under the form of a What If question?
I agree with the statement that Pauline theology tends to take control of the Christian wagon, especially in fundamentalist circles. It’s always interesting to observe the tension between Paul’s letters—emphasis on salvation by grace, faith not works, salvation to the gentiles—and the letter from James, “the brother of Jesus,” who was almost certainly a representative of the Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem—“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17. The Jewish Christian sect was wiped out during the revolt of 70; the Gentile church, already far-flung across the Empire, survived.

It is true that the death and resurrection of Jesus are absolutely basic to modern Christianity. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain. . . And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins.” I Cor. 15:15, 17. Without his death and resurrection, the whole idea of Jesus dying for our sins would be meaningless.

Still, it seems likely to me that Christianity would have survived as more than a cult, albeit in quite a different form. Gnostic Christianity rejected the idea that Jesus died on the cross and emphasized His teachings, especially their mystic aspect. I believe the Arians—the so-called “Arian Heresy”—also rejected the idea that Jesus died and was resurrected. Both Arians and Gnostics were serious contenders with what came to be called Orthodox Christianity only because Orthodox Christianity won. The victors always get to write the history books, remember. In this case, they also got to edit the New Testament and write the Nicene Creed.

The other major world religions involving particular historical personalities arose from founders who died ordinary deaths—Moses, Mohammed, the Buddha, Confucius, Mirza and the Bahaulla, Lao-tzu, Zarathustra. One of the great what-ifs of history is how Christianity might have been different if Jesus had come down to us as a prophet rather than as the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and a part of the Holy Trinity.
Good thing Jesus Christ had sacrificed his life for our sins.

If he didn't, how would our sins be forgiven?
Dave the Web said:
Is it possible to question as deeply as that and consider so fundamental an issue in another light? Does our faith permit such questions even if under the form of a What If question?

Even when I was a fundamentalist Christian, Dave, I believed, and deeply, that any God who could not tolerate His followers asking questions, expressing curiosity, or using their God-given brains was a very, very small god indeed.

I continue to believe that today.
foundationist brings up an excellent point: Christianity as it is known would not be so without promotion and propagandizing of Paul and the politically biased Catholic Church who chose the canonical bible texts (and the deification of Jesus) in service to an agenda of domination. and what if Gnostic influence had gained prominence instead?

CPI- how would our sins be forgiven if Jesus had not died for us?
this assumes that we have sin to be saved from or that we need to be saved from it, and that Jesus did die on the cross, and did so to save us from sin, and that doing so could possibly accomplish such a thing (a ridiculous proposition since 1. God would be punishing us for being as he willfully created us and 2. the death of one person in no way absolves or nullifys the transgressions of another person).
If Jesus Had Not Died..as The Old Saying Goes:

"roses Are Reddish
Violets Are Bluish
If Not For Jesus
We'd All Be Jewish".
Hi NCrespi, and welcome to comparative-religion.com!

Not heard that one - keep them coming - or not, as the case may be. :)
If one is to believe He didn't die, then one might as well believe His entire existence was a complete sham. Remember, He predicted His death by our hand no less than 3 times. His spirit visited the apostles multiple times.

He said He came here to die, and when Peter said he wouldn't allow it Christ said "Get behind me, Satan! You are but a stumbling block" of course meaning "DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF PROPHECY, I AM HERE TO FULFILL IT."

So anyway, yada yada my opinion is, if a story is out there that Jesus went on into Europe to continue His ministry, my belief is yes that is possible, but not until after He actually died.

Another interesting note is that many (or most?) Native American Indian tribes speak of a "wise white man" with grey hair and beard that visited them and taught them many truths, and he didn't have a name so they named him... they named him something like "chee-zous." Close enough to me. :) I heard this from a Native American in another forum, and he provided me with a link to the information if anyone is interested.
I know there's a story about Joseph of Aramathea (or is that "Arimathea"?) travelling to Europe with some of the New Testament cast - story here:

joseph of arimathea and the legend of glastonbury

However, I have wondered how much is embellishment - a form of propaganda from the Anglican community with respect to their face off with Rome after Henry VIII made Britain protestant. Certainly the Anglican Priest who first put me onto the story used it as a basis for claiming supremacy of the Anglican church over the Roman Church, as it would mean that the Glastonbury Church was founded first.


...as to the stories of the Native American legends - yes, that does sound very interesting indeed. I'd love to follow up any links to that you may have.
It's worth noting that the Resurrection is not, per Paul and the apparent standard of early Christianity even without him, a unique event that happened to Jesus, but that His Resurrection is the single prototype of something promised to all men -- or at least all who turn to and follow God.

And the key point here is obscured by a change in mental orientation between the First Century and now. For both the Jews and the Hellenic civilization that had spread across most of the eastern anicent world, the spirit did survive the body. Go up to Hillel or Xenophon and say, "I have proof of survival after death," and their response would be, "So? Tell me something useful."

But the spirit that supervived the body was impotent, incapble of influencing the world around it, laden with regret and frustration. Achilles' wraith told Odysseus that he would rather be a living swineherd for a day than the dead hero for an eon.

The body was the means by which the spirit was able to will and do, to be an effective living presence. And this is the key to the Resurrection story -- not that Jesus came back from the dead; ghosts had been doing that on a regular basis (cf. Saul and the "Witch of Endor" calling up Samuel's ghost) -- but that He rose in a new and glorified body, transcending the limitations of the mortal body, and that that body is promised to all His followers. Examine I Corinthians 15 from that perspective to grasp how the Resurrection story affected converts to Christianity in New Testament times.

In this regard, I've always found it interesting to note how Spanish addresses living and dying. As you know, Spanish renders "to be" by two distinct verbs: ser for equivalence or permanent state, and estar for temporary condition: Soy libre for "I am [now and always have been] free" vs. Estoy cansado for "I am [at present, as a temporary condition,] tired."

But "I am alive" is Soy viviendo while "I am dead" is Estoy muerto. It's a matter of idiom, to be sure, but Sapir and Whorf would say that there's a real conceptual significance behind the idioms.
I said:
as to the stories of the Native American legends - yes, that does sound very interesting indeed. I'd love to follow up any links to that you may have.

I haven't even checked it out yet. This book is apparently able to be purchased. I checked Barnes and Noble once (walked in physically) and they didn't have it on their list...

Good luck
Lordy! That site is hard to read - I'll have to copy/paste the test into word and read it offline. :)
CPInteract said:
Good thing Jesus Christ had sacrificed his life for our sins.

If he didn't, how would our sins be forgiven?

Directly by God, perhaps. That's what the Jews do. Although I'm not knowledgable, I'd expect that most religions provide a way to relieve their followers of the burden of their sins or wrong-doing.

As a psychologist type, I see the forgiveness of sins to be a way for an individual to extricate him/herself from guilt so that he/she can move forward, more productively, in their life. That's what they do for the individual who gives them up, regardless of the manner in which they unburden themselves of them. It's the process of giving up the burden of the sin that makes the difference, not who receives them. At least for the individual doing it.

Isn't it the belief that Christ accepts sins, thereby relieving us of the burden, that provides the relief from the sins? Is it as important how it's done as it is that the person giving them up believes it's an effective way?
It is interesting to read Polycarp's comments on language. I wonder how much the Aramaic or the Greek conveyed so much more than is readibly conceivable from the English? Truly the Bible is a deep deep well to drink from.