How non-Christian was Christ?

Jesus-jew-prayingI consider it healthy for Christians to recognize that Jesus was a Jew. Given the origins of Christianity, I can only view the anti-Semitism of the past as a kind of religious schizophrenia.

Nevertheless, I think the pendulum has swung too far when I hear people denying Christ was Christian in any significant sense at all; that Paul was behind it all. At such times I can only say, ah, that’s just moving the problem sideways – Paul was a Jew too. In fact all the first Christians were.

In ancient Christianity, being a Jew and being a Christian was not mutually exclusive. It could be a both/and situation. Christian conversion did not require a “rejection” of Jewish practice and teaching but more of a “recentering”, whereby messianic testimony and imitation shifted to the centre of religious life and Mosaic ritual and law became more peripheral.

This understanding of Christ as central to Christianity, whatever form it takes, guides my assessment of the alternative Christologies that are sometimes offered by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and the Western Mystery Traditions. Many like to assert that Christians don’t have a monopoly on Christ, and to some extent I have to agree this is true. Christ transcends Christianity.

But none of their alternate Christologies centre on Christ in the way Christianity does. They may find a place for Christ in their philosophy, but it is always in a more peripheral, less authoritative capacity. He is not received as Christ, as Messiah. He is often not even accepted as monotheistic. How unJewish is that?

2 Comments

  1. Historically both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism developed from Second-Temple Judaism, which was quite varied (Pharisees, Saducees, Esseenes, Zealots etc). And both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism seem to have develop0ed from the Pharisee school, though they diverged in the late 1st century AD, and thereafter seem to have emphasised their differences rather than their common origin. Much early Christian literature, including most of the NT, reflects this sibling rivalry and the polemics it led to.

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  2. I like that way you worded this; “Many like to assert that Christians don’t have a monopoly on Christ, and to some extent I have to agree this is true. Christ transcends Christianity. But none of their alternate Christologies centre on Christ in the way Christianity does.”
    The way I look at it is that “Christ transcends Christianity, but he is revealed in the Bible.” That way we affirm that all accurate Christologies are rooted in the Scripture, not in the Qur’an or some pseudo-gospel book.

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