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Thread: Finding Jesus as a non-theist

  1. #1

    Default Finding Jesus as a non-theist

    I'll preface this by saying that's a very clunky thread title, as I'm not quite sure how to define this yet...

    I know religion tends to be a divisive topic on here, and hopefully this will remain civil, but thought I'd share an ongoing experience, if only because I'm finding it interesting. I am not a religious person, never have been. There will always be obstacles to me accepting any notion of deities or divine individuals (of any tradition), and if asked to label myself, I will likely always say atheist. I do not hold the Bible (any version thereof) to be the word of God and I have misgivings a-plenty about mainstream religious belief and religious organisations. Personal opinion is that if you have a belief, it should take the form of a personal relationship rather than dogmatic adherence, and be as free as possible from intermediaries. Personal truth, if you will.

    With that out of the way, here's what I'm experiencing. I've always had an interest in the historical Jesus, that is to say the flesh and blood man, what he said, who he said it to and the impact it had, but up until reasonably recently, the religious "gift wrap" has been a barrier my brain just wouldn't cross. In the last few years, I've been discussing the subject with a friend and former housemate who is Christian, usually through most convivial conversations involving food and wine (irony not lost...), which has spurred me to research more about the man, free from the usual "atheist vs Christian" stuff, as that way lies perception bias, entrenched positions and ultimately futility.

    Defining exactly where I'm at is hard. I still identify as atheist, but there's definitely been some sort of change in my perception, as without quite knowing what form it's taking, I think I'm carving out my own relationship with Jesus in a personal way that makes sense for me. It's a connection with the human individual of that name rather than any notion of a divine entity, as I don't consider him the son of God, nor do I believe he died for my (or anyone else's) sins, but...something has "clicked". Connection rather than conversion. It's a touch confusing, but in a positive sense.

    I'm not about to base my ongoing spiritual(?) journey purely on a discussion in an ABDL community, but I know there's a reasonably significant Christian demographic here, so felt like as good a place as any to open up a bit more, which itself is quite a leap for me. Wondered if it resonated with anyone else?

  2. #2


    I'm a Methodist Minister of Music, but I'm also a free thinker. I find a lot of errors, if not nonsense, in the Old Testament, but the New Testament is different as are the first four books of The New Testament. One has to assume that the writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are reasonably accurate, but I think they contain the actions and wisdom of Jesus. And there's one thing that's very different in this new Christianity that makes it unique from other religions. In an age where the male was master of his domain and women were property, Jesus treated women very differently. And it is the three woman who are first to discover that the crucified Christ is not in the tomb. The angel speaks to them first.

    We've had as threads, "If you could go back in time, who or what would you like to see", and I think I've been the only one to say, Jesus. The life of Christ probably changed the world culture more than any other single event, even more than World War II or the atom bomb.

    Did Christ die for our sins? Well, he said he was about to do that. Maybe it's the act of creation that in all of its random selection, still manages to understand us, its most complicated creation and more importantly, care about us.

    Before people come on to this thread to argue with what I've said, understand it's just my perception of Christ, not facts, not anything that can be proved or verified. But it is something that gives me comfort in a very terrifying world. If one would want to pattern their life after someone whom they could respect for their love and compassion, and forgiveness, they couldn't find anyone better than Jesus of Nazareth.

  3. #3


    I too never believed due being brought up by parents that never did nor did they have me christened but i was married to a guy that was a christian....but sadly too over the top and used it as an excuse to be nasty as long as he so put it......asked God for one point i hated anything to do with God as he made me think that it was an excuse for people to do as they wanted then ask for this forgiveness..If i did anything wrong he would make me pray ..not bad things just silly little things so i got scared of anything to do with God being read quotes from the bible for anything i said or did and told to repeat....even having his hands around my neck to cast demons out....that weren there of course i had just said something he may not have agreed with..... I realised after i split with him that it wasnt what it was all about and read ...i wont say no way i could..but snippets from the bible when i needed hope .....which is not nice to say but im being honest and i found it did help. I see people saying this means that in there and that verse means so and so but at the end of the day i think you can read the bible to interpret what you want it to mean to you at the time ......thats why it is so powerful helps not religious but i do believe that there is something and as dogboy has put its good to have the comfort in a terrifying world.....if you dont want to read it dont but those that it helps then if it helps what harm is there ..we all have to have something to hold onto and believe in wether it ourselves another person or God...sadly in the UK i think Christianity isnt as widespread as the US so it an even harder thing to talk about ....hugs xxx

  4. #4


    If you are studying the historic Jesus, you may have run across the name Marcus Borg - an historian and theologian prominent in that field. He is also a prolific writer of Progressive Christianity. I think you might agree with much of his theology. I would start with his book, "The Heart of Christianity". It has certainly changed my views on religion and faith.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by dogboy View Post
    If one would want to pattern their life after someone whom they could respect for their love and compassion, and forgiveness, they couldn't find anyone better than Jesus of Nazareth.
    I think this is probably the direction I'm approaching it from. I have a curiosity about the man, what he said, what he did and how those qualities can be applied in the modern world, but I have no interest in structured Christianity, if that makes sense? I've found a way to investigate and apply what I find without feeling the need to change my worldview from a theistic standpoint. Can probably be thought of as treating Christ as a profound thinker and activist (perhaps in the manner of a Plato or Socrates) rather than a divine agent, which is always the bit my brain tended to form a clump around. Having figured out that personal approach, I guess you could say the wisdom in the teachings has rather hit me all at once, which has startled me somewhat!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Little2Roo View Post
    If you are studying the historic Jesus, you may have run across the name Marcus Borg - an historian and theologian prominent in that field. He is also a prolific writer of Progressive Christianity. I think you might agree with much of his theology. I would start with his book, "The Heart of Christianity". It has certainly changed my views on religion and faith.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Yep, it's Borg's "Finding Jesus Again for the First Time" that I've found so interesting. His re-framing of God is what helped my brain overcome a lot of the hurdles it's always had towards religious concepts. From the non-Christian tradition, I've also been reading "The Way of Hermes" and generally digging into more esoteric lines of inquiry. Have also found the writing and podcasts of Neil Kramer very useful. Interestingly, his concept of the societal "reality tunnel" construct resonates with what Borg says about conventional wisdom, both at the time of Christ and indeed now. All of that has come together in a way that has allowed me to investigate without feeling like I'm obliged to believe, which has always been the mental blocking point.

  6. #6


    I went through a period of belief before coming across things I certainly didn't believe, especially in the old testament. It got to the point where the only thing keeping me from total disbelief was all life coming from preexisting life. But I'm more of an agnostic than and atheist now, and I think it's all because of ghosts.

    Yes, I know it seems a little out of place, but my mom went through an experience where her photos were coming out wrong, and only the photos of her. Everyone else came out fine, but her arm looked chopped off, like something was messing with her for fun. I have done a good amount of looking, and have found reported stories of actual hauntings, of ghost shows where there was actual proof that something was going on. Sometimes, the victims are no longer haunted after the ghost has either been dispelled forcefully or sometimes just comforted.

    Sometimes, they go... somewhere else. Somewhere like heaven, or another group's version of it. I've been wanting to do more research but it's always slipped my mind. Maybe my belief in ghosts will keep me tied to a place where ghosts seemingly go when they leave, a place where God welcomes those who are good.

    I am absolutely terrified of death itself. There is that possibility of disappearing forever, of reaching the state of nothingness you were in before your parents were born. Would your life even matter if that is the case? To the living, sure, but the living will die and reach the same state of nothingness. This is a very grim outlook to have, so I take extreme comfort in believing in any sort of afterlife. I would love for my life to mean something, even after the world inevitably dies once our sun goes supernova, or when climate change leads to our demise, whichever comes first.

  7. #7


    I can understand not believing in God or a divine Christ in the way that the traditional church has portrayed their faith system. I think it's because the Renaissance Church, and maybe before that, humanized God. We see it in the paintings and other art forms, as well as writing. The church also interpreted much of the Bible, creating doctrines that don't exist in scripture. I think that each one of us must come to terms with a possible afterlife in our own way.

    As for ghosts, I've seen a real ghost. I've posted the story many times so I won't again unless someone really wants to know. In a nutshell, my best friend and I were playing with a Ouija board at midnight in the attic, my bedroom, of my parents house, and when we commanded that it come forth, it did in full form. It scared the crap out of both of us. Neither one of us could move as it passed through us. Where it went through us, we were very cold.

    I don't know what ghosts are, whether they are just a remnant of energy that remains after death, or if they have a life and self awareness of their own. The thing that we saw felt to be evil. We threw out the Ouija board. It was hard for me to sleep in my bedroom after that.

  8. #8


    This is a really interesting thread to me, mostly because I approach most of my view of Christianity from a historical perspective. There is a magazine that my mom used to subscribe to, not sure if it's still in print, called Biblical Archaeology that focused on archaeological finds in the Middle East and attempting to tie them to Biblical History, typically this involves archaeologists searching for locations identified in the Bible that today go by a different name. Another source that you may choose and find helpful are religiously inspired novels. Some of my favorites from this category include The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. which is a story told from the perspective of a demon, it gets a bit weird but is mostly about Lewis' view that actions matter more than orthodoxy, and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian-language novel which among other stories, includes an alternate telling of Jesus' interactions with Pontius Pilot. I mention these novels because while not historically accurate, they portray the variance in how many Christians interpret their faith. In my own personal belief, which I will state is not very popular outside of progressive denominations, it is important to note the history of not only the Biblical setting itself, but also how the various translations of the Bible came to be otherwise there is more difficulty in reaching the underlying meaning. I hope that your search goes well, and that you find what you're looking for.

  9. #9


    My thoughts on the matters are as such. If you can't believe the bible in it's entirety ... then what exactly should be believed about it at all? Do we even know a man named Jesus who his described in the bible even ever lived? For all you know, you could be searching for what is essentially Santa Claus. There maybe a guy who the story is based off of, but I doubt most of it's true.

    I probably also wouldn't want to go back in history to meet Jesus simply because ... I have a feeling it would be a great disappointment. There are so many more interesting people that we absolutely know whom have existed. Who we know has changed the course of history. Not to mention, why even Jesus? There are many other stories of similar people who have done what Jesus has done, but before him. I mean his story is pretty much a copy off of them anyway.

    Now I am not saying everything in the bible isn't true, but my point is, there is no way to know which parts are indeed based on real events. In fact a lot has already been disproved which doesn't make me feel all that confident in trusting any of it at all.

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