Another philosophical thought, also stimulated by my discovery of the religious dollar bill:
If Jesus was Jewish, why do Christians think that Jews are not “saved?” That is, if Jesus was ok, and he was Jewish, then why can’t anyone else be Jewish and still be ok? (By ok, I mean not going to spend eternity in hell.) People say, “Well he created the new covenant!” but let’s look for a second. Did he really need to be Jewish until the day he died/got taken to heaven?
I am going to look at this from a more Catholic perspective, since that is what I’m most familiar with. Let’s first look at the Nicene creed- the creed recited at every mass, the one that people use to define what it means to be Catholic.
1 We believe in one God,
The Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
Of all that is, seen and unseen.
5 We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
The only Son of God,
Eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
True God from true God,
10 Begotten, not made,
One in Being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven:
15 By the power of the Holy Spirit
He was born of the Virgin Mary,
And became man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered, died, and was buried.
20 On the third day He rose again
In fulfillment with the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
And is seated at the right hand of the Father
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
25 And His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
30 We believe in one holy catholic (universal) and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come. Amen.
Now if we look at each section, each statement, you’ll see that there’s no reason Jesus himself could not have been Catholic. Yet the Catholic church maintains that he was Jewish. *ding ding ding!* contradiction! Let’s see.
Let’s look at lines 1-5. You believe in God, and that he’s done so many of these great things. Ok, I think that as a Jew, Jesus would have believed that. Lines 5-10 then: This is believing that Jesus is God. Well, Jesus would know best, right?! Let us assume that this is true and Jesus believed it too. It also says that Jesus was direct from God; that Jesus was directly created from God. This is used to support the claim that Jesus is/was God. So again, Jesus would probably know. (If he’s God, he’d know how God made Jesus… a little confusing, but I’ll allow for the understanding that the Trinity is a very complex concept, and will not use this as any evidence against Christians in this argument.)
So far, no reason that Jesus could not be Christian. Lines 10-15 say that Jesus was born of Mary- again, Jesus would be privy to this information. He would also be acutely aware of the fact that he was crucified and died. Perhaps he did not know if he was buried, but I think its probably safe to assume that a dead body would be buried. So perhaps this little bit is incorrect, but it isn’t exactly core belief in the Catholic church, so let’s ignore that. (It does us no good to say it is false; we’ll assume that its true and therefore, if true, Jesus would have known/believed it.) Now, was this for our benefit? Well, that’s a huge controversy. But again, for this argument, assuming it was true, then Jesus would know it as well. So far, Jesus could be categorized as Catholic.
Continuing with lines 20-25: Jesus would know all of this; it is about what happens to Jesus after he is crucified. He rose again and fulfilled the scriptures (it can be interpreted that way, so ok.) Now, line 24 deals with future happenings. There’s really no reason, however, that Jesus would not believe this. 20-25 deals with the Trinity. As a member of the trinity himself, Jesus would be aware if this is true. The idea that he had spoken through the prophet? The Bible is full of examples of this, so it is possible that Jesus would believe this too.
Line 30 exhibits belief in a single church. Since Jesus was there for this first church to be created, he would believe in it. For example, he supposedly appointed Peter the first bishop. Line 31 talks about baptism. John the Baptist was one of the first to be baptizing people, and Jesus himself was baptized by this man. Why bother being baptized unless you believe in its power? So Jesus believed that too. Finally, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Well certainly, as a man who brought people back from the dead (Lazerus, for example) Jesus would look for people to be resurrected. “Life of the world to come” suggests the anticipation of an afterlife. If Jesus was raised to heaven, as the Bible says, then that is itself an afterlife.
So now, we see that Jesus could indeed have chosen to believe the Nicene Creed; he could have chosen to be Catholic. Yet Catholic tradition maintains that he was Jewish. There are, therefor, two options: either Jesus wasn’t Catholic (a minor error to admit,) or Jesus was Jewish and chose not to be Catholic. If it was the second, then why can’t anybody else be Jewish and not go to hell? What about other religions, in fact? This would create an option for pluralism in the world. Many religions can be “true,” you don’t have to be Catholic or christian or Buddhist or Hindu, just use the one that expresses you best.
I think it’s less stressful for a Catholic to admit that Jesus was in fact a Catholic, not a Jew. However, I think that I lean towards the second explanation. Pick the religion that fits you! Whether that’s a standard religion, something in between, or atheism, anything.
So there. That’s my thoughts. :o)