Jesus started a religious revolution

Jesus grew up as a Jew, but developed a series of changes to his religion that turned out to be fundamental. One of these fundamental changes is the role of our Holy Scripture.

Any belief system needs a definition. For most religions this definition is some Holy Scripture. But not for Christianity. Christianity is not defined by a Holy Scripture. It is defined by a person, a person who didn’t write any book.

Jesus didn’t say that the Jewish Holy Scriptures (most of which is known to Christians as the Old Testament) were “wrong”, but he look at them in a new way.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus claims to “fulfill” the Jewish Holy Scriptures. He says that only he (not these scriptures) is “the way, and the truth, and the life”.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:1-7

This destroyed the authority of these scriptures. Jews called the “Word of God”. No wonder that they accused Jesus of blasphemy.

Seeing God as a father who “forgives everything” differs fundamentally from the Jewish image of a God who will “make them pay for their sins”. Jesus redeemed humanity of this yoke, this wrong image of God. That’s why we sometimes refer to him as the Saviour.

On the other hand, refusing a Holy Scripture for your Church is no solution. Note that religions were the first cultures that defined themselves using written descriptions. Kingdoms were defined by the person of their king, empires by their emperor, peoples by their territory.

Every modern culture needs a written description that lasts longer and is more reliable than human brains. For corporations this written description is called a mission statement. For religious groups it is called the Holy Scripture.

That’s why even Christians had to formulate their Holy Scripture. It took them about four centuries. But since then they all agree: the Bible is their Holy Scripture.

But there is another problem. Every Holy Scripture has been formulated at a given time for a given audience. As every culture changes over time. So there is no way around the fact that every religion needs, in addition to a Holy Scripture, a legal person who is responsible for interpreting their mission statement.

We might say here that Jesus was naive when he did not consider theses issues. But keep in mind that he lived 2000 years ago when writing technologies were only at their beginnings, it was more than 1500 years before humankind began to worry about copyright laws. And then don’t forget that Jesus was killed at the age of 30, before he had time to think about these issues.

And we cannot say that he didn’t think at all about them. For example he said to one of his disciples (Simon Peter)

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:13-19