Save Jesus, Ignore Easter

By Erik Reeceauthor, teacher God may have struck down Paul of Taursus on the road to Damascus and turned him … Continued

By Erik Reece
author, teacher

God may have struck down Paul of Taursus on the road to Damascus and turned him into the world’s first Christian. But unlike the “conversion experience,” I have found that losing faith is not a cataclysmic event. It’s more like watching mist rise off a river in the morning. You can’t say exactly when it disappeared, but you know it is gone for good.

My father and grandfather were Baptist preachers. I spent the first 18 years of my life in the compulsory service of the church, and the next 18 years trying to extract myself from its long tentacles. After that, I spent a few more years writing a book about losing faith, and searching for something to replace it.

Growing up, I had been too sensitive to the fundamentalist message of guilt and sin. It did not, let us say, have the intended effect on me. Whereas my well-adjusted mother believes that the sacrificial blood of Christ “set us free,” all I could see in Christianity was dogmatism, intolerance, and an unhealthy hatred of the flesh.

My father and grandfather have since passed away. And my mother has patiently, with some understanding, watched me drift away the church that still means much to her. But when my book, “An American Gospel,” came out last week, she still seemed startled by how far I had drifted.

The basic premise of “An American Gospel” is that the kingdom of God lies all around us, not waiting in the sweet hereafter. Therefore, we must conduct our lives in ways that honor — and will make more manifest — this immanent kingdom through stewardship, empathy and a very real sense of the just.

My mother could, for the most part, sign on to that program.

“But you still believe in the resurrection don’t you?” she asked. An uncomfortable silence followed. How was I to put this? I could have taken the route of many New Testament scholars and said that I believe in the symbolism of the resurrection. But that wouldn’t have satisfied her anymore than it does most Christians. Finally, mercifully, she said, “Well, we can talk about it all later.”

The fact is, American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed — which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the grave three days later — that it never made much room for the actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher.

This is why I’m against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life. If the Easter miracle can save us from this life, then why bother with the harder work of enacting the kingdom of God here? It is, after all, much harder.

Which brings me back to that word faith. I believe it plays such a disproportionate role in mainstream American Christianity, be it in the rock and roll mega-churches or the humbler places were I worshipped as a child, because it is a belief in what one cannot see. But that belief — that faith in a salvational Christ — is what will guarantee everlasting life. But when such faith is lost, as in my case, what am I left with?

I’m left with the teachings of Jesus — words so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.

Erik Reece is the author of “An American Gospel: On Family, History and the Kingdom of God.” He is a writer in residence at the University of Kentucky, where basketball is the true religion.

Written by
  • DwightCollins

    those with true faith never turn away from God…

  • faithfulservant3

    Those who focus on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the exclusion of His resurrection are missing much of what this season is all about–this is the evidence that the promise of eternal life for all is guaranteed. However, removing the suffering and the sacrifice fron the Lord’s “life and teachings” robs His legacy of its power. Anyone can love his or her neighbor when it’s convenient; doing so when you will suffer loss is the true test:”Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?(Psalms 15:1, 4).

  • zanderbob

    Lots of food for thought Mr. Reece. Thanks! Just a note…I would argue that his most radical teachings, which led to his death, came at the times when he revealed glimpses of his divinity (claiming to forgive sins made against God, accepting worship, calling himself “I am” which is Yahweh’s title, calling himself one with the Father, and so on). Just up front, in my opinion there is very little direct historical support for the hypothesis that these claims to divinity were not Jesus’ but were added by later generations of Christians. What do you think of C.S. Lewis’ thoughts? You can probably already tell that I agree with him.”I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that

  • elcura

    The greatest force in my life has been the liturgical church and its worship. Where I worship and have served as a pastor we deal with three passages of Scripture and a portion of the Psalms each week (Old Testament/Epistle pasage/Gospel passage) and we follow (in a three year cycle) the life of Christ from the preparation for his birth through his life, death, resurrection and his teachings. For 65 years I have been immersed in the total Christ not only through what I heard but in the manner in which we have worshiped. I have often said, if you have no worshiped through from Palm Sunday/The Sunday of the Passion, through the weekdays then Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, you have missed the meaning and effect of the Feast of the Resurrection. The earliest Church knew only the Resurrection feast; the rest followed as it became away of the need (as you suggest) for a fuller understanding of the Christ and his life and work. Thank God for my years in the liturgical church!

  • US-conscience

    Mr. Reece, you say ” I have found that losing faith is not a cataclysmic event. It’s more like watching mist rise off a river in the morning. You can’t say exactly when it disappeared, but you know it is gone for good. “I would say its more like: realizing that my external show of faith was a total hypocritical falsity was like watching mist rise off a river in the morning. You can’t say exactly when you realized that you were living a lie and had actually never been regenerated by the power of Gods Spirit and therefor never really were a Christian in the first place, but now that you realized it you have decided that your gonna follow your own rules unashamedly from now on.

  • Lavaux

    I don’t get it: Why does Mr. Reece separate Jesus’ crucifixion from his resurrection? Aren’t they both necessary acts of Christ’s atonement for our sins? And why does he separate Christ’s atonement for our sins from his edgy street preaching? Doesn’t the street preaching explain why the atonement is necessary? Last night I led a Bible study on Romans 3. The text is crystal clear: No righteousness and no transformation of the mind and heart without believing in Christ’s atonement because no one deserves grace by virtue of his deeds. This means that ignoring Easter because of its messy connotations while taking up Jesus’ edgy street preaching on the premise that it has the power to deliver heaven on earth is utterly misguided. I pity people like Mr. Reese because his version of Christianity is void and lifeless, which is why he would do better to leave Christianity behind altogether and take up something else.

  • Matthew16

    Friends,As to the point of Mr. Reece’s guest column, I am sorry to say I found it disappointing. His fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Easter renders his musings fairly hollow. Easter is, for Christians, a celebration – the Messiah, the Christ, conquered death, redeeming mankind from their own sin; his resurrection to new life presages the promise of new life for all Christians – and it is his Resurrection that is entire point of Easter.

  • Matthew16

    Part 2 (Continued from below)Perhaps Mr. Reece, and other Christians, would get more out of Easter if they put more into it? While most Protestants don’t observe Lent, maybe next year Mr. Reece should try it – the forty days of preparation, of reading and meditation of the ministry & Passion of the Christ, the prayerful participation in the Stations of the Cross which evoke compassion with the Christ, the periodic fasting & abstaining in penitential solidarity, coupled with a Lenten commitment to helping a ministry – feeding the poor, or visiting those in hospital, or those imprisoned – might make the joy of Easter come alive. Just a thought.Matthew

  • stephenrhymer

    Mr. Neece hit the spiritual nail on the head.Christinas spend a lot of time “celebrating” Easter and Christmas and not nearly enough time celebrating and actively practicing the life and teachings of Jesus.As a child and young man, I too was struck by this “He was born and He died” theology. Was that it? Is that all Jesus meant to the world? Today Christians use His birth as an excuse for a month long party (can you say Saturnalia?) and His death as an excuse for Mardi Gras parties and then the feast of Easter Sunday.What we need from our spiritual leaders is a little less focus on politics and the “you’re a sinner and going to Hell” sermons and a great deal more teaching and preaching about how to live your life every day using the teachings of Jesus as a model for living.Personally, I’m bored with mainstream Christianity. It preaches and condems while posing as righteous. The reality is that most don’t even begin to practice their faith, relying on the “Jesus died for my sins” escape clause in the Bible to justify their unwillingness to practice their faith.Jesus had it right: do good things, help the sick and the poor and the downtrodden; let God judge, you worry about helping your fellow man.

  • CCNL

    Matthew16,Reiteration is a powerful educational tool. Please read and learn!!! If you don’t want to make the effort, simply make a “neuron note”, THERE WAS NO EASTER!!!

  • coloradodog

    All this doesn’t mean there’s no Easter Bunny, does it?

  • rcubedkc

    Getting rid of easter, xmas too, is fine with me as long as we can still get jelly beans.

  • TRACIETHEDOLPHIN

    Let me see, easter. That’s when jesus was crusified and burried. Then after 3 days, the stone to his crypt was rolled back, jesus came out, and if he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter. I just love fairy tales, and imaginary friends that are with us all the time. Say hello to mr. sock.

  • hyjanks

    I think Easter should be totally about staged hunts for colored eggs, a chance to display new clothes in church on Easter Sunday, a dinner of spiral-cut ham and Peeps for desert.

  • Scully127

    In my own personal and humble opinion, your early experiences in the Baptist Church and criticisms of it do not apply to all Christian faiths. Different Christian faiths emphasize different things, and even churches within faiths vary widely in their messages. Out of curiosity, since I haven’t read your book, what our faith traditions did you look into before losing your faith?In my own Orthodox Christian Church, Easter — or Pascha as we call it — is more about life than death. Priests in my church can explain the significance of Pascha much more eloquently and accurately than me, but the whole leadup to Pascha — Lent — is about analyzing our actions and becoming better people, looking at the ministry of Christ. Though our current life does matter, Pascha is a celebration of our ability to partake in something greater than ourselves, which is beautiful. The Cruxifiction, which is conducted like a funeral on Holy Friday, is a mourning for losing a person whom we love. There are other meanings to talk about, as well.

  • johnhouse

    “….American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed…” Therein lies the problem. How can so many claim to be following Christ, when the rules of their road were established by a pagan like Constantine. By incorporating the teachings of Christ, those taught in his earthly ministry and documented in the scriptures, we will come to know him better and we will find greater joy in this life. And in the life to come we will see him with our own eyes and live in eternal harmony.

  • arosscpa

    Jesus’ story or Gospel core is the Suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. For decades this was the only message of Jesus taught to early Christians. The narrative and teachings in the years preceding those events were added at a later date.To deny the physical resurrection is to deny all of the New Testament and every confessional creed ever written by any Christian Church or denomination. To deny the physical resurrection is to deny the Christian Faith. In St. Paul’s words, to deny the Resurrection while attempting to remain Christian is to become the most miserable of all men.Don’t like Resurrection — don’t have one.

  • INGOODFAITH

    Testing: “P}E{L}{E}{G”[Means the "DIVIDED" Eber/ABRAHAMICs branch/splinter via Isaac, Ishamael, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esau, Jesus, includes Muhhamad Folks, Mormons too etc.., as their Lineage/Anscestor (NOT OUR's, Never! or unlike US HUEMATE-arians of that Holyi Cosmic NEBULA awared "IT"s (G-D) Naturally Selected , aka, [i] the Chosen, [WE] are the “J{O}K{}T{}A}N”ian) EBERu race! The HEALERS & PEACE makers & LIGHT bringers of EARTH & more.WAPO’s Results = “Thank you for commenting.WOW WAPO! WHY WAPO??? WHO {Sect?, Cult?, Preacher, Editor, Moderator(s) , Mormon, Evangelousical? , rick Warren? Chuck Colson? etc..} is Behind This Blatant 1st Amendment Violation & Anti Public-Internet DEVILISH/EVIL Censorings & Behaviors???

  • razzl

    Unfortunately, Christianity like most institutional religions has been held captive to the fascination of its clergy and founders with somehow justifying the concept of the supreme rightness of their belief by using miracles and supernatural events as “proof” of their god’s legitimacy. The resurrection was important to the early Christian theologians because it formed the primary supernatural event that they could use to “prove” that Jesus was the son of God. Obviously the supernatural no longer grips the imagination of a now scientifically-literate world; it’s obvious that if there was a “resurrection”, it was most likely a brief revival of a man who survived a botched execution and died a few days later, to be secretly buried by his followers. It would have been better for the future of humanity for Jesus not to have been lucky enough to survive his execution, since the religion would have then had to focus on his teachings and examples rather than some triumphalist supernaturalist fantasy, but better luck to us all next time…

  • semidouble

    Goodness folks, there was no Jesus and no Nazareth. No god who sent his son on a suicide mission, no flying, winged humanoids, and no waking from the dead. All wishful thinking for sure, but that has nothing to do with reality!

  • INGOODFAITH

    Testing “HU{E}{-}MATE{S}”

  • ThomasBaum

    Erik ReeceThe title of your article, “Save Jesus, Ignore Easter”, is kind of strange, considering it is Jesus Who Saves us not the other way around and as far as ingoring Easter, if Easter did not happen then Jesus was a fraud, wouldn’t you say?God did not become One of us to teach us morals but one of the reasons that He became One of us was to speak to us, one could say, in a horizontal way rather than a vertical way.God’s Plan, which you and everyone else will one day come to realize, is for All to be with Him in His Kingdom.It is sad that it seems that there are so many people speaking for God that chose themself rather than God choosing them and I am speaking of those that know His Name but in some cases, know nothing else about Him.God chose to become One of us before He created anything, knowing how we would treat Him and still went thru with His Creation and Plan.See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Counterww

    CCNL- you are just a lost as Crossan and the rest? Can you get a new schtick? Same posts, ad nauseam, over and over and over. Listen dude, we know you don’t believe. We know you hate Muslims and make weird comments about homosexuality. What is your purpose here? You have never answered that to anyone here.You are real hoot dude, but it is a very sad hoot.

  • Counterww

    My only other comment is how writers like Reese can avoid the gospels and how Jesus life always pointed to his death and resurrection. You have to red-line out significant parts of the NT to avoid this- both the gospels and Paul’s letters.If you don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ, there is no point. You might as well become like the radical atheists that troll around here and make snide comments. God does like lukewarm belief systems. Without the power in Christ and the resurrection, you can’t perform the works or work for “the kingdom of God” as he says . There is not power to do so.

  • Counterww

    CCNL-There is nothing to learn from you.You are a troll, and someone that is Excessive-compulsive.I don’t really care what Crossan thinks. He does not know who Jesus is, neither do you, because you fail to read the scriptures and the power of the gospel therein.What is funny is although some may agree with you here to some degree, they are tired of your schtick too.It’s boring and tiresome, and obviously I disagree with the content within.In other words, dude, get a life.

  • Counterww

    The only way you will get life is through the savior and Lord Jesus Christ.There was a Easter. Jesus did die for your sins.He conquered sin on the cross and was resurrected.You can chose to reject it like you have or have your knee bow upon his return or when you die.It’s life that He offers. Kick and scream all you want. It is what is it is- and if you bothered to research outside of the liberal theologian mindthink, you would realize it.

  • US-conscience

    Thomas Baum – Why do you ignore so much of Jesus’ teachings ? “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…. Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

  • gwymer

    Read herein the responses of your Jesus loving intellectual cretins. Good luck with your attempt to appeal to the “real” and “radical” Jesus, Mr Reese.

  • malis

    I’ve noticed every strong religionist I’ve ever known (and by that, I mean people who, with intensity and certainty, believe their religion is true and all others are wrong) seems to fit in one or more of three categories: 1) RAISED THAT WAY. Raised from childhood in a strong, controlling religion (i.e., Christianity or Islam; Ultra-Orthodox Judaism; LDS; even the Amish). 2) MAJOR LIFE CRISIS. Undergoing/undergone a personal, professional or family crisis, most often caused by drug or alcohol addiction (or gambling, crime, gangs, etc.). Can also be someone who’s suffered a great personal loss (such as the death of a child), or raised in very poor, sometimes horrific circumstances (severe abuse or desperate, dog-eat-dog poverty) 3) NOT VERY BRIGHT. Simply not capable of logically and effectively reasoning out things for themselves. …and we certainly see examples of #1 and #3 here (probably #2s also, but that’s not as obvious just from comments).Of course, many non-religious people also fall these categories. For example, I was ‘Raised That Way’ but left but never came back; many people survive a personal crisis and prosper afterward without embracing religion; and non-religious cults also prey on the 3’s (hmmm…think neo-nazi skinheads, New-Age mystics, and followers of WorldNetDaily.com). So, although many people in all three categories are not religious, I’ve never personally known a strong religionist who wasn’t one of the three.Comment anyone? I’m especially interested in those of you who consider yourselves strongly religious (not limited to Christianity of course) but don’t consider yourself as belonging to one of the three categories. Oh, there is another category—the “Con Man” who may or may not be a strong believer, but has discovered others (especially the 3’s) will believe him, follow him, and send him money if he tells them he Speaks for God! These are outliers however, very limited in actual numbers (although overrepresented among televangelists). I’m not interested in hearing from them—living in Colorado Springs, I’ve heard more than enough already.

  • INGOODFAITH

    Mr. T. BAUM & Friendly’s:Ye said, “God did not become One of us to teach us morals but one of the reasons that He became One of us was to speak to us, one could say, in a horizontal way rather than a vertical way.”Prophetic Correction: Pleazzza Pleassse;Anywhere , before ye refer to write god as a “HE” or a “HIM” or “HIS inplace/replace for Ye god INSTEAD of OUR G-D god, is Not Kosher!Your sentence above is O.K. but is Not a G-Dly TRUE (opposite MYTH) statement. “the reasons that IT [god] became One of us was to speak to [i] WE, one could say, in a horizontal way rather than a vertical way.”THOM; Keep Ye Clothes On, W/Boots is O.K., Soo, “Be Ready” Thomas, sleep with one eye open & one eye closed. Same way w/them ears Chap, So when the Trumpets sound YO!

  • ivri91208

    Erik, this is some great stuff to chew on. Thanks for making me think.Your statement that Christians err when they celebrate Easter because it focuses exclusively on the death of Jesus and neglects his life and teachings ignores the fact that his life, his stated purpose, was to die. Speaking of his imminent death, Jesus addressed his disciples and said, “Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour” (Jn 12:27). This is one of Christ’s radical sayings, which you claim to hold in very high regard.Christianity revolves around the life AND death of Christ. By his life he satisfied God’s perfect requirements and by his death satisfied God’s justice, freed those who believe from the power of sin by bearing our punishment, and defeated death once for all. A Christianity devoid of a crucified savior is no Christianity at all, but rather an empty set of “radical” teachings. For if he didn’t die and rise again by the power of God, then his teachings and self-claims are not true.The resurrection isn’t about being rescued “from this life” for the hereafter as much as it is about achieving for us reconciliation with God (who desired reconciliation before we did, and who sent His Son to live, die, and rise again in order to effect it) and others both in the hereafter AND now. Because of the resurrection Christians must work to build personal character and integrity, strive for social justice, care for the environment, love our neighbors and enemies as much as we love our own selves. These are Christ’s “radical teachings,” but He also taught that He had to die to make it all possible.

  • CCNL

    Counterww, Counterww, Counterww,Approximately 95% of “believers” were Bred, Born and Brainwashed (aka the 3 B Syndrome) in that religion. It is obvious you were suffer from “literal” Christianity 3B Syndrome. You might want to take some graduate theology courses at the some of the major Catholic universities (scroll down to April 4, 2009 3:31 AM to see some free course notes from one said university). You might also want to read some of the books listed at Some references to get you started: Some “takes” on the simple preacher man by some of the great NT exegetes of today::Jesus the Myth: Heavenly Christ :Jesus the Myth: Man of the Indefinite Past :Jesus the Hellenistic Hero :Jesus the Revolutionary :Jesus the Wisdom Sage : Jesus the Man of the Spirit :Jesus the Prophet of Social Change :Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet :Jesus the Savior

  • malis

    US-conscience, since you aren’t any of the three, I assume you came to your religious belief as a conscious decision, as an adult. OK, I have two questions then. First, what influenced you in this decision? Did you simply feel there must be a God (either because of a feeling of a ‘universal but unexplainable presence,’ a recognition that the complexity of the universe could only have accomplished by a creator, or some other reason); or did you make an intellectual choice that you would prefer having, to not having a religion (a version of Pascal’s Wager)? Second, what made you decide on your ‘strong Christianity’ as your choice of religion? Why not Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism (for example)? And within Christianity, why did you choose your branch (Catholicism? Southern Baptist? Protestant?)? What convinced you that yours is the single true religion and all the other are false (or do you not believe that)? Do you think I, as someone neutral on the difference among religions, should believe you versus those of equally strong but diametrically opposite faith? Why?Of course, I can’t ignore that “every strong religionist I’ve ever known” is a very limited sample—a paltry few hundred that I’ve know well enough to be confident of their stories, versus the billions of religionists worldwide. Even if the basis my hypothesis could be proven (religionist originate in three classes), I’m sure there are outliers. It’s just that, I‘ve never personally known any.Still, I’m curious and interested in your answers.

  • TOTE

    Ignore Easter.Correct.It is error. Astarte. Eoster. All had nothing to do with our Lord and Savior. Neither did bunnies. Neither did colored eggs. Rev 12:9 says it all.

  • Counterww

    CCNL-You can spout all you want about your liberal theologians and what they think. I already know what they think.I would never even get close to Catholic University classes. They allow that crap to be spouted, but it goes against what the Vatican says, and you know it. I’ll put my “all in” bet on Paul, who would run circles around Crossan, Borg, and all the other nutty fruitcakes you have bought into. Go ahead, keep it going.In the end I will celebrate when I die as I will meet my Savior face to face and be happy to be resurrected due to His power. The question really is, will you be celebrating or crestfallen due to your faith in people that turn away the gospel at every opportunity?It would be best if you threw away all the liberal theological “faith” you have and pick up CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and read it about 15 times or so. YOU are brainwashed , dude, in believing their crapola.Liberated? This is what Jesus brought to the world in delivering us from sin and power within. YOu just cannot see it, or are so self absorbed you refuse to even consider it anymore. Exegesis? More like heretical.Now go ahead and cut paste like you always do.

  • CCNL

    Counterww,Hmmm, spoken like someone with a significant case of the 3 B syndrome. This has resulted in you being saddled by the thinking of not the simple preacher man but by the myths and embellishments of his life portrayed by P, M, M, L and J the real founders of the highly theologically flawed Christian religion.

  • JIMMURPHY1

    You probably don’t believe in Santa Claus or Leprechauns or miracles. I pity you, fool. What a lousy life you must have. You think too much about it…probably cuz you’re a big time DC writer…whatever. Been there, done that. Left. Much happier.

  • CCNL

    When one “thumps” Revelations, others should heed the descriptions of this odd book by some very smart people.To wit: (See Wikipedia for the references-)”Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[31]” “Thomas Jefferson omitted it entirely from the Bible he edited, and wrote that he “considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.” [32] “Martin Luther found it an offensive piece of work” and “John Calvin had grave doubts about its value.”[33]

  • davis_boyz

    “It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life.”Well, my church celebrates His RESURRECTION on Easter. Easter is not about His death, but CONQUERING DEATH, which is the promise He gave to all believers of salvation through faith.

  • whizkidz1

    I think Kierkegaard said it best: Through his ministry, Jesus implored us to imitate him, but we choose to adore him instead.

  • outragex

    This is a provocative post with a provactive title, but I don’t feel the author’s criticisms are very relevant to my understanding of Easter. I suppose by the standard of modern journalism the article is a success based on the number of comments it has generated. Mr. Recce’s criticisms seem valid for the fundamentalist church in which he was raised, but less so for mainline churches such as mine (Christian Church-Disciples of Christ). Like so much of Christian life this issue is a matter of balance. My church teaches that an after-life with God will be great, but in the meantime we are to work diligently at making earth as “heavenly” as possible by pursuing peace, justice, and compassion for ALL. We will never come remotely close to achieving “heaven” but sill we must try. To focus too much on “punching our ticket to heaven” is selfish because it only means following God in order to qualify for etnernal benefits, a consumer transaction. The Gospel is about relationship with God, not earning frequent flyer miles. Too much focus on an afterlife or the “end times” may cause us to forget that we are God’s hands and feet on earth right now.Also, the Easter narrative must be balanced between several themes. Some of these themes include the example of Jesus’ life (i.e. even on the cross he forgave his tormentors and fellow victim), the reason for his death (atonement), his victory over death through resurrection, and even the post-Easter story of Pentecost (God’s spirit ever-present on earth and in the lives of people). All of these themes, and probably many more, matter and all can be included in a nuanced celebration of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Guilt and sin matter of course, but they must be balanced with grace, love, and forgiveness. God came to us to save, not condemn. Grace trumps fear and guilt, in fact it trumps everything. Like the bumper sticker says: “God bless the whole world, no exceptions.”

  • Maryann261

    There is no proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus was most likely insane. If he were alive today, using every form of communication available today to deliver his message that he is the Son of God, that he would die for our sins and rise on the third day, rational people would think he needed a complete psychiatric evalutation. There is no evidence of the resuurrection. However, 2,000 years ago, people were illiterate, and nobody knew anything about psychiatric disorders. That Jesus died and defied death is crazy.

  • Geot

    The author writes:”God may have struck down Paul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and turned him into the world’s first Christian.”Paul was not first Christian. Paul himself states that he was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christ’s disciples, when he met the risen Christ, and was converted. The scriptures also do not state that Paul was the first to be called by the name Christian. Acts 11:26 merely states that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. I do not know of any other texts that comment on the matter. I can relate to the the author’s loosing faith in human institutions. All large human institutions (and many small ones) are to some extant sprinkled with mean, dogmatic, controlling, individuals. And institutions with power attract individuals who desire to wield power. But just as I do not reject the very idea of government, merely because some rotten individuals are controlling some of the levers of power– I do not reject the idea of Christ’s Church because of the behavior of some rotten individuals who erroneously self identify themselves as representing Him.It seems crazy for a person to claim to follow Christ yet reject his bodily resurrection and the miracles recorded in the new testament. It does not take any advanced literary skills to ascertain that the men who wrote the new testament literally believed in the miracles they wrote about. If one rejects that the scriptures are inspired, it is easy to comprehend that they would also reject the miracles. It is people like the author of this article who seem to reject the truthfulness of the scriptures, and then just sort of make stuff up out of their own imaginations and merge it with the parts of the scriptures that strike their fancy that I can’t understand.

  • jmf3210

    I believe Mr. Reece has put his finger precisely on the point of concern…that Christianity focus on the remarkable teacher, and conveniently ignore his lessons.

  • garrafa10

    “rational people would think he needed a complete psychiatric evalutation.”Would these be the same rational people who killed over 100 million people between 1914-1945 on one continent; or the rational people who followed Alan Greenspan over the cliff?

  • CCNL

    A resurrection by/of a bodily god still requires a final ascension of said body. Heaven (if it exists) is a spirit state (i.e. has no physical forms to include bodies). This has been theologically verified by Aquinas and JPII.So where are the bones of said resurrected bodily god (and those of his “assumptioned” mother??? With respect to “rising from the dead”, we also have this account: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).After Jesus’ failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing.”

  • shimscamp

    “I’m left with the teachings of Jesus — words so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.”I think I got the fact that Mr. Reece has lost his faith by reasons not mentioned but there are plenty out there. Uniquess of faith is that it is ONE’s CHOICE. It seems that Mr. Reece has decided that he reviewed (or checked or mastered) all possibilities and circumstances of choosing faith and DECIDED that HE WON’T CHOOSE IT. As a person who were initially raised as a buddist, then atheist, then roman catholic, and now born again christian, I believe Christianity, Jesus, God, His Son’s Death, and Ressurection must only be accepted by FAITH with FREE WILL. NO ONE CAN FORCE or MAKE OTHERS TO ACCEPT SUCH. EVEN GOD (If you believe that he is the most powerful) DID NOT MAKE US LOVE HIM even though He may be able to do so with His divine power (That sticky subject called free will!). I respect Mr. Reece for making his own decision of doing away with faith. My only hope is that his (last, final?) decision is CORRECT ENOUGH THAT HE WON’T REGRET WHEN IT REALLY COUNTS (that is after death).

  • andrewpatejr

    Without Easter, what? For Christians? Mr. Reece appears to contradict himself. He has never matured in his understanding of the event, but has rejected the fundamentalist interpretations–rightly, I should think, though many other Christians have not ever, and seemingly will never fully appreciate the awesome mystery of Golgotha–the magnificent message about the unending wonder of love in life, which is Easter. The very fact that Mr. Reece cites the “impossible” ethic of Jesus’ teaching verifies the unceasing, “eternal” vision of the Easter event. We’re still trying to live it, and shall always be–”trying.” Amazing.

  • shimscamp

    to CCNL;”Disciples stealing Jesus’s body”That has been very old theory from the very beginning. If that’s true; why would Peter and all disciples except one die very traumatically defending the very false prophet whose body they had to steal and hide to make story sense… There are many other sources than R.B. Stewart’s to considered all facts before making final decision.”ALWAYS PATIENTLY WAIT, CONSIDER ALL THINGS, AND THEN LISTEN EVEN MORE BEFORE DECISION.”

  • Quitaque1

    In the New Testament, Jesus clearly and unequivocally claims to have supernatural power and Jesus clearly and unequivocally claims to be the Messiah whose coming is foretold in the Old Testament. His followers accepted these claims. His opponents rejected these claims as blasphemous and Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. His followers claim that, by rising from the dead, he proved his claim of supernatural authority to be true. His opponents claim that he did not rise from the dead and, thus, his claims of supernatural authority were proved to be false. Today, we still have the choice of accepting or rejecting Jesus’s claim to supernatural authority. However, if we are intellectually honest, we cannot dismiss this claim as “not really part of Jesus’s message.” Those who attempt to reinvent Jesus as a “radical street preacher” whose real interest was in promoting liberal political and social goals are deceiving themselves.

  • jailkkhosla

    To practice some of the better teachings of Jesus we do not need Jesus because people like the Buddha taught better things much before Jesus.By concocting the mythology of rising from from the dead about Jesus Christians created this cult called Christianity which along with Islam , the other murderous cult, has been responsible for the largest number of mass massacres by humans. The theft of Native American lands and their mass murder by Christians would not have happened had the cult of Jesus not taken hold of European minds.

  • ladymacbeth977

    Easter is the time when we remember the death and resurrection, which some people understand as a historic event, and some people understand as a powerful myth, but which is, either way, an important part of the Christian story.Come back to church at other times of the year, though, and you’ll find us focusing on Jesus’s life, his teachings, the teachings of other wise people in the Bible, in history, and in the world, and many other good things. Can’t we have this one day of the year to talk about this subject?

  • InTheMiddle

    Mr. Recce clearly is ignorant about Christianity.Jesus was born not to be a teacher but to be the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Yes, He taught and his teachings are important. But no small part of his teaching was that he would be handed over to the religious leaders of his time, be crucified and rise again. It is unfortunate that Mr. Recce falls into the category of the what Jesus called “the blind leading the blind.”

  • barker3320

    The Washington Post Recipe for Holy Week:First, take an atheist …

  • blasmaic

    Now all along I thought Christmas was the holiday where the message was lost. But no, now Easter has been lost to the wrong message also. And this is why someone has turned against Easter like is was an irresponsible corporation that failed to plant trees.One thing I always like about having Democrats in the White House is that we get to see all those 12 and 13 year old fire-and-brimstone preachers. Usually they’re overwieght white kids whose voices haven’t changed, but they deliver the lines pretty good already.

  • asburyjer

    Typical, take the Christian faith and reduce it to mere philosophies and ethic, this is the essence of practical atheism. The crucifixion and resurrection is as integral to the Christian faith as the teachings of Jesus and how they lead us to live the Kingdom life here on this Earth while we anticipate the fully realized Kingdom of God with the New Heavens and the New Earth when God will dwell amongst humanity! Praise God that my savior lives and is not subject to those who would leave him in the grave!

  • SeattlePete

    Mr. Reece, you’re not the first person to have the church bludgeon belief out of you. It’s heartbreaking, and proof of our fallen world. Our best isn’t good enough, and our worst is really bad.But trading faith for disbelief due to denominational rigidity and the foibles of people does not disprove the gospel, or get you further down the road to truth. In fact, those of you posting to this thread that cite lack of evidence of the resurrection – at least evidence you presumably would believe – are missing the entire point. There’s not enough evidence in the entire world to prove the divinity of Christ, if you do not want to believe it. It wouldn’t make any difference.Faith in Jesus is not based on that kind of proof, and wrestling with doubt is part of the whole process. Faith that has not been tempered by doubt is not of much use.Erik, you’re a very intelligent guy, but your arguments against the divinity of Jesus are flawed. You say we need to focus on the teachings of Jesus and not on his death and resurrection. But as some others have pointed out, his teachings are all about his death and resurrection. He is the Messiah, he made that absolutely clear. That’s why the church killed him.You cannot separate Jesus from the resurrection. He gives us two choices, accept him as God or reject him as a lunatic. Some on this thread reject him as a lunatic. That’s more intellectually honest than holding to some of his teachings as good, and rejecting others.You can’t go partway with this guy. The “Not God, but a good man” argument holds no water. He’s either who he says he is: the Lord; or he’s the greatest liar of all time, a horribly evil person who should be reviled and hated. Take your pick.My prayer for you, Erik Reece, is that the Lord will meet you in your disbelief, and will show you beyond the shadow of a doubt who he is and how much he loves you.

  • Gracian

    Just bizarre.How is it so many people — non-believers in particular — feel compelled their to take their narrow experiences and then use them to tell us what “American Christianity” is?Surely Mr. Reece will agree that Easter is about the resurrection, the triumph over death, its very antithesis. To tell the truth, I almost need people to remind me that Christ’s death came on Good Friday two days before.Even in his brief statements here Reece writes words that are truly traditional and profoundly Christian: “..we must conduct our lives in ways that honor — and will make more manifest — this immanent kingdom through stewardship, empathy and a very real sense of the just.”The Gospel is about all those things throughout. It’s more than unfortunate that Mr. Reece did not feel or see much of them growing up. Christians ought to pray that the Christian ethics that are very much part of Reece might someday reveal themselves as genuine faith.

  • hitpoints

    “You can’t go partway with this guy. The “Not God, but a good man” argument holds no water. He’s either who he says he is: the Lord; or he’s the greatest liar of all time, a horribly evil person who should be reviled and hated. Take your pick.”I really despise this argument, which CS Lewis really pushed. It’s so intellectually facile. Ever consider that maybe Jesus of Nazareth never said the things about divinity that the New Testament authors (writing decades after his life) claimed he said?Statements like “I and the Father are one” and “the way to the Kingdom is through me” are hardly dogmatic claims that Jesus was 1) actual son of a deity, 2) a deity himself, 3) mankind’s sole salvation.In fact, beliefs in an all-encompassing divinity that is present in all people, that the “kingdom of god” is right here (or could be right here), right now, for those who can realize it, would mesh with what Jesus said, or is purported to have said.I also was raised by Baptists and had to attend church every Sunday. My parents were not hateful or prejudiced people, but they did adhere to the dogma that Christianity is the only true religion. As an adult, I made a few attempts back into belief, despite my doubts, but it just wouldn’t stick. As I told others in the church, you just can’t force faith. I couldn’t believe in the resurrection and other miracle stories, which to me were obviously mythical. I was so glad to read Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, which helped me totally rid myself of Christianity.

  • hit4cycle

    I click on the “On Faith” feature to hopefully read something inspiring and there’s a sad story by a guy who’s lost his faith. Why am I still surprised about wapo stories that are anti-American and anti-Christian?

  • tinyjab40

    I found this article to be inspiring. It roughly describes what has happened to me over my faith life. Someone asked why “nonbelievers” are so prone to comment. First, we are not non-believers. Some of us are just different-believers, and others are former-believers. Also, Christians don’t hesitate to try to force their beliefs on others, even through the government. Look at all the anti-gay stuff fundamentalist Christians try to put in state constitutions, at the way the Pope tells dying people in Africa not to use condoms, and the way American bishops would deny communion to believing Catholics who also happen to be pro-choice politicians. Catholic fundamentalists even argue over silly stuff like whether President Obama should be invited to speak at Notre Dame.

  • captn_ahab

    William Buckley said it best in one of his books on his Christian faith. Without belief in the resurrection of Christ, he wrote, he’d have to be Jewish. The bottom line is that the best of Christ’s message is straight Rabbi Hillel. All else is embroidery, and wishful thinking on the part of his disciples and later Christian thinkers. That is really tough for fundamentalist Christian to have to swallow.

  • stopthewar

    I do not have any problems with christianity as Iranian born in Moslems country, but after I left Iran to USA and then in Canada over 14 years I am punishing by Canadian ( a christianity country) for my skin color or place I came from, as former editorials cartoonist for Iranian news paper and artist,,,I have so much hard times here , so much we do not have freedom we do not have respect and equlity same as white canadian, is racist country, censorship,,,I can tell you worst as Iran, US Immigration should help us and make easy to we move and live or work in USA or U.N should watch this country, %95 immigrant landing here are ending as low pay labours like slaves ..so many negative about Iran and no one watch the Canada ?

  • Jarold

    I agree in part with this article. I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in J. Christ either. I don’t believe in dogmatisms, and I don’t believe in any religion either. I believe in family values, I believe in good friends. I really believe in love.

  • Jarold

    And I feel sorry seeing how Easter (the death of a good man) is celebrated/remembered in this country.

  • Alice1231

    Easter doesn’t celebrate Jesus’ death…it celebrates His resurrection. The miracle of the Resurrection is what Easter is designed to commemorate.If you find yourself concentrating too much on the Passion of Christ, you might try participating more fully in Lent. During Lent, there is a great emphasis on Jesus’ life and teachings.

  • arosscpa

    Hitpoints said “Statements like “I and the Father are one” and “the way to the Kingdom is through me” are hardly dogmatic claims that Jesus was 1) actual son of a deity, 2) a deity himself, 3) mankind’s sole salvation.In fact, beliefs in an all-encompassing divinity that is present in all people, that the “kingdom of god” is right here (or could be right here), right now, for those who can realize it, would mesh with what Jesus said, or is purported to have said.”This hypothesis can be provedd false by reading any linguistic commentary on the Johanine writings. The first chapter of John’s Gospel expressly states that Jesus is the same as God in his substance using both Jewish theology (essential equivalence) and Greek philosophy (Emmanation of the Logos). This is amplified in Jesus’ “I Am” statements, where he declares himself to be I Am, the same self-definition given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai, Jesus’ final “I Am” reply to the high priest in the trial before the Sanhedrin is judged blasphemy because Jesus expressly identifies himself as God, and provides the legal sufficient reason for the order of crucifixion.The Synoptics tell a similar story by describing Jesus as performing acts that only God can do (forgiving sin) or declaring the Messianic prophecies to be fulfilled in his person.A linguistic analysis of these texts repeatedly and expressly call the reader to accept a crucified God as the axis of human history and human existence. On to this kerygma we find the wisdom teachings and the miracles embroidered. To invert the order is to subvert and destroy the meaning of the text.

  • Torishimariyaku

    The comments here contain more wisdom than the article and the works of the liberal theologians of the last century combined. The author appears to be distinguishing the church from God, and that is true. God is present everywhere, not just in church. Beyond that, however, he misses most fundamental concepts of Christian belief, so the point of the article really becomes

  • pdxjerry

    Thank you, Eric. I look forward to reading your latest book. Bart Erdman, chair of the Department of Relgious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Misquoting Jesus and many other thoughtful books on religion, has taken a similar journey as you have. His many published books inform the reader of his journey. Thich Nhat Hahn has stated in his Living Buddha, Living Christ that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now. Faith mind does not preclude thoughtful reflection nor the necessity of embracing superstition, dogma and shrill proselytizing. The Paschal mystery–Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again–is upon each of this Easter Season whether or not we celebrate it, ignore it, are ignorant of it, refute it, treat it as literal truth or metaphorical insight. Jesus was a radical teacher and a practicing Jew. And he is still part of the dialogue nearly 2000 years after his very human death. Blessings.

  • Jarold

    I said that I don’t believe in resurrection or nothing related to religion. The only way to see it through my atheism is “a celebration”; people having fun with religious “parties”.

  • Jarold

    instead of teaching kids what a good man was Jesus.

  • jla3bc

    I’m sorry, but this commentary is nothing more than warmed-over, vintage John Shelby Spong, though expressed in a more polite tone.Easter, quite simply, is what makes Christianity unique in world religions. Christ came into this world with one purpose: to serve as propitiation for all sins of all people throughout all time. On the cross, with the guilt of all time on him, he suffered the punishment each one of us should face, but now doesn’t have to. God the Father turned his eye away from the Son, as the ultimate rejected, again what should be our fate but now isn’t. And in raising Christ from the dead, God said death is no more, it has no power on us.Yes, each one of us will die … that is part of life, but death and the grave have no grip over us because of Easter.I’m a person of the modern age, a person of science, but I’m also a believer. It’s all about faith, that leap of faith as Kirkegaard put it.If you don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for our sins and rose again in the final, ultimate conquering of Death, then all you’re left with is a belief system like this author’s, that Jesus was a nice guy who said a lot of nice things a couple of thousand years ago.It may be enough for him … and for a lot of people in this modern age, but not for me.

  • erikavanheusen

    Jesus was the first Communist (of note) on Earth but he could have saved his life if he was not gay. It was because Jesus was gay that he was executed. Shame on them!

  • erikavanheusen

    How can be sure that Moses didn´t invented the whole thing himself to congratiate him with some hot chick (or guy) of his time? It was no one but Moses when God told Moses what Moses said God told him. Well… well… well… if I am as powerful as the so-called God is said to be I will make sure that ALL here me at once not just Moses. It doesn´t make any sense fellows… wake up!

  • dncthm1

    When I hear of those that lose faith it is always about losing faith in their religion. The bible is not a religion, it is a way of life. That is why Colossians 3:16 says, let the words of Christ dwell in you richly… We go to the building but not to Christ.Christ is not religion. Religion is manmade. Coming to Christ set you free from religion. It makes you dependent on the true and invisible God; and not yourself. It forms Christ in you so that your behavior represents the kingdom of heaven on earth. Going to the building on Sunday and celebrating Easter and not understanding what it is that you are celebrating makes a mockery of the birth, death and resurrection of the Son of God.

  • yeehaw1

    The glory of Easter is not the death of Christ but the fact that He conquered death and rose on Easter Sunday. He completed the teaching of the old Testament and opened the door to the New. The study of the Passion and Death during Lent is the why and the Resurrection is the Glory.

  • erikavanheusen

    If God really existed would God had allowed Adolph Hitler or Dick Cheney or George W Bush or Bernie Maddoff to be even born?

  • erikavanheusen

    One thing we ALL should thank Jesus for is that she/he (Jesus) showed us that there is no need to pollut the planet for transportation: a simple non-polluting donkey is enough!

  • stephenrhymer

    In Saturday’s Washington Post column “On Faith”, Erick Neece hit the spiritual nail on the head with his Guest Voice column entitled “Save Jesus, Ignore Easter”.In his writing, Neece talks about losing his faith in mainstream Christianity. His thesis?Christians spend a lot of time “celebrating” Easter and Christmas and not nearly enough time celebrating and actively practicing the life and teachings of Jesus.As a child and young man, I too was struck by this “He was born and He died” theology. Was that it?Today Christians use His birth as an excuse for a month long party (can you say Saturnalia?) and His death as an excuse for Mardi Gras parties and then the feast of Easter Sunday.What we need from our spiritual leaders is a little less focus on politics and the “you’re a sinner and going to Hell” sermons and a great deal more teaching and preaching about how to live your life every day using the teachings of Jesus as a model for how to live your life.Personally, I’m bored with mainstream Christianity. It preaches and condemns while posing as righteous. And like the money changes of Biblical times, it spends way too much time on fleecing the flock. Salvation is equated with church giving, the more you give, the closer you are to God – and presumably salvation.The reality is that most don’t even begin to practice their faith, relying on the “Jesus died for my sins” escape clause in the Bible to justify their unwillingness to practice their faith.Just listed to the holier than thou politicians who profess their deep Christian faith while cutting funding for Medicare or food stamps or housing assistance or any of the other programs that actually help people. If I hear one more sanctimonious politician saying the destitute, the infirm and the hungry need to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” I may puke.And why is it churches like the Catholic Church and the Mormons, can amass millions of dollars in wealth and never have to use it or pay taxes on it? Why should any church not spend every dime it has on doing God’s work?Didn’t Christ say something about helping those who can’t help themselves?Which is more of a sin: that tax dollars go to help feed the poor and help the sick or that 25% of Oklahoma’s children go to bed hungry and have no health insurance (and with that, no health care)?Jesus had it right: do good things, help the sick and the poor and the downtrodden; let God judge, you worry about helping your fellow man.Here’s a challenge to mainstream Christian churches; stop spending so much time talking about how Christ was born and how he died and spend a little more time on how he lived.After all, life is what this is all about.

  • bigbrother1

    Yeehaw1 below inadvertently proves Mr. Reece’s point. Obsession with dogma has caused Yeehaw to spew out a meaningless stream of verbiage that has nothing whatsoever to do with human life.This is 99.9% of what all religions have to offer, it seems. It seems much simpler and more honest to acknowledge that we as humans face unanswerable questions about our existence and about existence in general. Why make up this or that imaginary answer and prop it all up with an elaborate and delusional dogma? What a waste of energy that is. And what a horrible history that way of life has had in the real world.

  • seaweedufus

    Has God instituted Holy Days for Today?Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition {the law} between us;Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;Modern holy days were added by man’s religion not God. Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:God has said the believer is made complete in Christ and that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. In other words man can not add holy days and have God honor them for God has said we are already throughly {completely} given all the scriptures to for all good works to make us complete in Him that the man of God may be perfect {mature}.God also says if it {holy days} is not found in scripture it is a sin. Romans 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.Those of you who profess to be Christians should research holy days and see where they come from. Maybe you might change your minds. You can research them right on the net. Every easy to do.Seaweedufus

  • bigbrother1

    I also want to add that respecting and taking seriously the things that the historical Jesus (or anyone else) did and said is NOT religion. One can critically examine his words and decide that he was onto some good things. One can then incorporate those things in one’s life to the best of one’s ability. This is just a form of ethics.And it really doesn’t matter whether the historical Jesus existed or not. Even if he was entirely fictional, it doesn’t prevent the words attributed to him from being as radical and compelling as they sometimes are.

  • exbrown

    I was raised a christian but lost my faith years ago when I began to ask questions. There is an anti- intellectual strain in christianity that values faith over reason. The story of Job is a good example. As a non- believer I find the Easter story to be morbid. Christ may have bee resurrected in the end of the story but the emphasis of the story is on his torture and his death. The story of Easter is like going to a horror movie with a happy ending. Does the happy ending justify the blood and guts that preceded it? The cross is after all an executioner’s device. Imagine if Christ had been killed in an electric chair and people were going around with little electric chairs hanging from their necks and kissing it. Christmas is a far more humane holiday and even then it is the non-biblical aspects of Christmas that are the most heart warming and humane. If you took away christmas trees and the easter bunny Christmas and Easter would be pretty bleak holidays.

  • hitpoints

    “A linguistic analysis of these texts repeatedly and expressly call the reader to accept a crucified God as the axis of human history and human existence. “Yes, a whole lot of bending over backwards has been done for the purpose of creating the Christian belief system.Plenty of other religious texts exist, with an equal dearth of any practical proof of their claims. Perhaps we should accept a Sun god who calls for human sacrifice and blood as the axis of human existence. Why don’t we? Because it’s absurd? Likewise the Christian myth.

  • RealCalGal

    Wow. Someone of my own spiritual ilk is finally represented in “faith” discussions on the WaPo!Resurrection from the dead is necessary for a God but ridiculous for a philosopher. I love the philosophy but reject the god myth.Thank you for explaining it so well.

  • semidouble

    All religions are based on claims that cannot be tested or falsified, unlike scientific claims. The difference is that scientific theories stay within natural laws, while religious claims are not.Easter, christmas, Santa etc. are all wonderful fairy tales for children and great occasions for families to get together. But most of you believers here are past grade 6 and should have ended your relationships with imaginary friends by now…

  • RealCalGal

    Seaweedufus quotes words of Paul, not words of “god” There’s a difference, and to me one of the worst things about the bible is equating the words of primarily ONE man with the “word of god.”

  • darroltimmons

    The miracle of Easter is the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It reminds us of the reward which awaits all those who BELIEVE and OBEY.

  • Vunderlutz

    The message of the crucifixion is not the death of Jesus, it’s His forgiving those who did the deed and it’s the resurrection…life after death.

  • rcubedkc

    Ignore easter and jeezus, save the planet.

  • Socrates2

    Good, thought-provoking article. Too much ‘proof texting’ in the comments, though, I think. A suggestion, Christian brothers and sisters: when you hear “He DIED for us” translate it in your mind as “he LIVED for us”…and see what the change of perspective does for your contemplation.Also, for further reading, Lloyd Geering’s CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT GOD, which focuses on the teachings of Jesus (and their roots)…don’t let the provocative title scare you off!

  • WmarkW

    The majority American Christianity as practiced today bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus. It’s hard to believe the three synoptic gospels are talking about the same guy as the contents of a typical “family” bookstore.

  • tarquinis1

    The only bible of merit is the one written by Thomas Jefferson, which focuses on the moral and ethical teachings of Jesua of Nazareth. This man voluntarily gave his life, that much is true, so that we may be enlightened to a higher moral standard: rather than an eye for an eye, forgive and love all, including your enemies: cherish and help the poor and weak: you know, the Sermon on the Mount. As for the rest of the biblican cannon, it is based on pre-rational fables and ridiculous mythologies, written over time, and stepped on by Constantine for various political motivations. You know, the Gospels of Judas and Mary didn’t make the cut. The Gnostics? Too abstruse for the political (religious) unity of the empire. So we can all be forgiven for our sins because God “the father” sent his son who he loved to be tortured to death to such great satisfaction that all the sinners are forgiven? Not only fatuous nonsense, but devoid of any principle of moral justice. So an actual human being can be a true God, come back to life after true mortal death, and float up into the sky with all the angels? Just bunk. So he drove a bunch of devils into a herd of pigs, who all promptly jumped into the sea? Really? I don’t think so. So his mother (who actually had several other children according to the text) was a virgin, and the father was a ghost if a holy one? Hey, none of this is true and we all know it. If belief and faith are merely matters to comfort us in this life and ease the fears of inevitable death, fine and good. “Believe and have faith” in whatever give you the most comfort, or is most culturally nominal in the group you were born into. OK with me, and I too on my death bed will probably recant and pray for salvation, such as that may be. I am just a venal as the rest. But I know it is all bunk.Hey, Jesua after only three or so hours on the cross may have somehow survived. After all, crucifixion was a Roman form of execution designed to prolong it out to two or three days. Pontus Pilate was quite surprised when Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body and Pilate at first could not believe he was dead already. If he was in a coma and somehow dragged himself out of the tomb one and a half days later when they came to anoint the body, you can call that a miracle if you want to. But no human being is personally a devine God, part of the triune Godhead, or whatever. Pure fatuous fables and mythology.Separate the hokum from Jesua’s moral and ethical teachings, and then you have something of immense value for all time.

  • RealCalGal

    Christians need to learn that theirs was not the first “god” to be born on December 25, killed, and risen from the dead. Maybe then they’d realize that either 1) their religion is not unique and/or 2) they borrowed heavily from religions that came before.Indeed, the god/man who is killed and risen is one of the most common myths around the world.BTW, why do they call it “Good” Friday if that’s the day Jesus temporarily died?

  • frederic2

    As a little aside: Republicans, the true and pious Christian believers, blame everybody who seriously follows the teachings of Jesus (in case he ever existed) as “socialists”, or “commies”. That means, Jesus was in reality a Communist: He wanted to distribute wealth. These “Christians” call Obama a “socialist”, if he thinks a pyramid fraud exec is served well with 19 instead of 20 million $ for a parachute. The American way of life as a beacon for the rest of the world?

  • seattle_wa

    Don’t ever forget this eternal truth:A believer without organized religion is like a fish without a bicycle.

  • dandrummer

    Hip, Hip, Hooray! I find the author’s honesty so refreshing. The Good News is that even though we may have lost our faith in God, He does not withhold His love from us. He Is Risen!Personally, until I had a 1:1 encounter with the Holy Spirit and surrendered my will for His, I was content in keeping Jesus in my mind, but not in my heart. I am forever changed by the working of His love expressed in and through me.Love is the reason for celebrating Jesus and Easter; not religion.”God bless us everyone.”

  • rzzzzz

    Because the various authors of the Bible cover a lot of ground, those who wish to influence others can pick and choose that which best satisfies their goal. Personally I like to think that the Sermon on the Mount, the Good Samaritan and James’ Epistle are likely closest to to the intent of historical Jesus. I am not comfortable with those who claim salvation through blind adherence to rigid rule. What is amazing is the degree that there is a tradition of compassion and charity in most religions, and yet a history of conflict and bloodshed over negligible differences. What we need is a healthy skepticism of those who seek power by passing judgment and encouraging violence.

  • Sam888

    “Easter focuses on the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life and teachings.”Um, no. Depending on your denomination, Good Friday and to some extent Palm Sunday focus on the death of Jesus. Easter focuses on his resurrection.You know when we focus on the rest of Jesus’ life and his teachings? The rest of the liturgial year. (psst…dude, come to church once in a while! Seriously. We won’t bite!)

  • robespierre

    Interesting article, but the last Christan died on the cross. His teachings haven’t been praticed since then.

  • smtsm

    The fact that Christ was willing to die for our sins is worth thinking about a few days a year. Most people ignore Good Friday, when his actual suffering occured, and go straight to bunnies and eggs. Christ DIED for us. That happened. We need to remember.

  • mmeyer73

    Ummm….Didn’t the Germans already come up with this life of Jesus Christianity stuff about 200 years ago? Out with Jesus the redeemer, in with Jesus the Kantian moralist…

  • jloiacon

    Typical liberal newspaper. Article on faith professes it doesn’t exist.

  • JackESpratt

    Easter is NOT about the death of Jesus. Everyone dies. Death is no big deal.Easter is about the RESURRECTION of Jesus. I have a hard time believing that the son of a Baptist minister doesn’t understand this.

  • Miss_Hogynist

    As Yogi Berra might say, if John Calvin were alive, this article would have him spinning in his grave.In any case, the notion that some twenty first century American will save Jesus is an interesting measure of arrogance – and that’s putting it as charitably as possible.

  • mikel7

    realcalgal, sorry, I don’t know of another religion where the deity died and rose again. Can you clue us in, because that is the basis of only one religion I know of, Christianity. As for the author, Easter is the meaning of Christianity. Had not Jesus risen from the dea, he’d be considered just another prophet. That the Son of God became man, died, and rose again is what makes Jesus unique. No, we should not forget His words or deeds and we should try to act more like Him. BTW, Paul was not the first Christian. Maybe the first Christian of Greek descent, but he was on his way to persecute Christians when struck down.

  • homesower

    Jesus did not save man through great teaching or eloquence, he saved it through love. As he himself said “There is no greater love than to lay your life down for another”. This he did.The teachings of Jesus are awesome, but they won’t save you. You have to take Jesus with his teachings for that to happen. People who claim to love his teachings but don’t believe in his resurrection have to ignore the radical claims that Jesus made about himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no comes to the father but through me.” is not a great teaching. Its absolutely crazy (unless its true). So if you are going to follow just his teachings you are following a madman with a God complex. If you are following his teachings and believe in his resurrection then you are following the son of God he claimed to be.There are already plenty of churches that have taken Easter out of the church. They are the churches losing members in droves, because a great teacher can’t give them what they need, but Jesus, the resurrected God, came to do just that.

  • Big_Marty

    Typicla liberal sqew from a post writer wanting to stir the proverbial pot for personal ratings. Your paper is full of liberal garbabe, everybody knows it.Why not strap on some balls and write an artlicle like this about Islam huh? You wont’ because you are afraid of being politically incorrect and have no back bone. You might even loose you job. Guess what, you’ll loose you job anyway because the post is about as balanced as the huffington and nyt, both of which won’t survice because liberal don’t typically work for a living, and therefore can’t pay the subscription. I hear there are a lot of boarder guard jobs available….

  • jumpsy

    Erik,My book, a product of research and personal insight, opens up the probability of premeditated distortions that changed the reformational direction of the Jew, Jeshua bar Joseph (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) into a belief system that was forced upon the subjects of the Roman Empire, and subsequently morphed into a world wide religion. Charles Stewart

  • chatard

    And so, Mr. Reece the same question applies to you that has applied, applys and will apply to

  • Irish8

    I don’t read the On Faith section much any more. It’s just too sarcastic, and Sally Quinn consistently demeans those who are believers. The comments are rude beyond words. I do understand that other people believe differently than I do, but is it necessary to mock those who believe as “idiots?” Yes, the Passion and death of Jesus makes for a dramatic story, but that’s merely the set up for the true meaning of Easter. I am unaware of any version of Christianity that “celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life.”) We can disagree about all sorts of religious issues, but in this case the author seems to have made up his own Easter so that he can disagree with it. I have lots of disagreements with organized religion, but this isn’t one of them.

  • t_seitz_brown

    For me, following the Way of Jesus is Resurrection, Eternal Life, and healing for this universe, right now– and beyond.It doesn’t have to be “either/or”. It is “both/and”. Both abundant life for creation now. And continued recreation beyond this life. Get mystical. Even the quantum physicists are!Peace, T

  • t_seitz_brown

    For the Jesus followers here, let’s practice John 13:35 as our ID badge! T

  • oconnellme

    This isn’t a new question–but would it kill the Washington Post to have, say, an actual Christian comment on Christianity, if only as a token gesture during Holy Week?

  • jamshark70

    Well, I was looking for some thoughtful comments on the article, but most of the writers seem to belong to the Christian-in-name-only hate crew.Shame on the lot of you.

  • MPatalinjug

    Yonkers, New YorkErik Reece used his cognitive powers and necessarily and inevitably had to lose his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.If Jesus Christ existed as a man, a Jewish, historically, he could not have been more than a political activist who rebelled against the Roman yoke, the Sanhedrin, and the Jewish king Herod.As to Jesus Christ’s teachings, many of these sound good but only in the abstract; in the real world they are unnatural, utopian, and unattainable by human beings in whose breasts a beast resides.Erik Reece is wrong, dead wrong, to think that those teachings “might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.”My sense is that we live in a Darwinian world which is dominated by the strong and the powerful who ride roughshod over the weak and the powerless. It is the strong and the powerful who are the fittest and thus survive by natural selection.One last point: There is no “God” in reality. He exists only in the fevrile imaginations of insecure and unthinking people.Mariano Patalinjug

  • asburyjer

    I think its just sad that so many want to applaud this Kantian approach to scripture whereby we are supposed to remove any aspect of the divine or supernatural from the scriptures and reduce them to a puddle of philosophic and ethical platitudes, talk about raping the texts for our own ends. As for the author well here’s where you went wrong; you heard some people in the church focus on the cross to the exclusion of Easter and thus assumed that Christianity as a whole encouraged such thought processes, but you did so ignorantly. I’m not trying to be disparaging just pointing out that you are obviously ignorant of Christian theology surrounding the Passion and Easter. So you took a errant and minority view of Easter that focuses on the death and made it seem like that’s the authentic teaching about Easter. Which couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is that Jesus came as the incarnate Word (made flesh) to usher in the Kingdom of God and to show his followers how to live today in the Kingdom that is to come. In other words how to be expatriates of the Kingdom of God. He performed miracles to draw the attention of those around them to a power that is greater than themselves, and he taught about a way of life that threatened the established kingdoms of his day and they killed him for it. But that’s not where the story ends; he died in our place for our sins; as he did he was shamed in the worst way possible to the extent that the pain of crucifixion was dwarfed by the shame heaped upon him. It was through his death that we are able to find forgiveness of our sins and be made righteous by responding to God’s grace. Some do choose to stop here and think that this is the entirety of the Gospel, and as such make the same mistake as our author.But, Easter announces the new life that is promised to each of Jesus’ followers, it is the Eschatological prelude; i.e. the prelude of things to come, of what is promised to us. It is through the resurrection and and life of Jesus Christ that we receive hope for tomorrow, and it is this life through the resurrection that makes Jesus greater than all others who would make claims of true salvation. It is in Easter that we find who we are as Christians. For we are not Good Friday people, but instead we Christians are and Easter people, for without Easter Jesus is just another dead prophet.And for those who suggest that there are other myths similar to the Jesus account, well you go ahead and place your faith for salvation in those gods, I’ll place my trust in the incarnate Word of God my savior and Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth who pre-existed, became incarnate, lived to teach and lead, died to bring forgiveness, and lives again to be our predecessor in the resurrection as the faithful are resurrected to live again in the New Heaven and New Earth when as God promised will make His dwelling place amongst humanity once again.

  • rosepetals64

    Mikel7,A deity dying and rising from the dead is quite common in ancient religions that pre-date Christianity–e.g., Mithras, Osiris, and Adonis.

  • mwcob

    Odd. I attend an Anglican Church and we focus on the life and teaching of Jesus on just about EVERY Sunday. Perhaps if Mr. Reese were paying attention on Sundays other than Easter he might understand the richness of the Easter story that, in fact, is in full keeping and fulfillment of Jesus’ teachings an examples. Perhaps Mr. Reese needs to read more books on the subject, or read better books on the subject. Then he could write an article on the fact that successful churches do tell the life and teachings of Jesus. But then again, talking nice about the Church doesn’t sell newspapers.

  • NMReader

    I think you’ve hit on the crux of the matter, no pun intended. Those who killed Jesus to shut him up were no doubt the same types that wanted his message squashed. How to accomplish this? Fictionalize his biography so that it belied experience.

  • mdose

    Not so odd mwcob…Anglicans and Baptists are very different in how they approach faith and the church experience.

  • Atlas_hugged

    I agree with many who have suggested that this piece may represent a myopic view. I believe that I heard Reece possibly on NPR recently and if I remember rightly, I think he might have said that he had a rather broad background with Christianity. This piece just does not represent hat backgrond. I’ve heard some teachers within the church very generally describe much of the denominational differences among Christians as unbalanced emphases upon certain periods of his life. Examples, Mainstream protestants- his life; Calvinistic protestants- his death, Arminian protestants- his resurrection, Pentecostal Christians- Pentacost, and Catholic Christians- the growth of his body (the church) following his resurrection. I guess you could include the Kantian Christians, as they’ve been called on this post, skeptics who are very focused on Christ’s birth.I believe there is harmony in the balance between all parts of his life.

  • ztcb41

    …”Greetings in the name of the Living God/Yahweh.”…”Yes the Living God is real, why he’s as real as these words. “As Christians/We/WALK/BY/FAITH/NOt/by/sight.”…”My God, to lose/him would leave me with what the author is left with/NOTHING!…”You/See/Faith/Hope/Love/Christ/Peace.”In conclusion, “If you don’t have/HOPE, “YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING/Chow…

  • allisjames

    I agree with your article, in part. The Christian faith has been polluted by centuries of traditons and beliefs that have no scriptural foundation. Ignoring scripture, over tradition, has recked havoc on the church. Now, how is the resurrection of Christ honored by a day named after a pagan goddess of fertility, and linked with chocolate bunnies and easter egg hunts? There are a number of church groups that do not honor Christmas (Christ Mass), or Easter, due to pagan origins and unscriptural links. But, tradition is hard to ignore, and most believers don’t have the guts to do so. Of course, the resurrection story has to be based on a genuine resurrection. Something that cannot be proved. For many, the resurrection story is right up there with the easter bunny and Santa Clause. I say – leave Christ out of these holidays and celebrate them as they are – holidays. The way the pagans intended them to be celebrated in the first place.

  • 12thgenamerican

    well erik,as far as i can tell jesus was killed because he said he was the son of God and no person comes to the father except through Him. he also said he came to divide us. you must not have read the bible much.God love you but you know didly about what jesus taught. you have made up your own feel good religion.

  • spidermean2

    When doomsday come, it will be very swift. Guess why? He’s very angry to the point that he won’t allow the idiots to say the magic word, which is “Im sorry Lord”. I think 2,000 years is too long a time already for a grace period.

  • minnelusa

    It amazes me how many commenters are not about to let Erik have his own beliefs. By God, he better believe as they do !!! And they actually believe in the teachings of Jesus ? Hmmm… lots of angry “christians” out there. Glad none are my friends. Erik, good for you !!!

  • US-conscience

    hey Spidey, what kind of theology do you have ? There are no magic words !! One has to repent and have faith, both of which are gifts from God. One can say “I’m sorry” all they want and unless the Holy Spirit moves they wont be Regenerated. Churches are filled with false converts (people who believe/pretend they’r Christians – but are not ) because too many pastors teach that if someone walks down an isle and says a “sinners prayer” (which is not in the Bible) they are saved. This is not true and is the main reason today many will say to Him on that day “Lord Lord” and He will reply “depart from me, you worker of iniquity. I never knew you”

  • US-conscience

    Hey CCNL, you can take your liberal false theology and your ‘Blue like Jazz’ book and your N.T.Wright and go find a nice Emergant church.

  • DoTheRightThing

    If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, anyone who follows his teachings is a fool or a Communist, neither of which I want making the rules where I live. Give me the U.S. Constitution any day, where people are ASSUMED to be working for their OWN benefit, not for the good of the community as a whole.

  • Miss_Hogynist

    RosepetalS64 wrote, “A deity dying and rising from the dead is quite common in ancient religions that pre-date Christianity–e.g., Mithras, Osiris, and Adonis.”So you would agree, wouldn’t you, that the modern theory that atoms are a basic building block of matter is discredited by the fact that the Greek philosopher Democritus argued to this effect around 400 B.C. ?

  • 12thgenamerican

    MINNELUSA,NOBODY SAID ERIK COULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT HE WANTS. I DON’T CARE IF HE THINKS OBAMA IS THE MESSIAH. I JUST DON’T THINK HE SHOULD REPRESENT JESUS AS SOMETHING HE ISN’T. EVERYTHING HE TAUGHT HAD TO DO WITH THE END GAME.

  • Miss_Hogynist

    DOTHERIGHTTHING wrote, “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, anyone who follows his teachings is a fool or a Communist, neither of which I want making the rules where I live. Give me the U.S. Constitution any day, where people are ASSUMED to be working for their OWN benefit, not for the good of the community as a whole.”Let me guess. You own more than two guns, and are a mass killing waiting to happen.

  • Miss_Hogynist

    If every person on earth began their meditations on questions having to do with God with biographical justifications for their opinions – as this columnist does – places like Ireland and the middle east would be Hell forever.Just maybe there’s a lesson in that.

  • AMviennaVA

    “This is why I’m against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life.” You have obviously missed the whole lesson: Easter is about the Resurrection. That is why it is the major Christian holiday (not Christmas – afterall everyone is born).

  • abrahamsadegh

    There is no “Second Coming” of Christ, Mahdi, another Messiah, a Redeemer, or anyone else to save the world. The Spirit of God Almighty as a manifestation of Its Omnipotence is within each of us. We are children no longer and thus worthy of accepting the responsibility of taking care of this precious Spaceship Earth the human species and all others have been traveling on as it journeys through our “Elegant Universe.” Freedom of Choice is the LORD’s greatest Gift to every individual. No government and no institution – religious or otherwise – has the right to take away under any pretext this unique blessing that sets us apart from the rest of instinct driven animal kingdom.Man and woman, just as science and religion are the “wings of humanity.”Christ and all the prophets and messengers of God are analogous to a football team, an orchestra, or actors in a play. Without an audience of ordinary human beings their existence would meaningless. For the LORD Almighty, it is every individual who is uniquely important. God Almighty is interested in having as many Christs as the population of our Spaceship Earth at any given moment. Every day is “Judgment Day,” and there is no “End of Time” or “Hell.”The concept of the “Original Sin” is repulsive to the LORD. The metaphorical Adam & Eve’s blessed disobedience was the proof that humanity was indeed granted the freedom of choice. But exercising that freedom in a godly manner is the greatest challenge every individual and every community faces as it requires deliberate and life-long effort reflecting “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.” All the self-inflicted evil humanity has experienced throughout the ages has been the result of individuals and societies exercising the freedom of choice as a means of achieving selfish and ungodly ends at the expense of others. Freedom of choice, therefore, also reflects the human species capability to destroy itself.Satan is none other than our instincts functioning on the basis of the “survival of the fittest” – as in the case of dictators – rather than the “survival of the wisest” applicable to those whose existence have been a blessing to one and all.

  • Miss_Hogynist

    abrahamsadegh, allow me one small question.How do you know that?

  • AMviennaVA

    exbrown @ April 5, 2009 11:25 AM wrote: “I was raised a christian but lost my faith years ago when I began to ask questions. There is an anti- intellectual strain in christianity that values faith over reason.” A religion that values faith. How peculiar! Perhaps the way a philosopher put it will illustrate: “The choice is between no God and 1 God; and I CHOOSE to BELIEVE that there is 1 God”.

  • IllinoisJim

    I read Mr. Reese’s opinion, more importantly, the comments. Instant reaction? America is so lucky to have been created by people who took the best from Jewish & Christian thinking, at the same time avoiding the destructive, egocentric elitism of Jewish & Christian thinking. Years ago, I read of people killing each other over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin; I laughed because that was the Dark Ages. Wrong. America has experienced the effect of left wing Christianity, right wing Christianity, religious fundamentalism. Conclusion? Some are pushing for the Final Days. The rest must keep the day after tomorrow safe for our kids.

  • Alyosha1

    Erik,I hear where you’re coming from about many Christians ignoring Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God. Expunging Easter and belief in the resurrection is not the answer though. Belief in the resurrection and commitment to the kingdom of God need not be opposed to one another. When properly understood they in fact reinforce one another. Jesus is the first fruits of the new creation that we are called to build.For an example of someone who strongly and authentically maintains belief in both Easter and the already present kingdom see the writings of N.T. Wright (particularly his book on the Resurrection which gives lots of good reasons for believing in the resurrection as a historical reality).

  • DCLawyer3

    All a reader needs to know about Mr. Reese’s competency to criticize Easter is contained in the first paragraph of his essay, where he asserts that “Paul of Taursus” (actually, it was “Saul of Taursus,” the name Paul was later given to him) became the “first Christian.” We do not have the privilege of knowing from Scripture who the “first Christian” might have been, but we know that it was not Saul, for other Christians cared for him after his conversion.Whatever the merits (or demerits) of Mr. Reese’s arguments may be, he certainly appears to be less than passingly familiar with the basic facts of the Christian faith. Readers therefore beware this writer who knows not of what he speaks.

  • paris1969

    The first Christians were called “Jewish-Christians” as at that time you had to be Jewish in order to belong to the sect. Faith tells us that Jesus’ words are as true today as they were in the era in which he spoke them, that is the “essence” of these words, which this is what we read in the scriptures. To believe that he was sent to G-d as a sacrifice for our sins is pure fairy-tale stuff. His death did not stop sin, war, hatred, judgments; etc. His life’s teachings can save us and create more perfect life experiences for us, but we must “follow him” … that is “do as I do” he said. We must love, forgive, not judge, not hate .. open our minds to G-d, “be still and know that I am G-d” … and as Isaiah stated, know “that I, I am the Lord, thou shalt have no savior but me, besides me there is none other.” Give up the fairy tale devil and satan … and immerse ourselves in the Love of the Divine … and share this with our fellow inhabitants on the planet.

  • US-conscience

    Hey CCNL – and those of his “assumptioned” mother???Stop fighting catholicism, it is another false religion and not biblical. YOUR JUST TEARING DOWN A STRAW MAN. Hey just repent and put your faith in the one who died for His sheep. But you do not believe because you are not his sheep.

  • Matthew16

    Friends,CCNL,Peace,

  • CCNL

    Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, When “you all” stop thumping/reiterating the mumbo jumbo of the bible 24/7, we will stop thumping the Reality and Truth of religion in the 21st And US-Conscience, the simple preacher man did not die for his sheep. Pontius Pilate, btw, could have just as easily sent Jesus to Roman salt mines. So thank ole PP for your religion if you want to thank someone.

  • johncivillo

    Reading the article and all the comments posted thereto, I came to conclusion that Christians all over the world are deeply divided on Jesus, his life and mission, which is central to their creed and belief. Most of us in Europe and America are not aware of the fact that 1.5 billion strong Muslims all over the world have got a very unified position on Jesus, his life and mission. Historically, it happens to be Muslims of the middle east were very closer to Jesus than us in Europe and US. I am used to wonder how people of middle east so easily accepted unequivocal sayings of Koran and Mohammad which is clearly contradictory to the belief held all over in Europe and America regarding Jesus?! Are we Europeans and Americans only either manipulaters of original teachings universal religion or annihilators of it? Do we continue to manipulate it to our vested interests when we beoome unable to annihilate it just like Constantine had done?!

  • calcyon

    Thanks for a thoughtful, and thought-provoking reflection. It’s not something a lot of people are going to want to hear–they have a lot invested in the whole Christian mythology and the idea of resurrection.But I’m starting to feel the same way about the religious aspects of both Christmas and Easter–that, in the end, they do a tremendous disservice to Jesus and his message and that they disfigure and distort everything he stood for in life. I’m hazarding a guess that the historical Jesus absolutely would not want to have been deified. Nor would he have wanted to be confused with Mithras (who was born in a stable to a virgin) and all kinds of ancient fertility gods who die in the winter and are reborn in the spring for sake of the cultures who worshipped them. Not that I don’t still appreciate the ideas of birth, death, resurrection, sacrifice, and hope. On Easter I like to take a walk in my favorite forest preserve, enjoy the newly-greening trees and tiny spring flowers, and watch the antics of courting and nesting birds. I make a nice Easter luncheon of spring vegetable stew and lamb chops. It’s a joyful time when the world is new again, and I take comfort that every coming Spring, even long after I’m gone (with no expectation of resurrection), the world will be green and new…and that’s all that I can ask for.

  • CCNL

    Only for johncivillo’s eyes:Mohammed’s scribes claimed Abraham and Jesus simply to add pizzaz to their move to dominate the world.In reality, Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels”/”pretty wingie, fictional, thingies and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. This agenda continues as shown by the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.Current crises:The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

  • youngj1

    I’ve read a great many of the comments on this essay and I have just one question. Why is there not one Christian religion? Many of you call yourselves christian but you cannot agree on what it means to be a christian. How is it that such a simple message has been bastardized into so many interpretations and sects. And who among you can difinitively say that the authors insights are not valid when you can’t agree on what the truth is?

  • bldeagle

    Jesus died for our sins – a basic dogma of any Christian. If he didn’t die and was raised from the dead then he would be like another Buddha or another Old Testament prophet – but he isn’t – he is the Son of God. The Old Testament foretells of the coming of the Messiah and how he would suffer and die for mankind. Easter is the celebration and culmination of everything that Jesus taught and lived for. To only celebrate what he taught would be like talking the talk but not walking the walk. If you profess to be Christian then you believe that Jesus Died for our sins and was raised from the dead – and Easter is the witness to our belief. As the old saying goes – for those who believe no explanation is necessary – for those who don’t no explanation will suffice. Chalk me up on the side of “no explanation necessary.”

  • calcyon

    Jesus died for our sins – a basic dogma of any Christian. If he didn’t die and was raised from the dead then he would be like another Buddha or another Old Testament prophet – but he isn’t – he is the Son of God.Bldeagle–you don’t get it. Reece is arguing, basically, that Jesus is not the son of God–at least not in the supernatural way in which you think he is. Why is it necessary to add all the magical stuff to his life–all the miracles and the resurrection? Don’t you think his message is remarkable enough to stand on its own?

  • CCNL

    From Professor JD Crossan who has exhaustively studied all the scriptures and related references from the first to third century CE:(from his book, “Who is Jesus” co-authored with Richard Watts)”Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.” “Traditionally, Christians have said, ‘See how Christ’s passion was foretold by the prophets.” Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus’ last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God.” “In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life.”For those who want to think outside the “biblical box”, see:www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htmlwww.earlychristianwritings.com/www.faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtfwww.faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtfwww.faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf

  • asburyjer

    Anyone who thinks they can divorce Jesus’ teachings with Jesus’ claims to divinity and promise of salvation/resurrection via trust in Him is simply not reading what Jesus is saying. It is truly as simple as C.S. Lewis said:Either Jesus is:He cannot be a prophet because if he were “just a prophet” then what were the things that he prophesied? For starters, His own resurrection. So all that is left for the practical atheists is to reject the majority of what Jesus claimed about Himself as “Christian propaganda” and claim the rest is authentic even though both came from the same source.In the end I’m reminded of Jesus’ words:Many will obviously reject the notion of being characterized as dogs or swine, but then your argument is not with me but Jesus since He apparently was such a great teacher you must surely take His teachings to heart. Or maybe we should just cherry pick around this one because it offends us even though what I see happening is people trampling the pearls of the Gospel underfoot and mauling those things that are Holy.Here’s another one:1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;Praise be to God that the authenticity and truthfulness of His Good News does not rest in the approval of the Godless.

  • hd1225

    Mr. Reece’s comments are full of error, even from the first sentence. Where did he get the idea that Paul of Tarsus was the first Christian?I plan to offer more comments on the piece later, but for now I’ll just say please be careful in considering what Mr. Reece is saying.

  • mmiguel2

    Dear Erik Reece. Think you may be right. I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God in the same way I believe I am also. He was made of flesh as well as me and had the Spirit of God that was blown to his nostrils as well as I did. So, He had the same combination and body composition of all of us, which is: flesh + spirit. After death He had eternal life as his spirit was taken from him and united again to God, the origin where it came from. This is something that will happen to all of us who are still alive.

  • kparc

    You can’t prove the existence of god, because if you could you would not need “faith”.

  • Comunista

    I can’t tell if this whole article is just a troll of sorts to stir up the debate. but first, a quick sidenote: “My father and grandfather were Baptist preachers” -well, no wonder.Anyway, since Easter doesn’t celebrate Christ’s death, and DOES underscore his teachings, the rest of this article is sort of pointless. Also, I fail to see how following the Nicene Creed (though some Christians seem to focus on it more than others, whatevs) somehow distracts from Christ’s ‘radical’ teachings. They go hand in hand, and the Creed’s primarily an affirmation anyway.

  • kparc

    Want to make a believer out of me?Have all the organized religions in the world liquidate all their assets, land, buildings , all their holdings and in turn have all the people that give to these institutions turn this money over to an international fund to feed and cloth the worlds hungry and poor. Like your main man, Jesus preached. With the great wealth of these organized religions hunger and poverty would be eliminated. Won’t never happen, religion is the greatest con ever perpetrated on mankind, from the beginning to the end. It’s always and forever will be used as a source to keep the masses in line, to formant hatred and misunderstandings and to accumulate great wealth not for the masses, just for the select few. The eye of the camel.

  • willandjansdad1

    A more accurate name for Christianity would be “Paulinism”. “God” told the ancient Hebrews , through their patriarch Abraham, that human sacrifice was no longer his worship du jour. Why then, did it it become necessary for a human to die a cruel death for my “sins”? Thanks but no thanks!I pay for my sins here and now. My gluttony in food and drink has shortened my days and my sloth has diminished my achievements. I’ve got a little pride in the mix but with no apparent ill effect.After enjoying this beautiful place that billions of years of chance, false starts and dead ends has throwm our way, my flame will gutter and die and I’ll join the renewal process as my raw material re-enters the mix.As a mature, thoughtful grown-up…I’m good with that.

  • willandjansdad1

    As C.S. Lewis saidor

  • georgegjones

    Easter focusses on his death? I never knew that. I always thought it was a celebration of His Resurrection. I think that 1 Corinthians 15:1-20 pretty much sum it up.

  • bcass05

    The posts on this piece certainly show the wide diversity of thinking inside the church about itself, and an even wider diversity of opinion from outside the church. The Christian religion has been evolving for a mere 2000 years. If one is unhappy with it, there is a religion that has been evolving for 4000 years. It is the religion of Jesus–Judaism. It welcomes diversity, loves argumentation, and looks forward to further evolution.

  • ted_carter2004

    Easter is the glad refrain that the Son of Man was never crucified….

  • tina5

    I’m tired of your semiannual rip-on-Christianity stories (at Christmas and at Easter). Do you think this somehow makes you a “fair” newspaper?Point me to the anti-Passover article!

  • freebutch1embarqmailcom

    i am sick of jesus.what a bunch of crap.risen from the dead, yeah i might be willing to sell you the brooklyn bridge too. i quote lenny bruce,”show me a minister with two coats and i will show you a hustler” jim fenton

  • crucialruddy

    Reece,I am sorry to hear that you do not believe in the resurrection. Theologically, the resurrection IS the totality of Jesus’ teaching. You are right when you say that the kingdom of God is here and now. Jesus death and sacrifice is for out sake. God redeemed us through the life, death, and resurrection. It is important to see these events not separated but together. As for a supernatural God resurrecting, the reliability of the Gospels are more reliable then say some other great works of the ancient world. We have more copies of the Gospels and were written soon after the events of the Gospel compared with other ancient writings.

  • willandjansdad1

    “We have more copies of the Gospels and were written soon after the events of the Gospel compared with other ancient writings.” A common fallacy…Many Roman writers described events in “real-time”. Julius Caesar wrote his own “history”. We often have copies of copies, just as we do with the gospels. Even then, just as your post is grammatically incorrect and in spite of being written minutes ago, your argument is false…You have given us a real-time example of how ancient texts came to be distorted.You have unwittingly debunked yourself.

  • MotherMary44

    I stopped believing in the doctrine of Original Sin years ago (“All sin and evil are exclusively the fault of Woman”). It’s not just nonsense, it’s PERNICIOUS nonsense. Ditto for the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. (“God is love. God wants to kill you. Only believing in God’s suicide can save you from God’s murder.”) I stopped following Paul of Tarsus then.If Jesus truly was “God in a man-suit,” that makes HIS teachings infinitely more important than Paul’s teachings!! — and Jesus never once said, “Follow me because I am God in a man-suit.” Quite the opposite: Mark 10:18.And if Jesus was NOT “God in a man-suit,” then why follow Paul at all?

  • thornwalker1

    I’ve already torn up 4 Easter church invitations that have been attached to my front door, and I’m more than willing to tear up more.

  • colinnicholas

    I think faith is what you need when what you believe makes no sense. If it made sense, you wouldn’t need to have faith. You’d have expectations. Anyone who expects to live forever and ever in paradise with a god, is as delusional as the devout believers who brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11, who also had faith. Faith is no virtue. It’s kind of dumb when you really think about it.

  • smbrinich

    “So all that is left for the practical atheists is to reject the majority of what Jesus claimed about Himself as “Christian propaganda” and claim the rest is authentic even though both came from the same source.”There is no logical problem whatsoever with doing so, and concluding that one statement is trustworthy and another is not even though both originate from the same source. For example, George Will makes some insightful observations on sports, but his political punditry is mostly, in my opinion, nonsense.

  • danigo

    This writer lets us know why he has turned away from Christianity (he has a problem with parental authority it seems) but he has not explained why billions of others have not. The comments, however, are quite interesting and diverse and hopefully will set him straight. In that case there will be a silver lining to his frustration.

  • fishcrow

    Your ignorance of Christianity is astounding. The “words that got him killed” were not the words of love and peace. Hundreds of street preachers were saying the same thing. Because He said He was GOD and had authority, and would rise from the dead – that got Him killed. Read your bible. If Christ was just another street preacher then we don’t need Him. I suspect that’s your real objective.Nice try though. Next!

  • Wallpass

    Why is it that the Post appears to give an inordinate amount of ‘opinion’ space to those who have either no faith or given it up? Why bother?

  • colinnicholas

    Wallpass writes;”Why is it that the Post appears to give an inordinate amount of ‘opinion’ space to those who have either no faith or given it up? Why bother?”me;My dear Wallpass; I can see how free speech must irk you. But this is not a church where everyone nods and agrees with each other that there really is a Skygod.This is the real world where people have all kinds of beliefs, even no beliefs at all.THe in-church Groupthink is powerful and persuasive, and leads one to conclude that the beliefs of others are just plain wrong. That is what you have been taught to believe.In the old days, Wallpass, you and those like you, would burn people like me for thinking outside the box. We were not allowed to think for ourselves. We HAD to pretend to believe the silly supernatural nonsense or be tortured to death.So it must really upset religious folk that I can say whatever I like about the idiocy of god-belief, and get away with it.

  • cstation

    While there Christian communities with a very narrow idea of salvation, there are others who see faith in Jesus differently. The idea that the Easter can distract from the teaching of Jesus is not new. And continues to be a valid concern. But taking faith out of the message of Jesus is like selling an orange with just the outer peelings. Orthodox Christianity, as in the kind thought correct by most Christians in history, teaches that salvation first requires repentance – literally a turning around – to the teachings of Jesus. In the Gospel of John the offer of Jesus for eternal life translates better to our understanding “real life.” And Jesus talks about those living outside God’s kingdom as the walking dead. Paul argued that if Jesus was not raised from the dead everything Jesus stood for was a lie. One early Christian leader argued that the gospel accounts themselves are the best evidence for the resurrection. For what supporter of the faith would write such a negative view of the disciples if such events weren’t true?-monty keeling

  • jaid1

    If you read “The Golden Bough”, you will find a book that throughly explores the mythology of the ancient world. The god dying and being resurrected is a story found all over the world, from the Mayan Indians to the Pacific Islands, to yes, Christ…

  • willandjansdad1

    Wiki pedia hits the nail on the head…Pore ole Jesus, hanging up there all bloody. A revolutionary and old-school Ghandi, killed trying to set folk free from self. On the ground, a rabble fights over who’s in charge and what it all means.Sorry Jesus but a lot of your followers just plain suck.

  • harland

    This article sparked a thread that really gets to heart of why I ignore organized religions like Christianity.1. you have to agree with all the biblical interpretations that your church happens to teach.2. you have to put up with the arrogance of those who claim to know the truth if you happen to disagree with them.so tiresome.

  • willandjansdad1

    “That are no explanations (and believe me, the world has tried for over two thousand years), other than the resurrection, that can satisfactorily account for how the tomb came to be empty, how the disciples came to see Jesus, and how their lives and worldviews were transformed because of it.”They never found Jimmy Hoffa, people still see Elvis and David Koresh transformed lives. The only thing they lack is a Saul on the road to Damascus, VA.

  • globalone

    Dad,”They never found Jimmy Hoffa, people still see Elvis and David Koresh transformed lives. The only thing they lack is a Saul on the road to Damascus”1) Equating the death of a notorious gangster with Jesus of Nazareth speaks volumes. But perhaps we would know Jimmy’s whereabouts if the U.S. Government, similar to Rome, had indefinitely stationed two soldiers outside his tomb.2) I’m guessing that the people that

  • bcass05

    “Faith” people, listen up. Read the Gospels. In the portions dealing with judgment, Jesus never once says, “You’ll be judged by what you believe”. Again and again he said, “You’ll be judged by what you DO”. Better to be a critic of religion who does justice to his or her fellows than a believe who throws around labels such as Heretic, Unbeliever, Lost Soul.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Warning: my opinion may offend some.

  • globalone

    BCA,We are saved by Ephesians 2:8-9 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (NLT)

  • roboturkey

    I used to belive in the FBI, Mack trucks, and the superior romantic abilities of very young women. But as you get older you learn better. (with apologies to the late M. Ivins)A wise man matures and learns truth through the pain and effort of a life intentionally lived. Just relax and give your effort to a good cause, volunteer a lot, and read voraciously. Anybody who says they have the truth in a jug is either lying or sadly blinded.You don’t need to know “classical” Greek or be a jaded child of over-the-top fundamentalist to get this Jesus scam figured out. As long as we live in a northern temperate zone on Earth, Easter is the spring season of new growth. Jesus is just the Green Man confined to a stuffy old sanctuary. Sneak out with him and go surfing.

  • CCNL

    Paul apparently was not the prolific writer we all thought he was. He definitely did not compose the Timothy and Titus epistles and there is signicant reasons to believe he also did not write Ephesians, Colossians, the 2 Thessalonians.

  • fishcrow

    Oh, and you also need to learn to pace yourself. Easter is for celebrating the Resurrection, not every single aspect of the Message. You’re too caught up in the whole wikipedia generation thing where you want everything RIGHT NOW ALL AT ONCE.Oh, and lighten up.

  • bcass05

    Globealone,It would seem that Jesus and Paul are at odds here. I have a theory–not yet proven–that the Gospels were written as a corrective to Paul’s teachings and influence. Paul went so far off the course that the man Jesus scarcely exists for Paul. The Gospel writers sought to correct that and bring back some balance to the Pauline idea of “a cosmic man”.The other thing you must remember is that Jesus did 99% of his work with his own religious group–Jews. Paul was whole-hog into Gentile conversions, and was at odds with the Jewish believers who insisted that Gentiles convert first to Judaism and then to the Christian movement. Paul’s whole teaching about resurrection is bent to Gentile beliefs (flesh is bad, spirit is good) and away from the Jewish belief in a resurrection (resuscitation) of the body.A final note. There may well have been no body of Jesus to bury. Roman crucifixion practice was to let the bodies hang until dogs and birds cleaned them away. It was a powerful deterrent against rebellion. That would simplify claims of resurrection, wouldn’t it? Non-burial is abhorrent to Jews yet today. It would have been equally so to Jesus’ followers.

  • infantry11b4faus

    with all those preachers in the family you must not have listened to anything they said. saul – aka paul was not the first Christian, that would be the 12, actually the 11. and then there was Mary and the other Mary and lots of others.

  • hd1225

    In my opinion, Mr. Reece’s knowledge of Christianity seems limited. Perhaps in the few churches he attended, he did not find what he seems to yearn for in terms of the “teachings” of Jesus, but that is not the case in all churches. Not even all American churches. There are churches out there that encourage study of the whole of scripture and encourage application of its lessons to daily living. But a person, an adult like Mr. Reece, must take some responsibility for searching out a good environment in which to learn based on what they do know to be right, just as one would take care in seeking out appropriate daycare or schooling for their children or good health care facilities to treat their loved ones. But what I have seen some people say is, “I had a bad experience with X; therefore, just about all that is associated with X is bad.” In truth, there are places of worship with poor teaching. It’s okay to move on from that. It seems like that is what Mr. Reece attempts to do, except (in my opinion) he has gone too far. Mr. Reece hasn’t chosen Jesus by doing what he is doing, just someone more like himself.The recorded teachings of Jesus include the teaching that there is a God in Heaven, that Jesus Himself is the Son of God, that Jesus has the power to forgive sin, even the sins of the whole world, that He has power over death, that He would rise from the dead, that the faithful would also be resurrected from the dead, that He would reconcile believers to God, that there is a place in Heaven for them, that He would return for them, and so on. All this was right in there with instructions for caring for the poor, dealing fairly with your business associates, avoiding sexual misdeeds, and unselfishly giving aid to people who despise you. Mr. Reece wants radical teachings. What isn’t radical there? By what standard does Mr. Reece determine what constitutes the teachings of Jesus? Mr. Reece puts himself in a position worse than those who refuse to believe the Christian Bible at all because at some point his picking and choosing is going to be hard to defend even to him. By forgetting Easter, Mr. Reece could not “save” Jesus because recognition of God and His own divine power was integral to His teachings.

  • t_seitz_brown

    By this the world will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35Question from a Jesus follower to the non-believers: how are we doing with this? based on how we’re living and loving, can you tell who we’re following?T

  • cornbread_r2

    Near the beginning of this thread is a submission from Sanabitur referencing a Richard Carrier lecture. While I’m far too much of a skeptic to believe that the poster is actually Richard Carrier, as is claimed, the linked reference is well worth a read IMO. (And, just it case…welcome to WAPO Dr. Carrier!)

  • hd1225

    One thing I would ask the author is what faith in Jesus was like for him when he thought he had it. It is not a judgment. It’s just that what he described in the second paragraph seems to me more a program of behavior than actual belief. The faith described in the Bible has more to do with love, trust, respect, and choice, than who you were born to or how you were made to spend your Sundays.He also mentioned drift. Drift implies a lack of intention. Another thing I might ask the author is if he thinks he is being carried where he needs to be.If you just find yourself in a place of confusion, you don’t have to stay there. Be intentional about gaining understanding. In this case, if you’re trying to decide what to do about Easter, I suggest making some time to really read the gospels. (No excuses – modern versions are available all over the internet.) You still might not believe then, but you will know more than most naysayers and woefully too few church attendees do – what the gospels really say. I am confident that knowledge will impact your life.What Jesus did on that Good Friday opened up the opportunity for people to have peace with God. Still, He lets each decide whether or not to take the offer. While acknowledging that freedom, I wish you a happy Easter.

  • sdyck

    Erik,I’m struck by these words from your article:The life, death and resurrection are all celebrated at Easter…not just his death. You so perfectly point out that his radical teachings got him killed. It’s all tied together. That’s what makes it such a God thing. No simple human construct would have thought of spreading the Good News about God in such an upside down way. The last part about bringing about the Kingdom is also so closely tied to the Easter message. God actually wants us to participate in what He has saved, what He is saving, and what He will save. His work on the cross justified His creation, but God so wants to be in relationship with us here and now that He wants us to tell the Good News about the justifying work Jesus did on the cross. I so appreciate how you have struggled with this. I have, too! I’ve been able to come to the conclusion that I am honored He picked me (and so many others)to help bring about His Kingdom but that He also is right with us as we do it. It’s not up to us to do it all,we just get to be part of it. May peace of God that passes all understanding be in you and remain with you.

  • mreiter72

    Awww. Easter is fun. The resurrection is joyful. It’s cool if people don’t believe in it, but for plenty of people it’s meaningful and an intregal part of Jesus’ story. Certainly I don’t believe anyone should annoy others about it, or make Christianity the law of the land, and am not excusing the evils that can come of Christianity (or any religion), but for most people it’s just a quietly meaningful time of celebrating and remembering Jesus’ life. And thankfully, it is tied to the wonderful pagan parts of Easter — I’m speaking particularly of the bunny — so it’s really just a time to be joyful, like Christmas, like any holiday. And then, because neither the secular nor the Christian Easter are required celebrations, those who don’t like holidays can skip it altogether. And that’s joyful too. There are bunnies, Reeses peanut butter eggs, stories and hope, and the freedom to ignore it all. It’s delightful.

  • ukba

    Jesus’ kingdom teachings were not difficult to understand, but they required absolute commitment, and no one should begin the journey before counting the cost, because it would cost everything.]How did a message about the kingdom of God get turned into a message about the messenger?For that you have to turn to the other teacher in the Christian bible: Saul of Tarsus. Saul insisted that he had his own gospel:”I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand . . . unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4“For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which wasIn his gospel, Paul negates the gospel about the kingdom of God that Jesus had preached and introduces his own teaching. In Romans Paul shows us what his gospel is all about:- “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).- “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)According to Paul, being right with God is about faith: simply believing that Jesus died and God raised him from the dead. There is nothing to it. Just believe and you are taken care of. There is no accountability for one’s actions and deeds. What happened to the original gospel of Jesus, and why has it become the neglected stepchild to the gospel of Paul?Paul’s gospel is simple; it is cheap and easy and requires no hard work. That could be the reason why people prefer it to the gospel of Jesus. And that could be the reason why Christians celebrate the death of Jesus and not his life and his teaching.

  • ukba

    Upon reading the Christian bible it is abundantly clear what the purpose of Jesus’ mission was: To preach the gospel or “good news” of the Kingdom of God! In Luke Jesus declares that: – “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:23)- Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)In reality the gospel of Jesus was simply the message that he preached—not a message about Jesus nor a message about the meaning of his life and death.According to Professor Bart Ehrman, Jesus’ message centered on the priority of the kingdom of God.While Jesus may have agreed with Pharisees about such legal matters as tithing and abstaining from work on the Sabbath, legal technicalities were never to take precedence over the Law’s command to love one’s neighbor by helping the poor or easing human suffering. And while Jesus joined the Pharisees and Sadducees in worshipping at the temple, not even the temple itself was as important to Jesus as love for one’s neighbor.Jesus was particularly insistent that loving one’s neighbor included the needs of the poor, the sick, and socially outcast like women and children. Jesus’ command to love others extended even to enemies. In fact Jesus’ command to forgive one’s enemies is one of His most strongly attested teachings Jesus believed that this message of the kingdom was good news and He actively called people to live in the present in light of the future. Jesus spoke of this good news as a light on a hill that should not be hidden. Those who saw the light needed to abandon everything to proclaim and live the message in preparation for what was about to take place.

  • Sanabitur

    Suppose that Vladimir Lenin rises from

  • johncivillo

    Dear CCNL,I am trying to look into history with a fresh eye. What you have been doing is just repeating European steriotype about Mohammad. I first met Mohammad through old Testament and New Testament. Then only I started studying his life and mission. One thing i have come sure. Truth is universal and it cannot change from generation to generation. the way adopted by God to reveal the truth also one – prophethood from human being…. Divinity of jesus and his crucifixion do not match with these criteria. Afterall, Jesus would not have required to lament ” eli, eli la ma Sabaktani..” if it was Jesus who was crucified…..

  • TOTE

    The author states that Easter focuses on the death of Jesus. Actually, the diametric opposite is the case. Easter is the counterfeit to the Passover, which (the Passover) was instituted with New Testament meanings (physical sacrifices were superceded by the supreme sacrifice of our Lord and Savior) by Jesus Christ, who instructed his apostles/disciples of certain things to ‘do’ in remembrance of Him. Easter, a mix of pagan practice of different generations of pagan gods/goddesses (Eoster, Astarte, Ishtar) focused on Christs resurrection to life more than His death, which (His death) He instructed those that believe on Him to remember. Sadly, the timing of His resurrection is steeped in error too. Friday afternoon until Sunday morning is not 3 days and 3 nights. Christ was crucified and laid to rest in the tomb just prior to Wed. eve. sunset, which began a high Holy Day (1st Day of Unleavened Bread). The tomb was empty before daybreak on Sunday. THis is the actual 3 days and 3 nights. The very sign our Lord and Savior stated would be an identifier of truth. The addition of bunnies, eggs, and the like have nothing to do with true Christianity and are error from the start.

  • ecglotfelty

    While I agree somewhat that some people and some Christians focus more on the death of Jesus than the resurrection and life of Jesus, the crucifixion is still a vital part of my belief and faith. You simply cannot exclude that and just focus on the resurrection for these reasons:

  • Matthew16

    JohnCivillo.Matthew 27, verse 46 (NAB) reads, “And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a reference to Psalm 22, verses 2-3 (NAB), which reads, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.” The Psalmist David goes on for several more lines, but changes tone to express the hope that the Lord will give him strength, and rescue him from his torment. David concludes Psalm 22 by praising the Lord, saying in verses 28-32: “All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage. And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.”The writer of Matthew is expressing the ultimate hope that the Lord would rescue Jesus from his torment. Although many Jews were educated – Jesus could read from the Torah (no matter what CCNL cuts-and-pastes to the contrary) – and the Jews (and Samaritans) contemporaneous with Jesus were a people of oral traditions. Matthew is relating the first line of Psalm 22 to not only evoke the despair of which the Psalmist wrote, but also the hope which rounds out the Psalm. This Psalm is well-suited for use on Good Friday; after 40 days of penitential Lenten preparation, culminating in the remembrance of the Passion of the Christ, Psalm 22 evokes the glory of the resurrection which is about to unfold (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; and John 20).(Yes, I know CCNL will snidely rip into the above – I’m sure Crossan wrote innovative theories which CCNL will parrot with no underlying understanding…)John, good luck in your ongoing studies.

  • Matthew16

    Hi Tote,

  • Matthew16

    CCNL,

  • creno7

    Simple…very simplistic in its understanding of Christianity which is a surprise considering the authors Baptist background. Christianity is the act of Christ dying for the redemption of sins. It is this act that provides grace. I don’t think there can be a bigger focus. To focus on the teachings does occur in churches I have attended but Easter is a time to look at the act of Christ on behalf of all creation. To simply look at the teachings of Jesus is to make Jesus a philosopher king not the son of God. Christ as the Son of God is what defines Christianity, anything less is simply philosophical.

  • colinnicholas

    I just posted this on another thread, but while I have it available, I’d like to post it here too. It is beautiful and it is profound.”Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. The universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being , and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. The conciousness that animates us is itself central to this mystery and the ground for any experience we might wish to call “spiritual.” No myths need be embraced for us to commune with the profundity of our circumstance. No personal God need be worshiped for us to live in awe at the beauty and immensity of creation. No tribal fiction need be rehearsed for us to realize, one fine day, that we do, in fact, love our neighbors, that our happiness is inextricable from their own, and that our interdependence demands that people everywhere be given the opportunity to flourish. The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered. Whether the days of civilization itself are numbered would seem to depend , rather too much, on how soon we realize this.Sam Harris. “The End of Faith” p.227.

  • Spellman3

    This author fails to realize that life about more than our time on earth before death. Life is eternal and we are have the opportunity to spend it with Jesus or not. Jesus’ death and resurrection (which we celebrate on Easter) are what gave us this opportunity of eternal life with Him. This is why most Christians celebrate Easter as the greatest holiday (and holy day) of the year. To denigrate this is to “ignore Jesus” and not let him “save you.”

  • Skowronek

    “Faith” people, listen up. Read the Gospels. In the portions dealing with judgment, Jesus never once says, “You’ll be judged by what you believe”. Again and again he said, “You’ll be judged by what you DO”. Better to be a critic of religion who does justice to his or her fellows than a believe who throws around labels such as Heretic, Unbeliever, Lost Soul.Posted by: bcass05 | April 6, 2009 3:46 PM *snort* Fat chance!We’ll see a general slimming of our citizenry, first, instead of an epidemic of obesity. People MUCH prefer to talk about their future diets and exercise plans rather than executing them. And that benefits a person directly and personally!

  • bob2davis

    You ignorant “people of faith!” When are you ever going to provide contemporaneous evidence that this jesus existed? It is clear that none of you have done any research to see if anyone at the time wrote about jesus. Certainly, if some man was raised from the dead, healing cripples, curing the blind and raising a dead friend, the Greeks, Romans or other scribes would have taken notice since few were claiming such actions. Furthermore, if you had done any real studies of the bible you would know that the gospels were written long after the alleged events, there is a myriad of inconsistencies among the writings and in almost all cases the author cannot be absolutely determined. Additionally, when both the old and new testaments were written, there was little, if anything, known about science, medicine, plumbing, electricity, engineering, cosmology, etc., etc., etc. So why would these uneducated people have answerers to the mysteries of the universe when they still thought the earth was flat? Would any of you accept 2000 year old medical care? Lastly, if jesus was actually resurrected, why did he not bring forth this kingdom of god when he must have known that “free will” would cause the most heinous crimes over the next millennia? What kind of vicious god would knowingly allow that to happen? And if he didn’t know, then he is not all that powerful! So come on, give me some real, verifiable evidence. Otherwise, you’re just showing the huge intellectual flaw that is religion. Faith is only valid when it concerns other, real entities. Faith in mythology is ridiculous and often dangerous.

  • nunivek

    Why does the life of Jesus have to be ripped apart from His death?Easter you are most certainly right, is void and dead if we forget the life of Jesus to focus in on the death. The cross is not just some mechanistic moment, no, the life and resurrection of Jesus is a challenge that beckons us to join the community of believers living as Jesus, extended out to the world who needs God, with the reminder that we are not alone in this endeavor, rather Christ is with us, and that the cost of this mission is our very lives, not that we gain for ourselves but that we too lose it for the least among us. Easter is a reminder that our lives are not our own, but an opportunity to receive and then share and give the love of God to all people. It is through Christ within us that we have the opportunity for right relationship with God and others.

  • willandjansdad1

    I’m all about the chocolate bunnies…

  • mreiter72

    Exactly.

  • salero21

    Certainly we can do away with the egg hunt, the lilys and the bunny rabbit, which by the way was considered an unclean animal, (Lev. 11:6; Dt. 14:7). None of these things have absolutely nothing to do with with the Scriptures, the Gospel, much less even with the Lord Jesus.Once all this childishness is done away with we’ll find the real Jesus. Who was not in any way compared with any other creature but with a lamb. He is the Lamb of God, he is the Lamb that was slain.I have no problem with the chocolates though!

  • Counterww

    I don’t doubt that you think Sam Harris is profound.Fools have been saying for centuries, decades that God does not exist. the “God is dead” thing has been around for awhile.What you are missing as usual , Colin, is that to love your neighbor you have to love God first. He gives us the capacity to love other human beings to the utmost degree.

  • CalSailor

    ELCURA has it absolutely right! In the fullness of the heritage of the church, we confront the full message of israel and the Christ. One cannot separate the man from the message. It is in the entire gospels: The life, the words, the actions, and the suffering, culminated by the death and resurrection of the Christ that we find our true humanity, and we find our pattern for life. Each year, as I worship, as I lead the congregation and preach the gospel…and administer the most awesome gift that any person can be permitted: The celebration of the Eucharist: This is my body/blood given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, in remembrance of me. Those words call us to model Christ in our lives. Reece is right: unless we make his life and teachings the model of our own, the death and resurrection is barren. We are called to be disciples: those who sit at the feet, and then do as the master models…and that is an amazing journey!Another ELCA pastor

  • CalSailor

    The whole question of Jesus’ supposed illiteracy is a minor issue. As an observant Jew of the time, Jesus had much of the scripture memorized. Of course he could quote from the psalms: They were the prayerbook of the community. Virtually every member of the community could quote from the psalms and the prophets, to say nothing of the Torah, from memory. It is not necessary to debate Jesus’ literacy to assert that he could freely quote from scripture. The early Christian fathers could too, both old and new testaments. In a society without the distraction of tv, videos, radio, etc., it is amazing how much is memorized just by familiarity.Pr Chris

  • CCNL

    There is no archeological evidence that the Moses of the OT ever existed. The scribes who wrote the OT, embellished many old ancient tales/legends/myths to fit their concept of Monad and to keep the general tribal communities in line with oral tradition/guilt. The trails/trials of Noah, Abraham, Job and Moses were mere concepts for tribal nomads/peasants/shepherds/ordinary folk living in the age of illiteracy, short life spans, hardships, diseases, and “dirt poor” living conditions. Mankind has advanced and these concepts although wise for the ages, are not historical.The life of the simple, illiterate preacher man was not much different. P, M, M, L and J, scribes of the first century, continued the practice of embellishment and simply turned Jesus into something he was not and never shall be. Paul’s predicted imminent second coming never came and will never come. Mankind shall either destroy itself or a crashing asteroid and/or dying Sun will do the job in one to three billion years. Enjoy your chocolate bunnies!!!

  • Gaby1

    CCNL, CCNL, CCNL:::As much as I can’t stand you constant iteration, one think you fot right and that would be the 3Bs.

  • Gaby1

    Holy cow! Sorry, CCNL!I guess I am not good at talking and typing at the same time.What I meant to say is”I agree with you at one thing, and only one thing. Most religious people are 3Bs.

  • US-conscience

    Christianity is more than just a religion or a philosophy. It is more than just a few rules and platitudes to live by. Christianity is a worldview that is based upon the most important event in the history of the world, that being the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

  • US-conscience

    part 2 “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Flavius Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, 3, 3)

  • US-conscience

    The Stolen Body TheoryThe Swoon TheoryThe Twin TheoryThe Hallucination TheoryUnbelievers, such as the Jesus Seminar3 folk, would be better served to totally reject the Bible altogether and call their assembly something other than a “church” instead of propagating such nonsense. Most of these theories would readily acknowledge that the tomb was indeed empty, and that the apostles indeed saw someone that they recognized as the resurrected Messiah. Yet the best explanation for these facts, that Christ actually rose from the dead, is rejected out of hand due to unbelief. Such is the real issue in attempting to argue for the resurrection by way of searching for evidence that will satisfy a flawed metaphysic. For “…If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

  • scriobhaim

    This article is typical of the self-deceiving, obfuscating, anti-Gospel tripe that comes from the Left. And, of course, it fits perfectly into the whole philosophy of “On Faith”. The writer deals in idiotic, cartoonic categorizations that are total fictions. For example, he confidently asserts (wow, just imagine the research he had to do to come up with THIS) that “American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed — which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the grave three days later — that it never made much room for the actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher”. Just consider the enormity of either the insidiousness OR the obtuseness required to spit out a moronic statement like that. This man – out of his own bitterness at his upbringing, which he has to blame on SOMETHING – has decided that all “Christianity” in all of America in all history has “never made room” for the teachings of Jesus. Did he actually research the lives of the millions of Americans who have been, or called themselves, Christians in the last 200+ years, and what the words of Jesus meant to them, and how the knowledge of Jesus transformed their lives (or, apparently, in this guy’s opinion) didn’t? Of course not. It’s impossible. He said what he said simply because it’s what he prefers to believe is reality, because it soothes his own unresolved bitternesses at his own upbringing. So he has to make history his whipping boy for his anger. This is so, so sad. And such a lie.

  • bcass05

    Some wise man once said,”Who is the greater fool, the ancient scribe who believed that future generations would understand that he was writing allegory or the current generation of readers who think the ancient believed that writing to be literal truth?”.

  • cornbread_r2

    US-conscience wrote: “Yet the best explanation for these facts, that Christ actually rose from the dead, is rejected out of hand due to unbelief.”Is there anything in the Bible you don’t believe? Six-day creation? World-wide flood? Walking, talking snakes? Talking donkeys? Anything? Just curious.