The Mythical Jesus Christ (1)

This page is the beginning of a series which argues the case for the mythical Christ; it is our belief that Jesus Christ never existed as a historical person. We believe this not only because the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of it, but also because we find the mythical Christ to be more spiritually beneficial and less likely to cause the bigotry, small-mindedness and smug superiority which, while not Christian values, all-too-often result from the belief in a historical Jesus. However, we have found that everybody vastly and wholly misunderstands our position about the significance of the mythical Jesus, and so this preface will attempt to clarify, not the evidence for the mythical Jesus, but the implications of him: what a historical founder of Christianity really means, and what his absence might offer.

The basic Christ-Myth argument, which is given in careful detail on this website, is that everything said about Jesus Christ in the gospels had already been said about previous mythological figures. (That this is true is no longer a question of debate – an abundance of evidence has made it the rational conclusion of every independent researcher – the only question that remains is, if not the mythological figure of the gospels, who was Jesus really?)

The Christ Myth theory merely points out that if all of those earlier saviors were spiritual fables, and Jesus was later attributed with their miraculous feats, (some of which include suffering on the cross, and later resurrecting for the sins of the world – in short the defining characteristics of Christianity), then Jesus was most probably also mythological. This argument can easily be circumvented through a faith that devalues reason, however, as I will show, even this kind of faith has its limits.

The assumption made by most people when hearing this argument is that we don’t believe in Jesus; we must be out to get him, or have personal anger issues against organized religion. At the very least, if we think that the Bible is a copy of Pagan literature and mythology, then we must regard the whole Christian religion as a sham that we’re better off without. In fact, we have nothing against religion. We’re not challenging that Jesus Christ has been a life-changing factor for many people. We’re not questioning whether Jesus Christ has been and is a spiritual presence and comfort to millions of his followers, and we’re not even doubting that some people have had real metaphysical experiences of him. We’re also not trying to disprove God. Some things may really be beyond our ability to comprehend – but Jesus Christ was either there, historically, or not. This is not one of those unfathomable mysteries. There is convincing evidence that Jesus Christ never existed as a historical person, and it is possible to discover in the history of Christianity the process by which a mythical figure was accidentally mistaken for a real human being.

Many people think of myth as a lie, a fable, not “true” and therefore worthless. If we cannot prove whether or not Jesus existed, they ask, and the mythological Jesus is a non-entity, a nothingness, why should we care about him? Since Jesus may have been a historical person, shouldn’t the only important questions be, “Who exactly might he have been? What kind of life did he live? What type of man was he?” These are the questions that are under heavy academic debate, which makes it appear that scholars, while disagreeing about every single detail concerning the life of Jesus, are at least unanimous in supporting his historicity.

To conduct research into the unproved but assumed historical Jesus, scholars take those qualities of Jesus that they know to be echoes and copies of mythology, and throw them out. (If there was a real Jesus, then these mythological themes must have been added on to his life after his death.) They strip him down until there is virtually nothing left except a vague idea of a spiritual teacher, and then try to build him back up through hypothesis and conjecture. Our question is, what good is this “historical Jesus?” Without his miracles, his parables, his moral example, and especially, without his death and resurrection, what possible interest, other than a simple historical curiosity, can this man have for us? If Jesus was just a man, then he is worthless. He was not the way, truth and light; he was only a philosopher and magician. (There are dozens of Greek philosophers whose wisdom, moral guidance and spiritual eloquence make Jesus look like a charlatan.)

While most Christians accept the Jesus of faith without looking for the Jesus of history, others are able to seek the historical Jesus without denying any of his mythological qualities. They already know that December 25th wasn’t Jesus’ real birthday, that Easter is a Pagan superstition, and that Jesus has a lot in common with earlier mythology. And although they claim that mythology copied from Jesus after, or possibly before Jesus came, this only strengthens their belief in God, Jesus and the Bible, by demonstrating how universal his plan really is. They see how the Biblical imagery and the gospel stories are reflected in older religious traditions, found all around the world, and say, “See, the Bible is telling the Truth.”

The Bible is telling “The Truth”: It is telling the same, universal Truth, that all religions tell. It is not however, telling the only, need to buy this book or go to Hell, Truth; and just because it is telling a universal spiritual truth, does not mean that Jesus physically existed as a historical person. How can we separate the two? The mythology, the spirituality and salvation, the morality, soul, afterlife, presence of an infinite God, can still be there regardless of whether Jesus existed or not. There is no evidence that refutes or challenges it, and thus it can easily be continued, as a choice or practice, by anyone who is interested in believing or accepting that it is beneficial.

The historical Jesus is something very different, because he was either there or he wasn’t, regardless of what we believe. The historical Jesus has given rise to the notion that Christianity is a spiritual superior, the sole possessor of the “keys to the kingdom”, who can only improve the world through assimilation and evangelicalism; not to mention the necessity of a Faith over Reason ideology in the face of preaching the historical Jesus at a disregard for empirical evidence. If Jesus was a mythological entity, on the other hand, then Christianity has suddenly become the peer, the brother, of countless other paths to salvation, and can work in harmony towards a better humanity.

Not only is the mythical Jesus better because the evidence supports it and it does not conflict with reason, evidence, scientists, or other religious traditions, it is also better because it makes available a higher spiritual maturity, a limitless pathway through which to expand, search and question, without fear of falling into sin. Furthermore, a myth is much more powerful because it is personally applicable – we can take the story and apply it to our lives in order to improve ourselves. A historical story about miracles only generates awe – we say, “Sure, he did great things, but he was Jesus for God’s sake. I can’t be like that. I’ll just pray for him to save me.” Rather than a God who gives us the power to grow, reach, stretch, improve and mature, we have a God who wants us to cower, hide, fear, and cling onto the robes of Jesus, so that as he ascends into heaven he’ll drag us up with him.

Finally, the idea of a Just God and a Historical Jesus are absolutely incongruous – the presence of one logical refutes the other. If Jesus was a historical person, and if Jesus is the best (and possibly only) way towards eternal salvation, then God has already ambiguously stacked the odds in favor of those Western countries to whom the message of Jesus has, through imperialism and the slaughter of native inhabitants, reached. Not everyone will be saved, and those saved have been chosen not by their works or ethics or actions, but by the happy accident of being born into a Christian family or community, or being born with a certain temperament or character that is open towards the Christian message, or to have happened upon certain circumstances which have convinced them to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. In other words, Christian Salvation is not the result of a rational acceptance of God’s free gift; it is a predetermined set of socio-psychological factors which are ambiguously thrust upon us.

If Jesus Christ is nonetheless the Way, Truth and Life, it means that God is either oblivious to the eternal suffering of billions to whom the Christian faith does not come easily, or that he has caused the separation of peoples on purpose as a revolting display of pre-damnation; in which case, not only does he fail to live up to those highest ideals which we ascribe to him, but he also appears to be a meddlesome, revengeful nuisance and plague to human freedom and happiness. If the historical Jesus existed, then God is an unjust tyrant; and if it is impossible for the True God to be an unjust tyrant, then it is impossible for Jesus to have been both a historical person and the salvation Christians claim him to be.

The articles in this section are part of a 50,000 word treatise on the historical Jesus and Christ Myth Theory, dealing with Christian history, the mystical significance of Christian symbols, and the mistaken belief that Jesus Christ was a historical person. You can download the entire collection for free as a PDF file ebook by clicking here!