Jesus christ didn’t found any religion
RACHEL For reasons of security and by the express desire of our guest, Jesus Christ, who has told us that in a few days from now he will bring to an end his second coming to earth, we have returned to Galilee. However, we decline to identify the location of our mobile unit.
JESUS Yes, Rachel, it soon will be time for me to leave.
RACHEL We’ve already treated a great many subjects, and your declarations have been clear and audacious. Still, the audience of Emisoras Latinas claims that they now have more questions than answers.
JESUS That would be a good crop, an abundant harvest. When people asks questions, that means they are searching.
RACHEL They say that all religions seek after God.
JESUS Religions help, but just for a time. Afterwards you have to go beyond religion.
RACHEL You are considered the founder of a religion, the Christian religion, which dominates the western world.
JESUS I didn’t found anything, Rachel, certainly nothing that would dominate. I wanted to serve. I searched for God on the basis of the religion of my parents, the Jewish religion.
RACHEL And what did you find?
JESUS The Temple, the priests, the law of the Sabbath, fasts, strings of prayers, Pharisees thinking they were first, rites, sacrifices, blood, …
RACHEL It was all negative?
JESUS No, I also found the prophets who spoke with great passion about justice and took the side of the widows and orphans. Following their example, I began to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
RACHEL And your movement came out of that?
JESUS Yes. We used to say God does not want sacrifices, but love. We said neither in this temple or in any other. We said the last will be first. In our movement the people found a way, a truth, a life.
RACHEL So you founded another religion, the Christian religion, in which you are the way and the truth.
JESUS No, Rachel, I repeat again that I didn’t found any religion. I learned that to find God you have to go beyond any religion.
RACHEL And when we reach “beyond” the religions, where do we find God?
JESUS Where he has always been in the streets, among the people, in life, in celebration, in compassion, in justice, in love… Even in the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. When there is no longer anything sacred, then everything begins to be sacred.
RACHEL Jesus, today on the planet earth there are more than 6 billion people living, and at least two billion see you as the one Sent by God. What is more, they adore you as God.
JESUS How many did you say? Two out of six billion? At least they’re not a majority!
RACHEL What do you say to them, the Christians, the people who place their faith in you and your words?
JESUS They should search for God as I searched for him. Whoever searches finds, and whoever knocks will have the door opened. I am not the house; I was only the door. Let them enter and leave, freely. And let them go further, further than I went.
RACHEL And what would you say to those billions of people who are not Christians, who believe in other religions or in none at all?
JESUS The same thing, Rachel, because the house of God is open to all men and women without distinction. It has many doors, and it has plenty of space. A cool breeze runs through it, just like here in my homeland, this Galilee of the Gentiles.
RACHEL From an undisclosed location in Galilee, in the north of Palestine, this is Rachel Perez reporting for Emisoras Latinas.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
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Religion: unite, join
Religion comes from the Latin word “religare”, which means to join things that are separated, to unite them together. Religion should serve only to join us to the world, to what exists and lives in the world, so that we can build a world that is united and at peace. Religion should serve to help us overcome conflicts and contradictions and to understand that we cannot survive as lone individuals. However, religions have generally acted in the opposite direction: they have disunited people, they have provoked rivalries and conflicts, they have created tensions and divisions, they have established useless borders and antagonisms.
Religions seek to respond to the spiritual needs of human beings. Spirituality is a human reality that is much deeper and more vital than religion. Often the two concepts, religion and spirituality, are confused, and their expressions overlap. As the consciousness of humankind evolves, however, the need to differentiate between religion and spirituality becomes clearer.
Theologian Ivone Gebara laments: Religions have been transformed into divisions, so much so that perhaps we should not ask: “What is your religion?” but “What is your division?” And another Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff, declares: Religions engender wars, spiritualities promote peace.
Religions in the world
There presently exist thousands of living religions in the world. In terms of having the largest number of members, the most important religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the traditional Chinese religions, Taoism and Confucianism. The two religions with the most members and with a “universal” vocation are Christianity and Islam. Judaism is considered one of the great world religions because of its historical relevance, but in the world today only 13 million persons belong to this religion. The globalized mass media and the massive movements of migrants and tourists are contributing to an unusual “mixture” of elements from the different religions, resulting in notable forms of religious syncretism.
Is it possible to change religion?
It is very difficult to change religion. It is like wanting to change the native tongue in which we learned to think, to speak, to dream, to communicate. We can learn other languages and express ourselves in them, and that enriches our own language, but feeling and thinking in a foreign language is practically impossible. It would be like living in exile. A Christian can delve into Buddhism, and a Buddhist into Christianity, and both religious cultures are enriched by that. Someone who is born into Judaism can learn about Islam, and vice versa. And of course there are movements from one religion to another, but are they lasting and authentic? The stamp of the religious culture in which we are born marks us for the whole of our life.
Religion is like love
The Frenchman Jean Bottero, a specialist in the myths and rites of the ancient world, knows well “the history of God” in the Bible and in the history of religions. In his book The Most Beautiful History of God (Anagrama, 1989) he states:
I compare religion with love. Just as love, by its definition, its finality, its exercise, creates for itself its own sphere, in which it is always recognized, so does religion. Religion has been studied as a conjoining factor, that is, not so much as an individual sentiment as a social pressure on individuals. And that is precisely the first and essential reality of religion. It is true that few persons have completely authentic religious sentiments, but are they any fewer than the people who have completely and authentically been in love?
Religion is consolation
Religion is the opium of the people is perhaps one of the best-known statements of Karl Marx. To understand this opinion better, we should recall that, when Marx used this metaphor, opium was the most potent and commonly used pain-reliever known. The sense of the metaphor, therefore, is not that religion is a form of alienation or a hallucinogenic drug to help people escape from reality, as we understand the effects of drugs today. Rather, Marx understood religion as a consolation for people in the face of suffering that seemed to be inevitable and inescapable.
Spanish philosopher Fernado Savater states: It seems to me that religion is a special kind of literary genre, like philosophy, and combating it as one more plague without attending to the longings that it expresses is impoverishing not only for the imagination, but even for human reason. I fear that those who use the Bible to refute Darwin are as credulous as those who take for granted that a sufficient dosage of neuroscience will dissipate every theological fog. What is more, I have lived long enough not to want to deprive anybody of whatever consolation they might find in the face of pain and the flight of time, even if I do not share it.
Religion is like the moon
Willigis Jäger, a monk and master of Zen Buddhism, offers the following metaphor:
Religion may be compared to the moon, which illuminates the earth at night by receiving its light from the sun. When the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, a solar eclipse occurs. Something similar happens with religion. The sun is the divine; it illuminates the religions so that they shed light on the people in their path. But if religion attributes too much importance to itself, putting itself between God and the people, then it will block out God: an eclipse of God will occur. We find this tendency in all religions.
Religion is like a rope
German theologian Eugen Drewermann uses another metaphor:
Most human being hold onto religion as the person who is drowning holds onto the rope that is thrown to him. He seizes onto it with all his strength. The rope must be strong enough. It is the truth. If the rope ever breaks, an abyss opens below. For that reason it is my own religion, and no other one, that matters to me – it is the true one. … Everything that provides life and security depends on the rope; it must be the truth. Sometimes, though, with the help of this rope people reach land. They then take it easy and let go of the rope, because they now have solid earth under their feet. And they do so without being completely conscious of the fact that it is the earth that is providing them security. The true religion consists precisely in that: the hand of God that holds us up, and not the rope that we hold onto.
The rope, the religion, is only a tool, a means. The true religion is only a kind of confidence we can’t find words to define. Atheism takes the rope away and tells people: “When are you going to stop pretending you’re drowning? The earth is under your feet, firm and safe, but you keep holding on to your trauma. There was a time when you thought you were going to fall into the depths and drown, but that was the case a long time ago. In those days you were miserable children and needed security, and that need you had for security was filled by your religion.” … Buddha expressed it very beautifully when he said, “My religion, my teaching is simply a boat for crossing the river. Once they arrive on the other shore, people aren’t going to think of taking the boat and carrying it on their heads. Rather, they leave it there and walk freely by themselves.”
Jesus turned religion “upside down”
In the presentation he gave at the Andalusian Theology Week (Malaga, November 2006), Spanish theologian Juan Luis Herrero del Pozo stated:
For Jesus, the definitive icon of the ineffable God is the neighbor. When someone seriously supports his neighbor, he is accepting God, even if he denies such a concept. All of this means turning traditional religion “upside down”. In our day and age Jesus would be condemned as a secularist, a relativist, a reductionist, a modernist. Without a doubt, Jesus of Nazareth was the first significant descralizer of the cosmos and of history.
Religion killed Jesus
French Catholic theologian Joseph Moingt, author of the book The Man Who Comes from God (Cerf, 1993), states:
Religion tends always to put itself in the place of God, to oblige people to pass through it to find God. Many people believe that God is found only in the cult or in religious ceremonies. Religion is then identified with the religious obligations and traditions by which people think they please God and have access to him.
Jesus broke with this conception of religion. He was not the only one who attacked the religion of his people. The scandal he caused came from his breaking and disregarding the religious supports that people usually confided in. His freedom in speaking about God and searching for him destabilized the religious institutions. He undermined religious practices that were too assured of themselves, and he changed the course of the received and accepted religious traditions. For that reason they killed him. Religion killed Jesus. In the trial and death of Jesus I see God exiting from religion and entering into the world of humans. This is the good news: God leaves the precinct of the sacred where he had been shut up. God frees us from the weight of religion and the sacred, with all the terrors and all the servitudes they imposed on people.
No religion, all religions
Jesus did not found any religion. He was brought up in the religion of his people, but he experienced and proclaimed a God who would not fit within the rites, the laws, and the beliefs of the religion he was familiar with, nor of any other. There are many people who, recognizing the spiritual values that exist in all the great religions, think that Christianity will ultimately be able to assimilate and adopt the message of Jesus and understand his spirituality only if it learns from those other religions: if it learns from Judaism what the Jewish Jesus thought about his people’s tradition and what he wanted to change in that tradition, only if learns from Buddhism the mystical way for finding oneself, and only if it learns from Islam the simplicity of faith and not the heap of laws that Christian hierarchs arrogantly impose on the people.