Mythical Messiahs vs. the Real Jesus: 10 Reasons That Jesus Is Unique Among Myths & Legends

Anonymous asked a question:

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Apollonius of Tyana but there are some people arguing that he also had followers, performed miracles and rose from the dead. That’s why they kept saying he’s the ~real~ Jesus. Thoughts?

Hey dear friend, here’s a cool fact:

A ton of people in the first century claimed they were the Messiah. Only one is really remembered today, and that’s a strange historical truth that must be taken seriously for both Christians and those exploring faith.

Here’s the context. The Jewish Israelites in the first century hadn’t heard from God or any of His prophets for about four-hundred years, since the prophet Malachi, who also wrote the last book of the Old Testament. They were waiting on either 1) another prophet, or 2) the prophesied Messiah, the “Suffering Servant,” who would apparently liberate them from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

The Jewish Israelites believed that God hadn’t spoken for centuries because of continuous idolatry and rebellion against God. This mindset incidentally formed a group called the Pharisees, who devised over 600 laws to follow, so that such perfection would honor God and possibly hasten the Messiah’s appearance. The Pharisees were so strict that any person who claimed to be the Messiah was almost immediately shut down, because worshiping any god outside the true God was only more idolatry, which had put them in this position of God-silence in the first place. So even though we dismiss the Pharisees today, I can definitely understand their mentality back then and how fast they were to condemn Jesus.

Many new Messiahs did appear. Two of them are mentioned in Acts 5 by a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who mentions Theudas and Judas the Galilean. History books also talk about Judah the Hammer, who enacted a siege against the Roman Empire but was just as quickly crushed. All of these “Messiahs” acted as warrior-presidents that used military force to throw a coup, like a militia attempting to oust the government. Nothing came of them. And the Pharisees were pretty happy about this, because in their mind, such false Messiahs only kept God at bay.

When Jesus came around, he was different than every other Messiah. Here are at least ten reasons why Jesus was unique compared to the religious leaders of his day, and perhaps among every other religious leader.

Continue reading “Mythical Messiahs vs. the Real Jesus: 10 Reasons That Jesus Is Unique Among Myths & Legends”

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Is Christianity Just an “Imperialist White Man’s Tool”?

Anonymous asked a question:

How should I respond to people seeing Christianity as a eurocentric tool for imperialism?? I’m sometimes embarrassed that I’m still holding onto Christianity when it seems like it’s only the “popular religion” that it is today because of its adoption by white westerners and the imperialistic conquests, genocides, physical and cultural displacement, etc. caused by efforts to spread it. I don’t know what to think of this haha. Thanks (for a lot of things i don’t have room to explain here haha)!

Hey dear friend, thank you so much for this question — I believe it’s absolutely important to get this one straightened out, quickly and completely.

First please know: I’m responding as an Asian-American Easterner born and raised in the West, who is fully aware and infuriated by the danger of Western imperialism and the cultural gentrification of “manifest destiny.” In other words, I have every reason to be disgusted by Christian/western/imperialist attitudes. My own country’s history (South Korea) also has a terrible past of being oppressed by particular people-groups that have nearly stamped out my heritage.

There’s no doubt that Christianity has been associated with some awfully terrible injustices. The Crusades, witch hunts, slavery, child abuse, and the early church’s indulgences and cycles of corrupted power are just a few of the detestable atrocities that, whether directly or indirectly, were fueled by religious fervor. We must be held accountable for every single infraction.

When a Christian asks me, “How do I defend Christianity’s history?” — I can only say, “Don’t.” Christianity ought to be the most self-critical life philosophy, always asking the simple question: Is this making us better or worse? We must own up to our past, not avoid it, and if anyone challenges us on how Christianity has been harmful, we must give ground to these righteous accusations. Many people are mad (including me), and understandably so, at how Christianity has danced around its mistreatment of others.

Having said that: I believe the idea of the Christian Imperialist, while obviously holding some credence in very specific instances, is largely a tired, exaggerated myth if we look at the whole picture of Christian contribution.

Continue reading “Is Christianity Just an “Imperialist White Man’s Tool”?”

Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?

atenleaguecanvas asked:

Hey Pastor Park! I want to thank-you for the grace you show in your answers. I really appreciate your example of presenting your views in a gentle and humble manner. I also have a question, I struggle with reconciling God, as he is depicted in the Old Testament, with how he is depicted in the New Testament. Did He really order the deaths of men, women, and children belong to nations that opposed Israel? I know He is ultimately just, but I keep getting hung up on this.

Hey dear friend, I appreciate your very kind words.

This is a really tough question that has disturbed me when I was an atheist and disturbs me even more as a Christian. It will always be a point of tension that might not be entirely resolved until our time on earth is done. I’d like to graciously present several different views about the wars in the Old Testament, from most brutal to most reasonable, and then let you decide. I’ll tell you what I personally believe in the end.

Please note: I’m not soft about the Bible. It does say a few hard things that I’m going to question all the way to Heaven. Jesus said hard things too. I don’t want to accommodate Scripture to fit a Westernized, watered down, sugarcoated, therapeutic pick-me-up. But I also don’t want to capitulate to my own Easternized, patriarchal, wrathful, vengeful picture of God. I believe the Bible has way more nuance than that. I know we won’t all see eye to eye on this either, and that’s totally okay. I truly welcome disagreement and I want to know where I’m wrong.

So here are some views to consider.

Continue reading “Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?”