Question

As far as I can tell from reading about the "historical" Jesus, He did not intend to start a new religion. It was St. Paul who was probably the best PR man history has ever known, who spread Christianity throughout the then known world and changed many of the tenets of Judaism to make the new religion more palatable to the pagans.

Answer

The historical Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus that modern scholars and form critics such as those in the Jesus Seminar have posited. Their "historical" Jesus is a speculative reconstruction based on modernism, naturalism, fallen intuition, and defunct approaches to literary criticism.

That being said, Jesus did not intend to start a new religion, and indeed he did not start a new religion. Christianity is not a new religion; it is the faithful remnant of first-century Judaism. Christianity is the religion of the Old Testament, whereas modern Judaism is a corruption of that religion that has rejected the progress of redemptive history in favor of traditionalism. That Judaism retains the old name simply indicates that the majority rejected the truth while the faithful remnant remained small. The same kind of thing took place in the Old Testament on numerous occasions, such as when the faithful remnant of the people of God was reduced largely from the nation of Israel into the tribe of Judah. The name of God's people has itself not been consistent throughout biblical history, being simply "mankind" at creation, "Sethites" shortly thereafter, then "Shemites" after the flood, then "Abraham's household," then "Israel," then eventually "Jews." A new name is not a new thing.

I will also grant that Paul was one of the best P.R. people in the business, but he did not conduct the type of syncretistic ad campaign suggested by that phrase. He changed no tenets taught in the Old Testament, but preached that the kingdom of which the Old Testament had spoken had finally begun to be realized. Those changes he embraced did not originate with himself. In fact, the way true religion was practiced commonly changed even throughout the history of the Old Testament.

Why, then, don't Christians commemorate the religious holidays the way Jesus had? He was a very pious man, who was arrested because he overturned merchant tables at the temple because people were conducting business during the high holy days.

Actually, Jesus didn't turn over the tables because they were conducting business on high holy days. He turned over the tables because they were conducting business in the temple. At any rate, it would probably be a good idea for Christians to observe some of the religious holidays of the Old Testament. The reason most Christians do not is that they have theological reasons for believing that these observances have been changed by the progression of redemptive history. Other holy days are widely observed, but in different form, such as the Lord's Supper replacing the traditional observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.