People sometimes wonder where Christianity came from… and members of the faith often treat Christianity as though it fell from the sky in the purest form, and that’s that. However, there is much more to the story.
The truth is… Christianity isn’t news.
I don’t mean in modern terms either; I mean in ancient terms. Christianity isn’t news, and it never really was. When Christianity came along, it was literally nothing new. The amount of parallels between Christianity and various other religions around the world (the oldest of course dating back to Ancient Egypt or even earlier) is astonishing. Nothing in the Bible was original. Almost every last item attributed exclusively to Jesus, for example, including the things he said or did (or anything that happened to him), can be readily traced back to another source far more ancient than Christianity or the birth of Christ.
Rather than it being a destructive force, however, this really should be something that is both enlightening and encouraging to us… as Christians. I’m sure it seems odd to many that there could even be a Christianity, after basically debunking the entire holy book and the religion itself as having roots more ancient than Jesus himself, but in actuality it’s true, it is not a contradiction, and it can actually strengthen our faith in God rather than rip it apart.
People first must realize that religion isn’t about man and what man wants to believe and what man wants to do. Religion is about faith, and faith is about God. It all goes back to God… not even to Christ, but to the One and Only God. As exclusive as Christians (and other major religions) want to make God… no one has a monopoly on God. In fact, anyone who claims to have a monopoly on God has severely mis-interpreted their own faith.
God is for everyone, and something like this helps to strengthen our faith in a loving, eternal, omniscient creator because we begin to realize that God literally is and was everywhere on Earth, revealed in various ways.
This interplays with the concepts of individuality and uniqueness which I speak on frequently. We all relate to God in unique, individual ways… and over literally thousands and thousands of years, we have been doing just that. The exact same thing… for the entirety of human history, because of a true faith in God.
Because God is real, in other words. So comparisons of this nature only serve to strengthen the concept of God in showing that God has existed reliably throughout the world, throughout history, for as long as we can date back and examine the emerging culture of the growing and evolving human race. God was there…
How does Christianity as an individual religion survive in all this? Well, if you are a fundamentalist, a conservative, or a Bible literalist… frankly, you might be out of luck. But if you are progressive, open-minded, diverse, and just use common sense when looking at faith, religion, culture, and human history as a whole, you begin to see how your faith through Christianity to God can be strengthened in all of this. Just another advantage to Progressive Christianity, really. Christianity can continue to exist in a situation like this, because of that unique connection we all maintain to God. Christianity, for instance, is the way I relate to God, if not the way you relate to God. It is valid because it attempts to reconcile our mortal selves with our divine Creator.
It’s important to recognize the Christ stories as what they are: Mythos, metaphor, and allegory. Was Jesus (the man) an actual human being in History? Perhaps… or perhaps not; the myth is just as strong as the man, either way. The true concept of the religion based in his name is far more complicated than just a potentially-historical figure.
The birth of Christ is symbolic for the birth of our faith anew in God, Christ’s life a symbol for the way we should live our lives in peace, love, and charity… his death something we should learn from, taking away the concepts of tolerance and acceptance… and the resurrection is metaphor for the continued faith in God that lives on throughout every kind of adversity, always persevering, ever solid, always true.
The story of Christ (not as a person, but as a concept) actually exists throughout several world cultures. What it shares are things similar to the above: The birth of faith in God, a standard by which to live our lives, a series of warnings-by-example on what can be dangerous in our lives, and a reconciliation with God that allows our faith in Him to live on even in the most dire of circumstances.
The Bible and it’s stories were -never-, -ever- meant to be taken literally. Funny thing is, early people of the day (first / second century) understood this and took the stories of the Bible for what they were worth: stories. Metaphor. Allegory. Tales to take morals and standards from, even though they did not actually happen in literal form. It was the Church in progressing years that decided the Bible must be interpreted literally, and they began to kill off (literally) any person who would call attention to the Pagan roots of Christianity itself. They murdered hundreds of people if not more, burned books which, at the time, would have been sole copies, and they squashed the culture and the people from wence Christianity itself emerged.
The roots of the faith became lost.
It was only in more modern times (into the 1800′s for instance) that we were able to gain a grasp on other cultures and their stories of creation, God, religion, faith, and so on… that we began to draw cultural and religious parallels between the religions and say to ourselves, “Whoa… I’ve seen all this before. These are stories that make up the Bible, told in different ways, hundreds or thousands of years before Christ was even born.”
Not only were the Bible stories never meant to be literal, but honestly none of the religious stories around the world were ever meant to be consumed literally either. All are examples of humanity’s attempt to understand the messages from God. And the parallels between all of these stories and faiths throughout thousands of years? Is an example of God attempting to communicate them to us in various ways, through various prophets and people, throughout all of the eras of the history of the human race.
At first these concepts may seem scary to believers… even to me, they frightened me at first to think about it. But the more you study it, and the more you immerse yourself in these concepts, the more you learn about it and the more you take these things to God… the more you realize that your strength is fortified by these circumstances, not destroyed.
What I’ve stated here is the good and honest truth, and some people fear it. There is no reason to fear, however. Because God is truly good, and these are all examples of just how good and absolutely amazing God truly is.