Tag Archive for Jesus

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An Urgent Reassessment of Jesus

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

Many Christian churches opt for comforting their parishioners – with reassuring ceremonies, banal sermons and even appeals to popular nationalistic sentiments – rather than challenging them with the tough calls from Jesus for social justice, a grave failure, says Rev. Howard Bess.

Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution

Jesus, driving the money-changers from the Temple, in a painting by El Greco.

From the Archive: In Holy Week, many Christians celebrate what they regard as God’s sacrifice of his Son and the Resurrection. But some scholars see another narrative in which Jesus, a rural rebel, brings his critique of the Jewish-Roman power structure to Jerusalem and is killed for it, as Rev. Howard Bess wrote in 2011.

Jesus as Whistleblower

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

Christian churches typically present the religious mythology about Jesus, as the supernatural Son of God who was sacrificed on the cross as atonement for man’s sins. But there is a more historical Jesus who instructed the poor about the injustices they faced and died for it, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

What Would Jesus Do at Christmas?

Jesus, driving the money-changers from the Temple, in a painting by El Greco.

America’s widening gap between rich and poor is especially noticeable at Christmastime when the rich shower themselves with extravagant gifts and assuage their self-images by donating a few turkeys and a toy or two to the poor, a tradition that troubles Rev. Howard Bess.

Learning the Lessons of Peace

The Prophet Isaiah (Illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company)

Isaiah, one of the great Jewish prophets, was an advocate of peace whose words inspired Jesus’s non-violent teachings centuries later and continue to resonate to the present day, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Should Christians Embrace Gay Marriage?

Rainbow flag of the gay-rights movement

The issue of gay marriage appears headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices may finally decide if states can bar gay couples from marrying or not. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, including Alaska where Rev. Howard Bess lives.

Christians Who Ignore the Real Jesus

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

Many American Christians see themselves as devout followers of the theological Jesus but don’t want to know much about the historical Jesus, the nonviolent radical who called on his followers to resist social injustice, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Jesus Mandate: Peace and Stewardship

Jesus as portrayed in stained glass as the Good Shepherd.

Modern biblical scholarship has enabled critically thinking Christians to understand what the historical Jesus actually said and what was tacked on later to serve the interests of Rome and early church leaders, but those original messages remain politically inconvenient today, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

The Inconvenient Truth about Jesus

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

There is much religiosity in the U.S., with the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority even approving Christian prayers at the start of government business. But there is little appreciation of the radical political and economic message at the center of Jesus’s teachings, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Telling the Truth about Easter

Depiction of Jesus's Crucifixion by 16th Century artist Mathis Gothart-Nithart.

Jesus, a radical preacher who advocated for the poor, was crucified for turning over money tables at the Temple and other insurrectionary acts. His body was likely left to wild animals, but his chroniclers sought to glorify his ending with myths about a resurrection, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.