Name something new, original, or even genuinely useful Jesus said of did.
It’s a stunningly simple question, and since banning me from his blog for asking this stunningly simple question, the evangelical Christian blogger Citizen Tom has penned four posts (some 6,000 words) trying to address the question, only to (predictably) concede that Jesus did not in fact say anything new, original, or even marginally useful (useful in so far as reducing unnecessary suffering, or enhancing human knowledge). Of course, Tom can’t actually bring himself to admit this in a structured and coherent sentence, so instead in the very last paragraph of his series (which have proceeded with all external critiques being censored) he offers an analogy as an excuse for why Jesus didn’t say anything new, original, or genuinely useful:
“Imagine you were on a rescue mission. An evil man has kidnapped a child. He intends to confine and abuse that child for as long as he can, and you have the opportunity to stop him. How are you going to react if someone asks whether you are doing something new, original, or useful? Well, I suppose you might consider freeing that child from the clutches of an evil man useful. Nevertheless, I suspect you are also going to wonder why anyone would asks that question.”
And with that, Citizen Tom admitted (by default) that he had failed to defend his objection with anything tangible. What he did offer as the towering product of some 6,000 words was a vaporous theological opinion: that Jesus came to atone for sin through his suicide. Or in other words:
Sacrificing himself, to himself, to save humanity from himself.
Of course, this is also nothing new. The concept of blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin is as old as religion itself. Zoroaster is recorded to have been appalled at how cruelly sacrifices were conducted prior to his new rules which demanded less unnecessary suffering, but we can use Judaism to demonstrate that the concept was not at all original to Jesus. In Leviticus (4:35,5:10) we have:
“The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.”
Evidently, sacrifice for the atonement of sin is not new, original, or, it may be argued, meaningfully useful. What it is is a foul pedigree of primitive barbarism.
Antiquated vulgarity aside, it’s worthwhile to however quickly look at Citizen Tom’s final [non]answer because it raises a host of problems that must now be addressed. Ignoring the numerous other sages and gods and animals that have died for humanity, and the point that this notion of atonement through spilled blood is nothing but a theological opinion, not fact, and certainly without any evidence to support the theology, Tom now has to answer why did Jesus bother waiting till he was 33-iesh years old before committing Suicide by Centurion? Indeed, if dying was the only useful thing Jesus was ever going to do then why avoid Herod’s directed blades and just be killed then when he was a baby, instead of fleeing south, as the story reads. Would not the blood-sacrifice objective have been fulfilled then and there? Mission Accomplished!
Indeed, what possible purpose was served by living a single day longer than necessary if dying was the only important thing Jesus was ever going to do? Why bother having a three year ministry if every single word spoken was counterfeited from older characters and stories, a fact that only detracts from the godhood claim, not enhances it? Why bother speaking a single word if no new information was ever intended on being presented… Not even a new, more accurate cosmogony that would have genuinely wowed generations long after Jesus’ death as its truth was slowly revealed as civilisation caught up and produced corroborating evidence. Certainly, such a revealed cosmogony would have been more effective than a billion little supernatural tricks performed to impress a few Palestinian villagers who obviously weren’t even moved enough by these cheap amusements to jot down a single contemporary word about the things they allegedly saw.
I hope Citizen Tom can now spend a month or two penning a series of rambling, non-descript, evasive posts trying to answer this question, because for now, his suggestion that dying was the only useful thing Jesus did is not only completely un-original but utterly absurd given the mission could have been accomplished a few months after his birth.