I am very happy to share my new article, “Jesus Mythicism: Moral Influence vs. Vicarious Atonement—and Other Problems“ has passed peer review and has been published by Internet Infidels/Secular Web. The title pays homage to mythicist Robert M Price’s book “The Christ Myth Theory And Its Problems.”
The essay is the third and final of what turned out to be a trilogy of essays on Christian origins. My first essay was “The Justified Lie By The Johannine Jesus In It’s Greco Roman Jewish Context,” and the second was “A Critique Of The Penal Substitution Interpretation Of The Cross.”
In the essays I have tried to ask about the basic concepts of Christian Origins, and have done so in different ways. For example, one thing that is addressed tangentially is the question of salvation by Grace vs Works:
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
What is interesting, though is Paul warns 2 Cor 6:1 “we entreat you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.”
How is it possible that you could accept grace in vain? The cross is of no effect unless it transforms your heart and approach to life, hence Luke says
- Luke 9:23,24: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.’”
We read in James
Faith without Works Is Dead
- 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Surely that faith cannot save, can it? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
- 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from works, and I by my works will show you faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is worthless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and by works faith was brought to completion. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
- James 2:14-26
So, from the point of view of this entry point, the question is how can Christ’s death transform us in this way? More specifically, if mythicism is right, why would a celestial Christ who was never on earth and was killed by demons in outer space be a catalyst for such transformation?
I discuss these essays a little more in the blog post below:
I hope you enjoy!