This idea can have logic and great value even for an atheist.  

Not that long ago I offered for some angry people to kick my head in, to prove a point about how men should treat women (i.e. don't bully them).  (I guess they didn't have the heart to do it.)  

Among the many interpretations which can be placed on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, we can say this:  

Jesus went to his death willingly - in that he knew it was going to happen, and didn't run away, when he could have done - in order to prove and illustrate a point.  That point was his life's work (well, the last 3 years').  One of his main lessons was that we can all be given the chance for our sins to be forgiven, provided we earn it and do the necessary real work involved.  Provided we go to our Crucifixion willingly.  If he can get himself crucified, we should be up to saying sorry and putting things right when we have to.  We should be humble enough to suffer for what we have done.  We should be humble enough to let something go instead of escalating to some kind of blood feud.  

He also forgave the people who were crucifying him. 

By dramatically illustrating the idea that God can forgive our sins, will always give us a second chance to make good: life became possible, life became good, life became fruitful.  Instead of nasty, brutish and short.  Hence the Resurrection. 

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If it doesn't matter whether Jesus existed or whether the whole story of his life and death (take your pick of which one) was true or woo, then where do you stand on what counts as information?

A lot of well-written fiction "ring so clear and true" and in fact is kind of a standard for well-written fiction. However, we don't thereby decide that fictional characters are real.

But I guess you do.

@Unseen - we can look at it in a similar way to Shakespeare, although this is even more profound and fundamental.  It's one of the keys to happiness. 

And yet, Shakespeare, while affecting, isn't true. 

WHAT is the "fundamental key to happiness" you are talking about. If it's so fundamental, anyone who doesn't have it (belief in Jesus' story as told in The Bible) can't possibly be happy. If they can, then it isn't fundamental.

there is one glaring issue that I find with the whole jesus forgiveness thing. 

Nobody was asking for forgiveness. I bet the one nailing him on the cross smirked a little let alone asking for forgiveness. Jesus  was just doing something no one asked him to do and wanted to be praised for it.

So, he was like Steve Jobs who was famous for creating products we didn't know we needed till he hyped them.

we don't "need" to be forgiven...

I just figured that JC was trying to take other folks garbage out, but at a time of pre-municiple waste services. Like a 8 year old trying to get on their parents good side by dumping the kitchen garbage ONCE!

As I look at my own 'stuff', I see very little that could be considered 'intentional'. When I do something 'off', I am just being an idiot that fell asleep for a few seconds, and failed to do the 'think for a few more seconds, before acting'. I have gotten very good at being more calculating in my actions, sadly I seem limited to three to five variables in my pre-action simulations. I don't think anyone has died become of me, but I just don't know how big my causation cascade is..;p(.

If the effects of my actions get all the way to 'right hand of the father', I just wish I would get a 'cease and desist' order before the end of my 'four score and ten', or before protons start to decay.... 

I can't get beyond the utter audacity of the creators of this tale and the enormity of the impact it's had on our world since it became mainstream and widely accepted as "truth" long enough to see any morality in the story. Maybe we can become better and more altruistic beings without having to deny who and what we are in the process and prostrate ourselves before an imaginary, condemning, commanding "diety".

I think the writers, or shall we say the developers of the Jesus story or any religious fiction were storytellers first, able to make a living by passing the hat after a particularly inspiring/horrifying story. They lived in an era of widespread illiteracy, so they could change the story according to the audience reaction. 

I don't think they intended their words to be the basis for all of the evils that have come as a result of being co-opted by those in power trying to subjugate the masses.  

Gospel of John: What Everyone Should Know About The Fourth Gospel by John Shelby Spong, Retired American Bishop of the Episcopal Church

"Almost any poll of regular church goers will reveal that their favorite book in the New Testament is the Gospel of John. It is the book that is most often used at Christian funerals. It includes such well known and oft-quoted texts as: "God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." It boasts the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept," which serves the needs of many cross word puzzle creators. Its prologue was used for centuries in Catholic liturgies as "the last gospel" at the mass. It includes characters like Doubting Thomas, whose very name has entered our public discourse.

Yet, I suspect that if these devotees of John's Gospel were introduced to the world of Johannine scholarship, they would be both shocked and angered by contemporary insights into this treasured book. It is to place much of this scholarship into the public arena that I have written the book, "The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic."

Among the conclusions that I have reached in my intensive five-year-long study of John's Gospel are these:

1) There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over a period of 25 to 30 years.

2) There is probably not a single word attributed to Jesus in this book that the Jesus of history actually spoke. This includes all the "I Am" sayings and all of the "Farewell Discourses."

3) Not one of the signs (the Fourth Gospel's word for miracles) recorded in this book was, in all probability, something that actually happened. This means that Jesus never changed water into wine, fed a multitude with five loaves and two fish or raised Lazarus from the dead.

4) Many of the characters who appear in the pages of the Fourth Gospel are literary creations of its author and were never intended to be understood as real people, who actually lived in history. This includes Nathaniel, who is introduced with great fanfare in chapter one and is treated in John's Gospel as one of "the Twelve," as well as the enigmatic character called by the Fourth Gospel "the disciple whom Jesus loved," who is introduced in Chapter 13 and who stars in this narrative from then on up to and including the resurrection event. Between those two "bookend" characters, we run into such well-known figures as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, the man crippled for 38 years and the man born blind, none of whom has ever been mentioned before in any written Christian source and each of whom in all probability is nothing more than the literary creation of the author.

5) John's Gospel seems to ridicule anyone who might read this book as a work of literal history. For example, Jesus says to Nicodemus: "You must be born again." Nicodemus, the literalist, says: "Born again? I am a grown man! How can I crawl back into my mother's womb and be born again?" Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: "If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would give you living water." The Samaritan woman, a literalist, responds: "Man, you don't even have a bucket!"

6) The Gospel also exaggerates its details, once more I believe, to counter any attempt to read it literally. For example, Jesus does not just turn water into wine, he turns it into 150 gallons of wine! Jesus does not just give sight to a blind man, he gives sight to a man born blind! Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he raises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still bound in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation "already stinketh" with the odor of decaying flesh!

Finally this book will challenge the way the Fourth Gospel has been used in Christian history as the guarantor of what came to be called Christian orthodoxy or creedal Christianity. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. leaned on the Fourth Gospel as literal history in order to formulate the creeds and ultimately to undergird such doctrines as the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. The texts used to support that creedal development, my studies have led me to affirm, have nothing to do with an external God entering humanity in the person of Jesus, but are rather attempts to describe the experience of the human breaking the boundaries of consciousness and entering into the transformation available inside a sense of a mystical oneness with God.

And he calls himself a Bishop...

That part of it was more-or-less an ad campaign to encourage conversion of those tired of the animal sacrifices required in Judaism.  Those animals were expensive and times were tough, wouldn't you want an option that didn't require sacrifice of your property?  Hence "the blood of the new and everlasting covenant," God sacrificing Jesus to make a covenant with us.  Aren't we special?

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