This book was written for people who were raised in the Christian faith, retain a belief in a loving God, but can no longer accept some of the beliefs emphasized in orthodox Christianity.
It is hard to accept the idea of Jesus as God coming back at an apocalyptic end-of-times to separate us into the saved and the eternally condemned. It is hard to accept the exclusion of people of other faiths and to accept prejudice based on sexual orientation. Jesus was better than that—and his inclusive teachings are inconsistent with these beliefs.
Jesus’ authentic teaching have been partially obscured by the divine redeemer myth and other stories written by well-meaning gospel authors attempting to glorify Jesus to support their re-emerging faith communities after the war with Rome. The four familiar gospels were written thirty to seventy years after Jesus’ death by anonymous authors who probably did not meet Jesus or hear him preach. In understanding Jesus, they relied on the divine redeemer concept well-intrenched in their first century society.
His authentic teachings concerning the here and now presence of the Spirit of God with all people remain visible in the four familiar gospels and two other much lesser-known first-century gospel texts—the Gospel of Thomas and a source document used extensively by the authors of Matthew and Luke.
This book focuses strictly on Jesus’ teachings in more than 90 wisdom sayings, parables, and acts described in these six first-century gospels. In these 90 sets of passages Jesus presents a powerful message arranged in three major parts.
The importance of the personal relationship with the Spirit of God available to all people.
Spiritual growth enabled by the personal relation with the Spirit of God.
Responding to people in need and the Spirit of God with them in their suffering.
The Spirit of God can be seen as the incandescent light radiating from good people serving people in need.
Jesus’ teachings deserve renewed attention especially now in a period of seemingly endless gun violence, extreme religious and racial prejudice, hunger, illness, mistreatment of immigrants, and climate deterioration.
This book is not intended for those who accept all orthodox beliefs. Orthodox Christianity deserves considerable respect. There is no intent here to weaken anyone’s faith based on orthodox beliefs.
Hopefully, this book will be of help to those who have moved away from the church of their youth but want to strengthen their relationship with the Spirit of God. Jesus’ authentic teachings provide valuable guidance.
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About the Author
My professional experience is in the field of industrial air pollution control engineering. I manage an engineering company that optimizes the performance of industrial air pollution control systems, develops new air pollution control systems to reduce toxic emissions, conducts stack air pollutant emission tests, and conducts ambient air quality monitoring.
I am neither a theologian nor a historian. I am not a member of any church or religious organization. When it comes to interpreting gospel passages, I am free to call it like I see it.
I grew up in a moderate Presbyterian family. My wife and I raised our children in the Catholic
faith, and I have developed considerable respect for the Catholic Church—especially several exceptional priests. I continue to believe in the importance of the religious organizations as a means of spiritual support for members and to focus service of a community of church members in support of those in need. In a world where each person stands with the Spirit of God, I cannot accept the theological authority of the church based on the misguided concept of apostolic succession.
I have prepared this book over a period of 50 years in faith that the Spirit of God can help each of us to contribute a little to a better understanding of our relationship with the Spirit of God and our obligations to help those in need.
When my attention returns to the personal relationship with the Spirit of God—I am amazed.