‘The Christ Conundrum: The Skeptic’s Guide to Jesus,’ peels away centuries of dogma
and seeks the truth behind the historical Jesus and asks, who was he? And what did
Jesus really teach? Through the application of historical methodology (reason) the
Christ Conundrum seeks to understand the real Jesus as he was in his own lifetime
as a posed to what the church has always told us (faith), and the results are sure
to be both shocking and controversial!
By seeing Jesus in his own time and place rather than through the lens of faith,
his historical message can be reconstructed with reasonable accuracy. For example,
Jesus in the New Testament believed that god would shortly intervene in the affairs
of the Jews and restore the twelve tribes of Israel to their former glory. This was
the kingdom of god: a time when corrupt and unjust rulers (ie the Romans) would be
overturned and all nations would turn to revere the god of Israel. And in this new
kingdom the dead would rise from their graves and evil itself would be defeated.
This wasn’t some loose prophecy intended for hundreds of years in the future -Jesus
believed that the end of the world would occur within his own life time:
Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew tells his followers: “I tell you the truth, some who
are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his
kingdom.” (Matt 16.28) This clearly demonstrates that Jesus could conceivably have
believed that the kingdom would come within the lifetimes of his disciples, but is
there any additional evidence that supports this? The answer is yes.
One of the first Christian converts, Paul of Tarsus, also believed in the imminent
arrival of the Kingdom, he even wrote to his congregation to ask them to remain unmarried
– after all what was the point in getting married since the end was so close? (see
1 Corinthians 7:26-28)
What this shows is that at its very beginnings Christianity was less concerned with
the forgiveness of sin, but with the imminent expectation that the very stars would
shortly be falling from the sky and the world as they knew it was about to come crashing
to a sudden halt. This wasn’t an extraordinary belief that cropped out of nowhere.
Indeed the Dead Sea Scrolls also show us that at least one sect of Jews in existence
before the birth of Jesus were also expecting a dramatic event of a type similar
to the Kingdom of God. Thus we have three independent lines of evidence that demonstrate
that within Jesus’ historical context there was a belief that the kingdom was about
A strong argument can therefore be made that Jesus himself taught that the Kingdom
of God would arrive within his own lifetime. However, two thousand years later these
events have not happened and therefore sceptics are justified in asking whether Jesus
was a false prophet as he himself might have defined the term.
In the end The Christ Conundrum concludes that Jesus was not, and never said that
he was a god- indeed as a pious first-century Jew he would have found it thoroughly
offensive and blasphemous for generations of Christians to revere his name as divine.
Entertaining but thought provoking, witty but serious, the Christ Conundrum is controversial
but well researched and highly relevant. Reading through the Christ Conundrum will
provide the sceptic with enough ammunition to remain god-proof and to defend their
disbelief against even the most ardent Jehovah’s Witness knocking at the door.
The Christ Conundrum will be available on all good online bookstores in December