Why I believe in Jesus (Why I’m not a Christian)


Why do I insist on continuing to talk about Jesus?

Believe me; it’s not a very popular thing to do! On the one hand there are those who have “shed religion” and shed Jesus with it. For many of these folks, the mention of Jesus reminds them of everything that was wrong and even damaging about their beliefs and involvement related to the Christian religion. There are also those who may have never been Christians but crossed paths with enough of them to know that the whole Jesus-thing is something to steer clear of. Many atheists and agnostics don’t really see any point in giving a lot of credence to Jesus. After all, there’s not a very kind historical record of what has often happened in the name of Jesus. The Crusades of the Middle Ages come to mind. Westboro Baptist church is another. There is no shortage of examples of how Christian religious fundamentalism has done great harm in our world.

All of this hubbub over someone who some say never even lived and whose existence is just a myth.  So there’s definitely an anti-Jesus or feeling of indifference toward Jesus that is prevalent. There are many contemporary spiritual teachers who say we need to forget about Jesus and adopt more progressive and enlightened understandings, going forward.

Then on the other hand, the typical person who holds a strong belief in Jesus, namely Christians, aren’t too fond of me talking about Jesus either. This is because what I say about Jesus doesn’t support the beliefs, mindsets and orthodoxy of the Christian religion. I ran into this pretty early in my writing career when my Christian publishing house rejected the manuscript for my third book, immediately cancelled my writing contract, and accused me of heresy. My most recent book Inner Anarchy sent Christian folk through the roof. I receive emails daily from Christians who condemn me to hell, call down God’s wrath upon my head, and liken me to David Koresh and Jim Jones.

So, talking about Jesus these days is a dangerous thing to do for lots of different reasons. So why do I continue?

There are a lot of people for whom their rejection of or ambivalence toward Jesus is because the Jesus they were exposed to came through the filter of the Christian religion. That’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because the Christian religion (at least the one I was once associated with) does not accurately represent the life and message of Jesus. Jesus did not start the Christian religion, and if Jesus were alive today he certainly would not be one. If Jesus came around today and lived and taught the way he did 2,000 years ago, Christian folk would be the first ones to crucify him. Jesus was not a religious person, and vehemently opposed religion and the way it separated people from God, and divided them against each other. Once speaking to a group of religious leaders, Jesus called their “God” an impostor, a liar, and a murderer—even the Devil!

The Christian religion does not own Jesus, and until a person separates the person Jesus from the religion that claims his name, the truth that Jesus bore witness to and demonstrated will not get out. This is the reason why I wrote Inner Anarchy.

Regardless of one’s religious faith there is little doubt among contemporary historians that Jesus was a real person who lived in Palestine in the First Century. Historians agree that Jesus was an itinerant teacher who traveled and taught throughout Palestine gathering followers around him through the force of his personality and the compelling nature of his message.  There is general agreement that Jesus was perceived by the Roman occupiers of Palestine as a dangerous religious radical and a disturber of the peace. It didn’t help that Jesus infuriated the religious establishment for refusing to legitimize it. Consequently, he was arrested by the local authorities and summarily executed by the Romans in a public crucifixion, the standard method used by the Romans to deal with political troublemakers. There have been a few books written about this Jesus; a more recent one is, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan.

A re-interpretation of Jesus outside the Christian religion is necessary, and in my view we owe this to Jesus and his true legacy.

There are people who have found Jesus to be significant outside the box of the Christian religion. For example, there is a very robust tradition of “Christian humanism,” emphasizing the humanity of Jesus, his social teachings and belief in universal human dignity, and his propensity to synthesize human spirituality and the material world. There has also been a “Christian anarchist” movement, most notably championed by Leo Tolstoy, that claims that anarchism is inherent in the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus is far more radical than many would have you believe, and for good reason – it threatens the status quo and all religious and cultural institutions of authority and power.

Jesus’ primary message was about what he referred to as the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven.” When people questioned Jesus about when this Kingdom would arrive, Jesus said it already had and was within them. Jesus taught that this “Kingdom” was a real dimension and reality that we experience naturally deep within us. You don’t have to be a religious scholar or enlightened guru to access it. Jesus said instead you have to become like a child and be willing to trust and follow what bubbles up from your deep feelings. What Jesus was saying to his generation was that the Kingdom of God was not a future political kingdom to anticipate but was rather a present reality to the degree that his message was heard and acted upon by his disciples. His teaching was not to anticipate a future kingdom but rather to bring about the Kingdom of God in the present through one’s actions and commitments, and lifting those deep feelings up out of us and into the world. That “heavenly dimension” within us is the source of the power, authority, love, freedom and togetherness that can transform our current human situation.

I wrote Inner Anarchy because I believe that reconsidering Jesus and the truth he bore witness to and demonstrated can birth a new world. That truth is not a religious truth or contingent upon any religious ideology – it is universally significant and accessible to any and every human being. It’s the Christian religion that wrongly made it all about Jesus rather than his message. Jesus died but his truth is still alive in each and every one of us, waiting to be born and brought out into our world if we are willing to embrace it naturally like a child. There are 2.5+ billion Christians on our planet. I sometimes wonder how different our world would be if we stopped worshiping Jesus and started trusting and following what we all know is true and real deep inside us that Jesus told us to listen to.

For me, that message is worth sharing… even with the hate mails I receive each day and being called Jim Jones.

Latest Comments

  1. shadowlandermom says:

    This is awesome, Jim! Thanks. (Reading the book now…will be sure to give my scathing review when I’m finished. 😉 ) (j/k)

    – Patti

  2. Laurie VanHorn says:

    Well, if you’re the newest “Jim Jones”, then I’ll bring the Kool-Aid! LOL

  3. encounterillumination says:

    I’m sorry you have been called such ugly names. What you write has rung true in my spirit and I too, am living out loud in a way that honors what is alive within me. Bless your Jim

  4. Peter says:

    You poor man !! Hid from the wise and prudent ….

  5. Godfrey Rust says:

    Thanks Jim. This is very helpful and hits home. Keep on keeping on 😉

  6. Heather says:

    Hi Jim. I think its important what you are doing and I’m glad your talking about Jesus and about peoples struggles with Jesus especially those of us who have left fundamentalist christianity a.nd we are struggling figure out how it all fits together.we I see Jesus message so much clearer now and it goes along with everything eles I am learning, but so many things remain a murky mystery to me were the bible is concerned. The Virgin Birth, the cross, why did Jesus have to die…was Jesus really God in the Flesh on Earth or was he enlightened to the fact of his oneness with God as all have that oneness. I don’t like to as they say cherry pick the bible but right now some makes great sense the rest just leaves me totally bewildered. believe in Jesus…its more the parts of the bible I don’t know what to do with. Anyway dear Jim, you are not in this for the glory or the good times or the perks, you are a true Spirit Warrior and through your efforts many will find their way. I admire and respect you, They wound you and scar you and would crucify you if they could and yet, there you are…that beautiful voice crying in the desert for he who has an ear…will certainly here as the spirit gives utterance. Bless you Jim and thank you.

  7. Peter says:

    How long is it going to take for people to realise that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH?

  8. Vonnie says:

    Keep talking, Jim, because we “who have ears to hear” are listening, and in time we will start talking too.

  9. rhondasayers says:

    Great point Peter…I am going to share this blog post and your comment.

  10. Linda says:

    I was part of the Fundamental Baptist and others closely related for 17 years and have been church-free for 5 years. It is a beautiful thing to walk with Christ without all the chatter in my head. I follow a FB page, Exposing the Institutional Church, that has used many of your statements in your books and they have been so helpful to my walk lately. I thank you so much for your books and your writing on the internet. It is sad to see what I see in this world and how Christ is given a bad name. I know Him and He is my Friend. He is my Counselor and healed so many things in my heart and I want others to know this Amazing Person. He loves me and I don’t know where I would be right now without Him. Me and my family’s story is very long and disturbing what happened to us in “church” and one day I am sure we will be writing our story of the religious people who nearly destroyed us. But Jesus was there and never left our side. I would love to share with you a little personally but not public just yet plus legal reason too at the moment. Thanks so much and keep writing.

  11. Eric Thomas says:

    Jim, all I can say is that the spirit that moves your heart is the same that has moved mine for decades now. While I have yet to read any of your books ( a reality that will soon be remedied) I have read much of what you have posted in your blog and on facebook and immediately recognized that same spirit that lives in me. I thank God for your work, mainly because it has saved me from doing the same, for the time being but additionally b/c I know there are so many like ourselves out there just needing to know that the journey they are on is O.K. 😀

  12. ghartwell2014 says:

    Yes, this catches resonance in my heart. Well and carefully written. I, too, may read deeper into your books and such.

  13. Rosiland DuPont says:

    This is my first time to read your sayings or hear of your books. But the words rings true for my husband and I. We still love God but have been free of institutional christianity for 14 years. It has been a hard road and took a lot of self-forgiveness as well as self-acceptance (and seeing God as still in control in everything–good or “bad”). We too regret so much that christianity has given Jesus a bad name! Keep on writing, it has been very encouraging!

  14. Dale says:

    I think you are half-way there Jim. There is very little evidence that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed outside of the gospels. Jesus is nothing more than the latest of many “sun gods” throughout history. Most (if not all) of the bible is based on mythicism, borrowing mainly from ancient Egyptian mythology. Have you read or viewed any of Acharya S. books/articles/videos? If not, I highly encourage it. Until we are able to place “Jesus” in proper perspective, it will be a long, slow process of untangling the religion of christianity.

    • jimpalmer1 says:

      Dale, if you take the top 20-25 scholars of antiquity/history virtually none of them question the historicity of Jesus. There are countless resources that delve into the matter. Here are a few I’ve read:
      1. The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian by Robin Lane Fox
      2. Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of
      Nazareth by Bart D. Ehrman
      3. Jesus and the Politics of his Day by E. Bammel and C. F. D.
      4. The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et
      al. 2006 Princeton Univ Press
      5. Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels
      6. Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels by Michael
      7. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza

      Here are a couple decent articles about it as well:
      An atheist defense of the historicity of Jesus
      The irreligious assault on the historicity of Jesus

  15. Brandon says:

    Very thoughtful, Jim. As Peter said, there is a difference between Christian religion and Christian faith. You’re correct in saying Jesus was against religion. Religion is law. And the Covenant of the law was the Old Testament, the old way God did things. We’re now under the Covenant of Grace. The Gospel of Grace, which is a person, Jesus Christ. That’s the Gospel, the good news. The good news that Grace is a person, and because of Him, we no longer have to work or follow a religious law to be one with God. All we have to do is except Jesus, except His Grace, except His finished works. I believe a large portion of the Body of Christ is moving away from religion, from laws, from self-effort, and relying on God’s Grace, and our personal relationship with Jesus.

    Where I think you’re incorrect is saying: “It’s the Christian religion that wrongly made it all about Jesus rather than his message. I sometimes wonder how different our world would be if we stopped worshiping Jesus and started trusting and following what we all know is true and real deep inside us that Jesus told us to listen to.” IT IS ALL ABOUT JESUS. AND HIS MESSAGE. You cannot separate the two. It’s always all about Jesus and will always be all about Jesus, now and forever. When Christ comes back to rule, who do you think it will be all about? Unfortunately the minute you stop worshiping you fall risk to depending on yourself, and not depending on Jesus, which will eventually lead to, ” I don’t need God.” And we all need a Savior, my friend. I could be wrong, but biblically Jesus says nothing about trusting and following what we all know is true and real deep inside us. What he does say is ” I am the truth, the way, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Instead, trust in that, trust in His Grace.

    Lastly, I believe most folks focus is wrong. Always focusing on people and not God. Focusing on the crusades (people) or focusing on Christians actions or non-actions. Just focus on Him. And He will lead and guide you into all truth and wisdom. That’s why it boggles my mind when people say they’re discouraged by Christianity when they look at Christians. Well of course you are, your focus is wrong. People are imperfect. Focus on Jesus and your relationship with him. Find some believers who are real, worshiping, God-fearing people. And you’ll be led by the Spirit into all truth and wisdom. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. I am a Christian, by the way.

  16. Kaitlin says:

    “If Jesus came around today and lived and taught the way he did 2,000 years ago, Christian folk would be the first ones to crucify him.”

    Can I even find words to accurately describe how much I love this?!! Don’t think so 🙂 Thank you, thank you for this. Keep up the amazing work – the world desperately needs it.

  17. Mike Glenn says:

    I am also a former pastor, I Also went back and studied for myself recreating who Jesus really was. Before you do that however, you have to peel away all the myth from the New Testament and realize its purpose in the first place. The New Testament canon was put together ( by wicked, controlling, power hungry men) for the express purpose of creating a world religion and excluding other Christian splinter groups, mainly spiritually oriented ones. (See Elaine Pagels:the gnostic gospels). The 4 different gospels assimilated already existing myths and applied them to the new superior Jesus god/man. Virgin births were a dime a dozen in that era and before and really just a way to emphasize or exaggerate for effect that something was different about Jesus. Resurrections, temptations in the desert, dying between thieves, ascension, dec. 25th birthday, teaching in the temple as a 12 year old, miracles like water into wine, healings , the son of god, etc, etc, were ideas taken from the worship of Mithras, Horus, Buddha, and a dozen other religions from thousands of years earlier and then pasted around the person of Jesus, a spiritual teacher to show he was superior. There were literally dozens of other gospels that emphasized an eastern wisdom Jesus, but were discarded because they allowed for personal transformation rather than ecclesiastical control. Luke’s gospel to the Gentiles is the only one that claims virgin birth btw, because the author was appealing to Greeks who already had that concept. The genealogies to tie Christ into Judaism were fabricated to appeal to Jewish believers. The gospel of John is a gnostic gospel and an attempt to assimilate those believers into catholic or pre- catholic control. I have no doubt that there was a real person named Jesus, but he had an earthly father and he died. What is unknown exactly is how much of his teaching in the gospels is actually his or redacted. Honest scholars today,( Jesus seminar) suggest that 20% of the 4 gospels or less were his actual words. On top of all that most all scholars agree that the gnostic gospel of Thomas rediscovered in Egypt in 1945 is the oldest written, most authentic, and source gospel for the 4 in n.t. Canon. Thomas gives us a very different Jesus. So do I believe in Jesus?, yes, and I believe in all other spiritual teachers who point us to the kingdom within, and there were many, we call them mystics, sages. They exist in every culture and age. I want to challenge Jim and others to speak apples to apples and when referencing Jesus, and his message speak to the authority of the source he is referencing, and the historicity of the words so we know which Jesus we are talking about. The American, western, orthodox Jesus is a joke and charicature of the man who taught people how to connect with the oneness of God within them. He did not ask to be worshipped just like Buddha didn’t, but people elevate them as Gods because they are fearful to actually follow their words and take responsibility for their own divinity or connection to oneness.

  18. Dale says:

    Jim, many of the scholars you listed are christian so they should be excluded imo. Have you read any of Acharya S. books? If not, I highly recommend that you check them out. Jesus, as well as most of the biblical heavyweights such as Moses are merely mythical characters copied from older ANE religions. Check out her books “The Christ Conspiracy”, “Suns of God”, and her latest “Did Moses Exist” and I think you’ll find a perspective you haven’t seen in the scholars you noted. All ANE religions are mythical and are astrotheological devices.

    • jimpalmer1 says:

      Dale, I don’t buy it. Yes, I’ve read Achaeya S. Her theories have received negative commentaries from academic scholars, and in my view she has her own axe to grind. There is near unanimity among scholars that Jesus existed historically, although biblical scholars differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the Gospels. There are countless resources that delve into the matter of the historicity of Jesus. I mentioned a few in this post.

  19. Dale says:

    What non-christian scholars have provided negative commentaries on her research? Again, christian scholars will always reject her research so that doesn’t really mean anything. And what is her “axe to grind” Jim? Are you where you are because you had an axe to grind? There is more than enough evidence to seriously question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, but if you won’t look at it objectively without your preconceived opinions, you have no recourse than to reject it. I understand why it would be very difficult for you to admit that Jesus never existed. It would invalidate all of the effort you have put into your books and affect you economically. This is one of the big reasons why you will always have trouble getting mainline christian pastors to accept your position. They are too heavily invested in their position to walk away from it. I’m sure there is nothing I can do to convince you to do more objective research concerning this matter, but at least I tried. Hopefully you will allow my post to go through so that others will have a chance to consider it.

    • jimpalmer1 says:

      Dale, what you mean by “objective” research is the research that Dale is fond of because it supports your position. Any person can Google the historicity of Jesus and find plenty of non-Christian scholarly research that speaks to this. You mentioned one source that is not even considered a legitimate one. You personally lost all credibility in my mind by turning to personal attacks about how I am driven by status and financial motives because I happen to believe in the existence of Jesus as do most historical scholars. I listed several resources in my previous comment, which you never bothered to look into which is clear by how you characterized them. You’re right – there is nothing that you can do to convince me otherwise because you have said nothing that would warrant my doing so. Maybe in the future don’t turn to attacking people when they don’t jump in line with your ideology because it discredits your self-proclaimed superiority.

  20. Ryan says:

    Thank you, Jim, for giving me a new paradigm through which I can relate to Jesus yet which does not compromise my relationship with God.

  21. Sean says:

    Thank you this was very enlightening, I am one of those you mentioned about coming in contact with Christians to stay clear. I think I have been stabbed in the back by everyone I chose to call a “friend”. That I finally said screw it I want nothing to do with that an d for a good part of my life I was lost. I searched for a higher understanding I went to witchcraft I even went to satanism. And I would probably still be if it wasn’t for a statement and a book, the statement is There is no intangible paradise and there is no afterlife. I took that as there is no god and no angels, But at the end of the book there are spells and rituals to do if desired well they are written in enochian. later on I had acquired a book called enochian the language of angels or something along those lines.So again I was lost I got into some heavy drugs and bad crowds. I also found some music a music many many many people hate amongst them several thousand Christians and this band is Insane Clown Posse. yes they have very violent lyrics and on the surface they songs are just senseless violence, however if you look deep within their songs there is meaning and even a message a positive message.I wasn’t sure what exactly I was being told until the last song on the wraith Shangri la its called thy unveiling. and they mention the hidden messages and everything but it wasn’t until the verse “it aint got nothin to do with us it aint psychopathic records all we doin is pointin sh*t out to you we in this together. whos behind the circus the gathering and everybody at it who invented juggalos and juggalettes and f***ing faygo showers what about that feeling you get when bumpin our sh*t whose behind the juggalo powers this ain’t no fan club it ain’t about makin a buck do buy my action figures I don’t give a f*** it ain’t about violent j or shaggy the butterfly or 17 when we speak of shangrila what you think we mean truth is we follow god we”ve always been behind him the carnival is god and may all juggalos find him. that it all became clear and perhaps this is how god chose to call me back to him. I never questioned it but I can’t bring myself to join a church I did find a church that was teaching me and it seems to be speaking the right message however I refuse to do the whole shaking hands and talking to them. They all may very well be good people but my history doesn’t have any of that in it. no wI struggle with faith from time to time but thats because i have no real teaching of god or jesus. I read the bible from time to time however some of it I don’t really understand so I have taken it as just be a good person do good things and I have tried to be the best person I can, such as not to long ago I worked at a pizza place with a handful of other people. And for some reason they all hated me it wasnt because I was lazy I did my job and I helped them the best I could. I did the dough one day a week and prep the next and the prep was not all that easy prep was to be done daily and well I did it all every week but I didnt complain about it. The manager would pop in once in awhile and he would ask me how do i like working with so and so I said they were great and hardworkers and he said reallty? i said yea they dont talk to me much but they do there jobs well come to find out none of them liked me they did things deliberately to make my job harder and blamed me for everything and I also learned they were all part of the same church. But I still am the best person I can be, however here lately I have been worried that maybe thats not enough maybe I do need to find a church and that it is wrong of me to condemn them all because of what has happened in history and what has happened to me. And then I found this article so again thank you and I think i will read your book and perhaps get a better understanding.

  22. Bonnie says:

    Thank you and amen! Love Jesus and his message, lose the burdensome baggage of organized religion.

  23. Gideon says:

    Your missing the big picture and that is not just that there is a Kingdom of Heaven but He is the incarnate existence of all that is the Kingdom of Heaven and we access the Kingdom of Heaven through Him alone all other doorways lead into darkness. He is the way into the Kingdom of Heaven he is God of creation, king of the universes. He is the light of man living in us and through faith in him our spirit is transfered out of outer darkness into the Light the Kingdom of Heaven where we can engauge our heavenly father face to face. Jesus said his world is not this physical world we live in but the spiritual. The Spirit God vecame flesh just like our spirits were placed into flesh. So if your spirit is in darkness as is with those without Christ your very soul is lost and you are as dead to God. If you have faith in Jesus and have had spiritual rebirth into the Light of Jesus Christ then your soul is saved and you have eternal life and access to the Kingdom of Heaven as testimony bynthe Holy Spirit, Scriptures and Testimony of the Church. You also failed to nention Jesus Christ is fully God in flesh form according to St.Johns Gospel and epistles. Also Christ has ressurected from the dead and is seated in the heavenly places where our spirit is seated with him in the throne of Glory. Mystics do not astro project we can simply arrive into heaven by transfering our soul from the flesh on earth to the spirit in heaven. Astro projection is when a soul transfers into the spirit in darkness whereby they require a spirit guide of false light never reaching Heaven but being lost in the spirit realm of darkness. Okay I hope that gets you moving in the right direction. Blessings of Jesus presence and grace be with you and on you. PS the religious right threatened to kill me for being a “witch” even though they blasphemy and grieve the Holy Spirit by dishonoring Him.

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