It has been awhile since I believed in Jesus as anything more than a man. At worst, a manic-depressive end times fanatic preaching the world was about to end. (Jesus, speaking in reference to the end of the world: "Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Matt 24:34 or Mark 13:30 or Luke 21:32 or many others) At best a man inspired by something divine with a message that could help heal the world. But most of the time I think of him as some guy with a mostly good message, who after his death, through a serious of unusual circumstances became revered as a God.
Even when I was an active Latter-Day Saint I lost my belief in Jesus as being any sort of World Saving Sacrifice. This change happened on my mission when attempting to convert a Muslim man.
For him to understand the context of Joseph Smith, we first tried to explain the Lds perspective of Jesus. He kept asking why God could not forgive sins on his own. Why, if he was all powerful and all knowing, was he unable to forgive sins? (the non-lds perspective is even stranger, since Jesus actually is God the Father as well. 'I can forgive sins, but only while being killed on a cross'). The traditional Lds answers of Jesus being a ransom to pay a debt to God, the just judge, ran through my mind as responses, but before saying them aloud I predicted his responses and realized I had nothing adequate to say. The more I thought of how to answer him, the more convinced I became that he was correct.
Taking into mind this perspective I have of Jesus, it is often somewhat humorous for me to hear people speak of their personal relationship with Jesus, or how he is in their hearts etc. It is comparable to hearing someone say they have a personal relationship with the ghost of Aristotle and that he resides in their hearts encouraging them to do good and use the Socratic method at all times.
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