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Jesusism is a neologism referring to a personal philosophy committed to observing the teachings of Jesus, but not at the expense of empirical or rational reasoning. Jesusism is characterized by its epistemic distinction between faith and science and its rejection of institutional religion, doctrinal canons, and the Scriptural authority of the Christian Bible.
Philosopher and political activist Franklin Seaver Billings defined "Jesusism" as the "rational philosophy" which "can be attributed directly to the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene." Accordingly, Jesusism rejects the authority of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, with the exception of the teachings of Jesus. The Cambridgian philosopher and scientist John Lindsay Falvey notes that "the gospel story so differs from Church doctrine that it could be well be of a different religion - Jesusism."
From the perspective of Jesusism, institutional Christianity is an artifice designed to exploit the masses through indoctrination into a framework of logical fallacies. Example given, the argument for Scriptural authority: the Scriptures are the word of God because the Scripture itself says so ("All Scripture is God breathed" 2Tim.3:16), yet this was allegedly said by Paul even before Paul's own epistle was considered Scripture. An important etymological distinction between Jesusism and Christianity is that Christianity derives its name from Jesus Christ (the annointed), whereas Jesusism acknowledges the profound contributions of Jesus (the man and/or myth) to pursuits such peace and voluntary altruism, but does not demand his elevation to "supernatural" status for his teachings to have meaning.
Jesusism is iconoclastic in nature, but does not necessarily encourage atheism. Instead, it values rational thinking as a source of truth, while allowing for faith-based conclusions as long as they are not prioritized. For example, the Biblical canon-based theory of creationism intended to disregard the scientific hypothesis of evolution is rationally untenable as it is premised on conflating two mutually exclusive epistemic categories: scientific hypothesis and personal faith. Jesusism acknowledges that Darwinian evolution explains the origin of species and that chemical evolution likely explains abiogenesis. Furthermore, some Jesusists posit on faith that an intelligence or personality on a greater level of complexity (e.g. "God") may have played an indirect causal role in abiogenesis or other phenomena. On this point, Jesusism may be similar to Deism, however a belief in God is not a requisite for Jesusism.
Extending pursuit of rational thought to the political arena, followers of the philosophy seek to recognize demagogues who spread fear of hell and other "supernatural" constructs to advance their ambitions. In formation of a Jesusist political philosophy, Franklin Seaver Billings argues that "taking the gospels as our only possible authority, it cannot be denied that Jesusism and anarchism are almost identical." Spanish economist James Redford further argues that Jesusism politically implies libertarian anarchism, or anarcho-capitalism.
Early usage of the term, "Jesusism," applied to philosophy can be found in The Naked Truth of Jesusism from Oriental Manuscripts, written by theologian Lyman Fairbanks George in 1914:
"It is to restore Jesus's sayings to their original purity.
It is to eradicate from the Gospels the interpolations of the Middle Ages.
It is to relate the misconceptions revealed by recent archaeological research.
It is to present Jesus from an economic viewpoint.
It is to break through the spell spectral of Cosmic Credulity.
It is to toll the knell of schism through Jesusism."
- Jesusism Wikipedia
- A Psychological Interpretation of Jesus
- Radical Conviviality and the Gospel Jesus by Jewish writer Thomas Moore in Tikkun Magazine
- Christian Atheism BBC
- FS Billings. How shall the rich escape? Harvard, Arena Publishing, 1894. p.42
- JL Falvey. Buddhist-Christian dialogue: four papers from the Parliament of the World's Religions. Melbourne, 2009. pp.10-12
- FS Billings. How shall the rich escape? Harvard, Arena Publishing, 1894. p. 209
- J. Redford. Jesus is an Anarchist. A Free-Market, Libertarian Anarchist. Procesos de mercado: revista europea de economÃa polÃtica, ISSN 1697-6797, NÂº. 2, 2007. p. 263-324
- LF George. The Naked Truth of Jesusism from Oriental Manuscripts. George Company, Pittsburg, 1914. p. 31