Caleb’s Concepts: There is no true Christianity, only interpretations

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Caleb Garbuio, Editorial Page Editor

In his dialogue, “Ion,” Plato explores the mastery that poets have pertaining to their subject matter. This story is about Ion, a poet claiming mastery of Homer’s poems, confronted by Socrates who patiently explains Ion cannot have mastery of someone without being as equally skilled. Since Ion claimed Homer was the greatest poet ever,  he cannot have mastery over Homer since he is the superior poet with the correct interpretation. The takeaway is that the original source is always better than the interpretation.

Now let’s explore Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Followers of Jesus’s teachings followed  his example outlined within the New Testament of the Bible. Yet, the majority of Christ’s chronology was documented decades after his death, amounting to a confusing chronology. Additionally, the characterization of Jesus is wildly different in the synoptic gospels versus the Book of John. John’s depiction of Jesus encapsulates his divine aspects while the synoptic gospels, in particular Mark, place an emphasis on his humanity, highlighting that Jesus’s nature is unknown since he did not leave behind any original writings. Rather, his legacy is preserved by the Apostles and codified within the books. Therefore, we are relying on a copy of Jesus not his true self.

As Plato illustrates in “Ion,” interpretations of human material are a corrupted copy of the source. Keep in mind that Plato is discussing the work of Homer, a human, not Jesus, the son of God. Since human concepts are subject to interpretive corruption, it can be concluded that divine material can be corrupted also. Thus, our concept of Jesus is artificial since we are relying on the interpretation of people and based on the Bible, humans are broken. In his book, “The City of God,” the theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo coins this fault as “original sin.” Original sin occured after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden which passed on as a “sinful gene” to humanity. Thus, “original sin” causes humans to step into the world as broken people who can never be made whole.

Naturally, we conclude that this brokenness affects our judgement of the divine. Since, the gospel writers are endowed with this brokenness, then their interpretations of the divine are affected by this disease. This leads us along to the disaster that befell future Christians trying to interpret the Bible correctly, thank you Martin Luther. This rift in religious understanding traces its genealogy through systems developed by people’s imperfect perception of an imperfect book resulting in bloodshed. So, now, in the 21st century, Christianity is bitterly divided without the chance of reconciling under the love of God. 

Your Christian denomination should not matter. Your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God is what gives you salvation manifested through good deeds, which is achieved through living your life as close as possible to how Jesus lived his. Naturally, this is impossible since Jesus is divine and we aren’t. Rather, he is a form that we should aspire to be. For as Friedrich Nietzsche put it, “In truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.”