Most Christians are taught a view of theology that has no ethical implications at all. To be sure, people are taught ethics and morals, but their theology as such is amoral. In that view, the life of Jesus is a story about magic tricks. A man is born of a virgin, performs a lifetime of miracles, dies, and then, gets up from his grave. If you believe the story, you’re saved, if you don’t you’re damned. In this version of Christianity it is possible to love God, but remain indifferent to the global struggle for human rights. I want to say, that’s bad religion and makes for a bad human beings. When we study the life of Jesus, there are clear ethical implications from the day Jesus says he has come to announce good news for the poor, to the end of the story when he tells Peter he can only love Jesus by caring for other human beings. Jesus lived before Christianity. When he spoke he was not referring to any of the creeds, rituals or rules that were the later inventions of the church. Jesus did not come to teach us Christianity, he came to teach us how to love.
Hallelujah! Someone else is saying it!
I might not go so far as to call the proclamations of the apostolic church “inventions,” as though they were all consciously fabricated in the minds of individuals. There’s a heritage of visionary prophecy, inspired scribal commentary and oral folk religion behind NT literature which is a deep vein of mystical faith already in judaism at the time of jesus. But this is just the kind of theological candor needed to break the stereotypes of fundamentalism. And the assertion that Jesus was a Jewish teacher and a heroic founder of a movement within Judaism before Christian theology developed is spot on.