For every "good" thing you can find about Jesus there are nasty and absurd things that could be found about him which brings to question his sanity.
As far as all the good works some Christians perform that's fine with me but don't tell me that other delusional Christians, the "nutters", are an isolated tiny minority. Those who spout off fox news and evangelical programing delusions are a substantial minority. They may be outnumbered by moderates and liberal Christians, who ignore their Bibles, but that does not make us safe.
villabolo, I don't disagree with this, except for a small divergence on some conclusions.
The above thoughts you addressed I first came across in "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris. I think this is a productive line of conversation, insofar as being left uncheked, extremists will set their agenda and run with it. That can't be allowed to happen. This premise is that moderate or even liberal believers by allowing the crazies and fundies to set the agenda creates opportunities for extremists of all religions to do bad things. (terrorism, abortion clinic attacks, hate crimes on GLBT people)
In principle, he is correct. Moderates do need to step up and silence the extremists.
But his arguments are not pragmatic. At the very worst, he is ahead of his time. (he does speak of the value of spirituality towards the end of that book.., although few mention this about the book) Faith will always be around. In fact, I predict that the essential meaning of faith will evolve as traditional organized religions compete with newer, more viable ways of expressing spirituality and explaining our humanity. (such as morals, goodness, etc)
I use to believe most of what Harris said at first. Since that time I can't put aside the value of proper faith and spirituality for people, even if I disagree with what some might call their "imaginary" god(s).
As far as Jesus and the gospels are concerned, I personally believe that assigning them too much literal value (or taking them solely at face value) does no one any good.
I believe that a great man named Jesus walked the earth. I don't discount that the overall picture of the man and his teachings were about love, tolerance, acceptance, and a disdain for traditions that put dogma above people. I always reserve the right to use my brain and filter out what doesn't seem to fit.
In the case of Jesus talking of destruction, well, I don't take that, or a lot of other things attributed to Jesus literally. Do I think the man had bad days and complained about, and perhaps these statements were imbellished and are now legend?