You know what Terry? I AM trying to have it both ways because that's the only way I can make sense of anything.
Christianity is somewhat of a conundrum to me. There's got to be a kernel of truth somewhere. What made Christianity spread like wildfire in the early years after Jesus' death BEFORE ANY GOSPELS or BOOKS were written?
Do I believe it? Like I said, my own feelings about the person of Jesus are presently in a state of flux...was Jesus just a man, or was He the Father made manifest? For the present, I have to have it both ways - I cannot decide. The truth, of course, is somewhere in between. Incomprehensible!
I can certainly appreciate what you are saying.
Remember, we are all anchored to our PRE-suppositions. We can't escape them. (Unless we acknowledge them.)
When you say "There's got to be a kernel of truth somewhere"...that doesn't confine us to Pre-Enlightenment times, does it?
Think of the wild things people currently believe and defend and spend their lives talking about, arguing and thinking about!
Crop Circles, alien kidnappings, Bigfoot, Flying Saucers, ghosts, ESP, conspiracies, and so on...
It takes a dull, empty life and colorless world and blows it all up into a mysteriously exciting technicolor 3-D adventure movie!!
If you were a poor, uneducated fisherman in Galilee in the 1st Century with no T.V. movies, recorded music, newspapers, iPods, laptops or international Soccer matches......what would transform you world and put you at the center of the MOST IMPORTANT thing in the Universe over night??
Wouldn't a simple story about God-Man, miracles, imminent World's end, everlasting life just ahead---knock your sandal's off?
That's the CONTEXT of those oral stories about Jesus.
The Roman empire was constantly at war. Mother's lost husbands and sons regularly.
A Prince of Peace probably sounded pretty darn good to them. Turn the other cheek? Better than send your son off to die..
In its own time and place Christianity seemed like a PRACTICAL alternative to workaday anonymity in an empire built on bloodshed and prejudice.