In the past I’ve said that what makes a Christian a Christian is not believing that Jesus rose from the dead and/or is the Son of God, but rather adhering to what Jesus himself said was the greatest commandment: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul; and your neighbor as yourself. It recently occurred to me however that the word Christian itself already implies more than this. In response to a tweg for a word better expressing my position @landfillpoet suggested Jesuit. The confusion calling myself a Jesuit would engender initially appealed to me, but I eventually modified his suggestion and settled on Jesuite, defining this word as follows:
One who adheres to the ethical and spiritual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but who does not profess to know or “believe” as Christians do that Jesus was the Christ or uniquely God Incarnate. Cf. Jesuism. See also William Law and Leo Tolstoy. However, like Thomas the Apostle, the Jesuite while skeptical is open to future revelations and correction, and so may be called a doubting Thomist. The Jesuite like the Jesuit is partial to casuistry, though not to the moral laxity it has been reputed to excuse.
But what is the heart of Jesus’ spiritual teachings? I find it in these words: “Before Abraham was, I am.” Now, these words almost got Jesus stoned, and inter alia are why Christians profess to believe that Jesus was the Christ and uniquely God Incarnate, but they can be interpreted differently.
There is no doubt that I owe my father my existence — assuming
that existence actually deserves gratitude. The tremendous wastefulness in the universe gives one pause to think. After all, aside from me some ten thousand others were awaiting their turn in the map room.
My father could give me existence, but not Being. I was in the
latter before my birth, nay, my conception, and I will “be” in it
after my death. Being comes into being through Creation, existence through procreation. The father “provides” existence by procreating. In procreating the son, he demonstrates Creation symbolically. He is given a priestly office; a great appeal is propagated through time, echo by echo.
An obligation to the father cannot be denied. It is normal for the father to sacrifice the son; this establishes the basis for myth, religion, history. It is normal — but it is not my job to decide whether it is right; such questions lead away from the main path. As a historian, I have to deal with the order of facts. They abide — what is right and legal changes. In this regard, I benefit from freeing myself from moral and religious bonds. Even Moses, when I summon him to the luminar, must answer to me.
And here is another passage illustrating the Jesuite:
That was my mood in the construction, and I became even more joyful when the first nuts were falling — with thuds that I could distinguish from all other sounds. It was a knocking, a heralding. That is my favorite kind of prophecy. Not an empty promise, but a phenomenon, a small handsel, something material. I am like Saint Thomas: Show thy wounds! Then I stand firm.
I am an anarch — not because I despise authority, but because I need it. Likewise, I am not a nonbeliever, but a man who demands something worth believing in. On this point, I am like a bride in her chamber: she listens for the softest step.