At The Core of God and Jesus

By: Brian Robertson

Mark knows nothing of the Virgin Birth story. Some years later, the unknown writers who wrote Matthew and Luke each used Mark as a springboard to their Gospels, inserting a document each of them had (known by scholars as “Q”) as well as their own sources and access to the stories in circulation. The Virgin Birth was certainly one of them. In the same way, the earliest Mark documents do not include the now-used ending, but stopped at the women fleeing an empty tomb in fear. It would be later before the post-Easter story would take on a radically different dogmatic flavor and then begins to appear in later documents of Mark’s gospel.

Paul, who wrote the earliest documents in the New Testament, likewise wrote before the Virgin Birth stories entered the theological folklore about Jesus and before the “spin doctors” of a certain brand of belief elevated Jesus’ resurrection to fit their “Lamb of God” scenario. While I don’t agree with all Paul wrote — he was prone to veering far to either side of the spectrum — I do find two verses in Romans to be of extreme interest. Taken together, they form a telling version of Jesus and Christianity largely papered over by later writers and revisions to the NT, leaving us with thousands of alternative document versions which disagree with each other here and there.

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and if God’s Spirit is living in you, he will also give life to your bodies that die. God is the One who raised Christ Jesus from the dead, and he will give life through his Spirit that lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (children) of God.” (Romans 8:14)

This is fascinating stuff, no doubt about it, and carries with it a brand and tone of Christianity that I, personally, find rings true for me. First, Jesus did not raise himself as that was stated in no uncertain terms as having been done by God. Secondly, by God’s raising of Jesus, God said “Yes” to Jesus while the world said “No.” In other more contemporary words, God, in acting on Jesus, validated his parking ticket. God shows that a person who lives as Jesus did does not come to an end and is not ignored, but embraced and protected and vindicated by the very Spirit within each of us.

Third, like Jesus, all who live in and are “led by the Spirit of God” are the sons of God, meaning the children of God. This simple nucleus around which one’s faith can revolve that is expressed in these two quotes is a powerful and experiential truth; a component of what a Christian mystic can believe and live from.


Brian Robertson


[Hello, I love the site. I am curious though about this post. Why must it be assumed that the writers of the gospels copied one another as opposed to just having written what they saw? Also you mention that you do not agree with all Paul writes. How do you decide what you are going to and not going to agree with? What is truth and what isn’t?]


[Thanks for the kind words!

It’s really not very easy to get into the details in a comment, but let me make a few very basic points.

(1) Biblical scholars have long decided that based on the scenario I mention is the correct one — Mark was written first, then used as a basic starting point for both Matthew and Luke who wrote independently. You can discover more about that in research by reading about the “Q” document which it is thought Matthew and Luke shared, along with Mark and their own particular batch of stories. John, of course, is another thing entirely.

(2) To more or less quote Leslie Weatherhead (whose “The Christian Agnostic” you should hunt up and read), I’m under no more obligation to accept all of Paul than I am to accept Newton’s physics. It stems from this: the NT is made up of a collection of documents approved by and altered to reflect the view of the “winning team” in terms of Christianity. These are people writing, not God, and people who have their own view of Jesus, often representing a community of belivers.

If one looks at the various Gospels, testimonies of the earliest Christians from a wide range of backgrounds, gospels not included in the official collection of the NT and more, one gets a very striking and clear basic view of Jesus. It is possible, then, along with one’s own personal relationship with God, to know the Bible by Jesus rather than knowing Jesus by the Bible.

This is all very rough and a horrible summary of things that would take a book to go through, and for that “shorthand” version I apologize.

One must start with a compass. I think, for me, it’s that God is Spirit. God is Love. God is Forgiveness. I know more about God through the figure of Jesus who lived life in complete openness to God’s Presence and tried to proclaim it to all who would listen, which meant the poor and the troubled, the outcasts and the marginalized. The Infinite meeting the finite, the Timeless meeting the temporal, that moment, that interface, is the Christ. Yes, there are things which have been added to the Bible’s account, words put in the mouth of Jesus, even the most basic study of the differences of gospel documents we have clearly shows that, as in the appearance of lines in later manuscripts that weren’t there in early, etc.

So, I have to return to the basic core — Jesus’ call to us to enter the kingdom of heaven, to live in God’s immediate Presence. Tribal rules, the threat of eternal damnation and many other doctrines of human creation I can easily dismiss.

What’s left? An exquisite Mystery which we, as Christians, can either fill in with theories and doctrine promoted by this or that Church or group or we can actively do our best to follow Jesus’ call as best we are able to and to have Faith in God’s abiding and ultimate love.

After fifty-something years, that’s where I am. It’s not THE truth, but it is my truth for me, that compass that keeps me on the journey.