Talking to Your Teens-Jesus Style

Are your kids asking some sticky biblical questions?

Starting Questions

Are your teenagers asking some tricky questions that you're not quite sure how to answer? Please, let us help guide you!

What Defines Religion?

According to Webster's dictionary, religion is defined as the belief in worship or a controlling superhuman power, especially a personal God or gods. Give your teen the ability to explore other viewpoints and entrust that you have established strong enough faith for them to find what they truly believe.

Let's Take A Quick Glimpse at Other Religious Interpretations

For just a quick peek into other interpretations of Jesus, take these things into consideration.

Hinduism- Hindus consider Jesus to be a Yogi. A Yogi is characterized as an individual who has an unswerving devotion to the Supreme Spirit. A true yogi is visualized to be divine, forgiving, righteous, humble and self- sacrificing. Hindus believe that humans are bound to go through the round of Samsara: birth, death and rebirth. One's rebirth is determined by the actions and deeds performed during the life of the first birth.

Islam- Muslims are very concerned with the right beliefs about God, the universe and humanity. Islam is a monotheistic faith, believing there is only one God in the universe-naming that God, Allah. Islam teaches the importance of both belief and practice.

Although we do not agree with these practices, they do incorporate common characteristics of Christianity. Give your teens the freedom and ability to explore these religions and how they interpret Jesus.

Inside Christianity

Why are there so many different thoughts of Christianity and how do I know what is true?

With so many different scholars publishing different thoughts on Jesus, who He was, and the text that is supposed to accurately portray Him, it can often be difficult to decipher which to believe. However, regardless of the disputable facts, most scholars share a basic representation of who Jesus was.

E.P. Sanders

E.P. Sanders is an established Pauline scholar and an expert on first-century Palestinian Judaism. Sanders now resides as professor of arts and sciences in religion at Duke University. Referring to Sanders' method of study, he displays far more confidence in the authenticity of canonical tradition than any other historical Jesus scholar. Sanders states, "We should trust this information unless we have good reason not to do so...". He shows no influence of non-canonical writings while he begins with an indisputable list of facts about Jesus.Sanders believes that starting with matters about which everyone would agree creates a framework for discussion that is most easily available. The key to understanding Jesus as a historical figure is interpreting facts about his life based upon what we know about his social world.

N.T. Wright

N. T. Wright is a well rounded scholar in Great Britain. Wright's method of study is very similar to Sanders. He shares his incredible reason for his quest of the historical Jesus which consists of full knowledge of the divine One we follow. Wright shares that the only way to truly know God is through Jesus. Therefore, it is our responsibility as followers to seek knowledge about our Savior as a means of betterment for our relationship. As Wright begins his search he looks primarily at the canonical Gospels yet incorporates secondary sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and architectual evidence to support his findings. When analyzing data, it must support these five questions to be considered relevant:

  1. How did Jesus fit into Judaism?
  2. What were the goals and aims of Jesus?
  3. Why did Jesus die?
  4. How and why did the early church begin?
  5. Why are the Gospels what they are?

To learn more about N.T. Wright, check out his book The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is

The Jesus Seminar

If your children have asked about The Jesus Seminar, this might be a little tricky as they provide quite the argument against E.P. Sanders.

The Jesus seminar was founded in 1985 by Robert Funk. The original goal of the Seminar was to examine every tradition relatively attached to Jesus in order to determine what was actually said by Jesus and what was merely attributed to his name. The Seminar first compiled a numbered list of everything that Jesus is believed to have said in any document before 300 C.E. The Seminar then examined these sayings to determine whether or not they were authentic by arguing various positions and discussions of research. They then voted whether or not these things to be deemed as authentic.

The Jesus Seminar proposes quite a challenging view against E.P. Sanders. These men and women scrap everything and begin based upon research and discussion to develop the character of who Jesus was. While this group might be plausible to their own adherents, it is difficult to understand the research that is being found and as to how and why it should be attributed to Jesus or not.

Marcus Borg

Marcus Borg, a prominant member of the Jesus Seminar, is a professor of religion and culture at Oregon State University. Borg is heavily invested in the relationship between matters of faith and sociopolitical realities. Rather than focusing on the "Jesus of History" Borg refers to look at the "Pre-Easter Jesus" and "Post-Easter Jesus" and what kind of person He was.

In terms of Borg's method, he focuses on te use of the Synoptic Gospels discluding John. He neither introduces nor ignores the use of Peter and Thomas.

Unlike the Seminar, Borg does not occupy himself with the particulars of what exactly Jesus said but rather the types of deeds and sayings attributed to Him. After determining what kind of person Jesus was, Borg uses an interdisciplinary approach to interpret general tendencies of the Jesus tradition from a perspective informed by sociology, anthropology, and histroy. Borg draws off of the analogies of Jesus in other religions to interpret the influence of Jesus in his social world.

Borg offers four images of Jesus: sage, healer, movement initiator and social prophet. He relates these images to the social world and spirit. The social world of Jesus is the center of his concern and the spirit as His souce and mission.

For more information on Borg, check out his sermon here on " Why Jesus Matters".

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Although many scholars contradict each other and groups such as the the Jesus Seminar often pose contradictions with traditional beliefs, Jesus is truly at the center of it all. Encourage your teens to expand their knowledge and grow in faith.

For More Information

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"Hinduism." Hinduism. Religion Facts. Web. 02 Dec. 2015

“History of Hinduism.” BBC News. BBC. Web. 03 Sept. 2015

"Islam History." Religion Facts. Religion Facts. Web. 01 Sept. 2015.

Powell, Mark Allan. Jesus as a Figure in History How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1998. Print.

"The Hindu Book of Astrology: The Hindu Yogis’ Rules For Attaining Health, Wealth And Happiness." The Hindu Book of Astrology: The Hindu Yogis’ Rules For Attaining Health, Wealth And Happiness. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.

"Who Was Muhammad?" Council on Islamic Education, 1995. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.