Jesus: Myth or Fact


After comments on my previous post, I decided to make another diagrammatic attempt of the different ways people view the Bible’s Jesus.  Hopefully it is self-explanatory but here are some quick points:

  • For everyone, the percentages vary widely, of course.  These are just examples.
  • I am proud of my splitting both “Myth” and “Fact” into two categories — it may help dialogue

Any compliments, suggestions or criticisms?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

42 responses to “Jesus: Myth or Fact

  1. Syl

    NOW it makes sense! Of course, I’m also on my second cup of coffee, so that helps too…

  2. In my studies of the matter I make great use of the second strand of your myth category, along with the some of the first in your fact category. In other words, I take a largely euhemeristic approach.

  3. Superb! Gold star for you. Nice work here.

  4. Tafacory

    Intriguing explanation.

  5. Ben

    Hmmmm…Montey, I would like to go with what is behind door #2. But I am not sure I would use the title believing skeptic. Believing to me is a loaded word. I don’t really “believe” any of the dogma. But I acknowledge that was probably a historic teacher named Jesus. I even think some of his sayings may have been captured in what is called the sermon on the mount. But as to the gospel’s claims of divinity or messiahood, I am more than a little skeptical.

    But anyone who’s first miracle is to turn jugs of water into wine, is OK in my book. 😉 Not that I believe that for a moment…but it would definitely be one of MY first miracles.

  6. To Everyone: Thanx folks. I just changed the diagram a bit. Thanx to Ben, I changed the “Believing Skeptics” to “Skeptical Unbelievers”. I added Evangelicals — see what you think.

    @ Ben,
    Thanx Ben. Good suggestion. I updated the diagram.

  7. the chaplain

    I like this very much. Thanks.

  8. Great Diagram. I think it more or less sums things up in simple to understand package. I am new to your site and look forward to exploring it more.

  9. It was good the way you had it before: but this is definatley more accurate.

  10. @ the Chaplain & Reason Being: Thank you kindly

    @ andyman409: Yeah, it was a trade off. I included Evangelicals here and put labels on the pies to make them easier to read. Unfortunately it became a little busier.

    But what I love about diagrams is that it would take me about 10 long paragraphs to say the same thing. But a picture can stick in your mind while 10 paragraphs won’t.

  11. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and a picture with a hundred word must be worth, like, a bajillion words or something. I think this is more clear, Sabio, and I like the extra pie charts!

  12. rhondasayers

    I like today’s diagram better than yesterday’s.

  13. @ rhondasayers: Thanx. People’s feedback really help me improve my thoughts and drawings. Stay tune for the next pic in this series — hopefully it leads to further insights for me. 🙂
    May I ask, “How did you find this site?”

  14. Earnest

    I like how the pictures change. Very visual, nice diagram.

  15. Martin K

    Very interesting! I think I am somehow progressive. Maybe evangelical. Or in between… I don’t believe in the gospels acounts as myth or fiction but I think they are the different eyewitnesses that tells their story about Jesus. They remembered stuff differently. So they are not without error. It’s not God’s word but the words of Mathhew, Mark, Luke and John about what happened. But the essential stuff is the same. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the Jesus-words that was a oral tradition before it became scripture.

  16. Mike Gantt

    I have to say that Ian’s categorization is more sophisticated. Nonetheless, it is a good thing that you are both talking about Jesus Christ.

    He is humanity’s raison d’etre. Even disbelieving Him won’t change that.

  17. @ Mike Gantt
    Indeed, Ian’s Jan 2013 post is more sophisticated. Mine is meant to be simple — I am a simple person.
    That “Jesus is humanity’s reason d’etre.” is a joke. Have you ever lived in Asia where this would appear as blatant nonsense? [sorry, not in an accommodationist mood today — especially for these sorts of statements.]

  18. Mike Gantt

    The fact that my statement may appear as nonsense to you or to people in Asia is irrelevant to its truth and efficacy. Because of Jesus Christ, everyone lives and everyone is going to heaven – even you and even all of the people in Asia. And even me!

    I have laid out the biblical case for this point of view on my blogs, if you ever care to examine it.

  19. Yes, yes, Mike. I get it. I use to be there too.

  20. Mike Gantt

    Sabio, please tell me more. If you did once believe that everyone is going to heaven because this is what the Bible teaches about what Jesus brought about, when and why did you change your mind?

  21. @ Mike
    You can look through my Table of contents as for why I don’t believe in a personal god: Jesus, Yahweh, Krishna, Amida, Allah and all the rest.

    The question of universalism is dependent on a belief in a personal god (probably in your book) and further, I see no reason to believe that the answer to the question of human’s life after death should be any different than other animals.

    Bible conversations and quoting your scriptures is totally unnecessary for what I have mentioned above. Again, look through my TOC if you are really interested. Or better yet, my “about” tab would be a best guide. I looked at your blog — and I shan’t be reading it — all too familiar and the nitty gritty of Christian theology — universalism vs whatever, are not my current interests any more. Read my posts on Soteriology (type it in the search widgit) if you wish.

  22. Mike Gantt

    Thanks for the clarification. I took your “I use to be there too.” more precisely than warranted.

  23. I use to be Christian (an exclusivist), then transitioned to a mystical Christianity (universalist) then to trans-religious mystic but still a personal-god mystic. Then to a diffuse-nonpersonal god mystic. Then to not needing to think in terms of gods personal or non-personal.

    So, maybe the preciseness which you took me for was accurate.
    Do you intend to read any of the “About” posts?

  24. Mike Gantt

    I had already skimmed them before making my first comment. After your response, I spent a little more time with them before I made my last response.

  25. So, Mike, were they helpful. How would you typify me. Wouldn’t you we were once similar?

  26. Mike Gantt

    Your background seems consistent with that of many former evangelicals.

    I myself was an evangelical pastor, with a typical conviction that Jesus was Lord and the Bible was the word of God. Ongoing study of the Bible after seminary led me to an even stronger conviction of these two principles as well as equally strong convictions that the Bible taught 1) everyone was going to heaven, 2) the Second Coming of Christ was a spiritual event that occurred as prophesied in the late first-century, 3) churchgoing was therefore an unnecessary and distracting activity in light of the coming of the kingdom of God.

    Thus I found myself a preacher more convinced than ever of the truth of Jesus Christ and the Bible, but unwilling to go to church or to tell anyone else to do so. To these convictions I have remained true for almost twenty years. Obviously, there are some points of dissimilarity as well as similarity between us.

  27. @Mike Gantt
    So, are you paid for being a pastor now that you don’t see the need for church? How do you make a living now?
    Can you reflect back to when your change to universalism — was something going on in your life at that time which Universalism made fit better besides pure Bible study?

  28. Mike Gantt

    @Sabio Lantz,

    I left a business career to attend seminary and enter ministry in 1979. I began teaching these things in 1993. The church was gone by 1994. I continued preaching without a church for a while, but I had to go back into business in 1995 to support my family. I did not continuing preaching when I re-entered the business world. Upon entering semi-retirement a few years ago I returned to studying the Bible and began blogging about these things in the time freed up by my semi-retirement.

    As to your question, no, there was nothing that led me to belief that everyone is going to heaven other than prayer and Bible study. I was previously content with the traditional evangelical belief that only those who accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior could expect to be saved by Him. But once He showed me differently, I was enormously relieved that no one would have to endure eternal conscious torment in hell in eternity. What I couldn’t understand is why others weren’t similarly relieved. Because of what I teach I am considered heretical by most Christians. Nonetheless, you can read my blogs and go through the Bible yourself and see that what I am saying is true.

  29. @ Mike Gantt,
    Thank you for the background info.
    You said “But once He [Jesus] showed me diffirrently [Universalism], I was enormously relieved ….”

    Many other Christians speak like you about the Bible — they believe God/Jesus speaks to them through the Bible. So for those whose opinions you differ radically on this subject (those who you say consider you a heretic), do you think they are mistaken and that Jesus isn’t showing them what they claim. If not, who is showing them. Do you think you are the one of the few that are actually hearing Jesus accurately.

    Do you still feel you have a personal relationship with Jesus — just as you did when your were an orthodox evangelical?

  30. Mike Gantt


    Yes, I think that people who differ radically with what I’ve written on my blogs about the Bible are mistaken. Most who do so are simply following tradition and following the crowd (i.e. preconceived notions inherited from church) rather than actually studying the Bible and coming to their own conclusion. I don’t think of myself as anything other than a human being who can read. Anyone can come to understand what I have by simple study and an open mind and heart. The view I hold may be in the minority now, but I do not believe that will always be the case.

    Yes, I believe I still have a personal relationship with Jesus. And that relationship is now closer because the encumbrance of church has been removed.

  31. @ Mike Gannt:
    Thanks for sharing. But you didn’t get around to answering the most important part of my question. So I will repeat and simplify:

    You said “But once He [Jesus] showed me differently [Universalism], I was enormously relieved ….”

    Many other Christians speak like you about the Bible — they believe God/Jesus speaks to them through the Bible.
    do you think those Christians who disagree with you are mistaken and that Jesus isn’t showing them what they claim. If not, who is showing them. Do you think you are the one of the few that are actually hearing Jesus accurately.

  32. Mike Gantt


    I thought I had answered your questions. Since I didn’t satisfy you, however, I’m happy to be more explicit and to elaborate.

    do you think those Christians who disagree with you are mistaken and that Jesus isn’t showing them what they claim.


    If not, who is showing them.

    “Most who do so are simply following tradition and following the crowd (i.e. preconceived notions inherited from church) rather than actually studying the Bible and coming to their own conclusion.”  By this I mean, for example, that people grow up in a church like I did (the Roman Catholic Church) hearing about the Trinity or people going to hell and never have either sufficient reason or time to question such things.  Someone like me comes along and they just assume that, because so many people have held the traditional view and I am one guy, that I can’t possibly be right.  They thus argue out of what they’ve heard in the past without really stopping to give serious consideration to what I’ve written.

    Do you think you are the one of the few that are actually hearing Jesus accurately.

    I hope you are beginning to see from what I’ve written above that I don’t view the world in this way.  There are, of course, 7 billion of us.  Many of us are starving to death, don’t have access to a Bible, or time to study it.  Of those that do, many are doing other things with their time -some worthy (e.g. providing for their families or feeding the poor) and others not so worthy (e.g. indulging their pleasures or seeking fame and power).  My responsibility is to share what I’ve learned and patiently explain it to those who engage with me.  The fact that everyone who professes loyalty to Jesus does not currently seem to be saying the same things I am saying can be the result of a variety of factors, some of which are 1) He is speaking to some of them about different but non-contradictory issues (and, in such cases, I will learn things as I have opportunity to listen to them, 2) Some are simply deceiving others, and maybe even themselves, when they say they are listening to Jesus.

    I’m happy to answer follow-up questions as long as you have them.

  33. @Mike,
    You see, it seems as simple as this. You feel that when you understand the Bible correctly, it is because “Jesus shows you” but when others understand it a different way, it is because of their own thinking, with is mistaken (for all the reasons you say).

    I simply contend that no one has “Jesus show” them anything. Nor does Krishna nor Allah show anyone anything. Nor Elvis. I hear people talk like this from many circles — either they are crazy, or it is a habit of theirs to try and dignify or glorify their own conclusions (their own ‘reasoning’) — and it is a bad, manipulative habit (often unconscious, or as you say, self-delusional), in my opinion. You feel others who disagree with you about what Jesus is telling them are sometimes simply self-delusional or mistaken, and I think that anyone who talks about dead people, spirits or gods talking to them is mistaken, self-deceptive, delusional or all three — on that issue. Mind you, not generally so, but on that point.

    But thanks for clarifying, we clearly disagree on important epistemological issue, as you can see. And this is a major impedance to any productive dialogue because you claim to have gods revealing the truth to you.

    See my drawings about how I feel prayer (and “talking to Jesus”) really works: First read this on Guidance Prayer then look at this on Endurance Prayer. To understand my thinking, though, you have to understand my notion of “many selves” – for which I supply links.

  34. Mike Gantt


    I read your posts to which you linked. I don’t really see how they have much bearing on what I have written to you.

    What I described to you was an experience of reading the writings of people who wrote long ago, claiming to be speaking on behalf of the God who created us all. Individually and collectively, the writers – and implicitly the original recipients of the documents and those who have preserved them – make claims about God which I – after thorough consideration – have determined are very persuasive. The writings are copious and not always easy to fully understand. Since many other people have read them before me, I have heard certain conclusions others have drawn without having had time to study them myself.

    While reading, the “light” has come on regarding certain topics owing to no input from me or any other person I know. In some of these cases, a conclusion was born in me contrary to the conclusions others have drawn before me – but never in a way such as to overturn the fundamental communications of the writings.

    Now, I suppose you could say that the original authors were deluded when they said God had given them a message to share. And you could also say that I was deluded to think that when I finally understood them on a point it was because of God giving me the understanding. But I should not try to put words in your mouth. Rather I want to give you the opportunity to speak for yourself. Before you do, however, please know one more thing.

    Perhaps the most compelling truth proclaimed by these documents we call the Bible is the insistence that there is condition unmeasured by natural means called right and wrong, righteousness and sin, justice and injustice. During my life when I have not lived up to the moral standards I consider acceptable, I have felt guilt and shame. This is no small thing, for it addresses not only the reason my own life has fallen short of what it should have been but also why the whole world is experiencing one problem after another. Those who wrote the Bible propose a solution to that fundamental problem. If you on your blog have an alternative solution to that problem, which you believe is superior, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

  35. Yes, Mike, I think you are deluded about having Jesus speak to you. You are certainly not deluded in general, but about that, you undoubtedly are. But then, I use to think he spoke to me too. I have a different set of delusions now! 🙂

  36. Reblogged this on Christianity Simplified and commented:
    The full spectrum of belief in the Biblical account of Jesus, from Mythicists to Fundimentalists. Where do your beliefs land?

  37. The story is manufactured. Look at the complexity of all the other religions that christians think are fake/false/wrong.

    All these religions are wrong? but some how this christ thing, that one is real? Yeah right.

  38. @myatheistlife: Thanx for sharing — I see your Jesus pie is all green!

  39. rautakyy

    Exellent diagram.

    I am an atheist, but I think there most likely has been anecdotes about an actual person on wich the myth about Jesus was built on. The supernatural claims about him are as plausible as the supernatural claims in Iliad and Odyssey, but that does not mean, Achilleus or Jesus might not be based on some exeptional human individuals. To jump to the conclusion, that either of them were the sons of gods is a matter that would require some hard evidence, but the fact that both have been claimed to be such (in a surprisingly similar way), tells a lot about what people in antiquity were likely to believe.

    There seems to be a lot about this Jesus character, that people sincerely believe, that is not in the Gospels. Did Jesus have long or short hair? Was he against homosexual marriages? What was his stance on nuclear power? What about gun controll?

  40. Yeah, rautakky, I am not sure what I feel about the Mythical Jesus theories. All interesting though. The main point — we know almost nothing about this guy — and it is not clear he even existed.

  41. Myth and fact are not opposites. A myth is a story about how something came to be. A fact is something that is demonstrably true. There are true myths, untrue myths, and myths the veracity of which cannot be ascertained. For example, the Big Bang with Inflation is a myth which seems likely to be true. Torahic Cosmogenesis is a myth which is almost certainly untrue if read literally, but likely close to true if read allegorically.

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