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Jesus Christ’s Effect on Religion

Ernest Renan, French historian and religious scholar

“Jesus was the greatest religious genius that ever lived. His beauty is eternal, and his reign shall never end. Jesus is in every way unique, and nothing can be compared to him.”

Napoleon Bonaparte,  Emperor of the French (1804-1814), 1769-1821

“Paganism is the work of man. One can here read but our imbecility. What do these gods so boastful know more than other mortals; these legislators, Greek or Roman; his Numa; this Lycurgus; these priests of India or of Memphis; this Confucius; this Mohammed? Absolutely nothing. They have made a perfect chaos of mortals. There is not one of them all who has said anything new in reference to our future destiny, about the soul, about the essence of God, about the creation. Enter the sanctuaries of paganism: You find there perfect chaos, a thousand contradictions, war between the gods, the immobility of sculpture, the division of the rending of unity, the parceling out of the Divine attributes mutilated or denied in their essence, the sophisms of ignorance and presumption, polluted fetes, impurity and abomination adored, all sorts of corruption festering in the thick shades with the rotten wood. The idol and the priest. Does this honor God, or does this dishonor Him? Are these religions and these gods to be compared with Christianity? As for me, I say no. Summon entire Olympus to my tribunal. I judge the gods, but am far from prostrating myself before their vain images. The gods, the legislators, of India, and of China, of Rome and of Athens, have nothing which can overawe me.”

About Jesus Christ he says instead:

“His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which is certainly not that of a man.”

“I know men; and I tell you Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist.”

“There is between Christianity and whatever other religion the distance of infinity.”

“We can say to the authors of every other religion: ‘You are neither gods, nor the agents of the Deity. You are but missionaries of falsehood, moulded from the same clay with the rest of mortals. You are made with all the passions and vices inseparable from them. Your temples and your priests proclaim your origin.’ Such will be the judgment, the cry of conscience of whomever examines the gods and the temples of paganism.”

Sholem Asch,
Polish-born American Yiddish writer, 1880-1957

“Jesus Christ is the outstanding personality of all time…No other teacher – Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Mohammedan – is still a teacher whose teaching is such a guidepost for the world we live in. Other teachers may have something basic for an Oriental, an Arab, or the Occidental; but every act and word of Jesus has value for all of us.”

J. C. Mill,
philosopher, skeptic and antagonist of organized Christianity

“Religion cannot be said to have had a bad choice in pitching upon this man as the ideal representative and guide of humanity.”

David Strass,
bitterest of all opponents of the supernatural elements of the gospels
, whose work did more to destroy faith in Christ than the writings of any other man in modern times

Confessed toward the end of his life:

“This Christ…is historical, not mythical, an individual, no mere symbol…He remains the highest model of religion within the reach of our thought; and no perfect piety is possible without his presence in the heart.”

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