Sometimes I find myself wondering why people who have left behind the dogma of Christianity persist in staying active within their churches. These people realize that their holy scripture is mostly folklore, and that their traditional doctrines are piles of empty words that have little if any meaning in the twenty-first century.
Some of these people like to talk about abstractions like “the Holy Spirit” and “the work of the Gospel”. Rarely do they talk about their historical prophets, or the mystical attributes of their avatar, Jesus. I think this is because Jesus (if he ever actually lived), as a historical figure, must have a biography.
In fact, we have no truly reliable knowledge of that biography, but that’s beside the current point. Today, by any reasonable definition of death, Jesus is dead.
It’s a lot easier to talk about metaphysical abstractions like the Holy Spirit and the Gospel, because they have no concrete meaning. The Holy Spirit shows up only as a special feeling you have when you’re with people you love, or when you’re consumed by religious frenzy; so it’s easy to enunciate vague platitudes about it. While gospels exist as words on paper, the Gospel is a theoretical construct that generally represents divine benevolence and elaborations of redemption theology.
It’s not hard, then, to talk about the Holy Spirit and the Gospel without talking about Jesus. Anyway, what can be said with confidence about the historical Jesus, as opposed to the stories told about him, is practically nothing.
People who have left Christian dogma behind understand this. The thing I don’t understand is why they so often insist on remaining Christians. The only point I can see to it is the political struggle for control of the church.