Saturday, February 25, 2023

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Irony of the Logos in John's Gospel

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., February 25, 2023

John’s Gospel is where ancient Greek philosophy intersects with the Christian religion.  John 1:1 presents Jesus as the mystical Logos, or God’s Word, rather than a Trinitarian form of  God.  That symbolism is ignored by most Christians who cite John 14:6 literally to support their belief in Jesus Christ as the alter ego of God and the only means of salvation.

The irony is that Logos has no religious boundaries and promotes reason and unity over divisive religions.  To reconcile Jews, Christians and Muslims, the church should shift its focus on divisive church doctrines that limit salvation to Christians and emphasize the universal moral teachings of Jesus that are summarized in the greatest commandment as a common word.  

The moral imperative of the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves, and reconciliation with our adversaries, have never been popular; and popularity is the measure of success for the church.  History affirms that opposing our adversaries will always be more popular than reconciling with them. 

Exclusivist church doctrines that limit salvation to Christians were never taught by Jesus.  Jesus was a maverick Jew who taught that all who did God’s will were his spiritual brothers and sisters. (Mark 3:33-35).  His universal teachings on love over religious law so offended Jewish religious leaders that they convinced Roman leaders to crucify Jesus as an insurrectionist. 

Jesus never taught that he was divine or that God favored one religion over others; but exclusivist church doctrines do just that, and are an obstacle to Logos as God’s universal truth.  Church doctrines are man-made, and unprincipled politicians have distorted them to promote populist nationalist political policies in both the U.S. and Russia.

Christian nationalism began with the Crusades and Inquisitions.  It has evolved into nationalistic forms of Christianity in America, where most white Christians voted for Donald Trump in 2016; and also in Russia, where most Russian Christians continue to support Putin’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.  Christianity has lost its moral compass and its legitimacy.

The Logos is about reconciling divisive religious beliefs with the altruistic morality taught by Jesus.  Evangelical charlatans promoted the egregious morality of Trump that’s the antithesis of that taught by Jesus; and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has promoted Putin’s targeting of civilians in Ukraine.  Both nations have sacrificed Logos to corrupt Christianity.  

The Logos is about shifting the focus of our faith from worshiping Jesus as a Trinitarian God to following his teachings as God’s will and universal standards of legitimacy.  In John 14:6, Jesus says, I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).  It’s the Logus speaking as the way, the truth and the life, calling Christians to follow Jesus as the Word of God, rather than believing in a god manipulated by corrupt politics.


This  is a sequel to last week’s commentary on the Logos.  See Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Jesus as the Logos in John’s Gospel at

On The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism see

On The Greatest Commandment as a Common Word of Faith, see; see also  l

On Thomas Jefferson and Robin Myers, see Saving America from the Church see; see also Jefferson’s Jesus and Moral Standards in Religion and Politics at

On How the church can restore America’s moral compass, see Musings on Resurrecting a Universal Jesus to Restore America’s Moral Compass see

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Church and the Greatest Commandment

See also, Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Jesus, the Church and Christian Nationalism at; also

On Conflicting versions of Christian nationalism in the U.S. and Russia, see 

Musings on Civil Religion, Christian Nationalism, and Cancel Culture see

On Religion and Reason, see; see also, Religion and Reason Redux: Religion Is Ridiculous at; see also, Saving America from the Church at; see also

The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World at; and 

Religious Exclusivity: Does It Matter? at

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Jesus as the Logos in John's Gospel

Rudy Barnes Jr.

The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the mystical Logos, or Word of God (John 1:1), not as the Jewish rabbi incarnated as the Son of God with a virgin birth in Matthew and Luke.  Mark also lacks the virgin birth, and there’s no consensus in the Gospels on the meaning of the resurrection.  It could have been God’s sign that His Word, or Logos, would never die.

The Logos, or message of God, is sacred, not its human messengers; and Jesus never asserted that he was divine as God’s only Son, and he never promoted a new religion.  That would have been blasphemous for Jesus as a Jew; but Jesus could have been the Logos and a son of God without being the only son of God.  God does not favor any religion over others.           


The universal Word of God is summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves.  It’s taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus, and accepted by Islamic scholars as a common word of faith; and it was affirmed by the new command in John 13:33-34 to love one another.

John’s Gospel was the last of the four Gospels written, and could be said to be the gospel of the Logos or of the Holy Spirit.  The unique sayings of Jesus in John’s Gospel, such as his “I am” sayings, are consistent with Jesus being a manifestation of Logos, but they vary from the words and style of Jesus in the other three Gospels.

John’s Gospel is less historic and more mystical and symbolic than the other gospels.  That was evident when Jesus told his disciples, “God will send you the Counselor or Holy Spirit to remind you of all I have said to you, and give you peace” (John 14:25-27); later he told them, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). 

John 3:16 and 14:6 should be considered narratives of the evangelist John on the divine message of God as Logos rather than asserting that Jesus was the divine messenger of God.  The new command in John’s Gospel to Love one another (John 13:34-35) affirms the greatest commandment in the other three Gospels, with Jesus as the manifestation of the Logos.

Logos is an ancient concept based on logic and reason that has modern relevance.  It is consistent with the universal moral teachings of Jesus but not with exclusivist Christian  doctrines.  Jesus was a universalist Jew who promoted sacrificial love as God’s Word.  It was the church that fabricated exclusivist doctrines that limited salvation to Christians.

If the early church had interpreted the resurrection as God’s sign that the teachings of Jesus to love one another was God’s Word (Logos) and would never die, rather than promoting exclusivist beliefs in Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, the world would be a better place.  It’s not too late for the Church to promote religious reconciliation based on the Logos.





Logos, (lit. 'word, discourse, or reason') …is a term in Western philosophy, psychology, rhetoric, and religion derived from a Greek word variously meaning "ground", "plea", "opinion", "word", "reason", "proportion", and "discourse".  it became a technical term in Western philosophy beginning with Heraclitus (c.  535 – c.  475 BC), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge. Aristotle applied the term to refer to "reasoned discourse" or "the argument" in the field of rhetoric, and considered it one of the three modes of persuasion alongside ethos and pathosStoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading the Universe. Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (c.  20 BC – c.  50 AD) adopted the term into Jewish philosophy. See  

Philo [of Alexandria] was a Jew and contemporary of Jesus who saw the cosmos as a great chain of being presided over by the Logos, a term going back to pre-Socratic philosophy, which is the mediator between God and the world, though at one point he identifies the Logos as a second God. In anticipation of Christian doctrine he called the Logos the first-begotten Son of God, the man of God, the image of God, and second to God. Philo was also novel in his exposition of the mystic love of God that God has implanted in man and through which man becomes Godlike.  Philo is a major source of knowledge of the doctrines of these mystery cults, notably that of rebirth. Like Plato, Philo regarded the body as the prison house of the soul, and in his dualism of body and soul, and he anticipated much of Gnosticism, a dualistic religion that became important in the 2nd century CE. Philo held that man is completely free to act against all the laws of his own nature. In his ethical theory Philo described two virtues, under the heading of justice, that are otherwise unknown in Greek philosophic literature—religious faith and humanity. For him repentance was a virtue, whereas for other Greek philosophers it was a weakness. Perfect happiness comes, however, not through men’s own efforts to achieve virtue but only through the grace of God. In his political theory Philo often said that the best form of government is democracy. For Philo democracy meant any form of government in which all men are equal before the law, with the ultimate goal of history that the whole world be a single state under a democratic constitution.  See

Jim McDermott cited Super Bowl ads on Jesus (He gets us) “because they’re less interested in Jesus and more interested in getting us to think about our choices.  Jesus had love for everyone, but he also took sides. He defended the woman caught in adultery from the crowd that wanted to murder her. He challenged teachings of the Pharisees that marginalized people and spent time with sinners. These kinds of actions are a big part of why he was killed. Just because he didn’t show up and shout at protests did not mean he wasn’t political. The thing that makes us attractive is not that we “have” Jesus.  It’s considering how we choose to spend our lives—who we help, who we forgive, how we show love—our choices.  At the Super Bowl, “He Gets Us” got it right, or at least tried to, anyway. The point of being a Christian isn’t to make more Christians. It’s to work toward that kingdom of friendship and mercy that Jesus himself was building. And anything that helps inspire others to do that is worth paying attention to and learning from.”  Jim McDermott, S.J., is an associate editor at The America Magazine. See

For other commentary on Logos and the universal moral teachings of Jesus, see:

On Jesus: A Prophet, God’s Only Son, or the Logos?

Does Religion Seek to Reconcile and Redeem or to Divide and Conquer?

On The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of Christian Universalism

On Musings on Moral Universalism in Religion and Politics

On Musings on a Common Word of Faith and Politics for Christians and Muslims

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Mystical Logos

On Musings on Reconciling the Abrahamic Religions with a Common Word of Faith

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Musings on Resurrecting a Universal Jesus to Restore America's Moral Compass

             By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Church doctrine defines a Christian as one who believes in Jesus Christ as God’s one and only Son, and that such belief is the only means of salvation.  Jesus called his disciples to follow him, not to worship him as a Trinitarian form of God; and while it’s possible to be both a Christian and a disciple, most Christians don’t consider discipleship as essential to their faith. 

To be a disciple, modern Christians must believe the teachings of Jesus are God’s Word and apply them to modern issues quite different from those in 1st century Palestine.  Jesus never mentioned democracy, human rights or advances in technology, but his universal teachings on altruism and reconciliation are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.

The crucifixion and resurrection did not represent a victory of good over evil, but affirmed the continuing cosmic battle between the opposing spiritual forces of good and evil.  The dark legacy of the Church began with the Crusades and Inquisitions; and while Christianity became the world’s largest religion, it has fostered more religious division than reconciliation.

The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races, religions and politics, as we love ourselves.  It’s a universal moral imperative taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted as a common word of faith by Islamic scholars; but it conflicts with exclusivist religious beliefs.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The teachings of Jesus are the most sublime moral code ever designed by man;” but Jefferson was critical of church doctrines that put worshiping Jesus Christ over following the teachings of Jesus.  After a majority of white Christians elected Donald Trump President in 2016, it’s unlikely the church will emphasize what his supporters ignored. 

Alexis de Tocqueville observed that a healthy democracy cannot exist without the moral standards of a healthy religion.  The legitimacy of Christianity and democracy are interwoven, and it will take the resurrection of the moral teachings of Jesus and truth in advertising in the church and politics to restore religious and political legitimacy in America.

Most Americans still claim to be Christians; but racism and populist nationalism have divided the church and politics.  In America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture, popularity is the measure of success.  Since the teachings of Jesus on sacrificial love were never popular, the church has promoted exclusivist beliefs as a form of cheap grace rather than discipleship.

The American church lacks a moral compass.  It has sacrificed its legitimacy by putting its popularity ahead of following the moral standards of Jesus, and promoting the cheap grace of exclusivist beliefs as a substitute for the cost of discipleship.  To restore its moral compass America must resurrect the moral imperatives taught by Jesus in its faith and politics.                                         


On The greatest commandment as a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims

Thomas Jefferson was a deist who held the teachings of Jesus in high regard while he detested church doctrines.  In 1804 he wrote: “I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest morality that has ever been taught; but I hold in utmost profound detestation and execration, the corruptions of it which have been invested by priestcraft and kingcraft, constituting a conspiracy of church and state against the civil and religious liberties of man.” Jefferson assembled The Jefferson Bible on the moral teachings of Jesus, and many biblical scholars consider Jefferson prescient in separating the actual teachings of Jesus from what the gospel writers had likely put on his lips. Robin Meyers echoed Jefferson’s criticism in Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus.  See Jefferson’s Jesus and Moral Standards in Religion and Politics at  See also Musings on the Evolution of  Christianity into the American Civil Religion (December 10, 2022) at

In his tour of America in 1834, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that religion is a two-edged sword in democracy:  While Christians “readily espouse the cause of human liberty as the source of all moral greatness,” and “will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the eye of the law, …religion is entangled in those institutions that democracy assails, and is not infrequently brought to reject the equality it loves and to curse that cause of liberty as a foe.”  De Tocqueville noted that secular citizens are skeptical of religion in politics but know “that liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”  See De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, The Cooperative Publication Society and the Colonial Press, 1900, p 12.      

On Christian nationalism’s popularity as a wake-up call in America, see

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Cost of Discipleship and Cheap Grace, see

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Cost of Discipleship for Pastors, see

On the gross distortions of truth recently expressed by Trump supporters in Columbia, SC, see

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of Christian Universalism, see

On The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism, see

On E Pluribus Unum, Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation, see

On the need for a politics of reconciliation in a polarized democracy, see