Issues Facing the Church Essay

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Jesus learn from John the Baptist? How is the movement of Jesus different from John's?

According to Rausch, John the Baptist is "clearly a historical figure" who was not necessarily preaching anything new or revelatory (p. 1). John the Baptist works within the prophetic tradition and his teachings were rooted in Jewish Old Testament philosophy, eschatology, and theology. When Jesus went to see and meet with John the Baptist, the event "changed his life," according to Rausch (p. 4). John the Baptist may have so strongly influenced and impacted the young Jesus because of the content of his teachings: the emphasis on impending judgment and/or doom for a sinful and unrepentant humanity. Rausch also claims that there is historical and textual evidence linking Jesus's own ministry with the teachings of John. There are five main similarities between the core elements of John's teachings and Jesus's preaching, according to Rausch. The first is that both "called people to conversion of mind and heart," (p. 5). The second was the intensity and urgency of their teachings, because of the overarching belief in God's impending judgment and the need for salvation. Third, both John and Jesus focused on eschatological issues. Fourth, both had disciples, and finally, both baptized others. The latter two issues show how the movement of Jesus was similar to that of John's, but it also differed significantly in tone and content especially as Jesus's own teachings evolved.

One main difference between their movements is that Jesus transformed John's pessimistic and alarmist message into an optimistic and salvific one. God's judgment is here, but God's grace can help save believers. Another is that John was actually trained in the Jewish legal traditions whereas Jesus was not. The latter issue actually became a bone of contention with John at first, who apparently had "second thoughts" about Jesus (Rausch, 2007, p. 5). Rausch implies that Jesus also attracted many of John's own followers, essentially a case of the student surpassing the master. Related to the "good news" theme, Jesus preached a universalist doctrine of inclusivity that depended on the "renewal of communities," which John did not do (Rausch, 2007, p. 6). Similarly, Jesus preached of a "new family," a motif that was absent in John's teachings (Rausch, 2007, p. 7). Jesus's concept of family would have seemed radical: more an emphasis on family ties based on faith….....

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Rausch, Thomas P. Who is Jesus: An Introduction to Christology. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2007.

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