Is there a denomination or Christian religion that believes that Jesus Christ was just an idea or way of thinking and that the apostles must have personalized him for the people to understand it easier? If so, what is their biblical basis for rejecting the historical personhood of Jesus? I'm not asking on the historicity of Christ.

For example:

Mark 6:45-56 Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.

He was about to pass by them? It doesn't make sense. It would make sense if he was going towards them. This is something that could be taken as a metaphor from the Old testament. Title for God, the one who walks on water. Job 9:8, Psalms 76:19, LXX]

Further arguments would be that the whole life of Christ could be summed up into something that the first Christians started to believe. That is was their new way of thinking and that surrounding Jews tried to kill this new way of thinking but in 3 days it rose again.

  • So are you basically asking for the case against the historicity of Jesus as made by so-called 'Christians' rather than atheists etc?
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 22, 2014 at 2:20
  • I think you have to answer the first question somewhere other than on this site. I don't know of any. Maybe someone in comments can tell if they do know of such a group.
    – fredsbend
    Nov 27, 2014 at 4:06
  • By this site's definition of who is considered a Christian, if even one person who self-identifies as a "Christian" believes this, then the answer is "yes". Therefore, one goofball with an idea that's ridiculous to pretty much the entire population of the earth qualifies, I have to wonder if this is a useful question at all. it's on-topic in that it's probably answerable, but what's the point? Nov 27, 2014 at 5:05
  • As edited, it's a legitimate question for this site. Aug 21, 2015 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


There certainly are people and movements who believe that, in several variations. The most significant ones are typified by the book The Pagan Christ, by Tom Harpur, a former Anglican priest. In the book he claims to identify many similarities between the stories of Jesus and ancient myths, especially Egyptian ones, and concludes that the early church leaders fabricated a literal and human Jesus based on those myths. Harpur based his work largely on that of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, who was in turn influenced by Gerald Massey.

The ideas of Harpur and his predecessors has garnered a lot of attention, much of it from people more anxious to disprove Christianity than to find the 'true version' of it. However, there are very few who would follow his teachings as an ideology, and even fewer who do so would call themselves Christian. The ideas of this movement have been widely criticised (most would say 'refuted') not just by Christian theologians, but also by Egyptologists and other students of ancient religions.


There are no denominations of Christians who believe the above statement. There are denominations of people calling themselves Christian, some of whom believe according to the above statement, in an 'ideology of Jesus, the Bible and God', but not in the factual side of the same. The operative word here is 'calling themselves' possibly by the name Christian, but most likely they may say they may say they are church goers instead. They would not be called Christian by believing others, but instead, they would be called apostasized or liberal, and would not fit in the bible definition of Christian.

The United Church, for example, includes practicing ordained pastors, some of whom are athiests*, who say they believe the Bible is a story book* full of morals, but few facts. These people have an ideology of Jesus and what is contained in the Bible, but deny that it is factual.

These people would not call themselves Christians exactly either, ie. the pastor who does not believe calls herself an atheist, and those without saving belief in Christ, and without adherence to the new birth, would not pass the litmus test of who a Christian is scripturally either. Other 'signs' of Christian believers are listed in the Bible as well, ie 'these signs will follow those who believe,' and anyone who does not believe cannot produce these signs, not being connected to the head, therefore their lives produce telltale signs that they are not Christian, even if they call themselves Jesus himself it would still prove to be not true by no signs following.

  • 1
    We are not in the business of defining "true" Christianity. The only definition which is accepted here is a Christian is one who self-identifies as a Christian. This means there most certainly are Christians by definition who don't believe Jesus was a real person. Some even participate on this site.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 22, 2014 at 16:08
  • edited -changed wording and support material to fit with OP's support statement of original question
    – Hello
    Nov 22, 2014 at 17:43
  • 1
    The definition of Christian is decidedly NOT in the Bible.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 22, 2014 at 19:52
  • 1
    Show me a verse in the NT that defines what a Christian is.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 23, 2014 at 1:45
  • 1
    Still no definition of "Christian" in those quotes.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 24, 2014 at 12:27

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