I can assure Mary Brown (Letters, 14 May) that I am well aware of the meaning of christos, but the pun (in Latin) was on Christianos (Christian) compared with Chrestianos, (do-gooder, or useful one), a term used by Tacitus in his Annals.
Dr Brown apparently believes that Jesus’s message was just the “golden rule”.
She should look at Matt. 4:17, where Jesus began his ministry with the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near”, a message he inherited from his mentor John the Baptist. This was his message throughout.
That message was for his fellow Jews and not for anyone else. Indeed, Jesus had no intention of creating a new movement, let alone a church.
If he seemed to identify with the lower classes that was only because he expected them to be the rulers in the coming kingdom. It was not philanthropy.
Modern Christians may do good to the whole world but they should not claim to be following Jesus in doing so. He would not understand their universal benevolence.
Hugh Mackenzie (Letters, 14 May) makes a valid point: repeatedly dredging up atrocities of the past can sour relationships today.
Having said that, the Pope was clear that his celebration of the courage of 800 martyrs killed for refusing to convert to Islam should not be seen as a slur on Islam itself.
Many secularists indulge in citing historical outrages in order to generate prejudice against contemporary Christians, but the Pope’s motivation was clearly different.
As those holding to the teachings of the Christian faith increasingly face pressure from their employers, government agencies, aggressive campaigners and, in some cases, from their own denominations, the example of those who refused to deny their faith in the face of the most serious threats and dangers can inspire a fearless prophetic and evangelistic spirit among followers of Jesus today.
Gus Logan (Letters, 14 May) seeks to diminish the campaign to separate church and state by suggesting that all secularists have an atheist agenda.
I doubt anyone will be surprised that some secularists are atheists but many are religious. We just don’t want any one religion to have disproportionate advantage in the public sphere.
I might well argue that Mr Logan only wants to maintain unchallenged Christian influence in schools and government because he is a Christian.
There is a bigger question of representation and fairness here which transcends private philosophic beliefs. To which other partisan adult ideologies would he open the classroom door ?
That the Church undoubtedly does as much good work as any large, well-funded organisation, similarly, is not in itself a justification of continued political privilege.
Finally, does Mr Logan in his sneering dismissal of secular campaigners as a “small coterie” forget his advantage of 2,000 years of trans-generational indoctrination?
Didn’t Jesus start with 12 people sitting round a table?
Edinburgh Secular Society
Gus Logan repeats the myth that the Soviet Union was a secular state and that communism is atheistic in nature.
In fact, Communism is a religion that simply replaces an omnipotent god with an omnipotent state. That totalitarian regime demanded faith from its followers as much as any religion did and that is why it tolerated no opposition.