Jesus didn't exist, but a "myth", says banned pastor

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Pastor Edward van der Kaaij is preaching that Jesus did not exist and that his story is a myth. The proclamation has gotten him banned from guest lecturing at a nearby Reformed Church.

"When someone reads Genesis 1 as a scientific explanation of how the world came into being, and concludes that the beginning was not about 13 billion years ago (as we know now) because the Bible states that it was about 70,000 years ago, then you do not properly understand the Bible," explained van der Kaaij.

"The gospel is telling us a deeper truth, that goes far beyond the facts of life. That's why I say: it did not happen like this and it is a fact that Jesus did not exist (I give a lot of proofs in my book to underline this)."

The book referred to by the pastor is one he published after seven years of studying, titled The Uncomfortable Truth of Christianity. The book was released last April and describes how all elements of the Biblical story of Jesus have their roots in a myth from ancient Egypt.

"Everyone is entitled to his opinion," said Church Council Chairperson Meindert Zuur. "But there is no time for this during worship," he continued.

"We got a lot of letters, emails and comments from concerned members," explained Zuur.

The church is discussing the controversy with the pastor after hours, but is maintaining a united front in front of churchgoers. "You do not want to provoke conflict," said Zuur.

The 62-year-old reformed pastor is aligned to the Vredeskerk (Peace Church) Nijkerk, where he is continuing to preach. Despite distressed reactions from worshipers, the church has not taken action against van der Kaaij.

"I am a Protestant and an important aspect of our belief is that the Bible is God's Word (although written by men) and the starting point of our belief," said van der Kaaij to NL Times. "So it is important to explain the Bible properly."

The pastor describes his congregation as "enthusiastic" about his explanation of gospel. "The gospel gets more value when you read it according to what it is: a myth. Note that the word 'myth' does not have a negative meaning, on the contrary it is positive!"

"The deep truth is that Christ is deep in all of us. God created men by giving his breath, He incarnates in every human being. In that way Jesus Christ is the eternal reflection of God in all of us."

The pastor does not think a lot has changed in his work. "I did not have to restructure my preaching [after the research], it went step by step. When I read an old sermon of mine, I see that I believe in a historical Jesus, but nothing of these "facts" play an important role."

Van der Kaaij encourages those Christians who are offended by his revelations and work to read the book. "Many colleagues agree with me, not in the detail that Jesus did not exist...he was not of great importance during his life, only afterwards when the story of his life attained mythical proportions."

"It's not a mission of mine to convince others that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist,", said van der Kaaij. "I advise ordinary people who feel happy in the belief they have with a man in mind who factually changed water into wine, calmed the storm and cured blind and deaf people as if he was a doctor to stick to that belief. But theologian need to study the bible properly and must be honest in what they find out. Happily many of them try to do that, I am only one of them."

The Protestant Church of the Netherlands says the conundrum about the pastor is a local issue in NIjkerk and maintains claims on the historicity of Jesus.

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