Matthew Parris, an old friend I caught up with last week, writes in this week's London Spectator (sub req):
If Jesus Christ had not existed, it would almost certainly not have been necessary for the Church to invent someone like him. What does the Church want with a man who plainly despised ritual? Can you imagine the man who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey wanting anything to do with bells and smells and frocks, with gilt and silver and semi-idolatry, and repetitive chants and chorused inanities? The man who said he had come to break up families being paraded as a paradigm of family values? The man who had absolutely no interest in politics or administration and preached forgiveness, not 'the rule of law', wanting anything to do with the Conservative party or the Third Way? ...
When we consider all those painfully counter-intuitive sayings and parables - the Prodigal Son, the idea that it is no good restraining your actions if your thoughts are bad, the impatience with good works ('the poor always ye have with you') except as a means for personal purification - and when we consider how Jesus keeps saying ... the wrong thing, it becomes even clearer that he must have been real: if Jesus had been a hoax, the Church could have invented someone so much more convenient."
Of course, contemporary Christianists are trying exactly that: to rectify Jesus' obvious and embarrassing gaffes, and His clearly misplaced priorities.