With a global war of perceptions of what the human race is about, what it believes and how it goes forward into the future are great macros to be identified, refined and on occasion dissected.
Macros and labels and sound bites do not really matter at my level of things. All politics and spiritual beliefs are not only local, they many times represent a majority opinion of one within.
There are a whole lot of people who claim the title of Cultural Christian. Some perhaps want a term to throw our there so that the listener may not understand and so long as it has the Christian as part of the label, it must in some social way be okay. Many Cultural Christians have beliefs that might range from atheism or agnosticism and every where in between. In any case, all of us outside and looking in, are all brothers and sisters in some human belief system.
Early Christianity was about a lot of ideas and cults and merging of ideas and semantics. It was a search for a common ground.
Basic Judaism as we know it today got forged after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. . There is labeled something historically as the Council of Jamnia, around the year 90, where the declining Jewish population in Palestine, - without the Temple, amid zealots that kept stirring the fire of revolt against the Romans, and all sorts of Jewish based cults that were tearing away at the basic questions of – Who are we as Jews? – What are the basic beliefs of Judaism?
Now there are modernist and minimalist historians and their opinions as to whether there was a sit down council or whether the Hebrew Testament took shape into its present recognizable and written form at this specific period at the end of the first century of the common western era. Before this there was the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament and a lot of scattered written and oral accounts and prophecy floating around the ether.
In either case, the Jews did not split with the Christians; the Christians now needed their own hardcopy Testament – a manifesto of history and beliefs. Many diverse and not necessarily Jewish groups who followed the teachings of Jesus needed a user manual of sorts - to tap into that basic XP (chi-ro) mojo.
If time travel were possible, I know in my heart of hearts that if I went back to first century Palestine, I would be in total culture shock and probably would not recognize Jesus in outward appearances if I was face to face with The Man.
I have spent a lot of years researching the early Christian era. I have found that the official road maps of the vested organized religions are a waste of time. It’s better to take the trip and ask directions along the way. The real Jesus, the man, is his message and not a reflection of his bank accounts or stone palaces.
I am waiting hopefully and with great eagerness for a supplemented Gospel of Thomas to be unearthed in the decades to come. Perhaps there will be real time Jesus quotes about how “Heaven can wait”. Or something like “Here on earth, God’s work must be truly our own.”