The Heart of Jesus' Teaching

The Key to Transforming Christianity and Our world

Ruth Whitney, Ph.D.

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-297-8, 288 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $19.95

In this daring and hopeful book, theologian Ruth Whitney calls on Christians everywhere to re-awaken to Jesus' original message: that "the presence of the divine is within" all of us and all creation: we are all sacred. Jesus' second fundamental message is LOVE—we are to love ourselves, our neighbors, even our enemies, all nature … and the Holy One …. with all our heart.

Jesus lived what he taught, and we are encouraged to follow his self-less example. As a historian of earlier times, the author cautions against blindly following established belief systems or dogmas: for example, she advises we take the Bible seriously, but not always literally.

The author purposefully re-awakens discussions that arouse age-old historical debates: Who really wrote the Gospels? How did the original group of Christians develop—what were their debates and controversies, and what was the role of women? And, she explores some intriguing questions: Was Jesus spiritually, but not physically, alive after his death? Are we all human and divine, not just Jesus? Do Heaven and Hell actually exist? Did Jesus die to save us from our sins (ignorance), or were we, are we, already "saved"?

When we live these two basic teachings—by seeing the Sacred presence and radiating love—Christians and our religion, the author proposes, will become so "spiritually alive" that we will naturally begin to transform our world in many both practical and intangible ways … and create a "revolution of love."


"Writing with passion and courage, Ruth Whitney sets out to rescue Jesus from what Christianity has become. She offers fresh and radical thinking on the meaning of 'God' and afterlife, and she shows that Jesus may be the most misunderstood person in history. Whitney uncovers the moral and spiritual core of Jesus’ teaching. This book is exciting and freeing." Daniel C. Maguire, Professor of Ethics at Marquette University and author and editor of thirteen books, including Whose Church? and The Moral Core of Judaism and Christianity

"Ruth Whitney's new book, The Heart of Jesus' Teaching, is a radical rediscovery of the spiritual essence of Jesus' message, over against the long Christian history of dogmas about Jesus and his divine nature and redemptive work. For Whitney, the heart of Jesus' teaching is simply that God is present in all of us equally and we are all called to love and care for one another. If the Christian churches would put aside dogmas about Jesus and if Christians focus on doing Jesus' message, the world would truly be transformed." Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether, theology professor, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California

Table of Contents


Chapter One: The Divine Presence Is Within Us

Chapter Two: LOVE Is Jesus’ Second Fundamental Teaching

Chapter Three: Jesus Lived What He Taught

Chapter Four: Take the Bible Seriously, But NOT Literally

Chapter Five: Jesus Was Spiritually, But Not Physically, Alive After His Death

Chapter Six: What Is the Essence of the Divine?

Chapter Seven: Are We All Human and Divine, Not Just Jesus?

Chapter Eight: Do Heaven and Hell Actually Exist?

Chapter Nine: Did Jesus Die to Save Us from Our Sins or Were We Already Saved?

Chapter Ten: What Is the Vocation of Ideal Christians and Churches?

Chapter Eleven: Transforming Christianity and Our World



About the Author


The heart of any religion is its spiritual wisdom. This book presents the heart of Jesus’ teaching, the essence of his fundamental spiritual insights and wisdom. When churches stress his two central messages, Christianity will come alive and transform itself and our world. Unfortunately, for centuries, Christianity has suffered from a severe problem. Many leaders and lay people have learned from their church that doctrines, such as Jesus died to save us from our sins, are the heart of Christianity, its essence, its driving force, and its most central teaching. Because of this, they put more emphasis on believing dogmas than on living Jesus’ most fundamental messages. This is a grave difficulty, because dogmas are not the heart of Christianity. Doctrines are time-bound and culturally bound, while spiritual wisdom is timeless and universal. As Pope Francis says, the centrality of Jesus’ message “calls for stressing those elements that are more needed today: it has to express God’s saving love …; it should be marked by joy, … and a harmonious balance which will not reduce preaching to a few doctrines."

What is the heart of Christianity? For me, it is the heart of Jesus’ teaching that is meaningful and empowers spiritual wisdom. The heart of Jesus’ teaching is first, “the kingdom of God is within you,” which I interpret as the presence of the Holy One is within all of us. Second, we are to love all people and creation. What do you think are his principal messages? What do you think is the heart of Christianity and the heart of Jesus’ teaching?

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2016

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