Is Jesus Christ essential to the salvation of humanity? If so, how? One verse in the Bible in particular is often quoted by Christians to suggest that no one who does not explicitly believe in Jesus can be saved:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.1
On it’s face, this seems to be pretty bad news for anyone who hasn’t known about Jesus during their lifetime. Billions of people have lived and died on earth and never heard the name “Jesus”. Among these were some very good people – some probably better than the average Christian. Among these were some very sincere people, who tried to follow the truth as they understood it – possibly trying harder than the average Christian. Would God really deny someone entry into heaven simply because they hadn’t heard of Jesus, while allowing someone to enter who was less moral, less sincere – but who said a “sinner’s prayer” and used the name of Jesus?
In spite of all attempted defenses or explanations of this by Christians, we all know deep down that something’s wrong with this picture. When our deepest moral intuition conflicts with our understanding of a particular scripture – we need to at least ask ourselves if we have possibly misunderstood the scripture.
The Gospel of John, in addition to the above scripture, includes many similar “I am” scriptures in which Jesus claims great power and authority, for example:
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 2
Or… Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 3
Or… Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 4
Critical readers may be willing to simply dismiss all these saying of Jesus as later additions by Christians who had developed a much more elevated Christology than Jesus originally claimed. And they have a point. But let’s follow this train of thought a little further.
Remember what God told Moses his name was from the burning bush? “I AM that I AM”. 5 “I Am”, in other words, is one of the names of God, and it is no accident that Jesus is portrayed in John as constantly using it. In the last scripture quoted, Jesus claims to be the “light”, not simply of his disciples, or his town, or the Jews in general… but of the entire world – including, by implication, people who had NEVER HEARD OF HIM. This echoes a similar set of statements earlier in John’s gospel:
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 6
Who is this “He” who is the “light of the world”? John identifies it as the “Word” (“logos” in Greek). This “Word” is coequal with God himself. The “Word” is eternal, and creates all things. In the Greek philosophies, “logos” was used to speak of the underlying reality of the universe – the animating power, the supreme truth. John implies that this “Logos” is, in fact, Jesus. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.
It sounds almost like we are talking about two different beings. In other gospel accounts, particularly earlier ones, Jesus (although a miracle worker) seems very human in many respects. He was born, suffered, and died. He didn’t know who touched him in the crowd. He asked God to save him from suffering. He was hungry and thirsty. Then there are these statements in John about the eternal, uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient Logos of God. What is the relationship between these two descriptions?
The answer worked out and agreed to by some Christians (after centuries of squabbling) is that Jesus Christ had TWO completely different “natures”. He had a human nature (let’s call that one “Jesus”) and he had a DIVINE nature as the Logos of God (let’s call that one “Christ”) and these two natures were seamlessly united in one person. In eastern or New-Age terminology – one might say that Jesus was an “Avatar” – a person completely united with the Divine Nature so as to be an incarnation of God. Others believed Jesus had a nature that was single, but was human AND divine at the same time. These distinctions (over which people killed each other in an earlier age) are probably not that important to modern Christians. The key point is that in some way, Jesus is united with a particular aspect of God, called The Logos.
This helps us to understand some of the otherwise incomprehensible claims of John. How, after all, could Jesus – one individual man – be the light which enlightens EVERY SINGLE PERSON who comes into the world? (even those who’ve never heard of him). The answer is that it is the Logos of God who enlightens all people.
As the Logos, Jesus created everything 7. Even invisible spiritual realities such as angels 8 And all human beings have this Logos inside them giving them life 9 All people, in other words, have access to the underlying Reality of the cosmos. All of them are connected to the creative energy which animates the universe. All of them have access to the universal Truth at the root of all things. All people who have ever lived are immersed in the Logos. All people are enlightened by “Christ”, even if they have never heard of “Jesus”. Only in THIS way can Christ be the light of the world, and enlighten all.Such a statement fits in Jesus’ mouth only because he is united with the Logos of God.
But now let us re-examine our problem scripture: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” But does this refer to the human nature “Jesus”? Does it refer to the preacher of Nazareth, born in Bethelem and crucified in Jerusalem? Or does it refer instead to the divine nature of “Christ”, the light of the world?
If it refers to “Christ” the Logos – then the whole puzzle is solved. We might imagine a person worthy of heaven who didn’t know the name “Jesus” – but can we imagine a person in heaven other than by the path of universal truth and light? Everyone who comes to the Father comes through the Christ principle – but many of them do not know the name of Jesus.
“Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up a rock, and you will find me” 11
If Jesus is in everything. If he was in the symbol of a rock, where else might he be? Might he be in the hearts of everyone, urging them toward God? Might he be in the lives of millions of people every day who are examples of forgiveness, and gratitude, and joy?
Every person who has ever lived is in touch with the Christ principle. It lives at the core of every soul. It enlightens the world’s great religions, and inspires all the world’s great saints. Every good deed is done through Christ. Every beautiful thing expresses Christ. Every truth embodies Christ. And it is through Christ the Logos that God is approached.
I’ve quoted it several times here, but one of my favorite passages on this is from the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. In “The Last Battle”, a soldier who worships a demon (named “Tash”) meets Aslan (Jesus) in a final judgement. He is accepted into heaven, and is confused, because he has served Tash all his life. Aslan explains to him:
“For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.“
It gets harder every day to explain my spirituality to others. I am a follower of the Master Jesus, and an independent priest. But am I a Christian? Many would say no, because I have unorthodox beliefs.
C. S. Lewis argued, in Mere Christianity, that “Christian” should mean someone who claims to hold to the “Christian doctrine”. He was arguing against those who prefer to use “Christian” as a word meaning someone who is loving and charitable. Lewis would prefer us to say of a baptized scoundrel, “he’s a bad Christian” rather than “he’s not a Christian”.
But what, exactly, constitutes “Christian doctrine?” At one time, we could identify the earliest Christian creeds and doctrines and insist that a Christian must claim to believe them. But with the emergence of early Christian writings such as the Nag Hammadi texts, our view of what early Christianity looked like is changing. Early Christians were a much more diverse bunch than originally thought. From the very beginning, there existed apostolic groups with radically different notions of what Jesus message was.
I would tend to call myself a “gnostic” Christian, but this is misleading also. No Christian group actually called itself “gnostic”. This was a catch-all phrase for several groups that differed considerably with each other. There are a few common features of “gnosticism”, such as the emphasis on individual enlightenment, that are appealing. Then on the other hand are the strange cosmologies and a very negative attitude toward the material world.
“Mystical Christian”, “Esoteric Christian”, and “Hermetic Christian” are also possibilities, but seem to conjure up strange images in the modern mind.
So, what do you think is the best self-label for an “inner” Christian in the modern world?
The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? Okay, it was the Tree of Knowledge. “You eat this apple, you’re going to be as smart as God. We can’t have that.” – Frank Zappa
Zappa, of course, wasn’t the first to find God’s behavior in Genesis 2 absurd. Shortly after Jesus, the Christian Gnostics read the Genesis account and saw something entirely different than what the orthodox saw. To them, it was obvious that the God of Genesis 2 was a bully – ignorant if not downright malevolent. To them, it was basically this “God” of Genesis 2 who was the REAL devil, and the serpent was sent from the true God to deliver Adam and Eve from Ignorance. The Gnostic “Testimony of Truth” put it in words Zappa would probably have approved of:
“But what sort is this God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge, and, secondly, he said “Adam, where are you?” God does not have foreknowledge? Would he not know from the beginning? And afterwards, he said, “Let us cast him out of this place, lest he eat of the tree of life and live forever.” Surely, he has shown himself to be a malicious grudger!”
But other mystical interpretations of Genesis pick up on additional subtleties. It is not simply wisdom that the fatal tree gives Adam and Eve – it is dualistic knowledge – categorical knowledge. Good vs. Evil. Light vs. Dark. Ultimately – myself vs. everything NOT myself. In other words, the developed Ego. The story in Genesis is basically the story of humanity rising above animal awareness and developing self-consciousness; a story repeated in the psychological development of every subsequent human being. Thorough the ego, humanity not only becomes aware of good and evil, but also life and death. We come to understand, anticipate… and dread our own mortality.
This is our “fall”. But it is a fall UPWARDS. The Ego is our only vehicle upwards toward transcendence, but it also can become our prison.
And so, in one important sense, the intellectual, categorical, dualistic mind IS an obstacle. Not because it allows us to question dogma or doubt doctrine, but because it isolates us from the rest of the universe in a prison of concepts, tortured by the suffering of remembered or anticipated pain and death and annihilation. The ego is our hell, and our only salvation is that the ego is temporary. To live forever in our present state would indeed be a grim fate.
Every mystical tradition recognizes that the intellectual mind is an obstacle to be overcome in the spiritual path. Zen masters give their disciples torturous, insoluble mental puzzles (koans) to trick the mind into exhausting itself. Yogis practice for years to quiet the noise of the mind. In Christianity, “contemplative prayer” involves a long discipline of focusing the mind on divine emptiness.
John Wren-Lewis, an atheist mystic, describes his experience of awakening from the conceptual world into emptiness:
“Now all the judgments of goodness or badness which the human mind necessarily has to make in its activities along the line of time were contextualized in the perspective of that other dimension I can only call eternity, which loves all the productions of time regardless.”
A Paraphrased Parable
A successful businessman lived a few blocks from the Baptist church he attended. One Sunday, on leaving church, decided to cut through an alleyway as a shortcut on his way to a restaurant for breakfast. No sooner had he entered the alleyway when he was jumped by a gang of thugs who beat him badly and took his wallet, his watch, and even stripped him of his expensive suit. They left him half dead.
The pastor of the church walked by a few minutes later and noticed someone lying in the alley. “Drunken bums…” he muttered under his breath. “They never change”. And he hurried off. Not long after, the local Catholic Priest walked by, on his way to breakfast with a wealthy parishioner. He saw the man, but he was worried it might be a trap (and it would almost certainly make him late) and he hurried along.
But a cook from an all-night diner, on his way home from the night shift, walked down the alley and saw the man, and stopped. He was recently released from prison. In prison, he had become a Muslim and had amended his life. Remembering that Allah is merciful, he approached the man and saw that he was in serious trouble. Carrying him to a safe location, he phoned for an ambulance and accompanied the man to the hospital. Since the unconscious man had no identification, he even signed the paperwork promising to be financially responsible for the man’s hospital treatment. Shortly afterward, as he waited at the man’s side, the police arrived and he was taken to the police station to make a statement and answer many suspicious questions arising from his former criminal record.
Nevertheless, he returned to visit the man the next day and check on his progress and recovery.
Now, which of these three, the pastor, the priest or the Muslim, was truly following the teachings of Jesus?
There’s a story (perhaps apocryphal but instructive nevertheless) that a professor at a theological seminary once devised an experiment to force his students to examine their hearts. He asked them to prepare and deliver a sermon on the Parable of the Good Samaritan – then arranged that as each of them in turn was on his way to the auditorium to deliver the sermon, they would pass buy someone who appeared to be homeless and unconscious and had been strategically placed along the route. As you might have guessed, very few stopped to check on the man.
He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now. He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and doesnt know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 John 2:9-11 WEB)
A discussion ensued recently on AT&T regarding whether Jesus was a liberal or a conservative. My contention was that he was neither or both, and that Liberal/Conservative is much too simplistic a picture of how an enlightened being would look at the world. Here are a few examples of Jesus fitting into both categories:
The Liberal Jesus:
1. Saw his mission as primarily to the poor, the oppressed and the disenfranchised.
2. Taught that it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom, and urged the rich to sell their goods and give to the poor.
3. Was a homeless vagabond.
4. Urged non-judgmentalism and ultra-pacifism.
The Conservative Jesus
1. Taught a very strict moral code (lust is as bad as adultery, for example)
2. Refused to endorse revolution, even against the Romans
3. Was frequently the dinner guest of the rich and powerful
4. Urged non-judgmentalism and ultra-pacifism
Why is non-judgmentalism and pacifism on both the liberal AND conservative lists? First of all, both liberals and conservatives are judgmental against each other. Imagine a conservative being non-judgmental of Barbara Streisand or a liberal being non-judgmental of Rush Limbaugh.
And while military pacifism may be "liberal", many who would think of themselves as liberal are quite ready to endorse involuntary taxation for wealth redistribution and increased government regulation. All government is basically FORCE. Can one really imagine Jesus not simply urging the wealthy to give to the poor… but enforcing it at the point of a gun?
Something I read recently inspired me to comment a bit on the much neglected subject of a realized eschatology in the teaching of Jesus. As I’ve commented much earlier:
(http://perennis.pathstoknowledge.com/kingdom_god) For every statement Jesus makes that COULD be interpreted as pointing us toward hoping for a future kingdom and a future coming – there are as many, if not more, that point to the kingdom of God being right here, right now, in the innermost heart of every person.
From many clear parables and clear teachings – from the entire Sermon on the Mount – it is completely clear that Jesus expects his teaching to utterly transform a person in the here and now. He even tells his disciples to “take no thought for the morrow” – a teaching that seems incompatible with scanning the headlines for the latest news of the Antichrist and analyzing the Bible for letter sequences that will warn us of the coming disasters.
The future is, in general, the province of the ego. It is in the non-existent future (for only the NOW really exists) that we will finally be fulfilled, finally find happiness, finally have “enough” etc. And, in the Christianized version of this game, it is only in the future that we will experience God’s grace, live in God’s presence, and be rescued from the future fires of hell. Earth life becomes simply a prelude. Choose Jesus and, some day, in the future world, he’ll save you from hell and reward you.
But the fact it, “hell” is right here and now. Humans live in prisons of their own making, suffering punishments of their own devising. Happiness eludes them. As the Buddha’s first noble truth teaches – life is suffering. There is sickness, injustice, greed, violence and death. There are also milder forms of suffering connected with feeling unfulfilled, unloved, unappreciated. This is not to say that all of us live in unremitting misery. There are, after all, levels in hell, and glimpses of joy. But taken as a whole, our species must obviously be diagnosed as profoundly unhappy and rather psychotic. In the last century alone, we endured two world wars, countless local conflicts, numerous episodes of genocide and atrocity involving nearly 100 million people. Global poverty increased and millions starved to death while millions in wealthier countries turned to drugs, alcohol, gambling or the mindless pursuit of consumer goods to dull their suffering. It is estimated that about 34% of the U.S. population will suffer clinical depression at some point in their lives.
Leaving aside the question of a future hell – a transformational understanding of Jesus’ teaching offers to save us from the hell we’re already in. It’s not a matter of Jesus punishing us for not accepting him. We’re already doing a fine job of punishing ourselves. But the Kingdom of Heaven can indeed be within us. Suffering can end. Joy can be our continual state. This is not something to be paid for with years of privation and mortification. It is right in front of our eyes. Or rather, right behind them.
Science rules out all religion except the highest. "
– D.E. Harding
As most of you know, I have a lot of sympathy with atheists. There’s something noble in many of them. Since childhood, most of them have been approached with crass literal interpretations of the religious metaphors of the Bible. They have heard irrational justifications for the divine misbehavior in the Old Testament. They have been told they are damned for wrongs they never personally committed. They have been offered contradictory and arcane explanations for why Jesus dying on the cross should matter to them. They have been called fools and swine when they found all these ideas unpersuasive. Ultimately they have been threatened with everlasting torture and finally shunned.
There’s a refreshing courage in someone who can simply tell the Christian culture it can take a hike. And buried under a reasonable skepticism is often a profound regard for the truth, however stark it may be. But… I find that I cannot be an atheist. There are simply too many important things in my experience that hard-line atheism either dismisses or disparages.
One of my favorite quotations from G. K. Chesterton goes like this: “We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.”
There are moments in my experience when rationality and positivism aren’t an adequate world view. In fact, to say they are inadequate is a terrible understatement. They seem, as Chesterton said, “dead”. When I try to get into the mindset of the hard-core materialism, I feel like the men in Eliot’s poem.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar”
The External World
“Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies, I hold you here, root and all in my hand, little flower—but if I could understand what you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is.” – Tennyson
I felt the dryness of rationalism first in relation to the external features of the cosmos. My first major in college was zoology, so I had a reasonably good scientific education. But time and time again I would find that science simply pointed me toward profound states of awe, but then couldn't follow me into the wonder of it. I can remember many of the exact experiences – Looking at a map of the universe in National Geographic. Staring up into a profoundly clear night sky at sea. Studying the ATP cycle in molecular biology. I would be left with a overwhelming sense of wonder and amazement, and nothing to this day changes my belief that these things are WORTHY of amazement – in fact demand it. It makes no difference to point out that the ATP cycle, for example, could have come about by “natural” processes. All this does is rearrange the wonder, not diminish it. It is just as inexplicable that it should be possible for “natural processes” to create such a marvel. The natural processes themselves become the wonder.
The Internal World
"The heart has reasons that reason knows not of. We feel it in a thousand things. . . . . do you love by reason?" – Pascal
Looking at my own inner life inspires more wonder. Is it really possible that so much meaning and joy and wonder arises in a cosmos who’s own interior is entirely dead and inert? No physical explanation of cognition even touches the inner experience. Joy, and spirit and art and ecstasy simply are not, to my mind, fortunate epiphenomena arising out of the cold physical facts of the world. They are more important to me, and more real to me, than the physical world itself, and it seems unavoidable that they arise out of the innermost nature of the cosmos itself. And so I suspect that not only in myself, but in the entire cosmos, “inner experience” is a fact, and that the whole cosmos has an “interior life” of some kind.
When I experience natural beauty, look at a sunset or ponder a flower – or when I read a transcendent poem or look at a great painting – what is this profound feeling I experience in connection with the quality of these objects? It is really a matter of my mere subjective preferences – just as I like carrots but abhor beets? This seems a totally unsatisfactory answer for aesthetic experience. When we appreciate quality in the world, we are appreciating something real – something supremely important. This quality is recognized by a non-thinking process, and hence cannot be defined, tested for or recorded by an instrument. And yet… we know what it is.
Nothing is more amazing than the fact that anything exists at all. It's difficult to really wrap our mind around just how bizarre the fact of existence is. I remember at least one occasion, however, when the whole foreign mystery of existence itself came crashing through to my consciousness. I felt trapped in some terribly foreign state of being, totally out of place. I suspect many have had similar experiences. WHY is there something rather than nothing – this seems the ultimate question, and it is impossible to feel the full weight of this mystery bearing down on your consciousness without sensing that something terribly important is behind it all. But, as Ken Wilber pointed out, strict materialism has nothing to offer to the mystery of existence beyond what he calls "the philosophy of oops" – a reluctance even allow the question of "why?"
At the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas (the real one that is) experienced a profound mystical vision that caused him to put down his pen and leave his Summa Theologica for another to finish. His scribe begged him to complete the work that would come to be considered the greatest masterpiece of rational theology of all time. "I cannot.” Thomas replied. “Such things have been revealed to me that what I have written seems but straw." Profound mystical experiences of various kinds open up a perspective that is not adequately addressed by rationality alone. These range from such things as out-of-body experiences to profound states of non-dual awareness that, while impossible to completely communicate, make it utterly impossible to look at the world without seeing it asmanifestation of a divine unity. I'd recommend the following link as an excellent example of such an experience: http://www.nonduality.com/dazdark.htm. It's understandable that a hard-line atheist would find a description of someone else's experience unpersuasive. But I believe it's utterly impossible to have one and remain entirely satisfied with hard-line atheism alone as a worldview. To quote a line from Sagan's Contact, where Ellie is explaining her experience, "I… had an experience… I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone!"
This is just a brief survey of some of the areas that make hard-core atheism, as a worldview, something I can't accept. Is it possible that I'm deceiving myself – that all this meaning and beauty and unity that I seem to sense in the world are really just epiphenomena of physics and chemistry? Logically, I would answer that yes, it's possible. But my whole point is that logic is inadequate to the task of answering this question.
I'll close with a few words from "The Silver Chair" by C.S. Lewis. The story is about several children, accompanied by a strange pessimistic creature called a “marshwiggle” named “Puddleglum” who descend from the kingdom of Narnia, ruled by the good lion Aslan and enter a subterranean kingdom ruled by a witch-queen to try to rescue a kidnapped prince. Once there, the witch puts them under a spell of confusion and forgetfulness. She gradually convinces the children that there IS no world above ground, no sun, no sky, no Aslan. They become convinced that these are all simply children’s tales and dreams – projections they have created in their minds from the drab and ordinary objects in the miserable underground world ruled by the witch. Only Puddleglum rebels.
“One word, Ma’am” he says to the witch, “All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face on I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we HAVE only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours IS the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
The Church of the Holy Archangels is an independent ministry in the process of affiliation with the Home Temple under the jurisdiction of Bishop Lewis Keizer.
In form we are part of the Independent Catholic movement, with lines of authority from most if not all of the surviving branches of apostolic succession. We administer the sacraments to any who wish to receive them, without membership or doctrinal requirements and without charge.
Our understanding of the spiritual world is not bound by any one tradition, but is influenced by many traditions, including orthodox Christianity, Gnosticism, Vedantism and other Eastern philosophies, and the teaching of various Esoteric Schools.
Just to jump on the bandwagon, let me chime in with my opinion on the supposed discovery of Jesus’ body in a tomb in the holy land (as documented by James Cameron.)
There are three basic scenarios that have been put forward regarding Jesus.
1. That he was what the New Testament claims.
In this case, he was resurrected and there is no body to find.
2. That he never existed at all.
In this case – again – there’s no body to find.
3. That he was basically an ordinary human being in nature.
This is a bit more complex. This would mean that there WAS a dead body somewhere, at some time. However, within a generation of his death, many of his followers are loudly proclaiming he rose from the dead. This is inconsistent with a carefully preserved and marked crypt as Cameron reports to have found. Even the Ebionites, who lived in the very place this crypt was found, and who believed Jesus to have been merely human – believed God raised him from the dead. Why would they believe this if his crypt and remains were well-preserved? If the resurrection was a hoax, it would make little sense to identify the tomb and ossuary with easily identifiable markings. Surely if the disciples wanted to perpetrate a hoax, they would have either destroyed the body or hidden it without overt identification.
In any of the usual scenarios, then, it seems unlikely that an easily-identifiable ossuary with the remains of Jesus Christ is going to suddenly turn up.