Jesus of Nazareth was a radical Jew! He was not by any stretch of the imagination a supporter of the religious mainstream, being described as a Samaritan by the Pharisees, and it is true to say that he taught that salvation was not predicated upon subscribing to the mainstream religious consensus determined by the Jews.
The Deuteronomist redactors at the time of Josiah’s great reform in the seventh century B.C.E., who compiled the Jewish Scriptures, as we know them today, insisted that true worship should be limited to ‘the place which Yahweh will choose’. This is generally taken as a code word for Jerusalem and the ‘The Jews’, who worshipped there.
Jesus of Nazareth was rejected by the Jewish religious elite, comprised of several dominant factions, and reckoned themselves to be the elect of God. Even so, a small group of Jews who represented the poor and the excluded, regarded as being accursed and sinners, were lead by the Apostles Peter, James and John and formed a movement that taught that this Jesus was Messiah/Christ and following his brutal execution at the hands of Roman authorities, was raised from the dead by God and was alive and commanding his followers. The New Testament also asserts that a prominent Pharisee, Paul, who was determined to destroy this movement, was called by the resurrected Christ to preach ‘The gospel’ to the Gentiles who would find full access to the blessings, through their adoption into the family of Israel.
Christians today claim that their churches are the furtherance and continuance of this movement, but we know that the preponderance of sectarianism and the mutual excommunication of each other negates this assertion.
Whatever happened to the movement lead by the Apostles of Jesus Christ?
Whilst the mainstream Christian churches are entitled to reject the radical claims of some who claim a restoration of the nascent church described above, it is clear that Jesus of Nazareth could NOT be styled a ‘Christian’ by the meaning of that term as it is understood today.
Mormons are in good company!