My idea of becoming a Light to the world is starting at home – by sharing the Supreme’s loving message to humanity and by exposing a brief history of how Christianity has replaced that loving message with one of their own, one with clear apocalyptic undertones.
I see around me the Supreme’s marvelous and intricate developing creation together with its countless creatures capable of adapting to changing conditions in environment. Thanks to a humble Galilean’s discovery, I know that ever since humans were created, there never has been a sky-god somewhere out yonder for humans to serve and worship or fear.
The historical Jesus of Nazareth uncovered the greatest discovery of all human history. He passionately taught and lived it during his brief life through stories and sayings. Here it is, in all its simplicity, his Light, offered especially for your enlightenment:
1) The Fatherly Presence of the One and only Supreme Essence lives in and among us, his sons and daughters whom he will never leave nor forsake, not even while we pass through death.
2) In the meantime, the Supreme is always compassionate and caring, accepting and unconditionally loving and forgiving toward us, patiently waiting for each of us to become enlightened concerning his ways just mentioned above. Those ways are his real justice (sadak).
3) And finally, the Supreme’s dream for all humanity is to free us from whatever and whomever oppresses us – freeing us enough to finally be able to love ourselves and then begin practicing those ways on others right here-and-now.
4) Still hidden among all the weeds of religious writings are these sayings of the historical Jesus – i.e. Matt 5: 38-48; stories of the Prodigal Son, the Generous Landowner, and the Good Samaritan are also excellent examples of his teaching.
The Galilean’s message was a direct challenge to the need for the following: religion, an anticipated Jewish messiah leader, an atonement for sin. a resurrection of the body, and an end-time judgement, all ancient apocalyptic ideas from Zoroaster. Religious leaders called his message blasphemous and cleverly had him murdered for trying to start another Jewish insurrection.
That’s it! We know nothing more about this historical Jesus except that his neighbors called him the bastard son of Mary. Eyewitnesses left no known written record of his life. Some scholars have good reason to think there may have been an early written record (“Q”) of only his sayings, but it has never been found.
Except for a few sayings and stories which proclaimed a Presence in and among us that would never leave us and a Fatherly dream for all his sons and daughters to imitate him right here-and-now, teachings which later found their way into narratives, the rest of all those so-called ” holy” writings are either speculation or myth. Not to say that there were no momentary explosions of consciousness (Thomas Jefferson called them “diamonds in a dunghill”) among them. (“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from old. According to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”)
Why can I write such “blasphemy” concerning the so-called “inspired Holy Scriptures?” Well, because I have found that claim to be a lie! And because I cannot be loyal to a religious authority that requires me to shut down my mind!
First, consider Jesus’ challenge to the authenticity of the Jewish standard of law found in their Torah (“an eye for an eye”) which did not measure up to his discovery of the Fatherly unconditional loving forgiveness which he had become conscious of. Then consider the following (still unknowns to him) from history, archeology, scholarship, side-by-side comparisons of the narratives, and later from science. There are just too many contradictions and incorrect historical references in the NT to cover them up any longer. All I can do is encourage you to do your own extensive study. Just start by doing a side-by-side comparison of the four narratives while remembering historical events occurring when they were written. Or, since Easter is near, begin by comparing the Passover observations, the preliminaries up to and including the crucifixion, burial, and the supposed resurrection accounts, all next to each other. But you need to also be aware of the following history before comparing anything.
20-25 years after Jesus’ death, by then about 50-55 CE, a Doctor of Jewish apocalyptic law, who had supposedly been gathering Jesus’ followers for blasphemy punishment, and wow ho had grown up in Tarsus, the center of Roman Mithraism, an offshoot o f ancient Sumerian Zoroastrian’s religion of about 4000 BCE, well before Moses time, envisioned an opportunity to completely reverse Jesus’ message and instead satisfy the Jewish “Christ/Messiah” dream. See II Cor 11:4. Of His new theology was then based on the age-old human concept of divine vengeance through retaliation for human disobedience, a concept humans had attributed to their sky-god because of the natural disasters he supposedly sent to punish them. Therefore, humanity’s first thought was to appease this angry sky-god with sacrificial offerings. That idea found its way into official Jewish religious law during their Babylonian captivity when the old Hebrew stories and myths were finally gathered together as official historical records and Torah (Law).
Ancient apocalyptic accounts (Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Babylonian, Mithraism) filtered through Paul’s well-educated mind. And he skillfully used their ideas to paint a new picture of Jesus of Nazareth, one that could also appeal to the Gentile nations as well. Examples: sacrificial payment for sin, resurrection of the body to prove worthiness of payment, “Christ” becomes Lord in the sky, he returns later in judgement and to hand down a final punishment to enemies. These were Paul’s most important points. Each would already be familiar to the Gentiles who related them to their ancient Greco-Roman gods and myths. There were many other connections to apocalyptic teachings that followed later.
20 years after Paul’s letters, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans following another failed Jewish rebellion (69 -70CE), and thousands of Jews were slaughtered in the streets and surrounding villages. Although some scattered Jews may have been able to still remember hearing the historical Jesus’ repeated sayings and stories, only copies of Paul’s letters were available to be read and discussed in distant converted Jewish and Gentile gatherings.
About a decade later (nearly 80 CE), a Jewish writer, Mark, was determined to produce a narrative about Paul’s “Christ” and linking him symbolically to the Temple’s destruction. Since there were no eyewitnesses left, he had to rely upon Paul’s letters (even though Paul had never met Jesus); many hearsay accounts (now 50 years in the telling); a few of the recalled Jesus-sayings; and his own imagination as sources for narrative material. It was soon copied and distributed among those gathering to learn more about their new “Christ/Savior.”
Around the turn of the century (90 CE – 110 CE), while converted Jewish and Gentile gatherings were starting to be persecuted as secret cave societies eating and drinking human flesh and blood, two more writers added their narratives. They copied most of Mark, but added their own takes with many OT references. Matthew, obviously a Jewish “theologian” himself with a famous name (The position in the NT and the name of a disciple was given to this writer two centuries later to increase the credibility of the narrative.), and Luke, an obvious admirer of Paul’s theology, wrote their narratives just before the turn of the century. Later, Luke wrote Acts as an afterword to his narrative. It concentrated on hearsay stories of the early followers and especially about Paul. In order to coverup the “bastard” issue, Luke attempted to add immediate credibility to Jesus’ family genealogy and the circumstances surrounding his birth. In spite of numerous discrepancies and historical errors, Luke’s works were also copied and shared among the groups now called “Christians.”
A decade or two later, one more Jewish writer added a fourth narrative. It ventured the idea that the Christ had always existed as the “Word of God” that was meant to become human to pay for humanity’s sin-debt with his life. John also supposedly wrote his Revelation vision of the end-time return of their Lord/Christ to judge and destroy his enemies (unbelievers) in an everlasting hellfire prepared for them.
Does that sound like something the historical Jesus would do? Notice how NT writers used Paul’s apocalyptic theme of an end-time return for the judgement. (Return? Oh, yes. Their resurrected Lord had left them and had ascended back into the sky. Better than a resurrected body having to live out its life here and facing death again I suppose. Christians are praying to a mythological personification! Later, they added Mary and numerous saints to their list of possible folks who may be able to intercede on their behalf before the throne of their sky-god. Nonsense!)
Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing. May they become enlightened through your ever-presence and compassionate unconditional love for them.
Into the 2nd century, Christians were not only publicly persecuted but also captured for slavery and murdered for sport in the Roman arenas. This continued for about three centuries while they anxiously waited for their Lord’s apocalyptic return, for so Paul had taught them. In the meantime, they studied their copies of Paul’s letters, the four narratives, Acts, and a few other brief letters supposedly written by early followers who had taken or were given famous names. And there were always arguments over their authenticity and whether Jesus of Nazareth could possibly be much more than what he claimed to be, namely, just a mere man.
Unconverted Jews who still remained faithful to their Torah and their traditions remained undisturbed in their synagogues during this difficult time for Christians.
When the Roman Empire became disorganized and split into thirds, the Caesar that finally worked to bring the Empire together again was Constantine. He saw the weaknesses of the other two Caesars, one of whom finally abdicated, and Constantine finally overcame the armies of the third to become Emperor. He had been brought up in the Christian tradition by his mother, Helen, while he ruled the northern territories from Germany. During his last battle at a bridge leading into Rome, he claimed to have had a vision of a cross and heard a voice which ordered him to conquer in the name of Christ.
From then on, Constantine saw opportunity to unite his Empire by using the power of the Christian Bishops from North Africa, Asia Minor, and Europe to help unite a Christianity which disagreed on claims being made concerning Jesus, especially concerning his supposed incarnation. In 325 CE Emperor Constantine called a Council at Nicaea to settle the issue. They finally agreed that Jesus was the Son of God incognito and wrote a creed to say so.
Several years later, 415 CE, another council accepted Athanasius’ thinking on a bodily resurrection, an apocalyptic judgement day with destruction of a fallen creation and eternal hellfire punishment for unbelief in Christ’s atonement, and that there were actually a three separate persons in one God, so another creed was written to establish that belief. It took more than another half-century and several more councils to determine which “scriptures” were inspired enough to be infallible and placed into their Holy Bible, something which Paul had claimed for his “scriptures” over four centuries earlier. But their Bible was written only in Latin and distributed only to the Church leadership for proper interpretation. Hmmm…
In the meantime, terrible Jewish persecutions began because they refused to submit to the Christian claim of a Triune God. Their Shema said, “God is One!” With the encouragement of the Church, Jews and pagans throughout the Empire were captured and met the sword of Constantine and other horrible deaths for their stubborn unbelief in Christianity’s salvation atonement religion. They were also blamed for every pestilence that occasionally plagued Europe. Several Church-sanctioned Crusades went off to rescue holy places in Jerusalem from the Muslims, who like the Jews, had One Allah, and refused to accept the Christian Triune God. Through the coming centuries, Jews and Muslims became the targets of the Church and the Empire. Even the Reformer, Martin Luther, spoke harshly against them as being Christ-killers and he still feared hell on his deathbed. One has to wonder just how much behind-the-scenes encouragement Hitler received from the Church to rid the German race of the Jews and their influence, especially in banking and financial issues.
There were scientists like Galileo who challenged the Church’s teaching that the earth was the center of the known solar system. He was accused of heresy and forced to publicly recant his findings under threat of imprisonment and death. (Typical of tyranny.) After the big Reformation schism concerning paying for early release from purgatory (another myth), Evangelical Conservative Protestants continued to split over their interpretation of various individual doctrines found in their scriptures. And they still do today. Worse, they refuse any fellowship with any who do not agree with them.
Is it not past time to uncover and release the freedom-giving message of the historical Jesus? Is it not past time to shake off all the myths and creeds pinning Jesus of Nazareth down? Christianity has blindly followed the wrong teacher for two millennia! Their fear of punishment for blaspheming their “infallible” inspired scriptures, and their fear of the apocalyptic end-time judgement keeps them from questioning their “holy” scriptures.
It is a fearful thing to have such a sky-god as Christians have! Their faith in being saved from a judgement myth by the suffering and death of a mere man to pay for their sins is a false hope. It would be better to be an atheist and deny the existence of such a god that requires blood-restitution for disobedience to his laws and the punishment of eternal hellfire for unbelief in his salvation plan. At least an atheist’s consciousness, having been emptied of such mythology, may be prepared to be enlightened by the real good news of a compassionate, accepting, and unconditionally loving and forgiving Presence patiently waiting with open arms.
May the good news of the Galilean’s discovery concerning a loving Fatherly Presence bring you comfort and peace. And may that discovery turn you loose to share the ways of this Fatherly Presence with everyone you know.
God is Love. Love is God personified in humanity. There is no punishment in Love. Love does not ask for or demand atonement. Put away your cross necklaces and crucifixes.
Henry Hasse – August, 2015