The Two “Christianities”
Additional Historical Note:
Christians were not Christians at the time that Jesus was teaching. Jesus was a Jew teaching Jews. During Jesus’ lifetime the “new covenant” was being proclaimed by well-established sects, such as the Essenes, along with extremely rebellious groups know as the Nazarenes, whose leader may well have been Jesus the Nazarene. The Essene ritual of baptism, as used by the prophet John the Baptist, marked a major departure from the Jewish tradition of blood sacrifice. And while the God of the Jews was a vengeful, fearsome Lord, the God of Jesus was full of love and forgiveness. Jesus and the whole Essene/Nazarene movement came into direct conflict with traditional Jews in the outspoken teachings of Jesus.
Both the Essenes and the Nazarenes, as well as Greek philosophers, such as Pythagoras and Plato, undoubtedly came into contact with the learned and widespread Buddhist missionaries that were well established throughout the whole Middle East. Jesus expressed an inclusive message that transcended physical and religious boundaries. As the early Christian Church grew, for the first several hundred years the subjective oriental approach dwelled harmoniously with the objective Western approach. We diminish the Christian message if we become exclusive in our approach to spirituality.
There are two ways to arrive at truth:
1. THE SUBJECTIVE, MYSTICAL
- Seeing cause first, then effect
2. THE OBJECTIVE, EXTERNAL
- Sees form and effect as cause
Basically there are two fundamental approaches to life:
1. The objective approach that resulted in the Judeo-Christian concepts of a father God, and the material word
2. The subjective approach of Buddhism and other oriental religions, which see God as the impersonal cause that manifests as all
Both viewpoints are understandable, and both directly affect the lives of those who follow their doctrines.
When they become exclusive of the other, both derail freedom and instead of succeeding, they limit personal spiritual growth.
The SIGNIFICANCE of Jesus’ message is that he combined both.
“For wholeness, both (approaches) are necessary…”
A note from Walter:
Because simultaneous thought is a mental muscle that we are just now learning to exercise, it is still hard for us to simultaneously think of cause and effect as one and the same. However, we should exercise that muscle, and every time we think of cause or effect we should remind ourselves that they are one and the same. It helps to think of cause and effect as one word—”causeffect,” just as “bodymindspirit” make up one inclusive reality. When we look at effects and remember they are simultaneously cause, we will see that it is all God. That is when healings take place.
What is your favorite mystical passage from The Gospel of John?
Describe the spirit and life in those words.
THE TWO APPROACHES: Traditionalists and Gnostics
THE OBJECTIVE TRADITIONALISTS:
- Created an organized Church to achieve their aims and maintain control
- Derived their beliefs from the miracles, experiences, and suffering of Jesus’ life and other personalities of the Old and New Testaments
- Appointed (human) leaders to guide the teaching of the followers
- With the rise of the Roman Empire, Constantine established the Church to maintain his authority and rule the Empire
- Demanded adherence to authority, subjugating the people to its control
- Denigrated the importance of the individual by not recognizing the sacredness of individual identity
- Created good social works—built hospitals, schools, fed the poor
- Created an organized religion—Christianity
THE SUBJECTIVE GNOSTICS:
- Kept their teachings within their own groups without organizing into a powerful religion, because they saw religion as a matter of individual experience rather than membership in an organization
- Derived their beliefs from the symbolic nature of Jesus’ own teachings and parables, rather than from his human experiences
- Looked within themselves individually to receive direct guidance from Spirit
- Following the example of Jesus, they combined Judeo-Christian, Greek, and Oriental teachings
- Rejected both Roman (civil) and Christian (Church) authority
- Extreme Gnosticism ignored the daily life of their fellow men, tending to be too absolute and subjective, even selfish
In their extreme, both Traditionalists and Gnostics denied the importance of the individual:
· The Traditionalists, by subordinating the individual to the authority of the Church
· The Gnostics, by advocating transcendence over one’s humanity also denied the importance of the individual and his human needs.
The TRADITIONALISTS BELIEVED:
- They received knowledge from the leaders via the Church, not from within
- In a Supreme Being that was outside of themselves
- That Jesus was the final word, the only savior, and the only supreme teacher
- The resurrection happened to Jesus alone
- The Second Coming would be the moment when Jesus appeared again on earth in the same form that he appeared as when he ascended
- In a ruling hierarchy down from the pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, elders, and husbands
- They were created by God, the Father
- In the existence of the devil as a personalized being
- Reincarnation was not possible
- Jesus was literally God in human form
- That Jesus was the only Son of God
THE GNOSTICS BELIEVED:
- They received knowledge directly by intuitive powers of the self
- That the student could go beyond the teacher, even Jesus
- That God was imminent, “present within”, not a being but “The Spirit”
- That “the Christ” was the state of consciousness or experience that Jesus exemplified and that others could also experience
- That Jesus as a man was not as important as his consciousness
- That Resurrection was a present experience for all
- That the Second Coming would be the moment when all humanity would become aware of Christ-consciousness
- In a line of succession from those who personally experienced higher divine levels of consciousness—from ascended masters, evolved souls, enlightened beings to the novice
- They created God in themselves by being conscious of God within
- There was a Satanic state of consciousness, not a devil
- In reincarnation as a continuity of the soul
- Everyone and everything is God manifest
- Jesus, like each one of us, is God’s creation
What are the virtues and shortcomings inherent in both approaches?
What set Jesus apart from humanity?
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us… And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” John 17:21-23
The Lost Teachings
The Gospel of Thomas is one of the few surviving texts from Gnostic Scriptures.
- It is an inclusive approach, although predominately metaphysical, with statements like:
“The lamp of the body is the mind.”
- Thomas recognized that when one is in Christ consciousness one would also be the Christ. In these quotes Jesus was doing away with the uniqueness of Jesus:
“He who will drink of my mouth will become as I am. I myself will become him. So that things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”
“When the disciple achieves enlightenment, Jesus will no longer serve as his master because the two will become equal, even identical.”
- Thomas saw that we objectively manifest the state of consciousness that we are in. We are the consciousness that creates and maintains the body.
“If you do not know yourself, you live in poverty and it is you who are the poverty.”
The infinite nature of individual being is experienced when:
“…You make the two one and when you make the outside like the inside and the above like the below and you make the male and the female one and the same, then you will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What is your understanding of how Jesus’ inclusive statement removed the barriers to experiencing one’s divine humanity?
The Gnostic writings of Eckhart:
“I pray God to rid me of God because conditionless being is above God and above distinction.”
· In this statement he showed that though he was a Christian he was in agreement with the Buddhist and Oriental concept of subjective conditionless being.
How did Eckhart include both the subjective and the objective?
How does the detachment Eckhart subjectively longed for tend to become a rejection of objective human life? How does it contradict the realization that God is all?
How do you incorporate the abstract idea of oneness with God in your daily life?
Eckhart’s statement on pages 23-24 of the text that expresses the subjective and the objective.
“If it is all God, so is the human body.” (Text page 24)
Carl Jung called synchronicity an “acausal connecting principle.” Synchronicities are objective events that have meaningful connections or similar meaning on the subjective level. In association with Wolfgang Pauli, Jung imprinted evolving consciousness with the concept that the formation of patterns and thoughts in the unconscious subjective world are manifest in the outer objective world. Pauli suggested principles that carried quantum mechanics into the realization that subjective and objective aspects are different aspects of the same underlying consciousness.
Currently in the fields of quantum physics, psychology, and religion, a picture of a living universe is emerging. This view of the cosmos includes all within itself, both the intriguing complexities of consciousness and the form, as well as causative principles that are neither mind nor matter. This formative principle the mystic would call God.
David Bohm has lead quantum physics further into an inclusive openness that allows for the play of creativity within the cosmic whole. This opens the door to understanding God as the creator. In short, quantum physics is now enabling us to recognize the connectiveness of all things visible and invisible. It reveals how the dance of meaningful relationships is not one of two dissimilar creations, but interrelated parts within a holographic cosmos. Each part is enfolded into the divine whole, and each part contains the whole within its divine self.
The Purpose of Paul
A note from Walter:
My friend, Jim Sherman, pointed out to me that Jesus’ teachings were passed on by word of mouth and were not written down for hundreds of years, so there is no way we can affirm their accuracy; whereas, Paul’s letters, the first Christian writings to be recorded, were written by him in his words. We might be more accurate in interpreting Paul and not be so judgmental of him if we understand that Paul would first go some place and start a group based on Jesus’ teachings. Then, after he had left, gossip about what was happening in that group would catch up with him, and he would write a letter to them with advice about specific incidents and specific personalities. Later when the church was organized and formalized, his opinion of a particular individual situation was taken as a law for all in all situations even though he might have meant it for a one-time unique happening. For instance, it could be that he was told that in the Corinthian church women were gossiping; so he wrote and told those particular women to shut up and be quiet, but it was later taken to mean that all women in all churches should not speak. Paul is a mixed bag, and it is up to us to weigh his truths with the scale of our own understanding and inner feeling.
· Paul was largely responsible for Christianity becoming more than a Jewish sect
· Paul demonstrated that human beings, like ourselves, can personally experience the mystical level
Paul versus Jesus
THE TWO CHRISTIANITIES
- Experienced the subjective state of direct contact with “Christ consciousness”
- Viewed truths from Jesus’ more symbolic, oriental conditioning, because of his objective conditioning (wealthy Hellenistic society and literal Greek logic)
The most critical and unrecognized blocks to accurately interpreting the original Judeo-Christian myth are:
- Our literal Western mind’s inability to process messages written in symbolic languages
- Our mental logical reasoning method based on linear Greek logic rather than abstract intuitive feeling or spirit
The Judeo-Christian myth was written in Aramaic, which was an oriental language reflecting the more subjective, more ritualistic, more experiential, more feeling, and more inclined to search for the meaning of consciousness beneath the words than the objective, literal interpretation.
Paul’s objective approach to Christianity:
- Has dominated our Western interpretation of Jesus’ message
- Created a blond, blue-eyed Jesus which he undoubtedly was not, being Middle Eastern/Oriental
- With its linear logic, can lead one astray if one premise is out of alignment
- Objectively personalized Jesus, laying the groundwork for the Traditionalists to make Jesus a personality who was unique and separate from humankind
- Paul saw himself primarily as a material human being, which, in turn, led Traditionalists into separating the human from the divine
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin”
- By making Jesus exclusive, he denied humankind the ability of identifying themselves with Jesus as being one and the same with God
- Helped those who later organized the Church to maintain authority by establishing the Church as being an intercessor between God and humanity
Jesus’ inclusive Christianity:
- Was derived from a more subjective, Aramaic, point of view
- Did not emphasize the law, but rather presented the transcendental message of Love and Grace
- Saw himself as both divine and human, and by always identifying himself as the son of man wanted us all to see that we, too, are both human and divine
- Demonstrated that he was an embodied spiritual being and told us “greater works shall we do”
Both objective and subjective points of view are true:
· Traditionally, Jesus and God are one and the same, because, following the two commandments, cause and effect are like unto each other
· Mystically, until we see Jesus as God, we cannot see ourselves as one with divine cause
Both the subjective and objective approaches are needed:
· When objectifying ourselves, we can fall short of our divine potential
· The objective allows us to stay organized and move forward through the early stages of evolution
· While viewing ourselves as divine, we are capable of going beyond objective limitations
· The subjective allows Grace to transform our lives
How do you view both the Traditional and Mystical approaches?
How is your spirituality like Jesus’ inclusive Christianity?
What is your personal view of Paul’s influence on Christianity?
The greater works that you will do
Mystically seeing Jesus as God, leads to seeing ourselves as one with divine cause.
St. Augustine’s follow up
St. Augustine gave the Church further legal authority by emphasizing Paul’s objective approach while ignoring his mysticism.
- He discounted the possibility of living purely by Grace, or by a subjective inner guidance, thus of having a personal, subjective connection with God
- Established a set of laws designed to dictate human conduct, which the Church enforced
- His laws of moral and sexual conduct created guilt
- He promulgated the idea of original sin
- He perpetuated the belief that women are inferior to men by implying that female attractiveness was responsible for tempting mankind into sin
- He insisted that Jesus’ birth was virginal, taking place without a sexual encounter, thus further imprinting the idea that sexual activity was other than spiritual and that Jesus was other than human
- Like Paul, he judged sex objectively, condemning sex for pleasure, and set it aside exclusively for the objective purpose of procreation, most likely to increase the power base of the Church
- By excluding the subjective, spiritual nature of sex, many have consciously or unconsciously felt guilty about enjoying or desiring sex
Both the subjective and objective approaches are necessary.
The Objective approach:
· Helps us organize, maintain, and govern in a crowded world of diversity
· Gives those who have not experienced what it means to live by Spirit, a strong moral code and objective laws by which to live
· Feeds the hungry, builds hospitals, and in many ways tends to the needs of humanity
While the Subjective approach:
· Allows Love and Grace to transform our lives
· Self-empowers the individual to live as a divine being with direct contact with God within
· Frees us to evolve beyond past concepts
Explain the objectively and subjectively approaches.
What Scriptures illustrate both Paul’s and Jesus’ Christianity?
Your divine potential