The following essay is what I ended up believing after the extensive research I did on my second book “Idol Meat BBQ”. This summary notes version is an overview, a short essay summarizing many of the individual chapters is coming next.
The Secret Chapter
I will not elaborate on the Jewish, Muslim or other religions that I mention in the Idol Meat BBQ book. I laugh at the shallow perspective of the atheists and don’t care whether ancient aliens impacted development of life on earth. So that leaves analysis of the revelations about Christianity and since I consider myself a Christian, I plan to state clearly for you in just a couple of pages what I believe.
The gospels were written 30 to 70 years after the death of Jesus by men who demonstrated progressively more writing skill. The order was Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. As time passed and the four Gospels were created, more and more God-like qualities were attributed to Jesus. By the time, the book of John appeared Jesus was the incarnation of God on earth. They were created in Greek, not Hebrew by men who likely never met Jesus face to face. They put humanity in the Jesus story by providing fictional accounts of Jesus’ early life, ministry, and death. They wove details from oral accounts of Jesus’ ministry and quotes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas into their stories. They took a queue from Paul, who said Jesus’ life was as the Torah said. They searched the Torah for details of the Messiah and from this they built many stories about Jesus upon the framework of the Hebrew scripture. Paul was the first Christian author writing 5 to 25 years after Jesus’ death. He also never met the flesh and blood Jesus. He had no facts about Jesus’ life and did not attempt to make up stories. What he learned about Jesus’ teaching came from early Christian followers and some contact with Jesus’ actual Disciples.
Bishop John Shelby Spong has built a convincing case on the framework used for the Gospels. Just as today’s churches have a schedule that dictates what should be preached, and when, so did the early Jews. Readings are suggested both between and on various important holidays. First century Jews also followed a framework (liturgy) which required reading of certain scriptures on each Sabbath. Spong has shown that the segments of the gospels can be divided up to coincide with each weekly scripture reading from the Hebrew bible. Each provides a brief account on the ministry of Jesus to read during each Sabbath service. So not only did the authors of the Gospels create stories to fulfill prophesy about the messiah but they had to make the stories relevant to the weekly Sabbath readings.
It is highly likely that none of Jesus’ followers attended his crucifixion and thus no actual words from the trial, persecution or cross were captured. There is a slim chance that Jesus was actually placed in a crypt. The Romans tended to throw the crosses in the ditches for the wild dogs to consume the carcasses. The early Christians were distraught about the death of the man they thought was the Messiah. They whaled and they cried and tried to make sense out of his death and the brutal treatment of their Messiah, it was a fate reserved for common criminals. Early on followers settled on the idea that his death must have been for the greater good. The doctrine of atonement for the sins of humanity is a concept they chose. This gave meaning to his death and became a cornerstone of the Christian faith. It wasn’t part of the plan, it wasn’t Jesus’ teaching it was a way to make his brutal death acceptable. Century after century the Church drove the idea into the heads of their congregation that they were evil, corrupt, sinful humans in need of salvation. The churches position was focused on tearing down humanity, destroying self-esteem and it was actually damaging to society. The church preached; “follow us for salvation” anything less than total devotion meant damnation. The Christian faith was in competition for followers with substantially stronger religions. They created passages that declared the only way to the father was through the son, my way is best, all other ways will be damned to hell.
Jesus was a naïve man from the small collection of huts called the village of Nazareth. His crowds of followers were a threat to those in power. He knew nothing of the politics of church or state and when he rocked the boat in the big city, he paid the ultimate price.
It is likely that he was not born on the winter solstice or died on Easter. Those dates and stories have their roots in other God-men legends, such stories were also convenient ways to link the Jesus story into the Jewish holidays. Resurrection or ascending to be with God is the likely fate of all souls not just the “One”.
The stories that defy the natural world as we know it are fabrications. In the first century they did not understand that women provide the egg and men the seed, they thought the woman was just a vessel for the man’s child. Therefore, the idea of a virgin birth with God providing the seed met Jesus was 100% the son of God. Sorry nature doesn’t work that way. A virgin birth is fiction, it was made up from a 500+ year old story in the Hebrew bible about a birth of a future king “Emanuel” to a young woman (not a virgin). Formerly this ancient story said in the Arabic text: “born a young woman” but was mistranslated to the Greek Old Testament, saying “born to a virgin.” The Greek authors of the New Testament referred to this when they wrote the Gospels. Walking on water, changing water into wine, raising the dead and, etc. all were used by early Christian followers to convince new recruits that Jesus was the manifestation of God on earth.
I believe Jesus was a real historical person. He taught an important message and died on the cross, there is no way early Christians would have made up the story of disgraceful death of their Messiah if it weren’t true. They saw something special about this man that was not prevalent in the first century. They truly saw God shine though Jesus in his teaching, deeds, and examples. He lacked prejudice against women, children, and the vile Samaritans. Love others as you love yourself, turn the other cheek, etc. I think we should drop the creeds, doctrines and theology and focus on the rich story of his ministry and teaching.
Throughout the third and fourth centuries the church developed a variety of interpretations theologies and creeds which by modern standards are found to be lacking credibility. Among them are the doctrine of original sin, the doctrine of the trinity, the apostle creed, and other creeds. Much of this work was to suppress and deem heretical minority Christian groups. These and most of the work by the early church to interpret and define Jesus and God I dismiss.
When I came back to church 4 years ago, my view of God was that the likelihood he existed wasn’t high. I had hope he did exist but not much. My view of prayer was that prayer was a joke, a conversation with an imaginary friend. If God existed, he would not be wasting time dealing with the wants and desires of humans. My reasoning for attending church again was to reestablish ourselves in the community and be sure my wife had strong ties to support her if I preceded her to the next adventure.
After a 24-month research project including over 80 books and college courses on DVD, I gained a new appreciation and belief in the existence of God. Even the feasibility of prayer to have an impact on the reality of our world seemed likely.
God is not a being as we categorize beings; he is not a nice old man with a flowing white beard ruling the world from his throne. A wrath filled God is the result of living a paranoid violence-filled life warping the filter of perception. My concept of God (which is probably as far off as the throne sitter idea) is that God is a loving, intelligent entity that is larger than the universe. If multiple universes and dimensions exist, he is much bigger than the multiverse. God is a particle field that brings life to every speck of matter in reality, in much the same way as the dreamer brings life to the dream. God’s intelligence is so vast that as humans can’t begin to understand God’s capabilities. When God made man in his image, it was consciousness that was made in God’s image not man’s physical form. That little voice inside your head that observes the world and carries on a running commentary is God experiencing life from your perspective. God is consciousness and sees and understands everything that every conscious life-form experiences. Our consciousness does not exist in our brain but in the universal mind of God, living on in an afterlife dimensionally separated from the reality we experience in life. The concept that we are one with each other and one with the Lord is spot on. I believe that all likelihood every living thing has some level of consciousness, from the bugs to the trees, animals, grains, and grasses.
All accounts I have read on the afterlife have been very convincing of its existence, including studies using scientific methods to test the ability of mediums to contact the departed. Almost all have made specific note of dogs being with the departed, not cats or other animals but dogs (go figure). One study by Gary Schwartz Ph.D. in the book “The God Experiments” detailed the ability of a medium or seer to accurately dream about and predict the future. The data are convincing (and I will never get used to treating the word data as a plural). Three different conclusions can be drawn from the ability of this man to accurately predict the future: 1) Everything is predestined. Or 2) God is so smart that even with freewill God knows far ahead of time how everything will turn out. Or my favorite 3) The edge of reality crashes into the God Particle field bringing mass to matter (it is a pretty wild place). Free-will charts our course right up to that edge, but our consciousness exists and observes back up the timeline of the past a few hours, or days, or months, or years, or eons. Can you call it predestination by free-will choices?
I honestly believe that God the creator loves his creation. Nothing is left behind, no consciousness is abandoned regardless of good or evil, everything is a small part of the consciousness of God. Suicide, praying to bushes or whatever, makes no difference the part of us that is the observer is eternal. One would think that the ultimate acts against love and kindness like murder and slave trafficking would put a portion of humanity on the “outs”. I don’t think so, I think it is more likely that a dark soul will be enlightened and sent back for further development. I also believe there is a good chance all souls will have the opportunity for further development perhaps in the material world further forward or backward on the timeline.
After all, singing praises, feeling joy and enlightenment are rewarding for how long?
Once an individual soulfully understands and accepts being one with all of the consciousness in the universe, development and even good and evil becomes a moot point.
My concluding thought is: To hell with hell, it doesn’t exist in my concept of God and reality. Hell is man-made.