A martyr for all of us

Today is the annual observance of the brutal torture and execution of a man, whether myth or god incarnate, who was nothing less than a artic_image_071816_rose-croixmoral exemplar for all of us. Whether one professes the Christian faith or not, no one can deny that the lessons of “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love one another” inculcated by Jesus of Nazareth are universal principles of morality.

“Judge not” and “Let him without sin throw the first stone” should be constant reminders that we are to be tolerant of others and that we should love more and judge less.

So today, lets pause and reflect. Reflect on a man that was murdered merely for teaching love over dogma and compassion over judgement.

Jesus, redeemer or reformer?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11).

We live in a world where the dangers of religious fundamentalism of all kinds surround us. Whether it be a “holy warrior” blowing himself up in market place, a madman shooting people in a temple or school, or a “Baptist” church that pickets funerals of fallen heroes and other victims of violence. Religions in and of themselves are harmless, it’s when people cross the line from rationalism into radicalism that makes them dangerous.

Centuries before Jesus lived, according to the book of Isaiah, “I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). By this account, one can conclude that our Creator keeps no record of our “sins” and that all is forgiven and that we were “saved” long before Jesus ever lived. That being the case, blood atonement whether animal, man, or God himself was not necessary. Yet the temple cult continued ritual sacrifices because they believed it to be required for atonement. The Christian Church adopted the belief that when Jesus was crucified the blood requirement was satisfied, but as the verse above states it was not even necessary. For example, Hebrews 10:5 of the New Testament in quoting Psalm 40, claims that God replaced animal sacrifices with the death of the Jesus by stating, “sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me.” However, the actual text of Psalm 40:6 does not even say this; it says, “sacrifices and meal offerings You have not desired, my ears You have opened.” This refers to God’s desire that we listen to Him, as we also read in Samuel, “Samuel said, “Does God take as much pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying what God says? Surely obeying is better than sacrifice, and heeding orders than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

Fundamentalist Christians insist that the Bible is the inspired and “inerrant” word of God and readily accept the Jewish Scriptures (aka Old Testament) as the foundation for the New Testament. If they were to be logically consistent, it would follow that wherever the “Old” and “New” Testaments contradict each other, the New Testament must be admitted to be obviously the one which is in error. If that were adhered to, Jesus would be relegated to what he really is – a great teacher (Rabboni or Rebbe) who spoke of actions over words and sacrifices. He was martyred for his teachings and his followers’ followers then committed the apostasy of elevating him to being God.

The Jewish Scriptures DO NOT revolve around God becoming man to sacrifice himself to appease himself. That is invented mythology. Jewish Scripture outlines how to act (albeit some of these rules are arcane for our time and a bit extreme – thus the reason the Jews never sealed the canon until it was hijacked by Constantine for the church). Jewish Scripture also shows how when the people disobeyed the rules, they suffered and when they obeyed they prospered. After a while this cycle cost them the temple and the “land of milk and honey.” It could be that in order for the Messianic Age to come, that Jews should listen to what Jeremiah said: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are false.” (this is a slight paraphrasing of the opening verses of Jeremiah 10 – which also explicitly exposes the “Christmas tree” to be a pagan practice – over 2 thousand years before it became as common as it is now)

So what was Jesus’ purpose?

I believe Jesus was trying to be a reformer, not a redeemer/savior and his focus was on freeing us from religious doctrines and dogmas that had become overbearing and burdensome. Perhaps what he was teaching was that we could focus on simply “Loving one another”.

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Here is the real New Covenant. Less outward ritual observances and more heart-driven loving kindness towards each other. The entire yoke of Torah needed to be simplified to the original summation that was contained within it.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Here the Teacher (Jesus) spliced together Deuteronomy 6:5 with Leviticus 19:18 to give us the summation of the Torah and the 2 rules that if all of us followed, would bring on an age where no nation raises a sword against another nation and we can all finally be at peace. This would be the fulfillment of hope and bring the Kingdom of Heaven here, on earth.

The Blood, The Word, and the Reason

There are 2 passages of scripture that almost everyone has heard at one point in their life regardless of whether they are religious or not:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

and

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish…” John 3:16

The first passage is clear. All things come from God. No other being. The ultimate sovereign of the universe is God and only God. And as Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God is One”. There is only one God and there is not a multiplicity of this God nor is there any other being – good or evil – equal to God.

So why would the second passage be necessary? Why would the Creator of all things and Master of the Universe have to sacrifice his “son” for anything? I personally have a hard time with the concept that God would have to do anything to forgive me outside of let say… Forgiving me.

This is where context and an allegorical exegesis of scripture is needed. The kind of things mainstream preachers would denounce as heresy. Frankly, I’d rather interpret scripture for myself than let someone who’s paid to do it do it for me. Jewish tradition has always held to individual commentary of scripture because only the Decalogue (10 commandments) is “etched in stone”. The Talmud, Mishnah, and Zohar are examples of that continuous search for hidden meaning. Jesus himself used parables to provide his interpretation of the Torah and the Psalms and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are perhaps the best interpretation of Torah ever uttered.

We are in the midst of Passover, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. I personally believe that there is a deeper allegorical meaning in all of these mythological events. However to keep this blog post under a thousand words, I am going to focus on the Passion of Jesus from a non-dogmatic and allegorical perspective.

The primary verse in all of Christian scripture is John 3:16. It is this verse that billions of Christians base their faith and belief in Jesus. What if there is an entirely different meaning than the one developed by the early church fathers? A tradition that was formed then that has snow-balled into a religion that worships Jesus instead of following him. Let’s take a look at another series of passages:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

“and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” – John 1:14

Now I am going to paste all of these passages together:
In the beginning the One and only God created the heavens and the earth. From God’s word all things were created and through God’s word all men can be one with Him for eternity. Man was created in the image of God and wanted to be God, so man rejected the Word. Man became a mortal being and God had compassion on him. Many times God had compassion on man and many times man rejected his Word. So God made the Word into flesh so that man could know God face to face and have a living example of the Word. Once again man rejected the Word and rejected the Word by shedding blood. Man can reject God’s Word but, that will never destroy it. So therefore God so loved the world that he gave us his Word and whoever believes in God and follows his Word will be one with God for all eternity.

I know what you are thinking. I used a lot more passages than I said I was going to do. To be completely honest every single word I just wrote came from somewhere in the Bible. (all are easy to find)

But wait, there’s more. I am obviously not going to leave you hanging without talking about the actual death of Jesus. The death of Jesus was a tragedy. The greatest of all Rabbis who wanted nothing more than to teach everyone the sum total of the Word:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”. The lesson was so important that Jesus even gave us an example of the most profound act of love a person can show anyone “that a man lay down his life for his friends”.

In a world so technologically advanced it is difficult for many people to believe the miracles attributed to Biblical characters. It is also very difficult to accept that some of the very violent forms of punishment in the Bible can be attributed to a merciful and loving God. Whether the characters in the Bible actually lived or whether the events recorded actually happened is irrelevant. What is so ever critical to remember is that it doesn’t really matter what the Bible says – it is the underlying meaning that matters the most.

The Bible is unique in that it can be interpreted in so many ways – good and bad. I personally believe that to truly understand it you need to keep reading it.

“Freemasonry is a satanic cult and they can’t be trusted.” OH NO YOU DIDN’T.

It’s been far to long since my last blog post. Truth be told I’ve been a bit busy. Ever since I started my blog I’ve had a steady readership and for the most part positive feedback. Unfortunately ignorance and self-righteous arrogance bleeds through and I get comments and email that are pretty harsh and typically ignorant. One such person is a Baptist Minister from Mississippi who I will call Rev. X. He has accused me of being a stupid atheist and a minion of the anti-Christ. As ridiculous as this is he recently sent me a nasty email about Freemasonry (I”m a Freemason) with “evidence” to base his pathetically stupid position on the matter. Below is my response to him.

—-

Rev. X,

First of all the organized leadership of the various Christian Churches are so ridiculously ignorant on what Freemasonry is all about it’s laughable.

Freemasonry is an ancient fraternity that uses symbolism and allegory to teach lessons of morality and to imprint on the mind wise and serious truths. It was a common method of teaching in medieval times when textbooks, reading, and literacy were rare. The foundation of Freemasonry is “The Fatherhood of God and the Fraternity of Man. ”

I find it ironic that the religion that kneels at an altar of sacrifice, under a roman torturous execution device (the cross/crucifix), drinks blood (which is what the wine symbolizes), eats human flesh (which is what the unleavened wafer symbolizes), on the day of the sun-god Ra (origin of the name for Sunday) can question or condemn the use of symbolism.

Jesus taught in parables, the story of Jonah is widely accepted by scholars as folklore, the book of Revelation is all symbolism and allegory, as well as Job and some of the Psalms. So for Christians to object to the use of allegory is mind numbingly hypocritical.

The real issue is that Christians feel their way is the right and only way. They have slaughtered millions of people in wars and inquisitions to make it the largest religion of the world today (and ironically vilify the Muslims for doing the same thing). Most people have no clue of Christianity’s true jewish origin and how the “apostle Paul” (and some of the early “church fathers”) corrupted it from the deeds based teachings of Jesus, which are some of the most noble and admirable teachings, to the faith-based nonsense it is now.

Christians consider it idolatry that Freemasons pray to the Great Architect of the universe and emphasize that deeds are critical to the future state of the soul (again a Jewish teaching as well as a Jesus teaching). The grand architect is not a “Masonic” god. It is a universal term for deity that enables a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Deist, or person of another faith to pray without another religion’s name for god. This is taught in the first degree of Freemasonry. In today’s world it fills me with pride when I can pray alongside a Muslim and a Christian Brother peacefully.

I saw a pathetically ignorant comment in one of the articles you reference that a Freemason couldn’t be trusted as a political leader. Really? What about – George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford? They were all Masonic Presidents.

What about guys like Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, and almost every general in the continental army?

What about Walt Disney, Dave Thomas, Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens, John Wayne, General Douglas MacArthur, Brad Paisley, and I could go on.

The fact of the matter is America was founded on the Masonic principles and morals of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the freedom of religion. These virtues are what framed the philosophy of our entire country in a time when religion (predominantly the Catholics and Anglicans) was incestuously married to governmental power.

As for your view on Deism as heretical goes, that to is baseless. In its purest state Deism is the most accurate of all religious philosophies. Pure Deism believes in God and holds to the idea that we will never understand the incomprehensible power and ways of God. Personally, I believe religions are man’s way of trying to put a humanistic box around the awesome nature of our Creator. It compensates for the fact that while Reason and Free Choice are divine gifts, they still need moral boundaries. The flaw in religion is when they overstep that context and try to control people and influence them through violence. Thomas Paine, while masterfully brilliant in regards to reason, fell into the same trap when he relentlessly bashed religion and the Bible in the Age of Reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant literary masterpiece but, some of the rhetoric was a bit harsher than it needed and can be compared to the brashness of an evangelical bashing an atheist for not “knowing the truth.” Nevertheless it should be required reading as it states a powerful case for the existence of God to people who want to believe but, have issues with the revealed religious movements of the world.

Christians should really remember the teachings of the man they worship, some of the most moral precepts ever uttered by a man:

Judge not, lest ye be judged.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Feed the poor and aid the needy.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

While all of these except the last one really originate in the Jewish Torah, these are commonly avoided teachings that Jesus emphasized in so many of his parables (aka allegorical teachings). Christians need to walk the talk of the man they follow. A man who was comfortable sitting with common sinners instead of self-righteous hypocrites. Before they open their often ignorant and self-serving mouthes they should think – what would Jesus do?

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light