Part V: Moving Beyond a Religious (Foundational) Framework to Completion.
I was thinking about the many differences that humans are born with that oftentimes they have absolutely zero control over. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), we read in more than a few texts where individuals who were born with various deformities were prevented from engaging in common worship practices under the Mosaic Law. And no matter how cruel the practice seemed, it was the Law.
Was it an individual's fault how he was born, what gender they happened to be of or what complications accompanied his or her birth? How much should it matter if someone has a birth defect? Should they be treated any different from anyone else? Many of us have relatives who were born with 6-digits on their hands (I am counting the thumb as a digit), there are other individuals born with 6 digits on their feet.
Have religious people patterned themselves too much after the Apostle Paul, much like those who on one occasion questioned whether it was the blind man or his parents (in Acts chapter nine), who were responsible for the young man being born blind. Those judges apparently wondered if the son sinned (in a pre-life), otherwise the question does not make any sense.When I think about a lot of what comes through with respect to the Apostles record of harshness towards other people, particularly religious ones, I recall his own words. Paul wrote that he was a member of the strictest sect of the Pharisees. The question that follows then is did his strictness come from God or from some other source?How much of Paul’s attitude carried over after his Damascus Road conversion experience is open to discussion? And, please recall that his religious zealotry led him to have other believers who did not see things the way that he did to be arrested and apparently put to death. In fact, he volunteered for the job, showing no mercy whatsoever to his captors.
In the case of those who stood by and questioned Jesus about the young man’s congenital blindness, they were in facts judges, who had judgmental attitudes. They had already decided that something was either wrong with the young man or within his family lines for him to have been born with such a condition. The obvious implication was that they his critics were superior to him. At any rate someone had to be blamed for the tragedy of those poor wretched humans who were born with defects in deference to their religious judges. Here are a few questions that came to mind after I reconsidered what was being posited in John chapter 9. Whose fault is it that inner-sex people are born the way that they were and are born? Whose fault is it that an autistic child is born autistic, or that non-whites are born non-white, or that some individuals are born female instead of male, or that a child is born with other birth defects or worse yet encephalitis?
According to Paul, a co-conspirator to murder himself who was shown mercy felt that there shouldn’t be any mercy shown to people who were not perfect in every way, physically or mentally. The irony of his attitude was this; the Apostle himself was apparently a frail and sickly man himself, a man with at least a chronic ophthalmic condition. . And based on what is recorded in scripture, he strayed down the wrong road more than a few times himself and he often needed to be redirected
Also, prior to his second missionary journey, he was rather harsh when it came to John Mark, a man that he would later send for when he was imprisoned. The Apostle showed a marked distemper (no pun intended) for Mark’s has not lived up to 'Pauline standards'. Frankly, both my reasoning and my spiritual selves tell me that the Apostle may have written a lot of what he wrote out of the heart of a Pharisee. Paul decided it would appear who would and would not enter into a Pauline heaven. Clearly, Jesus was far more merciful than the Apostle, than the Pharisee of Pharisees. .
Can truth find anyone who wants to find it? It doesn’t matter what country or culture a person lives in, or what religion he or she has been shaped in I believe; if that person or group of persons are looking for the truth it will find them. Even though I go on record as saying that oftentimes it can take time.
The names of our days of the week, months of the year ..., point to the fact that our predecessors were always looking for something to worship. And whether it was a person, a planet or some obsequious nothing, our predecessors found great delight in worship even a heavenly body. Most religious people simply have a need to worship, and it is hard-wired in their brains. And, the worship experience becomes an end in itself, and not the object of their worship.
Shifting gears a bit, what we frequently experience coming from religious individuals is what they believe to be foundational truth; and that is exactly what they are giving you, their foundational truth. What is interesting is that like the Whirling Dervishes once practiced, individuals can make anything the subject of their worship and end up with the same kind of mystical experience; it's like a placebo effect.
What religious people need to do is to escape from religious orbit, and to pursue the course of truth. For some religion is mystical, for others they prefer less mysticism and a need for having associated duties and do's and don'ts. All of these individuals need to free themselves from religious gravitational pull and instead go in search of the truth. One thing that most religions have in common, that is often a part of their foundational precipice is the pillar of death and dying.
Much of their dogma ultimately has to do with life after death, and of course life that precedes death. Religions often attempt to explain death to their audiences, and to succor those individuals who have been left behind by loved ones who have preceded them in death. The human mind left to its own devices cannot sufficiently wrap itself around the concept of death; the human mind does not accept death as a viable alternative to life.
The Prophet Jeremiah in the Hebrew scriptures of the Canon accepted that before he was ever placed inside of a human body that God already knew him. And seeing how God knew him absence from a human body, it was not inconceivable to believe that one could know God again once the body had been dispatched. So what’s wrong with that? Answer: perhaps nothing.
After Abraham, Hebrews came to understand that of all of the people on the Earth at the time, that they were uniquely the chosen people of God. Most dispensational theologians would agree that the Jewish people were stuck at the time within their own ancient religion dogma and their own cultural paradigms of the time. Their beliefs expiated the beliefs of all other religions and other religious people. The fact of the matter is that Jesus had a difficult time trying to move the Hebrew people away from their Mosaic-based foundational truths.
By the time that Jesus arrived again on the scene after knowing Abraham in its first manifestation, the belief that the Jews were chosen by God was deeply inculcated not only into their myth and lore, but deeply within their culturally shaped human psyches.
By the time that Jesus arrived on the scene, the Hebrew people were deeply ensconced in the exclusive worship of the words of their sacred. Their sacred writings were sacrosanct, and to question one tenet of their beliefs, as Jesus often did when he referred to the writings of the men of old, was tantamount to a sentencing of death. I often encounter Christians, who share the same angst when it comes to Constantine’s Canon.
I am particularly disturbed when I notice members of my own African-American heritage; the one’s who so vehemently defend Jewish texts that they know very little about their origins. But like many things in the Afro-American culture, ideas and stories have been borrowed in order to compensate for the loss of our own stories, if not our heritage. I often wonder why black ministers, if they are going to preach from the Canon, won’t preach more about how the Holy Spirit led Phillip, directly to an African eunuch, who was returning from Jerusalem and on his way back to Ethiopia.
How profound, that heaven felt that blacks were important enough to send the Holy Spirit directly to them through the person of the deacon-evangelist Phillip. Just as a side note, the spirit elevated a man that was assigned the task of taking care of the welfare of widows, when the Apostles believe that their calling was as such, that they could not take out time to deal with such trivial matters. Phillip was elevated by the Holy Spirit, and one of the most profound messages in the Greek New Testament scriptures was given by this Spirit appointed and elevated evangelist.
Just as black Americans have embraced white history, and white culture, along with it blacks have adapted and in a since preach a white man’s religion, having abandoned their own African Traditional Religions which were by and large derived from the Spirit. What a conundrum? Not to make this political, however, if religious groups are correct and if they are in synch with the divine mind, then why is it that in practically every religious group, not just Christian ones, you find so many divisions in the form of sects, denominations …!
Here is something to wrap your religious minds around. Jesus, prior to his departure from the earth instructed his disciples to advance to an upper room in Jerusalem and to wait for an event that was to take place from on high. What he didn’t say but it was implied was, ‘do not go to the Temple or to the Synagogues, or to the priests, Levites and scribes, and remember they believed that they represented ‘the chosen people’.
I often hear Christians speaking so eloquently about the same groups of Jews who they believe are God’s chosen people of today, when in fact the New Israel is not a Jewish nation in the true sense of the word. In fact the new Israel according to New Testament teaching is the born again and baptized believers into Jesus Christ.
Let me repeat what I said, Jesus actually ordered his followers (about 120) altogether, not to return to the Temple, just as it appears that it will be necessary to do today. Why did he do it? Could it be because Jesus knew that all of the religious hierarch and many of their followers, especially the Pharisees, where stuck in their foundational truths.
I often hear Christians argue when I discuss matters like these that God is the same today, tomorrow and forever more. And I argue that According to scripture that God had an unfolding plan, which most Christians oddly argue, was and is being fulfilled in different dispensations. Well if the latter is true, and if what Jesus told his disciples is true that in fact that there was more truth to be revealed in a future time period, why are religious people so stubborn and often entrenched to the extent that they will not move to another step?
When is the last time that you know of that any religious group on Earth has come up with a new and viable revelation. The fact is that each one has been doing today, what they were doing ten, twenty, thirty and forty years ago; they are simply continuing in the same practices and rituals. And oddly enough they are being taught that what they are doing is exactly what God wanted them to do. If that is the case then Jesus was wrong, for he spoke of the greater things that would be done.
I asked a rhetorical question one time with respect to a statement that Jesus made to his disciples. Jesus told his disciples that they would be able to say to a mountain to be removed and cast in the sea and it would happen. My question was did you ever hear or know of anyone who told a mountain to be removed and cast in the sea and it happened? The answer was, no!
I told them that I know of many individuals who have done it. In California there is an area that ironically is known as Devil’s Slide. Devil’s Slide is an area above a highway that Californian’s often use to drive to Half-Moon Bay, Moss Beach …, on Highway 1. Highway 1 sets above the seashore. Years ago the engineers that constructed the Highway found it necessary to remove a portion of the mountain that blocked a portion of the would be highway.
And they had to remove it or take the highway into another direction so that vehicles could traverse the would be highway. And how did they remove the mountain? They did what Jesus did as recorded in John the 1st chapter. Jesus came up with a creation plan in the beginning, and he put his architectural plan into action, speaking, here meaning that he used what we would refer to as scientific means in order to do so. When today’s architects and engineers speak a plan into existence, they do not walk out to the mountain and say mountain move, they bring in dynamite and bulldozers and remove the mountain from its place.
Some years ago, I knew a pastor, a very nice man I might add, who had laid out a foundation for a church that he was going to build. He paid an architect to draw up the plans for the building. And he would eagerly show you the plans for the building that he planned to construct. Before I was shown the plan, I was told that nothing would ever go on the foundation. In fact that happened to me with several different preachers. The lesson was that having a foundation does not a building make. Sadly, one of the preachers passed away and despite his years of labor and discussing his foundation, nothing ever set on that foundation.
When Jesus instructed his disciples not to return to the foundation of their faiths, Judaism, it was a terrible indictment to organized religion, to the Hebrew culture, the Priests and Levities, and to all that followed them. Jesus was introducing the next stage in the divine evolutionary religious plan. He explained to his Jewish audiences that his purpose was not to destroy but to fulfill the Law. In other words, it was always intended that the Law would be fulfilled.
Today’s Law, in most religious groups even Christians ones has never been fulfilled, why because they won’t get off of the dime I believe. Will God have to come back again, organize a new group which I believe he will have to, and tell them not to return this time to in addition the synagogues, but to the churches, mosques …, but to remove themselves yet to another place. The response to Jesus’ message amounted to fury.
The people were enraged with Jesus, and prior to killing him, they persecuted him. Jesus was not unaccustomed to being tossed out of a synagogue after he finished preached. It was not unusual for him to be followed, spied upon and hunted down, for many individuals were seeking an opportunity to kill him. Now keep in mind that Jesus was a carpenter’s son, and that he was not a part of the Religious School, or the religious oligarchy.
So just as he told his followers not to return to organized religious, on top of everything else he had not sat at the feet of the Gamely of his day. The same things happen today when someone outside of the religious hierarchy shows up and teaches something different from what is being taught in the old boys, and of late the old girl’s network.
Jesus prepared his disciples for this time, when previously he sent them on a Missionary Journey, instructing them if they were not received into a certain house, that they were simply to shake the dust from their feet, in other words they were to move on.Now you had to tell the disciples that, because they were not above calling down fire from heaven if they could, similar to our modern day radical Christians on the Right have often done or encouraged to be done to unsuspecting people. And, Peter (the Knife), as I often affectionately refer to him, at the time might have sliced a family-member up into small bits and pieces. Fortunately, these men later grew in grace, having left the principles and gone on into truth. Truth has a way of changing you, and even the Apostle Paul began to soften over time.
So how are religious groups doing 2000 years later, in comparison to their counterparts? Frankly, they were in better shape.The Earth today is full of religious groups, sects and denominations. Our religious groups are stilled locked into custom, law, myth, rituals and the like. And what Jesus said to his followers of 2000 years ago about the truth that is to come, hasn’t had any impact upon believers in various religious organizations today.
Why wouldn’t Jesus simply tell his disciples ‘the whole truth’ at the time? Was it because, as Jack Nicholson said in the movie A Few Good Men: ‘you can’t handle the truth’? Ah, I suspect it because too many religious people still do not want the truth, in other words they are not ready for it 2000 years later. The only new information that mankind has been receiving over the past two millennia has come primarily from the scientific community. Religion has not taught us anything new, other than it is okay now to kill your political enemies. Just wars are back in with the religious among us! What can God reveal to a coterie of religious leaders, who are more focused on preserving their jobs and building huge religious (barns) fiefdoms, after tearing down their smaller ones?
Most religious organizations have not budged one iota from 1st century understanding, and to boot they are proud of that accomplishment. In the book of Titus, the Apostle Paul was so bold as to write that God’s people must place Jewish fable …, into a proper historical context. I am suggesting the same for a post-modern religious world. However, I am not speaking as it relates to Jewish myth, I am saying that with regard to all myth, that it must be placed within a proper context.
Much of what is included in Constantine’s Canon needs to be considered within its proper context. I am still amazed at the number of religious individuals that not only accept wholesale what is contained within it, but who stake their complete understanding of revealed truth strictly on the Canon. Paul joined Jesus is trying to get these religious zealots to move out of complacency and on to truth.
Jesus, would often confront what had been taught by ‘men of old times’, note by men. It is time for us to reconsider what our men of told times taught us, and by the way, now I am in the older man bracket, however, I will be encouraging the young people to continue to forge ahead, and not to give up on God, because of the flaws of their parents and other ancestors. For just as Jesus and Paul spent their time trying to get ‘the chosen people of their day’ out of the foundational mud, I am trying to help get ‘the chosen people of today’, to move on into what should be the revelation of a divine plan for today.
If every religious group would seek the truth, and if every secularist would seek the truth, and if every student would seek the truth, I believe that all of us would end up in a common place. Have you ever heard someone say, I was Baptist born, and Baptist bread and I will be a Baptist when I’m dad? I have heard that expression before. What if all of us were to stop being whatever it is that we call ourselves, and just simply follow the path of truth in order to see where it takes us.
The latter, I believe, would signal to a substantial degree the end of denominationalism, sectarianism, religious factionalism, intolerance, the garden variety of religious groups and instead create viable individuals who could contribute to and help to lead the world to its rightful destination. I suspect that what we often refer to as God, would be happy if we could as a people get it together, and divorce ourselves from myth, ritualism and custom and move into profound truth. It would signal the end of wars, religious factionalism, poverty, neglect, abuse, injustice, greed and other vices.
And instead of simply standing by and waiting to be harvested, we would have extended the human life cycle far beyond, I believe, where it is today. We would be likely living as long as an Adam or a Methuselah once did. On the other hand, imagine how much some of us would carry on if we lived for one thousand years. Many of our departed loved ones would still be here with us today, and until we conquered the death conundrum. For shouldn’t we have conquered sickness and death by now. I suspect that it what the divine desired for us.
Members of those religious organizations who have often fought again scientific discovery were the first in line to reap the benefits in terms of medicines, cures…When the next major breakthrough occurs, even it results from studying stem cells; religious people will be the first ones in lines asking for the elixir so that their lives can be extended. As I wind up, what is at stake for all of the ones who are interested in progress instead of regress?
If the current trend persists, life will continue to be full of misery of the kind that results from disparity. The individuals who will follow after us, if the world survives the nuclear age, will have to go back and reinvent the wheel, in other words they will have to do what we were to busy to do, because we were still caught up in the mundane. I believe that each person ought to be vested enough in his or her own relevance, to make an investment in what is real and to work at progressing to new levels of understanding.
Why should we, as one leper asked another, just sit here until we die and then wait to be harvested? I believe that death is not inconsequential, we can defeat it, once we add the 5th element, and Aristotle stopped at four. If we ever imbibe love, imagine what we can accomplish together. Would what we refer to as God join us in our pursuit of truth and further accomplishments, I suspect so.
We must be very boring to God right now, with our incessant prayers for new cars, clothing, money…, when there are more important matters to be praying over. Like our predecessors too many of us have been shaped by the times, to the extent that we cannot see the forest or the individual tress. We have a lot of information at our exposal now and we must overthrow a religious trend that seeks to stop the spread of knowledge and informational discovery.
I will end this part of my written soliloquy with this scriptural reference taken from Hebrews 2:15: And deliver them who through fear of death were all of their lifetime subject to bondages. We should be more focused on advancement than the fear of dying. In the not to distant future, we won’t have to die perhaps, in order to live. Then we will be time independent beings and death will not have any jurisdiction over us.
Why won’t we then simply get in synch with the divine mind, and leave the past behind. And instead of accepting death for ourselves and our loved ones, we ought to imagine that there is no heaven and heaven, and join in and help and those who are attempting to further progress rather than simply waiting to be harvested from the earth. For after all the scriptures read that no man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will reappear! Love,
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon