Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians

A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

How Christianity Became Pagan

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

It's well known that certain Christian sects like the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to celebrate the major holidays of Christmas and Easter, because they rightly recognize their Pagan roots. The more I contemplate the issue, the more convinced I become that the Christian Church itself is much more Pagan than its founder ever intended.  

This idea may seem confusing, since our modern Pagan movement has always set itself against Christianity as the engine of the Burning Times and witch trials. But wouldn't it be ironic if a religion that began as a metaphysical, idealistic sect of Judaism had morphed, over the centuries, into just an opposing form of Paganism?  

I've begun reading Starhawk's remarkable 1993 novel, "The Fifth Sacred Thing." Aside from the brilliance of her future vision, I am struck by the irony of the juxtaposition she posits: a post-apocalyptic world in which a Utopian Pagan society lives in the shared communal spirit of Christ's original followers, while its nominally Christian enemy has morphed Jesus' teachings into something completely opposite to the message of love he had espoused in the New Testament. It's a brilliant placing of the shoe on the other foot, and unfortunately it makes sense - because Christianity began to change in exactly that direction the year Emperor Constantine made it the State Religion of Rome.  

Jesus had reinterpreted God’s Commandments to the Hebrews in the light of love, compassion, forgiveness and non-violence - which was one of the main reasons Judaism could not accept him as the Messiah; the ancient texts held that one of Messiah's distinguishing qualities was that he would be a mighty warrior. Christ's insistence on pacifism was so clear to those who had known him and followed him most closely, that for three hundred years after his crucifixion military personnel were not accepted into the Church unless they vowed to give up warfare and killing!  

But all that changed when the Pagan warrior Constantine saw a supposedly Christian sign in the sky which promised him victory. He appropriated the formerly pacifist faith, and made it the accepted religion of the State. This was a welcome relief for believers who months earlier had gone in fear for their lives; but Jesus' pivotal teaching of non-violence was sacrificed - or, at least, modified out of all recognition - in order to do it. From that day forward, Christianity became known as a religion that supported nationalism and "righteous" war. It was now possible for soldiers to become Christians. Onward, Christian Soldiers!  

The common wisdom is that Rome became Christian. The reality, I think, is that Christianity became Pagan.  

Pagans never troubled themselves with considerations of non-violence; on the contrary, it was through battle that one gained status in the community. The Israelites didn't bother with pacifism, either; from the very beginning their God commanded them to defend themselves and to slaughter foreigners whose lands they invaded. The same God, under a different Name, later gave similar instructions to the Muslims. Yahweh or Allah has always been ruthless in destroying His enemies. So have Mars and the Morrigan.  

If we ask the historical question, "Which theologically-motivated cultures waged regular war in the Middle East at that time?" we have to answer that it was the Israelites and all their Pagan neighbors. Islam did not yet exist. The new religion of Christianity had begun as a Jewish sect, but Jewish theologians like Paul wrenched it out of Judaism completely and gave it to the Gentiles - who were told that they didn't have to seek favor with God through observing the Ten Commandments and the hundreds of other Jewish laws set down in the book of Deuteronomy. Instead, all they had to do was believe in the person of Jesus Christ. In short, that great teacher was turned into a God figure like Osiris or Mithras. He was no longer a prophet; he was a Pagan-modeled Deity!  

So, I conclude that in 313 A.D. when the Church fathers agreed to accept the war ethic of the Roman Empire in exchange for the legitimization of their faith - Christianity completed its process of becoming a Pagan religion! 

In the twenty centuries since, Christianity has split into hundreds of disagreeing denominations. One of the main disagreements is between those who think it is appropriate for members of our Armed Forces to declare themselves followers of Christ, and those who stand up for Jesus' original character as the Prince of Peace.  

After two World Wars, the battlefields of Europe and America are dotted with millions of white crosses. Is this really what Jesus wanted to be remembered for? Wouldn't it be much more appropriate for our soldiers to be Hindu Kyshatrias, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims or Pagans? The Pagan presence in the US military is relatively small. By rights it should be much bigger!   

It is well advertised (though impossible to know the depth of any individual's commitment or understanding) that the majority of American men and women in uniform profess a strong Christian faith; but to my mind this has never made sense, because it involves a psychological disconnect from Christ's teachings. It's like trying to have your cake and eat it too. You can stake your claim on Heaven by professing Christ, but then you can go overseas and kill your enemies, instead of loving and forgiving them the way Christ clearly ordered you to.  

Now, please don’t get your noses out of joint. I support our troops! I am sincerely grateful for their unselfish attitude of sacrifice. I am thankful that we have people in every generation who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. It’s just that I’ve never understood why those folks profess to be followers of the Prince of Peace.  

In similar vein, the militant Buddhist samurai is just as nonsensical to me as the militant Christian crusader. Both are complete departures from what the original founders believed, taught and intended. Both transmogrifications demonstrate the power of the human mind to rationalize anything it wants, and turn it into something it prefers. 

 

 

Last modified on
Rate this blog entry:
7
A student of esoteric traditions since the age of 16, Ted Czukor (Theo the Green) taught Yoga for 37 years until retiring in 2013. For 26 years he was adjunct faculty for the Maricopa, AZ Community Colleges, teaching Gentle Yoga and Meditation & Wellness. Raised in the Methodist Church but drawn to Rosicrucianism, Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy, he is a devotee of the Goddess in all Her forms. Ted has been a Shakespearean actor, a Masonic ritualist and an Interfaith wedding officiant. He is the author of several books, none of which made any money and two of which are available as .pdf files. He lives with his wife Ravyn-Morgayne in Sun City, Arizona. Their shared dream is to someday relocate to Glastonbury, England. theoczukor@cox.net.

Comments

  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Well said, Ted. The mingling of Roman paganism and Christianity thanks to Constantine has fascinated me for years. Unfortunately, I think that the way it turned out combined some of the worst traits of both paths with the sole intention of keeping the Roman world-conquering machine going. Why else do we have the Roman Catholic church, instead of just Catholic!

    I agree with a lot of Christ's teachings on peace, love, and gratitude for nature, etc, but most of the core American "Christian" faith is something I vehemently oppose. The violent aspect is one of those things I personally disagree with. The history of violence committed by various large denominations and individual members is staggering, and you're right, so against Christ's teachings.

    I realize we have to have an army; it's just human nature, but the points you bring up about it are so interesting.

  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    I should clarify, I don't mean I oppose Christians or Christianity, just some of the teachings. I didn't mean to sound so harsh in that statement.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    It's okay, Emily. I understood where you were coming from, and agree. Thanks for the good insights.

  • Thomas Stevens
    Thomas Stevens Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    "Jesus" was an amalgamation of Pagan gods. This had been done centuries earlier by the Ptolemies in Egypt where they syncretized a number of gods into Serapis. Worship of "Christ" appears to pre-date the first council of Nicea (325 CE). Emperor Hadrian indicated that worshippers of Serapis and worshippers of Christ were one and the same in Egypt in the second century. But Rome made some changes and turned it into a Roman god writing pseudo biographies which still had not had all their inconsistencies ironed out before publishing. Therefore eventually they made it punishable by death for the common people to read their holy scriptures. Otherwise the fabrication would start coming to light. In the last couple of centuries, since it hasn't been a crime to question the "Holy Bible" many deep thinkers have started publishing their thoughts on the matter. Look up the 1887 book by Edwin Johnson "Antiqua Mater" (available for Free as a PDF).

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Sounds like an interesting thesis to read, Thomas; I'll look it up. One of the most remarkable things about the persona of Christ is that almost everybody in the world has a personal theory about him (or them) and thinks he or she understands him (or them) in a way that nobody else does. Confusing and contradictory as some of the Gospel records are, the basic message is so profound that Hindus and atheists and Buddhists and Jews and physicists claim some connection to some part of it - whether it is psychological, emotional, spiritual or intellectual. (You should check out The Second Coming of Christ by Paramhansa Yogananda!) That is why my essay tries to focus only on historically verifiable events. And, oh yes - of course Christ was worshipped before 325 CE (or A.D.). His birthday was in year 1 and his death in 33. Hadrian - the guy who threw Christians off the cliffs at his summer palace? Oh sure, let's take his word for what they were all about!

  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Well said, Ted. I had very similar thoughts after I read The Fifth Sacred Thing. Now I was a part of pacifist Christianity, mainly the new monastic movement and the Jesus Radicals. I left evangelical Christianity in favor for the Reclaiming tradition of witchcraft, in part because I found more followers of Jesus in the Reclaiming community than in most churches I have visited.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Wow, Annika. How's that for a fascinating observation!
    Can you give me a website for the Reclaiming tradition?

  • erik bonthron
    erik bonthron Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    I found your article very well stated, for the most part. I would make a couple of statements. First the Christ issue, never in recorded history has a figure been so at once understood and misunderstood by so many. Quoted and misquoted. His life and existence are not a question they are a verified truth but after that it is truly a leap of faith on who or what any individual believes about him. The further we travel from the Christ event as they call it now the more it seems some feel the pull of the original religions that Christianity conquered. When I was a younger man I used to enjoy peeling back the layers of Christianity and decoding the symbolism behind the holydays. Trying to determine from which culture and what time period the Christian army incorporated which symbol to pacify which native tribe.Though we don't talk about it in polite society you can see Paganism, Wicca, Odinism, Native American Spiritualist, and other Heathen religions on the upsurge. On the opposite side of things you see a rise in Judaism and Islam. Everywhere Christianity is losing ground.
    This I think though is not because the messenger was flawed or the message. Just the man as we always do pervert everything for power.

    Secondly as a former soldier I can answer a little of the end of your article. again in two halves: When one is indoctrinated into a society from a young age and told that it is Just and Honorable to do a thing. That to stand and wear a uniform to defend the rest of that society so that they may be at peace is not a contradiction at all, it is the highest form of sacrifice and in some they seek to act selfless, if not us who? All flocks need sheepdogs to guard them. There are many motivations for a thing sir but once a thing is started why make someone else suffer if you can do it.

  • Cynthia Savage
    Cynthia Savage Wednesday, 18 September 2013

    But that's the problem-there is no evidence that there was a person named Jesus at all. No records of a crucifixion. No mention of him by contemporary historians, like Philo of Alexandria. A fair percentage of the New Testament is made up of forgeries. The earliest Gospel was written decades after Jesus's alleged death and no one who actually "knew" Jesus actually wrote anything about him. I've read articles that state the references to the OT in the NT are actually references to Greek translations of the OT and that, most likely, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi living in Greece. If that's the case, it maybe easier to see the pagan influences. In any case, I agree that Constantin legitimization of Christianity was part of it's downfall. The other was the Council of Nicea where the "one true church" became the Roman church and those early Catholics set about killing other members of heretical sects soon thereafter. There's a huge misperception of the concept of Christian martyrs-only one emperor set about to kill Christians and he reigned only 7 years. In fact, the Roman empire was very tolerant of other religions. Early Christians were eager to martyr themselves as a way to gain entry into "heaven". As for "Christian soldiers", personally, I believe "Christian" is more of a cultural designation for most Americans. Americans have no problem making "Christianity" or "Jesus" into something that supports their own personal belief system. Actually following what Jesus may or may not have said? Since he left no written record of his beliefs, we are left to guess. It's hard to believe that an omnipotent and omniscient god had an illiterate son, but that's apparently what happened.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Good point, Cynthia, about "Christian" being a cultural designation for most Americans, and how they make it into whatever supports their own personal belief system.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Thanks for the comment Erik, and please understand that I meant no disrespect to Christian soldiers - although your "answer" does not address the religious issues at all. My Christian father was in uniform the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and flew for the Army Air Corps. Up to the age of 18 I had planned to follow in his patriotic footsteps, unable to visualize any better cause for which one could give his life. Unfortunately, the war my generation got handed was Viet Nam. Not nearly so obviously necessary, and far more problematic.

    You're not alone in understanding the indoctrination of society. I like your commentary on the history of Christianity, too.

  • Thomas Stevens
    Thomas Stevens Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    You are right to exercise caution. So much historical material has been destroyed leaving us very little to work with to reconstruct what actually happened. As a result much is open to speculation and consequently debate. A book which I have started reading is by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, called "Who is This King Of Glory". I think he sums up the Christian phenomenon in a very clear fashion. I highly recommend it.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Thanks, Thomas!

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Ted, I think you have missed the reasons that most Christians avoided military service in the early church. (Although there were plenty of Christian soldiers even then.) "Emperor worship was especially strong in the army. Officers had to sacrifice to the gods, and soldiers were required to assist at the ceremony. The signa of the legions were venerated as divinities... Moreover the reputation of the Roman soldiery for violence, extortion and intemperance made the prospect of serving very unpalatable for the Christian conscience. Since Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry, they had to choose between abstinence or fornication. Above all there was the fact that from Nero to Constantine the practice of Christianity was a misdemeanor punishable by death." ~Edward A Ryan "THE REJECTION OF MILITARY SERVICE BY THE
    EARLY CHRISTIANS"
    So to make the claim that Christianity began as a pacifist religion, when nothing in the Bible teaches such a thing is not a very well researched position. The fact is, all of Christ's teachings on forgiveness and love were personal commandments, and no good Biblical scholar has ever held a position that it was meant to be applied to the level of nations.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Fascinating information, Anthony; thank you! The historical research I read explained that there were plenty of Christian military personnel - in other words, as you suggest, the Church was not against military service completely - but that the specific military job of fighting - i.e., being a soldier - was excluded from Church membership. It is a matter of historical record that those who performed killing duties were not admitted to Church membership for the first 300 years of its history; that was the Christian Church's policy. And that is clear evidence, apart from the Biblical text, that Christianity did begin as a pacifist religion.

    I'm afraid your rationalization that Christ's teachings were personal and not meant for nations is a mite disengenuous. Of course his teachings were meant to appeal to individual hearts and mnds - and individual hearts and minds, in great numbers, are what make up a nation. Has any good Biblical scholar ever denied how that works?

    And then there's your baffling pronouncement that "nothing in the Bible teaches that Christianity began as a pacifist religion." With all due respect, what Bible are you conversant with? Mine has a little thing called the Sermon on the Mount. "You have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you that you resist not evil: but whosever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." - King James version

    Edward Ryan's dissertation tells one side of the story. How many others have you read and compared?

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Friday, 20 September 2013

    Ted, I am not sure what records you are referring to that said those who committed killing duties were not allowed into the Church. The one record we can rely on, records the details of a Roman Centurion. In Acts 10 we see "Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort" At first Peter was reluctant to preach the gospel to him because he was not Jewish, but God told him he must, so Peter told him: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” At that point Cornelius and all of his family & soldier friends became Christians.

    Now as you may know, "In the Roman Army, the "Centurion" is often considered as the backbone of the troops as they were the ones who maintained discipline in the ranks and led their troops by example on the battlefield. During the Republican era, centurions were often elected by the military tribunes from the most capable fighters in the ranks." ~www.allempires.com

    Now you might say, maybe once a soldier was converted he might quit the military. That of course was frowned upon. And Paul was clear to obey and respect the government you lived under. "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities." ~Rom 13:1 But more importantly, Paul teaches clearly that we are not to quit our professions when we come to the faith, but to live the life that God has called us to, even if that is as a soldier. "Brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God." ~1 Cor 7:24

    Were there individual leaders of individual churches who encouraged people not to fight? Of course. But the church as a whole was never pacifist, in the sense that you mean it in your blog.

    When a soldier fights in battle he is not fighting his personal enemies. The command to love your enemy is a command to individuals to put others above themselves. In a current world scenario that might look like sacrificing your own life to fight for the oppressed. After Sept 11th, many Christians bravely signed up to sacrifice their own lives to save the lives of innocents. That is a perfect application of the sermon on the mount. As 1 John 3:16 says "This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others!"

    P.S. I didn't get into this in my original post, but it was not Paul who declared that Jesus was God, it was Jesus who did that. Anyone who claims to like the things that Jesus said has to wrestle with the fact that he also said he was God and the only way to be united with the Father. After all, the crime he was crucified for was claiming to be God. "The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” ~John 19:7

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Friday, 20 September 2013

    Dear Anthony,

    I am very impressed with your posts. Your arguments are well researched and delivered, and your points deserve serious consideration. For all I know - having no recollection of having been there at the time, myself - your view of the situation may be the correct one. However, as for where I may have picked up my ideas about the early Church's attitude toward military service, here are only 3 of the many websites that reiterate my position: http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/ecvowams.htm, http://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/11/laurence-m-vance/the-early-christian-attitude-towards-war/, http://questions.org/attq/what-view-did-early-christians-have-of-involvement-in-the-military/.

    I cannot agree that PR stories about Paul are "the one record we can rely on." But that opens the whole can of worms of whether one accepts Pauline Christianity as distinct from the original - which would be far afield for a Pagan blog site. If you and I were still practicing Christians, I can see where that would be subject for stimulating discussion.

    As for Jesus' declarations of Divinity - that nobody comes to the Father but through the Son - surely you are aware that one is in touch with, and feels One with, Divine Mind when he is in a meditational state. It may be that Jesus was indicating that his followers, too, could attain the same awareness. The Bible clearly states that Jesus was very careful to tell his disciples not to call him “good,” because only God is good. He was also clear in saying that his followers would become as great as, and do even greater things, than he himself. So - if he was saying that he was God, surely he was saying that everyone else had the potential to be God, too.

    What the Bible claims the Jews said at the crucifixion may well have been a politically correct "spin" created to relieve the Roman Empire's guilt for having engineered the whole thing itself. If you wanted to market your new faith to the conquering power, it would be a good idea to give them someone else as a scapegoat.

    One of the most fascinating - and, at the same time, frustrating - things about life is that different people can have such different perceptions of the same world! Anne Niven recently turned us on to an excellent book with much research on this topic: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

    I respect your right to your perception, and indeed you have given me much good information to mull over. For now, though, I will still maintain my own.

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Friday, 20 September 2013

    Ted, I certainly appreciate your willingness to converse on the matter. Also, I was not saying there were no pacifist christians, or even pacifist movements within the church. I just didn't want to leave it out there as if it were a given fact that the Church began as a purely pacifist religion, which has now gotton completely away from it's roots. I think the truth of the matter is much more complex, and as the third link you posted above says for the reasons Christians avoided military service:
    "The shedding of blood on the battlefield, the use of torture in the law-courts, the passing of death-sentences by officers and the execution of them by common soldiers, the unconditional military oath, the all-pervading worship of the Emperor, the sacrifices in which all were expected in some way to participate, the average behaviour of soldiers in peace-time, and other idolatrous and offensive customs—all these would constitute in combination an exceedingly powerful deterrent against any Christian joining the army on his own initiative."

    Also, when Jesus said "“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." to the rich Young ruler as recorded in Luke & Mark, the generally accepted interpretation is that he was making the point that yes he was good, and that the rich young ruler had hit upon something that he didn't even realize. e.g.
    http://www.answering-islam.org/BibleCom/lk18_19.htm
    http://www.heartlight.org/wjd/luke/1024-wjd.html

    And as a final note, Jesus of course did not make a passing remark about being the only way to reach the Father, he in fact made it the central tenant of his ministry. Below are a handful of instances recorded in all 4 gospels in Jesus own words:

    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." ~ John 14:6

    “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son." ~ John 3:18

    "Unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” ~ John 8:24

    "the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life." ~ John 5:22-24

    “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me." Luke 11:23

    “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." ~Matthew 10:32-33

    “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." ~Matthew 12:30

    "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned." ~ Mark 16:16

    "I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!... “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.... Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved." ~John 10:1-9

    “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels." ~ Luke 12:8-9

    So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you." ~ John 6:53

    Jesus says, "But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken." ~ John 12:48

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Friday, 20 September 2013

    I never heard that "generally accepted interpretation" of No-one is good except God alone. I spent 20 years in the Methodist Church - Sunday School, Acolyte, choir member, MYF president, theology student. That particular interpretation was not promoted in that denomination. But different strokes for different folks.

    So I take it from this, Anthony, that I was wrong in assuming I was talking to another Pagan; I guess you are still a Christian after all. I have no problem with that - but I like to offer in juxtaposition to the "Whoever is not with me is against me" quotes these passages (from the 2 oldest gospels) that are also attributed to him:

    Luke 9:49-50 – New King James Version:
    Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”
    But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

    Mark 9:38-40 – Contemporary English Version:
    John said, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But he wasn't one of us, and we told him to stop."
    Jesus said to his disciples: “Don't stop him! No one who works miracles in my name will soon turn and say something bad about me. Anyone who isn't against us is for us.”

    I like to think that there is hope in the afterlife for us non-aligned but sympathetic ones, because of that.

    In any case, you and I both agree that the history of the early church was turbulent and complicated, and that just like today there were many players with many different ideas of the truth. Again I thank you for your well-informed contributions. Say, have you ever thought of starting your own blog on these subjects? It's a wonderful way to get your thoughts out there, and to meet lots of interesting folks - both those who agree with you, and those who don't!

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Monday, 23 September 2013

    Ted, I really do appreciate your engaging with me on all of these topics. I have not generally thought about blogging, because I do not value my own opinion all that greatly. There are many greater minds for people to be spending their time reading.

    As a quick note to the two verses you mentioned, I would simply say that the people the disciples were referencing were casting out demons in the name of Christ. Had they been using some other name, Jesus would have been sure to rebuke them. If anything, this is a lesson on acceptance of the numerous denominations in the world. A Methodist should not say that a Pentecostal has no right to claim Christianity, just because they do it in a different way or because they are not part of the same group. I think Jesus' point mirrors Paul's when he says: "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." ~Phil 1:18

    And John is indeed a unique gospel. John is not secretive in his motives for writing the book. He states it clearly by saying, "These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." ~John 20:31

    It may be easy to try to dismiss John because of the time it was written and his stated bias in the writing of it. (I have seen other scholars do as much.) But let us keep in mind that John did not need eyewitnesses for most of what he wrote. John was the closest and most beloved disciple. This is the man who reclined on Jesus at the last supper. He was personally present at the Transfiguration. Jesus would have shared things with John that he likely never told even other disciples. I would contend that there are logical reasons to trust John's gospel over any other book in the Bible because no human who walked the planet had more insight, time and exposure to Jesus Christ.

    I can picture Jesus sitting down with John and telling him about the creation of the world and the part he played along with the Father and Holy Spirit.

    As Peter said in his own defense when he was facing persecution for his preaching: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." ~Acts 4:12

    I have really enjoyed this conversation with you Ted. I am sorry that your years in the Methodist church did not lead you to a personal relationship with Jesus. I can tell you as someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit, that there is nothing on this Earth that compares to knowing the Creator of the universe in an intimate way.

    As a human being, I respect everyone's beliefs and their right to hold to them. But I hope you also understand it is my responsibility to share what I know to be the truth. As Paul said: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ~Rom 10:13-15

    So Ted, I personally invite you to consider how things ended with your relationship with God. Consider that God's Creation is a wonderful thing to be revered and cared for and as Calvin himself said: “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” But just as we appreciate the gift, though we should love the giver; in the same way appreciate the creation, but love the Creator.

    "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:15

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information