Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians

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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. 

 

 

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A student of esoteric traditions since the age of 16, Ted Czukor (Theo the Green) began teaching Yoga in 1976 and was adjunct faculty in the Maricopa, AZ Community Colleges for 26 years until retiring in 2013. Raised Christian but deeply influenced by Rosicrucianism, Vedanta, Hinduism and Buddhism, his Pagan worship has strong Gaia-Goddess tendencies. He is an Interfaith wedding celebrant and the author of several books, two of which are available online. He lives with his wife Ravyn-Morgayne in Sun City, Arizona.

Comments

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 22 September 2013

    Anthony, it would be remiss of me not to thank you for reminding me of the story of the Centurion Cornelius from the Acts of the Apostles. Indeed, according to the Bible this event marked the first opening of the Good News to the Gentiles. God Himself told Peter in a vision to teach Cornelius, for he was a good and devout man - a real rarity in the Roman army, as your own references make abundantly clear.

    Acts was written less than 70 years after Jesus' ministry. The Gospel of Mark is earlier - probably about 40 years after. Since eye witnesses start muddling their facts within hours after an event has occurred, some cynical people might suggest that accounts set down 40 and 70 years after the fact might contain some added editorializing to make the story run more smoothly. We can never know.

    John, however, the last written gospel - from which most of your quotations are taken - was a calculated theological treatise designed to make Christianity acceptable to the Greco-Roman world, which is why it starts with the philosophical exposition of the Word becoming flesh. It makes the Jews into scapegoats, and creates miracles and sayings of Jesus that for some reason are not to be found in any of the earlier, original gospels. Of course, if one believes that the Bible is the Revealed Word of God (and not a compilation by sincere but fallible human beings with an agenda) none of the above scholarly research matters.

  • 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 is 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

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 23 September 2013

    Beautifully stated, Anthony; I would have been proud to have made such an argument myself, back in my evangelical days. For you see, I did have a personal relation with Christ and I do know the joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit. But when I was in college (going to the Chapel every Sunday) and gradually got to meet all manner of wonderful, caring people who did not happen to have the same cultural and religious upbringing, but opportunity to hear the Christian Gospel and consider it - I became sick at heart with the Church's teaching that all these wonderful Souls would have to go to Hell. And finally I felt that I could no longer support the concept of a Loving Father who would do that to his creations! I just could not believe that of God, nor of the Christ I had come to know and love. So in truth you could say that I never left the Christ I understood, just all the human institutions with doctrines that were so opposed to what I felt in my inmost being.

    As for love of the Ceation and the need to care for it - that is what the modern Pagan movement is all about! In opposition, I might point out, to all the nominally Christian presidents who keep passing laws in favor of corporations and in destruction of the environment.

    I must also add - interestingly - that I have also been filled with the Holy Spirit when immersed deeply in Hindu meditation and Goddess contemplation. That was not an illusion of the devil, as many would aver; I knew what it felt like, and it was the same.

    And by the way - though I agree with you, here in the Southwest the Baptist Church does say that other denominations do not have the right to claim Christianity. They especially feel that way about Catholics - who started the whole thing, for heaven's sake. Human reality trumps what the ideal should be.

    Live long and prosper, my brother.

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Monday, 23 September 2013

    I know that many have walked the same path as you, including Rob Bell who now teaches universalism. I respect your journey, and hope that you continue along it.

    It is unfortunate that so many Evangelicals have gotten the Holiness of God so wrong and thus preached judgment in such a way that many have come to the conclusions you have. There is a movie entitled "Good People go to Hell, Saved People go to Heaven." It is taken from a preacher's statement in the movie at an evangelistic rally. This is unfortunately the message that many hear.

    The problem is that you are correct, a Loving Father would never send wonderful souls to Hell. Good people do not go to Hell. Only people who are dead in their sins go there. To truly understand the Holiness of God is to understand why he passes absolute judgement on sin. "The Holiness of God" by RC Sprouls is a great book to get a picture of just how Holy and Amazing the God that created us really is.

    If I were writing the Bible, I would write it the way you want it to be. Because I want it to be that too. The fact is, all of us think we know better than God. That is why Adam and Eve fell, because they thought they knew better than God. Consider the first words Satan ever said to Mankind, "Did God actually say..." I imagine what worked so well back then is still his favorite line. So when you are faced with people who in a relative sense are good and upstanding and love God in some form, it does not take much prompting to wonder, Did God actually say these amazing people will spend eternity in Hell?

    The sad thing is, yes he really did say that. Jesus preached clearly about Hell. Those who want to twist his words and say he didn't mean what a plain reading of his words show is obvious are simply doing what Peter said they do: "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." 2 Peter 3:16

    I know it is easy to just assume that the Gospels are flawed and that they do not record accurately what Jesus taught. But with that position, why should the things we agree with Jesus be believed. Jesus taught that we are to Love God with all our heart, Love others more than ourselves, and accept Jesus as the free gift that God gave us to pay for our sins. It is comfortable to agree with the first two and reject the third, but in the end if you reject what Jesus taught you are rejecting Jesus as a person.

    The entire Bible proclaims that God is a Jealous God. The first 3 commandments declare it. It is easy for us to judge God and say you should not be jealous. What we miss is the reason He is jealous. It is not for his good, it is for ours. If he were not Jealous, than we would think it was acceptable to worship any man-made deity we felt like and still be found acceptable to our Creator. But because he declares His jealousy, we are left knowing what the consequences of cheating on Him will be.

    God is a Just Judge. Like a murderer who has done wonders for the community will still be sentenced for his crime by a good judge, sinners who have done wonders for the community will still be sentenced for their sins.

    The title "Good People go to Hell, Saved People go to Heaven" is fitting for what many Evangelical Christians preach. But the Bible is clear: "Sinners who choose to pay their penalty on their own go to Hell, Sinners who accept the free gift of Christ's payment go to Heaven."

    The Bible claims to be divine and infallible. It either is or it is not. If it is, than we take it as a whole. If it is not, we should reject it as a whole. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He either was and everything he said was true, or he was not and we should throw out everything he said as a fraud. I do not believe what Mohammad preached because I believe him to have been a false prophet. If I believed such of Jesus, I would reject him just as thoroughly.

    You mentioned the disconnect between what you felt in your inmost being and what the Church taught. I try not to worry much about what human institutions teach, but I do regard the Bible as the Word of God. And As the book of Judges recorded about Israel and the Proverb teaches us "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart." The reason we need an inspired Word of God is because we can not trust what is right in our own eyes. There are 7 billion different rights. Only our Creator, an objective source outside of ourselves can tell us the truth that is not subjective.

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. ~ Romans 1:18-25

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 23 September 2013

    Spoken like a true evangelist, which I understand you are and have to be. I, on the other hand, believe there is truth to be found in all religious texts - a little bit of the truth in each sincere human aspiration - and that there is no rational excuse for either accepting or rejecting anything in its entirety. But since I am aware that I'm capable of error, I must put my trust in that final weighing of my heart to which you refer.

    And if I must come down to facing the idea that God really did say all others will go to Hell, then I simply reject that sort of God. I'm only a weak human being, but if I can feel pity for even those who hate me, and wish them freedom from pain in the afterlife - than why can't God? I say that God can do better than that. I challenge God to be as compassionate and forgiving as a human being. His creations are already suffering enough down here; what sort of sick, power hungry deity would make them suffer even more afterwards? Does God have an insecurity complex?

    So weigh my heart and do with me as you choose. This is how I must feel about it. (And who made me that way, after all?)

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Monday, 23 September 2013

    I get it. 100% I get it. That is why the understanding that Jesus is God is so important. You ask what kind of God would make his creation suffer? The kind that would choose to take on Human form himself. The kind that would come to Earth because he loved us so much that he did Not want us to perish.

    God made us, and we rebelled. We said I know better. He told us what the punishment would be. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2:17 This was not said under his breath to trick us. He made it clear. And every human since them has known in his heart right from wrong. Every society believes lying is wrong, have you ever lied? I have. Every society knows stealing, and selfishness, and pride, etc are evil, and yet everyone of us is guilty of a multitude of crimes in the face of the conscience God put on our hearts.

    So God was compassionate. He wants to forgive us. He wants to be made right with us. He came to earth himself. He took part in the same temptations we face. And being fully man, he withstood those temptations. He did not sin. He did what each of us has failed to do. And then he began to teach us the truth. That we must love God, our Creator who loves us, we must love each other, and that he himself was God, which is why we should trust him.

    How did we respond? You ask how can God punish us, well what did we do to Him? We took a man who deserved no punishment, a man who was blameless and came to Earth to tell us how much he loved us, and we mocked him. We beat him. We falsely accused him and tortured him. God came to Earth to tell us how much he loved us and that he wanted a relationship with us, and that he would forgive all of the ways we disobeyed and rebelled, and we murdered Him.

    We did again what we had done in the Garden, and what we do every day in our lives, we said I am better than God. We stepped all over Him and destroyed the very God that had lovingly created us in our mother's wombs.

    God knows our suffering. He knows what it is to be human and be tempted. He knows what it is to pay the penalty for our sins. On that cross, Christ took the punishment and separation from God that is due to all of us. When God passes his justice and people are punished for their sins, he will not do so blindly. It will not be as if he does not know the torment he is putting them through, because he experienced it himself. God has said I will not hold you accountable for succumbing to temptations or make you pay in a way that I have not personally experienced.

    What a wonderful God that is. To personally pay the price for our sins. To personally be the one to take all of the suffering you feel is too horrible to even be believed. What does he ask of us in return? Does he ask new 100% obedience? No, he just asks us to accept this free gift. If the governor pardons your death penalty and you reject it and say no thanks, you can't blame the governor. We have been pardoned. No one has to suffer, we choose to suffer by rejecting God. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23

    It hurts God that we reject him and choose to spend eternity separated from him. As Peter said, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." ~2 Pet 3:9

    You asked who made you that way? God made you to love others. Which you do so well. But then your heart rebelled against a holy Creator and caused you to reject him as He is. This is why Christ needed to come. Every time I think: "That is just the way I am" I am reminded that I am right, and that is why I need Christ.

    God Loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. That is why angels rejoice when anyone comes to Christ. This is not just the God in my head that loves us. It is the Christian God of the Bible who loves us.

    In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~1 John 4:9-10

  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan Monday, 23 September 2013

    This conversation is fascinating. Five years ago I would have agreed with almost everything Anthony wrote, and would have written very similarly. But today I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Ted. I, too, have stood in wonder at being filled with the same Holy Spirit at a Pagan solstice event.

    Last full moon I led a worship circle that was based on a Christian liturgy but we sang hymns of praise to the Earth, chants of devotion to the Goddess, and we prayed to the Holy Mother. Finally we celebrated Cakes and Wine with words of institution adapted from the Charge of the Goddess. It was a powerful celebration based on my experience of leading worship in the evangelical Christian church, but well received and appreciated in my new Pagan community.

    This autumn equinox I celebrate the balance of my Christian past and my Pagan future. I am deeply grateful for this dialogue between Christianity and Paganism. While we may never fully understand the other, it is exciting to see that we are trying and having this conversation. Blessings!

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Monday, 23 September 2013

    Annika, it has been a pleasure to have this dialogue with Ted. And I certainly appreciate your kind words, understanding that I am posting comments on a site that might not view my posts in a very positive light. I hope anyone reading these posts understands that there is no personal judgment ever intended. My belief system is no more valid than any other. It just happens that I believe in the the Christian God of the Bible. And just like your belief system has you perform the ceremonies you described, mine has me share the Good News that there is a Personal God in Heaven who loves them more than they can know and that He wants a personal relationship with you for all eternity.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 23 September 2013

    Annika - Thank Goodness you chimed in and showed me that someone else values this exchange and is benefitting from it! I was beginning to wonder, "How do they find me?" and to question why I was spending so much time going around in circles, as I have done with others in the past. The big difference this time is that Anthony's intelligence, theological understanding and debating skills are more than a match for my own - something I have never encountered in any other Christian I have found myself contesting. Most have been superstitious, undereducated and abysmally ignorant of their own religious history and doctrines, and unfamiliar with the Biblical passages I like to quote. Anthony is different - a refreshing, if intimidating, change. He has earned my respect.

    Anthony - Fully understanding that my arguments will not change your mind, in the spirit of our mutual exchange let me take refuge in the fact that there are over 650 denominations of Protestant Christianity, and that each one has a slightly different belief concerning the divinity of Christ. Some say he is God-Man. Some say he is Man-God. Some say he was born totally Divine of a virgin mother (as was said of Krishna and the Buddha before him). Some say he was born human but achieved Christhood after many "lost years" of study and initiation with spiritual masters in Egypt, India and even Glastonbury, England (known at that time as the Isle of Glass or Avalon)! I know which end of the spectrum (extreme end) your denomination occupies; but at least a few of the others see the story slightly differently. The New Thought Churches view Jesus as our Elder Brother, who shows us the path we may someday walk ourselves.

    To quote your own words, "My belief system is no more valid than any other" (though I really don't think you believe that!). But thank you for listening, as I have listened to you.

    You talk about God loving us so much that He doesn't want us to perish - as though He can't do anything about it if we choose wrong. Nonsense! Of course he can - He's God! He can do whatever He wants. The house was stacked against us from the beginning. We really had no say in anything.

    If the God of Genesis was omniscient, He must have already known that Adam and Eve would not be able to resist the temptation to taste the fruit of the Tree. Why else would He have given them male and female reproductive organs, and brains capable of exploring and understanding the secrets of the Universe? Had he expected them to remain spiritually dutiful puppets forever, neither the gonads nor the grey matter would have been necessary. If Adam and Eve rebelled, it was by using the tools He had given them. They were "set-up" ahead of time to rebel! It's like a man telling two dogs not to pee on the carpet, and then when they fulfill their nature, shooting them.

    Reincarnation aside, (which Christians don't believe in, right - except for the fact that John the Baptist was Elijah?), I was not in the Garden of Eden. I was not at the foot of the Cross. So please leave me out of the Royal "We" when you say that we mocked, beat, tortured, crucified and murdered Christ. The Royal "They" was used that way about the Jews - and Christians like Adolf Hitler took full advantage of it.

    I do not say I am better than God. I say, "I am trying to be a better human being; please help me, Divine Power(s) who created and continue to guide me!" Please do not put words in my mouth.

    You talk about the governor pardoning a death penalty. That usually comes with the understanding that the condemned was innocent in the first place, and is not likely to commit in the future something which he never actually committed in the past. And the governor never demands worship as a personal savior in return for that pardon. What you describe is not God's offer of free choice, my friend; it is Coercion through Fear. It is forcing us to sign a contract under duress. It is succumbing to bullying. You know how our society feels about bullies.

    The way that Christ "personally experienced" pain was in the flesh. There was never any question of his having to suffer more after death. That is how I think the contract should read for us. Child molesters, murderers and rapists need to be put out of their misery and save the State the millions of dollars it costs to keep them alive for 20 or 30 years. But that should be sufficient penalty for their errors. I, for one, don't need for any soul to suffer pain hereafter.

    I do believe that a personal God (or Goddess, or whatever other image of the unimaginable Divine that human beings must use to wrap their minds around it) does love us more than we could ever imagine. That is why there must be a more gentle way for Him/Her to show it than by keeping us in abject fear.

    The bottom line is that my true religion can't be something I force myself to profess out of fear, because certain people think I will go to Hell if I don't. My true religion is determined by the convictions that I hold most inviolate in my deepest heart. God knows it, too. I can fool human beings and even myself - but I can't fool the Divine.

    I worship Mother-Father God/Goddess not out of fear of what will happen to me if I don't - but out of gratitude for the ways they have always loved and cared for me, my entire life!

    I think your statement that my heart rebelled against a holy Creator and caused me to reject him as He is, is a human judgment - based on a few words written in a Blog and without the benefit of ever meeting me in the flesh or witnessing how I live my life. I have no fear of leaving that judgment up to God, because He plumbs the depths of my heart and soul far more deeply than you ever can.

    (By the way, the weighing of the heart after death is an ancient Egyptian image. It's a fortunate thing that Moses was an initiated Priest of the Mysteries.)

    It may be, Anthony, that you and I won't meet in Heaven because I'm going someplace else. But I don't think that place will be Hell. I think it will be the Summerland.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Tuesday, 24 September 2013

    Mr. Czukor,

    I definitely valued the exchange and was grateful for the opportunity to read it. Everything, and I mean everything, you just wrote mirrors my own apostasy from Christianity.

    Many are the times I thought those same thoughts.

    Thanks for your blog!

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 24 September 2013

    Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate the acknowledgment.

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Wednesday, 25 September 2013

    Ted, I need to be careful. Pride is perhaps my most difficult stronghold. And to have you compliment me like that, does not help my humility. I have already had my wife read these comments and was even tempted to show it to others before catching myself and asking what my motives were. The reason I am writing to you is not out of some need to be right or prove myself. (Though it would be awfully easy for that to be the case for me.) I am simply trying to follow Peters advice: "Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience" ~1 Peter 3:15-16

    I do mean it when I say that my belief system is no more valid than any others. But I mean that in the sense that you have the right to choose what to believe as I do. I do of course believe that I have found an absolute truth. So in essence, while we each have the right to any belief system, the nature of my own is to know for a certainty who the Living God is. This is of course why Christians can often come off as arrogant or self righteous even when they try not to. If I am not mistaken, your own belief system is open to a variety of possibilities and in fact rejects an idea of absolute truth. Whereas my own is a declaration of absolute truth with no room for personal questions of the Creator. Worship of him dictates being his servant, and the servant does not question the master. I know this is very foreign to today's culture.

    I also recognize that by declaring there is an absolute truth, it is easy for others to dismiss me as being close minded. But let's be clear, by stating with a certainty that there is NO absolute truth, one is just as close minded as saying that there is.

    As for the 650 denominations of Christianity, I would hazard to say that just using the name Christ should not make one a Christian. The fact is, there are only 3 major groups that call themselves Christian that do not recognize that Jesus was God. Those being Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists. The fact is, the other major denominations all generally agree that those three groups are none of them actually Christian, and mainly because of this one point.

    The other minor groups that might claim Christ as their own without recognizing him for who he is are really not of a level to be considered a true denomination. (I don't mean that to belittle any specific group, just in a numerical sense of making an impact on society.)

    Basically every religion on Earth recognizes Jesus. Muslim claims him prophet, Hindu makes him an Avatar, and even the Jews recognize Him as a great Teacher. This is logical of course, because when the God of the Universe comes to the planet to walk among us, all of His creation takes notice, even if they refuse to worship Him as Creator. Of course, all religions and individuals that recognize Him in a positive light are saying that a man who claimed to be the only way to salvation was a man who spoke the truth. (Obvious disconnects in my personal opinion.)

    True I do not believe in reincarnation. but not because I have my own evidence or experience against it, simply because it is stated clearly in Hebrews 9:27 "Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." (among other places.) John the Baptist was not Elijah. "And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” ~John 1:21 He simply came in the spirit of Elijah thus fulfilling the prophecy. "He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah." ~Luke 1:16 In fact Elijah was still in his original state in Heaven when he came back to visit with Jesus at the Transfiguration. "And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him." Matt 17:3

    You make an incredibly valid point of wouldn't God have known Adam & Eve were going to fall? Heck for that matter why did he even make the Devil? He is omniscient he knows everything that will happen, so what was he thinking? These are probably great questions that go back to the beginning of History. I am sure the Israelites asked Moses the same thing. Heck, Adam probably asked God himself as he was being kicked out of the Garden.

    So what is the answer? It is the same answer God gives Job. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding." ~Job 38:2-4

    I know this feels like a cop out, but it boils down to this. God of course knew everything that would happen. It was all part of his plan. God did not want puppets. God wanted dynamic self thinking human beings to spend eternity with. But he also wanted people who loved him and wanted to be with him like he wanted to be with them. God gave us all free will knowing that when we had the choice, we would rebel. But he made us anyway because he loved us. And his plan always included having to come to Earth on his own to save us from our own bad choices. He could have made us perfect had he wanted to. And if you were god maybe you would have chosen that path. But our Creator had a better plan in mind. "To the only wise God be glory." ~Romans 16:27

    I recognize you take offense at me including you in the Fall and in the Crucifixion. I really do not intend that as a personal attack, it is a basic biblical principal. Adam was our representative in the Garden. (Whether we would have chosen him or not) "By the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners." ~Romans 5:19 It is easy to say that you would have not done what Adam did. But the proof of the matter is that we do what he did every day. By sinning, we reconfirm what Adam did in the Garden. We show God that Adam was a fair representative for us all.

    As for Crucifying Christ, you did not personally nail him the cross with your hands. But your sins did. He died for you personally. He was on that Cross thinking about Ted Czukor and how deeply Ted needed Jesus to die on that cross to reconcile him with his Holy Creator. He was thinking of me and how much I struggle with greed and pride and self righteousness and so many other sins that separate me from a Holy God. I am personally responsible for Jesus dying that day, as are we all. (Which is one reason why anyone blaming the Jews for Crucifying Christ obviously has no grasp on what the Bible teaches.)

    You say that God could surely have found a different way to reconcile humanity. Jesus asked the Father to do that very thing. Knowing what he was in store for, he was so distraught that his "soul was very sorrowful" and he sweated blood and he came to the Father in prayer. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” & “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” ~Matt 26:39&42

    So you are right to ask the question, can't there be another way. Christ Himself asked the same thing. But when the Father gave his answer that this was the chosen plan of the Father, that this was the way to fulfill what had been destined since before creation, Jesus was obedient. He accepted the truth of the matter and embraced taking on yours, mine and everyone else's punishment for their sins so that we could all be reconciled. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." ~Eph 1:7-10

    As for the idea that Jesus paid a physical penalty only, you are missing what occurred on that Cross. Jesus had spent eternity past with the Father and Holy Spirit in loving beautiful communion. He left Heaven to become fully man to experience everything that we do including temptations and suffering. Then on that Cross, Christ bore the full wrath of the Father for our sins. This was not just "He Died". This was a full ripping apart of the communion with with the Father and Spirit. This was every ounce of wrath and judgement that humanity had stored up being poured out at one time on a single Man. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." ~Hebrews 10:31

    The idea that any of us can fathom the suffering He went through is impossible. I know it is easy to say, 'but his was temporary, and ours is eternal.' That is true. And again, I am sure if we were God we would do it differently.

    You said "I do not say I am better than God." I agree that do not say you are better than the God of your heart. But you do say you are better than the God of the Bible. To quote your earlier post: " I'm only a weak human being, but if I can feel pity for even those who hate me, and wish them freedom from pain in the afterlife - than why can't God? I say that God can do better than that. I challenge God to be as compassionate and forgiving as a human being." You are saying precisely that you are better than the Christian God of the Bible. Consider for a moment if the Christian God of the Bible is the true God, how that sits with Him.

    When you stand before the Judgment seat and tell Him about all the wonderful and amazing things you've done, and he nods his head in agreement, and then asks you how you treated Him? And you respond well I said that you were not as compassionate as me. I said I was capable of showing more mercy than you. I say you were an unfair judge who treats people unfairly. I said that I would love to worship a God I agree with, but I would never worship You. Imagine for just a moment if the God of the Bible is real, whether he would respond to that treatment by creating summerland for you.

    You mention the 'unimaginable divine'. What I love about God is that one of His main attributes is that he is communicable. He didn't just set things in motion and walk away. He revealed Himself to us. I do not have to Imagine God, I can know Him for who He is. While no finite mind can fully grasp the infinite, we can know so much about His true nature as for the unknowable to be unimportant.

    You are correct in that the Pardon analogy is an imperfect one. But we have few worldly examples of someone taking on all of another persons debts and punishments and paying that price fully and all they ask in return is that you accept it. FYI: I am one of the few evangelicals against the death penalty. I believe all life is sacred, even the murderers and child rapists.

    I do not worship God out of Fear of Hell. Sometimes I will share the Gospel because I do not want another to spend eternity there, but that is not a reason to worship the True Loving God who created you and cares for you and wants to be united with you for eternity. I worship God because he loves me more than I can grasp. Because He created this entire universe for no other reason than to know me and love me and fellowship with me. Because as busy as he is, he knows the hairs on my head and he catches my tears in a bottle. Because there will be a day when I sit on His lap and He comforts me in His arms and there will be no more sorrow or grief. I love God because He loved me first.

    I say that you rejected God not as a personal judgement. I say it because we have all rejected God. "No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside" ~Romans 3:11-12 It is our nature as fallen Humans living in our Sin. I had a rebellious heart and wanted to live in a way that suited me. We all do. But God touched my heart and showed me that living my life for Him and submitting to His will and accepting His ways even when I don't understand them or even agree with them was a better way.

    I thank you for sharing some of your personal experiences. My own personal experience where I knew that submitting to God's will was what brought true joy and peace came when God took two of my sons as babies. This occurred about a year apart, and I was sure that I would be broken for as long as I lived. But God performed a miracle in my heart as well as my wife's. I trust the True Living God because he has healed me and made me whole again when I thought that was impossible. I now have not just peace in the situation, and not just hope that I will see my boys again, but I have joy. Joy in knowing that a Father who loves me did something that I don't understand, but I know that he is caring for my boys personally and keeping them safe until I am with them again. Joy in knowing that I can use this situation to bring comfort to others. My wife and I run a charity projectbear.com for the specific purpose of bringing families who lose a baby comfort and hope in their time of sorrow.

    So for as long as I live I will share the true love and joy and peace that are available through the Living God.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Wednesday, 25 September 2013

    I am sorry for your loss, my friend, and I feel for you. You are right that God takes care of your boys. Krishna's brothers and sisters also died as babies, and when he got old enough he was able to comfort his mother by telling her that they continued to live and grow up in the afterlife; and they were happy.

    I also commend you and your wife for the wonderful work that you do. And I supprt you in continuing to witness as God has moved you to.

    I did, however, credit you with a little deeper intuition. When I said that I challenged God to be as compassionate as a human being, I meant the God which the Bible created as a boogeyman to scare primitive people into good behavior. I never actually thought that the Real God needed to be so challenged, because He already is that compassionate, and more! Where could I have gotten that sort of compassion from, if not from my Father? (I don't say that with any Messianic meaning; He is the Father of all of us.) So, once again, your boiler-plate religion has misjudged me.

    Anthony, I'm pretty much done. You don't seem to realize that I have heard all your Biblical-passage arguments many times before, and even used them myself back in the day. It's not your fault, my friend; when God calls you to account at the judgment because you were not able to convert me, you may tell him that I signed a release form for you. You may respond to this if you like, because we both like to have the last word. You may have it.

  • Anthony Spering
    Anthony Spering Monday, 30 September 2013

    Ted, it has been an absolute pleasure to have this dialogue. You are an intelligent, educated and well thought out writer. You stand by your convictions and I respect you greatly. I was going to leave things at your last post, but felt I would take your invitation to have the final word.

    I do not take responsibility for your salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who needs to work on your heart and convict you of the truth. (I do not mean the created spirits that you have been in contact with, but the Creator God of the universe who was hovering over the waters of the deep.)

    I spoke a lot about judgment and hell in this time because that seemed to be a large concern of yours. The fact is, God is not about judgment and Hell, He is about love and mercy. You want to worship a god of love, and even though the True God has revealed Himself to you and has shown you that He is Love, He does not fit your exact specifications. I am sorry you can not reconcile that.

    John 12:47-48 - If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge.

    1 John 4:9-10 - In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    John 3:17 - For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

    2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 - God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Ezekiel 33:11 - As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.

    Isaiah 30:18 - Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

    Personally, I believe that a god who created us and did not reveal himself to us would be a much more cruel and evil god than one who did and gave us guidance. The god that you want to believe in is one that leaves it up to us to find our own way. How is there kindness and love in making your creation and then leaving them lost to fumble around in the dark trying to make their own light?

    If you want to give Jesus Christ any credit at all, if you want to respect Him or appreciate Him, you need to call him a fraud and a liar. Because to say that he was worthy of respect and that he was not the only way to the Father is to call him the most pathetic person who accomplished the most pathetic achievement.

    If man could reach God by enlightenment, then why would God need to be tortured? If man could reach God by saying Hail Mary's or praying to Mecca, than why would God need to be nailed to a Cross? If man could reach God by dancing around the may pole, or doing slightly more good than bad, or giving enough money to charity, or avoiding the really big sins, or burning incense, or not believing in hell, or simply wanting it enough, then why would God have "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." ~Phil 2:7-8

    What a pathetic and pointless thing to do, if that were only one of the ways to the mountaintop.

    So Ted, I invite you to continue to meditate on the truth. Continue to seek the True and Living God. Ask yourself if you are allowing the Creator of the universe to be how He is, or how you want Him to be. Keep in mind "the right time is now. Today is the day of salvation." ~2 Cor 6:2

    Because of your training and your knowledge of the truth, I fear for you more than others. I will leave you with these verses and will keep you in my prayers.

    And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. ~2 Peter 2:20-21

    Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. ~Hebrews 10:26-27

    Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~Hebrews 10:29-31

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