The Real Christianity
In ancient times, the secrets of man’s relationship with God was strictly reserved for a privileged few who were considered worthy of such knowledge. Beginning with the Greeks, those secrets were passed on through what was referred to as the Mystery Schools. People like Jesus and the Apostle Paul were no strangers in this milieu.
Jesus, as was the custom in the rabbinic teaching method of his day, taught through the use of parables. The use of parables was a style of teaching whereby there was a surface story (for the masses), but which contained a hidden story of inner wisdom. Strangely enough even Jesus’s own disciples, as the Bible clearly illustrates, could not interpret the message of their master and, in fact, the disciples often spoke of the great mysteries surrounding his teachings. When the disciples would ask Jesus for an explanation, he would frequently respond with another parable. The true meaning, as Jesus would say, was for people with eyes to see and ears to hear; in other words, those who were enlightened enough to understand his message.
An Historical Perspective
With the fairly recent discoveries of heretofore lost scriptures, our knowledge of the original Christian beliefs has changed considerably. In addition, new archaeological finds (e.g. The Library of Nineveh) have produced evidence that the Old Testament, and in particular the Genesis story, was based on older writings and belief systems. Biblical research and scholarship now paints a different picture of the historical Jesus. Following in the tradition of the sages, Jesus was a Jewish mystic who had been steeped in the knowledge of the Mystery Schools. However, his teachings of hope, love and redemption were generally misunderstood, or miscommunicated, and became hopelessly buried under the weight of church dogma.
One of the reasons for the misunderstandings were that many ancient manuscripts, including the biblical scriptures, were written with the use of a code, called a pesher code, or incorporated a cipher based on numerology (e.g. The Bible Code). The original Hebrew/ Aramaic texts have therefore been mistranslated, in some cases because the words are based on sacred numbers which have a meaning different from the words. To complicate matters further, certain words (similar to slang) were used as substitutes for the real words, often to disguise the meaning of the scripture. Finally, as noted above, there was the use of hard-to-understand parables.
The biblical story of the ascension/resurrection is incomplete at best. The ascension is hardly even mentioned in the gospels. As for the resurrection, there are different versions of the story in John, Mark, Matthew and Luke. The rest of the New Testament, including the Book of James and the Book of Jude, does not even assert that the resurrection was a core belief of Christianity.
Interestingly enough, the Gospel of Philip is the only Christian scripture which actually explains the resurrection. It says that, “Those that say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.” The reason for that understanding is that it is the spirit which ascends, not the body – and the spirit can ascend only after it has been resurrected. Paul echoed those sentiments by explaining that it is the spiritual body that is resurrected and that “flesh and blood cannot not inherit the kingdom of God”. So on that basis, it’s understandable why Jesus wasn’t recognized by Mary Magdalene and the disciples when he “appeared” to them after the resurrection. Our physical senses can see the body, but it takes the spiritual self to recognize the Spirit. This, then, is the real message of the resurrection…that is, we are all spiritual beings trapped in the illusion of materiality and that death is also an illusion which the spirit can transcend. Since God is not a physical life form, it is therefore our consciousness that was created in his image.
The concept of Original Sin in Christianity has varied over time but is generally traced back to St. Augustine and was accepted as church doctrine by the Council of Orange in 529 AD. Since there was no separation of church and state, this was a politically useful tool as, in addition to God, the people also had to totally submit to the rule of the king and the Pope. However, for Protestants, the issue of Original Sin wasn’t finally settled until Martin Luther, circa 1500 AD, and today the Christian belief in sin is somewhat dependent on whether one is a Catholic, a Protestant or perhaps a (Protestant) Fundamentalist.
The concept of Original Sin generally is spoken of as originating with man’s disobedience as written about in the biblical story of Genesis. Of course, that story has been interpreted differently by different scholars and theologians. Further, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims (and even the Greek philosophers) do not believe in a similar concept of sin. What sets Christianity (Protestantism) apart from other religions, then, is the belief that Christ died for our sins and because of that man has been saved. For them, faith in Christ is generally considered to be one’s ticket to heaven.
The history of the debate on sin began with one of the early Christian church fathers, a man by the name of Origen. Now, Origen believed in the preexistence of souls (i.e. souls were created out of the essence of God). After hundreds of years of debate on this subject, the church would finally reject Origen’s thinking. That would lead the church to provide another explanation for why bad things happen to good people. As a result, they turned to the idea of Original Sin instead (i.e. all people were bad by nature). This, in turn, led to the idea that souls were not part of God, which doctrine is typically referred to as creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing); as if anything could ever be created out of nothing. The twisted logic was all the result of trying to explain how God (who is good) created man (who is sinful).
The concept of Original Sin also allowed the Catholic Church to say that man’s salvation could only happen through the church. The truth, however, was that Jesus taught that salvation could only be found through him. By that, he meant that man had to become Christ-like in order to reach heaven (i.e. return to God). Sin was not so much evil as it was wrong-thinking, a consequence of man’s free will. His message of redemption was that it was within each person’s power to create their own salvation through the resurrection of their soul (before they die). His hope was that man, as a child of God, would connect to the Kingdom of God within. A church and a religion were not required… and never intended.
“The transmigration of life takes place in one’s own mind. For what a man thinks, he becomes. This is the mystery of eternity.”
– The Bhagavad Gita