LITTLE KNOWN GOSPEL FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Critical Knowledge for Christians In the Time of Trump. Part 2
The only Escape from God’s Judgement
All “true” evangelical Christians are taught to believe that we are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s rather extraordinary terms of human perfection. We are all then, according to this doctrine, doomed to eternal damnation. These terrible sins would include acting out our sexual desires, avarice, envy, etc. All of the normal human feelings and desires God built into us as a species. Slip up just once and indulge those God given desires and you will burn forever in Hell.
According to this doctrine, we have only one chance of salvation. God has sent his only begotten (born of a virgin) son to suffer a horrible torture and death so that his innocent death and suffering would convince God not to throw all of us failures into permanent damnation. Jesus’ blood was shed to keep your soul from being cast into eternal damnation by a rage filled God.
It gets worse. Now you have to believe in this gruesome story and its full implications, in order to be spared by this monster… I’m sorry… God, from the eternal fire into which nearly all of humanity will be cast. You must burn forever in Hell, unless you believe the doctrine of Jesus’ blood sacrifice. And according to this teaching, anyone who fails to hear about this amazing once in a lifetime deal…will burn forever also.
Waterboarding, the rack, burned at the stake, for all eternity just because you didn’t catch this memo? An eternity of punishment because you Missed the meeting where this was discussed? Burning forever because you just can’t figure out how this bizarre belief could possibly make sense to any loving God?
Wow. I can only think of a few souls who would deserve such eternal horrors for any reason.
But I recall Jesus telling us repeatedly in the gospels that the love...not the judgement ... of God is infinite. As is his forgiveness. What happened to His true teaching?
And why for that matter did Jesus really die?
During a seven day solitary vision quest in 1975, I met Jesus. I’ll admit, I was mad at him for this nightmare doctrine. Jesus, it turns out, was also furious. But He explained all of this to me and I’ve backed it up as a biblical scholar!!
Want to know his answer?
First, Jesus explained why he died and came back.
Although both survival after death and the doctrine of reincarnation were common among the esoteric Pharisee sect of scholars and rabbis which included Jesus, the soul’s future after death remained dark and frightening for most Orthodox Jews. By returning from death Jesus was giving them a message different than a promised military victory. As a Messiah of peace and love for all mankind, he could not bring the revolution to Jews in this world, but he could issue to everyone in the world: Jew, Roman, Gentile, this message:
“I’ve been there to Death. I’m back. I am still with you. You can call on me anytime and trust that I will guide your life toward love! And I promise to make a place for you in heaven. There’s plenty of room. Just believe in my Resurrection and love god and your neighbors and your soul can then be assured of survival. That’s a personal guarantee sealed not by my death, But by my return!!”
This was the message brought by a horde of angelic spirits to the disciples at Pentecost. It is where they went from disciples to apostles!
Fast forward ten years. The tiny Jewish sect of Christianity is now struggling under persecution by Jewish authorities. But the imminent rise of open civil war with the Romans in that hotbed of insurrection, Galilee, has led to Roman legions bearing down on Israel and ready to destroy the entire country. (Yes they did). Blessed St. Paul, a cosmopolitan Roman citizen as well as a Jew, starts as a persecutor of Christians until he gets a wakeup call from the Man. Then he is guided to find a different audience for Jesus teachings, or those priceless teachings would go up in flames with all of Israel. Most Christians at this time still saw Him as a Jewish savior. So he defied the bosses of the Jerusalem cult. First he had to fight hard to stop his Apostle buddies from requiring a circumcision and conversion to Judaism for all Christian converts. But now Paul plans to bring Jesus and his message into mainstream Roman society. How?
Here’s the plan:
The Passover feast in Jerusalem was a momentous finale for the week of Passover celebration. But the very idea of his disciples joining in a cannibalistic feast (his flesh, his blood) celebrating a grotesque human sacrifice had literally no place in this highly sacred ceremony. If the Jewish hero/prophet Elijah had heard this nonsense he would have turned over in his grave! NO. Worse. He would be sitting at the table, a place reserved for him at every Passover feast. And he’d be furious for such ugliness at this sacred meal. Human sacrifice is particularly loathsome to Judaism. So it’s extremely unlikely that Jesus would have used that image.
But for The Cult of Mithras, the Son of God, popular with Roman soldiers throughout the empire, and no doubt familiar to Paul, this was ...their daily bread! Here’s the initiatory process:
First the Roman soldiers would line up in a trench. Then a bull representing Mithras would be sacrificed and its blood would be poured all over the soldiers so they could be washed in the blood of Mithras and purified of sin.
Then the group would gather with the priest to partake of...you guessed it... the body and blood of their savior.
For most Gods in the ancient world, blood sacrifice was the gold standard both of worshipping Gods and freeing one’s soul of sin to preserve their favor. For the Hebrew Yahweh, the ritual sacrifice of a sacred dove or innocent lamb could wash away the sins of your average Hebrew peasant. Only of course if properly performed by a priest. Provided one paid a stiff fee for the money changers and priests.
One problem: No lamb had sufficient blood apparently to wash away the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Roman Empire’s legions, who murdered and enslaved entire nations for the Emperor. So yeah you needed a lot of blood. A bull would do.
And since your enemies have no such special salvation? Well since they are going to Hell as pagans and dark skinned minorities. Who gives a damn? Rape, murder, concentration camps collective enslavement? No problem!! After all,
We are washed in the blood of this glorious human sacrifice!
So the blood soaked mass murderers called the Roman army, could find instant absolution from sin by being washed in the blood of their savior.
So we see that the “new improved” faith, was now no longer a Jewish sect but a world class religion. Based on the cult of Mithras, it was the PERFECT religion for a ruthless, warmongering, and expanding empire. Forgiveness of sins for the perpetrators, dismissal of everyone not “saved” as pagans and tools of the devil. And once the locals were conquered and converted, generally at sword point, to Christianity, this doctrine of forgiveness and passivity would keep the conquered masses in line.
It was only a short step for the Emperor Constantine to realize that this was the perfect religion for the conquering empire. The legend of his conversion states that he saw a cross in the sky above a bloody battlefield, with the message:
“In this sign conquer!”
At this point the frequent efforts to persecute Christians ended. And the long and warmongering history of the Roman Church, had begun. With the perfect doctrine in place for the conquests of Empire. A doctrine that much later took the European powers into bloody wars of conquest all over the world, even making the Roman armies look like a Sunday school picnic!
No accident then that the history of Christianity is one of almost continuous bloodshed, Christians against Muslims, Heathens, Jews, and even against other Christians. Brutal conquest of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The whole world drenched in the blood of fully “justified” Christian conquerors bringing “salvation” along with enslavement, cultural destruction, and death to the world’s indigenous peoples. From the burning of one million witches, to the enslavement of millions of Africans, to the Crusades in the Middle East. And all of their sins so conveniently washed away by Jesus’s blood, an industrial strength cleanser of truly monumental proportions.
This blood sacrifice doctrine is the result of the machinations of a creative genius, St Paul, in cooperation with Imperial authorities in later Centuries. And it helped spread the Gospel through Roman legions, as well as among their families, camp followers, and slaves throughout the Empire. Uh…thanks, Paul. Thanks, Constantine. You kept Jesus’ message alive. Sort of.
But is this Jesus’ teaching? Not so much.
Can the real Jesus Christ please stand up!? What does He really say about getting “saved?”
When his disciples asked him in the historical Gospels about life after death, he said this:
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. Which one will you end up in? Did you feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? House the homeless? Or not? Inasmuch as you do unto the least of these my brethren you do it unto me. Glorious heaven? Or lake of fire? Your choice.”
That’s his real message. (In Aramaic. It’s actually him talking, according to all the experts here.) The historical Gospels of Thomas, Matthew, and Mark, were written by his disciples in Aramaic. These men actually knew Jesus personally, and they are clear about this teaching. But not so the “Evangelical Christians” who were preaching instant salvation throughout the Roman world. They took their lead from the author of the Gospel of John, a Greek physician and philosopher who wrote his “Gospel” in Greek a hundred years after Jesus life. Steeped in Roman culture and philosophy, he knew little about Jesus’ original teachings.
Furthermore, Jesus regarded the blood sacrifices of lambs and doves in the Jewish Temple to absolve sin as a con game played on the people by the high priest class, to steal from the poor peasants of Israel. And he has noticed, long ago, that his death was coerced into being yet another blood sacrifice set up by another corps of pompous priests as a racket. (“Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, a blood sacrifice for our sins.”) But Jesus’ opinion?
If you do this to the least of these my brothers, you do it unto me.
Jesus and his family were immigrants who fled to Egypt to escape tyranny and murder. Like thousands of immigrants today. They were not criminals. Imagine them arrested as criminals, and baby Jesus ripped from his mother’s arms and jailed in an ugly cage. Never to see his parents again. Imagine young girls and women like Mary, sold into sexual slavery. of this done by our Christian nation...done directly to Jesus. And all of this done in Jesus’s name.
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