I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Deification of Jesus the Christ

This essay is not intended to denounce the divine purpose or the holiness of intent of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ. It is to segregate facts and intentions as gleaned from the quoted words of Jesus that has been interpreted and reinterpreted from the days of the apostles to the founding of the Church as a religious organization intended to replace the established synagogue of the Hebrews called Jews who have been named in the Old Testament as the Children of God, God's chosen people. Jesus was a Jew whose mission was to reform, renew, and do away with the old ways of sacrifice of the lamb in the name of God. He never intended to replace God, which he referred to as the Father nor do away with traditions like Passover that had been established by ancient holy men.
Christianity was not fundamentally founded by Jesus 'The Christ' of Nazareth/Galilee; the disciples turned apostles in performing their missionary work as prescribed by Jesus and instrumental in founding the Christian Church as an organized religion.
What resulted was not what Jesus had intended: his deification where Christians, professed followers of Christ, prayed to Jesus at first as a mediator and also as the embodiment or spirit of God.
In the Book of Matthew, chapter 22, in a discussion with the Pharisees, it was asked:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [Matthew 22:36]
Jesus replied:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Christ never established a Church because aside from holy places like synagogues and the holy temple of Jerusalem known as Solomon's Temple, his “church” was on the mount, in the hills, gardens and fields, and the shores of Galilee. It was among the people with meeting places within the dwellings of friends and followers.However, as a youth he entered a temple and began discussions with the priests there and called the temple 'Father's house'. 
Jesus emphasized the importance of the individual soul, spirit over material and the importance of respect for God's commandments and faith in God's divinity as the Creator/Father entity.
Indeed, he argued with the Pharisee concerning their laws that was professed to be Gods such as when the Pharisees said to him:
Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? [Mark 22:24]
Jesus replied [Mark 22: 25-28]:
Have ye never read what David did, when had need, and was hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
When Jesus gathered his disciples there was discussion as to who is or would be the greatest, and in teaching Jesus took a child and sat him amongst them and said Mark 9:33-37]:
Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
In his philosophy and instruction throughout the New Testament, Jesus never claimed divinity but instead a servant of the God of all humanity; it was the Church who established Christ's divinity and indeed gathered to argue about it before it was made doctrine during the forming of the early Christian Church. That argument continued throughout the history of the Christian Church from the first established [Holy Roman Catholic Church] to the splintered groups that later developed and split from the doctrine of the Roman Church. Today that argument continues.
At the Council of Nicaea, this discussion [ 325 AD] as well as others of the gathering established the concept of the Trinity and the seeking of a unified church by Constantine.
Because of those decisions and other circumstances and doctrinal factors, the Jews that Jesus had preached to became more distant to the “new” religion and the Church that established its doctrine.
The Council also convened to establish Canon, although the deity of Christ was the primary concern. There are those who claim that the Canon was established after the First Council of Nicaea because of lack of record of discussion over what would be the biblical canon attached to the traditional books of what would become known as the Old Testament.
The Council met over 300 years after Christ's death and in between there were numerous texts, most attested to have been written by the Apostles, who by then had become martyred saints.
Jesus was established to be …
Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten from the Father, that is from substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, through whom all things came to be, both those in heaven and those in earth; for us humans and for our salvation he came down and became incarnate, became human, suffered and rose up on the third day, went up into the heavens, is coming to judge the living and the dead. And in the holy Spirit.[translated from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils edited by Norman P. Tanner.
The Canons established in that first Council was more about conduct and acceptance of clergy rather than the canon of biblical text. Much of today's concept of what happened in early Christianity development is based too much on the fictitious novel by Dan Brown entitled The Da Vinci Code. While an interesting “what if” tale, filled with murder and intrigue, it falls short of historical truth.
The historical figure that opposed the concept of the divinity of Christ was Arius, presbyter and priest of Alexandria. He was educated in the theological school of Antioch, a Libyan of Berber lineage. His logic and his concept of Jesus Christ was nothing new, thus the reason for the Council was to settle it once and for all, which culminated into the Nicene Creed. Arius' theology had support by the eastern Christian community and eventually because of his disbelief in the Trinity he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated. Constantine, the Roman Emperor, banished him in 325. It took 250 years to Arian theological support to fade into history. However, it resurfaced again as Roman Catholicism lost its foothold in central Europe and the Church of England adopted Arianism and continues today in the form of the Arian Catholic Church. Arius was recognized as a Saint and Martyr in 2006, June 16th being his memorial day in England. Arius did not die in excommunication, but received Full Communion of the church before he died in 336 by the Emperor of Rome, Constantine I.
It is the mysticism that was questioned, developed by the Roman Catholic Church, the first church of Christianity, that Arius and those that agree with him – not the teachings and biblical truths that Jesus Christ preached. This is not to say that followers of that theological thought do not believe in the Resurrection, but that it is the Creator that is God in all things. Jesus was a messenger of God, a title that was adopted 600 years after the crucifixion and physical death of Jesus the Christ by an Arab self-made holy man, Mohammad. Jesus gathered the faithful with reasoning and words, mostly to those that believed in God; while Mohammad first relied on the faithful and then the sword to spread his message. Despite saying that Jews and Christians were People of the Book, they were persecuted despite it. Today, it is ironic that Christians are treated horribly with violence and condemnation, forgetting that it was a Christian king, Emperor of Ethiopia that saved the life of Mohammad and thus cementing the founding of Islam.
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a carpenter, owned no real property and had no formal education, but he became the most influential person in human history whose philosophy and theology is the gist of Christianity.
Jesus Christ became the symbolic founder of the Christian Church, yet Jesus did not deem it important to form such a church or material entity. It was the leadership of the church who established doctrine that was followed by the Roman Catholic Church, latter to be divided into two, the West and East [Roman and Byzantine] as empires and eventually splintered into several denominations of Christianity.
It is interesting to note that Jesus focused upon preaching to the Jews, although he had gathered followers and piqued the interest of Gentiles, non-Hebrew-Jews. However, he instructed his apostles that they should be like fishers of men and spread his teachings everywhere.
Jesus denounced the corruption that the Pharisee had established in the synagogues, calling them hypocrites and wicked. [Luke 11:37-54] His intent was to reform the church, not to found or replace it with another; for he regarded the houses of God as sacred establishments despite preaching in the countryside and public places. Jesus praised the prophets before him and made it clear he was not a harbinger of peace among the Jews [Luke 12:49-53]]:
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
In summary, Jesus words and teachings do not reflect the doctrine of church, indeed, Jesus did not ask or demand his worship. Whether his divinity is believed or not, it is inarguable to say he did not have a positive influence upon humanity around the globe. The spread of his teachings was the influence of the church who used missionaries to spread Jesus' words and the church doctrine everywhere. In order to canonize the scriptures and text from that period, the church had the duty to choose from those texts; yet it is sad that so much of those texts had been lost because of the actions of the early church in destroying and forbidding the possessions of such text. However, thanks to those that kept them in secret, buried and not discovered until modern times, such as the recent Gospel of Judas, we have a glimpse of the bigger picture.
In speaking to the Galatians, as related in the Epistle to the Galatians, written by Paul the Apostle, he states in Galatians 4:16:
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

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