Part II

Prove All Things


For nearly two thousand years Christians have condemned the Jews for “killing Christ”.   Yet the Apostle Paul writes that, as vessels created for dishonor, the Jews who killed Christ were born into this life for this very purpose -- i.e., to reject and crucify Christ.   Further, the Bible clearly teaches that the Jews who rejected Christ were controlled by supernatural forces acting upon their minds, and their rejection of Jesus was brought about because their hearts and minds were hardened by God.   In other words, God planned the whole thing as a staged event -- from the rejection of Christ, right through to the crucifixion.   From a biblical perspective, it was as if the Jews have been condemned as Christ killers because of the role that God chose for them to play on the eternal stage of life.   Regardless of what modern Christians choose to believe in order to soften the written word of the scriptures, what the Bible very clearly states is that the hearts of the Jews and those who opposed Christ were hardened by God to force them to live out the role of apostate sinner -- and then, in accordance with our very incomplete understanding of the scriptures, God found fault with them because they performed in accordance with the will of God, and lived the role that God appointed for them.  

Modern Christians today believe that the Jews rejected Christ -- but did they?   Paul writes to his Gentile converts: “I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in” (Rom 11:25 RSV).   Paul then writes to the believers at Corinth that the eyes and hearts of the Jews were hardened so they could not understand the true meaning of the scriptures when he states that “their minds were blinded” by God, “for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament... even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Cor 3:14-15 KJV).   Yet these very same Jews were condemned for not seeing in the scriptures what God did not permit them to see.  

In our evaluation of what we believe we must ask the question: Would our system of government prosecute a blind man for being blind?   Would we condemn an epileptic for having a seizure?   In our own rather limited human wisdom, we will not permit a man, a woman, or any person to be discriminated against because of their race, gender, or any other conditions of birth.   A great number of modern-day Christians and Jews even reject the condemnation of the Bible directed towards homosexuals -- some embracing the idea that the scriptures are wrong, and that same sex couples should be permitted to marry.   Are we to believe then, that this same compassion and wisdom is absent from our Creator?

If the Bible is adhered to from a very literal perspective, on the surface it would appear that modern Christians are required to be non-thinking emotionally numb people.   Doctrinally, they are not permitted the freedom of mind to even question what would be considered atrocities of justice under the law of man.   They are not allowed to use reason in the formulation of their doctrines of belief, and any kind of scientific standard of inquiry is immediately turned upon and condemned as heresy.   Yet, unlike those who dismiss what they do not understand, I also saw the very clear statements pertaining to what the Bible said with regard to the Mysteries of God being beyond the comprehension of natural man.   What I saw greatly disturbed me -- i.e., in the recognition that both the use of human reason and blind belief caused the mind of natural man to fall into error, something deep within my soul spoke to me, and made be suspect that this was just one of many examples of those defective ideas which the church so routinely promoted among the believers -- defective ideas which ultimately was an obstacle to the very spiritual development of the body of Christians.  

As believers we are taught that the standards of science and fundamental rules of inquiry do not apply to religion.   As an example: From a constitutional perspective, you cannot put a persons religious beliefs on trial because there is no body of evidence that can be used to determine which religious beliefs are valid, and which are heresy.   This in fact is the whole foundation of a faith-based religion.   What we must recognize when we use the term faith, is that by its very nature, faith is the belief in the unknown.   In the case of the majority of believing people, it is ingrained in their thinking that “no one really knows” -- and what is important from their perspective is that you believe.   In many instances their reasoning is that since no one really knows, and there is no authoritative control over doctrine, people are more or less free to believe just about anything.

Eventually I came to learn that everything I had been taught throughout my religious experiences was either shortsighted and elementary, or a grave misconception of the facts.   Fundamentally, Christians believe and have faith in the unknown, because they have never become a disciple in search of the Truth.   In my own quest, by questioning what I did not understand, I came to eventually realize that the common thinking that “no one really knows” is seriously flawed, and there is really no truth in all of Creation that cannot be verified as being authentic.   With good reason the Apostle of faith commanded those he taught to “prove all things…” 1Thes 5:21 KJV), because man can never be saved, or even be acceptable to the Lord as a faithful believer, without going through the process of actually proving and testing what each of us believes and holds as truth.

What I learned was that God does not give man a mind -- create man in His image and likeness -- and expect man to be a mental robot who surrenders his power or reason.   Neither does God randomly impose undeserved hardships on one person, and kindness on another.   In truth, there is no virtue or institution of man that even approaches that of God -- and in my quest to learn directly from the One Teacher, I came to realize that the Bible does not lie, and it is well within the ability of man to understand all truths of Creation and beyond.  

Any person who accepts the tenants of the Augustinian and Calvinistic doctrines of Predestination and Divine Providence at face value, and attributes this folly to the will of a higher power, simply does not possess the reasoning ability to comprehend God.   Further, that these grave misconceptions about God are contained in the writings of Paul with a totally insufficient explanation, are simply one of the many reasons that it was said in the Clementine writings that “Peter's residence in Rome rests on the assumed necessity of his resisting the arch-enemy of Judaism there as elsewhere” -- which arch-enemy from the position of the original Messianic Jewish believers was the so called Apostle Paul himself.  

In clarification, it was not that Paul was necessarily wrong in what he wrote.   The problem was that, like Luther and the Middle-Age Reformers, many Gentile believers were severely misled because they did not possess the understanding to comprehend the true depth of what Paul was attempting to convey.   In fact, from a biblical perspective, the preaching of the Word to the Gentiles was in fact a concession -- a new beginning that was intended to bring true God-Consciousness to the Gentile-heathen mind.   The truth of the matter was that the Gentile world would never have been able to embrace the pure teachings of Christ that was revealed to his disciples -- so Paul was raised up and ordained to bring an entry-level form of the gospel to the heathens of the Nations.

Christian history confirms the side of the Messianic Jewish believers who were in opposition to Paul.   It is easily demonstrated that many of the Gentiles were led astray by what Paul wrote.   It is also true that the Pagan form of Christianity they embraced was far better than what they had.   The problem was that the Gentile world was exactly as it was portrayed in the Bible, and the people of the Nations were incapable of embracing the Pure Gospel of Christ.   With regard to Paul, it is easily demonstrated that all the immorality throughout church history that Martin Luther and the other Middle Age Reformers wrote about, have all grown out of perverted abuses of what Paul had written.  

If it is true that the spiritual bar was lowered, and Christ freed the Christians from the necessity of obedience to the Law -- i.e., if the tenets of the Law are no longer binding on those who are justified by faith, then the Roman Church was correct in its assertion that believers are at liberty to live in any manner that they please.   Doing good works -- living moral lives -- are simply not necessary -- because man is saved the moment that he believes.   Basing their doctrine on a very surface understanding of what Paul wrote, what the Roman Church did was create numerous doctrines to prove that man is incapable of not sinning, and ignored the other assertions of Paul that condemn living a sinful life; i.e.: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom 6:1-2 NIV).  

In making the New Covenant teachings acceptable to the life and thinking of the Pagan world, the core teaching which the Church suppressed and refused to embrace was the very essence of what Paul actually taught -- i.e., that the whole focus of Paul's doctrine was for the believer to go beyond the physical limitations of this world, and move into abiding unity and oneness with Christ.   Fundamentally, the Roman Church used the writings of Paul to further their own agenda.   It is true that Paul embraced a doctrine of faith, but it is also true that this faith was a natural outgrowth of the form of Christian Buddhism that Paul ordained -- i.e., deny all desires of the flesh -- married people should not return to the marriage bed -- do not put one day above the next -- practice no ritual observance of any kind -- beat the physical body into subjection -- capture every thought to Christ.  

What Paul preached was not new -- what he taught was already well defined in both Buddhism as well as the Mystery religions of ancient Greece.   Paul, like many of the holy men of his day, reasoned that this extreme denial of the flesh and the rejection of the things of this world would enable the believer to transcend this realm.   From Paul's perspective, once this unity of heaven and earth was established within the mind and body of the believer, all the mysteries of Creation would unfold, and those reborn in Christ would comprehend all of the great Truths that could not be revealed to carnal believers.   The modern idea that Paul understood the teachings of Jesus better than did his Jewish disciples is based upon the fact that what Paul wrote was intended for the Gentile mind.

The problem that confronts the Christian who looks to Paul as their spiritual guide is seen in the fact that Paul wrote from the perspective of an agenda that is not properly understood.   In the manner of an elementary school teacher, Paul preached from the perception of a vision with regard to the eventual results that his disciples would achieve.   What Paul said was correct -- i.e., if you live your life in a certain way, and follow a prescribed path, that you will be guaranteed that certain specific results will be achieved.   It is therefore important for us to comprehend Paul's mindset -- i.e., that from Paul's perspective, things alluded to in his epistles that could not be easily comprehended, such as the doctrine of predestination, would be understood at a later time in the development of the disciple as just one of many elements of the Divine Plan that brings about the perfection of each individual.   Because we lack an understanding of the fundamental agenda from which the thinking of Paul emanated, we fail to realize that in a prescribed manner of life where one does not participate in the culture of the world, does not marry or even have sex with their spouse, and remains in a state of perpetual prayer and meditation awaiting the coming of the Lord, the very act of attaching one’s self to the doctrines of a sect or speculation with respect to mysteries that are beyond the understanding of carnal man, is an obstacle that renders Paul’s whole system of theology sterile and spiritually barren.

In the manner of Buddhism and many of the Greek Mystery Religions, the Apostle embraces a life of both physical denial and the almost total closing of the mind to carnal speculation.   Every responsible parent embraces the same exact manner of thought that Paul employed in his approached to the problem when they teach their children about sex.   When a five year old asks their parent about the birds and the bees, the responsible parent does not respond to their questions by sitting them down in front of a television and playing a rated "X" video that is meant for adult viewing.   In the same way that the responsible parent provides age-appropriate answers to their child's questions, what Paul wrote can only be appreciated when his epistles he wrote to the Gentile Churches are placed in their proper perspective -- communications that were written to a body of entry-level believers who were attempting to break free from the chains of a Pagan and heathen lifestyle and mindset.

The problem was that Paul's doctrine of faith never envisioned an institutionalized church which embraced Jesus while simultaneously maintaining its heathen manner of thinking.   Because the church that evolved remained Pagan, and the Gentile believers clung to the many doctrines created to explain why man is incapable of being perfect and sinless, and they focused only on the redemptive element of Paul's message -- even rejecting the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke -- they failed to move beyond the “milk” of the Gospel, and never manifested the spiritual maturity that Paul warned was absolutely necessary in order to embrace the Spiritual Gospel of Christ.  

In the process of making the tenets of Paul acceptable to the people of the Nations, the lifestyle that Paul embraced as being absolutely necessary to bring about and manifest Paul's vision of a mature and complete Christian, became negated.   The result was that the whole theme and agenda of Paul was quickly rendered spiritually barren, because the most important element in the Apostle’s formula of enlightenment was undermined and done away with.

What we must comprehend is the fact that there was no way the masses of the people of the Nations were going to live in accordance with the lifestyle that Paul ordained -- i.e., deny all desires of the flesh; do not return to the marriage bed; do not put one day above the next; practice no ritual observance of any kind; beat the physical body into subjection; capture every thought to Christ; and maintain one’s self in a perpetual state of prayer and meditation awaiting the coming of the Lord.   This created a very real problem: By embracing Paul's doctrine of faith, while rejecting the lifestyle that Paul's faith must be founded upon, the vision of the mature Christian could never be brought about.   The Messianic Jewish believers who saw the great flaw in Paul's epistles, and attempted to warn the Gentile believers that his form of transcendental Christian Buddhism would not work for all people, were rejected as heretics who were too Jewish to understand the gospel message.

Were the disciples and original followers of Jesus too Jewish?   Is this allegation true?   Or is it just one of many absurd lies that were published by the Gentile-Roman Church.   This is an extremely important question for the modern believer to truly understand if they are to comprehend the essence of New Covenant teachings.   The genuine disciple of Christ -- whether Hebrew or Gentile -- whose mind had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, would immediately see the defect in our modern religious beliefs which are founded on the very incomplete theology of the Middle Age Reformers.   Where the natural mind has a vision of the world through the divided image of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the enlightened mind perceives that all things are for the good of God's Creation -- and God does not indiscriminately bestow blessings upon one person, and damnation upon others.   God is the ultimate intelligence in all of Creation -- and it is only because of our very limited perception and understanding of life and the purpose of Creation that we fail to realize the existence of a higher rationale for every occurrence and event in life.   Contrary to Paul's explanation of the potter and the clay (Rom 9:21), there is a very logical reason for every event that transpires in this world, and it is within the ability of man to comprehend those reasons.  

The apparent doctrinal differences between the Epistle to the Romans and many of the other Epistles attributed to Paul has caused many scholars to question their authorship.   In Romans it is suggested that man should not seek to know the deeper Mysteries of God, as seen in the words: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this?” (Rom 9:20 NIV).   Whereas, in the letter to Corinthians Paul writes: “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:10 NAS).   The enlightened disciples of Jesus who saw what Paul preached and wrote asked the question: How can man even begin to search to the depths of how and why God moves in the manner that He does, without being able to understand why man was even formed?   In the religion of Jesus the disciple was promised: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV).   Now the modern believer might say that the truth was the coming of Jesus -- but I will demonstrate that this modern concept of religion was not the doctrine of the first three centuries.  

In my own quest for truth, these were only a few of the number of paramount inconsistencies that I saw in my study of the scriptures.   In my assessment of the Bible I came to the realization there was a great depth of spiritual knowledge that was not possessed by our overwhelmingly divided churches today.   Yet, the flaw in the perception of the people who had taught me was seen more in their vision with regard to the potential of mankind -- which flaw was merely transferred to their understanding of the Bible.  What this means was that because they did not comprehend their own true nature, neither could they even begin to interpret the Bible correctly.

An important fact that neither believers or non-believers realize today is that mankind was conceived in the very bedrock of ultimate truth -- it is his destiny to return to Supreme Truth -- and it is his innate ability and the promise of the scriptures that this dimension of truth can be accessed by the genuine disciple of the Light.   In arriving at this understanding of the true dimensions of human reality, more than anything else I came to believe that from a biblical perspective, if I was a mature Christian I should see and understand these ultimate truths which the scriptures continually alluded to.   If I could not, then the fault was my own, rather than God's.

In recognition of these paramount biblical facts, I had no other choice than to conclude that when the scriptures spoke of the blind whose hearts are hardened to the true meaning of the Gospel, it was talking about carnal man -- and ultimately, it was talking about me.   I was blind and did not have the slightest idea what the Apostle was speaking of when he wrote about mysteries that were beyond the comprehension of carnal man -- mysteries that it was unlawful for him to even reveal.   From a biblical perspective I had to come to terms with the fact that I did not know or understand anything of any higher level of spiritual perception.  

In this rather abrupt awakening to reality, neither did I find comfort and solace in the knowledge that others who called themselves Christian were also blind.   I did not feel relieved to know that I was in good company -- and that faithful believers and clergy who were trying to lead a God centered life had overlooked what was the most important element of their faith.   What mattered most was the realization that I was spiritually blind -- and I had for the majority of my life followed the opinions of other men right into what I saw as the proverbial pit.   I was thus forced to take the Lord's words to heart when he said: “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matt 15:14 NAS).  

Up until that time I was not prepared to see life as a labyrinth of controlled choices.   I did not understand that it was Divine Providence that directed my footsteps.   Like the proverbial labyrinth, I possessed the degree of free choice that enabled me to navigate the pre-existent circumstances that had been laid out for me.   I could use free will to cause my on failure, but so long as I kept searching for answers, I could not negate the process that had been designed to bring about my own spiritual maturity.

Like those people of the simple faith that Paul wrote his epistle to, I did not understand the process of human development, and I could not comprehend that all things are accomplished in steps -- and nothing can be overcome without taking that first step which was the desire to embrace only Truth in one’s life.   Something in the human psyche seems to manufacture excuses and a countless number of reasons why we are not required to deviate from our present course in life.   In fact, the majority of church dogma today is centered around the issue of why believers are no longer required to actually do everything the Lord commanded.   Faith in Jesus meant that he set us free from doing, I was told by my clergy.   The idea that I could do something that would bring about my own salvation, with the exception of believing in Jesus, was not only sacrilegious, but a total denial of the blood of the Lam of God.  From their perspective either Jesus did it for us, or he freed us from having to worry about such matters -- the list of dogmatic excuses are endless.  

In much the same way that an alcoholic must come to terms with his condition before he can rise above his addiction, I too had to examine my own life from a biblical perspective.   This is important: It is easy to examine one’s life from a church perspective, but a New Testament biblical perspective is entirely another matter.   In coming to terms with my life, and recognizing both my ignorance and failings, I did not at the time realize that what I had in effect done was invoke the initial stage of my own healing.   Like the drug addict who comes to terms with his problem, I had begun the healing process of reversing the spiritual blindness that plagued me.  

What few people understand is that our culture brings about a condition whereby we are addicted to the thinking -- the institutions -- and dependent upon the manner of living that we have become accustomed to.   Our modern-day culture is even more addictive than either alcohol or chemical dependency.   In the manner of an addict, it is a natural outgrowth of our addictive mental-enslavement for us to see religion as being supportive of the life we presently live.   So long as we perceive ourselves as taking the high road to life, we envision the power of religion working positively in our lives.   What further convinces us that we are on the right track, is the fact that it is easy to blame the ills of society on the rejection of traditional religion -- and this position is easily confirmed.

The problem is that what the Bible portrays as genuine religion, can only be interpreted as a total departure from the very culture and institutions that we have grown dependent upon in our everyday lives.    In the same way that it is necessary for the recovering addict to first recognize that a problem exists, in coming to terms with my own ignorance with respect to the source and originality of what I believed, I in fact opened the first door to my eventual enlightenment.   The second was opened when I took responsibility for my own condition.   I also began to comprehend for the first time that the Bible was correct when it asserted the cause of my blindness was in fact self-imposed.   In time I came to understand that man possesses a spiritual nature that lies dormant within each of us, and Paul's doctrine of faith was founded to a great degree that carnal man has it within his power to manifest in his life the essence of this innate pre-existent and already-existing spiritual reality.  

From the perspective of Paul: Man does not have to earn his salvation -- neither does ritual observance to dead works bring about his salvation -- i.e., he only has to re-manifest his pre-existent indwelling spiritual nature in his daily life.   It is clear that Paul possessed an inspired vision of man's destiny -- and when the later Roman Church severed itself from this vision by a series of politically motivated doctrines which were intended to raise the church to a level of supreme authority over a nation of carnally minded people, the very spiritual essence of what Paul attempted to bring about became suppressed.

The beginning of my spiritual journey was not easy.   Without direct guidance, I groped haphazardly in what I now call a state of spiritual blindness -- and yet it was this very blindness that was one of the keys to my success.   Since neither had I been taught by the One Teacher spoken of in the scriptures, I began the process of searching for answers through a rather in-depth investigation of all the various doctrines and sects that enlisted themselves under the banner of Christ.   In view of the fact that I was no longer a formal member of any one Church or religious organization, I found that my thinking was not restricted.   In not holding to any one opinion or doctrine, my mind was free to listen and examine the beliefs and central doctrines of each sect I encountered.   In not scrutinizing each group from the position of a predetermined doctrine or agenda, I was able to see the strengths and weaknesses of each sect very clearly -- and in many instances, more clearly than even the members of the sect themselves.

This open-minded examination was a very important element in my ultimate search for answers.   If I had been a Roman Catholic, an Evangelical believer, a Jehovah's Witness, a Mormon, a Seventh Day Adventist, a Quaker, or a member of any other church, then I my investigation would have been from the perspective of my own church's doctrine.   One only has to do a web search on Jehovah’s Witness to see the many sites dedicated to proving the Witness to be in error.   Moreover, many liberal thinking groups who call themselves Christian, run web sites dedicated to keeping track of the Evangelical Christians in the endeavor to oppose them.   Thus, each of these groups oppose the others on the grounds that what they believe is true, while the targeted groups are perceived to be in error.   A perfect example of this can be seen in the modern liberal Christian condemnation of the refusal of many Fundamentalist Christians to reject the witness of the Bible, and accept homosexuals as both congregants and members of the clergy.   Thus, there is no harmony among modern Christians.   In my own case, because I was no longer a member of any one church, or limited my thinking to the doctrines of any one group or sect, I was able to more easily see that each sect possessed at least one valid position or strength that was overlooked, or even ignored by the others.  

In my search for answers another great truth that I came to realize was that in all but a very few instances, a man's strength is also his weakness.   I full well understand this concept is not easy for most people to comprehend, but it is in part one of the root-causes of all schisms and doctrinal error in the religious world today.   As each person or group studies the scriptures and sees something that others do not, they reason that what they see is truth, and what the others see is error -- or, that what they see is more important that what is seen by the other person or group.   By arriving at this perception, they inadvertently fail to see that each man's truth is but a piece to the giant puzzle of life -- and each piece of the truth has to be put in its proper perspective.

In the study of these many religious opinions and doctrines, there were moments where I had to admit that my search for answers became very confusing.   I began to realize that the core of my confusion centered on the source and revealer of truth himself -- and in my search, I continued to come back to the initial question: Who was the real Jesus?   What few Christians today realize is that the answer to this question is of the utmost importance.   The Evangelical Christians said that Jesus was God.   The Jehovah's Witnesses said that he was not himself God, but rather God's only son.  The Uniterians said he was a man who became God's son.   Some believe that Christ was God's last name.   Others pointed out the word Christ literally means the Lord's Anointed, but I didn't understand why God needed to anoint himself, or why God even needed to be anointed in the first place.  

If Jesus was God, why would he need to be anointed by his own power?   If Jesus was God, why would he say: “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49 NIV).   In my reasoning, if he was God, as I had been taught throughout most of my life as a Christian, then I questioned why he would not have spoken from his own accord.   Further, if Jesus was God, how could God command God?   Not only did the “Father who sent [Jesus] command him what to say”, but the Father also dictated “how to say it”.   If Jesus was God, then why would he say that: “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28 NIV)?   It must also be recognized that Jesus did say that he and the Father were one -- but he also said that he and his disciples were one.   Using the same reasoning, if Jesus, God, and the disciples were all one, did this mean that his disciples were God also?

That sincere Bible reading people can perceive totally contradictory messages in the scriptures is easily demonstrated.   The Jehovah's Witnesses who fervently study the scriptures, do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and do not believe that Jesus is God.   Yet, Evangelical Christians who are also ardent students of the Bible, see the doctrine of the Trinity as the very essence of the scriptural message.   Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, many Baptists do not believe the Holy Spirit enlightens the understanding of believers in our present day.   Yet, the various Pentecostal sects base their whole religious experience upon an intimate relationship with what they call the Holy Spirit.   Some Christians say they are spirit filled, and talk in tongues.   Other Christians say that these misinformed believers are demon possessed.   In our present time there is great strife within many churches regarding homosexual marriages and clergy, abortion, sex outside of marriage, divorce, the role of women in the church.   Moreover, each group attempts to use the Bible to prove the others are in error.

In view of the fact that highly intelligent men and women all use the Bible to champion their conflicting religious convictions and doctrinal positions, the choice of which church one should embrace over the others can become a very difficult question to the discerning individual.   Each and every day, Christians from every conflicting doctrinal persuasion pray for Truth and Light, and wholeheartedly profess their faith that God has fulfilled His promise and inspired them to believe in the manner that each group has come to believe.   If their profession of faith is true, as each church believes and proclaims, then we must then pose the question as to why God would induce one group of sincere Bible reading people to believe differently than the next group of sincere Bible reading people?  

What we are speaking about here is the very manner in which believers approach God.   Its resolution is extremely important, and the truth cannot be found by ignoring the implications that is raised.   If Jesus is not God, then are we no different than the heathens portrayed in the scriptures who worship emperors, rulers, or inanimate objects?   If Jesus was a man who matured to his true potential and became a god, then do we have any excuses for not walking in his footsteps and doing the same as he did?  

In these questions we find the very essence of our religious experience -- i.e., do we worship Jesus, or become like Jesus through imitation?   How can we even commence to fulfill the Apostle's commands and “prove all things” (1 Thes 5:21 KJV), when it appears we do not even possess the means to prove our faith and beliefs?   Did the Apostle just say these words and not truly mean them?   Or is the unthinkable true, and we no longer have the ability to prove what we believe because the foundational principles upon which the teachings of the New Covenant was destroyed by the Emperors of Rome who ruled the Church and infused Pagan-carnal doctrines into the Christian manner of thinking -- a manner of thinking that continues to plague us even to this present day?  

How can we prove anything when we can't even begin to understand why God inspires people to believe -- not only differently -- but often in total conflict and opposition to other sincere Bible reading believers?   It is intellectually dishonest to ignore the divided state of the Church in our modern time!   To close our hearts and minds to this ever-looming question as the majority of Christians do today, is in fact paramount to spiritual suicide.

In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Evangelical Christians, the sincerity of each group is unquestionable.   In many instances a sizeable portion of their number literally live and dwell to serve God through the expression of their religion.   In the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they often work for the society without pay.   In like manner, I have known a countless number of Evangelical Christians who have given the majority of their time to serving the Lord in the care of people in need.   Yet, these two groups of faithful believers who each claim to be in the truth, remain oceans apart on numerous fundamental points of their doctrine.   When a non-believer views this rather perplexing dilemma, it is easy to arrive at the conclusion that if there truly was a compassionate God, then he would communicate the truth to each of these very sincere believing groups.   The fact that the Christian world is literally an ocean of confusing and conflicting doctrines, strongly conveys to the non-believer that God simply does not exist, and is a figment of the church’s imagination.

One theory that was popular during the 1960's was that God was dead.   Other scholars and biblical experts were of the opinion that there never was an historical man Jesus, and they reason that the scriptures were just examples of the many god myths that were common throughout the Roman Empire in that day.   They point out that from an historical perspective, there was only a holy man known as James the Just -- the leader of the Messianic Jewish movement -- and a rather hazy account of twelve disciples.   They further point out that none of the rather detailed historical writings of the time even make mention of a man named Jesus.  

Based upon the evidence of the shroud of Turin, other scientists and theologians proposed that there was nothing miraculous in the resurrection of Christ -- that if there even was an historical man Jesus, he was not dead when he was laid in his tomb -- and was very much physically alive when he was later seen by his disciples.   There was even an ancient account that supported the claim that someone else took the place of Jesus on the cross.   One school of thought even pointed out that there was historical evidence to support the theory that after Jesus was secreted away by his disciples, he married Mary Magdalene and raised a family of his own.   Another source of historical evidence supports the claim that Jesus traveled to India and became a great teacher in that part of the world.   Still another scholar claimed that Jesus was a magician, and that he used his powers of persuasion, emotional healings, and mass hypnosis to induce his followers to worship him.   There was even one scholar who put forth the theory that the Jewish Rabbi known today as Jesus Christ was the personification of a fertility cult based upon the use of the psychedelic mushroom amanita muscara -- and the word Christ was used in reference to the drug that opened the mind of the user to visions of other worlds.  

That these ideas sound ludicrous to the average believer, does not negate the fact that very intelligent men and women have spent a great part of their lives investigating the historical facts, and the conclusions they have arrived at are based upon detailed information which the believer who casually and unknowingly rejects what they say has not even begun to consider.   Moreover, many of these people merely attempted to do as the Apostle commanded -- rather than just believe and adhere to the traditions and doctrines of men -- and “prove all things” (1 Thes 5:21 KJV).   That the average believer who knows very little in the way of facts, does not believe their conclusions, does not prove them to be in error.

The problem I faced was one that confronts all believers who begin to dig beneath the surface of accepted Christian beliefs.   The more I learned, the more I became concerned.   How was I to know which of the many very confusing theories were correct?   Should I rely upon my own mind to make such a determination?  Doesn’t the scriptures itself warn us that those who are “professing to be wise” are not, and “they become fools” (Rom 1:22 NAS).  

Should I follow the doctrine of any one particular group or sect, even though the scriptures warn about the false teachers and apostles who claim to be of Christ, but are not: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:13-15 NAS).   If I believe the warning of the Apostle, and accept the possibility that Satan makes himself into an angel of light, and his servants disguise themselves as apostles of Christ, then I must be ever aware of the fact that I could be easily deceived into following the disciples of Satan on the basis of what feels good to my carnal mindset.  

Now I understand that by merely raising these questions I will invoke the standard response that God would never let such a thing happen to His Church.   Yet, we must also be cognizant of the fact that if God would never let such a thing happen, then why were we not only warned in advance to beware of these pitfalls, but we were also warned in the Bible itself that the defilement of the church was imminent, as seen in the words: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. …The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Th 2:3-12 NKJ).

It is very clear that the Apostle foretells the believers to beware, because the disciples of Satan will rule over the church.   It is also very clear that those who are swayed by the doctrines of the shadow-church will receive a “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie”.   Why?   Because they embraced doctrines of lawlessness, and they did not possess a love of the truth.   And if we inquire as to what truth is?   From the Apostle's perspective, it is not something that is believed, but something that can be proven.   And if we ask what constitutes proof?   From the Apostle's perspective, it is that condition which has been brought about when we overcome this world, and we are able to sit at the feet of the Master -- in the Spiritual Church that the gates of Hell cannot defile -- and we Know God in the manner of the prodigal son who has returned home to his Father's Kingdom.   This is proof -- and anything less is the “strong delusion” that the disciples of Satan who appear to us as ministers of light has caused us to cling to through the process of faith in manmade and unprofitable doctrines of belief.

In my search for answers, I came face to face with the great Christian dilemma: If the bible warns that I cannot trust the religious authorities of the church -- that I cannot trust my own intellect and feelings -- then on what biblical basis would I put my trust in any of the many groups or sects I had encountered?   Should I do as many other Christians seemed to do, and just join the church that best suites my social and emotional needs?   These are important questions for Christians to face and confront.   Does not the scriptures warn us that: “For those who guide this people are leading them astray; and those who are guided by them are brought to confusion” (Isa 9:16 NAS).   In view of the fact that I was in a great deal of confusion, this scriptural warning seemed to apply to me.

Even more alarming was the number of scholars who warned that the Christian doctrine that is commonly believed in our churches today has no foundational basis in fact.   This group of scholars has continually cautioned the modern believer that present-day Christian doctrine is simply not in harmony with the historical evidence and the historical church.   They pointed out that the original people of the New Covenant were a sect of acetic Jewish monks and mystics who held entirely different views about God and the nature of mankind than we do today.   They warned that modern mainstream religious ideas pertaining to God, Jesus, and the Bible, have no place in the religion of Jesus' disciples and the first Christians.  

Perhaps even more troublesome is the fact that many of these scholars have compiled a great wealth of proof that the author of the Church which came to be known as Christian, was not Christ or Peter -- but rather, that man known as the Apostle Paul -- a man who was openly condemned as a heretic by those who were ordained and taught by Jesus himself.   The perplexity of the problem with what Paul wrote in his letters to the Gentiles, is seen in the fact that everyone quotes him -- i.e., the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Evangelical Christians, the Seventh Day Adventists, the mainline Protestant Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormons, the Uniterians -- and each of these churches all see a different doctrine of belief emerge from what Paul wrote.  

Yet, the one thing that all these groups have in common is they place very little emphasis on the need to live in strict accordance with the (transcendental) precepts which Paul ordained.   Though modern Christians who possess very little understanding with respect to the vision and purpose of other religions will undoubtedly become offended when I state that Paul taught a form of Christian Buddhism -- the reality of the situation is that when the Roman Church did away with the lifestyle ordained by Paul, they in fact undermined the very essence of what the Apostle taught.   When this flaw is recognized, the problem that arises is also foretold throughout the Bible in the continual warning that when a body of believers attempt to live in accordance with the thinking and mindset of this world -- and embrace a form of religious philosophy -- it is their carnal lifestyle and the manner which they actually live that in effect, nullifies the whole system of religiosity that Paul taught and revealed.

Thus, in my search for truth I had to pose the question: What if the scholars are correct?   If they are, the problem confronting modern believers is even more difficult than even imagined.   Not only did the church that Paul create have very little in common with the church of Peter and the other disciples, but in like manner, the first and second century Greek church which sprang forth from the teachings of Paul -- a church that was transcendental in nature -- has very little in common with what evolved into mainstream Christianity today.  

If we set aside our prejudices for just a moment, and entertain the possibility that these scholars who the community of believes reject, actually see a valid point that the majority of people do not, then we can perhaps begin to get a better sense of one of our problems that is paramount among Christians today.   Something which cannot be ignored is the fact that the biblical scholars can successfully demonstrate that the religion practiced today has become culturized, and has little in common with the essence of Christian thought as it existed in the first century.   When these experts speak of the first Christians, they often use words such as spiritual, mysticism and gnosticism.   Yet, since the time of the Church of the Roman Empire down to the present, Gnostic Christians have come to be viewed as heretics and infidels.  

In the recognition that the Truth lies with Jesus at the essence of New Covenant thought -- and not in the religious philosophy of men who attempted to clarify what they often did not possess the means to understand, I saw still another problem in my quest to understand the true Jesus -- a problem that appeared dangerous to shut my mind to.   How could I ignore the fact that the religious teachings of Jesus' disciples, and those taught by Paul, were so radically different, that the disciples and followers who learned their concepts of religion directly from Jesus -- first hand -- labeled Paul the historical Simon Magus -- whom they said was the initiator and creator of all heresy?   Moreover, how could I know if Paul was in fact even genuine, unless I knew what those who opposed him knew?  

To agree with the position of the modern church and attempt to promote the idea that the first followers of Jesus were too Jewish, is absurd once it is realized that Jesus was himself Jewish -- and in his own words said: “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22 KJV).   Moreover, if it was within Jesus' power to convert Paul to the truth -- a man who had never even met the historical Jesus -- then why was Jesus unable to convert his own disciples who he lived with and taught over the period of three years?   In confronting these inconsistencies I had to ask the question that I believe every truly faithful Christian must ask: Was it my recourse to merely accept church tradition, and to just believe which ever doctrine sounds right to my carnal understanding?   Something deep within my soul told me this was unacceptable -- and every time I became disillusioned, it seemed that some innate power tormented me to continue on in my search for truth.

Because of the well-documented controversy between Peter and Paul, the Gentile church has taken the position that the disciples of Jesus were Judaizers who did not understand the true dimensions of what Christ taught.   Historically, they used Peter for their own purposes of creating a lineage between themselves, the Nation of Israel, and the Old Testament scriptures -- scriptures which they made no attempt to follow -- and for the most part looked to Paul as the true revealer of the Gospel.   But were they faithful to what Paul preached?   Because they created an institutional, secularized church which lacked the spiritual-Gnostic element that is clearly visible throughout Paul's writings, modern church doctrine is so far a field from what the actual disciples of Paul taught and required, that the lifestyle of most Christians today would be judged as New Covenant apostasy -- even by Paul himself.

In recognition of these evolutionary changes that have taken place -- and the fact that the present version of the church has very little in common with the original church of the New Covenant -- the consensus among many scholars today would be offensive from a modern believer's perspective:  In many ways they assert the opinion that the present-day church is little more than a very wealthy commercial business that promotes fables among an unsuspecting blind believing group of people -- a people who are in need of a psychological crutch to make it through their daily lives.   Admittedly, the body of scholars who have expressed this opinion would not in any understanding of the word be considered a group of spiritual people that could be relied upon to provide any degree of inspired insight, but that does not mean their conclusions are totally wrong.   What it does mean is that in our search for the genuine Jesus and the essence of New Covenant teachings, these Bible and religious scholars represent one more school of thought that should be carefully considered.  

It must also be stated that the body of believers are adamantly opposed to this rather biased opinion, but they can offer very little in the way of facts to counter it.   From a religious perspective, the hard evidence that does exist only serves to demonstrate that the church today has little in common with the religion practiced in the first century of our common era.   When this fact is brought to light, the modern faith-based church authorities counter with perhaps the most absurd statement of all -- i.e., that they know Jesus better than the first century Christians.   In our present search for answers, I believe that what I will herein present to you will thoroughly dispel this myth.

Unlike the series of Sunday School teachers who taught me their doctrine of faith when I was a child growing up, I did not believe that God ordained blind belief.   In fact, the whole modern religious doctrine that man is required to just believe -- believe and trust in events and concepts that are beyond his ability to ether authenticate or understand -- especially when the concepts in question in many instances are at odds with even the basics of human standards of reason -- if we are to call ourselves worthy believers, everything in our life's experiences demand us to make a more in-depth investigation into the matter.   From a biblical perspective, time and again the scriptures warn us that the adherence to the doctrines of men is condemned as one of the worst of sins.   In recognition of these fundamental facts, and after a great deal of examination, I had to ask myself the crucial question that I believe each and every faithful Christian today must ask: What would God want me to do?    




Allan Cronshaw



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