Posted by Roberta Grimes • October 09, 2021 • 34 Comments
Afterlife Research, Book Quotes, Jesus, The Teachings of Jesus
“We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists,
select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus…
There will be found remaining the most sublime
and benevolent code of morals
which has ever been offered to man.
I have performed this operation for my own use,
by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book,
and arranging the matter which is evidently his,
and which is as easily distinguishable
as diamonds in a dunghill.”
– Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), from a letter to John Adams (October 12, 1813)
I have been hearing of late from people who wonder how we can distinguish what Jesus likely said from the corruptions of His words that followed His death. Then last week we performed a bit of analysis on something I had thought He likely hadn’t said, but now it seems that He probably did say it. And that prompted even more people to ask how I ever was able to figure that out! I want to empower you as much as I can, so I am happy to share with you how I continue to seek and to find an ever better understanding of the genuine Jesus.
First, of course, I should acknowledge that I have spent considerable time in self-education:
So I have known from the age of twenty that we can’t take the Gospels at face value. And furthermore, Miss Corwin (I think that was her name) seems to have transformed me into a radical. She was adamant that her students must internalize her own sense of outrage at the grievous sins against the teachings of Jesus that were committed by the early church councils, and especially by First Nicaea. She was the first person I ever knew who was separating Jesus from Christianity at all, and never mind her defending Him against what I used to think was His very own religion!
With all of that said, let’s look at some Gospel passages and see where this level of analysis takes us. I have included here just four examples from Appendix I of Liberating Jesus:
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (MT 16:18-19).
This is an easy one! “Petros,” meaning “rock,” would have been a pun in Greek, but Jesus spoke Aramaic. Jesus intended to abolish religions and teach us to relate to God on our own, and He never spoke about or even hinted at wanting to found a church. There is no Hades. And of course He never would have given “the keys of heaven” to human beings of limited understanding, with the added authority to bind even God! From beginning to end, this is nonsense.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds” (MT 16:24-27).
This is one of many examples of the handiwork of Councilors who may have built their nonsense into things that Jesus actually said. But for Jesus to mention a cross here is a frank anachronism, and that reference to Him coming in glory and judging us is end-times nonsense of much later origin.
‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (MT 28:18-20).
The Great Commission is likely something Jesus actually said, but the words in italics are anachronistic. It was well after the Lord’s death that the notion of a Trinity came along and the Last Supper became a sacrament. But for First Nicaea and the other religion-builders, adding it here made this a charge for His disciples to go out there and spread a religion that during the Lord’s lifetime did not exist! Simply remove those words. Fixing this one is easy.
And finally, the whole of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21:8-36 is devoted to end-times and other anachronistic nonsense. All of this was added soon after the Lord’s death, and much of it was probably added even before First Nicaea in 325. All we can conclude is that the earliest religion-builders wanted to tie the end-times prophesies that were in wide circulation during that period of Christian persecution directly back to Jesus, so they cribbed some of their own ideas into His Gospels. When Jesus came to teach us how to use our many earth-lifetimes to ever better grow toward spiritual perfection – when His mission was so far-seeing – it is beyond nonsensical that He ever would have said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (MT 24:14). Or “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (MT 24:34).
The fact that those who try to strengthen our belief in Christianity are called “apologists” should tell us something! It is their unenviable task to directly address all the criticisms of Christianity, and to show practicing Christians how they can answer those objections for themselves and for others who might question the religion. One of the articles by Keith Giles linked above gives you the six primary attacks against the religion that Christian apologists must try to address; and here, by way of example, is a very good apologist explaining why the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross doesn’t say anything negative about God. I get it, but I am not convinced. I doubt that you are, either. But still, Christian apologists play a useful role. They encourage us to engage with the religion in a non-superstitious way, and the fact that their explanations really don’t answer the core questions helps us to further see the religion as bankrupt. But there is one institution that, even beyond Christianity, is not only bankrupt but also allowing its stubborn adherence to useless ideas to do immense harm now to all of humanity. We’ll talk about that next week.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I
have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”
– Jesus (John 14:12)
34 thoughts on “Seeking Jesus”
Hi Roberta, hi everybody!
Growing up in the Roman Catholic tradition, at a time when it was a novel idea—and almost a heresy—to hold Mass in the vernacular language, I didn’t read the Gospels myself until I was in high school. Brief selected passages were read to me by priests. I don’t remember if we thought if was a sin worthy of confession to read alone, but it was discouraged. When I did, it was as part of a Comparative Religion course. So there was still a filter.
There is a filter even now. It is the filter our personal upbringings and fears bring to the words. These can be as hard to break free of as the barriers of the Latin Mass.
PS-I suspect this is the same issue people had even as they listened to Him teach live. The teachings are so contrary to tradition and prevailing culture that they test all our perceptions and “logic” about the world.
Dear Mike, the Catholic church has always massively discouraged the reading of the Bible – and especially the Gospels – by laypeople. The first English translation of the New Testament dates to the sixteenth century, and it was not the clergy’s idea! You’re right in saying that the discouragement of independent study in Catholicism is subtle, but it certainly is there.
I am no longer sure what I think of the gnostic gospels and other ancient writings that may or may not be from Jesus’ teachings. Except as cultural artifacts that demonstrate that many cultures recognized Him as a teacher of esoteric as well as practical approaches to our relationship to God, they may not tell us what He actually said or did. But of this I am sure: it really is important for us to seek in order to find, to knock in order to have the door opened. This is too important to leave to scholars and middlemen (or women)!
Hi Roberta growing up Catholic it’s hard to unravel all this now it was a control for my mom to say your going to hell if y behave badly now I know different an it’s liberating I’m now on hospice my time is limited I want to absorb all I can your just wonderful thank you Brenda
Oh my dear Brenda, I’m happy to help you all I can! If you will send me your email address, I will be happy to send you my books in PDF. And answer your questions. You are embarking on a truly wonderful time, and I want you to enjoy it as much as possible!
First and foremost I Must say you try extremely hard.
However, from my perspective, why waste the time reading and trying to understand a definitely tainted document by so many individuals over the years?
I learned quite a while ago each and every one of us have our own personal internal guide; one of the names assigned is God Fragment. Why waste the time searching outside of one’s self and listening to some one pontificate in front of you; you chose the reason for there are many, none good.
All one needs to realize and follow is this: Do as you want however Do No Harm to anyone by physical, emotional or thought..
Sounds pretty simple and easy and of course, straight forward, right??? Try it for a few weeks… Watch what comes out of your mouth; watch your actions; watch you thoughts…
From a Religious consideration, both in the past and right to this day, they have no social value on talking about GOD or JESUS, none.
The only answer is within; go join a social club it you want to be around like individuals.. GOD couldn’t be closer, stop looking…
On my dear Skip, I do so much wish that your rosy view of humanity had even the slightest connection to anything real. How very simple that would make our lives! Just share a little happy-think, and very soon there would be no wars, no cruelty, only love and light. And I could spend my retirement tending my bougainvillea vines!
But alas, the world that I live in is beset by so much cruelty and pain that I can’t just shrug and tell everyone to just think good thoughts and Do No Harm. And while you are right about some things – the Christian God isn’t real, and most of the Christian Bible is “tainted” – you are emphatically wrong about the canonical Gospels, which are the only part of the Christian Bible that we ever read here. Facts matter, dear Skip. And in a desperate world of close to eight billion people who do not have your lovely ability to just think good thoughts and everything will be all better, there are a few facts that I cannot turn away from, now that I know them to be facts. They are, sadly for me, a lot more important than my own wish to enjoy a cozy retirement.
FIRST: Jesus came to us from the highest aspect of the genuine Godhead. He came to us actually as God on earth.
SECOND: Jesus brought to us extraordinary wisdom that has been altogether ignored for two thousand years, but it is in the canonical Gospels and is readily discoverable with only a bit of effort.
THIRD: That wisdom directly from the highest aspect of the genuine Godhead has the power, if we will simply apply it, to genuinely transform each individual and to altogether transform the world.
And I know this. I have seen that all of it is true, and wonderful. I cannot turn away from it now.
But, do enjoy your happy-think, dear Skip!
Dear Skip– I agree with you. We all know right from wrong, although frequently ignoring or stretching it, especially when young to get our way.
We have a conscience as an immediate guide. As to your rule, why that’s the Golden Rule. In the many NDE encounters I’ve read reporting meeting Christ, his message about how to live when returning was always very simple and always was a version of His Golden Rule. Never, ever did he say to follow any religion.
I feel Roberta’s analyses of scripture are excellent, but also wonder about the need to study scripture, except as an academic pursuit.
I have a friend who was a devout member of the RCC, but then realized that church officials simply could not be trusted on any topic. So he started to study scripture for himself as his means for learning right from wrong, and what to expect. Well, the Bible does not tell us the future in any useable terms, and in fact Christ said only God knows when the end will come.
And as for moral/ethical guidance, we do have our conscience, and it is written that if we ask we shall receive, so when in doubt I pray.
Oh my dear Jack, I am so used to more sophistication from you! First, of course, it appears from the evidence that the genuine Jesus never has appeared and pontificated in any near-death experience, any more than God has appeared in the flesh to anyone. We never say never, since Jesus could choose to do it. But if that is what “Jesus” says in NDEs, then it is just pablum. And emphatically, Jesus never speaks pablum!
Look, if trying to understand what Jesus actually was saying when He descended from the Godhead and briefly took human form doesn’t feel important to you, then fine. You are on your own journey. But to say that it is not important for those who feel called to serve the non-religious mission of Jesus to offer this particular service to humankind is to say that truth doesn’t matter. Ultimately, serving humankind doesn’t matter. And, true, you do have the right to turn away from the possibility that we might be able to alleviate human suffering, but I cannot turn away. You may not feel as I do, but it would be gracious of you to at least respect the fact that the need is real.
Roberta, I respect your biblical scholarship. I also think that God would not withhold from me (or any one else) His moral precepts and guidance, and provides such in our conscience and in “messages” however subtly communicated.
It makes me scream intellectually to think that God would have required each of us to become biblical text scholars, knowledgeable about subtleties of dead and changed languages, and even knowing that there are printed Bibles with some more accurate than other but no guidance on which to chose. On the other hand, my own research found that the NDE happens to people in need of a life course change, and Ken Ring, one of the founders of IANDS (who per chance participated in my orals for the MS degree) agrees that that’s what he too concluded.
Why wouldn’t Christ use the NDE to provide guidance–He is not hiding from us but surely has an interest in our soul’s perfection. Why would Christ teach only a select few, and especially when he apparently (we cannot know for sure) warned against soothsayers. So, I am content that God will inform me (and all others) of what I (they) need to know thru my (their) conscience, or in addition thru timely guidance as needed.
I fully acknowledge that guidance is often needed in our in lifetimes, and fully expect that God would be directly helpful–and not withhold such to require instead biblical scholarship to gain timely guidance. And to repeat, Christ never once in the thousands of NDE reports I’ve read ever said or hinted at any need to read scripture or attend any church for guidance.
Dear Jack, I’m not sure what it is that you are railing against, but I think I must have misspoken. Sorry about that! I’ll try again:
My reaction to what you and Skip said was so strong because I do not think there is any evidence that a moral sense is innate in everyone. Quite the contrary! And that being the case, it seemed arrogant to me for the two of you to say that since you can receive God’s guidance on your own, my efforts to bring the teachings of Jesus to the modern world are a waste of time. You’ve got yours, right? Who cares about helping anyone else?
Of course God doesn’t care whether you become Biblical scholars! Good grief.
NDEs do indeed often happen to people in need of spiritual guidance, and it’s clear that directing us through an NDE’s contrived experiences is one way that our personal spirit guides can get through to us. I have nothing against NDEs, having had my own spiritually transformative experiences! NDEs are in fact beautiful, extraordinary demonstrations of our eternally spiritual nature and the power of God’s infinite love for each of us individually.
But my dear Jack, nothing that happens in any NDE can ever be taken as objective evidence of anything. Indeed, Jesus could speak in one or in a hundred NDEs if He chose! But there is no way that we could conceivably tell which of the thousands of Jesus communications produced in NDEs to date have been from the genuine Jesus, and which were from the mimic-Jesuses that have been part of so many NDE experiences. You are right in saying that all NDE experiences are personal to the experiencer! So that is where we should leave them. I would hope that at least we can agree on that?
As I think you know, each of us is on a different journey, guided by our individual guides and a jointly-prepared life-plan. My particular journey is part of a deal that I made with my beautiful eternal friend, Thomas, that I would devote a lot of my life to doing some particular things that he wanted to get done (he is now breaking in to say that I wanted to get them done as well). I began this post with that Jefferson quote to show you how longstanding his passion for better knowing Jesus really is! But this is just our role, his and mine. You, Jack, needn’t bother to read a single word of the Gospels. Your journey is a different one, and you are being well-guided on that path.
I have just gone back to read what Skip said above, and your response to it. My reaction is the same as it was the first time. For the two of you to denigrate and dismiss that way the work to which anyone has given a lifetime just because you personally don’t need the benefit of it seems heartless, and sadly out of character for you both.
Dear Roberta, Your well composed reply does you credit. I have zero intent to denigrate your work or opinions. I would not waste my time and yours on pointless criticism. We do differ on a few key points.
Let’s agree to the solipsistic dilemma. In principle, all we know is what is present to our minds, and that is indeed unreliable, because normal perception is constructed in the brain from sensation (inherently unreliable), memory (obviously unreliable), and soul (not objectively observable by any second parties). Thus, I can only assure you that I have an active conscience, but could not in principle ever prove that, or that NDEs are authentic (and as I have mentioned to you privately, I’ve seen some reports that I feel are contrived).
There are surely multiple paths to knowing about God’s truths. Conscience is one. Scriptural study would be another another path, and credit to those who share their knowledge; no denigration about that.
Fulton Sheen, as you must be aware, has been canonized, but not yet sainted. Given the corruption of current RCC leadership, their lack of action is more about them then him.
We do strongly disagree about the need for ordinary individuals to engage in scriptural scholarship. My rationale is that God is active, and would not rely on such scholarship for promoting moral behavior and spiritual development. Why would He share principles with a very few ancients, and then rely on folks scattered across the globe to find out from that remote source what is moral? Makes zero sense. What does make sense is that He would send us to life with our conscience to directly inform us about right and wrong, and supply additional guidance, as thru praying, and thru an NDE, or other spiritual experiences.
I read, even study, your posts, because you generally are well informed, and convey useful insights. But my primary reliance for moral guidance is on my own conscience and prayer.
Studying the bible as it is written would be a waste of time and would lead to confusion and fear. I truly feel that they wanted Jesus to come across more scary than he actually was so they could start a church in his name. The church generated money and power, but that could never have happened if we were allowed to just follow his teachings without the extra fanfare
Dear Lola, nearly the entire Bible is ancient writings by primitive people. There are four books, however, which contain the memories of interactions by primitive people with the genuine Godhead in a human body as that Godhead attempted to better understand us and then to teach us how to transform ourselves and then the world. Or as someone wisely said, most of the Bible is man’s search for God, while the Gospels are God’s search for man.
The way that all religions actively use fears that they instill in us to take our money and claim our time is indeed pretty horrifying! I do realize, though, now that we are looking to better promote what Jesus actually said, that it is likely that no religion can survive for long unless it uses fear. The more we look at it, the more hopeless it seems. If you have any ideas, I’d be glad to hear them!
I agree 100%, especially about religion and fear, which seem to go hand in hand. Therefore, religion is not only unnecessary. but can actually be dangerous and the reason why is fear. It is hard to remove fear once it is instilled during childhood. I’ve actually heard of people who think the devil is trying to intervene when they start questioning their religion. This is how deeply rooted these fears can become. Therefore, removing fear is the most important thing to do.
Well, and also, fear is the lowest-vibration level of consciousness, so as a result it severely retards our ability to grow spiritually, when growing spiritually is the reason why we even come to earth at all.
Good Evening Roberta
What an incredible quote from Thomas Jefferson
Each line with such distinct and very hard to find wisdom.
I think I will be referring back to it again and again.
I just love it.
Thank you for what you do.
Oh my dear Christi, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s one of my favorites, too. Most people focus on Jefferson’s “diamonds in a dunghill” analogy – a farmer would for sure have known about dunghills! – but I see in it, as you do, the wisdom of a good man who, toward the end of his life, had finally become sufficiently frustrated with religions that he was seeking to know the Man Himself.
Yup, all true. Churchdom was created to enable power and satisfy greed by self-anointed spokesman for God, with the threat that if you do not obey them you would be consigned to eternal damnation in Hell.
Not all spokesman are bad, and indeed some are saintly (Fulton Sheen was a favorite of mine growing up), but the good ones are in bad company, and for the RCC, the leadership now aiming at a one world government and church is flat out evil.
Dear Jack, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and his little homilies in black-and-white are among my earliest TV memories! Not sure that I would call him quite saintly, but the way he could fascinate a small child as he did me suggests that he must have been a compelling speaker.
And yes, the Catholic church leadership is now pretty close to evil incarnate. Tremendous evil has come from the hierarchy’s nonsense notion that priests must be celibate, and they still won’t end celibacy even now, when their dearth of priestly vocations is a grave emergency. Just the fact that they hold nearly unimaginable wealth, gleaned over centuries, while there have been and there continue to be starving children in the world shows that there is no connection at all between Catholicism and the genuine Jesus.
Yow! A one world government and church is really a scary thought. I can see nothing good coming from that.
No. Disastrous. Communist China writ large. But fortunately, the United States is more than three hundred million cantankerous people with a strong history of personal freedom, a short fuse when it comes to governmental overreach, and hundreds of millions of guns.
I do not belive a higher authority mandates anyone to become a biblical scholar, in fact much of the human race lacks the intellectual capacity or resources to do so. However, it becomes necessary at times to do just that in order to discover untruths taught by those who use the Bible as a supreme authority and interpret it to suit their personal agenda.
I do believe that thoughts are things, all of which have some impact on the human condition. Regardless of what spiritual approach one chooses, it seems beneficial to maximize the positive ones and minimize the negatives.
My dear Thomas, you make some excellent points! I stress in my Gospel work the need to more perfectly divine what Jesus actually said and meant, but it is almost as important to be able to call out the religionists for their many distortions of the Lord’s words. And yes, it has been proven that our thoughts can have tremendous power over others, for good or ill. In all things, if we want a better and more loving world, it is indeed incumbent on all of us to be loving and positive in all that we do!
No one could have mandated that anyone should become a biblical scholar, especially Jesus, because the bible was written many years after the crucifixion. That is why there are so many distortions of his words. It has been in the hands of so many and each added their own personal thoughts. Just one more example of religion screwing things up.
My dear Lola, considering the fact that the words of Jesus spent time as oral history, were translated at least twice, had a religion edit and use them for its own purposes, and then were in the continuous custody of the Catholic church for more than a thousand years, it repeatedly astounds me to see how closely His words align with the truths that we learn from other sources. In fact, despite all of that and all the ways in which those teachings could have been garbled and destroyed over the centuries, for the most part – or so the dead tell us – we still have pretty much what Jesus actually said!
Dear Roberta. Thank you very much for your tireless work and scholarship. We can’t all put in the amount of time that you have, so the work of people like you is very important. l guess a couple things come to mind in light of the above discussion. One is the idea of knowing the trees by their fruits, as Jesus put it. It’s fine to say something like, “Do no harm and do what you want,” and that is certainly a good golden-rule-style goal, but even Aleister Crowley said things like “Love shall be the law” and “Do what thou wilt,” and was even a devout Buddist for a while in his younger years, but we know what sort of negative hedonistic rabbit hole he wound up going down, so one needs to be watchful of where one is going. This leads to the second thought. Those fruits can easily become bitter when people are left solely to their own devices and only what is in their own heads. As a seeker of reality, I think you would appreciate that we should also be seeking reality checks beyond our own minds, teachers like you being one example. Another example is spiritual masters, Jesus being the epitome, who by the examples of their lives and teachings, and the power of Divine Presence and Love that emanates so brightly from them, can be like lighthouses helping us stay on course. We can’t all find living masters, though, and Jesus is no longer with us in person, but with the help of workers like you, his words still resound and guide us through the fog of the ages. Spirit guides also play a role. An additional part of this is “wherever two or more are gathered.” Spiritual teachers often speak of the importance of the company of fellow seekers on the path. They cheer us on, can be sounding boards for us, and can spot issues in us that we ourselves might be blind to. A final thought is that rather than just doing what we alone want, that should also be yoked to the idea of doing God’s Will, a worthy goal however imperfectly we may achieve it, because in the final anslysis, God’s Will would be for not just his good or just our good, but for the highest good of all. I hope that makes sense.
Dear Scott, thank you for your insights! I just would add that it is really only very recently that I have come to see how unusual my life has been. For the most part, I’ve just been having fun! Doing all that afterlife research felt as easy as picking great bouquets of flowers, and figuring out the Gospels has been like living in ever brighter sunshine. I have never for a moment felt that any of it was drudgery, or I wouldn’t have done it. So I don’t deserve praise for it, really. I just have picked all these great armfuls of flowers, and since I’ve done it, I am eager to share what I know!
Hi Roberta. When your passion, or avocation, becomes your true work, or vocation, it’s all good. How long has it been since you started staying, “Thank you God for giving me work, thank you for showing me how to do it?” It would make sense that God knows what your most joyful “work” is. (All thanks to you, I just reached my 4 year anniversary of saying that affirmation on Oct 11. I have to say, for everyone reading, that my own life truly transformed pretty soon after doing that back in 2017, so why not try it? Thank you again for all you do, Roberta, and for being such a great spiritual mentor – a big bouquet of those flowers to you from me.) 😃
Oh my dear beautiful Scott, I’m so glad that Thomas’s suggested affirmation helps you, too! It’s so odd that most people are afraid to do it for real – to give their lives to God – when the results seem to be universally wonderful!
I now know that this has all been part of my life-plan. I was to spend the first sixty or so years of my life kind of owning it myself and working on my own issues while I prepped for this next stage, and then would come a switch and I would spend the last third of my life working as part of a team on this larger project of – well, we’ll call it “fixing the world” because it seems to have a lot of moving parts.
It was early April of 2009. I was then attending a Unity Church, and I got there early and was sitting in an almost-empty sanctuary when the thought came into my head quite loudly that it was time to give my life to God. Well, okay. But how do you do that? The whole affirmation appeared in my mind, and I repeated it in my mind, and then tried to improve on it. I couldn’t, and the sanctuary was filling and the music was starting, and that was that. I have repeated the same words every day since, and usually several times each day. “Thank You for giving me work to do. Thank You for showing me how to do it.”
Thomas later told me that the affirmation has been mostly symbolic, that it is more about reminding myself daily that this work is now my priority. But in retrospect it feels more powerful than that. When you tell God you’re ready, and God knows you mean it, then the work starts to come. The joy begins.
Roberta, I think you are right that the affirmation is like a broom that sweeps away the daily distractions, and also that when the time is right, starting to say it comes so surprisingly easily it is like falling off a log, so probably part of the life plan. I had a couple of great synchricities when I made the decision as well, which gave me added validation.
Oh my dear Scott, you make me smile! I find that affirmation so astoundingly comforting. For me it feel like climbing into the lap of God in complete surrender and trust, and it’s a mark of how awful modern Christianity really is, that most people have learned to fear and not to trust the genuine Godhead. When I used to teach that affirmation, people would sometimes come up to me afterward and ask me why I wasn’t worried that God would make me go and work in a leper colony somewhere! But as Jesus says, if even we – “who are evil” – know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does a perfectly loving God understand our deepest hearts and rejoice in making us happy?