Christianity in Crisis

Posted by Roberta Grimes • August 12, 2023 • 46 Comments

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?

 And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?

As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more.
Something even non-believers can believe in.
Burt Bacharach (1928-2023), from “Alfie” (1966)

Even as Christianity fades in popularity, some of the religion’s sterner denominations continue to condemn people to hell just for doctrinal reasons. There also are Christian denominations whose views of God, or views of roles for women, or thoughts on communion formalities, or rules about making amends for sins are seen by some believers to not hit the right doctrinal notes to make others happy, even within the same denominations, so as to cause sometimes bitter debates. So it is no wonder why at this point there are more than forty-two thousand different Christian denominations worldwide! If I were advising the churches, and even putting aside the fact that afterlife researchers have found that there is in fact no hell, I would advise all versions of Christianity that all this hell-condemning and policing of the minutia of people’s various beliefs amounts to a set of terrible marketing choices, for heaven’s sake!  As Jesus Himself said, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions…You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (MK 7:8-9) It is time now for those who are still trying to preserve what little is left of that old-time religion to take the Lord’s point, and to stop all this fussing over divisive doctrinal nonsense. The marketing optics of it all are frankly god-awful!

One might even ask where the whole hell idea comes from, when the afterlife reality itself as we have come to know it pretty well through communications from the afterlife’s residents so notably lacks any mention of a hell. Even Jesus in the Gospels never mentions a hell beyond the gloomy fire-free outer darkness, which does in fact exist as the lowest afterlife level; but it is a place to which only we ourselves might temporarily condemn ourselves. Or Jesus mentions the Gehenna garbage dump outside Jerusalem, whose references don’t look very hellish either. A couple of what look like references to permanent divine condemnations in the Gospels are clearly later suspect additions that were added at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. And, well, simply put, I just don’t get it! When fewer and fewer people are attending churches every year, why are those churches chasing ever more attendees away by instilling in them terror of a hell for which there is no evidence? And when fewer and fewer Americans are mustering any kind of belief in God with each year that passes, why make that problem any worse by insisting that only a God of a certain specific description can somehow win the right to reign on high?

There is no real cure for what ails Christianity now, other than a return all the way back to its true First Source. I have been reading a variety of Christian bloggers, looking for ideas about how we might begin to shape a viable post-all-schisms Christian movement, and over and over we see most modern Christian thinkers making the same key mistake. To their minds, “going all the way back” means reading just the early church fathers, all of whom lived and wrote after First Nicaea in 325 CE. By then, the pure thinking of Jesus Himself was not even a distant memory.

To his great credit, the modern Christian thinker who tries to hew closest to the Gospels’ true First Source is Father Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation.  Father Richard believes that when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, it lost the essence of the Gospels themselves as what he calls “good news for the poor.” And of course I agree with him, although I consider that Gospels good news to have been not just for the poor, but for all of us! I do get his point, though, and I want to give him the chance to make it to us here. Father Richard says:

“In the early Christian Scriptures, the message of Jesus seems to have been heard in great part by people on the bottom. We see clearly in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels that people who are poor, in need of healing, or viewed as sinners tend to get the point. Those who are outside or at the edges of the system understand Jesus, while those who are inside or at the center are the ones who crucify him.

“We can date the turning point to the year 313 CE, when the Emperor Constantine established Christianity throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The Church thought that linking up with power was a good way to spread the gospel message. In truth, it became embarrassed by Jesus, the powerless one. Most churches do the same, in their own way. We feel more comfortable with power than we do with powerlessness. Who wants to be like Jesus? Who wants to be powerless? It just doesn’t look like a way of influence, access, or one that is going to make any difference.

“After 313, Scripture interpretations do a 180-degree turn. Take the issue of war: a hundred years before 313, it was unthinkable that a Christian would fight in the army. Jesus’s teaching on nonviolence is self-evident. As Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948) observed, ‘I am convinced that [Christianity] has distorted the message of Jesus…. When it had the backing of a Roman emperor it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.’ Jesus taught nonviolence, lived nonviolently, and died nonviolently, but this goes right over our heads! We can’t see it because we’ve spent seventeen hundred years interpreting Scripture from the top. Reading Scripture from the bottom is the key to what liberation theology calls the preferential option for the poor. I just call it the bias from the bottom. Apart from conversion and until the ego is transformed, everybody wants to be at the top. Apart from grace, we don’t see anything valuable on the bottom.

“By the year 400 CE, the entire Roman army is Christian and we are killing the ‘pagans.’ After the Empire becomes Christian, there is a whole section of the Bible that we are structurally unable to read. We can’t read anything about nonviolence, powerlessness, or not being ‘winners.’ We can’t see what we can’t see. We can’t hear what we are not ready to hear. And if we are on the top, any critique of the top is un-hearable. This is where action and contemplation are linked together. In the contemplative journey, unless we see this necessary humiliation of the ego and defeat of the false self, we don’t undergo basic transformation.”

The gentle, kindly, and perfectly spiritual Man who is Jesus Himself was forced to watch the perversion of His pure Gospels message by the Roman Emperor Constantine beginning late in the third century. And Jesus understands people so well! He knew precisely what Constantine’s seizure of His burgeoning Jesus Movement was going to mean, and it breaks my heart to think of Him having to watch it happen. Simply put, love and forgiveness, kindness and peace, all those stellar virtues of the least of these, do not sell well among those who lust only for absolute power and control. Constantine cared not at all for the very teachings which were central to the love-based movement that Jesus had so well begun.

But what Jesus had taught was beautiful! He said, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:35-36). And Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect!” (MT 5:43-48). When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23). And Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (LK 6:37-38).

Sadly, though, none of that was of any use to Constantine, who needed a fear-based way to control the masses as he conquered them. So as he built the Roman Christian religion that is our Christianity of today, Constantine suppressed and destroyed all the peaceful aspects of the Jesus Movement. He built the entirety of his new religion around what was a minor idea that had developed as an aspect of that Movement, an idea based in ancient Hebrew religious practice that proposed that Jesus had died as a pure sin-sacrifice to God. And Constantine thus built his whole religion around the notion of Jesus as the ultimate pure sin-sacrifice, which of course then imposed deep fear and penance upon us all. He did include Jesus’s Gospel teachings in the Christian Bible as He assembled it, but none of that was emphasized. Or even really taught. So all the fear- and guilt-based aspects of modern Christianity came from Constantine. None of that came from Jesus.

And since history is written by its winners, Christians down through all the generations have been taught and have lived our lives knowing things which never have been true. We were taught that Constantine was a hero! He had saved and protected and built the church, and done wonderful things for us and for Jesus as he spread Christianity throughout the world. I can recall how rudderless it felt to be a young Christian even in the nineteen-sixties, simultaneously reading the Bible over and over with an emphasis on the Gospels while I also attended Christian church services. Being taught to love and also to fear, not knowing which beliefs were right, and yet if you guessed wrong about what you believed, your soul might wind up in hell. Could that really be true? Oh my goodness, you never saw a more seriously devout religious seeker than I was as a teenager! But for someone who naively took Christianity as seriously as I took it then, the competing beliefs of Constantine’s fear-based religion and the earlier Jesus Movement still buried inside the Gospels simply never could be reconciled.

What fixed it all for me was the wonderful professor who was my college advisor. Miss Corwin was at the end of her long career, and growing bitter about the fact that her strongly negative view of Constantine’s role in Christian history, while factually correct, was going to remain a minority position. But she taught what was true, and she answered my questions, and while she wanted me to become a minister, I realize now in retrospect that she could see even then that I lacked the fire in the belly that entering the clergy would have required. But perhaps my doing what I am doing now is even more effective at spreading her point of view?

All I know is that the most famous Being Who ever lived came to us from the Godhead two thousand years ago to free us from all religions, and to give us the easiest method for achieving rapid spiritual growth ever devised. If we will follow Jesus’s simple teachings, we can achieve enough spiritual growth in one lifetime to make this our last necessary earth-lifetime. And Constantine has only delayed, but he has not ended the moment when The Way of Jesus can prevail. As my Thomas tells us, Constantine did perform one service for us all. Now everyone on earth knows the name of Jesus! So now we need only to help the world to better understand what Jesus taught, and the true Jesus Movement can at last begin.

I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you’ve missed, you’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk, let your heart lead the way,
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie
Burt Bacharach (1928-2023), from “Alfie” (1966)

Roberta Grimes
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46 thoughts on “Christianity in Crisis

  1. Dear Roberta,
    Thank you! I am grateful you include another perspective (Richard Rohr) and encourage others to seek and read and learn. Even in the 7 years or so of reading his books, I have noticed subtle shifts in his perspective. As you know, he’s handed the reins of the CAC over to others and the newsletters definitely show some new growth and ideas. I think back to my parents’ generation and I think they’d be flabbergasted 🤭. Well maybe not my dad-all his schooling was Jesuit, and he was willing to look further and think for himself.
    I feel a breath of fresh air from your post today. And I am given to ponder with hope, that this clearing away of old patterns is gaining momentum from many sources. I know you don’t watch tv and such; occasionally I look into YouTube channels I have come to enjoy, and find connections between “teachers/messengers”-maybe even connections they themselves are not aware of.
    It seems to me that while spiritually based teachers/messengers like yourself are really rolling forward, there is still that old mainstream of teaching in religion and science that just won’t budge. And just like you mentioned above about “poor marketing” and the insanity of trying to hold onto lies, I wonder too, why we tend to do that when evidence shows otherwise.
    Lest we forget, there was a whole council that worked with Constantine. They could have stood up to him. But fear and love of power and riches does hamper conviction sometimes.
    I am glad Thomas pointed out that good has come from it all. I will focus on that. In “the end”, Jesus remains the central focus.

    1. Oh yes, my dear Fran, watching Father Richard grow in his perspective on Jesus and on early Christianity in general over the past dozen years has been quite wonderful! Watching my own husband grow has been wonderful as well. There was a time when he was sure, bless his heart, that I was absolutely going to hell. That was a hard time for our marriage, as you can imagine. But I continued to go to Mass with him until I simply couldn’t do it any longer, and he stretched to believe in me, and although he still goes to Mass each week, by now we have peace. I sort of see them both as the frocked and the lay versions of Christianity, struggling sincerely to reach back now past Constantine to find the genuine Jesus and begin again.

  2. Roberta read Genesis and everywhere it says “God” put an s after God. It will make a lot more sense. People still not convinced? Watch “Cargo Cults” on Youtube. Roberta this is for others, you already know this.

    1. My dear, the highest vibration in this reality is indeed our Godhead Collective, and you might indeed technically make it a plural, although It would not consider Itself that way!

  3. Dear Roberta,
    Thank you for this week’s insights! I also grew up in church and what a mental quandary I had as I tried to reconcile God’s alleged love for us with the horrible teachings of an eternal hell. Daily I would pray for my “unsaved” grandmother, that God would spare her from the hell he had created for unbelievers like her (well, according to Constantine’s Bible, that is). What a blessed relief it is to find that these terrible teachings are untrue! I can now love Jesus even more.
    I hope that more and more people can open their minds and hearts and find the courage to reject the religious brainwashing that so many of us have been subjected to. I don’t remember precisely how I stumbled upon your website last year as I was searching for some comfort as to what truly happens to us after we leave this life, but I am so very grateful that I did.

    1. Oh my dear wonderful JenniferK, I am so glad that you found us as well! You have added immeasurably to the joy of our little family here!

  4. Mainstream church teaching/conditioning of its congregations has much to answer for. After they pass over former adherents to those values must be astonished to learn that much of what they’d been fed in church (and also in school) since childhood was a crock. 🙁

    1. Hi Mac,
      My sister and I were just talking about this. We have an older sister, who has been in missionary work for many years. She is currently in Africa and is VERY Catholic. She is on a mission to save souls and keeps sending us Catholic YouTube videos and such of Marian visionaries, etc. She is actually on her own mission…running a literacy program which has floundered for 15 years. She called me while I’m at work today, and of course, I did not pick up. She’ll leave cryptic messages of You have been on my mind (and it usually means in prayer) which then translates to the state of our soul in her eyes. Getting a call from her is a trigger for some of us. My little sis and I have been disillusioned about the church a long time, but were discussing we may be the only 2 of the 13 (yes, I have 12 siblings, ergo….Catholic. LOL) that do not go to church anymore. For me, it riles me in side and for her, she crumbles back to the frightened child. After all I have read-Roberta, nde books, afterlife books and videos, and many other sources, I struggle to understand why any sane person still believes that a group of old men in an old building in a country across the ocean must be followed and are THE ONLY source of salvation for our souls. It makes me sad but makes me angry too that my sister would see me or my little sister as some dark twisted lost beings. All the information I have read is widely available. Roberta isn’t hiding her work in some secret lair. I realized for real today that I may have a confrontation with siblings and I may be disregarded and estranged. That’s kind of weird to think about.

      1. Hi Fran,

        Sorry to hear about your family dilemma.

        I don’t think it’s your sisters fault for how she thinks. We are easily programmed. Especially as children. Through repetition we can be made to believe all sorts of things. It’s just the way we are wired.

        I’ve had talks with deeply religious people. They were awesome people. They grew up in the religion and it’s been part of their lives for a long time. The conversations didn’t change anyone’s mind The main response I get from religious people is… “it’s in the bible”.

        You really can’t talk to them about such topics. That is why I try to steer the conversation to something else. Like ask questions about unrelated topics. Same thing with politics. I try to not discuss politics too much. My ego starts trying to get me to argue and I won’t fall for it.

        I can understand how you may feel from the conversations with religious people. Things like I am going to hell riles up my ego like you wouldn’t believe. That is why I bob and weave my way out of those conversations. I try to appreciate that they are trying to help me because they believe my soul is in jeopardy. Which we know it isn’t. They are doing it out of love, even if their ideas are misplaced.

        1. I don’t discuss politics (or religion) either, be it in the US when I’m a winter visitor or in my UK homeland.

          Similarly I rarely discuss or debate religion at all because there is simply no point. Indeed over on discussion of either politics or religion (and UFOs and aliens! lol ) ist verboten. Everything quickly gets heated and folk fall out.

          Elsewhere when someone tells me it’s in one or other of their handbooks – Bibles – I ask them to explain things instead their own words, using their own understanding. That usually stops their lecturing me.

          1. And anyway, my dear Mac, the Bible really is not the last word on anything, even they can find the quotation… and they likely cannot.

        2. Oh my dear Thomas, surprisingly often it really isn’t in the Bible, believe it or not! I have read the Bible enough to be pretty familiar with it, and when I ask people to show me the quotation to which they are referring, surprisingly often they can’t find it. I don’t consider the whole Bible to be the Inspired Word of God anyway, but even at that, it is surprising what some folks are sure is in there that really is not.

      2. I’m sorry to hear your family story….

        So much is wrong with religions of most flavors and those indoctrinated by them are in no position to see things in any other way. It’s a sad fact that humankind is easily swayed by fear and/or self-righteousness.

        Folk like your sister have no concerns about telling others how flawed they and their views are. Was it ever any different? And yet there ARE nice people whose religious following doesn’t result in their becoming self-righteous and codemning of others. We need to be wary about tarring everyone with the same brush while at the same time acknowledging that we are not going to be able to accept the views of the most extreme individuals. It seems your sister might be such an individual and as the old saying goes, you can pick your friends but not your family.

        If she allows her persuasions to govern her behavior to the exclusion of treating others with respect and consideration it may be that you have to accept your relationship with her – and maybe with all your very many siblings – are going to be stressed perhaps to parting point. Sad but perhaps inevitable?

        1. Oh my dear Mac, it can be so very hard sometimes. Tragically, religions have destroyed far more families than they ever have brought together!

          1. It’s especially sad for Fran whose story prompted my earlier response.

            She and one sister have escaped the bonds of the religion that blighted her earlier years but the conditioning they were exposed to has left her almost-escaped sister still fearful about being a non-conformist.

            Fran is determined not to be controlled but by so doing has become the odd-one-out who needs saving. Thankfully she’s not having any of it but one wonders how many Frans are out there but unable to find their own freedom.

            Religion, church and their employees generated that fear in her whole family, I’m assuming. So many will have mental shackles still needing to be throw off

      3. Oh my sweet Fran, I am so sorry for you, and for your your family! My husband was once very deeply Catholic, he went to Catholic schools from preschool through college, and he attends Mass every Sunday to this day, but he finally does get it now. He can place the religion in historical perspective and see it as just one worship choice among many. And he understands that his wife is not going to hell for having made a different choice!

    2. Ah yes, my dear Mac. But while they were on this side of things, the fear that was instilled in them kept them warming the pews every Sunday and putting money in the collection plates, which was the whole reason for it!

  5. Hi Fran, I am not into palpitations created by my response
    to family members. I feel for you; my phone doesn’t ring much anymore.
    Roberta, I have been complaining about higher secrets
    from my current conscious level.
    You wrote,”Apart from conversion and until the ego is
    transformed” we cannot understand or experience the
    higher secrets we so. fiercely seek. Jesus can transform
    our egos if we follow his simple actions everyday. I can only start where I am. To know before I have changed
    leaves me out and grumpy! Back to gratitude, forgiveness. and love…I have always wanted the dessert first!

    1. Ah yes, my dear beautiful Erica! Gratitude, forgiveness and love. So simple, and yet so endlessly perfect!

  6. quote: “And anyway, my dear Mac, the Bible really is not the last word on anything, even (if)they can find the quotation… and they likely cannot.” Oh I do know all that but I also know that some individuals will quote literal chapter-and-verse at me if I don’t forbid it. It’s what they are conditioned to do and may even have been trained to do. I won’t have it though.

    I insist on no quotations, not even from memory. Being made to use one’s own words is a great leveler.

  7. edit from above: “So many will have mental shackles still needing to be throw off ”

    I pushed the button too soon – I intended to write: “So many will have mental shackles still needing to be thrown off after their passing. For them realization about what’s happened may be somewhat delayed.”

  8. Hello everyone. Thought I’d give the community another gift. I found a playlist on YouTube that describes Christian writings in the in-between period between the New Testament and Constantine. (Meaning, the late 100s to mid-200s A.D.) These are writings such as Clement 1 and 2, the Letters of Ignatius, the Didache of the Apostles, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Letter to Diognetus, also one of the first “martyrology” accounts, that of Polycarp of Smyrna.

    There are other things on this playlist after the 24 Lectures which I cannot vouch for, but the 24 Lectures come from The Great Courses. It is taught by Bart D. Ehrman Ph.D., M.Div. and the Lecture series is called “After the New Testament: The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers”. This is a university level course, and if you were to buy this lecture series from The Great Courses it would cost $169.95. (Unless you wait for a discount) And the people looking at this blog can get it for free! 😇 Anyhow, here’s the link.

    I figure this would be useful because we don’t hear too much about pre-Constantine Christianity on this blog.

    1. Hello again. These works are earlier than I thought. Clement 1, for instance, was estimated to be written around 95 A.D. Sorry about any confusion.

    2. Hello again. Another example of these writings being earlier than I originally thought. The Letters of Ignatius were written in 110 A.D. Sorry about any confusion.

    3. Hello Jason,

      Speaking for myself, we already have Jesus’ teachings on this and website. I don’t need to know anything other than his teachings. Nice, simple and powerful all available here at no cost. Appreciate Roberta, Thomas and Jesus for all the work they have done to bring this to us.

      1. I had best start with a quote from a TV show The Tudors, which was on around for a few years and was about the life of Henry VIII. This quote was said at the start of each episode.

        “You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning.”

        We hear plenty about the end of the story, Constantine and First Nicaea in 325 CE. We hear plenty about the very beginning of the story, Jesus himself. But Roberta Grimes has written in such glowing terms about the Way of Jesus in the years between Jesus and Constantine that I want to see what that looked like.

        And, yes, I saw Roberta’s quote about Christians now:

        To their minds, “going all the way back” means reading just the early church fathers, all of whom lived and wrote after First Nicaea in 325 CE. By then, the pure thinking of Jesus Himself was not even a distant memory.

        So finding a group of writings written earlier than the Church Fathers, while the Way Of Jesus is expanding, when the pure thinking of Jesus Himself is not a distant memory, is very interesting because it is a snapshot of people living the Way Of Jesus before Constantine.

        1. “You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning.”

          I’m not sure how much of Roberta’s blog you have read, but the content is from Thomas (formerly Thomas Jefferson in another life) and Jesus. Both were brothers in different lifetimes. I imagine it’s pretty accurate as it is “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

          1. Hello again. Examples of “straight from the horse’s mouth” is Roberta saying people in that age were singing on the cross for two days until they died. Straight from the horse’s mouth is Roberta Grimes’ blog post from June 3, 2023, “The Road Not Taken” where she basically does a what if, where would Christianity have gone if Constantine had not changed the religion?

            I want to see that, and having a snapshot of writings from people living that faith before Constantine is about as close to the horse’s mouth as you can get. I will also say, the Way Of Jesus in those days was a bumpy ride, and knowing what they had to face (the bumps in the road) will certainly be helpful for any related bumps this new Way Of Jesus will face.

        2. “I will also say, the Way Of Jesus in those days was a bumpy ride, and knowing what they had to face (the bumps in the road) will certainly be helpful for any related bumps this new Way Of Jesus will face.”

          Now that would be interesting to me. Do you have any specific examples of what you think could happen?


          1. I can think of a couple. First, when Roberta says the Way Of Jesus was a collection of movements in those days, she was right about that. And they would dispute among each other, often in the same church. Things like, do we need to be Jewish to be Christian? Paul disagreed, but his was only one opinion. In fact, the lecturer joked that if you put Paul and the writer of the Gospel of Matthew in the same room and asked them to work out a unified teaching, they could not do it.
            Also, what is the nature of Christ? Human but not divine? Divine but not human? Divine and human at the same time? Human but having developed so much in spirituality that he’s achieved a God level of spirituality? That last one seems to be where this Way of Jesus is going, a human so full of the Spirit, so with favor of God that he could be called A “Son of God”, but that will be in conflict with “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” One could develop that thought to become a docetist, Christ was so divine he could not have been human. We also have to deal with the argument “Not A ‘Son of God’ but THE ‘Son of God’”.

            Another argument is what scripture do we consider authoritative? Do we consider the Jewish Bible (now know as the Old Testament) authoritative? Some argued the God of Jesus and the God of the Old Testament were not the same God, so do not use that. Some argue the Jewish Prophets prove Christianity, so of course we will use them. Then there is a discussion about which Christian writings should be authoritative. There are the books we know, but also a Gospel of Thomas, a Gospel of Peter, a few other apocalypses, Clement 1 was considered scripture by some Christians. Different groups would choose different books. Even the more modern choice to say only the Four Gospels are authoritative, ignore the Old Testament and everything else, is one choice out of many, a choice being made by this particular Way of Jesus but will be a point of contention if you meet up with other Christians who might argue from Isaiah or Paul’s letter to the Galatians and we say we don’t consider that authoritative.
            Who Jesus is, what books are authoritative, those are two areas that were very bumpy for the original Way of Jesus, and I could see those same areas as being bumpy going forward.

          2. Awesome comments Jason. You really got me thinking now and I appreciate it. I can see it getting complicated as well.

            Part of why I liked the content on teachingsbyjesus website is the simplicity. Though we can and do twist even the simple things. I do think it will be more difficult compared to how many interpret the Bible.

            I don’t see Christians as being the target demographic for these teachings. That is until something pushes them out of the church. Hope I am wrong. It sounds like that was what Jesus had been waiting for… the collapse of Christianity in order to try again.

            My biggest concern is the people in power taking over the teachings like Constantine. Luckily Jesus has grown so much spiritually that he won’t allow that to happen again.

            What opened my eyes was the idea that we can all become like Jesus. I never heard of that possibility when I was briefly going to church. I’m a novice compared to you, though, so it may be something I missed. Most of use aren’t naturally loving the way he is, but we can work at it and become like him. That alone was the greatest gift and I hope everyone learns that about themselves.

    4. Hello again. Another example of these writings being earlier than I originally thought. The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians was written between 110 and 137 A.D. Sorry about any confusion.

      1. My dear Jason, the long post just above is quite profound. In the first and second centuries these ideas spread rapidly. They each had a slightly different view of things, and they disagreed about just about EVERYTHING. The difference was that for the most part they let one another disagree, and they didn’t come to blows over their disagreements. Not until later.

    5. Hello again. Another example of these writings being earlier than I thought. The Martyrdom of Polycarp, the same bishop who wrote the letter to the Philippians. His death is listed as having happened around 155 CE, also some push that date back to sometime in the 160s. This is the earliest martyrdom story after the New Testament, so this is most likely dated between 155-170 CE. Sorry about any confusion.

    1. Hello. I have bought a few courses from The Great Courses over the years, and I can vouch for their quality. And to be honest, the company does a lot of discounts so one usually just has to wait a bit and then that same course becomes a $30-40 course for a few weeks.

      I was surprised to find this playlist myself. I was doing YouTube searching about early Christianity when one of the lectures popped up on my recommended list. I had already ordered a few Courses in the past, including one by the same teacher, so I recognized the lecture style immediately. Still wanted to verify, so went back to the Great Courses website and sure enough, the 24 Lectures on the playlist matched the description of the 24 Lectures on the website.

      I do not contribute often, but this is a quality contribution.

  9. I do additionally wonder why contributors or readers would need to buy a course, particularly one whose regular price would quickly be slashed after one showed interest. Color me cynical…..

  10. My opinion has come to be that if a thing (whether it be a book, portions of the Bible, man’s dogma and doctrinal differences) is not concerned with living a life of love, forgiveness and gratitude, it’s not essential. Everything else is just stuff to argue about, and never agree on. That being said, it’s always interesting to read and learn about others’ opinions and ideas. Even so-called history accounts, how do we know that they can be trusted? The victor writes history, after all.

    This isn’t to say that there is no value in reading all these things. But to rely on them to form a worldview, roadmap to your life, or a view of right/wrong, well, I think it’s just better to trust your heart and internal compass.

    I am a voracious reader, and strangely enough I found that the more I read, the more confused I became. Who was right on this doctrinal point, what is the truth about this historical account that seems to contradict this one, etc.?

    Of course, I’m not naïve enough to think that life is simple, I know firsthand that it is not. But breaking things down to the very basics, is enough for me. Looking through the lens of, Is my behavior/actions/thoughts judging or healing?

    For quite a while, I was very interested in the Gnostic Christians (of course, I know there is no definitive set of “Gnostic” beliefs) but the Gnostic Christians I read about believed that the Old Testament deity was most definitely NOT the Heavenly Father spoken about by Jesus. I tended to agree. When you look at the terrible things that the OT god is described as doing, it’s clear (at least to me) that he/it is not a loving being. Though, there are some references sprinkled throughout that DO seem to describe a good being. Which simply adds to the confusion.

    I think the problem is when people rely on books and writings instead of what your heart tells you. I can’t converse about these things with my father, for example, because he’s a diehard, fundamentalist Christian and believes, for example, that God hates certain people (well, because it’s in the Bible). At the very least, an honest look would show that there are many inconsistencies in the current iteration of the Christian Bible. I think people are afraid to admit that the things they were taught are false, because their whole lives were built on that foundation. It’s never too late for people to change their perspective, if they can pry their minds and hearts open.

    I apologize for my ramblings.

    Much love to everyone hear,


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