Posted by Roberta Grimes • August 06, 2022 • 33 Comments
Jesus, Understanding Reality
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
– John Jacob Niles (1892-1980), collected in “Songs of the Hill-Folk” (1934)
In fact, it was the Roman version of Christianity that came for to die, and it breaks my heart to say it. I have loved Christianity since I was a child! I had an experience of light when I was eight, and from that night on I refused to spend my Sunday mornings with singing and a box of crayons. After that, I wanted Reverend Turrell’s sermons, and I made sure my family never missed a Sunday. I was going to be a minister when I grew up. I majored in early Christian history in college, and it was only when I studied the First Council of Nicaea under dear Miss Corwin, a professor who looked to me back then to be old enough to have been in attendance, that I first began to question whether my beloved Christianity might actually not be the religion that Jesus began when He launched His disciples out into the world, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations,… teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (MT 28:18-20).
Of course, I know much better now. From the moment the Roman Emperor Constantine cast his eye upon the young and lovely Way of Jesus and chose her as his own, and then he began to remove from her and destroy every version of the Lord’s Way except for the awful Jesus-died-for-our-sins idea that Constantine thought that he could use to further his absolute power and control, the fear-based Roman remnant that remained of Christianity was doomed to die at some point. The fact that you and I are here to witness its dying is a painful coincidence of history. Nothing more.
Having lately come to see Constantine’s seizure of Jesus’s Way more from Jesus’s perspective might give us perhaps a different view of it. My Thomas tells me that at first, from the Lord’s perspective Constantine’s takeover of Jesus’s spiritual movement produced a flood of victims. Thomas took an earth-lifetime at the start of it so He could report back to Jesus about what was happening on the ground, and it was then that Thomas insists to me that he died on a cross after two days of singing. Of course, I still insist to him that his memory is faulty because you cannot sing on a cross. You can barely breathe!
My own view of pre-Roman Christian history through the eyes of anti-Roman Miss Corwin was of a vibrant and diverse spiritual movement. And Miss Corwin was right! There were millions of burials in the catacombs in Rome, for example, in the first four centuries after the death of Jesus, and with Jesus generally pictured in the grave-art as clean-shaven and with a baby goat around His shoulders. And with not a single depiction of a cross to be found. The Way of Jesus as He Himself taught it was based entirely in love and forgiveness. In caring for the goats as well as the sheep. But Constantine could have used none of that in his plan for ancient-world domination
And history is written by its winners. I learned from other college professors that the Romans under Constantine and his successors had “organized” early Christian beliefs in a “helpful” way at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and at the six other first-millennium ecumenical councils, when in fact what they did was to destroy millions of the followers of Jesus so brutally that Jesus spent the next thousand years loving the followers of His Way and the victims of the various Inquisitions and Crusades back into spiritual health. At some point during those first few centuries of Christianity, my Thomas encountered an incarnation of me as a teenage boy when we died together in a Roman massacre of followers of The Way.
My Thomas and I have talked about the coming death of Christianity. He is, shall we say, frankly unsentimental about the religion that I once loved. He tells me that at first, Jesus and those around Him found it impossible to believe that this most extreme of all possible views of the crucifixion of Jesus could become the basis of a whole religion that would lay deep roots and last for so long! And Jesus was so preoccupied by love and concern for the victims who continued to pour into His afterlife rehabilitation gardens that He had little attention to spare. And so the centuries passed, until we have come now to what is apparently the natural demise of the religion that the Romans installed seventeen centuries ago in place of The Way of Jesus.
So I have been writing along here, and come to the place in this post that seemed to require bullet points and something about how Covid hastened the decline of Christianity in recent years. But then those bullets would of course include a lot more than Covid. As I was busily assembling them, Thomas called to my mind a vision of my childhood church on the morning of my father’s funeral.
My father died more than thirty years ago. He was much older than my mother, and he was a deacon of my childhood church. His funeral service filled every pew. I had married a Catholic and converted by then, but I gave the message, wearing red because it was my father’s favorite color, and I recall that full and vibrant church on the morning of my father’s funeral. But when my mother followed him twenty years later, and of course still well before Covid, we had a graveside service. I doubt that there were more than twenty people in attendance, even though she had been a more important figure in that church than my father ever was.
An article about “the catastrophic decline in religious faith and what to do about it” is perhaps worth reading. It ascribes the decline during those two decades largely to cultural issues, and reading it makes me think that the solutions this article prescribes would be like shoveling pebbles against the sea.
My Thomas tells us now that this recent dramatic decline in the religion that I loved is not only about the end of Christianity. He says that the era of human–made gods is coming to an end for all the old religions. The time when having faith alone was sufficient is passing for humankind, which means that the era of all religions and religious dogmas is coming to an end. The age is dawning now when we want to know the truth, and nothing less will satisfy us! As Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).
Which was an odd way for Jesus to phrase it, when you pause and think about it. But Thomas says now that The Way of Jesus which has been delayed for seventeen hundred years is actually meant to be freedom from all religions. Religious dogmas and beliefs are a poor substitute for knowing the truth about reality. Mere faith and beliefs are very thin gruel! If faith alone is to be the standard, then you might be talked into believing anything, even if it turns out to be nonsense. But the Way of Jesus was never intended to be a religion in the first place! It was Constantine and the Romans who added the dogmas and made it into a religion. The Way of Jesus is meant to be a way of thinking and living so as to more rapidly transform yourself, and then to transform the whole material world and to bring God’s kingdom on earth. As above, so below. Jesus told us all of this perfectly clearly in the Gospels. And He intends now to reiterate it in His website.
So the human need for any religions at all is ending, as we come to understand the truth about our own eternal selves. The religions were about the gods that we invented to comfort ourselves when we were powerless against the great unknown. Those old religions had fear-based dogmas, which was what made them good instruments for mass control. And the dogmas that we made up were often crazy dogmas. Take, for example, the whimsical notion that God created one man and one woman in the Garden of Eden, and then arbitrarily God told them not to eat the fruit of one particular tree. So then of course they ate that fruit anyway, and thereby they estranged all of humankind from a whimsically angry God. Until in the fullness of time, in order to reconcile humankind again to Himself, that God sent His Only Begotten Son to die as the perfect sacrifice to Himself, so now God can forgive all the rest of us for Adam’s having eaten that apple. And if there is any loving parent to whom any of that makes any sense, then I cannot imagine that parent!
These were all human ideas, of course. Every religious dogma is a human idea. None of them has anything to do with God.
And there is indeed an all-powerful God. But the genuine God at the highest aspect of consciousness will not be framed or defined by any human-made religious dogma. The genuine God will not submit to any human-made religion at all, and nor will God submit to any human idea of how God must be worshiped. God needs no human sacrifice! God will not submit to a human name, nor dwell in any human building. God said to the ancient Hebrews, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God speaks to and dwells in each of us. It is God in Whom we live and move and have our being. But if any human being ever claims to speak for God, then know that you are hearing wind.
And something has just occurred to me. I have just now said to Thomas, “But, wait a minute. Are you saying that two thousand years ago, Jesus brought us His Way to replace all religions? He intended to replace all religions, even back then?” Thomas didn’t say anything. Then he smiled.
If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
– John Jacob Niles (1892-1980), collected in “Songs of the Hill-Folk” (1934)
33 thoughts on “Faith vs. Knowing”
Dear Roberta. The cross sure has been a piece of marketing. From what I’ve read, the fish symbol was also used in the Roman catacombs in the first century.
Oh my dear Ray, a piece of marketing is precisely what the cross has been! As the mid-20th-century comedian Lenny Bruce used to say, if Jesus had been executed in the 20th century, all the Catholic schoolchildren would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks!
And yes, the fish has long been a prominent symbol for followers of the Way, dating to the first century. Its origin seems to be uncertain – Jesus’s feeding of the 5000 from a single fish, and His making His disciples into fishers of men; but for whatever reason, the fish symbol for followers of Jesus is very old. His followers would recognize one another by drawing a line, and then if the other person drew another line that turned the first into a fish, they knew they were both followers of the Way.
That joke is hilarious 😂.
I wonder if there is something symbolic in Jesus having you to feed His fish.
Oh my dear Ray, I have wondered about the feeding of Jesus’s pet fish. Thomas says that He has pet fish and pet deer because He wearies of being treated as different, as special, and the fish and the deer just treat Him as nobody special. But then I recall that the fish was in fact an important symbol for the earliest followers of the Way. And perhaps He has had pet fish ever since? After all, His lifetime as Jesus was His final earth-lifetime.
I ” knew ” the dogma of religion at an early age and have had confirmation of said dogma many times since then.
Control of the masses through a vengeful Patriarchal God no longer has it’s sway. The parables in the Bible were lessons for us to learn the simplicity of Jesus ‘ message.
I have always believed that Jesus came to teach us love and service for our fellow man.
It’s about love and not worship! If we all aspired to his example of love and service, what a beautiful and peaceful world we would live in !
Love is the answer !
Oh my dear Heather, you are so right!
But I have been trying for years to understand how it is even possible to have a form of Christianity that is not fear-based, is not dogmas-based, and still works as a spiritual movement. How do you get people out of bed on Sunday mornings and to church, without sin and guilt? I mean, the truth is much better! You are absolutely right! Love is indeed the answer! But now that I am being asked to give Jesus His website, I am seriously asking Him and asking my Thomas this question: what is the alternative glue that holds this movement together?
Looks like I am a little late to the party. haha
“What is the alternative glue that holds this movement together?”
Great question, and in my very simpleton opinion, we are the glue.
You touched it in your kindness blog (which was fantastic by the way).
I have been trying to be conscious of my thoughts and actions in the past few years in hopes of spiritual growth. In that time, I have witnessed that simply being kind and helping others can help bring out our true selves. That part that wants to help and love each other.
We are hardwired to feel obligated when someone helps us. Robert Cialdini wrote a great book on persuasion. In that book there is a significant portion that talks about the power of reciprocity.
When I am blessed to be able to help someone, instead of accepting something in returned, I have been making the suggestion of paying it forward to someone else. I have noticed some of my friends doing just that. One person, in particular, has been helping all sorts of people. Seems like someone new every time I talk to him.
Helping each other is addictive and I can see how simple gestures can spread across this world. In a way, I think it helps break us out of our daily monotonous trances. Wake up, eat, get in car, go to work, eat lunch, etc…
Anyway, I am excited to be able to witness what happens next. I am extremely thankful for the help from you, Thomas, Jesus and other posters.
My dear Thomas, fear/guilt is all that ever has worked for religions, but if you don’t have either, then there might be no way to hold any movement together in the long term, literally no way to get people out of bed on Sundays. But you think that something kindness-based might work? I feel the way you do: we are about to find out. Although I wish I shared your excitement and optimism about it! Planning for the website for Jesus starts in the fall, so we shall see….
Thank you, Roberta. You have revealed what we need to do.
Forgive and love. Two commands. That’s it. It’s difficult for
me to love and forgive myself. But I have begun.
Thank you again.You have given me a huge gift.
Oh my dear Reesha, of course it is all Jesus! He came into that lifetime to figure out, and then to teach us that wisdom. And you are right, my dear, in saying that the hardest task we all face is to love and to forgive ourselves, if we are to be entirely honest. Oh, some of us find it easy to come up with excuses! But all those excuses only delay the moment of truth. To look oneself in the eye and realize how much we truly have fallen short of our own standards for ourselves is always difficult. And that goes for each of us!
What happened to Constantine when he passed? Was he welcomed and did he regret his actions?
My dear Sue, we always are welcomed when we go home. Even Hitler was welcomed! We are the ones who have to deal with our life reviews, and the consequences of our own actions on earth when we are given to feel how we have made everyone else feel. Eventually, we are the ones who may be unable to forgive ourselves and who may sentence ourselves to the outer darkness.
Actually, I had a little taste of what Constantine may have felt about his awful Christian dogmas when I was writing The Fun of Dying. Amazingly, a friend who is psychic called me when I was deep in the writing and told me that I had four dead clergymen working with me. One was very advanced and had been away from the earth for a long time; two were more recently dead; and one, incredibly, was one of my greatest heroes, Dr. King. When I gasped and said, “Why would he work with me?” she said, “He wants to set the record straight. They all do.” So then I realized this was about the fact that a lot of that book was about correcting the Gospel message. And later on, of course, that Gospel work has become a primary part of my writing and speaking.
Thank you for this most thought-provoking blog. In thinking about Miss Corwin and her teachings of the Council of Nicaea, I thought she must have found a group in attendance who said something like, “Wait a minute, didn’t we have enough structure when Peter was pope? Evidently not. At the time of the Council, there were in place managerial structures, possibly something like seminaries, as some positions had to be filled by qualified persons.
Who taught them to be qualified? Who verified their qualifications? Who organized Evangelical expeditions, and on and on. Structure begets structure. Constatntine wasn’t so much interested in structure as he was in regularizing structure. It appears Roman Christianity was set on its disastrous course long before the Council, so there were no contrarian voices asking for simplifications.
Oh my dear Cookie, it is perfectly clear that all they wanted to make of Christianity was a way to bludgeon people into submission. I am getting clearer direction now about Jesus’s website, and they want NO direction to be put on any of these teachings at all! My goodness, no dogmas. Jesus wants to get past all dogmas. There are hints at that in the Gospels, and I have blogged about it, but not been as bold about it as Jesus apparently wants to be now.
I’m very confused on what to believe about the Bible.
Jackie, please allow me to try to respond to your quandary while we wait for Roberta, who will be more insightful. The Bible is a book containing cultural artifacts from several eras and parts of the world—many quite local in their point if view, but few intended to be read many generations later. There is some wisdom and some timeless stuff in many parts of the bible, so there is value in it. The gospels contain some of the teachings of Jesus, which Roberta has written about extensively so I won’t try. The point is, the parts that resonate with you are probably worthy of consideration. But it is not and at least at the outset was never intended as a cohesive rule book for 21st century cultures.
Thank you, Mike J-R. That was helpful.
Thank you, my dear Mike! Very good of you to step in and help this way!
My dear Jackie, Our Mike makes some good points below. The Bible is not God’s Inspired, Inerrant Word, and it cannot be if God is sane and rational. Some parts were channeled from God or from God’s minions, or were inspired by God, but most of it was not; it was assembled over some three thousand years, and it is therefore inevitable that parts of it contradict other parts. The Gospels were pretty carefully tended and protected by Jesus, fortunately, but even they have to be edited a bit when we use them.
Thank you, Roberta. I agree.
Hi Y’all. Anybody ever read ‘The Emperors New Suit?’
Humans (including myself) can and have been talked into a lot of crazy things. Especially if we want to fit in. Unfortunately and respectfully it seems — Jesus’s beautiful essential powerful teachings were buried in quite a lot of stuff and nonsense.
Oh my dear Jennifer, you have said a mouthful! “Stuff and nonsense,” indeed!
Any part of the bible that causes fear and/or demands worship should not be taken seriously, In any event, it was written many years after the crucifixion. Fear and worship were never part of Jesus’ agenda.
Dear Lola, it really is amazing, isn’t it, to see all the overlays of the religion, and the pure teachings of Jesus beneath it all? As we prepare to create a website for Jesus, we have been working to unravel it all, and doing that feels rather like disassembling a puzzle many centuries in the making!
Lola, I couldn’t agree more.
Oh my dear Lola, but the Old Testament is most of the Bible though, it precedes Jesus’s life, and it certainly is fear-based and does indeed demand worship. I think a strong case can be made that Jesus intended to do away with religions altogether, which is one of the things that I’m going to have to work on when we do Jesus’s website – just how strongly we should press that case.
I’m sure JC wanted an end to all religions due to the dangers and fear they create. All one has to do is read history to know he was right
This is an excellent idea for a blog post, my dear. Subjectively faith has always been associated with trusting in the Spirit we cannot see. (Of course it is contained and protected but also limited by our religion.) There is so much belief associated with faith and even more trust.
Knowing is at a deeper level of Spirit awareness, is it not? Jesus becomes much more real, and the world of man feels far more fleeting, inconsistent and abundant in plastic promises. The inner relationship with Spirit informs our view and we move to a soul perspective…
But hey, what if many people are actually approaching the knowing level, but doubt themselves at every turn? What if religion has informed their guilt and unworthiness since childhood? Knowing needs to shine forth but those who should be shining, are letting the fear-guilt-unworthiness conditioning dim out their natural light.
Truly we need to exorcise religious ‘sinner’ conditioning to fully be aware of Love Eternal. We may already be brighter, and far more love-included than we think we are!
And as to that Roberta, I feel Lola is right.
Any part of the Bible that causes fear or promotes worship as a sinner should be set aside. Jesus is about love. His words of love and inclusion in God are what is real. 🙏🏼❣️🌅
Alas, my beautiful Efrem. I do agree that it is very hard to trust oneself enough to approach certainty about anything, even if we do actually know the truth and even if we do feel pretty confident that we know the truth! And in the U.S., at least, there is this strong magic-thinking tradition that says that the whole Bible is “the Inspired Word of God,” which is lazy and presumptuous nonsense of course, but which we’ve got to contend with in the community around us nonetheless.
The Bible is a deeply fear-based book from cover to cover that includes some parts worth reading because they were either inspired or in fact channeled by God. Some of the Psalms, a few of Paul’s letters, and the four Gospels. A few other bits.
Hi Roberta, The First Council of Nicaea did it for me too. I first read it in one of Arthur Findlay’s books entitled The Psychic Stream. Mr. Findlay’s 1200 page book details the origins of Christianity and other man made religions. This book is still in print, and is a real spiritual eye opener. Prophetically he wrote: “Truth always wins through in the end, and some day natural religion will be accepted in the place of orthodox faiths which are slowly passing away in every country in which education exists.” Thank you so much Roberta for your exhaustive efforts in bringing this truth to those of us who are willing to open our spiritual eyes and ears. Blessings.
Thank you, my dear Sharon, for this breath of fresh air! I guess I have come to the point of believing that religious dogmas are the real problem, and we will need to get beyond all religions and to the point where we are simply studying and learning and following truths. And I’m not sure when that can ever be!
Religious dogmas ARE the real problem and have been so for centuries. There are still people who fear they will be sent to hell if they ignore those dogmas.
Oh my dear Lola, dogmas are a HUGE problem! I think that if we ever were to try to create a new movement for Jesus, we would have to make “No Dogmas!” a fundamental tenet of it!