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The Two Christianities – Part 1
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
June 20, 2021
All Rights Reserved
God is here. Breathe in the very presence of God and as you do, let go of anything else and accept that all around you is abundant, life giving provision. In this moment of breathing, know you are one with God, God within you and God around you. As you open your consciousness to the awareness of the presence of God, that presence touches your soul in any way that you have a need; health, vitality, abundance, healing, oneness, and even needs that you know not of. As you open yourself fully to be one in this moment of communion feel something stirring within and around you, something that cannot be explained. Accept that something, as healing, in the silence of prayer.
Established in the consciousness of the universal presence and power, make room within your consciousness for this healing presence this something that cannot be explained to move in the lives of your loved ones. Simply let go of your thoughts or worry and concern and let a feeling of serenity radiate through you by knowing that something that cannot be explained, is moving in their lives as healing in the silence of prayer.
Today I let the something within touch life through me with health, vitality, and healing so that I might be an expression of love, joy, and oneness in the world. I accept today as the next best day of my life. Nothing but the best is coming my way for I know that that something that cannot be explained, is moving in my life as my life. As we close our time of united prayer, each of us in our chamber of oneness, keeping our divine appointment, connecting with the spirit of God, our individual moments of communion join our consciousness together as one through the spirit of the indwelling Christ. We are one. We will let the experience of this time of prayer be just below the surface from now on, not forgetting, but continuing as a deep energy honoring the breath of life. Amen.
THE TWO CHRISTIANITIES – Part 1
Let’s begin with today’s questions: “Are you a Christian? What kind of a Christian are you?”
Imagine you are in a room with a group of devout believers in the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As such, these believers could be Muslims, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Unity students, etc. They would all be sincere, good, people believing they possess the Truth, or the real word of God and they would not be able to agree and perhaps even resort to violence to protect and push forward their viewpoint.
A Course In Miracles calls this ‘the insanity of the world’ because they are all seeing the same thing but from a different angle, frame of reference or level of consciousness, so they think or feel that they’re being contradicted or even attacked. This condition has been present throughout history and the cause of much bloodshed, hatred, and fear.
As Metaphysicians, we understand that for the words of Jesus to be understood and lived they must be interpreted and followed from two different but equally important viewpoints simultaneously. The reason is: There is not a spiritual universe and a material world. What appears as our world is the word made flesh, Spirit made visible, or Consciousness expressed as ideas.
To lay the foundation for ending the splits in our world and ourselves we must go back to the beginning of our story of the evolution of Christianity. The earliest Christians weren’t Christians, they were Jews living in Palestine. Some were attracted to the subjective teachings of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism and others the objective approach we associate with Orthodox Judaism; the rules for piousness outlined in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. We find these two viewpoints (subjective and objective) throughout the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus.
For centuries, including the twenty plus centuries of Christianity, these two basic approaches have been in conflict. By reducing the Ten Commandments to just two, Jesus demonstrated that wholeness (spiritual and physical) requires learning to see and experience from both viewpoints simultaneously and “rendering to Cesar that which is Cesar’s and to God that which is God’s.
As we look at some of the ways these two groups, that we are calling the ‘Traditionalists’ and the ‘Gnostics’ deal with the same basic facts ask yourself, “Am I predominately a Traditionalist or Gnostic?”
Traditionalists thought that God was ‘other than’ their own being, outside themselves, transcendent. They objectified God as a Supreme Being up in the sky.
Traditionalists approached the Judeo-Christian myth objectively, arriving at their beliefs by identifying with the personal experiences of Jesus. They believed Jesus the man, was all-important and that his resurrection was a unique experience.
Traditionalists take Bible stories literally, overlooking symbolic meaning.
Traditionalists were drawn to the Gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew that detailed the life and experiences of the historical, physical, suffering on the cross, Jesus. They believed that the Second Coming would be the moment Jesus reappeared on Earth in the same form he had appeared in when he walked the Earth.
Traditionalists believed that one had to receive one’s knowledge and spiritual experiences outside of oneself, through the church and its leaders. They believed that the teacher was supreme and accepted a ruling patriarchal hierarchy down from the popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and ultimately ministers, elders, and even husbands.
The word ‘Gnostic’ comes from a Greek word meaning, “knowing”.
Gnostics taught that there was a difference between knowing and believing.
Believing they said, was mental but knowing was experiential. The word ‘agnostic’ came to be understood as one who did not know and therefore had not experienced belief.
Gnosticism as a Judaic teaching was a mystical approach to the Kabbalah and the Torah combining Greek and Oriental philosophies that predated Jesus and was eventually suppressed in favor of Orthodox (Traditional) Judaism just as it later was in Orthodox (Traditional) Christianity.
Gnostics believed God was imminent, ‘present within’ not ‘a being’ but ‘a Spirit’ —“the Spirit.” The ‘Christ’ was the state of consciousness Jesus exemplified. The level of consciousness he attained was more important than his personal story.
Gnostics believed resurrection stood for the moment of enlightenment at which time they would be ‘Born Again’. They believed the ‘Second Coming’ would be the moment when the awakening of Christ Consciousness takes place in humankind.
Gnostics were drawn to the Gospel of John. Their hierarchical authority was a line of succession from those who had personally experienced higher divine levels of consciousness; from ascended masters, evolved souls, and enlightened beings down to those just putting their foot on the path. Quoting Jesus, “The works that I do shall you do also; and even greater works than these shall you do.”
Gnostics believed that the student should go beyond the teacher.
As a guideline: The subjective is something that is experienced within rather than ‘thought’. The objective is something that is externalized rather than felt.
An either/or approach always causes separation or lack. If we subjectively ‘feel’ all is God without expressing that objectively we create separation and lack.
In reverse, if we take action not based on an inner experience of God, we create separation, duality, or lack. We create separation when we have an either/or viewpoint.
The Gnostics with their subjective viewpoint were like being in the middle of a river with a paddle, but no boat. The Traditionalists, by objectifying God as something outside themselves, but unable to find it within themselves are like having boat but no paddle.
After Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. the Jews became more and more out of favor in the Roman Empire. The family and Jewish followers of Jesus were pacifists and had refused to fight in the war with Rome. They separated themselves or were forced to separate from traditional Judaism until Jewish Christianity transformed into something other than just another version of Judaism and eventually merged into Islamic Sufism.
Marcion of Sinope a rich Bishop in Asia Minor was one of the first to conceive of a “New Testament.” He was charged with Heresy and excommunicated by his own father also a powerful Bishop, for his view that Jesus’ teachings were radically different from those of Jewish tradition. He established his own church in 144 A.D., collected all the letters of Paul he could find and read them as a part of his church service. People in churches all over Asia Minor demanded that Paul’s letters be read to them.
For the first 300 years of the Christian movement, both approaches to Christianity (Gnostic and Traditional) co-existed without the necessity of anyone’s having to take sides. Eventually, there were those on each side who took their point of view to its exclusive extreme and alienated those who, having different temperaments, were unable to identify with their viewpoint. The paradox is that both the extreme Traditionalists and the extreme Gnostics denied the importance of the individual and the individual’s right to seek, find and experience God in his or her own way.
Gnostics did it by denying human existence and advocating transcendence over one’s humanity by a kind of spiritual self-centeredness that didn’t consider responsibility for others. They ignored the material needs of their fellow human beings.
Traditionalists built hospitals and schools and though outwardly concerned for the physical needs of their fellow man they overlooked the sacredness of everyone by denouncing those who looked within themselves for God. They willingly sacrificed the individual for the good of the organization (church) by telling him what to think and do.
The Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 311CE. To solidify Roman authority and eliminate dissidents, he called the bishops of the many Christian sects together and told them he would make Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire if they would establish a single all – powerful organization. Traditionalist Bishops recognized the obvious social virtues and power of such a proposal and agreed, disregarding what it would do to a considerable percentage of the Christian family who followed a more subjective Gnostic approach to their spiritual life and who believed that their ability to internalize and follow God’s instructions precluded any authority including that of Rome.
This crucial break between the Traditionalists and the Gnostics was instituted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. At that moment in history, an alliance between Church and State was born which, by the end of the 3rd century, squelched diversity, demanded conformity, and perpetuated a belief system which did not allow freedom of thought or action. The Traditionalist Bishops then began the process of objectifying Christianity by editing the many existing gospels down to only four. These four Gospels became the only acceptable books of the Bible and as far as possible ‘the Roman Christian church’ soon to be called the Catholic, meaning Universal Church began to obliterate all forbidden writings and disband or kill off any faction or people that had anything to do with Christianity’s Hermetic or Gnostic roots as well as the residual Pagan (Nature ), Goddess Cults and Jewish Christianity which according to Roman records was still being led by the descendents of Jesus 400 years after he died. Now there was to be only one ‘true church’ and that church had the power of Rome and the Roman army to enforce its will upon the people.
What do you think?
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