I recently heard a radio debate between the author of “Caesar’s Messiah,” Joseph Atwill, and Pastor Eli James. In this debate, while there was certainly some disagreement between the two, the one thing they did heartily agree on is the insidious corruption of the Catholic Church. While Atwill sees less of a distinction between the origins of Christianity and the attributes of the Catholic Church, Pastor James clearly sees the Catholic Church as not much more than a corruption of Christianity’s original “good intentions.” This got me thinking about how easy it is for us to make a scapegoat of religious institutions – blaming them for the problems of religion, without looking at the inherent problems with the origins of religious faith itself.
I have spoken before to this issue in my post on “Caesar’s Messiah.” While there is no doubt the Catholic Church has its share of problems and incredible corruption, there are plenty of problems within all religious institutions – including protestant institutions which claim to be “free” of Roman influence, calling the Catholic Church “a business.” What those Christians who criticize the Catholic Church for being a business fail to understand is the fact their churches are just as much of a business as the Catholic Church itself. All churches rely on money from its parishioners to pay its clergy, musicians, and other staff members, just like any other business. And while churches are considered “non-profit” organizations, they are still paying employees and offering a “product” to its parishioners, making these churches a business in everything but name. Also, while protestant faiths claim to be “free” of Rome, they cannot possibly be as long as they are Bible-based as they claim to be, since Rome almost certainly produced the New Testament as it has come down to us in the Bible. To follow the New Testament itself is to therefore follow Rome, regardless of whether a Christian church is Catholic or of any other denomination.
As we discovered in my post “Caesar’s Messiah,” and indeed as we have discovered throughout this site, anyone interested in the true freedom and enlightenment of another would never require their faith, but would instead provide evidence and encourage questioning and individual discovery of truth for oneself by utilizing critical thinking and logical thought that is without contradiction, since truth cannot be owned, as it belongs to nobody. Truth therefore has no authority, and has nothing whatsoever to do with power and control. Religion is all about power and control, since it is about getting people to behave the way the authoritative power structure wants them to behave, and coerces people to adhere to that desired standard through the means of reward and punishment. Politics are essentially the same as religion – pushing for an idealistic agenda and trying to control others to buy in to and ultimately follow that ideology. Power and control are hot-blooded topics which tend to infuriate people. This is why the topics of religion and politics are often tacitly “banned” from polite conversation. Religion and politics are essentially one and the same because they are ultimately about power and control. These facts alone invalidate all organized religions. In other words, the very act of trying to create and organize a “spiritual authority,” which virtually all religions attempt to do is in and of itself, fraudulent. It’s not about a “true religion” or a “false religion,” but about realizing the fact that religion itself has nothing to do with actual truth, but with power and control, manifested in and confirmed by its creation of authorities who rule over others from a paradigm of contradictions and double-standards, and coercion based on reward and punishment. Wherever coercion, control, and authority are involved, truth is not. That’s the bottom line. That is why the question of which religion is “right” is such a preposterous question. All religions may contain nuggets of truth, but none embrace the whole truth.
We can easily test the truthfulness of scripture by simply reading it and ascertaining which passages are about power, ego, and authority, and which are about love, action and natural consequence, and the truth of Oneness – not punishment from a so-called “authority,” which is completely different than natural consequence.
Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
This very famous scripture passage, often called the “Golden Rule” seems to be the epitome of common sense. Unfortunately, it is a “common sense” philosophy which very few of us actually follow. If we don’t want to be hurt, don’t hurt others, if we don’t want to be stolen from, don’t steal from others, etc. It is very simple advice, but is almost never followed. Nevertheless, what makes this passage truthful is the fact it is not about authority. It is not about reward or punishment, nor threats, nor any other coercive device. It is about looking honestly at the truth of the natural course of action and consequence. It is one of the most truthful and refreshing Biblical passages in the entire New Testament. This is an example of scripture at its finest. No threats, no punishments, no authority, no reward – just Truth, pure and simple.
Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
In my post on “Caesar’s Messiah,” I stated how Paul seems to so often be in one moment ignorant, and in another, quite enlightened. This New Testament scripture passage from the Apostle Paul is an excellent example of this tendency of Paul. It contains the truth and the false combined within two sentences of each other. I have left the first half in italics, to illustrate the false, and the second half in bold, to illustrate the true. The statement “God cannot be mocked” assumes there is a permanent, eternal ego known as “God” who is either “pleased” or “displeased” with our actions. As we have discovered several times before on “The Mystical Voice,” since ego is illusion, than all notions of self, beings, or “spiritual entities” is also an illusion. The concept of God as a “supreme ego” is therefore also not true. However, the phrase, “A man reaps what he sows” is the epitome of the truth of the natural law of action and consequence – of certain actions naturally bringing about corresponding natural reactions, not “reward and punishment” from a standard-setting deity. The two are not at all the same thing.
John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.”
John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
The two passages above are the exact opposite of the Matthew passage. These passages from John have all the earmarks of threat, propaganda, ego, and agenda – none of which any reasonable person would call “Godly” attributes. I have stated more than once on “The Mystical Voice” how the Gospel of John in particular is so blatantly filled with immense propaganda at almost every turn. Time and again, the author attempts to “convince” his audience who Jesus is as the Son of God, even blatantly stating his exact purpose for the gospel itself, as stated in John 20:31
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
The very fact the author makes this his main focus already compromises his integrity, because it is truth that matters, not the vessel who speaks it, just as it is the water which matters, not the particular cup that carries it. To focus on the vessel, on the cup, and not Truth itself is idolatry, plain and simple. That is exactly what the worship of a god, a being, an object, an idea, or any other thing is – idolatry. Trying to get around this fact by saying the worship of “God” or “Jesus” is not the same as idolatry is false, because in both cases we are still worshipping a being – an ego, instead of living for Truth, which has nothing to do with ego. As we have discovered time and again on “The Mystical Voice,” the fundamental belief in the permanent self, or ego, and the focus on this false concept is the single illusion which invalidates all ego-based theologies as those found in Christianity and Islam.
At the same time, the Gospel of John does contain some truth, as found in the following passage from John 7:23-24.
“Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
This above scripture passage speaks well to the danger of following the letter of the law in violation of the heart of the law. Jesus often criticized the excessive and hypocritical legalism of the religious authorities of his day, and teaches that doing what is loving is preferable to doing what the law says is technically “right.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
This above scripture passage – amongst the most beautiful and famous in the entire Bible states truths about love which transcend culture, time, and all boundaries of belief. The reason it does this is precisely because it is not about “faith,” but about truth. However, one of the problems Christians can run in to is in attempting to reconcile their belief as reflected in 1 John 4:16 …”God is love,” and the phrase from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 …“love keeps no record of wrongs,” with the passage from the same author Paul as found in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Really? I thought God is love, and love does not keep a record of wrongs, but now we are told by Paul we will be made to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due for the things done while in the body, while also being told from this same Paul in Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” So which is it? Are we justified by faith or by works? Does God as love from 1 John 4:16 not keep a record of wrongs as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, or does He remember all wrongs and judge us for them before His judgment seat as Paul says in 2 Corinthians? These passages cannot simultaneously be true because they contradict each other, and are yet one more example of Paul’s enlightened and ignorant sides on classic display.
Matthew 5:39-41 “…If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
It is often said by Christian apologists that Jesus never intended for us to be a doormat for others, but how can we reconcile this belief with what the above scripture passage is telling us? While I would agree that striking back is not the best answer to one who strikes us, neither would I say it is the best answer to willingly take more abuse by turning the other cheek. Why not simply walk away? If we refuse to either abuse or be abused, we free ourselves from the entire dualistic game. Also, to let someone take our belongings and allow them to get away with hurting others hurts everyone – including the one who takes. Being forced to go a mile, the distance which Roman soldiers conscripted Jewish natives to carry their heavy packs, and to opt to go an extra mile for those who force us is in the spirit of subservience to authority Rome so desired to cultivate in its subjects. It is a remarkably convenient scripture passage for Rome to make “holy” the subservience to the Empire and its soldiers who destroyed Jewish temples and villages. While it is charitable and kind to “go the extra mile” for those in need, that is not the same as being encouraged to go the extra mile when one is being forced to go a mile from those who have the power to bully one into doing so. To accept bullying, just like accepting being stolen from hurts everyone – the one who is bullied as well as the one who bullies others. There is being charitable and willingly helpful, and then there is being bullied and coerced. Part of what makes the Gospels in particular so brilliantly deceitful is how their coercive intent is clothed in what can be perceived as “charitable” language to make the coercion more palatable and in many cases, undetectable.
Mark 12:17 “Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Within the context of our discoveries from “Caesar’s Messiah,” such a passage is essentially telling us to give everything to Caesar, since the Romans saw no difference between God and Caesar, as Caesar was God, as the Romans showed time and again in their practice of deifying their emperors. It is remarkably convenient for Rome to have invented a pacifist Messiah who spoke of the necessity of paying taxes to Caesar, something the authentic militant Messiah of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” would have never advocated.
As we can see from the above passages, the New Testament contains both truth and falsehood. It was wise for the creators of the New Testament to include several nuggets of truth within their propaganda-laden work to keep the ignorant enticed into believing what they were offering was the whole truth. This is one of the most brilliant and also insidiously deceiving techniques of the charlatan – to include truth within their otherwise fraudulent sales pitches. It gives the impression to the gullible what they are being offered is entirely true because these truthful “nuggets” are so powerful in their ability to draw us in with our hearts. We would all prefer to believe we are always told the whole truth, but this is rarely if ever the case, as we have discovered in examining scripture above. In our desire to believe we are being told the “whole truth,” we tend to buy in to the entire sales pitch hook, line, and sinker, without critical examination and doing the work necessary to discern what is true from what is false. And while it may seem antiseptic and “unfeeling” to look at everything initially with some degree of healthy skepticism and a critical eye, doing so can only make us more aware of what is actually True, and keeps us honest.
In a sense honesty is the best policy. If we truly believe that, then we need to be less hypocritical and not apply a double-standard to religious concepts, and instead subject them to the same critical-thinking and careful examination we apply to anything else in our lives we care about. If something is true, it will withstand the test of critical examination. If it is not true, then it will fail the test of critical examination. It’s as simple as that. And while we may initially be disappointed in learning the truth some of the things we have believed in were never true at all, or at best, only partially true, at least we can move forward in Reality and not illusion.
The Catholic Church has made itself an easy target for blame and scapegoating. With its track record of corrupt popes, sales of indulgences, its absurd wealth in hypocritical contrast to Christ’s message of humility and poverty, the Crusades, the Holy Inquisition, the persecution of Jews and homosexuals, the molestation of boys by priests and the cover-ups of these crimes, have made the Catholic Church the ultimate embodiment of corruption and hypocrisy. Still, the fact of the matter is the very seeds of anti-Semitism, anti-homosexuality, judgment and damnation for those who “don’t believe,” with promises of “Heaven” for those who do, are all concepts contained within the very words of the New Testament itself, and not “misinterpreted” by “imperfect leaders of the faith.” In not owning and accepting this fact, we instead find it much more convenient and more comfortable to blame the Catholic Church, or any other institution so we do not have to actually examine the truth of where the real corruption of the Church came from in the first place – the very scriptures themselves. In other words, the Church never really went “astray.” It faithfully carried out Christianity’s original intention – to pacify slaves and keep the weak, weak and the strong, strong – to keep people divided through the formal institutionalization of authority and power over others. If this was not Christianity’s original intention, then all of the authoritative and threatening scripture passages as found in the New Testament as we examined in some of the examples above, would not exist. They exist for no other reason than to coerce others into a desired standard of behavior, which has nothing to do with love and truth.
Do we have the courage to actually look at the truth of religious scripture – the good as well as the bad, and be honest about it, or will we continue to hold the Bible to a hypocritical double-standard, giving it a pass for its non-loving, coercive, and violent content because we believe a God who “knows better than we do” supposedly “inspired” these words of fear, coercion and violence for purposes only HE can comprehend? How long will we continue to rationalize the contradiction between holding an “inerrant” view of scripture, while at the same time saying that cruel, sexist, coercive, and unloving scripture passages are those “corrupted” by human error. Either the Bible is inerrant or it is not. We cannot have it both ways.
The bottom line is, if Christianity was truly not about power, control, fear, coercion, and politics, then it would only contain passages such as those we looked at in the examples above from Matthew 7:12, John 7:23-24, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. In other words, it would only contain passages which speak to truth, natural action and consequence, and love, and would not contain the scripture passages which contain threats, exclusive divinity claims, prejudice, fear, “miracles,” coercion, and pro-Roman ideals – all of which are irrelevant to truth. The Bible convicts itself by its very own words that advocate all of these ego-based absurdities as we found in the passages we examined from John 3:18, John 3:36, John 20:31, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 5:39-41, and Mark 12:17. It would be a fascinating, albeit an extremely time consuming project to go through the entire Bible and highlight which passages are truthful and which are not. It would be fascinating to see what percentage is ego-based propaganda and fear-mongering, and what percentage are actual words of truth. I may or may not undertake such a project, since it is ultimately just a parlor game distracting us from the essential fact of the matter – the Bible, regardless of what percentage is truthful and what percentage is false, is ultimately both, because it is not the “inerrant and Perfect Word of God,” but a collection of books with words sometimes wise, and others not so wise, because they were created by imperfect people… just like you and I.