While listening to a Christian radio station yesterday, I heard the pastor quote the famous passage from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This got me thinking about and questioning this scripture, and the construction of scripture in general. This passage has forced me to question because on the surface, it contradicts what I know to be true – the fact no individual person in and of themselves can be an exclusive “only” son of God since Truth is never exclusive, and “divinity” cannot ever be an exclusive claim of any one individual. The “Son” of the trinity is not an individual, but the potential in all of humanity. The “son of man” as Jesus often called himself was not an exclusive claim as believed within traditional Christianity. It is, as the name of Jesus Christ, the realized human and Divine in one flesh. It is a potentiality, a state of humanity, not an individual in whom we must “believe” to have eternal life.
The Gospel of John, perhaps more so than the other synoptic gospels, is particularly problematic in reading truthfully because the author’s language on the surface appears to be attempting to “prove” exclusive messianic, divine claims on the one person Jesus of Nazareth. There are two possibilities of how to read this gospel. Either the author actually is trying to prove the idea of exclusive messianic, divine claims on the one person Jesus of Nazareth, or he was speaking metaphorically about the one and only divine Jesus Christ which was manifest in Jesus of Nazareth, but not exclusive to him, and is a potentiality within every human being who can know True Salvation when one comes to realize the Truth of their identity as God, Love within, and not self, ego. Jesus Christ is in a sense, the “one and only begotten Son of God,” because Truth is always One, even though the One’s manifestation is not exclusive to one individual human being, as a drop of water is not itself the ocean, but Of the ocean. These differences in interpretation once again illustrate the wide gulf which exists between the Stage Two fundamentalist “Formal/Institutional” view, and Stage Four “Mystical” view. Same words, but completely different meanings.
When reading the Gospel of John, I often cannot help but think the author of John is trying to make exclusive messianic claims on Jesus of Nazareth in some of the language which is used. I have this same feeling in much of the other three synoptic gospels, but find it absent in the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas, which were left out of the New Testament, and are relatively underdeveloped theologically. It is an interesting fact those gospels which are theologically underdeveloped are missing exclusive divine, messianic claims, as this agenda of “proving” who Jesus was is a concern of theologians, not those who were interested in accurately recording words reflecting Truth.
It is a fact the gospel writers, as well as the Apostle Paul, wrote specifically to their audiences, whether they were Jewish or Gentile, and sought to persuade them of various things by making specific “points” to those audiences. This is a fact most modern Bible readers do not take into account – the audiences the Gospel writers were writing for, and the contexts in which these scriptures were written. This is a tremendous fact to realize because it sheds blinding light on why certain points, such as Jesus’ divinity or humanity, etc. are more or less emphasized by various gospel writers. It is obvious the notion of “proving” the claim of Jesus of Nazareth’s exclusive divinity and messianic status became increasingly important to early Jewish Christians as the early church grew and tried to defend its position against those who were hostile to their claims. Within the context of the gospel writers’ Jewish audiences, they were clearly trying to convince them Jesus was the messiah prophesized in the Old Testament, going to great lengths to reference Old Testament scriptures in an attempt to “prove” Jesus was the messiah to their non-believing Jewish contemporaries.
While each of the Gospels contain much truth, and in many cases contain sayings of Jesus which are if not entirely authentic, are at least in the spirit Truth, there is clearly an underlying agenda within much of these writings to lay claim to the notion Jesus of Nazareth is the exclusive Christ, which requires belief in him to inherit eternal life. One such scripture passage I find particularly suspect is from Mark 8:29, “But what about you? he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” This was not so much a question of Jesus as it was for those who wrote the gospels and their audiences who asked the same question. Jesus, as an Enlightened One, would have never asked such a question, as it is irrelevant to Truth, which has nothing to do with the identity of an individual. Personal identity is a concern of ego, not of God, Love. The gospel writers and their audiences’ concern to even address this question at all shows from the beginning, some of the gospel writers and their audiences were not as much concerned with speaking and learning the Truth of the message Jesus was speaking, but more with defending beliefs and ideas about “who” Jesus was within the framework of their Jewish faith. The two have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately within modern Christianity, this has become completely distorted. Instead of the message being seen as a reflection of Truth, the theology of who Jesus supposedly is has become “the truth,” which is a complete misunderstanding of what Truth actually is. Truth is not an idea, belief, or point of view. All of these things are inventions of the ego within time. Truth is not of time. Truth is the living moment, without conclusion, prejudice, or belief. Truth simply IS. What it really comes down to is this – if you have to defend it or justify it – anything at all, it is never the Truth, but the lie. The fact the gospel writers attempted to “prove” anything at all reveals the fact it was never Truth they were attempting to “prove,” but their preconceived agendas.
In short, the gospel writers wrote both the truth and the lie. Truth was written in many of the parables, sayings, and teachings, although certainly not all. The lie was written in the obvious interpretation of what they believed Jesus’ life “meant” within the context of their Jewish culture and religious beliefs. The gospels were constructed to “fit” the predetermined notion that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah and the only begotten son of God. The fact the gospel writers were at all concerned with “proving who Jesus was” reveals the fact this entire issue is not Truth, since all justification and defense serves only ego and self, as Truth never needs justification. Any ideas about what any given thing is are beliefs and opinions, not Truth. As long as one is defending an agenda of any kind, such as Jesus being the exclusive divine messiah, or any other notion, it is a preconception, a belief, and as such is not the Truth because when one is defending a position, one is only trying to “make things work” within their predetermined framework. This is the way most pastors write, and indeed, the way Paul and many of the early gospel writers wrote – from a conclusion in which they mold and shape their words. This has nothing to do with Truth-seeking. It has everything to do with the defense and justification of one’s beliefs and prejudices, which is nothing more than a defense of self.
This is why I find the relative purity of the non-synoptic gospels such as Thomas and Mary particulary refreshing, as they are free of such dogmatic agendas. Truth is Truth. It cannot be invented, voted on, or decided in a committee. Truth is not an agenda, belief, ideology, or idea. These things are of time, and therefore not Truth. Truth lies outside the realm of belief, prejudice, agenda, and theology, as Truth… is not of time….