Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God – continued

mary-magdalene-in-meditation

I have been doing further research on the theme of my last posting “Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God” where I wrote about researching Emperor Constantine’s role in creating his own version of Christianity.

In general I strive to have this blog be a place where people of all faiths can find inspiration and hopefully connectivity with God. I am focusing on Christianity here not to exclude people of other faiths, but rather to point out how politics and history have influenced the religious institutions we know today.

I was inspired to do this research by a recent trip to Italy … my intention is to ask questions that will hopefully bring people to a closer, deeply personal connection to God.

Along this historical journey I looked into some of the gospels that were not selected to be included in The Bible.

I found inspiration in reading the Gospel of Mary. Mary Magdalene was well known in the early Christian church; someone who actually knew Jesus and worked to share what he had taught her. Unlike modern Christianity, where women are not allowed to preach or lead in most churches, Mary had a respected voice at the time. Her gospel had been translated into multiple languages, meaning that it was fairly widespread.

The Gospel of Mary is a non-canonical gospel, meaning it was not chosen by the Bishops at Constantine’s Council of Nicea to be a part of The Bible. There are all sorts of questions and rabbit holes one could go down around which gospels were chosen as well as many conspiracy theories around Constantine’s role in the process for what was selected.

However, in reading the Gospel of Mary one line stuck out to me like a sore thumb … and made all of these other questions and conspiracy theories simply disappear. The quote is this,

“Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as He commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.”

The most important bit that stuck out to me there was,

“… not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said.”

This is confirmed in the gospels that were chosen to be a part of the Bible. In Mathew it is written,

“… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

In Mark it is written,

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

The difference to me is the wording, although they are saying the same thing … but in Mary it is specifically indicated that no rule or law OTHER than what Jesus said should be taught or laid down.

So, are there writings in the New Testament that establish new teachings, laws or rules beyond what Jesus said? Yes, and most notably by Paul, whose writings make up the largest bulk of the New Testament of any other author (roughly one third of the New Testament was written by Paul).

If the command of Jesus was clear, which it seems that it was, that there was not supposed to be anything taught other than what Jesus had told them … then Paul’s writings should never have even been included in The New Testament. He never knew Jesus while he was living AND he was teaching things other than what Jesus taught during his life.

Paul for instance introduced the idea that we are saved by faith, not by works … but if you simply look at the parable of the Sheep and the Goats you can see that this is not what Jesus says. Jesus very clearly details the difference between the Sheep and the Goats … and it is ALL about what they did or did not do.

There are other teachings by Paul that differ or add to what Jesus taught as well. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion and as such was well versed in theology and philosophy. It is not so much that his writings are horrible teachings, but simply that they can cloud the picture and at times even create a different picture that what is JUST the teachings of Jesus.

An example … I have written many spiritual songs and I believe that some of those songs were inspired by God. Even if they were proven to have been inspired by God, it does not mean they should be in The New Testament or any other religious book. If every writing of every person who had been inspired by God was in The New Testament … the clarity of the message that Jesus brought would be diluted. What should have been in The New Testament was only the gospel that Jesus had given.

So how does Paul end up being the primary source for modern Christianity? That is where Constantine and the bishops of that time (more than 300 years after the death of Jesus) come in … in creating a version of Christianity to their liking and then persecuting anyone who believed differently I question whether Christianity was forever changed and remains changed by those events to this day.

So what does all this mean? What is the point of these questions? Doesn’t this just confuse people and create headaches? I would contend that confusing people has been what has been going on for almost two thousand years now, and probably has been the case as long as human brains have had self-awareness.

The most important commandments laid down by Jesus were TO LOVE … plain and simple. I think that those commandments would be fairly compatible with a lot of other religious teachings as well … perhaps bringing people together instead of driving them apart?

Let’s consider what the Church through all of these centuries might look like if ONLY the actions, life and teachings of Jesus were all that was being taught (this is of course hypothetical but seems logical to me based on what I have learned of the life and teachings of Jesus):

  • The Crusades, and every other war where Christianity was used as the reason, would never have happened. If only the teachings of Jesus were taught and followed Christianity would never have been used as a way to dominate others. Jesus was a pacifist and very clearly stated that our actions mean something in terms of our connection to God and salvation. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives would not have been taken. Christians would not be bringers of war, but rather peace and healing.
  • The Church would have spent their time feeding the hungry, helping the helpless, clothing the naked and generally spreading LOVE, as Jesus did and taught, instead of amassing wealth and power. Granted, we would not have some lovely cathedrals to admire and worship in … but I think helping the poor and needy would have created a better society.
  • Women would have a significant role in the leadership of the Church … women had a very large role in the early church and in Jesus’s life. This changed with the creation of Constantine’s church that embraced male figures and most likely carried on the traditions of Mithraism (Constantine’s former religion and the religion of the Roman Legion at the time) that only men could lead.

I am not claiming anything to “the truth” … I am simply asking questions. I believe in a God who is powerful enough for questions to be asked and for truth to hopefully be discovered … a God that is deeply and personally connected to us … and that our actions in life will flow from that connection if we seek after and maintain it.

  • as a disclaimer I would like to say that this is not meant to be an attack on Catholics or Christians. I consider myself to be an open-minded Christian and enjoy attending Catholic services. Yes, I believe that the Church misled many people of faith throughout history. This deception has gone on for so long now that I don’t think many of the leaders of churches even realize they are misleading their congregants … this does not mean that there are not beautiful and wonderful people of faith and full of Love within the Church. I am privileged to know many of them and am grateful to see and share Love with them.

Picture credit: Mary Magdalene In Meditation, by Le Nain brothers.

~~~~~~~

Religion4All is an idea: that every human being (no matter their race, religion, sexuality, social status, lifestyle, or any other possible factor) is LOVED by God; just … as … they are.

We all are loved by God, and NO religion or person has a monopoly on it. Every single person on this planet is loved equally by God … SO many are cut off from God because they are told they don’t belong. God loves everyone … we ALL are beautiful creations … we don’t need to cringe when we hear the words “God”, or “religion”, or their judgments … God LOVES us all!

There is no requirement to change in order to be LOVED by God, or to LOVE God. God is LOVE, and LOVE is God … period. There is no one who God loves more than anyone else … there are only those who choose to LOVE more … to love God more, and consequently then to love each other more. In doing so, we grow closer to God … and know God.

By opening our hearts, and minds to God (free of boundaries like religion, or social trends); by LOVING God … we are exactly where we are meant to be. If we maintain that openness, never allowing any person or event to make us close our hearts, we will be guided by God to be who we are meant to be.

In that space of openness we can then live a life of LOVE, and be guided to where we are meant to be … forever in LOVE.

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1 Comment»

  The 11th Commandment | Religion4All wrote @

[…] was behind my two prior posts, “Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God” and “Questioning Can Bring You Closer To God – continued“). I find though that when I feel myself slipping it is also when I turn to God that much […]


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