A CRITIQUE OF

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

by

Alex PATERSON

http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/spiritual/christianity.htm

Updated: 16 May 2007


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INTRODUCTION

All human institutions are products of their history and as such reflect the values associated with that history. In this respect the Christian Church is no different from any other institution. This article briefly discusses the early history of the Christian Church and provides an insight into the manifest shortcomings of Christian theology associated with that history.

You are invited to agree with, disagree with, seek clarification about, or critique the article if you so wish.

Alex Paterson (July 2000)


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AN OVERVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY

The values of contemporary Western society are based almost entirely on the illusory perception of separation - of a Universe comprising an aggregation of separate parts, be they atoms, people, stars or galaxies. This perception of separateness and the attendant loss of insight into the essential Oneness pervading all reality has resulted in most members of contemporary human society believing that power is external (i.e. lies outside themselves and not within ) and as such must be obtained, by fair means or foul, from something or someone else. As a result of this perception most human endeavour throughout 'recorded' history (i.e. the past 5000 years) has been focused almost entirely upon exploitation - be it of fellow humans and/or the environment at large - in the pursuit of personal wealth and self aggrandisement. Such a system has by necessity fuelled the ongoing suppression of the weak by the strong and ensured that the weak remain dependent on the powerful to fulfil their daily needs through this illusion of separateness and the attendant fear that goes with that perception. The so called 'competition of life' associated with the 'Them against Us' syndrome and the current 'Free Market' world economy is a direct result of this ethos. The deep-seated feelings of resentment engendered by this process, and the tensions associated with those feelings, have resulted in dishonesty, violence and warfare becoming an endemic and accepted form of human behaviour throughout the world.

Throughout its history, the Christian Church has been at the forefront of this process, often in the pursuit of secular power and wealth for rather base and venal reasons, leaving a trail of misery and destruction in its wake. 1

Contemporary Christian theology is based upon the notion that there is a fundamental separation between humans and their SOURCE (i.e. God), with the Church acting as the 'official' intermediary between God and Man through its self-appointed role of being "God's vicar on Earth". By its very nature this model of reality dis-empowers individuals and concentrates power in the hands of a few. By denying the essential ONENESS underpinning Creation, Christianity perpetuates a false perception of reality that is the fundamental cause of evil on Earth and in the process it divides humans into 'good' and 'evil' along with the attendant 'them' versus 'us' syndrome.

In reality, there is no real separation between God and Man, as the whole Universe, including Man, is simply a expression (manifestation) of God and as such is God. The perception of separation experienced by most humans incarnating on Earth at this point 'time' is just that - a perception. 2

EVIL is simply the denial or negation of 'Truth', with the primary 'truth' underpinning all reality being that everything is an expression of the Singularity we call God and therefore inextricably interconnected. As such, the basis of all evil on Earth is the loss of insight by most humans as to their true identity, namely that they are inseparable aspects of God. Thus for example, it is not credible that the 'left ' and 'right' hands would engage in actions to harm each other (up to an including murder) were they conscious of the fact that they were part of the same 'body', but that is essentially the mindset embraced by the vast bulk of contemporary human society. 3

Paradoxically, whilst Christian theology accepts that the Universe was created by God and that Jesus and God are one, it sees this creation as somehow being separate from God. Perhaps those embracing conventional Christian doctrine should ask themselves:

"If God created the universe but the universe is not of God, then what did God make it out of?"

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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Introduction

There are numerous websites and books dealing with the history of the Christian Church and whilst that history includes some notable examples of human dignity and quiet spiritual endeavour as displayed by Jesus (Yeshua) and Saint Francis of Assisi, a significant proportion of that history represents an ugly and violently cruel side of humanity in the pursuit of secular power and wealth, and all in name of God. Examples of this sort of behaviour are legion and include the violence of the Crusades, the inhuman cruelty of the Inquisition, countless religious wars, the ruthless destruction of all pagan religions that stood in its way - especially those associated with the sacred feminine aspect of the Universe and the subtle intuitive nature of the same - and the nefarious politics of the Christian Church itself. Below is a very short account of the major events that came to define Christian theology.

First Ecumenical Council 325AD

Most people (and that includes most Christians) are unaware of the history of the Christian Church or that the 'official' Catholic (meaning universal) doctrine of the Church was not substantially arrived at until a council of religious leaders (from numerous religions, not just 'Christians') met at Nicaea (now Iznik, Turkey) in 325 AD to attend the First Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church. This council had been summonsed by the Byzantine (later to become Roman) pagan emperor, Constantine (?285 - 337 AD) in order to establish religious unity within the Roman empire for a whole raft of mainly secular political reasons. Constantine was closely involved in the Council's deliberations and the resulting doctrine, known as the Nicene Creed, had more to do with political expediency than religious theology. Needless to say, Constantine was the first Roman emperor to adopt the Creed, although interestingly enough he chose not to become a 'Christian' himself. (he was allegedly 'baptised' at his deathbed) The Nicene Creed of Christianity eventually became the 'official' religion of the Roman empire and is used in the Eucharist service of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Churches. (Source: Oxford Reference Shelf, 1994) 4

The Pauline Heresy 5

The Nicene Creed is based almost entirely on Paul's (Saul) 'alleged' interpretation of Jesus' mission on Earth, to the exclusion of all other interpretations. Many religious scholars (including the author) view Paul's interpretation of Jesus' mission as a gross distortion of the truth. More importantly, Paul's interpretation is not supported by any evidence that Jesus actually believed what Paul is alleged to have said about him or his mission. It is for this reason that Paul is considered by many as being the first heretic of the Christian Church and why his interpretation of Jesus' mission is often referred to as the "Pauline Heresy". The basic principles underlying Paul's doctrine which are questioned by numerous religious and spiritual scholars include:

In summary, the Nicene Creed of Christianity, which is still practiced today, is the direct result of a decision by the Roman Emperor Constantine to form a State religion to satisfy secular political imperatives of his time, and in many respects the Christian Church today still reflects the inherent hypocrisy and dishonesty of that process. There is little doubt that in the course of such a process many of the deeper spiritual beliefs and insights espoused by Jesus were dispensed with as they were either misunderstood, or presented a real threat to the power and authority of both the Roman Emperor and the leadership of the early Christian Church. Perennial esoteric spiritual concepts such as the essential unity (ONENESS) pervading the Universe and the immortality of the Soul are clearly incompatible with the Nicene Creed (i.e. Paul's doctrine) as they unambiguously imply that the communion between a person and the core 'GOD' aspect of themselves (i.e. the Higher Self or Soul) is a personal and private affair, with no real place for an external clergy except as spiritual advisers.

Fifth Ecumenical Council 553AD - the removal of Reincarnation from the Bible

Most of the references to reincarnation were formally removed from the Christian Scriptures as a result of the 5th Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church convened by the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor Justinian at Constantinople in 553 AD. Emperor Justinian convened the council to declare reincarnation an anathema, specifically the teachings of an earlier Church leader, Origen (185-254 A.D.), and ensured the council was 'stacked' with compliant church representatives to achieve this end. Origen had spoken out in unmistakable terms on the question of the repeated incarnations of the soul. For example Origen is reported as saying "Each soul enters the world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defects of its past lives. Its place in this world is determined by past virtues and shortcomings." (Source: De Principalis) There is some evidence that Justinian's wife, Theodora, was the driving force behind Justinian's decision to have the concept of reincarnation declared an anathema. Theodora had been a pantomime actress (and quite likely a prostitute) before she married Justinian and some religious scholars suggest that Theodora didn't like the idea of possibly having to come back and "reap" what she might have sown in attaining her high position, hence her abhorrence at the notion of reincarnation. 8

Pope Vigilius, who was in Constantinople at the time of the 5th Ecumenical Council, refused to attend the Council meetings in protest and initially refused to ratify the Council's declaration that Origen's teachings were an anathema, but eventually was forced to assent to this. He died on his way back to Rome.   9

However, as evidenced by this document and numerous others, some references to reincarnation and the essential 'Oneness' pervading all reality slipped through that process and remain in the Bible. For more on this subject see:

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JESUS or PAUL?

In many respects the views of Paul are the complete antithesis to those of Jesus. There is no credible evidence that Jesus was interested in creating a formal theocracy or church based on his life or teachings - he lived by what he taught and in the process set an example for others to follow. And what he taught was toleration at all times, care for the welfare and benefit of others (both human and animals), giving and sharing, selflessness in helping others to carry the burden of their suffering and a universal and unconditional love for all - as a means of achieving perfection and breaking the cycle of karmic rebirth and returning to humanity's original state being, namely 'oneness' with God. (i.e. Heaven) In contrast to the conservative Jewish culture of his time, Jesus had an almost modern attitude towards women by treating them as equals to men.

By contrast, Paul was an overt misogynist (woman hater) with a deep felt a loathing towards physical existence, the human body and sexuality. (1 Corinthians 007:034, 1 Corinthians 007:037, Galatians 005:017) Where Jesus spoke of an unconditionally loving God, Paul spoke of a wrathful God. (Colossians 003:006, Ephesians 005:006) Where Jesus spoke of tolerance and love towards others, Paul spoke of intolerance and hate. (Galatians 001:009) Out of the Good News of compassion, healing and unconditional love that Jesus brought to humanity, Paul distorted it and instead created a news story that was dark and threatening and based on fear.

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CONCLUSION

This article argues that contemporary Christianity is based on a theology that is manifestly false, and demonstratively so as evidenced by the wealth scientific, theological and historical evidence now becoming available.

To quote Holger Kersten from the preface to his book 'The Original Jesus.'

"The Jesus mediated to us by the Church is not the true Jesus. That is an artificial construction, assembled from true and false fragments of his biography, from authentic and invalid statements, and based on a great deal of inventiveness on the part of Christian writers ... the real historical Jesus and his concerns are hidden like a portrait beneath layers of varnish added by 2000 years of church history. If we remove that varnish carefully like a restorer, without destroying the precious original, the primary colours become apparent."

In conclusion, Reality is a far more sophisticated process than either contemporary Christianity or Western Science have any concept of - and a recognition of this is what is encouraging an increasing number of people to reject the concepts underlying both Western Science 10 and orthodox Christianity as they seek to re-discover who they really are and the essence of their BEING. As many can now attest, the journey back into a rediscovery of SELF is truly an awesome experience. The question I pose to people who embrace contemporary 'Christianity' (whatever that term means) is: - "why limit yourself to a concept of reality that may have had some meaning and given succour to an unsophisticated and invariably illiterate person a thousand years ago, but which has become meaningless (and restrictive) in the 21st century?"

Article based in part on excerpts from 'Jesus Lived in India' by Holger Kersten

Copyright Alex Paterson (November 2001)

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FOOTNOTES:

1. RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY are often confused with each other, yet in many respects religion has very little to do with spirituality and everything to do with the attainment of secular power and wealth for rather base and venal reasons. 'Religion' invariably presents an over simplistic and narrow view of reality, is intolerant of contrary views or dissent and is demeaning to the basic tenets underlying spirituality in that it attempts to present a finite and limited interpretation of the infinite. By contrast, 'Spirituality' is a far deeper personal experience, usually associated with an individual's personal quest to re-discover his or her essence and obtain a conscious re-connection with SOURCE (i.e. God) from within this realm.

For more on this subject see: RELIGION versus SPIRITUALITY by Alex Paterson

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2. For more on the essential ONENESS of all reality see:

TIME: The perception of 'time' is an illusion associated with this realm and would appear to have no real context in 'higher' spiritual realms, which operate under the auspices of an eternal 'now'. This concept is simply beyond the perception or understanding of most 'human' minds at this point in 'time'. (a delicious paradox)

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3. As the Indian mystic, Sri Aurobindo, wryly noted: "An atheist is God playing hide and seek with himself."

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4. It is often speculated that Constantine was particularly attracted to the early Christian Church's claim that, as God's vicars on Earth, the Christian clergy had the power to absolve human sin in the name of God. This powerful - and some would argue convenient notion - was ratified at Nicaea. Constantine had a particularly violent history of murder and slavery in his rise to power (including the banishment and/or murder of numerous members of his own family), so it would appear that this self appointed 'role' of the early Christian church was of particular interest to him. (See Gore Vidal's novel 'Julian' for an entertaining and well-written account of Constantine's bloody rise to power and the accompanying rise to prominence of the Christian church.)

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5. It should be noted that there is considerable debate amongst religious scholars that the writings in the New Testament assigned to Paul are possibly the work of up to three different authors. The fact remains that we have no way of accurately knowing who Paul was, or what he actually wrote as no original letters written by Paul exist today.

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6. Despite Paul's doctrine (of humanity being somehow separate from God) being at the heart of contemporary Christian theology, the Bible contains a number of clear references as to the essential ONENESS of the Universe, including rather ironically, Paul's own letters to the Corinthians in which Paul states that Jesus said:

Corinthians:

012:012 "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ
012:013 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles ...
012:014 For the body is not one member, but many."

Comment by Alex Paterson: Throughout these passages, Jesus is clearly alluding to the essential 'ONENESS' pervading the Universe and unequivocally indicating that all humans are just an aspect of God, not just the so called 'chosen'. e.g. 012:013 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles ... 012:014 For the body is not one member, but many." Jesus is also clearly indicating he is no different from any other human. e.g. 012:012 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Acts (New Testament) contains an account about Paul's missionary journey to share his faith in Christ with the Athenians. He is recorded as saying of God:

Acts

17:28: For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
Comment by Alex Paterson: This passage graphically illustrates the confusion Christian Theology has about the nature of human beings and their relationship with the Creator. Thus, the first sentence states;
"For in him we live and move and have our being" which is an unequivocal acknowledgement that humans are an inseparable aspect of God. However, Paul then goes on to separate humanity from God by claiming "We are his offspring".

For more on this issue see :
Bible Excerpts in Support of Perennial Esoteric Spiritual Theory by Alex Paterson

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7. The notion of a "wrathful God" who requires punishment and sacrifice in order to atone for alleged sin is a tenet central Judaic theology. This tenet has been carried over into contemporary Christian theology associated with many passages in both the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible.

Holger Kersten in his book 'Jesus Lived in India' (page 232) elaborates on the 'Pauline Heresy'

"Paul insists that on account of the sin of Adam all people are subject to the wrath of God from the start (Ephesians 002:003) and are lost without exception (Romans 005:018; 1 Corinthians 015:018), for all are subject to sin. (Romans 003:009; Galatians 003:022; Colossians 002:014) God has given his judgment of condemnation against all people. (Romans 005:016) The way out was through the sacrificial death of Christ: "Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life' (Romans 005:018) In the letter to the Colossians he describes Jesus as 'Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross' (Colossians 002:014)

The terrible thing about the doctrine of salvation according to Paul is his attitude that the individual can contribute nothing towards his salvation in his miserable life: not through any good works of his own, not through any change in lifestyle however much for the better, can the individual justify his being saved and reconciled with God. (cf Romans 003:024, Romans 009:016, 1 Corinthians 001:029, Galatians 002:016) For according to Paul it is exclusively the grace of God which brings us to salvation: 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast' (Ephesians 002:008-9)"

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8. Holger Kersten elaborates on the Justinian's anathema against reincarnation in his book 'Jesus Lived in India' (page 118):

"According to the historian Procopious, Justinian's wife Theodora was the ambitious, not to say power-crazed daughter of a bearguard at the amphitheatre in Byzantium. Her meteoric rise lead to her becoming ruler of the empire as a courtesan. As soon as she became Empress, in order to break ties with her ignoble past, she ordered the torture and execution of 500 of her erstwhile courtesan colleagues. Then in an endeavour to avoid suffering the dreaded consequences of such cruel deeds in a subsequent life according to the laws of karma and reincarnation, she set about applying all her influence to have the doctrine of reincarnation formally abolished, convinced that an edict promulgated by the divine decree of the Emperor anathematising the doctrine as a heresy would altogether absolve her from all culpability."

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9. For more on Ecumenical Councils see:

 For more on the history of the Christian church see:

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10. For a critique on Western Science see:

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Copyright Alex Paterson 2001

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A List Bible Quotes featured in this article

Source: BIBLE - compressed (zip) html format of the King James version of the Bible. (1.3mb)

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ABOUT Alex PATERSON

Alex PATERSON is an Australian citizen by birth. He writes articles and advises on issues pertaining to aviation, politics, sociology, the environment, sustainable farming, history, computers, natural health therapies, esoteric teachings and spirituality.

He can be contacted at:

 

Photograph of Alex Paterson

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COPYRIGHT DETAILS

The document, 'A Critique of Christian Theology' is the copyright of the author, Alex Paterson. All rights reserved by the author. Notwithstanding this, the document may be reproduced and disseminated without the express permission of the author so long as reference to the author is made, no alterations are made to the document and no money is charged for it.

Copyright Alex Paterson 1999


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