As some know, this is my on-going personal project and I have edited it yet again for clarity. So, here's the latest edition of my diary on the original christians, the Gnostics. This is an alternative interpretation of Jesus' teachings, some of which even survived to the modern Bible. This is also an expose of St. Stephen in relation to this same meme, that the early christians were against organized religion with physical temples or churches and actually were for a religion of the "body."
Jesus publicly demanded that mankind "Destroy This Temple..." and to rebuilt it via his "body." St. Stephen similarly said that "The Most High does not live in houses made by men" right around the this time...
My sources are limited and I admit to deriving much of my recollection of this alternative Jesus history and the history of the Gnostics from Princeton University's Elaine Pagels; I also have read most of the translations of the Gnostic gospels and many of the Dead Sea scrolls. So here goes:
Jesus' real story, or any famous person's story for that matter, is always hard to ascertain in retrospect.
The controversy over Jesus' story began about 300 years after he demanded that mankind "destroy this temple" in his famous public display described in the Gospel of John.
After the fatwa to massacre the Gnostics that came out in 325AD at the Council of Nicea, the Gnostics were banned, persecuted, and murdered by the ancestors of today's Church: these martyr-obsessed "Orthodox" Christians, not to be mistaken with modern Orthodox Christians, began their subversion of Jesus' story in earnest.
The Roman empire split in half over the issue of Jesus' divinity vs. Jesus as a man who reached Christhood, the Gnostic take on Jesus' mastery of the soul.
We still live with the same centralized authority today, the same tyrannous "christian" groups who want to convert you or else you are hell-bound.
In other words, they became in 325AD what Jesus and St. Stephen railed against and died fighting against as rebel leaders.
Education is the way out of this tyranny; that was Jesus' message and his criticism at the city center, railing against the temple people and proclaiming "Destroy this temple," was an ingenious means of educating the masses to his message: as he drove the false prophets out of the temple where doves (for women's menstruation) were sold and where money exchanges operated, he spoke with actions to his desire for liberty from religious-induced tyranny.
He certainly wasn't calling for a world-wide caliphate and he wasn't calling for a massacre of minority religions when he allegedly said "only through me"....
The people of the world must embrace education to defeat the totalitarian ideology of these false "christian" groups who utilize hate, fear, and guilt to achieve their wicked ends. They perverted Jesus' teachings and the tricked followers of these money-hungry groups, under the guise of "churches" and "mosques" and "temples."
Knowledge, or "gnosis," is the only force able to defeat fascism masked as religion IMO. Jesus knew this and that's why he attacked the money-changers at the Temple in his most famous act seen and explained right in the Bible!
I believe he was publicly espousing "gnosis" (knowledge) with his city-center display of civil disobedience, with his ancient "orange revolution." He was a rebel leader!
The Constitution's First Amendment which protects our freedom of religious expression is magnificent and reflects Jesus' vision of peace and fairness and was a dagger in the heart of the forces of tyranny and oppression in the world. The 1st Amendment serves as the foundation of our democracy, which apparently religious fundamentalists hate per their post-9/11 attacks on Jeffersonian democracy. Let's reread what democracy is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment means that you have freedom to practice your religion free from persecution. Period. God gave us that right. It says so right in Genesis 1:29 as well and discredits modern fascism's main foothold, the Holy Drug Inquisition:
"God said, "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food.
The Constitution needs another amendment to re-affirm the 4th amendment, a modern-day update if you will because everyday that the "drug war" goes on is another day down the dark path of fascism in America.
Now, as to the freedoms under assault, the radical Christians and the radical Muslims, to take the top two most effective fascist religious groups in the world, are almost identical in their virulence and tactics as they use religion to dominate in politics and war and to attack freedom in the world, mainly for political power and for economic profits.
Both fundamentalist groups within Islam and "Christianity" obsess around the concept of the "end times" because fear and guilt are the main tools for brainwashing inductees.
They have literally boogey-manned themselves into being freakish basket cases however and have destroyed another generation of bright young minds in rural America with their intentional dumbing-down, anti-education, cult-like mentality.
In other words, they appear as evil in the world, all the while they fancy themselves to be modern pharoahs or prophets themselves: arrogance at its finest.
Powerful, evil people have corrupted Jesus' anti-tyranny teachings, his teaching to "Destroy this temple" of hypocrites and money-changing liars.
And so liberals should not be against Jesus, a champion of liberalism and liberty, but against those who have perverted his life and teachings.
* * *
The most beneficial thing that the crucifixion-obsessed, "orthodox" Christians (as Elaine Pagels calls them in "The Gnostic Gospels") have done is to allow the story of Jesus, as heavily edited as it is, to survive their fascism across two millenia so that the populist message of Jesus can again overcome their own tyranny. Again, these "christians" have committed the same sins that Jesus was railing against when he said "Destroy this temple..."
Only "gnosis" (knowledge, education) can defeat these forces of evil that are insulated from criticism within "churches" and "mosques" and "temples," using the tried and true techniques of fear, superstition, guilt, and violence.
If you’ve ever wondered why the so-called "moral majority" under Ronald Reagan wanted to destroy the Department of Education, now you know why: Jesus railed against these forces of ignorance in his most famous act when he declared "Destroy this temple..."
More on that below but first, let me introduce St. Stephen for those who missed his downplayed message:
St. Stephen, lauded in the famous Grateful Dead song bearing his name, is known as the first Christian deacon. According to Acts in the Bible, Stephen was put down by a mob. History suggests he might have lived around 34-35AD.
Here the Acts version of Stephen’s death:
Stephen is accused by a planted witness who said that Stephen was claiming that...
"11Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.(Acts, vi, 12 14).
To which Stephen replied:
44 "Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
48 "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet (Isaiah) says:
49" 'Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the
Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?'
51 "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him-- 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts, vi, 44-58).
Now as to Jesus’ famous public statement to "Destroy this temple", essentially demanding that ancient mega-churches stop abusing God's good name:
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.
15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me." 18 The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to show us for doing this?"
19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.
22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did;
24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them,
25 because he knew all men and needed no one to
bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man. -- John 2:13-25
His "body" doesn't mean start up a mega-church and make money on Jesus; the mega-church is what he was calling an abomination: see their rejection of Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical who advocates helping the poor and saving the environment.
Instead, the false "Christians" use wedge issues to appeal to people’s most base hatreds.
As to the Gnostics, I know from my studies on the ancient Gnostics that they put a lot of emphasis on women, per the Gospel of Philip and the "Bridal Chamber."
I know enough to know this: the Gnostics deserve MUCH more critical study and historical attention in general since they were the dominant sect of the original Christians.
Here's a sample of the Gospel of Thomas, which I have heard had objectionable portions added later, but which has many apparently authentic elements of Gnostic teachings including discussion of women and the holy "bridal chamber" (important because of its non-celibacy aspects) and most of all, discussion of Christhood which is attainable by all and not an exclusive concept just for Jesus.
It’s kind of like the Buddhist concept of nirvana, see the Gospel of Philip:
- Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."
And here’s Jesus' promise of eternal life through knowledge or gnosis from the Gospel of Philip:
1 "And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."
Always remember that these teachings were outlawed by the "church" in 325 AD at the Council of Nicea and the Gnostics were put to death along with any and all other religious sects within the vicious reach of the post-Nicene "Church."
In other words, the real history of Christianity has yet to be understood by the people of the world: the "christian church," born in 325 AD, was born out of mass violence while forsaking Jesus' real teachings with its edited, adulterated version of his rebellious teachings and rants against organized religion.
One day, academics will not be able to ignore the true story of Jesus and when that true story gets out, the political landscape will be forever changed... for the better:
Humankind just needs to get over the hump... the interactive online
4th century Bible will arrive soon and will help with that hump in a couple of years.