Friday, May 2, 2014

Ten things Jesus still can't say in church.

Like many who have experienced trans-formative spiritual experiences I once sought to better understand my own experience through the lens of traditional religious teaching.   While traditional religious institutions provide the invaluable benefit of a supportive, like-minded community, these same institutions are often guilty of depriving spiritual seekers of access to a fully informed worldview, making many easy prey for psychological manipulation and exploitation.

Fundamentalist denominations of Christianity, Islam and Judaism all teach their followers that in order to understand the nature of reality, and therefore one's own spiritual experience, one must first come to understand the Bible, Torah or the Quran as 'God's Words' - everything written in Scripture should be considered to be truth - completely inspired texts which contain no error, contradiction or falsehood - books that speak as one voice - the voice of God. 


This singular religious belief, more than any other religious belief, has the power to transform a person, once endowed with the gift of common sense, into an irrational and disturbingly delusional individual susceptible to all manner of manipulationThe promotion of the belief in scriptural inerrancy has always been institutional religion's greatest gift to sociopaths, hucksters and self-serving political manipulators - as well as the lessor angels of one's own mind.  No one who embraces this belief escapes all its negative consequences and no one will abandon this belief later in life without psychological scars.


If Pastors, Imams and Rabbis wish to be truly good shepherds of their flocks then the dangers of the belief in scriptural inerrancy will become an often discussed topic in their public gatherings.

Peace, prosperity and enlightened world government will never be achieved without substantial intellectual reform within institutional Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  Salvation from the delusional and malevolent forces that prey on members of fundamentalist religious institutions will only be possible if religious leaders and laypersons alike begin to fully understand the dire consequences of promoting the false belief of scriptural inerrancyAs long as churches, mosques and synagogues remain bound to this belief there will be an ongoing and escalating negative impact on governments world wide - as politically minded fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims seek to see their apocalyptic, fatalistic world-views fulfilled and vindicated.
 
This essay contains ten alternative interpretations of some of the most provocative and cryptic sayings of Jesus that exist in scripture.  These particular interpretations are actively suppressed within institutional Christianity specifically for the purpose of maintaining the belief in scriptural inerrancy, as well as other false beliefs concerning the nature of reality often promoted in scripture.  


These 10 interpretations need to become widely known in order to inoculate future generations against the destructive power of religious fundamentalism.  Churches and Mosques must become true centers of enlightenment, rather than centers of mass delusion, ripe for exploitation.


Delusion - Definition:
An altered state of consciousness induced by embracing a 'false belief' - belief crucial to one's understanding of reality.

Side effects include:
1.  Inaccurate perceptions of reality.
2.  Diminished ability for sound reasoning.
3.  Mistrust / fear of those not holding the false belief.

4.  Strong mental bias for thoughts supporting the false belief.
5.  Strong mental bias against thoughts opposing the false belief.

Below are ten Common Sense Interpretations of some of the more cryptic sayings attributed to Jesus found in the New Testament
Since there is no way to be certain that ANYONE'S interpretation of ANY passage of scripture reflects the author's true meaning, I call these interpretations 'common sense' interpretations because these interpretations stand on their own merit as truth.  Truth which can be demonstrated to be truth.



These ten interpretations have been derived from the following set of metaphor pairings - (Which can prove useful when attempting to interpret other sayings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament).

1.  Eye - 'One's perception, one's understanding of something'
2.  Body - 'One's conscious and unconscious mind'
3.  House - 'The beliefs and understanding governing one's mind'
4.  Kingdom - 'A philosophy or theology - a collectively held understanding'
5.  Son of Man - 'The enlightened individual, enlightened future humanity'
6.  Demon - 'Delusion, Consciousness manifesting delusion' 
7.  Angel - 'Insight, Consciousness manifesting insight'
8.  Devil/Satan - 'Malevolent consciousness controlled by falsehood'
9.  Hell - 'A state of delusion leading to mental and physical torment'
10. Heaven - 'The world as it should be, the perfected world, the future world'
11. Kingdom of Heaven - "The philosophy of the world as it should be'
 
 
1.  Mark 4:24-25
Be careful if you attempt to interpret sayings attributed to me.  The reasoning you use will be the measure of your success, and even more. Those who have sound reasoning will embrace rational assumptions about both me and my teachings, which will lead to more understanding.  Those without sound reasoning will embrace irrational assumptions about me and my teaching which will lead to diminished understanding. 


NIV -"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

2.  Matthew 23:15

Woe to you who teach that scripture is God's Word. You hypocrites. You travel land and sea to win a single convert, and when you find one, you make them twice as delusional as you yourselves have become. 

NIV - "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

3.  Matthew 16:11-12
How can it be possible that you don't understand I was not talking about bread when I said, be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees?  Then the disciples understood that Jesus was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but instead to be on guard against the falsehoods which give rise to delusional thinking - falsehoods being taught by those who believe the scriptures are God's words.

NIV - How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

4.  Matthew 6:22-23
How you see the world illuminates your mind. If your understanding of reality is correct your mind becomes full of insights. If your perception of reality is wrong your mind becomes full of fallacies. Embracing a fallacy as though it is 'insight'
makes the mind delusional. 

NIV - "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

5.  Matthew 5:29-30


If your spiritual understanding confuses and disturbs you, better to approach life without any specific spiritual understanding, rather than have your whole mind thrown into chaos and torment.  If your first hand spiritual experience confuses or disturbs you, it is better to discount or reinterpret that spiritual experience than have your whole mind subjected to chaos and torment. 

NIV - If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

6.  Mark 3:22-29

Prominent religious scholars explained, This man dispels demons by Satan's power.  So Jesus called them and answered using symbolic language: How can a delusion be dispelled by falsehood?  Theology that contradicts itself can not stand up in the face of reality.  Minds governed by contradictions or irrationality become unstable.  And if a falsehood is demonstrated to be irrational this brings to an end that falsehood's power to delude the mind. The fact is a person whose mind is governed by strongly held false beliefs will not relinquish those beliefs without first being forced to honestly question those beliefs.  The truth you need to know is this: The psychological consequences of any sin can be alleviated. But while one holds a false belief concerning the nature of God the psychological consequences of that false belief will always remain.

NIV - And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons." So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man's house.  Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."

7.  Matthew 5:17-20 
Don't assume that I have come to abolish scripture.  I have not come to abolish scripture but instead to fulfill scripture's apocalyptic expectations. Because the truth is until people who believe scripture must be fulfilled who harbor apocalyptic expectations no longer see a distinction between the world we live in and a coming world as it should be, it will be impossible for them to stop seeing even the most meaningless minutia of scripture as God's law - not until they are satisfied scripture has been fulfilled and the new world is here and now.   Because of this situation, when anyone attempts to set aside one of the least significant of the commands existing in scripture and teaches others to do the same, that person will be labeled by zealots as someone who has little understanding of the coming world as it should be.  But the person who practices and teaches all the irrational and burdensome commands of scripture will be labeled by the same zealots as someone who has great understanding of the coming world as it should be.   What I have been telling you is unless your intellectual integrity surpasses that of those who believe and teach that everything written in scripture is true you will certainly not acquire any real understanding of the world as it should be.
 
NIV - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

8Matthew 5:27-28 + Luke 20:34-36 + Matthew 19:8-12
You have been taught that wisdom dictates you should not be sexually unfaithful in your marriage.  But I tell you the heart desiring to possess and control someone sexually is already being sexually unfaithful. 

People living in this age seek to legitimize and control sexual relationships though marriage contracts.   But people worthy of participating in the age to come with renewed life don't seek to legitimize and control sexual relationships by entering into marriage contracts.  Instead they live as enlightened individuals.  They are God's children since they are children of a renewed life.

Moses allowed you to divorce because you were insensitive to the needs and desires of others and you sought ways to absolve yourself from your marital responsibilities.  Institutionalized marriage was originally created for the purpose of raising children.  I tell you it is an act of sexual unfaithfulness to divorce your spouse against their will and marry another person - unless your spouse is being sexually immoral themselves.  The disciples said to him.  "If this is the case then it would be better for people who don't want to have children to never marry."  Jesus replied, Only people given an enlightened understanding of sexuality and marriage can accept this reality.  For some people marry but don't have children, because they were born incapable of having children.  Others marry but don't have children because their partner does not want children - and then there are those who deliberately forgo having children for the sake of helping to create the world as it should be.   Those who can accept an enlightened understanding of sexuality and marriage should do so.

NIV - "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."   

NIV - The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.  But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection."

NIV - Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."  Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.  For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others--and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  The one who can accept this should accept it."
 


9. Mark 14:61-62
But Jesus remained silent and did not answer.  Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the chosen one, the son of the blessed one?  And Jesus said, I am, and you will understand that enlightened individuals are securing first hand knowledge of established power and they are coming to shine their light on those things that keep people from seeing the world as it should be.

NIV - "But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? And Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

10Matthew 24:27
For as flashes of insight become understood around the world, so will be the evolution of humanity.

NIV - "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."


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Final thoughts:

Embracing the fallacy that the Bible or Quran are ‘God’s Words’, that these books contain no falsehood or contradiction, has rendered countless Christians, Jews and Muslims delusional and deprived them of a deeper and more meaningful life and often set them against their fellow man.  No mind retains the ability to read and judge scripture soberly after embracing as ‘insight’ the belief that these texts contain no falsehood or contradiction.  Fear of scripture often becomes the norm for the uneducated who embrace this belief and absurd reasoning persists in the mind of those attempting to rectify the many contradictions and untruths found in these texts. 

Each generation ‘God’s Word’ scholar reinterprets end times myths to fit current events and develops the tortured logic necessary to remain blind to the many falsehoods and contradictions found in these texts. Less fortunate victims find themselves ‘struck down’ by ‘God’s Word’ while reading some troubling passage; their mind suddenly seized with fear that God is judging them or cursing them - as the God envisioned sometimes in the scriptures is prone to do.  These then become at risk for serious mental illness.

This fallacy is the root of all religious and political conflict.  It strips people of their power for independent thought and inspires self-fulfilling fatalistic worldviews. The sociopath utilizes this belief to seize control of government and maintain systems of oppression.
 
Resist the temptation to embrace this fallacy when seeking insight into your own spiritual experiences.