I would like to share with you the passages in the New Testament that had me questioning the interpretation of spirituality that was being given in the churches I had attended, mostly Pentecostal and Evangelical.
From John 14 ;12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Now, I had seen true miracles done in his name, and had seen wonders come through my own prayers, but had never witnessed anything that could be listed as being any greater than what the Master is said to have done, either through my hands or through the hands of others. We were either not doing enough, or not believing correctly, or this was a misquote. For many years I thought it might be that I was not believing him for the greater things.
But, wait, there were other passages that had me asking questions. (BTW, please, always, feel free to read the entire passage from which I quote, to do that here would make a post that will already be more than a long chapter longer, it would make it unreadable in one sitting, it may be anyway.) There was the passage in John 4,
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Now, this has been interpreted many ways, usually to signify that rejection of the Christ would result in eternal damnation, as it was the Holy Spirit that brought Jesus to us. I had other questions that lead back to this, however. What of those who had never heard of him, or those who had heard of him from people who had murdered a person’s family, and therefore made it impossible to hear a gospel of love from them. And what about the idea that one could speak against Jesus himself, but be forgiven, but not be forgiven for speaking against the Holy Spirit, that would make the primary explanation circular, and therefore false.
What about the idea that the Holy Spirit has already spoken to the Ivrit (Jews), giving 600(+) mitzvot or commandments regarding conduct before God. What about the other people with whom there is evidence of awareness of the Holy Spirit, such as the Tao Te Ching , which, in several passages refers to one who can only be interpreted as the Holy Spirit; I have provided a link to one such translation, please take the time to read it, it isn’t that long, and is beautiful. What of Buddha’s teachings, so similar to Jesus’ ; they are spoken differently, and even formatted differently, and if you wish, I will make a post comparing them teaching by teaching. These are only a few examples of where and to whom the Holy Spirit has communicated, there are others, they are prolific, and I will take them example by example if you wish. (and enjoy the task, as it is something I love to contemplate!)
There is a statement in 1John:4 7&8 that has become a mantra to me;
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Now, I must digress and speak of the Holy Spirit, most profoundly and beautifully spoken of in Chapter 8 of Proverbs. Note, she is spoken of in the feminine, not the masculine as in the New Testament, because the church fathers did not want to have a comparison of their trinity teachings confused with the trinities from other faiths, Hinduism, Egyptian cosmology, Paganism, etc.. So, we must consider that she had transgendered, or perhaps the church fathers had arbitrarily decided to change her for their own purposes.The Holy Spirit, if I am correct, has spoken to all of compassion. It is here that I take my cue, that compassion is the primary purpose of our lives, we are here to learn to be compassionate with each other, against all odds! Here I also include the indigenous peoples of all the world, for when you study their take on cosmology, we are to be forgiving and to care.
Why I believe Y’shua may not have even implied he was God Incarnate;
During my journey of questions, I stumbled onto some things that were not taught in my Lutheran Catechism class.
♦ The God of the Jews, the God I thought of as my God had not actually insisted on a blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sin(a misconception in modern times, it meant shortcomings, imperfections in the original, not necessarily evil). This is stated several times in the OT but most markedly in Leviticus 5:11-13.
11 “‘If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah[a] of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. 12 They are to bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful of it as a memorial[b] portion and burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the LORD. It is a sin offering. 13 In this way the priest will make atonement for them for any of these sins they have committed, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. [Psalm 40:6]’”
Since I am not financially blessed, this would apply to me, and most of the folks who are a part of my circle, and means that it is not a requirement to sacrifice an animal for me to be forgiven. Though this was not hidden from me as a child in the church, neither was it pointed out. In fact, I was told that there was NO remission of sin without blood being shed for me by an animal or a Christ. I thought that the only way God forgave was through bloodshed. The more aware I became of the horrendous price paid on the cross, the less compassionate I thought God, to make anyone suffer so vastly for sins he had not committed, and for my sins to boot!
In my sojourn in the church, I had learned by implication that God was demanding, angry, vengeful, and unbending. People were put to death for walking into the sanctuary if they were not the right tribe, even. Children were put to death for not obeying their parents (I understand the temptation to wring an offspring’s neck sometimes, but, God?) And a God that didn’t understand that homosexuality wasn’t always a choice? Excuse me, if God made me, he can surely look into my heart and see what is there! And, yes, I am taking the long way around to explain this point, but I will try to explain here all the reasons for my conclusions.
♦ The God of the Jews abhorred human sacrifice. Yes, the OT is clear on this, and states it several places.This is quoted from WhatJewsbelieve.org, just to make it a quick reference, to be sure, these references are commenting on the sacrifice of one’s sons and daughters to pagan gods, but then, we are all sons and daughters:
What does God say about human sacrifice in the TaNaCH? In Deuteronomy 12:30-31, God calls Human sacrifice something that He hates, and an abomination to Him, “for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. In Jeremiah 19:4-6, God tells us that Human sacrifice is so horrible a concept to Him, that it did not even come into His mind to demand it from His creation, “They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.” We see the same thing in Psalm 106:37-38, and in Ezekiel 16:20.
Though there are places online where you can find basic Jewish beliefs, they do not have a central governing body that decides what is heretical and what is not, so there are many areas where there are differences in beliefs from one sect to the next, much the same as Protestants in the Christian faith. I realize I am using Jewish commentary on this, but I do trust the rabbis to be more in tune with what the Tanach says regarding their beliefs, and what the meaning of the verses truly is. I am an Egalitarian in my beliefs, so I am not always in tune with Jewish tradition, either. I do not believe it is right to attempt to own another human, I believe that Homosexuality is not wrong, I believe that pedophilia is completely wrong, I hear voices, and I have seen things in my mind as in visions that have come true, and I may be crazy, (it’s why I share what I believe rather than attempt to tell others this is the way they should believe)
♦If Y’shua had made the implications or said some of the things he is recorded to have said, he would have been stoned to death, as the Mosaic Law was still practiced fully in his time.That means that there are passages that may have been tampered with quite a bit to read the way they read in today’s New Testament. This may be a result of faulty understanding by the translators from the Aramaic notes that would have been available to the Greek and Roman scribes that would have been responsible for those translations, or it may be a true revision of the manuscripts for political reasons. For what ever reason may apply, there are things that he is supposed to have said that make more sense with minor changes. For instance, he is supposed to have said, “I am the way, the truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except through me.” This would have gotten him stoned, immediately. But, with minor changes, he may have said, “The I Am ( a name used for the very near, very here presence of God) is the way, the truth and the life, No man comes to the Father except through the I Am.” very minor changes, very major change in meaning. This could easily have happened because the yod is added at the front of a word to say, “the”. Easily missed, easily misunderstood.
There are places in the four gospels that feel unchanged, others that feel like there are major revisions. I was taught that the model for prayer that is called the “Our Father” was original with Y’shua, and showed a stroke of his genius, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that it was a part of Kaddish, the prayers said for the dead. I was taught that there was no other faith that used the baptism as a means of cleansing the soul to prepare for regeneration, so you can imagine my shock when I first experienced a sweat lodge at the invitation of my Shawnee teacher, the concepts run deeper, actually, but the result is the same, a newness of life and understanding. I was taught that there was a blood red line that ran through the Old Testament that testified to Y’shua’s coming. Imagine how frustrating it was to learn that the books that had been excluded from the Tanach had been excluded because they had nothing to do with Y’shua or his coming.
♦I was frustrated, and spoke of it to more than one pastor, that Paul’s words were treated with the same sense of authority as Y’shua’s words. That wasn’t right in my book then, it really isn’t now, as I have found that they take Christianity so completely away from it’s Judaic roots, that it is a Hellenized approach to faith. Paul was a very spiritual, but very human individual with faults that are difficult for me to accept in humans today. One such can be found in Corinthians. In the first letter he berates a man and his sexual practices, having coupled with his wife and her mother. In the second letter he recognizes that this was not the case, but tells them it was all for their good anyway. I really dislike people that do that, and won’t go back to a church where I find the pastor acting like that.
To be sure, there are spots in his letters that I thoroughly enjoy, even in the same letters where he errs. 1Corinthians chapter 13 is as beautiful a recitation on Love as any I have ever read, anywhere. Yet, in some of his epistles, or most specifically one that is supposed to be his, 1Timothy, he basically says women should be kept barefoot and pregnant. Grrrrr! He is pictured here preaching atop the monument in Athens to an unknown God. I would not mind so much his railing against Pagans if he and those who came after him had not made Paganism so much a part of Christianity. This entire passage can be found in the book of Acts in the New Testament.
I will add more to this ponderously long page as I write, but for now, dang, it’s long enough!