Clearly there has been a trajectory to this series. The whole thing sort of begs the questions: “What religion wins? Which one is the right one?” If you find yourself wondering something like this, then this post is for you. If you come from a mainline religion, it’s unlikely that anything I say will cause you change your belief, because the problem for most of us is not “WHAT” we believe, but “HOW” we believe it. Besides, it’s not my goal to get you to change religions. It’s my goal for you to emerge through it. What I am proposing is not “taught” so much as it is “caught.” I offer no religion, no dogma, no particular practice, no tradition, no framework.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Because this verse uses the term “Christ”, some of you will accuse me of “Jesus Smuggling” and begin to withdraw because you’ve likely never heard about “The Christ” where it wasn’t a trojan horse trap for the Christian religion. Some of you, rather than tensing up, are relaxing because you assume the same thing. If that were the case, which it is not, then we would be no closer to “One World” unity than what has transpired over human history this far. This is not about which religion leads to heaven, because I can prove that none of them do. If that sounds hard to swallow, it is because your Christology is too small or undeveloped. Either way, the mention of Christ always creates problems in our assumptions.
“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…” (1 Corinthians 1:23)
The Christ is not a byproduct of the Christian religion as modern evangelicalism would have us believe. The Christian faith upholds a belief that the historical Jesus was the living expression of the promised Messiah from Hebrew scripture, and thus it proclaims the Christ as coextensive with Jesus. While I believe this to be true, particularly in a cosmic sense, there remains a profoundly wide berth for how this cosmic Christ can be understood and applied to living. Scripture reveals the “Christ Experience” to diverse people who could not have been Christians**, thus making the biblical Christology to be as narrow as Jesus while simultaneously wider than the known universe. Christ following is not the binary of the Christian religion, but a ternary system of faith. Faith and religion are different.
“For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4) [Note: **Scripture depicts the Hebrew people being saved by Christ without knowledge of Jesus.]
This means that all of Jesus is the Christ, but not all of the Christ is Jesus. Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but a title or position which both pre and post dates Jesus life. This allows for Jesus to be transposed as the person of the Christ into all experiences of the Christ, but it also means that those who don’t, can also still have a Christ experience and have no knowledge of it.
“And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:38-39) [Note: People doing everyday acts of mercy are unknowingly serving Christ.]
Belief in the cosmic role and persona of the Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. However, the Christian religion has adulterated the exclusivity claim of Jesus as a determining binary by which mankind judges who is “in” and who is “out.” This passage has been a power play for religious conversion, and is the single greatest objection to the faith when misused as it mostly is. Please allow me to deconstruct this in your mind so that this fresh vision and experience can replace the cold, hard, dead doctrine, which the world is rapidly rejecting.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Ask any subscriber to the Christian religion what this verse means and 99.9% will tell you that it means: “Only Christians go to Heaven.” If that is your understanding of this verse, then you are a victim of tribal religion. When used (abused) in this way, this verse has successfully pitted the world into two camps: those who embrace the Heaven/Hell binary as a form of fire insurance, and those who reject the binary based on evidence to the contrary.
Allow me to prove that this statement of Jesus could not possibly have meant what our preachers have sold us. The most obvious of reasons is that the statement predates the early church. Rather than saying there is only one road to heaven, namely Christianity, Jesus is making a statement about his cosmic nature essentially saying: “If anyone, anywhere, at anytime has ever found or ever finds a connection to their Maker, it is only because I (in my cosmic role of Christ) have made that connection possible.” Jesus, speaking from his the role of Christ, is saying he is the conduit, the bluetooth connection between microcosm and macrocosm. This is easily proven by the fact that many “non-Christians” are said to be with God.
- Abraham-Not a Christian, not even a Jew.
- Elijah and Moses-Neither were Christians but appeared with Jesus at his transfiguration under the “Cloud” (God).
- Jesus himself, not a Christian.
- Jesus’ disciples, were Jewish.
- The Kings from the East
- Followers of Jesus who believed he was the Christ but remained as they were without some radical conversion:
- Samaritan woman
- Roman Centurion
- State High Official
This is just a small taste of people represented in scripture, all with very different backgrounds, different beliefs, different cultures, different religions, who all shared an experiential belief in the Christ because something beyond everything called, drew, or inspired a deeper way of knowing and relating to God.
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
Take a deep breath. Allow this to marinade. I’m unveiling twenty years of studying Christology in one blog. Consider the implications.
Being a “Born Again Christian” is not a precondition for heaven. Being “Born Again” is a precondition for our ability to “See this other Kingdom” or “see beyond everything.” He may as well have said that the born again person is “enlightened,” or “self-aware,” “woke,” or “conscious.” Seeing this “other reality” has a profound healing effect on our soul or life, otherwise known as salvation. Personal salvation is the result of following this voice that calls us, wakes us up, draws us out of our false identity (fake ID) and into our true soul, found in our Maker. This voice is that which liberates all people, it is the voice of the Gospel. (more on this next week)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1-2)
This means it is possible to follow the voice of the gospel, while one rejects a religion or any institutional power which lays claim to and offers us an identity. In fact the Gospel is that voice (embedded in our reality-Christ) that calls us out of the concentric institutions within life in precisely the same way it did for Jesus. (Family, friends, community, education, vocation, religion, government). The Christ follower is he or she who is a “voice follower” who follows this call unto each and every death of who he or she thought themselves to be.
Example: The child of poverty who rises up and escapes the clutches of a family, a community, and a culture in order to follow the voice to gain an education and pursue a better, more liberated life. They are following the Gospel of Christ without conscious awareness of it. Many will say: “That is not a religious conversion!” Precisely, but it is liberation, healing or salvation. The soul work required to rise up (resurrect) is life changing. This person is “Transformed by the renewing of their mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Another implication is that Jesus could not have been saying what the Church has been telling us all these years. His claim of exclusivity is not that there is only one religion to heaven, but that there are no religions to heaven. Religion is a culturally contrived transport system which pits humanity against each other by delivering it’s followers to a heavenly destination. Jesus subverted the power of religion by reframing the reality of cosmology. Rather than heaven being a destination solely to which we hope to go when we die, Jesus taught that heaven has come to us, dwells within us, and is a place from which we are to now live, and if we find it here we need not concern ourselves with what happens after we die. If Heaven is where God is, why do we need to go there “one day” when we are told God’s dwelling is within each of us? Thus no religion can get us to heaven, when heaven has been placed within us all. We need only believe it. It’s not earned through religious merit, compliance or obedience. It’s graced to us as a free gift.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? … … For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:15-17)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
Christ following is all about our internal dialogue (seeing the Kingdom within) and following the voice which tells us what we “ought” to do. That part that knows better, which quietly tries to help us override our appetites and instincts. Christ “in and through us” is the “observer of our thoughts. This transforming “self-talk” is another name for prayer. See how this looks when we take religion out of it. It called conscious living.
Christ following need not be the end of religion. We are free to practice within the religious frame where the voice of Christ has found and called us. If we want to follow Christ as a Catholic, or Protestant, we may do so, it will only make us a better parishioner. If that voice calls us out, then like Abraham, we must go. If we want to follow Christ as a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Muslim, we may do so, it will only make us a better one. If the voice has awakened us to leave our institutions of faith, then we must follow that voice unto the liberation where it leads. If that voice calls us out, then out we must go. Our religions are only containers, and by definition, they are all too small. Or as Solomon put it at the dedication of the temple:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)
“For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)
Jesus, as the Christ, offers no design for uniformity as religion does. The plan for Christ following is that diversity and unity coexist through the power of love. This intersection of diversity and unity is not a building, it’s a living being, its a community of people with varying beliefs and experiences who have somehow followed this voice into loving relationship. That intersection of diversity and unity is called the church, the “ecclesia” or “the called out one’s.” Thus Jesus’ cosmic Church is quite larger than the Church created by the Christian religion. We cannot “go” to this Church, we can only “be” it.
All of these are just a few examples of literally thousands that I can unearth to illustrate just how far off the reservation the Christian religion has drifted from faith in Christ. To some. This will incite your need to debate. Others will have questions. Others will have to sit with this a bit and consider it. Others will weep because they were never given this view of liberty before. Others won’t trust it and will lump it into the bin of personal preference and go back to life. Whatever your reaction, I hope you will write me and begin a dialogue with me rather than dismiss my claims as heresy. I recognize that this subject will derail (stumbling block) nearly all of us.
We need to follow the Apostle Paul’s advice and let people manage their relationships with their Maker on their own terms. Let the cosmic voice of the Gospel through the work of Christ reach every soul as it is sure to do and has done within the countless avenues in which He works. Once it does, we quickly discover that virtually no one has ever really rejected the voice of that which is beyond everything, but many have rejected the container into which we have tried to place it. The only rejection I’m aware of is when we fail to do the right thing which the voice inside tells us to do. This always leads to decline. Obedience, on the other hand, always leads to blessing. It’s a life long learning process with which we are graced.
“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” (Romans 14:22)
Like Jesus told the one healed leper who came back to him after being healed. “Go your way.” Liberation unto our own life. Not unto the burden of religion like the other nine. Restoration, not retribution. Love, not need. Self emptying, not self promoting. Loving our true self and our neighbor in turn. If we can get that, we’ve got the whole of religion, if we miss this, we’ve missed everything.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39)
Like Carl Jung said: “Modern man cannot find God because he won’t look low enough.”