Chapter One from Jim Gleeson's upcoming book - THE WORLD WE SEE
(Thank God it's not the Real One)
THE NEW, OLD CHRISTIANITY
It's time to admit that the religion of Christianity had never recovered from Rome-- until something wonderful began to happen in the late nineteenth century.
There is at work today in the world, as always, a gentle movement toward metaphysical Truth—no matter how things appear. It is the truth unfolding, a spiritual progression in which everything and everyone plays a part. Within it are the actions of men and women who “push against the goads” to accomplish their ends, not knowing that there is only one end ultimately possible. If Christ was what he said and demonstrated and not a madman, then Divine Spirit is infinite, there can be nothing else, and we can do nothing else but get back to it. Our worldly delusion, however, keeps us acting out the drama in our dream of collaboration.
Our science not only says there is no God, but even forbids and study of the possibility that something other than nothing created the very world it studies. Even our religion, though it talks about and points to God, is part of the world of the flesh. Jesus taught we must leave behind for the healing, health and peace of the substance of Spirit. While we are “of the world” we must struggle to find the next step in our spiritual evolution drawing us out of it and to our place as matter-less off-spring of a spiritual God.
Martin Luther challenged the status-quo and changed the world with his “95 Theses" or ideas questioning practices of the Roman Catholic Church, of which he was a member. In the sixteenth century, Luther, a mere monk, dared to rail against the excesses of the Vatican--not the church itself—just its excesses. The church railed back, however, expelled Luther, the Reformation ensued and eventually the Protestant Church was born. Luther certainly was not intent, initially, on starting a new church. As his “95 Theses” proclaimed, he merely wished to promote active discussion on these many points which he believed compromised the Catholic Church’s authority and Christian veracity. He complained mostly against the granting of “indulgences” in return for payment. “The Pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God…” Luther wrote in point number six. In Point number seven Luther reiterates, “God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the Vicar and the Priest.”
Luther was not condemning the Roman Catholic Church by which he was employed at various times as professor, priest and monk. He merely hoped to create an atmosphere of open discussion which would purify it. In thesis number thirty-eight he wrote, “Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6) the proclamation of the divine remission.” Luther seemed to be saying that while the Pope could forgive sins, the church’s selling of indulgences (forgiveness) had the effect of undermining the Roman Catholic doctrine of access to heaven through the same penalties, death and hell experienced by Jesus Christ.
A basic tenant of Roman Catholicism, still held by protestants today is that Jesus died on the cross to “take on the sins of the world” so that in effect, we are pardoned from them while still in them, allowing us possible entrance into heaven upon death of the body. This remains a foundational component of Protestant theology. Another of Luther’s Theses, in fact the first one, stands out as one aimed at purifying the Roman doctrine toward what he assumed to be Christ’s original message. Oddly, this has to this day been largely ignored by the Protestant Church he helped create: Thesis 1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ said “Repent” (Matt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
The “entire life” would mean a person’s ongoing life and adds credence to the idea that being pardoned for sin does not take it away. When one receives a pardon the behavior and its effect do not go away—only the punishment. Thus, this could not have been the original message of Christ nor his disciples. Seeking salvation through pardon and not reform or real change in mind is in conflict with the words of the Christ.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth my word and believeth on Him who sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but, is passed from death to life.
We are not in need of a pardon if we are under no condemnation. We must only surrender continually our attachment to the world of the flesh to proportionately experience our true spiritual nature.
Phil 2:12 Continue to work out your salvation...for it is God who works in you to will and act in you according to his purpose.
John 17:14 You are not of this world any more than I am of this world. Gal 1:2 If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.
Phil 2:5 Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.
This was not about Christ taking one’s sins away by dying on the cross for them, but rather His demonstration that the law (divine Truth) of spirit is our true nature and is beyond physical life and death. He said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Free of what? Free of the laws of the fallen world of the flesh.
John 8:1-- If a man keep my sayings he shall never see death.
To keep “my sayings” requires ongoing effort--"slaying the old man"-- not associated with a pardon. If a man will never see death, then the “death” of the body is not death. Matt 23:9-- And call no man father upon the Earth for you have one Father in Heaven. This makes it clear in turn that what appears to have been born into a body of flesh is a (false or fallen) representation of the spiritual being born of the Father and "created in His image."
John 4:24 God is Spirit; they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.
The time has come for a finite conception of the infinite and of a material body as the seat of [divine] Mind to give place to a diviner sense of intelligence and its manifestations,-- to the better understanding that [divine] Science gives of the Supreme Being… Mary Baker Eddy, SCIENCE and HEALTH (page 285:17)
Rom 12:2 Do not conform… to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God.
Can we be thinking the same old thoughts and have a "renewed mind"? We may succeed in purifying our behavior but have we turned away mentally from the world to be “in it” but not “of it”? The Protestant Church was born not as a new, pure or original Christianity, but as a church with Roman Catholic theology albeit without the obvious corruption (exemplified by selling indulgences or forgiveness) and without the Vatican, its saints or its Latin Bible. It was still possessed of much of twelve hundred years of Roman adaptation and “refinement” of the early Christian Church. Yes, the differences and similarities between Protestant and Catholic doctrine are varied and complex. While there are many aspects of Papal theology that have been dropped, many remain.
The truth movement of today (and when I say today, I mean since the Spiritual Awakening of the late nineteenth century) embraces the original or “primitive” Christianity” as demonstrated by Christ Jesus. Since this was in essence metaphysical rather than religious-- about turning away from the material, “putting off the old man” and finding one’s true self, belief in Christ is the starting point. It’s about “working out our salvation” daily by actually striving to do what Jesus taught and demonstrated and experiencing the results: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. II Cor 10:5
To many Christians this is not the Christian religion but “New Age” quackery and therefore heresy. However, just as in Luther’s day, the institutional church in many cases does not “practice what it preaches” and often doesn’t preach what Jesus taught. If Jesus knew and taught the truth of our origin and being then that truth is true for everyone, not just those who “buy indulgences" or belong to the “right church.” And if we do seek and find the truth, then, and only then, will we be set free.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there, for the kingdom of God is within you.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words I speak to you they are Spirit, and they are Life.
‘And I saw a new heaven and a new Earth,’ writes the biblical prophet. The foundation for a new Earth is a new heaven—the awakened consciousness. The Earth—external reality—is only its outer reflection. The arising of a new heaven and by implication, a new Earth are not future events that are going to make us free. Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. That realization is the awakening. Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, 2005
To John, the destruction of “the world’ was already taking place, not in a [symbolic] wild cataclysm of fire that would destroy the stars but by the steady pressure of the light that means understanding. Jesus had brought this light, the full understanding of God, and through it, what John called the world was inevitably being destroyed. “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8)
Marchett Chute, The End of the Search, 1947
Two thousand years a go a great master said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Well, now you know that the truth is what you are. The next step is to see the truth, to see what you are…You’ll know that you are totally free when you no longer have to be the you that you pretend to be. Miguel and Jose Ruiz, The Fifth Agreement, 2010
All are Christians who accept the law and reality of spiritual power, whether they belong to other churches or none. Christians have no occasion to rely on human means and methods since they have the inner presence to guide, direct, govern, heal, maintain and protect. They have “meat ye know not of”(John 4:32)—an inner reliance. Joel S. Goldsmith, Consciousness in Transition, Metaphysical Notes, 1947
Illumination dissolves all material ties and [links] all men together with the golden chains of spiritual understanding; it acknowledges only the leadership of the Christ; it has no ritual or rule but the divine impersonal Love; no other worship than the inner flame that is ever lit at the shrine of Spirit. Joel S. Goldsmith, The Infinite Way When [man] awakens, the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is then no longer accorded reality. This release does not depend on illusions. The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free, but also shows you clearly that you are free. A Course In Miracles, 1975 A request that God will save us is not all that is required. The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed,-- an error which impedes spiritual growth.
Mary Baker Eddy, SCIENCE and HEALTH,1875
It is not difficult to find “claims to the original Christian Doctrine by men of all manner of Christian persuasion.” (Jason Kerrigan, Restoring the Biblical Christ, pp 14) This is quite true and brings to the fore the idea that only through experience and Mind’s effect on the material plane can the truth be shown or proven. Jesus did it everyday for three years and said, “these and greater things shall you do in faith” and “these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils…they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Why would he say these things that were also demonstrated by his disciples, if it were not a metaphysical fact that applied to all? Christ’s doctrine and any wisdom based on it must be provable to be at all useful. This is the good news of the Gospel—it’s real--and you don't have to "die" to achieve it.
The New Christianity is the old, original Christianity. Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated the truth of divine Spirit: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 And it is to be experienced NOW. You can prove it to yourself.
“Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” Isa 26:3