Jesus was a very profound thinker and some of His enigmatic sayings are difficult to understand. We already mentioned a couple in this blog, explaining then with the help of Jungian psychology, a tool that was not available in the first centuries. It seems to me that the dogmas of the Church were devised to attract followers, and have to do more with Saint Paul and Saint Augustine than with Jesus teachings.
When I was seven years old, attending a class in preparation for first Communion, I objected to the teaching that a baby dying in Africa without being baptized could not go to haven.
“But … if there were no priest in the area?” I insisted.
“If he is not baptized, he cannot go to heaven,” said the priest, dogmatically.
“That’s unfair. He did not live enough to do any harm.”
At the time, I was too young to argue that, being Jesus a God of love, this position was wrong.
Anyway, this obtuse thinking does not prevail anymore in the Church. Today it recognizes that, even if the person does not know Christ, he can be saved through Christ. Evolution, I think.
But the evolution continues. There is a minority inside the Catholic church that contends that you don’t need to be saved through Christ. They claim that a few illuminated persons – e.g. Buddha – can be put in a parallel level with Jesus.
This boils down to a very old discussion that was hot in the initial centuries after the death of Christ. Is Jesus a God?
The three synoptic Gospels, Mark, Mathew and Luke, never explicitly mentioned Jesus’ divinity. They call Him “Son of God” and “Messiah”, terms that designated Israel’s human king.
The Gospel of John, written a few years after the synoptic Gospels, was the first to say that Jesus was God.
To understand the controversy, we have to examine the situation on the years that followed Jesus’ death. In the Old Testament, there are many cases of prophets talking to God through dreams or visions. Just to mention a few, Jacob and his struggle with God’s angel, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and several others. In the New Testament, we have Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, and the author of Revelation.
Yahweh was a God that you should love, but you better fear. Jesus preached the God of love. This probably gave courage to many persons to seek a direct contact with God. It was a time when Gnosticism proliferated.
You cannot consolidate a church with so many different interpretations. In the interest of consolidation, the Church claimed the monopoly of talking to God. Anyone that diverged from the dogmas proposed by the dominant line was branded a Gnostic. This point was strengthened In the fourth century, with the support of Emperor Constantine, when the Nicaea Council convened, and the bishops choose the books to compose the Bible.
Among the Canonical Gospels, the Gospel of Thomas was not included. Worse; the Church decided to burn all the books that deviated from the approved line. Luckily, some were preserved and found in 1945 buried in Nag Hammadi, in Egypt. Among the many pearls found there, was the Gospel of Thomas, a set of 114 sayings of Jesus that diverge from John’s Gospel in a fundamental point. Jesus was considered an illuminated man of God, but not God. Jesus even hopped that, with adequate development, every human being could be equal to Him.
I have no space in this post to go deeper on this subject, but, if you are curious and want to know more, I suggest you read the excellent book by Elaine Pagels: “Beyond Belief”.
The author, Roberto Lima Netto believes that our objective in life is to be happy, and that Spirituality and Jungian psychology, his main areas of interest, can help us in this search for happiness. He is the author of some books, including “The Little Prince for Grown-ups” and “The Jungian Bible” that can be found in Amazon at www,amazon.com/author/rlimanetto. You re invited to visit blog and leave your contribution at: www.HappinessAcademyOnline.org.
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