June 29, 2003
Christianity has been crippled since its early centuries, when it sought to scourge the Church of any traces of the 'heresy ' of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that through a knowledge of self comes direct knowledge of God. Their reasoning in this was quite simple: if we are made in the 'image of God', out of the substance of God, then the reality of God dwells within all. It is easy to see how ones who wanted to create a centralized Church with political clout and ordain a priesthood to stand between the faithful and God would find it necessary to silence its 'mystics'.
In the Christian Church the 'sacraments' of baptism, confirmation, marriage, the Eucharist (Communion), and so on were attempts to institutionalize gnosis (direct knowledge), and keep people dependent on the grace that only the Church could confer. They replaced the substance with a symbol.
This teaching has in effect cut centuries of Christians off from the possibility of true spiritual development, since the Christian world is socialized to look outside of itself for transformation, for 'salvation'. That image of the Christ returning at some future date, 'coming out of the clouds' to purge the earth and set things right, has led to the pervasive passivity we see in Christians when they face real-life issues of injustice, of racism, of political corruption.
The passivity of Christians is inconsistent with the activism Jesus displays in the Gospels.
The establishment of American 'democracy' was framed in a Christian context, but how is true freedom possible if ones entertain so thoroughly the notion that the world is an evil fallen place and only intervention from 'outside' can set things right?
Many people who have turned away from their Christian heritage still labor under the weight of it. They look to Native American and other indigenous prophecies of the end time, and realize it is upon us, but they still take up that waiting stance.
Rastafari is a unique example, because on the face of it, if Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie is the literal fulfillment of Revelation prophecy, it should logically follow that the Bible is finished, and New Heaven and New Earth is upon us. Admittedly, it is hard to look at this suffering world and see paradise, but I submit that this is exactly what will manifest it, the recognition that the waiting is over.
Christians are used to worshiping a God outside themselves, just as Rastas worship Selassie as God. Who conceived of the idea of God as 'other'? It was human beings, and on this mistaken notion hinges most if not all of the suffering of the world. It is as if collectively they are saying, along with Jesus on the cross, 'take this cup away from me.', and in casting that cup away from themselves again and again, they rob themselves of the possibility of true worship, of true happiness, and real power. They look at the world as a veil of tears, and call upon their Father to comfort them while they wait for Him to come back and fix everything. Meanwhile they look for quick fixes to temporarily relieve their agony. Religion, money, drugs, sex, provide solace for the moment, but in the long run get them nowhere. Affiliation with a group, partaking of the 'sacraments' of Communion, or in the case of Rasta, ganja and dreadlocks, is simply a case of image over substance. This is the defintion of idolatry-to love anything more than the experience of the Divine Essence itself.
This reasoning of course leads to the sort of 'heresies' the Gnostics and others burned for: the idea that the only true worship is the worship of the Divine Essence in ourselves and in each other. It has led ones like one Sufi mystic to cry, "I am the Source!"
Worshiping elders, priests, Jesus, or Haile Selassie is to choose the lesser over the greater. One can learn very much from example lives, but the Essence itself flows into all beings, and is available to all if they are willing to make the correct choices and take responsibility for them.
This requires courage and a degree of honesty few are willing to undertake.
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