A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius," in addition to articles on other related subjects and many new era Christian sermons.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whom Say Ye That I Am?

Whom Say Ye That I Am?

Today we will think about simple things like the Messiah, Christ Consciousness, Higher Self, and the ultimate identity of Man. (Ha Ha). In all three synoptic gospels Jesus asks of the disciples the same question: "Whom say ye that I am?" I'll be honest: I am a self-centered spirit animal just like every other flawed and limited creature on this earth, and I admit that the question that is of most interest to me is, "Who am I?" Does the answer to the question Jesus asks inform the answer to my question? To answer this question, I have only more questions. I can only hope that the ultimate answer, like perfection, is something we can at least approach, even if we can never truly arrive.

Here are the texts:

Matthew 16:13-20

13  ¶ When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesare'a Phil'ippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?
14  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Eli'jah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

[Sidebar: Mainstream Christians tend to reject the whole idea of reincarnation. In this comment it does not say that Jesus admits of reincarnation, or that the disciples admit of reincarnation, but clearly SOMEBODY in this cultural milieu does. I merely mention it.]

15  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

Mark 8:27-30
King James Version (KJV)

27And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
 28And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
 29And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
 30And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Luke 9:18-22
18  ¶ And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him; and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
19  They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Eli'jah; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
20  He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
21  ¶ And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
22  saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

So, from this we glean these few salient ideas:
1. Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One.
2. Jesus is confused with other famous historical figures in the pantheon of Jewish fame.
3. Jesus' coming is foretold in holy scripture.
4. He has a mission here on earth to establish a church--an organization whose purpose is provide Man with the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
5. At this point in His career, He is still concerned with keeping His true identity a secret. He does not want His idea of Who He is confused with the people's idea of Who He is.

Now, the established pattern of these sermons is that I present the scriptures, then read a bunch of quotes I get off the internet exposing various sides of the question before I give my personal slant on the subject. Today I want to jump right in with my two cents. However, I want to reiterate that on this subject I HAVE ONLY QUESTIONS; the subject is so vast I do not flatter my puny intelligence with the imposture that I have any definitive answers--I fear that faith is the only substitute that I can make for such a claim, and since faith is beyond anybody's power to articulate in words such an ultimate reality, I faint before such an overwhelming project. Nevertheless, here I offer my best effort.

When we contemplate the infinite, the omnipresent, omniscient, omni-conscious personality of the Creator we fail to embrace even the smallest particle of that vastness. Perhaps this is why the Christ consciousness exists in our dimension at all. My understanding (if you can call it that) of the Christ consciousness is that it is some kind of FOCUS on the material plane of this infinite intelligence. The anointed of God is some MAN Who has been chosen to possess a mind that CAN embrace the infinite. In the Christ, God has chosen to project His mind into a single point of material space and time, so that His tiny human creations can observe, in some sense, His infinite self.

In John 1:1-5 we read:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 2The same was in the beginning with God.
 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Jesus is THE WORD, the expression of the inexpressible, the light that illuminates the mind of Man; MAN who, ejected from the Garden of inarticulate Being into the dualistic desert of Good and Evil, strives to regain the perfection of mindlessness by efforts of mind and will together. Out of all infinite possibilities, Jesus emerges on the scene as a CHOSEN SON OF GOD. The infinite personality of God is incarnated, and therefore LIMITED, for the purpose of shining a light (a limited light) into the world. We comprehend it not--but is there something we CAN get from it?

In the so-called science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, C.S.Lewis says the following:

"To those high creatures whose activity builds what we call Nature, nothing is "natural". From their stations the essential arbitrariness (so to call it) of every actual creation is ceaselessly visible; for them there are no basic assumptions: all springs, with the willful beauty of a jest or a tune, from that miraculous moment of self-limitation wherein the Infinite, rejecting a myriad possibilities, throws out of Himself the positive elected invention."

It must be understood that the Christ Consciousness, though sprung from a Godhead of infinitude, must necessarily be limited to some extent--how other wise could it fit into a tiny human body? How otherwise could it speak the speech of men and make itself be understood even as much as it was? Is? There is magic in this, and also hope--for, if God can limit Himself in an incarnation such as the one Jesus supported, perhaps we may also bear something of this burden, and find in His love, His sympathy, the possibility of sharing in this infinite consciousness. Is such a thing possible? Can we, joined with God in His binding love, become, even a little, God ourselves? Or must we forever remain pieces of the puzzle, and not the whole puzzle, transformed in a cosmic flash into a divine certitude?

Let's backtrack a little and read what Wikipedia has to say about the terms "Messiah" and "Christ".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"This article is about the concept of a Messiah in religion, especially in the Hinduism, Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. . . .
A messiah (Hebrew: ‫מָשִׁיחַ‬, Modern Mashiaẖ Tiberian Māšîăḥ Arabic language مسيح Masih “anointed”) is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world. (Eschatology refers to the study of final or ultimate historical events.)
Messiahs appear in many religions including Hinduism,Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Hebrew Bible messiahs are priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25. In later Jewish messianic tradition and eschatology, messiah refers to a leader anointed by God, and in some cases, a future King of Israel, physically descended from the Davidic line, who will rule the united tribes of Israel and herald the Messianic Age of global peace. In Judaism, the Messiah is not considered to be God or a Son of God.
The translation of the Hebrew word Mašíaḥ as Χριστός (Khristós) in the Greek Septuagint (the Hebrew Bible) became the accepted Christian designation and title of Jesus of Nazareth, indicative of the principal character and function of his ministry. Christians believe that prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (especially Isaiah) refer to a spiritual savior and believe Jesus to be that Messiah (Christ).
Islamic tradition holds the view that Jesus (Isa), son of Mary, was indeed the promised prophet and Messiah (Masih), sent to the Semitic Jewish tribes living in Israel. He will again return to Earth in the end times and descend from heaven to defeat the "great deceiver", the Dajjal (false messiah/antichrist)."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Christ is the English term for the Greek Χριστός (Khristós) meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew ‫מָשִׁיחַ‬ (Māšîaḥ), usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach. In popular modern usage—even within secular circles—the term usually refers explicitly to Jesus of Nazareth.
The word is used as a title, hence its common reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning "The Messiah Jesus". Followers of Jesus became known as Christians (as in Acts 11:26) because they believed Jesus to be the Christ, or Christos, or Christian Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament - therefore they often call him Jesus Christ, meaning Jesus is the Christos.
Since the Apostolic Age, Jesus was never accepted as the Jewish Messiah. Many Christians, however, await the Second Coming of Christ when they believe he will fulfill the major rest of the Christian Messianic prophecy. The area of Christian theology focusing on the identity, life, teachings and works of Jesus, is known as Christology."

Person of Christ
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"In Christology, the Person of Christ refers to the study of the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ as they co-exist within one person.
There are no direct discussion in the New Testament regarding the dual nature of the Person of Christ as both divine and human. Hence, since the early days of Christianity theologians have debated various approaches to the understanding of these natures.
Historically in the Alexandrian school of thought (fashioned on the Gospel of John) Jesus Christ is the eternal Logos (word, reason, intelligence) who already possesses unity with the Father before the act of Incarnation. In contrast, the Antiochian school views Christ as a single, unified human person apart from his relationship to the divine. However, after the First Council of Nicaea in 325 the Logos and the second person of the Trinity were being used interchangeably.

From the 2nd century onwards, the Christological approaches to defining the Person of Christ and how the human and divine elements interact and inter-relate resulted in debates among different Christian groups and produced schisms.

In the period immediately following the Apostolic Age, specific beliefs such as Arianism and Docetism (polar opposites of each other) were criticized and eventually abandoned. Arianism which viewed Jesus as primarily an ordinary mortal was considered at first heretical in 325, then exonerated in 335 and eventually re-condemned as heretical at the First Council of Constantinople of 381. On the other end of the spectrum, Docetism argued that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, and that he was only a spiritual being. Docetic teachings were attacked by St. Ignatius of Antioch and were eventually abandoned by mainstream Christians."

From The Great White Brotherhood webpage we read:
"Never place limitations on the Christ of God and He shall place none on you. That which is Infinite has no limits."

From the article Discussing the Bible with New Agers (Part One), by Elliot Miller, we read this provocative discussion:

"Any conscientious effort to present the gospel to a New Ager eventually leads to a discussion of the Bible. Although such a debate is engaged on Christian turf, it is often the New Ager, not the Christian, who afterwards feels satisfied with the discussion. For example:

Christian: Do you believe in Jesus?

New Ager: Yes, I believe in Jesus — and in Buddha, and Ramakrishna, and my own guru, too.

Christian: But Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me."

New Ager: That's right! I Am is the truth and the only way. 

Christian: What? 

New Ager: The I Am Presence or spark of divinity in each one of us!

Christian: Wait a minute. Jesus was speaking about Himself... 

New Ager: Yes, and only when each one of us can say with Jesus, I Am, will we realize God as Jesus did. 

Christian: But 1 Timothy 2:5 says the man Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.

New Ager: Oh, that means the only mediator is our Christ Consciousness or Higher Self. 

Christian: You're taking the Bible out of context. 

New Ager: The problem with you fundamentalists is you hang on its every word. We're in a New Age and much of the Bible is obsolete! Yet there are also timeless truths within it, and only when you accept the Universal Wisdom in all religions will you recognize those truths.

Christian: Second Timothy 3:16 says all of Scripture is God's Word and profitable, so you can't prove what you're saying from the Bible.

New Ager: You quote the Bible to prove the Bible and then tell me I lack proof? Actually, my guru does prove her teachings from the Bible, because she can unlock its esoteric meaning. But you fundamentalists are so obsessed with literal meaning you don't understand your own book. [End of discussion.]"

The preceding "New Age" concept of Jesus as just one of many "anointed ones" who appear at various times in various places throughout history, offends a fundamental dogmatic principle of mainstream Christian belief, i.e. that Jesus was the ONLY Son of God ever commissioned to save the world from sin. We all like to have exclusive rights to divine knowledge--it somehow makes it more personal. Never mind that religions all over the world claim that their beliefs are the ONE TRUE FAITH, and most of them, including Christianity, have murdered millions who were unwilling to buy into that exclusivity.

Christians certainly hold the upper hand in this argument because no known religious leader has ever influenced and changed the flow of historical events half so much as Jesus' earthly visitation. Jesus set a standard that no other prophet has ever equalled. Clearly, Jesus was a culmination of some kind, even if we can't rationally put our finger on the PRECISE and FINAL nature of that culmination. Perhaps it is that Jesus was the first and only Messiah Who ever offered Himself as a sacrifice of redemption of original sin, and as a discarnate spiritual mediator between Man and God. No other savior (Buddha, Ramakrishna, Mohammed, or Pahdma) can make that claim. Nevertheless, if we even slightly entertain the possibility of an ultimate union with the Godhead for ourselves, the attitude that no other souls in history ever approached that state of consciousness on earth can only be described as presumptuous, short-sighted, and ego-centric. In the vast hierarchy of spiritual reality, I have no problem putting Jesus at the top of the pile, and it is to Him I pray, and to Him I give my ultimate allegiance. But to say that He was the only one who possessed the keys to the Kingdom seems too limiting to me. The most I'm willing to admit is that His keys are the biggest.

More on this topic appears in Walter Benjamin's Contemporary Shamanism:
Steiner and the Higher Self:

"Steiner describes a hierarchy of consciousness, from the lowest pebble to the highest spiritual being. On earth, a person who achieved truly rational consciousness (of course, for Steiner, rationality would include spiritual awareness) would be at the highest level of thought that we can imagine, while minerals exist at the lowest level of mental activity (for mystics, it seems that nothing, not even a pebble, is completely devoid of sentience). In the higher realms, you find beings whose lowest level of existence is rational thought: "Rational conclusions are the approximate equivalent of mineral effects on Earth. Beyond the domain of intuition lies the domain where the cosmic plan is fashioned out of spiritual causes." According to Steiner, along with the self that we perceive in daily life, the intractable "I," there is another self, a hidden spiritual being, which is the individual’s guide and guardian.

This higher self "does not make itself known through thoughts or inner words. It acts through deeds, processes, and events. It is this "other self" that leads the soul through the details of its life destiny and evokes its capacities, tendencies, and talents." The direction of our life is set out by that other self, a permanent being which continues from life to life. "This inspiration works in such a way that the destiny of one earthly life is the consequence of the previous lives."

In conclusion, I want to read from Friedrich Nietzsche's AntiChrist. I just got around to Nietzsche very recently, and I found him to be more of a poet than a philosopher, and a satirist more than a poet. He is a very angry dude. I've never read such an uninterrupted string of invective in my life--not even in Ambrose Bierce. His criticisms of the Christian church are relentlessly hostile, condemning, and unforgiving. And yet his comments about Jesus Himself are respectful, illuminating, and helpful:

In the whole psychology of the "Gospels" the concepts of guilt and punishment are lacking, and so is that of reward. "Sin," which means anything that puts a distance between God and man, is abolished--this is precisely the "glad tidings." Eternal bliss is not merely promised, nor is it bound up with conditions: it is conceived as the only reality--what remains consists merely of signs useful in speaking of it. . .

The life of the Saviour was simply a carrying out of this way of life--and so was his death.... He no longer needed any formula or ritual in his relations with God. . .

If I understand anything at all about this great symbolist, it is this: that he regarded only subjective realities as realities, as "truths"--that he saw everything else, everything natural, temporal, spatial and historical, merely as signs, as materials for parables. The concept of "the Son of God" does not connote a concrete person in history, an isolated and definite individual, but an "eternal" fact, a psychological symbol set free from the concept of time. . .

The "kingdom of heaven" is a state of the heart--not something to come "beyond the world" or "after death." The whole idea of natural death is absent from the Gospels: death is not a bridge, not a passing; it is absent because it belongs to a quite different, a merely apparent world, useful only as a symbol. The "hour of death" is not a Christian idea--"hours," time, the physical life and its crises have no existence for the bearer of "glad tidings."... The "kingdom of God" is not something that men wait for: it had no yesterday and no day after tomorrow, it is not going to come at a "millennium"--it is an experience of the heart, it is everywhere and it is nowhere…."

Thus, even such a critic of Christianity as Nietzsche is compelled to view Jesus as a personality OUTSIDE TIME--as a participant in a cosmic play in which he, as the primary spokesman of the Father, plays the leading role. Anointed of the Father, Jesus leads that way toward truth and life. I only hope that one glorious day, when I meet him face to face that I can merge with the Father through Him and discover who I really am.

The following quote from the Ascension Research Center proposes something that my heart tells me is true--I only hope my mind can get around it someday.

"The Light of God is all about you. The Light of God is who you are."

Let us pray: Jesus, You were chosen and sent for a purpose we can only vaguely understand. Indeed, vague is the only word that can describe our apprehension of the divine mysteries. Please send us your infinite intelligence to bolster our puny powers of comprehension, so that we may endure the rest of this earthly life, in preparation for the coming clarity waiting for us in heavenly light. Amen.

July 31, 2011
Glennallen, AK

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