“What if the greatest threat to Christianity in America was American Christianity.”
This is a quote from the back cover of Keith Giles book, Jesus Untangled — Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.
Giles writes a powerful book, questioning those of us who believe salvation can be legislated by laws the world obeys. Starting with early Christianity when the message Jesus left us was clearer in our ancestors’ minds, closer to his embodiment of that message, he takes us on a journey from early Christianity to the present day, where there are still many of us in our country who believe Jesus said that we should get involved in government to steer the process so that we can embed God’s message in politics. Many believe the founders of America saw entanglement as a threat to our fledging democracy. Yet, as a country, we have struggled with the idea of separating our religious beliefs from the laws of government. And this is I think sadly a Christian movement. Yet it is a distortion of Jesus’ message that implies the laws the world has made are not God’s laws. Obeying civil law is second to accepting God’s law, which trumps civil law for us as Christians. Theoretically at least.
I believe Jesus tells us clearly that the world is a distortion that needs our forgiveness. We are here to forgive, which is a reflection of God’s love, primary purpose and function of our lives, whether or not forgiveness is compatible with civil law. The present world we live in is clearly not a fertile ground for this, although God’s will is, well God’s will. There is nothing that can oppose it even in our darkest moments it will be. While it may seem so dark and the whole meaning of forgiveness isn’t available to us, He will prevail. The world is built on the concept of punishment. Forgiveness does not include punishment at all. Nothing more clearly demonstrates the anti-Christ but the meaning we have place on the one thing that Jesus taught in all his teachings.
Here is a poignant quote from Giles book that describes the underpinning of our coming to the current world we live in:
‘For early Christians like Tertullian, the very idea of a Christian Caesar was preposterous. For them there were clearly two kingdoms; and if one became entangled with the other, then both would seem to perform their intended functions. Even worse, the Christian Church, once entangled with the State, would cease to carry the cross of Christ and begin to wield the sword of Rome. The oppressed would become the oppressor, not only of the weak and the marginalized, but the other Christians as well.’ P. 68
The world that seems to have come to life for us is not God’s world. It is ours. We live our dream here, pretending to be living without God. We pay homage to our own projection of a sick mind upon a rather grand illusion. How could this include anything but our own ideas about Jesus’ message — a message of love? Our interpretation of that message suits our own message to ourselves: fear. And if we were just able to “convert” everyone to the cross of Christ through laws, we’d be less fearful. Using methods completely opposite of Jesus now becomes “justified” in his name and the name of Christ. Salvation becomes of our own making, our own plan, ignoring God’s plan because in the context of our thinking it simply cannot apply.
The opposite of God’s plan for salvation is insanity. The truth is there is no opposite to anything God creates. So, despite the suffering we experience trying so hard to replace Jesus’ teaching with ours in the name of Christianity, it is not happening. Welcome to the dream of hell. Love has no opposite; truth has no opposite — nor does a little of this and a little of that, a split mind have any affect on God’s laws. “Thy will be done.” means it will be done.
Jesus does not play games. Our games. He loves us entirely. He does not ask of us to do what he did, which he describes in a Course in Miracles as an “extreme example.” He does know very well how to impress upon us the truth, although we can take truth and bring it to our illusions over and over again expecting the result we think we want from his teachings.
I recently attended a community meeting in my town. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together members of different faiths to talk with one another to establish peaceful communication between neighbors. One of our State legislators tried to plant fear among us, our response was to confront it through understanding and communication. To love one another, as Jesus states.
As the meeting went on there were those who spoke of the conqueror mentality of Muslim people and nations. Someone actually said that. i thought to myself, of all the conquerors in this world we made, Christians are surely the masters of it.
Think: the Conquistadores, the American Christians who enslaved populations of Africans for hundreds of years and considered them ⅔ of a person, (establishing the electoral college to balance out that fraction with the rest of the countries count for elections) and continued to brutalize many of the Black race, while wiping off the face of ur non-God world earth whole nations of Native Americans in exchange for their land. Moving into the rest of the world, it was Christians who slaughtered 7 million Jews in Nazi Germany, or the President of the United States who commanded the slaughtering of countless families as revenge for slaughtering of 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Christians against Jews, Christians against Native Americans, Christians against Iraq populations. Jesus message is unequivocal. He would never find any of this as a part of his teaching. I told our Muslim friends at the community meeting, who seems to be taking on the guilt of their own brothers and sisters who acted with the same insane beliefs in their acts of killing, we do the same and that Christians are the most brutal religion in the world, if we can measure brutality buy the numbers. They were thankful, saying I brought a moment of sanity to the meeting.
Our local Legislator who was present looked at me in dis-belief. We are friends (perhaps not anymore). He said he would pray for me. It is so difficult for us to see our own faults. Jesus’ teachings and his reminder of God’s law of love, remind us. This is not an approach we have come to in our current politics and organized religion. Yet is is the very hear of Jesus’ teaching: forgiveness.
Keith Giles has written a wonderful book that touches the truth in us. We need his search for truth today in our world, as did the desert fathers and mothers who left the direction in the which the Christian church was headed. They went off on their own to continue the practices Jesus taught, while the Holy Roman Empire established its own brand of Christianity. The Church I grew under Pius the XII, the one “true” church, universal, and for all. Here was the distorted teaching of Jesus administered to the young. What I heard was he died on the cross as a sacrificial lamb, one Son of our Father, his crucifixion, due payment for our sins. Imagine that, the one who comes to teach us there is no sin, dies for them at the hand of a vengeful Father. Just what we have been waiting for. It is a captivating story that fits perfectly well with separation and the ego.
Our world is a distortion of God’s world. Its the best we can do, we suppose. Never thinking that we will lose it, desperately trying to save it. God does not do desperation. Jesus’ message is love, not desperation, not war, not erecting governments to enforce it. What part of love needs to be enforced by man? What help of the kind we expose in out world does God need? God’s response is we will awaken to His will for us, as Jesus demonstrates through his time here, that it is the Son of God, who knows only love, for He/She is created out of love. As Giles says:
“Much like handing a toddler a nuclear warhead capable of transforming the landscape in the blink of an eye, Jesus has entrusted everyone of us with the greatest force in the universe, agape love. Agape love is the love which has the power not to destroy a city, but to transform a renew all humanity from within.” P. 93
Our salvation is much simpler that this, however. Jesus came to tell us of the Sonship — the one unalterable, changeless truth — we are God’s children. He loves us and will not change His mind about us, no matter how stupid we get. In that we have all of God’s power as He would have it be. When Jesus says in his prayer, after establish our one relationship with God as His children, God then says that His will be done in earth as in heaven. This is God’s will we are told here by one of the greatest teachers of that Will. It can only be done. God is constantly messaging us, even in our insane dream world, which will end the moment God’s world is accepted. We don’t have to fight for it. Jesus did not die for it. His resurrection is what he instructs us to focus our attention on. He did not die on the cross, nor did he die for our sins — he let his body go to give his brothers and sisters a far more powerful message, one that we are to do the same under any circumstances, none of which will be a sacrifice. Jesus hates sacrifice because letting go of illusion and insanity can never be a sacrifice. We are the glory of God as brothers and sisters, no mater what this world may seem to say otherwise. That is not a sacrifice, but an awakening to what we are. This is our identity, which we seem to cling to in this upside down world to the death. We need cling to nothing here, for we already have all. It is our being and it will, as Giles says, transform our landscape “in the blink of an eye.” No need to call it another kind of love, it is love which has no opposites, no differences, nor different forms.
There are a number of things that caused me to leave Christianity as it is defined today. As a young child I seemed, like many to see through the distorted (coming from the word tort.) Many of the ideas I developed were based on my own insanity. However, the one thing I learned, not sure I was taught, that drove me away into an early life of mistakes and acting out addictions, had to do with my identity: the seeming placement of my self outside of teaching I thought I heard. What I heard was “Do not read the Bible, we’ll tell you what it says.” Christ had come. He was a part of the Trinity, which was in itself a mystery. One thing was certain, that I was not a part of any of this, except as a sinner. I began thinking, I’m too bad to be a part of it. And I seemed to continue to get worse. That is what I heard from from my teachers. And, they seemed to offer no way up and out, at least that I could handle. I tried and tried and it did not work.
Alcohol seemed early on to be the answer, as it evidently was for all my friend’s families and mine as well. If you want to be happy, drink. Happier, drink more. After all it is a Greek word for “spirit” and spirit is what I seemed to be lacking. Its a lonely world out there. So the Church itself seemed to lead me on a path of nothingness, which I learned later in life that’s, ironically perhaps, exactly where I needed to be. I could have done without the alcohol thing, however, and the massive suffering and pain it brings to family and relationships. A rapacious creditor it is. All in the form of a deeper and deeper separation in an already separated world. Love would bring me home one day and it did: the day I would discover the Trinity as inclusive. The good news is, I am a part of it as God’s holy Son, albeit still sleeping off the hangover of separation. I would return to the Kingdom fully as God’s son, having actually never left. What God has joined together, let know man put asunder. You see that’s God’s law, what in Heaven’s name would make us think we need civil law, or the moral majority to enforce it. Government limits the Holy One. Unless we want to diminish Our Father, which in this world we do, let so called religious do their thing separate from the civil laws I’m supposed to obey. Hopefully, then if they run astray of God’s law, I have a truth to enforce, within myself. And I don’t want that truth to be something some religious follower tells me is truth. We do not ask too much of life, but not enough. (Jesus’s words from A Course in Miracles)
Rejoice, I am in the Trinity and so are you. We must be, for it is the Holy Spirit, God’s Voice, the Corrector, the Holy Redeemer, who takes us gently home all together. Jesus here with us is our Guide who has gone before, no holier than we (making sure I am no holier than anyone else.) I don’t have to get good. He never leaves me, nor you. It is a much better experience, however, when I’m awake, which is “good.”
I need to nothing. i only have to get out of this world with a passing grade as one of my dear companions once said. As a matter of fact there’s nothing but readiness that I must do. Be involved in my own readiness, knowing that it is not mastery. God does that for me.
Let’s keep our government out of all this. It will always look for a universal theology. Its what it does. There is no universal theology. But governments will take up that cause and kill over it. There is only a universal experience. That is not particularly looked upon favorably by the government that has just been formed in the United States of America. i predict it will form itself around Christianity as a way of gaining more and more power to convince its citizens to act in ways not in their best interest, but rather in the interest of the political takers. I suspect our author knows this very well.
Everyone should read this book. It has some limitations of its own, but its right on the mark. How nice it would be to return to the early Christians who I imagine walked the talk. Love is what we are because we are born of it. Teach only love for that is what we are. (from a Course in Miracles.) We are walking on the road after a good days work, and one of us says, “Followers of our brother Jesus, who will lead our meeting tonight?” And one of our sisters speaks up and says “I will” My heart jumps a little, for i know she will inspire us one more time with Jesus message, perhaps the beleaguered man at the cave who rants and raves, curses and spits, and we tell Jesus maybe he should not be walking in his direction, which he is, we knowing our warnings to him are of no avail whatsoever, as he approaches this less than human figure (to us), and Jesus says just a few words, as he looks him square in the eye, “Brother, i know you.” The man is startled into silence for a moment, perhaps thinking, I have been waiting here all this time for you, brother. Wondering so painfully, who am I, my terrible struggle now makes sense no more. Who doesn’t have an identity, he says in that very moment. My choice can only be, heaven, my home with God. There are no other choices, as I have suffered for so long with this meaningless question, “Who am I?” It has always been my insanity. Not the question, for it is meaningless, but that I ask it. I see now this man, who must be a great teacher, has told me, I am just as God created me: His holy son, as holy as He, for He would have it no other way. And I know somehow this great teacher who stands now in front of me is saying to me with his eyes, “I am no holier than you. For God does not discriminate. “Because I will to know myself, i see you as my brother and God’s Son.” All in one instant. All touching the great truth that has always been in me. So that I may know. I am indeed part of and equal to.
While our brothers and sisters who seem to think government would be best work with Christianity, they are in a sense correct. God is in everything. But we must never think that everything is in God. He doesn’t do perception, as we do. Nor illusions. We do and we cannot ask of Him or Her to come down here into our sick minds to make nice. It is we who must bring our sick minds to His Light. Governments are just not in that business. My guess is its the last thing they would want to happen. For in the process of that they would lose hold of all of God’s children, who need only live by God’s law.
I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.