I have long believed in the early sayings of Jesus, before the corruption of the Nicean Council of 325 AD under Emperor Constantine. At that time reincarnation, vegetarianism and many other early Christian precepts, including Karma and the Path of Peace, were omitted from the Bible and the trinity, virgin birth, kingdom of heaven, Nicean Creed, concepts of hell and the devil as a reality, etc were inserted. This editing and political insertions, to suit Constantine and the Holy Roman Church, is a known fact by most religious scholars. The Bible, as we know it today, had been edited and changed some 36 times. This fact stronly shows that it cannot be taken in any literal way but is only the history of the Jewish peoples and and analogy of the life of Christ. To find out more about this please consult the web pages below. Please cut and paste the following -
Raised as a Christian I try to follow the example set by my parents who were very active in the Presbyterian Church. However, with the advent of the new "elite" (Tim LaHaye and the article below) and the hostile and waring Religious Right I have found that I have had to move to a more peaceful path by following the Dharma set by Buddha 2500 years ago - a way of peace, love, harmony and contemplation. For this reason I am compelled to show here that the real Jesus and Buddha said exactly the same things about life. We are all one under God and if we want to have a peaceful, beautiful world for our grandchildren we must put away our surface differences and apply the golden rule. Thank You, Nancy
Comparative Sayings of the Buddha and Jesus
From: The Original Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity
by Elmar R. Gruber & Holger Kersten
"There can be little doubt that many of the important sayings of Jesus were uttered by the Buddha five hundred years before Jesus. The Catholic Church has tried to deny this for the last 2000 years but the time has come to acknowledge the truth about Jesus. The above book is a very good one and I will add more excerpts to this particular page as time permits."
August 26, 2002
NOTE- At the end of each saying will be the given text. The legend is as follows:
GDh = Gandhari Dharmaphada;
Ud = Udanavarga; Dh = Dhammapada;
Q = Quelle ('source' in German. The source document for the four gospels of the New Testament.)
Sayings of the Buddha Sayings of Jesus
Man does not purify himself by washing as most people do in this world. Anyone who rejects any sin, larger and small, is a holy man because he rejects sins (Ud 33:13).
Evil is done through the self; man defiles himself through the self. Evil is made good through the self; man purifies himself through the self (Dh 12:9).
Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught. But those things which proceed out of the mouth came forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man (Matthew 15:17-20).
Happily shall I live without possessions among those who possess much; among possessors live without possessions. Happily shall I live without struggling anxiously among the strivers live without striving (GDh 167).
How fortunate are the poor; they have God's kingdom. How fortunate the hungry; they will be fed. How fortunate are those who are crying; they will laugh (QS 8 - New Testament).
Happily shall I live without hostility among the hostile; among the hostile live without hostility (GDh 167).
O let us live in joy, free of hatred, among the spiteful; among the spiteful let us live without hatred.
O let us live in joy, free of suffering, among those who suffer; among those who are sore troubled let us live without suffering.
O let us live in joy, free of avarice, among those filled with greed; among those who are avaricious let us live without greed.
O let us live in joy, we who are free of hindrances. Let us be like the 'Radiant Ones' who are nurtured with love (Dh 15:1-4).
Whoever counters the malicious with malice can never be pure, but he who feels no maliciousness pacifies those who hate. Hate brings misery to humanity so the wise man knows no hatred (Ud 14:12).
I am telling you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer your other cheek as well. If anyone grabs your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to anyone who asks, and if someone takes away your belongings, do not ask to have them back.
As you want people to treat you, do the same to them. (New Testament)
Hostility is never conquered by hostility in this world; hostility is conquered by love. That is the Eternal Law (Dh 1:5).
Surmount hatred by not hating, surmount evil with good; surmount greed through generosity, surmount lies with truth; speak what is true, do not succumb to anger, give when you are asked. Through those three steps you will come close to the gods (GDh 280-281).
Whosoever does no harm to living creatures, whosoever does not kill or participate in killing, is to be called a holy man. Whosoever is tolerant with the intolerant, whosoever patiently tolerates punishment, and whosoever shows compassion to all creatures, is to be called a holy man (Ud 33:45-46).
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even tax collectors love those who love them, do they not? And if you embrace only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Doesn't everybody do that? If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even wrongdoers lend to their kind because they expect to be repaid. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend without expecting anything in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of God. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good; he sends rain on the just and on the unjust (QS 9 - New Testament).
Judge not the mistakes of others, neither what they do or leave undone, but judge your own deeds, that just and the unjust (GDh 271-272). Don't judge and you won't be judged. For the standard you use (in judging) will be the standard used against you (QS 10).
O Vasettha, those brahmins who know the three Vedas are just like a line of blind men tied together where the first sees nothing, the middle man nothing, and the last sees nothing (Tevijja-Sutta, Dighanikaya, 13:15). Can the blind lead the blind? Won't they both fall into a pit? A student is not better than his teacher. It is enough for a student to be like his teacher (QS 11).
The faults of others are more easily seen than one's own, but seeing one's own failings is difficult. The failings of others are winnowed like chaff in the wind, but one conceals one's own faults like a cheating gambler (Dh 18:18).
The faults of the others are more easily seen than one's own. They are more easily seen because they are winnowed like chaff in the wind, but one's own failings are difficult to see. It is like a cheat concealing his own dice while showing his opponent's, drawing attention to the other's inadequacies and constantly thinking of bringing accusations against him. Such a man is far from seeing what is right, and very much worsens his unfortunate lot (Ud 27:1).
How can you look for the splinter in your brother's eye and not notice the stick in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the splinter in your eye', when you do not see the stick in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the stick from your own eye, and then you can see to remove the splinter that is in your brother's eye (QS 12 - New Testament).
No matter what a man does, whether his deeds serve virtue or vice, nothing lacks importance. All actions bear a kind of fruit (Ud 9:8).
The bad person speaks falsely, chained by his words. He who speaks ill and rejects what is truly just is not wise (Ud 8:9).
A good tree does not bear rotten fruit; a rotten tree does not bear good fruit. Are figs gathered form thorns, or grapes from thistles? Every tree is known by its fruit.
The good man produces good things from his store of goods and treasures; and the evil man evil things. For the mouth speaks from a full heart (QS 13 - New Testament).
Just as rain penetrates a badly-covered house, so passion enters a dispersed mind. Just as rain does not penetrate a well-covered house, so too does passion not enter a well-developed mind (Dh 1:13-14).
Why do you call me, 'Master, master', and not do what I say?
Everyone who hears my words and does them is like a man who built a house on rock. The rain fell, a torrent broke against the house, and it did not fall, for it had a rock foundation. But everyone who hears my words and does not do them is like a man who built a house on sand. The rain came, the torrent broke against it, and it collapsed. The ruin of that house was great (QS 14 - New Testament).
Those who aspire are ever striving; they do not stay in one place. Like swans leaving a lake, they move from house to house. The only source of refuge for those who do not accumulate possessions and are careful about what they eat is unconditional freedom, knowing as they do the void of transience. Their way is difficult to follow like that of birds in the sky (Dh 7:2-3).
Whosoever has laid aside human ties, leaving behind the powers of attraction of the gods, free of all bonds, that man I call holy (Ud 33:52).
When someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go,' Jesus answered, 'Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.' When another said, 'Let me first go and bury my father,' Jesus said, 'Leave the dead to bury their dead.' Yet another said, 'I will follow you, sir, but first let me say goodbye to my family.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God' (QS 19- New Testament).
People must store up reserves of faith since true merits cannot be taken away and no one need fear thieves. Happy are the disciples who have gained faith, and happy is the wise man when he meets such a believer (Ud 10:11).
Sell your possessions and give to charity (alms). Store up treasure for yourselves in a heavenly account, where moths and rust do not consume, and where thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be (QS 40 - New Testament).
In this world the wise man holds onto faith and wisdom. Those are his greatest treasures; all other riches he pushes aside (Ud 10:9).
Seek after the treasure which does not perish, which endures in the place where no moth comes near to devour, and no worm ravages (Gospel of Thomas 76).
The heirs are quarrelling over his property, but the King's being accords with his deeds. None of his possessions follow the dead man: no sons, wives, money, or power. Long life is not achieved through money, and old age is not frightened off by riches. Wisdom is thus better than money since it leads to perfection (Rathapala-Sutta, Majjhimanikaya 82).
'These children and these riches belong to me,' thought the fool, anxiously. But since no one possesses even himself, what is the point of 'my children and my riches'? The law of humanity is that, even if people accumulate hundreds and thousands of earthly goods, they nevertheless succumb to the power of death. All stores are scattered; what was built is torn down; everything that comes together must end in separation; and life must terminate in death (Ud 1:20-22).
Someone from the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' But he said to him, 'Sir, who made me your judge or lawyer?' He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man produced in abundance, and he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?" Then he said, "I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul you have ample goods stored for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry." But God said to him, "Foolish man? This very night you will have to give back your soul, and the things you produced, whose will they be?" That is what happens to the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich in the sight of God' (QS 38 - New Testament).
A wandering monk should neither despise what he has received nor should he envy what others get. The envious monk does not achieve deep contemplation (Dh 25:6).
The wise man does not make friends with the unbelieving, greedy, slanderous or quarrelsome. The wise man avoids the evil (Ud 25:1).
Go. Look, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
Do not carry money, or bag, or sandals, or staff; and do not greet anyone on the road.
Whatever house you enter, say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a child of peace is there, your greeting will be received. But if not, let your peace return to you. And stay in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. And if you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Pay attention to the sick and say to them, 'God's kingdom has come near to you.' But if you enter a town and they do not receive you, as you leave, shake the dust from your feet and say, 'Nevertheless, be sure of this, the realm of God has come to you' (QS 20 - New Testament).
Whosoever is free of worries, holding onto truth and the Dharma, will cross the sea of life, will put an end to suffering (Mahaparinibbanasutta 3:66).
It is difficult to follow the path of those whose appetite is satisfied and are not attached to consumption, those whose only refuge is unconditional freedom in recognition of the void of the transient. Their path is like that of birds in the sky (Dh 7:3-4).
I am telling you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Think of the ravens. They do not plant, harvest, or store grain in barns, and God feeds them. Aren't you worth more than the birds? Which of you can add a single day to your life by worrying? And why do you worry about clothing? Think of the way lilies grow. They do not work or spin. But even Solomon in all his splendor was not as magnificent. If God puts beautiful clothes on the grass that is in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into a furnace, won't he put clothes on you, faint hearts? So don't worry, thinking, 'What will we eat?', or 'What will we drink?', or 'What will we wear?' For everybody in the whole world does that, and your father knows that you need these things. Instead, make sure of his rule over you, and all these things will be yours as well (QS 39 - New Testament).
When a mendicant monk, although still young, yokes himself to the Buddha's teachings, the world is illuminated like the moon freed of clouds (Dh 25:23).
He who wishes to follow me must know himself and bear my yoke.
To anyone who leaves behind this world without having recognized his own real world, that is of as little use as the Veda he has not studied or some work he has avoided (Brihad-Aranyaka-Upanishad).
Jesus said: He who would know everything, but fails to know himself misses the knowledge of everything (Gospel of Thomas 67).
Whosoever has heard the law of virtue and vice is as a man who has eyes and carries a lamp, seeing everything. He will become completely wise (Ud 22:4)
Just as a lotus blossom, scented and beautiful, can blossom on a dunghill at the side of a road, so too radiates the wisdom of the Buddha's pupils who have realized the Dharma, while normal mortals are blind (GDh 303-304).
No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand. And those in the house see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good your whole body will be full of light. But if it is bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness (QS 33 - New Testament).
The wise man should renounce the way of darkness and follow the way of light (Dh 6:12).
This world is veiled in darkness; few there can see. Only a few enter into the realm of bliss, just as only a few birds escape the net (Dh 13:8).
Because of that I say this: Whoever is emptied will be filled with light; but whoever is divided will be filled with darkness (Thomas 61).
Life is easy for someone who is shameless like a crow, slanderous and presumptuous, boastful and corrupt. Life is difficult for someone modest who always strives for purity, detached and reticent, immaculate in life and clear in understanding (Dh 18:10-11).
Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter by it and will not be able. Once the owner of the house has locked the door, you will stand outside, knock at the door, and say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you unrighteous people' (QS 47- New Testament).
One way leads to worldly gain and the other to Nirvana. Let the mendicant monk, the Buddha's pupil, seek wisdom, not worldly honours (Dh 5:16).
No man can serve two masters. Either he hates the one and loves the other, or he is loyal to one and despises the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Mammon) (QS 55 - New Testament).
(Buddha had withdrawn to a forest hut at Kosala in the Himalayas for solitary reflection.) Then Mara, The Evil One, knew the thought that had arisen in the Enlightened One, so he went to the Buddha: 'O Lord, may the Enlightened One reign as King, may the Perfected One reign with justice, without killing or ordering killings, without being oppressive or serving oppression, without suffering form pain or causing pain to others.' The Buddha answered: 'What doest thou have in mind, O Evil One, that thou speakest thus with me?' Mara responded: 'The Enlightened One, O Lord, has assumed the fourfold might of miracles. If the Enlightened One so wished, he could command the Himalayas, the king of mountains, to become gold, and the mountain would become gold.' The Buddha turned him away: 'What would it help the wise man to own a mountain of gold or silver? Whosoever has recognized the cause of suffering, how should he succumb to desires?' Then replied Mara, the Evil One: 'The Enlightened One knows me, the Perfected One knows me,' and, grieved and discontented, he went away (Marasamyutta from the Samyuttanikaya II 10).
Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the spirit for trial by the accuser. He fasted for forty days and was hungry. The accuser said, 'If you are the son of God, tell this stone to become bread.' But Jesus answered, 'It is written, "No one lives by bread alone."' Then the accuser took him to Jerusalem and placed him at the highest point of the temple and said to him, 'If you are the son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "He will command his angels to protect you", and "They will carry you with their hands so that your foot will not strike a stone."' But Jesus answered him, 'It is written, "You shall not put the lord your God to the test."' Then the accuser took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and he said to him, 'All these I will give you if you will do obeisance and reverence me.' But Jesus answered him, 'It is written, "You shall reverence the lord your God and serve him alone."' Then the accuser left him (QS 6 - New Testament).
The Evil One spent six difficult years, constantly following the Bohdisattva, always looking for, seeking, an opportunity to get the better of him, but he never succeeded. When he did get a chance, he had to leave frustrated and wrathful (Lalitavistara XVIII).
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season (Luke 4:13).
Better than reigning supreme over the earth, better than ruling heaven, better than dominating all worlds, is the reward of the sotopatti way (Dh 13:12).
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away (Luke 9:25).
For What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36).
You fool! Of what use are your long locks? Of what use your clothing of hides? Within yourself darkness is at home. Only outwardly you clean yourself (Ud 33:8).
Of what use is your matted hair, O fool! Of what use your clothes made of animal hides? Within yourself is a jungle, but outwardly you adorn yourself (Dh 26:12).
Shame on you Pharisees! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are full of greed and incontinence. Foolish Pharisees! Clean the inside and the outside will also be clean. Shame on you Pharisees! for you love the front seats in the assemblies and greetings in the marketplaces. Shame on you! for you are like graves, outwardly beautiful, but full of pollution inside (QS 34).
The blind saw and the deaf could hear...The ill were healed. The hunger and thirst of the deprived were stilled. Drunkenness was taken away from the drunken. The mad regained reason. The blind could see again, and the deaf hear (Lalitavistara VII).
Jesus said, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind recover their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are given good news' (QS 16 - New Testament)
My purpose in giving the similarity of these sayings is to show that good is good - no matter who states it. There are many more similarities to those that truly believe in a rightous life than dissimilarities. We are all one and should respect the beliefs of others that follow the paths of peace, love, truth and faith without harming anyone. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is time to end religious fighting. We must all learn to live in peace, harmony and love. Thank You, Nancy
A WORK OF SCIENCE FICTION THAT COULD LEAD TO A GLOBAL WAR AND IS TOTALLY ANTI-PEACE
American "Rapture" -
By CRAIG UNGER
Best-selling author and evangelical leader Tim LaHaye has contacts that extend to the White House. That could spell trouble, since his theology espouses a bloody apocalypse in Israel
On a scorching afternoon in May, Tim LaHaye, the 79-year-old co-author of the "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic thrillers, leads several dozen of his acolytes up a long, winding path to a hilltop in the ancient fortress city of Megiddo, Israel. LaHaye is not a household name in the secular world, but in the parallel universe of evangelical Christians he is the ultimate cultural icon. The author or co-author of more than 75 books, LaHaye in 2001 was named the most influential American evangelical leader of the past 25 years by the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals. With more than 63 million copies of his "Left Behind" novels sold, he is one of the best-selling authors in all of American history. Here, a group of about 90 evangelical Christians who embrace the astonishing theology he espouses have joined him in the Holy Land for the "Walking Where Jesus Walked" tour.
Megiddo, the site of about 20 different civilizations over the last 10,000 years, is among the first stops on our pilgrimage, and, given that LaHaye's specialty is the apocalypse, it is also one of the most important. Alexander the Great, Saladin, Napoleon, and other renowned warriors all fought great battles here. But if Megiddo is to go down in history as the greatest battlefield on earth, its real test is yet to come. According to the book of Revelation, the hill of Megiddo—better known as Armageddon—will be the site of a cataclysmic battle between the forces of Christ and the Antichrist.
To get a good look at the battlefields of the apocalypse, we take shelter under a makeshift lean-to at the top of the hill. Wearing a floppy hat to protect him from the blazing Israeli sun, LaHaye yields to his colleague Gary Frazier, the tour organizer and founder of the Texas-based Discovery Ministries, Inc., to explain what will happen during the Final Days.
"How many of you have read the 'Left Behind' prophecy novels?" asks Frazier.
Almost everyone raises a hand.
"The thing that you must know," Frazier tells them, "is that the next event on God's prophetic plan, we believe, is the catching away of the saints in the presence of the Lord. We call it 'the Rapture.'"
Frazier is referring to a key biblical passage, in the first book of Thessalonians, that says the Lord will "descend from heaven with a shout.… The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
The words "caught up" are sometimes translated as "raptured." As a result, adherents cite this as the essential scriptural depiction of the Rapture.
"Christ is going to appear," Frazier continues. "He is going to call all of his saved, all of his children, home to be with him."
In other words, "in the twinkling of an eye," as the Rapturists often say, millions of born-again Evangelicals will suddenly vanish from the earth—just as they do in LaHaye's "Left Behind" books. They will leave behind their clothes, their material possessions, and all their friends and family members who have not accepted Christ—and they will join Christ in the Kingdom of God.
Frazier continues. "Jesus taught his disciples that he was going to go away to his father's house, but that he was not going to abandon them, because while he was gone he was going to prepare for them a suitable dwelling place.… And when the time was right, he would come back to claim his own.… Jesus is going to come and get his bride, which comprises all of us who are born again.
"I have no question that right now, as we stand here, Jesus the son is saying to the father, I want to be with my bride.… In the same way that we wanted to be with our mates … he wants to be with us. He wants us to be with him."
Frazier is a fiery preacher, and as his voice rises and falls, his listeners respond with cries of "Amen" and "That's right."
"I'm going to tell you with zeal and enthusiasm and passion Jesus is coming on the clouds of glory to call us home.… Now, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know, if you've read the 'Left Behind' books, [but] more importantly, if you've read the Bible, you know … that Christ is coming, and we believe that that day is very, very near."
For miles around in all directions the fertile Jezreel Valley, known as the breadbasket of Israel, is spread out before us, an endless vista of lush vineyards and orchards growing grapes, oranges, kumquats, peaches, and pears. It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful pastoral panorama.
The sight LaHaye's followers hope to see here in the near future, however, is anything but bucolic. Their vision is fueled by the book of Revelation, the dark and foreboding messianic prophecy that foresees a gruesome and bloody confrontation between Christ and the armies of the Antichrist at Armageddon.
Addressing the group from the very spot where the conflict is to take place, Frazier turns to Revelation 19, which describes Christ going into battle. "It thrills my heart every time that I read these words," he says, then begins to read: "'And I saw heaven standing open.… And there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire.'"
Frazier pauses to explain the text. "This doesn't sound like compassionate Jesus," he says. "This doesn't sound like the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This is the Warrior King. He judges and makes war."
Frazier returns to the Scripture: "He has a name written on him that no one but he himself knows. He is dressed in a robe that is dipped in blood and his name is the word of God."
This is the moment the Rapturists eagerly await. The magnitude of death and destruction will make the Holocaust seem trivial. The battle finally begins.
Those who remain on earth are the unsaved, the left behind—many of them dissolute followers of the Antichrist, who is massing his army against Christ. Accompanying Christ into battle are the armies of heaven, riding white horses and dressed in fine linen.
"This is all of us," Frazier says.
Frazier points out that Christ does not need high-tech weaponry for this conflict. "'Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword,' not a bunch of missiles and rockets," he says.
Once Christ joins the battle, both the Antichrist and the False Prophet are quickly captured and cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. Huge numbers of the Antichrist's supporters are slain.
Meanwhile, an angel exhorts Christ, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap." And so, Christ, sickle in hand, gathers "the vine of the earth."
Then, according to Revelation, "the earth was reaped." These four simple words signify the end of the world as we know it.
Grapes that are "fully ripe"—billions of people who have reached maturity but still reject the grace of God—are now cast "into the great winepress of the wrath of God." Here we have the origin of the phrase "the grapes of wrath." In an extraordinarily merciless and brutal act of justice, Christ crushes the so-called grapes of wrath, killing them. Then, Revelation says, blood flows out "of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
With its highly figurative language, Revelation is subject to profoundly differing interpretations. Nevertheless, LaHaye's followers insist on its literal truth and accuracy, and they have gone to great lengths to calculate exactly what this passage of Revelation means.
As we walk down from the top of the hill of Megiddo, one of them looks out over the Jezreel Valley. "Can you imagine this entire valley filled with blood?" he asks. "That would be a 200-mile-long river of blood, four and a half feet deep. We've done the math. That's the blood of as many as two and a half billion people."
When this will happen is another question, and the Bible says that "of that day and hour knoweth no man." Nevertheless, LaHaye's disciples are certain these events—the End of Days—are imminent. In fact, one of them has especially strong ideas about when they will take place. "Not soon enough," she says. "Not soon enough."
If such views sound extraordinary, the people who hold them are decidedly not. For the most part, the people on the tour could pass for a random selection culled from almost any shopping mall in America. There are warm and loving middle-aged couples who hold hands. There is a well-coiffed Texas matron with an Hermès scarf. There's a ducktailed septuagenarian and a host of post-teen mall rats. There are young singles. One couple even chose this trip for their honeymoon. A big-haired platinum blonde with a white sequined cowboy hat adds a touch of Dallas glamour. There is a computer-security expert, a legal assistant, and a real-estate broker; a construction executive, a retired pastor, a caregiver for the elderly, and a graduate student from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. They hail from Peoria, Illinois, and Longview, Texas, as well as San Diego and San Antonio. Most are fans of the "Left Behind" books. Some have attended the Left Behind Prophecy Conference on one of its tours of the U.S.
And while their beliefs may seem astounding to secular Americans, they are not unusual. According to a Time/CNN poll from 2002, 59 percent of Americans believe the events in the book of Revelation will take place. There are as many as 70 million Evangelicals in the U.S.—about 25 percent of the population—attending more than 200,000 evangelical churches. Most of these churches are run by pastors who belong to conservative political organizations that make sure their flocks vote as a hard-right Republican bloc.
A fascination with Revelation, the Rapture, and Christian Zionism has always been a potent, if often unseen, component of the American consciousness. More than three centuries ago, Puritans from John Winthrop to Cotton Mather saw America as a millennial kingdom linked to both the apocalypse and ancient Israel in a divine way that prefigured the Second Coming of Christ. America was to be the New Jerusalem, the Redeemer Nation, a people blessed with divine guidance.
Imagery from the book of Revelation has inspired poets and writers from William Blake and William Butler Yeats to Joan Didion and Bob Dylan. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" draws references from Revelation. Elements of the book of Revelation—secularized or otherwise—turn up in movies starring Gary Cooper (High Noon), Gregory Peck (The Omen), Clint Eastwood (Pale Rider), and Mimi Rogers (The Rapture), as well as in NBC's Revelations. Already, there have been two "Left Behind" movies—available mostly on video—and a third is in production. LaHaye's "Left Behind" series of books, co-authored with Jerry Jenkins, has brought in $650 million to Tyndale House, its now affluent Christian publisher.
On the Internet, raptureready.com put its Rapture Index at 161 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; anything over 145 means "fasten your seat belts." A number of Christian Web sites sell clothing emblazoned with Rapture logos. There was even a team of NASCAR drivers, Randy MacDonald and Jimmy Hensley, whose souped-up Chevy proudly displayed "Left Behind" insignia—not the most propitious message for a driver vying for pole position.
For all that, the new wave of Rapturemania is more than just another multi-billion-dollar addition to America's cultural junk heap. In the 60s, how you felt about the Beatles and Rolling Stones, marijuana and LSD, and civil rights and the Vietnam War told people whose side of American society you were on. Likewise, Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye, the pro-life movement and marriage-protection amendment, and the book of Revelation and George W. Bush are equally reliable gauges through which evangelical Christians today can distinguish friend from foe.
As befits the manifesto of a counterculture, the "Left Behind" series is a revenge fantasy, in which right-wing Christians win out over the rational, scientific, modern, post-Enlightenment world. The books represent the apotheosis of a culture that is waging war against liberals, gays, Muslims, Arabs, the U.N., and "militant secularists" of all stripes—whom it accuses of destroying Christian America, murdering millions of unborn children, assaulting the Christian family by promoting promiscuity and homosexuality, and driving Christ out of the public square.
It's a counterculture that sees Jews as key players in a Christian messianic drama, a premise that has led to a remarkable alliance between Christian Evangelicals and the Israeli right. As a result, political views drawn from an apocalyptic vision—once dismissed as extremist and delusional—have not merely swept mass culture but have shaped the political discourse all the way to Jerusalem and the White House. And if they are taken too seriously, the geopolitical consequences could be catastrophic.
The city of Jerusalem has a profound significance in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And to all three religions no place in Jerusalem is more full of apocalyptic and messianic meaning than the Temple Mount—the massive, 144,000-square-meter platform, 32 meters high, built by King Herod as a base for the biggest and most grandiose religious monument in the world, the shining white stone Temple of the Jews.
To Jews, the Temple Mount marks the holy of holies, the sacred core of the Temple, where Jews worshipped for centuries. Beneath it, Orthodox Jews believe, is the foundation stone of the entire world. The Mount is the disputed piece of land over which Cain slew Abel. It is where Abraham took his son, Isaac, when God asked him to sacrifice the boy. At its outer perimeter is the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, where Jews worship today. And messianic Jews believe the Mount is where the Temple must be rebuilt for the coming Messiah.
To Christians, the Temple is where Jesus threw out the money changers. Its destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. came to symbolize the birth of Christianity, when a new Temple of Jesus, eternal and divine, replaced the earthly Temple made and destroyed by men.
And to Muslims the Temple Mount's Dome of the Rock is where Muhammad ascended to heaven nearly 1,400 years ago, making it the third-holiest site in Islam, behind Mecca and Medina.
After its victory over Arab forces in the Six-Day War, in June 1967, Israel briefly seized the Temple Mount, thereby realizing the dream of restoring Judaism's holiest place to the Jewish people. But Moshe Dayan, the venerated Israeli defense minister who won the battle, soon voluntarily relinquished control of it to the Waqf, a Muslim administrative body.
Over the next generation, some 250,000 mostly Orthodox Jews, citing God's promise to Abraham in Genesis—"all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever"—moved into West Bank territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, and vowed to keep the government from giving the land back to the Palestinians.
Since Dayan's historic decision, Muslim authorities have usually allowed non-Muslims to come to the Temple Mount, as long as they don't move their lips in ways that suggest they are praying. As a result, the Temple Mount is one of the most explosive tinderboxes on earth. A visit to the site in September 2000 by Ariel Sharon inflamed tensions that soon erupted into the second intifada.
To evangelical Christians, the Mount is an elemental part of messianic theology, because a complete restoration of the nation of Israel, including the rebuilding of the Temple and the reclaiming of Judea and Samaria, is a prerequisite to the Second Coming of Christ. Likewise, to Orthodox Jews, nothing is more important to their messianic vision than reclaiming the Temple Mount and rebuilding the Temple—yet no single event is more likely to provoke a catastrophe.
No one knows this better than Yitshak Fhantich, an independent security, protection, and intelligence consultant who spent 28 years in Israeli intelligence, many as head of the Jewish Department of Shin Bet. From 1992 to 1995, he was the man in charge of investigating right-wing extremists, many of them strongly religious, who posed a threat to the Temple Mount.
"The vast majority of settlers in the West Bank are positive people with sincere religious beliefs," says Fhantich. "But when you combine religious beliefs with right-wing political views, you have a bomb. The hard core among them will go to any extreme. They are ready to do anything—from killing Yitzhak Rabin to blowing up the mosques at the Temple Mount."
Indeed, in 1984, Fhantich and his team of 25 Shin Bet members assisted in the arrest of 26 Jewish terrorists for planning to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount in an attempt to disrupt the peace process with Egypt, and in hopes that the Jews would then rebuild the Temple so that the Messiah would come.
And in 1995, Fhantich personally warned Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin about the danger he faced from militant groups outraged by his agreement, as part of the 1993 Oslo accords, to relinquish the West Bank and Gaza territories to the Palestinians. "I told him, on the hit list, you're No. 1," Fhantich says. On November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a young Orthodox law student named Yigal Amir, whose activities Fhantich had been monitoring for more than a year.
In the 90s, Fhantich says, Israeli intelligence began watching Christian Evangelicals. "As the millennium approached, you had many people waiting for the appearance of Jesus Christ.… And Jerusalem, of course, is the home of the Jerusalem syndrome," he says, referring to the phenomenon whereby obsessive religious ideas can trigger violent behavior. "If someone believes God told him to do something, you cannot stop him.
"The mosques on the Temple Mount are like the red flag for the bull. You have to be prepared minute by minute. These Christians, they believe what they are doing is sacred. Some of them are so naïve they can be taken advantage of. If something happens to the Temple Mount, I think these American Evangelicals will welcome such an act. After all, religion is the most powerful gun in the world."
Moreover, a potential attack on the Temple Mount, as disastrous as it would be, pales in comparison to the long-term geopolitical goals of some right-wing religious groups. Orthodox Jews, Christian Evangelicals, and the heroes of the "Left Behind" series share a belief that the land bordered by the Nile and Euphrates Rivers and the Mediterranean Sea and the wilderness of Jordan has been covenanted to Israel by God. Taken to its literal extreme, this belief obliges Israel not only to retain control of Gaza and the West Bank but also to annex all or parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. Such a campaign of conquest would be certain to provoke a spectacular conflict.
The Carter Glass Mansion, in Lynchburg, Virginia, is a handsome manor house that serves as an administrative office for Liberty University and offers a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside is the office of Jerry Falwell, chancellor of the university, founding father of the Christian right, and longtime friend and colleague of Tim LaHaye, one of Liberty's most generous donors.
Recently recovered from a respiratory illness, Falwell, 72, is as serene and self-confident as ever, answering questions with the disarming candor that has enabled him to build personal friendships with even his fiercest ideological foes, from the Reverend Jesse Jackson to pornographer Larry Flynt. Behind his desk is a mounted page from the Palestine Post, dated May 16, 1948, headlined STATE OF ISRAEL IS BORN.
Explaining his affinity for Israel, Falwell says, "Long before I became a political activist, I'd been taught that the Abrahamic Covenant—Genesis 12 and Genesis 15—is still binding, where God told Abraham, 'I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you.'
"It was obvious to me, beginning with the birth of the Israeli state, in 1948, and the Six-Day War, in 1967, that God was bringing his people back home. So I came to believe that it was in America's best interest to be a friend of Israel.… If America blessed the Jew, Israel in particular, God would bless America."
The special political relationship between the Israeli right and Evangelicals dates back to 1977, when, after three decades of Labor rule in Israel, Menachem Begin became the first prime minister from the conservative Likud Party. A romantic nationalist and serious biblical scholar, Begin pointedly referred to the lands of the West Bank by their biblical names of Judea and Samaria, and he reached out to American Evangelicals at a time when they were just coming out of a political hibernation that dated back to the Scopes trial of 1925 and Prohibition. "The prime minister said a person who has got the Bible in his home and reads it and believes it cannot be a bad person," recalls Yechiel Kadishai, a longtime personal aide to Begin. "He said the Evangelicals have to know that we are rooted in this piece of land. There should be an understanding between us and them." One of the first people Begin sought out was Jerry Falwell, who was achieving national recognition through his growing television ministry.
In 1980, Begin presented Falwell with the prestigious Jabotinsky Award, gave his ministry a private jet, and shared vital state secrets with the televangelist. Begin even called him before bombing Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, in June 1981. "He said, 'Tomorrow you're going to read some strong things about what we are going to do. But our safety is at stake,'" Falwell recalls. "He said, 'I wanted you, my good friend, to know what we are going to do.' And, sure enough, they put one down the chimney."
In the early days of his ministry, Falwell, like other Evangelicals, had made a policy of not mixing religion and politics at all—much less on a global scale. "I had been taught in the seminary that religion and politics don't mix," he says. "Conservative theologians were absolutely convinced that the pulpit should be devoted to prayer, preaching, and exclusively to spiritual ministry.
"But in the 60s the U.S. Supreme Court had decided to remove God from the public square, beginning with the school-prayer issue. Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court had ruled 7-to-2 in favor of abortion on demand. And I wondered, 'What can I do?'"
Several years later, Falwell got a call from Francis Schaeffer. An electrifying Presbyterian evangelist and author, Schaeffer is probably the most important religious figure that secular America has never heard of. Widely regarded by Evangelicals as one of their leading theologians of the 20th century, Schaeffer, who died in 1984, was to the Christian right what Marx was to Marxism, what Freud was to psychoanalysis. "There is no question in my mind that without Francis Schaeffer the religious right would not exist today," says Falwell. "He was the prophet of the modern-day faith-and-values movement."
A powerful influence on Falwell, LaHaye, Pat Robertson, and many others, Schaeffer asserted in the wake of Roe v. Wade that Evangelicalism could no longer passively accommodate itself to the decadent values of the secular-humanist world, now that it had sanctioned the murder of unborn babies. Almost single-handedly, he prodded Evangelicals out of the pulpit and into a full-scale cultural war with the secular world. "I was in search of a scriptural way that I, as pastor of a very large church, could address the moral and social issues facing American culture," Falwell says. "Dr. Schaeffer shattered that world of isolation for me, telling me that, while I was preaching a very clear gospel message, I was avoiding 50 percent of my ministry.… He began teaching me that I had a responsibility to confront the culture where it was failing morally and socially."
In 1979, Falwell was still "looking for a plan to mobilize people of faith in this country" when Tim LaHaye, then a pastor in San Diego, called him. LaHaye had just founded Californians for Biblical Morality, a coalition of right-wing pastors who fought against gay rights and even sought to ban the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons in a Glendora community college on the grounds that it was an "occult" game.
When he visited San Diego, Falwell was impressed with how LaHaye had organized the pastors to confront the state government on moral and social issues. "When he told me how he did it, I wondered why we couldn't do it on a national basis," says Falwell.
And so, in 1979, Falwell launched the Moral Majority with LaHaye and other leading fundamentalist strategists to lobby for prayer and the teaching of creationism in public schools and against gay rights, abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment. LaHaye's wife, Beverly, also entered the fray that year by founding Concerned Women for America, to "bring biblical principles into all levels of public policy" and oppose the "anti-marriage, anti-family, anti-children, anti-man" feminism put forth by the National Organization for Women.
Courtly, genteel, and soft-spoken, LaHaye hardly looks the part of a ferocious right-wing culture warrior. In public or in private, LaHaye is understated, the antithesis of the fire-and-brimstone preacher one might expect to deliver prophecies of the apocalypse and Armageddon. Yet even Falwell has said that LaHaye has done more than anyone to set the agenda for Evangelicalism in the U.S.
LaHaye's belief in the Rapture dates back to his father's funeral, in Detroit, when he was just nine years old. "The minister at the funeral said these words: 'This is not the end of Frank LaHaye,'" he told The Christian Science Monitor. "'Because he accepted Jesus, the day will come when the Lord will shout from heaven and descend, and the dead in Christ will rise first and then we'll be caught up together to meet him in the air.'"
Then the pastor pointed to the sky and the sun unexpectedly came out. "All of a sudden, there was hope in my heart I'd see my father again," LaHaye said.
From then on, LaHaye was entranced with Rapturist theology, which was popularized in the U.S. in the 19th century by a renegade Irish Anglican preacher named John Nelson Darby. A proponent of a prophetic branch of theology known as premillennial dispensationalism, Darby asserted that a series of signs—including wars, immorality, and the return of the Jews to Israel—signal the End of Days. Once the end is nigh, all true believers will be raptured to meet Christ. After that, Darby taught, the world will enter a horrifying seven-year period of Tribulation, during which a charismatic Antichrist will seize power. But in the end, he prophesied, the Antichrist will be vanquished by Christ at Armageddon, and Christ's 1,000-year reign of peace and justice will begin. This, in brief, is the theology taught by evangelists such as Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, and many others—including Tim LaHaye.
After graduating from the ultra-conservative Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina, LaHaye began preaching in nearby Pumpkintown at a salary of $15 a week. For 25 years, he served as pastor at Scott Memorial Baptist Church, in San Diego, transforming it from a congregation of 275 into one with 3,000 members.
Along the way, LaHaye avidly read Francis Schaeffer. "Schaeffer taught me the difference between the Renaissance and the Reformation," he says during the tour of Israel. "And you know what the difference is? The Renaissance was all about the centrality of man. The Reformation was all about clearing up the ways the [Catholic] Church had mucked up Christianity—and getting back to the centrality of God."
In The Battle for the Mind, his 1980 homage to Schaeffer, LaHaye lays out his worldview far more forcefully than he does in person, depicting America as a Bible-based country under siege by an elite group of secular humanists conspiring to destroy the nuclear family, Christianity itself, and even "the entire world." There are no shades of gray in this Manichaean tract, which asserts that secular humanism is "not only the world's greatest evil but, until recently, the most deceptive of all religious philosophies."
Life, LaHaye argues, has always been a battle between good and evil. "The good way has always been called 'God's way,'" he writes, and evil has been the way of man—specifically, the post-Renaissance, post-Enlightenment world of art, science, and reason. And, in his view, nothing man has come up with is worse than secular humanism, which he defines as "a Godless, man-centered philosophy" that rejects traditional values and that has "a particular hatred toward Christianity."
"LaHaye writes as if there's a humanist brain trust sitting around reading [American philosopher and educational reformer] John Dewey, trying to figure out ways to destroy Christianity," says Chip Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates and the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort.
In truth, while tens of millions of Americans might accurately be called secular humanists, very few characterize themselves as members of a humanist movement. But to LaHaye that only proves the deviousness of the humanist project. Instead of openly advocating their point of view, he writes, humanists have used the mass media and Hollywood, the government, academia, and organizations such as the A.C.L.U. and NOW to indoctrinate unsuspecting Christians.
As a result, LaHaye argues, good Evangelicals should no longer think of humanists as harmless citizens who happen not to attend church. In The Battle for the Mind, he spells out his political goals: "We must remove all humanists from public office and replace them with pro-moral political leaders."
"In LaHaye's world, there are the godly people who are on their way to the Rapture," says Berlet. "And the rest of the world is either complicit with the Antichrist or, worse, actively assisting him. If you really believe in End Times, you are constantly looking for agents of Satan.… [And if] political conflicts are rooted in the idea that your opponent is an agent of the Devil, there is no compromise possible. What decent person would compromise with evil? So that removes it from the democratic process.
"Conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation want to roll back the New Deal. LaHaye wants to roll back the Enlightenment."
Like Schaeffer's writings, LaHaye's book went largely unnoticed by the secular world, but the Christian right heartily embraced its declaration of war against secularism. Presbyterian televangelist D. James Kennedy hailed The Battle for the Mind as "one of the most important books of our time." Falwell wrote that all Christians must follow its tenets if America is to be saved from becoming "another Sodom and Gomorrah."
In 1981, LaHaye took up the challenge, resigning his pastorship to devote himself full-time to building the Christian right. He began by meeting with moneyed ultra-conservatives including Nelson Bunker Hunt, the right-wing oil billionaire from Dallas, and T. Cullen Davis, another wealthy Texas oilman who became a born-again Christian after being acquitted of charges of murdering his wife's lover and his stepdaughter.
Though still in its infancy, the Moral Majority had more than seven million people on its mailing list and had already played a key role in electing Ronald Reagan president. Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America was on its way to building a membership of 500,000 people, making her "the most powerful woman in the new religious right," according to the Houston Chronicle. She and her husband also co-authored a best-selling marriage manual for Christians, The Act of Marriage, full of clinical advice such as the following: "Cunnilingus and fellatio have in recent years been given unwarranted publicity [but] the majority of couples do not regularly use it as a substitute for the beautiful and conventional interaction designed by our Creator to be an intimate expression of love." And in the mid-80s, LaHaye created the American Coalition for Traditional Values, which played an important role in re-electing Ronald Reagan, in 1984. He later became co-chairman of Jack Kemp's 1988 presidential campaign but was forced to resign when anti-Catholic statements he had written came to light.
With right-wing groups expanding at such a dizzying pace, LaHaye helped to found the Council for National Policy (C.N.P.) as a low-profile but powerful coalition of billionaire industrialists, fundamentalist preachers, and right-wing tacticians. Funded by Hunt and Davis, among others, the organization set out to create a coherent and disciplined strategy for the New Right.
Though its membership is secret, the rolls have reportedly included Falwell and Pat Robertson; top right-wing political strategists Richard Viguerie, Ralph Reed, and Paul Weyrich; Republican senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth (both of North Carolina), Don Nickles (Oklahoma), and Trent Lott (Mississippi); and Republican representatives Dick Armey and Tom DeLay (both of Texas). The late Rousas John Rushdoony, the right-wing theologian who hoped to reconfigure the American legal system in accordance with biblical law, was said to be a member, as was John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, who was co-counsel to Paula Jones in her lawsuit against Bill Clinton.
"Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, senators and Cabinet members—you name it. There's nobody who hasn't been here at least once," says Falwell, who confirms that he is a member. "It is a group of four or five hundred of the biggest conservative guns in the country."
The C.N.P. has access to the highest powers in the land. In 1999, George W. Bush courted evangelical support for his presidential candidacy by giving a speech before the council, the transcript of which remains a highly guarded secret. And since the start of his presidency, Falwell says, the C.N.P. has enjoyed regular access to the Oval Office. "Within the council is a smaller group called the Arlington Group," says Falwell. "We talk to each other daily and meet in Washington probably twice a month. We often call the White House and talk to Karl Rove while we are meeting. Everyone takes our calls." According to The Wall Street Journal, two high-ranking Texas judges who spoke to the Arlington Group in October at the suggestion of Karl Rove allegedly assured its members that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Sometime in the mid-80s, Tim LaHaye was on an airplane when he noticed that the pilot, who happened to be wearing a wedding ring, was flirting with an attractive flight attendant, who was not. LaHaye asked himself what would happen to the poor unsaved man if the long-awaited Rapture were to transpire at that precise moment.
Soon, LaHaye's agent dug up Jerry Jenkins, a writer-at-large for the Moody Bible Institute and the author of more than 150 books, many on sports and religion. In exchange for shared billing, Jenkins signed on to do the actual writing of the "Left Behind" series—a multi-volume apocalyptic fantasy thriller composed in the breezy, fast-paced style of airport bodice rippers but based on biblical prophecy.
The first volume, Left Behind, begins with a variation of what LaHaye observed in real life. While piloting his 747 to London's Heathrow Airport, Captain Rayford Steele decides he's had just about enough of his wife's infuriating religiosity. Thanks to Christian influences, she now believes in the Rapture. He puts the plane on autopilot and leaves the cockpit to flirt with a "drop-dead gorgeous" flight attendant named Hattie Durham.
But Hattie advises him that dozens of passengers have suddenly and mysteriously vanished. They have left behind their clothes, eyeglasses, jewelry, even their hearing aids.
The Rapture has come. Millions of Christians who have accepted Christ as their savior—including Rayford Steele's wife and young son—have been caught up into heaven to meet Him. Left behind are the vast armies of the Antichrist—those ungodly, evolutionist, pro-abortion secular humanists—and a smaller group of people like Steele, who are just beginning to see that Christ is the answer.
So begin the seven years of Tribulation forecast in the book of Revelation. Rayford Steele and his band of Tribulation warriors are mostly ordinary folks right out of the heartland—not unlike the participants in LaHaye and Frazier's tour of Israel. Doubters no more, they begin to form the Tribulation Force, to take on the armies of the Antichrist and win redemption.
Soon, the Force learns that the Antichrist is none other than Nicolae Carpathia, the dazzlingly charming secretary-general of the United Nations and People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive." Carpathia turns the U.N. into a one-world government with one global currency and one religious order. Try as they might, the Force can't stop him from killing billions by bombing New York, Los Angeles, London, Washington, D.C., and several other cities, or from establishing himself as dictator and implanting biochips that scar millions of people with the number of the beast.
In fact, Carpathia and his Unity Army seem all but unstoppable until Glorious Appearing, the last volume in the series, when it becomes clear that God has another plan—the Second Coming of Jesus. The battles between the forces of Christ and of the Antichrist begin in Jordan, with Carpathia urging his troops to attack, only to be confronted with the ultimate deus ex machina: "Heaven opened and there, on a white horse, sat Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.… Jesus' eyes shone with conviction like a flame of fire, and He held His majestic head high.… On His robe at the thigh a name was written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
LaHaye is not the first author to cash in on the apocalypse. Hal Lindsey's 1970 Christian End Times book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which predicted that the world would come to an end around 1988, was the No. 1 nonfiction best-seller of the 70s. Nevertheless, LaHaye, Jenkins, and their aptly named literary agent, Rick Christian, had a tough time interesting publishers in their concept. Finally, LaHaye's nonfiction publishing company, Tyndale House, put up $50,000, boasting that it could market the book well enough to sell half a million copies.
Kicking off the series in 1995, as the millennium clock ran down, provided a convenient marketing device. According to The Washington Post, by 2001, 27 million copies of "Left Behind" books had been sold, along with 10 million related products such as postcards and wallpaper. Thanks to the astounding growth of Evangelicalism in America, even the uneventful passing of the millennium failed to dampen sales, which increased so greatly—to a pace of 1.5 million copies a month—that the series, originally planned to be 7 books, was extended to 12. By now, according to BusinessWeek, the "Left Behind" series has brought in more than $650 million to the Illinois-based Tyndale House, the largest privately owned Christian publisher in the country. Not surprisingly, LaHaye has sought to extend his brand with children's versions, a prequel (The Rising) written with Jenkins, and a new series, "Babylon Rising," about an Indiana Jones–like hero who uncovers the secrets of biblical prophecies.
When Jerry Falwell reflects on the past 25 years, even he is astounded at how far the Christian right has come. "I was not at all sure in 1979 when I started Moral Majority that we really could make a difference. But I knew we had to try," he says. "A quarter of a century later, I'm amazed at how a huge nation like America could be so affected and even turned around by the New Testament Church.
"We're gaining ground every time the sun shines. I don't think this phenomenon is cresting, because there is a spiritual awakening in America right now."
When he started out, Falwell recalls, he was thrilled if 35 people came to church and left more than $100 on his offering plate. Today, revenue at his Thomas Road Baptist Church tops $200 million a year—and is likely to exceed $400 million in the near future.
The evangelical market is so big now that mainstream corporate America doesn't dare ignore it. The Purpose-Driven Life, by California pastor Rick Warren, published in 2002, has already sold 23 million copies, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time. Now religion is the hottest category in publishing, bringing in more than $3 billion a year. Time Warner, Random House, and HarperCollins have all put together religious imprints. There are more than 2,000 Christian radio stations. Christian music now outsells all classical and jazz releases combined. The EMI Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment have acquired religious labels.
And the peak is nowhere in sight. "This is just the beginning," says Tim LaHaye. "Now we have media like we've never had before—alternative media, the Internet, and Fox News."
Throughout America, especially the South, a massive, fully developed subculture has emerged. In Greenville, South Carolina, more than 700 churches serve just 56,000 people. On a highway not far from town, a billboard reads, LET'S MEET ON SUNDAY AT MY HOUSE BEFORE THE GAME. —GOD.
And it's not about just going to church. There are movie nights for Christians, summer camps for Christian kids, Christian "poker runs," Christian marriage-counseling sessions, Christian Caribbean vacations, Christian specialty stores, and Christian ministries for singles, seniors, and the divorced.
"It plays exactly the same role in shaping your beliefs that the counterculture of the 60s did for the left," says a former Evangelical. "Politically, you end up voting for that which reinforces your belief system. How you will appear in the eyes of the God you believe in—that's your anchor."
It is an insular world that is almost completely segregated from the secular world, including the mainstream media. "No one in our family read newspapers," says another former Evangelical, who left her church in Yuba City, California, and eventually moved to New York. "Growing up, our only source of information in my life was the pastor. We believed in what God had told him to say because we were children, and he was our shepherd, and he had been chosen by God."
A crucial part of that theology dictates a love for Israel, an affection based on faith more than on information. "When I grew up, I did not know Jews walked the face of the earth," she says. "I thought they lived only in biblical times. They were my brothers and sisters in the Lord, but I didn't know they still existed."
That love of Israel is sometimes accompanied by racist hatred of Arabs. On several occasions, an Israeli guide on LaHaye and Frazier's tour told the group that Arabs "breed like fleas" and would soon be forced into the desert. LaHaye's followers responded with warm laughter and applause.
From Israel's point of view, there are many reasons to welcome American Evangelicals, regardless of how well-informed they may be. Tourism is one. Last year, 400,000 Christian tourists visited Israel, where they spent more than $1.4 billion. "During the intifada, loyal Christians still came as tourists. We have to go to the grass roots. It is so important to make them lovers of Israel," says Benny Elon, Orthodox leader of the right-wing National Union, former tourism minister, and a frequent guest of the Christian Coalition's in the U.S.
And given that there are more than 10 times as many Evangelicals in America as Jews, it is understandable that Israel might seek their political support. "Israel's relationship with America can't be built only on the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the 2.5 percent of the population in America who are Jews," says Elon.
"When Israel enjoys support because it is the land of the Bible, why should we reject that?" adds Uzi Arad, who served as foreign-policy adviser to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now heads the Institute for Policy and Strategy, a think tank in Herzliya, Israel. "Whether it is because of expediency or because on some level we may be soulmates, each side offers the other something they want. And the Christian right is a political force to be reckoned with in America."
But Evangelicals have also played a role in disrupting the peace process. "I was ambassador for four years of the peace process, and the Christian fundamentalists were vehemently opposed to the peace process," says Itamar Rabinovich, who served as Israeli ambassador to the U.S. between 1993 and 1996, under the Labor governments of Rabin and Shimon Peres. "They believed that the land belonged to Israel as a matter of divine right. So they immediately became part of a campaign by the Israeli right to undermine the peace process."
No one played that card more forcefully than Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, who as prime minister used the Christian right to fend off pressure from the Clinton administration to proceed with the peace process.
On a visit to Washington, D.C., in 1998, Netanyahu hooked up with Jerry Falwell at the Mayflower Hotel the night before his scheduled meeting with Clinton.
"I put together 1,000 people or so to meet with Bibi and he spoke to us that night," recalls Falwell. "It was all planned by Netanyahu as an affront to Mr. Clinton."
That evening, Falwell promised Netanyahu that he would mobilize pastors all over the country to resist the return of parts of the occupied West Bank territory to the Palestinians. Televangelist John Hagee, who gave $1 million to the United Jewish Appeal the following month, told the crowd that the Jewish return to the Holy Land signaled the "rapidly approaching … final moments of history," then brought them to a frenzy chanting, "Not one inch!"—a reference to how much of the West Bank should be transferred to Palestinian control.
The next day, Netanyahu met with Clinton at the White House. "Bibi told me later," Falwell recalls, "that the next morning Bill Clinton said, 'I know where you were last night.' The pressure was really on Netanyahu to give away the farm in Israel. It was during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.… Clinton had to save himself, so he terminated the demands [to relinquish West Bank territory] that would have been forthcoming during that meeting, and would have been very bad for Israel."
In the end, no one played a bigger role in thwarting the prospect for peace than the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who rejected a deal with Netanyahu's successor, Ehud Barak, in 2000. In general, the Christian right has not gone to the mat to fight a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But when the peace process finally resumed during the Bush administration, the Christian right made certain its theology was not ignored. In March 2004, according to The Village Voice, a delegation from the Apostolic Congress, a religious group that believes in the Rapture, met with Elliott Abrams, then the National Security Council's senior director for Near East and North African affairs, to discuss its concern that Israel's disengagement from Gaza would violate God's covenant with Israel. As it happens, Netanyahu, for non-theological reasons, shared the Christian right's concern about the Gaza pullout to such an extent that he resigned from Sharon's cabinet last summer and has vowed to challenge him for the prime minister's post.
But this intrusion of End Times theology is of deep concern to Israelis who are not as hawkish as Netanyahu. "This is incredibly dangerous to Israel," says Gershom Gorenberg, a Jerusalem-based journalist and the author of The End of Days, a chronicle of messianic Christians and Jews and their struggle with Muslim fundamentalists over the Temple Mount. "They're not interested in the survival of the State of Israel. They are interested in the Rapture, in bringing to fruition a cosmic myth of the End Times, proving that they are right with one big bang. We are merely actors in their dreams. LaHaye's vision is that Jews will convert or die and go to hell. If you read his books, he is looking forward to war. He is not an ally in the safety of Israel."
Far from being a Prince of Peace, the Christ depicted in the "Left Behind" series is a vengeful Messiah—so vengeful that the death and destruction he causes to unconverted Jews, to secularists, to anyone who is not born again, is far, far greater than the crimes committed by the most brutal dictators in human history. When He arrives on the scene in Glorious Appearing, Christ merely has to speak and "men and women, soldiers and horses, seemed to explode where they stood. It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin." Soon, LaHaye and Jenkins write, tens of thousands of foot soldiers for the Antichrist are dying in the goriest manner imaginable, their internal organs oozing out, "their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of the glory of Christ."
After the initial bloodletting, Nicolae Carpathia gathers his still-vast army, covering hundreds of square miles, and prepares for the conflict at Megiddo. As the battle for Armageddon is about to start, Rayford Steele climbs atop his Hummer to watch Christ harvest the grapes of wrath. Steele looks at the hordes of soldiers assembled by the Antichrist, and "tens of thousands burst open at the words of Jesus." They scream in pain and die before hitting the ground, their blood pouring forth. Soon, a massive river of blood is flowing throughout the Holy Land. Carpathia and the False Prophet are cast into the eternal lake of fire.
According to LaHaye and Jenkins, it is God's intent "that the millennium start with a clean slate." Committing mass murder hundreds of times greater than the Holocaust, the Lord—not the Antichrist, mind you—makes sure that "all unbelievers would soon die."
One of Steele's colleagues decides he'll have to talk to God about what to do next. After all, now that the secular humanists are gone and only believers remain, America is a very, very sparsely populated country. But if enough people are left, he wonders, isn't this the perfect opportunity "to start rebuilding the country as, finally for real, a Christian nation?"
This is Craig Unger's second piece for V.F. His article "Saving the Saudis," from the October 2003 issue, evolved into the best-seller House of Bush, House of Saud (Scribner).
Illustrations by TIM SHEAFFER
A few Thoughts on Buddhism and Psychology
It appears that more and more interest in the relationship of psychology and psychotherapy to Buddhism has begun to appear in reading and discussion within the last ten years. It is not hard to understand why this is so, as Western psychology has been the source of contemporary religious vernacular, particularly in regards to Buddhism and Eastern spiritual traditions.
Based on the language used, it seems that psychology and Buddhism converge very neatly. This apparent convergence of approaches to the psyche rests on the assumption that there is a significant overlap between Buddhist and Western psychologies. I suggest, however, that this apparent overlap is for the most part created by what seems on the surface to be an identity of language and focus. Both traditions emphasize the importance of insight, are concerned with the individual, the nature of the psyche, and both deal with existential issues. However, it may be that there is very little overlap; that Buddhist psychology is profoundly different from Western models, and has been poorly understood in the attempt to appropriate what is a radically different ontology and view of reality.
This is important in a lot of ways. For one, if this distinction is not understood, meditators undertaking Buddhist practices (or psychotherapists attempting to incorporate Buddhism into psychotherapy) are likely to do no more than recreate the familiar and thus fall into a shallow and very limited practice.
Let's distinguish what Buddhist psychology is not. It is not a continuation of (Western) clinical psychotherapy or psychodynamic processes, nor is it a practical program geared towards adaptation to daily life.
What it is:
1. It is a practice that involves an inquiry into the essentially fictive, mirage-like nature of the self. What is unquestioned in Western psychology is a basic form of inquiry for the Buddhist. The self is not taken as a continuous, inherently existing structure, but as aggregations of discontinuous sensory data, which give the misleading appearance of stability and continuity. As such it is a psychology which is fundamentally an inquiry into ontology, into what is real. An investigation into the nature of the self leads inevitably to the investigation of that which lies beyond the self-structure, to Being rather than becoming.
2. It is a system with a clearly articulated goal or end point and an explicit path leading to that end point. The goal is Nirvana, the utter and complete extinction of all phenomena that obscure reality and lead to suffering. The path is a process of continuous inquiry into the true nature of experience, a process contained within a calm and stable mind.
Unlike psychotherapy, it is not a project of the wounded self. It is instead a deconstruction of the self. This is a central point, and one that seems to be easily misconstrued. Meditative practice and the philosophy and psychology that parallel it are not about becoming a "better person." To the contrary, the goal of meditative practice is to be free of the "person," insofar as this personhood stands in the way of a clear understanding and experience of being. It is about seeing through clinging to what the Buddha called the "doctrine of self." In Dogen Zenji's words, "To study Buddhism is to study the self; to study the self is to go beyond the self; to go beyond the self is to be enlightened by all phenomena."
This is no small project, and the implications are radical. As one person in my meditation group said, "This flies in the face of everything I've been doing my whole life!" To see beyond self is to glimpse a world that is very different from the one we take for granted. In fact, you could argue that Buddhism is radically counter-intuitive. I mean this in the sense that it is intuitively obvious that the world is flat, that the sun revolves around it, and that "I" am a substantial, autonomous, and continuous presence. However what if none of the above is true, and the conclusions drawn from the evidence of the senses can't be relied upon? What if things are not as they seem, and our entire way of explaining things is a product of profound ignorance?
Maybe it's better to start a discussion about Buddhist psychology after asking these questions. If these questions are not asked, we will most likely create conceptual models based on unquestioned assumptions about the nature of things. It is the function of Buddhist psychology and philosophy to question assumptions on the apparent nature of things and to provide an alternative corrective perspective based on actual meditative experience. Meditation is therefore to be seen as part of this process of inquiry into how we know what we know.
Buddhism has been described as a knowledge system based on discovery rather than a religion. This begins with the Buddha's warning not to take anything on faith, nor to subscribe to any belief system. This central dictum is often ignored by our tendency to unknowingly revert to the familiar process of setting goals and striving to achieve them. The kind of inquiry central to the meditative project is always going to be sabotaged by the unquestioned belief that meditation is about accomplishing something, whether it's quieting the mind or getting enlightened. This tendency to create goals and strategies is often embedded in the ways in which meditation itself is presented as a series of techniques that lead to predictable results. How are we to understand meditation if it is not about accomplishing anything? This is a question that cannot be answered by the self, because it is the self that creates goals, devises strategies, and struggles to attain them.
When we talk about Buddhist psychology we are talking about a system that goes beyond the self. It includes conceptuality and theory but goes beyond them as well. Unlike Western models, Buddhist psychology is not a distinctly separate category from philosophy, ontology, epistemology, or yogic practice. It is rather a different inflection that focuses on certain aspects of experience that other approaches may not emphasize as much. It is not a meta-psychology that seeks to explain what cannot be directly experienced; to the contrary, it is a system that for the most part is highly suspicious of conjecture of any kind. We could say that it is based on the analysis of conditionality, "which is free of the two extremes [of nihilism and eternalism] and devoid of an independent agent and experiencer." (Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Great Discourse on Causation)
This, Toto, is not Kansas. We are on unfamiliar ground here because the basic category of Western psychology, the "independent agent or experiencer," is seen here as the locus and source of all suffering. Modifying or adapting the self, gaining insight into the self-construct, establishing a relationship between the self and the Self, or resignation to a life of tolerable neurosis are simply beside the point. In fact, these strategies are seen as fundamentally wrong-headed. They are all wrong-headed because a fictive, confused self produces them all. This means that the methods we will use to try to escape suffering are the very ones that create suffering to begin with.
There is consequently an identity between suffering and what the Buddha calls the "doctrine of self." This suffering is caused by desire or attachment, this attachment is sustained by fixed views, and primary among these fixed views is the "skein" of unexamined assumptions and theories that we experience as a self. In the same way that we can mistake a coiled rope for a snake, these assumptions and theories operate to create the impression of "me" and "mine" that does not bear up under close examination.
Self-experience can be compared to a mirage in that upon first seeing it; it presents itself as something self-existent and real. Just as we see a lake in the desert and assume that it is what it appears to be, when we approach more closely, at some point it will evaporate. Stepping back from that perspective will lead to the "lake" now reconstituting itself. Only now, we see that it is a mirage of a "lake" rather than an actual lake. Even though it will re-appear as a "lake" again and again, we now know it for what it is. If we claim that we have discovered that the water does not exist, that is an absurd statement because the mirage has nothing to do with water. In the same way, when we approach the self in a process of sustained meditative inquiry, it will tend to reveal its true nature as a mirage by disappearing. When we suspend the investigation, it will reappear. To say that there is "self" is granting substantial existence to the mirage; while, on the other hand, to say there is "no self" is akin to claiming that the experience of a mirage is not real. As the Yogacara philosopher Vasubandhu put it, to say that there is no self is a denial, and to say that there is a self is a superimposition.
It follows that the "self" engaged by the therapist has to be understood for what it is. Some kind of on-going meditative practice is therefore a prerequisite. Since meditative experience is clarified in Buddhist philosophy, it is also important to become familiar with Buddhist thought and its history. Without this, Buddhist psychology becomes just another set of theories, assumptions and hypotheses. One that appears to be truer than other approaches, but still capable of producing confusion.
BUDDHISM IN CHRISTIANITY
A few months ago, I heard Jesus quoted "that even to have an angry thought" was as punishable as actually murdering someone. This idea seemed to have a direct correlation with the Buddhist idea of "mental volition", that even our thoughts create karma.
This seemingly obvious connection poses the question: what other teachings of Jesus Christ could be found mirrored in the teaching of Gautama Buddha?
There are three main types of literature on the subject:
1. First, books that date from the end of the nineteenth century which attempt to show
that there was Buddhist influence in the fertile crescent and in Greece during the years before the birth of Jesus. This speculation arose as a
result of the translations of Buddhist texts into European languages that occurred during the British colonialism of India. Scholars recognized the similarity in the stories of the births and life styles of Jesus and Buddha. It was also noted that many of their teachings were parallel.
In these seminal works there is much speculation about Buddhist influence in early Christianity.
These books are often scholarly works that use
sources such as the records of historians who were roughly contemporary with Jesus, and other texts: Biblical (Christian, Jewish), Greek and
Arabic, in an attempt show an historical connection between the two religious traditions.
2. The second type of literature is the recent surge in genre books that attempt to tie the two masters together as emanations from the same cosmic divine source. In this group there is even a fairly extensive body of literature that claims that Jesus went to India and there studied from Hindu and Buddhist masters between the age of thirteen and thirty. These are referred to as the "lost years of Jesus" and can be beautifully read in the "Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ" - a book that I gave my son Gregory when he became a Born Again Christian. I hope he has enjoyed reading it.
3. The third type of literature, which could be called, "Creating a Christian-Buddhist Dialogue", seeks to compare and contrast the teachings
of the two masters in an effort to bridge the gap between cultures and make to the world a better place.
This type of literature admits that certain elements within the two doctrines are similar..
Much of the early academic research that was done tended to center around the possibility of Buddhist influence in Palestine and in Greece
during the two centuries prior to the birth of Christ.
In India, around 270 B.C., the great king Ashoka ascended the throne, and after his conversation to Buddhism, he sent missionaries around the world to preach the word of the Lord Buddha. There are records, left by Ashoka, that indicate that "his missions were favorably received" in countries to the West.
There are also records from Alexandria that indicate a steady stream of Buddhist monks and philosophers who, living in that area, which
was at the crossroads of commerce and ideas, influenced the philosophical currents of the time.
There are strong similarities between Buddhist monastic teachings and Jewish ascetic sects, such as the Essenes, that were part of the spiritual environment of Palestine at the time of Christ's birth.
The Essenes, the Jewish tribe of which Christ was a member, were a monastic order that did not marry. They lived in the desert and were
very simple in their life styles. Just as Buddhist monks, they did not believe in animal sacrifice and were vegetarians. They believed in the pre-existence of the soul and in angels as divine intermediaries or messengers from God. They were famous for their powers of endurance, simple piety and brotherly love.
They were interested in magical arts and the occult sciences. John the Baptist was an Essene. His time of preparation was spent in the
wilderness near the Dead Sea. Jesus was greatly influenced by his stay with John the Baptist. Many of the basic tenets found in the teachings of
Jesus can be traced back to the ideas flourishing among groups such as the Essenes.
Were these groups indeed influenced through several centuries of dialogue with Buddhist monks who traveled through Palestine?
Before, during, and after the death of Christ, there were Buddhist missionaries who visited Greece, Egypt and other countries in the
Mediterranean area. One such visit is documented in 20 B.C. in Athens. In this account an ambassador from India was accompanied by a Buddhist
philosopher who burned himself (to prove some point of impermanence?). His tomb became a famous tourist attraction and is mentioned by several historians.
It has been argued that in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he alludes to this well known event when he writes that "though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing."
The fact that there was commercial trade between the Indian Subcontinent and Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and the countries of the Fertile Crescent, for almost 2500 years before the birth of Christ is well
Cuneiform records dating from 2400 B.C. describe shipments of cotton cloth, spices, oil, grains, and such exotic items as peacocks from thje INdus Valley region. Ideas as well as merchandise had been exchanged between the Middle East and India for centuries.
Pythagoris is said to have been influenced by Oriental ideas and a Greek prince, Seleucus
Nikator, shortly after the time of Alexander the Great, gave his daughter in marriage to the Indian sovereign and sent an ambassador, Megasthenes,
to the court of Chandragupta, who was the grandfather of Ashoka.
There were practitioners of Buddhism, living in the western parts of Askoka's empire who were from Greece and also from Palestine. This is known
because one of the famous edicts of Ashoka, carved on a pillar in what is now the country of Afghanistan, is written in both in Greek and Aramaic, the languages spoken in Palestine at the time.
Stories of Buddhist origin, and some of the basic concepts of Buddhism, were known in the West prior to, during, and after the time of Jesus. The
most famous Buddhist story that made its way into Christendom, is the tale of "Barlaam and Josephat," which enjoyed considerable notoriety during the Middle Ages and ultimately resulted in the canonization, in the sixteenth century, of Buddha, as a Catholic saint.
In the story of Barlaam and Josephat, which is a corrupted version of the word "Boddhisattva", was an Indian prince who was heir apparent to a throne
occupied by his father, a tyrannical idolater who persecuted Christians. At Josephat's birth prophets predicted his future greatness as successor to the king, but one wise man said that the prince would achieve greatness not as a worldly king, but because he would convert to Christianity.
To shelter his son, and prevent his conversion, the king kept him locked in the palace. Eventually, the young prince was allowed to leave the palace
and saw a crippled man, a blind man and a senile man, and so learned of life's darker side (that life is suffering?). Josephat soon met a monk named Barlaam, who converted him to Christianity.
The story continues that when Josephat went to search for Barlaam he had to suffer austerities
and was tempted by the devil to give up his faith. He eventually found Barlaam and the two lived as hermits until their deaths. Relics of these saints were worshipped in Europe and there were several churches built to Josephat in Russia, one in Vienna and in Portugal. As I said, they were canonized by the Catholic Church in the 16th century... Saint Josephat, the Boddhisattva, which is definitely a Buddhist title.
Anyone who knows the story of the life of the Buddha will see the exact repetition of the tale in the story of Barlaam and Josephat: The fact
that he was an Indian prince even provides the correct setting, the predictions at his birth of spiritual greatness, his early life spent locked in the castle and finally his exposure to people in pain and old age which led, in the case of the Boddhisattva, to enlightenment and in
the case of Josephat to conversion.
Even the austerities and temptations that they had to endure are parallel. There is no doubt that this is a Buddhist story transplanted and retold within a Christian context. The Buddhist origins of the story were obscured when the tale was retold in Europe, but earlier versions of the story exist in Arabic, which testify to the story's Buddhist roots.
The fact that Saint Josephat was very popular in Europe, where his relics were worshipped, is an ironic aspect of this borrowing theory of Buddhist influence on Christianity since some scholars theorize that relic worship is a Buddhist implant into early Christianity.
There are other Christian stories that have their origins in the Buddhist Jatakas Tales such as the conversion of the Roman general Placides, who was converted while hunting a beautiful deer.
There are numerous elements in Christian practices that could have originated from the many Buddhist missionaries who traveled from India
spreading the teachings of the Buddha.
Philosophically, Alexandria in Egypt was the center of early Christian thought. There is mention of a
teacher called Ammonius Sakka, who had a great influence on the thinkers of the first century of the common era. Some scholars speculate that
Ammonius Sakka could be a reversed form of "Sakya - Muni", one of the names of the Buddha, which means "the sage of the Sakya clan". (Sakya was Buddha's family name.)
This philosopher-teacher who believed in
reincarnation, has been called a Neo-Platonist. He was the teacher of Plotinus and Origen. Origen who was one of the early philosophers of the
Christian church whose writings were later expunged at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. At that time reincarnation was removed from the Christian faith by Emperor Constintine and a belief in the "heaven" afterlife, which Christians now hold to be true, was inserted.
What are some other points of convergence between the practices of Christianity and Buddhism?
There are a wealth of similarities: shaving
or cutting of the hair of monastic initiates, ringing of bells, domed basilicas, shared legends, the practice of confession, relic veneration, celibacy, rosaries, monasticism, and the burning of incense.
A comparison of the Sermon on the Mount with verses from the Dhammapada, yields a rich
collection of interconnections and similarities. Even if some of these similarities are synchronistic in nature and are not borrowed, nonetheless, there are still many elements that have distinctive Buddhist overtones and which are not found within the predominant Jewish practices of the time.
There are many stories about the life of Jesus and Buddha that are so similar that it is hard to believe that there was not some borrowing or merging of myths that occurred.
The story of the conception and birth of Christ in the Gospel of Luke has an uncanny resemblance to the birth stories of Buddha. In both cases the mother was a pure woman who had a vision and from this vision became pregnant with a extraordinary child, without the help of sexual
At their birth, each baby was surrounded by persons and events that marked them for greatness. Each was delivered outside while the mother was on a journey. Their births were both announced by angels/devas in the heavens.
It may be hard for us creatures of the twenty-first century to appreciate the role of angels, but previously, they played an important part in the scheme of things: bringing messages, making great spiritual announcement with pomp and splendor.
After the birth of Buddha a hermit sage, who had heard the celebrations of the angels, was told by them with great rejoicing that "In the city of Kaplilavastu, to king Suddhodana, a son is born. This boy will sit on the throne of enlightenment and become a Buddha."
In the Christian story, the angels appeared in great
awe-inspiring beauty and told the shepherds that a child was born that day who is Christ the Lord. The story of the conception and birth of Christ in the Gospel of Luke has an uncanny resemblance to the birth stories of Buddha.
In the Christian story, the
angels appeared in great awe-inspiring beauty and told the shepherds that
a child was born that day who is Christ the Lord. Both narratives stress
the fact that at the birth of the infant, along with the angels, holy
people came to pay homage to the savior who had descended into the world
of humans. In the Bible there is a story about the righteous man Simeon,
who was informed by the Holy Spirit that he "should not see death before
he had seen the Lord's Christ." Inspired by the Spirit, he came to the
temple on the day that Jesus was brought in for his naming ceremony, where
he took the child into his arms and said that he was destined for
greatness. Mary and Joseph marveled at the words of this old sage. In
the Buddhist story the hermit Asita performed the same role in announcing
to the amazed parents that this child was destined for spiritual
greatness. In both stories an elderly wise man was the first to inform
the parents that their sons were no ordinary boys.
The Biblical accounts of the birth of Christ are somewhat different in
Luke and in Matthew. In Matthew the account of the visitation by the Magi
is dealt with in great detail. These Magi were astrologers from the East,
where astrology had been a developed science for centuries. They
represented the pinnacle of foreign scholarly achievement; and it was
they, rather than the Hebrew, who were able to discern that the baby who
lay in the manger in Bethlehem was a very special child. The word "Magi,"
is a Persian word that named a class of learned men who sought to master
the occult sciences. This is the root of our word, Magic. Only later were
they referred to as kings, initially they were called Holy Men.
References to Magi in the Palestine of Jesus's day usually had negative
connotations, but in Matthew's account, the reference is quite positive.
Similarly, the infant Gautama was first adored by four divine archangels
who presided over his birth in the wooded grove near Lumbini. Later,
sages came to pay homage to the child and amazed his father. In both
stories there is a reference to a star that announces the birth of the
There are other similarities in the lives of these two great beings.
Some may say that this type of comparison is inevitable when great
spiritual leaders come into the world. However, some of the events in
their lives have quite a resemblance. Both Buddha and Christ were
precocious youths who confounded their teachers with their gifted
knowledge. Both began their spiritual quest at about the age of thirty.
Both fasted and prayed in the wilderness and both were tempted by the
devil while practicing these austerities. The setting of these two
accounts is almost identical as are the events. Both men were fasting
when tempted by the devil who tried to entice them into worldly pleasures
and trick them into using the magical powers that they possessed. Both
men overcame the temptation and soon left their seclusion and took up the
mission of a life of teaching and traveling. Jesus's life at this time
seems very much like the age-old life of an Indian mystic or holy man. He
traveled from village to village and lived off the hospitality of the
people of the village. There are some differences, but, nonetheless, both
Buddha and Christ got into trouble with the ruling aristocracies by their
deliberate blindness to social status and by taking food and refuge from
courtesans and prostitutes.
Both masters told their disciples to leave behind their homes and
families and to follow him. Both sent his followers out to preach their
message. Both were social revolutionaries who reacted against the
conservative elements of their time. Both put an end to animal sacrifice
which was popular in both Hinduism and Judaism. As you can see there are
great similarities in the lives of these two great beings. Both forgave
evil doers, both conquered death in a metaphysical sense. The earth shook
when each of them died. Their messages are also similar: they told their
followers to overcome anger, to practice non-violence, to "turn the other
cheek" to be pure of mind and body.
There is, as well, the school of thought that says that Jesus traveled
to India during the lost years of his youth. There is a temple in the
state of Kashmir that is dedicated to Saint Issa. The priests say that
Jesus traveled there two thousand years ago. Many of the miracles
performed by Jesus are similar to miraculous powers possessed by holy men
in India. Jesus even taught his disciples to perform these miracles such
as Peter walking on the water. There is a work by a Russian who lived at
the end of the 19th century, Nicolas Notovitch, who claims to have seen an
ancient document that told the story of Saint Issa and his return to his
home in the West and his subsequent violent death. These tales are
unsubstantiated and somewhat fanciful, however the priests at the Kashmiri
Temple to Saint Issa are devout and completely believe in the story.
There are also visionaries such as Edgar Casey who had similar visions of
Jesus. Jesus did adopt a remarkably Indian-like approach to wandering,
begging and preaching immediately upon beginning his public career.
There is, however, documented evidence that Buddhists traveled to the
region where early Christianity was developing. It must be remembered
that Christianity did not become the established religion for several
hundred years and actually it was not the accepted religion of the
European masses for almost a thousand years. During this period, when
church theology was being formulated, there was much discussion about the
true nature of the savior and many of the early ideas of the church were
discarded in favor of ideas that would support the establishment of a
centralized Church. These factors are a discussion for another time, but
suffice it to say that many scholars have tried to prove that the Councils
at Nicea expunged all references to reincarnation from the words of
Jesus. He was after all, influenced by the Essenes, who did believed in
transmigration of souls.
I realize that these ideas are heretical to some people. However to
me, they are fascinating. That Jesus was divine, that He was God made
man, I do not deny. I call Him an AVATAR, a Boddhisattva... but, I do not
say that He is exclusive in this role.
Buddhism in Christianity
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Barlaam and Josephat
The Three Marks
The Buddha taught that all things in life have three inescapable factors underlying them. To understand each of them at an experiential level is to come to a true knowledge of reality. These three ‘marks’ or ‘characteristics’ are: impermanence (or anicca), suffering (or dukkha) and not-self (or anatta).
One of the key aspects of the way Buddhism looks at the world is the recognition that all things are impermanent. Our own physical make-up, the world around us and in fact the whole universe is constantly changing – nothing is static. We are born, we grow old and we die. From moment to moment our mental and physical processes are in constant movement. This may seem an obvious point but what the Buddha taught was that we tend to try to ignore this fact.
We don’t want to face the truth that we are subject to change that we grow old, that we die. What many of us do at a subtle level is to cling to some notion of permanency. It is the clinging to this notion of permanency that in fact contributes to our dissatisfaction and suffering in life.
The Buddha taught that if we look at the world around us as it really is we will see that there is a great deal of suffering and dissatisfaction. Even people who are wealthy and privileged – just as he was in his childhood and early manhood – are not completely happy. When we look at suffering and impermanence together we can see that any happiness that we have in life is prone to change – it is the nature of things. We could be very happy for most of our lifetime but in the end we have to face the inevitability of physical decay and ultimately death. This suffering comes from craving for pleasure and a wish to avoid pain. It also comes from attempting to cling to things that are impermanent.
The first two marks of existence are relatively straightforward. The Buddha’s teaching on not-self is much more challenging and requires us to look at who we are as individuals in a radically new way. Unlike other religions, Buddhism states that there is no such thing as a permanent self or soul. Instead, each individual is made up of five factors that are subject to change. He referred to these as the five ‘heaps’ (or khandhas). These are:
1. material form (the body and its constituents), ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
2. feeling (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral), This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
3. perception (the operation of the senses), This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.
4. mental formations (thoughts but also decision-making), This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
5. consciousness (our sense of being alive). This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
These factors interact with each other and make up what we are as individuals. In no way, says the Buddha, should we think of these as constituting a permanent self. In training his disciples, the Buddha explained to them that a skilled and disciplined follower regards all as – This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.
He encourages them not to think that they will exist after death as permanent, everlasting, eternal. On the other hand, the Buddha did not teach that death is the end of things - the moment of death is the moment of rebirth. In one Buddhist scripture, the process is described in the following way: 'the first act of consciousness in the new existence is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence, nor is it another….Milk once milking is done, turns after some time into curds; from curds it turns into fresh butter, and from fresh butter into ghee. Would it now be correct to say that the milk is the same thing as the curds, or the fresh butter, or the ghee?'
What happens from life to life is a constant evolving – for better or worse, (depending on our actions). Just as we are not the same person as an adult that we were as a child, so we change from life to life, the quality of our circumstances determined by our previous actions. Note, however, that part of mental formations is volition or will. Within each personality there is ability to make decisions which are like a rudder directing the course of our lives. The decisions we make can be good or bad, but we have that freedom.
At the heart of Buddhism is the concept that one thing causes another. This idea of a causal connection can be found in a very special teaching peculiar to Buddhism known as 'dependent origination' (or paticca-sammuppada). In short, the origin of one thing is dependent on what preceded it. - there is a causal connection. This concept incorporates some aspects of the four noble truths, and the concepts of rebirth, karma and not-self.
According to this teaching there is a cycle of twelve links which show the process of being born, developing as an individual, dying and then being reborn. The cycle is as follows:
A. The Past
1. Ignorance. In a previous life an individual has lived in a state of ignorance, with a tendency towards craving. In other words, they have not reached Nibbana, the state of full enlightenment.
2. Karmic Actions. Consequently, actions for good and/or ill sow the seeds which will later come to fruition in the nature of the conditions one is born into.
B. The Present
3. Consciousness. With rebirth there is consciousness, an awareness of one’s existence.
4. Mental and Physical Existence. This is followed by the development of mental and physical characteristics.
5. Sense Organs. The sense organs now develop.
6. Senses Impressions. The senses begin to receive information about the world around them.
7. Feeling. There is now some judgement made on the nature of these sense impressions – pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
8. Craving. Now some desire for pleasurable feeling develops (and/or desire to avoid unpleasant feeling). This, once again, begins to sow the karmic seeds which will result in a future rebirth (see 1).
9. Clinging. Desire now turns into something stronger – attachment to pleasure and avoidance of pain. Further karma created.
10. Process of Existence. Being born, growing old and dying, the process which will determine future rebirth is now established.
C. The Future
11. Rebirth. One is reborn and the process begins again, leading to…
12. Death and Decay. The end of life, leading to number 3. With this relatively complex formula, the Buddha shows that nothing arises of its own accord; there is always an underlying cause or condition. As long as there is ignorance, karma will be created and a being will be reborn. And so this cycle continues.
The only thing that is ‘unconditioned’ or ‘causeless’ is the state of Nirvana. To achieve Nirvana is to bring this ongoing cycle to an end. With the destruction of ignorance, no more karma is created. This is removed by the destruction of craving (number 8), which the Buddha pointed to as the cause of suffering and the reason why we continue in the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Beatitudes--Their Significance And Meaning
They are simply stated, but are profound in meaning. They guide. They point. They teach. They show us the values that Christ cares about. These values if followed, can not only bring a believer into a state of peace and happiness, but also right into the Kingdom of God after our journey on this earth is over.
The Latin word for blessed is beatus, from which we get the word beatitude.
The beatitudes are found at Matthew 5: 3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As you read about each of the beatitudes you might look into your own heart and examine your feelings towards them. Are you trying to follow each one of them? I think you will find that you need a rather humble, almost a childlike attitude towards each one of them if you are to be successful in following them. In fact Our Lord mentioned many times about how we needed to become more like children in our attitude and in our thinking towards many of the things in this life. Two verses in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew are good examples.
Matthew 18:3 "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child, will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The First Beatitude
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The meaning of the word "poor" in Greek means one who has nothing and is completely empty. Was Jesus saying the economically poor are blessed? No, for there is no spirituality in poverty. Poverty in itself is not blessed, because the poor can be as arrogant and as ungodly and as lost as the rich. So what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It means that the poor are those who realize that they can never achieve salvation on their own and instead put their complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The poor in spirit are those who are not self-assertive, self-reliant, self-confident, self-centered, or self-sufficient. The poor in spirit are not baptized in the waters of self-esteem. They do not boast in their God given characteristics such as their birth, their family, their nationality, their education, their physical looks, their race, their wealth, or their culture. None of that matters. The poor in spirit are those who are conscious of their sins and know in their hearts that they are completely unworthy of the grace that a most holy and loving God pours down upon them. They realize that all their righteousness is, as Isaiah said, like filthy rags before a holy God.
So poor in spirit means that we come to God, conscious of our sins and our utter lack of righteousness. It means that we profess that we are totally unqualified to commune with, and have fellowship with God, and that we do not deserve any of the gifts that God is trying to bestow upon us. The poor in spirit realize that all our assets are actually liabilities before God, and that we should view these assets as Paul viewed them--as loss, as garbage, as rubbish.
It means that we have absolutely no hope of salvation without Jesus Christ. It means to realize that we are full of sin and in desperate need of God's grace and righteousness, and the poor in spirit realize that these can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ.
In Luke 15 we see how the prodigal son became poor in spirit. In his pride and arrogance he left his father's house, wasted his inheritance and fell into great need in some far away country. During a severe famine, this son had no job and nothing to eat. At that point, the text says, he came to himself. He went back to his father and said, "I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21). That is being poor in spirit.
We also see an example of being poor in spirit illustrated again in Luke 18 in the account of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is the story of a man who was confident of his own righteousness and who looked down on everybody else. Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed this about himself: God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of what I get.
The tax collector stood at a distance. He felt he wasn't even worthy to look up to heaven, so keeping his eyes on the floor he said, "God, please have mercy on me, for I am nothing but a lowly sinner." (Luke 18:9-14). That is being poor in spirit. What was the result of the prayers of these men? The Pharisee went home condemned, while the tax collector went home justified.
Only the poor in spirit will enter into the kingdom of God. Why? Because they come to God having full knowledge of their own lostness and their own sinfulness. They readily confess that they are full of guilt and are totally unqualified to enter into the kingdom of God. The poor in spirit are the ones who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The Second Beatitude
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
The person that mourns is the one who recognizes that he is a sinner before God. Such a person mourns over his various sins because he recognizes that not only do his sins greatly hurt our heavenly Father, he also realizes that he is empty of righteousness, and does not even begin to deserve salvation and the joys of heaven. This miserable, but repentant sinner, realizes that only through the grace of God does he have forgiveness and salvation. Jesus says such a person is blessed, and there is no greater blessing than to receive such divine approval. Those who are blessed in this way by God will see God and dwell with him forever.
Do you mourn for the many sins you have committed? No one mourns unless the Holy Spirit convicts him of sin and reveals to him that he is a violator of the laws of God. We must also realize that as believers we all have violated God's law but only true Christians, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, will realistically declare that not only are they spiritually bankrupt, but they are completely lost without Jesus Christ living in their lives. And only Christians will declare that they are by nature enemies of God, acknowledging that to sin means to set oneself against a holy God. The unbeliever on the other hand feels that this is nothing but foolishness, and he has no time for any of it. For the wicked refuse to take down such barriers to God as pride and arrogance. Psalm 10:4 "The wicked are to proud to seek God; God is in none of their thoughts."
Thus, the mourning of Christians referred to in this beatitude is not because of financial loss, terminal sickness, the death of loved ones, loneliness, a divorce, or some rejection being experienced. Christians mourn because they realize that they have sinned against a holy God and have brought dishonor to his name. And this dishonor of God's very name brings great mourning to the true believer. The true believer mourns when he sins because he knows that the sin just committed brings great pain and sorrow to God. And this mourning by the true Christian is the kind of mourning recorded by Paul in Romans 7:24, where he says, "What a wretched man I am!"
It is also the kind of mourning that brings unbelievable joy and hope to the believer. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 7:10 "For sadness in a Godly way makes for repentance that leads to salvation".
That's right, it is Godly mourning and sorrow that leads to repentance which brings salvation to those experiencing it. Godly sorrow causes us to loathe, despise, and repudiate sin, and this leads the believer to sincerely repent of those sins. Those who experience Godly sorrow truly forsake sin and turn to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the necessary steps to eternal salvation.
What is the promise to those who mourn? They will be comforted. Who will be comforted? Only those who mourn, meaning only those who repent. Only those who grieve over their sins under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and cry out to God, saying, "Woe is me! I am a sinner. I am unclean. I have sinned against heaven and against you. I have sinned grievously. My sin is so great". They will be the ones who will be comforted. Why will only such people be comforted? Because they alone know that Jesus Christ came to seek and save that which is lost. They alone look to the cross of Jesus Christ and realize that Christ died for their sins.
Using the prodigal son once again as an example, it tells us in Luke 15 of this young man who became very dissatisfied at home, and looked to the world for answers. This man left his father's house to go to a far country to experiment and find pleasure with sin, but soon the fun was over. He became famished, lonely, brokenhearted, and rejected by all. But by God's grace this young man came to himself, became sober and began to think clearly and Godly.
In verse 20 of Luke 15 we see this young man going back home. He was now a poor, wretched, miserable, naked specimen of humanity, but he was going home to his father. He mourned and wept as he walked, and when he reached his father, he said, "Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son. Just make me a servant of yours at the lowest rank, for I need to be comforted. Save me, for I am lost."
How did the father react to his son? He cried out in joy and then comforted him. The father hugged and kissed him and gave him a fine garment to wear. He told the servants to put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. He ordered a great celebration with music and feasting. And when the other son questioned why the father was doing these things, the father said he had the greatest of all reasons: "This son of mine was dead but is now alive; he was lost but now is found" (Luke 15:24). What awesome comfort this son now had.
The Third Beatitude
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.
The Greek word for meek, praus, was used to refer to domesticated animals. The word does not refer to a wild, unruly animal; it refers to a strong and powerful horse or an ox that was trained and disciplined so that it could be controlled by a human. The word meek used in Matthew 5:5 refers to a strong person who is under control--a God controlled person. A meek person is a man or woman of God whose strength is controlled by God. He or she is controlled by God in thought, word, will, emotion, and action. The meek man is one who submits, not to his own will or to the will of the world, but to the great and gracious will of God.
A meek man is not a weak man. He is not wishy-washy, effeminate or timid. He is not someone who you can walk all over. A meek man is not passive and spineless. In fact the meek man is just the opposite. The one who has put their faith and their trust in Jesus Christ will be meek before God, but mighty and bold before the world and before satan. To the sinful world and to satan the meek person will be far stronger than they are.
What makes a person meek? They see God. And they see God in everything. No one becomes meek unless they can see this infinite, personal, almighty, all-wise, all-holy God, and when they see God they are immediately humbled. When we are able to see God by faith, then that is the time when the Holy Spirit allows us to become meek. Thus the meek person does not rely on himself, saying, I can do all things. I have confidence in myself. After all, I am strong and able. No, the meek person says, I see God, and he is able and willing to help me. I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.
A meek person is the one who by faith sees God as great, and himself as nothing. And because of that, he submits to the righteous will of this great God. A meek person is the one who proclaims, "Not my will but Thine will be done." He submits to the will of his heavenly Father and does not argue with the Holy Scriptures where God's will is clearly revealed. Therefore, the meek believer that is being led by God is having this quality of meekness constantly being produced within him.
In Psalm 37:3 it says, ""Trust in the Lord and do good." Faith is trust. The meek person trusts the Lord, meaning he rests in God by entrusting his whole life to him. His whole being is resting upon the sure foundation of the almighty God. The meek man knows that his past, present and future rests in God. He has heard the gospel proclamation which says, "Come unto me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." The meek person who comes to Christ and trusts in him for his salvation is always at rest in God. Jesus Christ is his rest, no matter what circumstances he is facing.
A meek man is patient. He has a long view of life, knowing in the end it is not the wicked who win, but the meek. How can he be sure of this? The meek person knows that in the end God wins, and if God wins then the meek win. God himself tells us that the meek, not the wicked, will inherit the earth. The wicked may indeed possess the earth for a short time today, but the Lord tells us that when he comes back, the meek shall possess this earth. Psalms 76:9 "Then God arose to judgment, To save all the humble of the earth".
The Fourth Beatitude
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for Righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
To help us understand this beatitude we first have to ask ourselves, what is meant by righteousness? And righteousness means being in complete accordance with what is just, honorable, and Godly. Righteousness are those things that are upright, virtuous, noble, morally right, and ethical. You could say that righteousness is a life style that is in complete conformity to the will of God. It is a lifestyle that Jesus not only finds pleasing, but one that he approves of.
Jesus Christ is the one leading the righteous person through life. It is Jesus who is making the decisions that the righteous person will follow. For the righteous believer, all his daily actions, everything that he thinks about, every decision that he makes, everything that he reads and looks at, will be done the same way that Our Lord would have done them. The true believer will know immediately whether something is right or wrong, just or unjust, godly or ungodly. How could the true believer not know that something is wrong when the Son of God is living within him?
Jesus Christ who is dwelling within the righteous person is communicating constantly with the person's heart, conscience, soul, and spirit. The Lord is not going to let the believer just wander into sin? Jesus Christ will be talking to the believer long before the sin is even thought about. And while this is going on the Holy Spirit will be hard at work doing his guiding and his warning. This is why when a righteous believer sins, it winds up being extremely painful, usually leaving the sinner with great sorrow. Sin for the righteous believer is never worth the pain and dishonor he knows that he has brought upon the Lord.
For the true believer, righteousness saturates every single aspect of his life. And every Godly believer knows that he has Jesus Christ living on the inside of him leading and guiding him. Psalms 11:7 "For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteousness; And the upright will behold His face".
Hunger and thirst are appetites that return frequently and they require that they be met often during the day. Similarly the true believer calls for constant meals of righteousness to do his daily Godly work, just as the living body calls for its daily food. When a believer hungers and thirsts after righteousness he becomes a new man and this new man now bears the image of God. This new man greatly desires to do the will of God for he now has great interest in Christ and all that Christ said and promised.
To hunger and thirst after righteousness can only be perceived by persons spiritually enlightened, and who have our Lord Jesus Christ living and dwelling within them. This child of God not only has an earnest desire to fervently seek righteousness and thus lead a Godly life on a second to second basis, but he wants to be possessed by righteousness, he wants to constantly live in it, to be totally absorbed into it, to be completely saturated in righteousness, for he knows that this way of life is the Godly way of life. And a righteous life is what also fills the true believer with peace and joy. And because of their spiritual enlightenment they realize that nothing can be more perfect, more pure, and more pleasing to Our Heavenly Father then living a life that he totally approves of.
The Fifth Beatitude
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Mercy is love toward those that are miserable, those that are wretched, and those that need some type of help or assistance.
The merciful are those that are tender hearted and who truly feel in the deepest parts of their beings the pain and the suffering of those who need mercy. But most importantly is the fact that the merciful are those special individuals who go out of their way and make the effort to help. Having compassion on the those that are in any way hurting is only the first part of having mercy. Doing something about it, is the all important second part.
We as believers must show mercy to all men and we are to do this by both sympathizing with them and by taking care and tending to their needs. And we must do this with readiness and gladness, with affection and tenderness, always ready to give and to forgive. Our Lord instructs us to show the same type of mercy to others that he shows to each of us. He talked much about showing mercy and a good example is found at 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God".
Therefore, to be merciful as a Christian does not mean to perform isolated, occasional acts of charity. A Christian is to be habitually merciful, and all acts of mercy should be done in a thankful and cheerful manner. Just imagine how absolutely wonderful God would feel if in the act of being merciful he heard you say, "Praise be to you God for this opportunity that you have given me to help someone else in need. Thank you Father for letting me be of some assistance to another human being." So doing an act of mercy in a thankful and loving manner has to make God our Father just beam with joy.
The merciful are indeed those special people who love all men as themselves: The merciful truly believe that whatever mercy they desire from God, they in turn will show to all men everywhere. The merciful are the ones who realize that our Heavenly Father demands that we be merciful, and they also realize that our acts of mercy will be repaid a thousand fold. Mercy is extremely important to Jesus Christ and much of the Bible either directly or indirectly deals in some way with mercy and kindness shown to others.
This beatitude is also very concerned with mercy through the act of daily forgiveness. Of forgiving offenses that have been inflicted upon you, and in which you show mercy towards everyone who wrongs you regardless of the reasons and regardless of the circumstances. Our Lord demands that we forgive one another just as he is constantly forgiving you. Matthew 6: 14-15 points this out so very clearly. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses".
Many ask why should Christians be merciful? Well for one thing, God shows us mercy, not when we are good, but when we are miserable, helpless, wicked, ungodly, and powerless. He shows us mercy when we are his enemies and we are disobedient, unrighteous, dead in trespasses and sins, foolish, ignorant, suffering, and miserable due to the consequences of our sin. Yet God looks upon our misery and wretchedness and truly feels our pain and is very happy to extend his mercy to each of us. So instead of pouring out his just wrath upon us, he is compassionate toward us. He freely justifies us, forgives our sins, extends his mercy upon us, and fills us with his own righteousness. And that is one reason why we ought to be merciful every day to the miserable, the helpless, the wretched, and the needy.
Secondly, each one of us needs the mercy of God each and every day. We need to be aware that we are still miserable sinners, and because of that, we are still in need of God's mercy every single day. If we are honest and examine ourselves in the light of God's Word, then we will realize that indeed we do sin daily. And because we sin daily, we need God's forgiveness and mercy daily, and if God is willing to give us his mercy every day then we in turn should be happy to extend mercy to others also on a daily basis.
Another reason for having continuous mercy is that being merciful is a test of our Christianity. If you are not constantly being merciful then there is only one explanation. You have not understood the grace and the mercy of God and you are outside of Jesus Christ. We who have received God's rich mercy are merciful because the grace of God makes us that way.
The Sixth Beatitude
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Psalms 119:9 "How can a believer keep his heart pure? By keeping it according to The word of God".
Out of the hearts of men come all kinds of evil things. Everything from evil thoughts and greed, to slander and arrogance. All these evil things come from the inside of man, from his heart, and this evil from the heart is what makes man unclean. Two very good examples of verses that show the evil of the heart are below.
Mark 7:20-23 "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within the man, and they defile the man."
Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked".
Therefore, one of the most important questions that we can ask is how can we be truly pure in our hearts and clean of filth and sin? How can we be pure in our imaginations, in our thoughts, in our words, in our decision making, and in our desires? How can we think what God thinks, will what God wills, desire what God desires, hate what God hates, and love what God loves? In other words how can our hearts be pure hearts, free from sins like pride and envy, free from evil thoughts and evil deeds?
The truth is we can't do any of these things on our own. We can't reform ourselves. We can't self clean ourselves. Many people have tried to clean themselves. Some have tried to do this through asceticism or leading a life of complete self denial, or by other methods such as by going away from the world and living in solitude, or permanent silence, or by beating their bodies with whips and clubs, even by inflicting upon themselves all forms of degrading and unpleasant acts, even going so far as castrating themselves. They have tried to cleanse themselves through celibacy, fasting, and prayers. But such asceticism is not biblical and it will not result in purity of heart.
So the first point we must be aware of is this.
The path to a pure heart begins with the realization that we have impure hearts. The entire Bible revolves around the central theme that the Lord looks at the heart of the person and not at their external appearance, their behavior, or their achievements. The Lord does not acclaim education, intellect, business success, or social position, as the world does.
And the second point we must be aware of is this.
God must clean us. God alone is able to make rotten people pure in their imaginations, thoughts, words, deeds, and desires. The pure in heart are those who are free from evil desires and evil purposes. So if God is the only one who can cleanse us, then how does he do it? Well the Bible tells us that God has a plan to deal with the problem of sin infected hearts. God has a plan to save us and make us holy in thought, word and deed. And the plan is found in many places such as in Romans 8:29. Here God tells us that he wants "to conform us to the image and likeness of His Son". Thus God's plan is to make us like his own Son, like Jesus Christ. His purpose is nothing less than that we be pure in heart just like Jesus Christ is.
How does God clean and purify us? First of all, when we become born again and we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ and put our entire faith and trust in him, God will supernaturally regenerate us and give us a brand new nature, a new self. We become a brand new creation. He tells us what he is going to do to us at Ezekiel 36:26-27. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you".
And this all happens the very moment when you are saved, because when you are born again you indeed become a brand new person. A brand new person who is walking arm and arm with Jesus Christ on a road to spiritual purity, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and spiritual strength.
The Bible tells us that once we are saved and become born again then we are no longer living our lives by ourselves. Galatians 2:20 tells us, "It is no longer I that live, but it is Christ that is living in union with me". Now both you and Jesus are living your life together, and it is at this point that a number of very marvelous things occur. First of all you have a brand new spotless heart, one that is no longer saturated with sin. You also have Jesus Christ dwelling within you and you are united with Jesus Christ. You now believe fully and completely in our Lord Jesus Christ. You have also pledged your love, trust, and obedience to the Lord. And something else extremely important has occured and that is the Holy Spirit has decided to move in and take up residence within you. The Holy Spirit is the one who's going to guide you and teach you and show you exactly what to do and how to do it, in order for you to become pure in heart. All the believer needs to do is constantly and continuously keep their focus on Jesus Christ.
This beatitude tells us if we are pure in heart then we will see God. The reward for this beatitude is truly marvelous because when the believer becomes pure in heart, not only will they see God as they pass into heaven immediately upon their death, but they will see God right now, not with their natural eye, but through their spiritual vision, through their faith in Jesus Christ. For the pure in heart will see God in all his glory in every single thing that they see. To the pure in heart, God will become extremely visible.
The Seventh Beatitude
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
The peacemakers are those children of God who not only have great love for God, but also have love for all of mankind and they attempt to do everything possible for the advancement of peace everywhere. The term "peacemakers" includes all who make peace between men, whether as individuals or as communities. It includes even those who endeavor to make peace even though they fail.
The peacemakers are those who have a peaceful disposition because to make peace is to have a strong and hearty affection for peace. It is to love, desire, and delight in peace. The peacemakers also want to preserve the peace and when the peace is broken, then the peacemakers have a great desire to recover it as quickly as possible. The peace that God bestows upon his believers is in turn shared by the believers with the rest of mankind, so that the peace-receivers are transformed into peace-givers. Romans 14:19 tells us, "So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another".
One would imagine a person of this amiable temper and behavior and who strives for peace would be the darling of mankind. But our Lord well knew it would not be so, as long as satan was the prince of this world. We must realize that not only is satan a troublemaker, but all those who follow him are troublemakers. They all are enemies of God, opposing God in their thoughts, their wills, and their actions. The devil and his followers can be considered the true enemies of peace.
Many will tell you that the world's greatest need is for peace. But it appears that much of what man does today ends up in discord, dissension, and factions. Neighbors kill neighbors, complete strangers kill each other, brothers murder brothers, religious factions try to wipe each other out, tribes exterminate neighboring tribes, whole nations try to eradicate other nations, and on and on it goes. These horrible examples of hate all begin with the absence of love and having no desire for peace. And thus it seems as if hate in some form or another is the world's pastime and that peace is the last thing many people want. The children of this world love to fish in troubled waters, but the children of God are the peacemakers, they are the quiet in the land.
However peacemaking does not mean seeking peace at any cost, for the peacemaker realizes that peace at any price will usually end up in complete and total destruction. So a peacemaker is not an appeaser. He's not one who smiles a lot and doesn't take a position on anything. He is not one who has an easygoing personality and who is nice and flabby and can easily be shoved around. He's not a doormat. A peacemaker is one who through strength and Godly knowledge endeavors to establish a right relationship between estranged parties based on truth and righteousness.
The peacemakers realize that there is only one way that this world can have peace, and that is by trusting in Jesus Christ. What Jesus did on the cross was bring peace between not only God and man, but also between man and man. Christ's death tore the barrier of the veil at the entrance of the Holy of Holies from top to bottom and opened a way for us to have access to God, so that we can now come into the very presence of God and have peace with our Father. And when we are at peace with God, we will be at peace with all men.
By his death Jesus also destroyed another barrier, that dividing wall of hostility between man and his fellow man. Ephesians 2:14 "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall".
The reason we can love other people and have peace with them, including our enemies, is because Christ destroyed the hostility between man and man when he died on the cross. Colossians1:20 "And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross".
The Eighth Beatitude
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In this beatitude Christ pronounces a blessing on those who are being persecuted. But the persecution that they are suffering is not for misdeeds or evil acts, their persecution is for doing righteousness.
No, not for any crimes they have done, and not for being unrighteous and committing the acts of those who practice evil such as murderers, thieves, and all other acts of wickedness, but on account of their righteous and Godly conversation and Godly actions which in turn brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world. For by living righteously the believers separate themselves from the world and profess themselves not to belong to the world. The Godly life of true believers places a brand upon them that distinguishes them from the rest of the world.
There is much evidence that proves that more Christians around the world have been martyred for their faith in this century alone, than in the combined previous nineteen centuries of the church's history. In many countries today it is a crime to be a Christian. If you live in the United States, you may think that the idea of persecution of Christians is not very relevant today. We are not experiencing any real persecution here in this country. But as you look around in this country, you can't help but see many great evil inroads that have been made into destroying anything having to do with Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the laws of God. The greatest assault against Christianity have been the many laws that have been passed recently, all with the idea of suppressing Christianity in all areas of society.
Persecution in the United States at this time, frequently comes verbally, via the tongue, usually in the form of cruel mockings and reproachful language, or by deeds such as confiscation of goods, banishment from a group, or even in the workplace where one may be fired, demoted, or spoken against because of one's Christian faith. In today's society to tell others that you are a born again Christian who has put his entire faith and trust in Jesus Christ, is to bring on smirks and laughs, rude and disgusting comments, and alienation and retaliation.
If you doubt this then tell a group of your friends what the Word of God says about the homosexual lifestyle, and that God says that it is horribly wrong, and then tell them what the Bible says is going to happen to those who engage in it. Or tell a few of your fellow workers what the Bible says about murdering unborn children and that God considers it nothing less than an abomination. Then observe the response from these friends and fellow workers. I think you will see most of the time the seeds of verbal persecution beginning to form.
But why is their such persecution in the world, and why is God so offensive to so many? Because the Word of God is a stumbling block to ungodly people. The unbelievers that don't know Jesus enjoy sinning, in fact they revel in it. They enjoy partaking in as many sins as possible. Sinning is what gives them pleasure. To sin is to enjoy life. The reason why ungodly men persecute Godly men, is because of the spirit that the creator has placed within each one of us. When the unbeliever sins, the Holy Spirit is convicting the spirit of that sinner and this causes the sinner to know that he is doing wrong and that his actions are against the laws of God.
Of course this is all foolishness to the non-believing unrepentant sinner, but still the unbelieving sinner feels guilty and doesn't like that feeling, so it is rather easy for him to lash out at the believers of God, blaming them for making him feel bad. That is why the things of God and the beliefs of God are constantly being ridiculed and made fun of. The unbelievers are constantly attempting to destroy anything that has to do with God in a desperate attempt to do away with the source of their feeling bad. Throughout human history blaming someone else for their troubles has always been a very easy way out for a great many groups. So the sinner is an enemy of God and he is trying to fight back against God. And since the sinner can't get at God, he does the next best thing - he goes after those that follow God. Jesus told us in John 3:20 that, "Everyone who does evil hates the light," and in John 7:7 he declared, "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." This can all be summed up by another verse in the Book of John. John 15:20 "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."
The world hates Jesus because he is light, righteousness, and truth. They hate him because he reveals the wickedness of the people of the world, and they hate him because he exposes their evil. Jesus also told his disciples that they were his servants, and he told them just as he is telling us, that if the master is hated, then the servants of the master will also be hated. It's like someone who hates someone of a different race. Usually that person will also hate all others in that entire race. Or if a man hates his neighbor, he will usually also hate the man's wife and children. In fact it is sad to say but he will many times even hate those who come and visit that neighbor.
If you are not being persecuted, you should ask, "Why?" And the answer just may be that you are not living a Godly life. It is our Godly life that causes the other person to get heated up, upset, and unhappy. The truth is, everyone who lives a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. If no one is persecuting you, it is because you are not living the Christian life and shining as lights in the world.
In Luke 6:26 Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets."
When the world applauds, appreciates, and commends you instead of persecuting you, you can pretty well figure that you are no longer a true prophet of the Lord. When the world chuckles right along with you and pats you on your back, you can pretty well deduce that you are, in fact, a false prophet who always speaks smooth things created from your own subjectivity without hearing from the Spirit of the living God. Sadly, if you have no persecution in your life then that is probably just another way of saying that you have been absorbed into the world.
It is very true that persecution is the cost of being a Christian, because the believer must reckon upon hardships and troubles much more than other men. At first glance persecution looks to be a truly horrible experience. But even though persecution usually isn't pleasant, it does have a great many rewarding advantages, for when persecution comes into our lives then we must conclude the following:
That we have put our complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
That we can truly call ourselves Christians.
That we belong to the kingdom of God.
That we are righteous.
That we have been chosen by the Father and the Son.
That ours is the kingdom of God now and in the future.
That Jesus is truly our Lord and that is why we are being persecuted.
That our salvation is sure and certain.
That we are not false prophets.
That we are not worldly for the people of the world are not persecuted.
That we are in the very good company with many other saved Christians.
That we can know that we are truly born again.
That eternal life is ours.
The Origins of Christianity and
the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ
by Acharya S
Around the world over the centuries, much has been written about religion, its meaning, its relevance and contribution to humanity. In the West particularly, sizable tomes have been composed speculating upon the nature and historical background of the main character of Western religions, Jesus Christ. Many have tried to dig into the precious few clues as to Jesus's identity and come up with a biographical sketch that either bolsters faith or reveals a more human side of this godman to which we can all relate. Obviously, considering the time and energy spent on them, the subjects of Christianity and its legendary founder are very important to the Western mind and culture.
Despite all of this literature continuously being cranked out and the significance of the issue, in the public at large there is a serious lack of formal and broad education regarding religion and mythology, and most individuals are highly uninformed in this area. Concerning the issue of Christianity, for example, the majority of people are taught in most schools and churches that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure and that the only controversy regarding him is that some people accept him as the Son of God and the Messiah, while others do not. However, whereas this is the raging debate most evident in this field today, it is not the most important. Shocking as it may seem to the general populace, the most enduring and profound controversy in this subject is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed.
Although this debate may not be evident from publications readily found in popular bookstores1, when one examines this issue closely, one will find a tremendous volume of literature that demonstrates, logically and intelligently, time and again that Jesus Christ is a mythological character along the same lines as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian or other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths rather than historical figures2. Delving deeply into this large body of work, one uncovers evidence that the Jesus character is based upon much older myths and heroes from around the globe. One discovers that this story is not, therefore, a historical representation of a Jewish rebel carpenter who had physical incarnation in the Levant 2,000 years ago. In other words, it has been demonstrated continually for centuries that this character, Jesus Christ, was invented and did not depict a real person who was either the "son of God" or was "evemeristically" made into a superhuman by enthusiastic followers3.
History and Positions of the Debate
This controversy has existed from the very beginning, and the writings of the "Church Fathers" themselves reveal that they were constantly forced by the pagan intelligentsia to defend what the non-Christians and other Christians ("heretics")4 alike saw as a preposterous and fabricated yarn with absolutely no evidence of it ever having taken place in history. As Rev. Robert Taylor says, "And from the apostolic age downwards, in a never interrupted succession, but never so strongly and emphatically as in the most primitive times, was the existence of Christ as a man most strenuously denied."5 Emperor Julian, who, coming after the reign of the fanatical and murderous "good Christian" Constantine, returned rights to pagan worshippers, stated, "If anyone should wish to know the truth with respect to you Christians, he will find your impiety to be made up partly of the Jewish audacity, and partly of the indifference and confusion of the Gentiles, and that you have put together not the best, but the worst characteristics of them both."6 According to these learned dissenters, the New Testament could rightly be called, "Gospel Fictions."7
A century ago, mythicist Albert Churchward said, "The canonical gospels can be shown to be a collection of sayings from the Egyptian Mythos and Eschatology."8 In Forgery in Christianity, Joseph Wheless states, "The gospels are all priestly forgeries over a century after their pretended dates."9 Those who concocted some of the hundreds of "alternative" gospels and epistles that were being kicked about during the first several centuries C.E. have even admitted that they had forged the documents.10 Forgery during the first centuries of the Church's existence was admittedly rampant, so common in fact that a new phrase was coined to describe it: "pious fraud."11 Such prevarication is confessed to repeatedly in the Catholic Encyclopedia.12 Some of the "great" church fathers, such as Eusebius13, were determined by their own peers to be unbelievable liars who regularly wrote their own fictions of what "the Lord" said and did during "his" alleged sojourn upon the earth.14
The assertion that Jesus Christ is a myth can be proved not only through the works of dissenters and "pagans" who knew the truth - and who were viciously refuted or murdered for their battle against the Christian priests and "Church Fathers" fooling the masses with their fictions - but also through the very statements of the Christians themselves, who continuously disclose that they knew Jesus Christ was a myth founded upon more ancient deities located throughout the known ancient world. In fact, Pope Leo X, privy to the truth because of his high rank, made this curious declaration, "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"15 (Emphasis added.) As Wheless says, "The proofs of my indictment are marvellously easy."
From their own admissions, the early Christians were incessantly under criticism by scholars of great repute who were impugned as "heathens" by their Christian adversaries. This group included many Gnostics, who strenuously objected to the carnalization of their deity, as the Christians can be shown to have taken many of the characteristics of their god and godman from the Gnostics, meaning "Ones who know," a loose designation applied to members of a variety of esoteric schools and brotherhoods. The refutations of the Christians against the Gnostics reveal that the Christian godman was an insult to the Gnostics, who held that their god could never take human form.16
It is very telling that the earliest Christian documents, the Epistles attributed to "Paul," never discuss a historical background of Jesus but deal exclusively with a spiritual being who was known to all gnostic sects for hundreds to thousands of years. The few "historical" references to an actual life of Jesus cited in the Epistles are demonstrably interpolations and forgeries, as are, according to Wheless, the Epistles themselves, as they were not written by "Paul."17 Aside from the brief reference to Pontius Pilate at 1 Timothy 6:13, an epistle dated ben Yehoshua to 144 CE and thus not written by Paul, the Pauline literature (as pointed out by Edouard Dujardin) "does not refer to Pilate18, or the Romans, or Caiaphas, or the Sanhedrin, or Herod19, or Judas, or the holy women, or any person in the gospel account of the Passion, and that it also never makes any allusion to them; lastly, that it mentions absolutely none of the events of the Passion, either directly or by way of allusion."20 Dujardin additionally relates that other early "Christian" writings such as Revelation do not mention any historical details or drama.21 Mangasarian notes that Paul also never quotes from Jesus's purported sermons and speeches, parables and prayers, nor does he mention Jesus's supernatural birth or any of his alleged wonders and miracles, all which one would presume would be very important to his followers, had such exploits and sayings been known prior to "Paul."22
Turning to the gospels themselves, which were composed between 170-180 C.E.22a, their pretended authors, the apostles, give sparse histories and genealogies of Jesus that contradict each other and themselves in numerous places. The birthdate of Jesus is depicted as having taken place at different times. His birth and childhood are not mentioned in "Mark," and although he is claimed in "Matthew" and "Luke" to have been "born of a virgin," his lineage is traced to the House of David through Joseph, such that he may "fulfill prophecy."23 He is said in the first three (Synoptic) gospels to have taught for one year before he died, while in "John" the number is three years. "Matthew" relates that Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount"24 before "the multitudes," while "Luke" says it was a private talk given only to the disciples. The accounts of his Passion and Resurrection differ utterly from each other, and no one states how old he was when he died.25 Wheless says, "The so-called 'canonical' books of the New Testament, as of the Old, are a mess of contradictions and confusions of text, to the present estimate of 150,000 and more 'variant readings,' as is well known and admitted."26 In addition, of the dozens of gospels, ones that were once considered canonical or genuine were later rejected as "apocryphal" or spurious, and vice versa. So much for the "infallible Word of God" and "infallible" Church! The confusion exists because the Christian plagiarists over the centuries were attempting to amalgamate and fuse practically every myth, fairytale, legend, doctrine or bit of wisdom they could pilfer from the innumerable different mystery religions and philosophies that existed at the time. In doing so, they forged, interpolated, mutilated, changed, and rewrote these texts for centuries.27
Basically, there are no non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any known historian of the time during and after Jesus's purported advent. Walker says, "No literate person of his own time mentioned him in any known writing." Eminent Hellenistic Jewish historian and philosopher Philo (20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.), alive at the purported time of Jesus, makes no mention of him. Nor do any of the some 40 other historians who wrote during the first one to two centuries of the Common Era. "Enough of the writings of [these] authors...remain to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ."28 Their silence is deafening testimony against the historicizers.
In the entire works of the Jewish historian Josephus, which constitute many volumes, there are only two paragraphs that purport to refer to Jesus. Although much has been made of these "references," they have been dismissed by all scholars and even by Christian apologists as forgeries, as have been those referring to John the Baptist and James, "brother" of Jesus. Bishop Warburton labeled the Josephus interpolation regarding Jesus as "a rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too."29 Wheless notes that, "The first mention ever made of this passage, and its text, are in the Church History of that 'very dishonest writer,' Bishop Eusebius, in the fourth century...CE [Catholic Encyclopedia] admits... the above cited passage was not known to Origen and the earlier patristic writers." Wheless, a lawyer, and Taylor, a minister, agree that it was Eusebius himself who forged the passage.
Regarding the letter to Trajan supposedly written by Pliny the Younger, which is one of the pitifully few "references" to Jesus or Christianity held up by Christians as evidence of the existence of Jesus, there is but one word that is applicable--"Christian"--and that has been demonstrated to be spurious, as is also suspected of the entire letter. Concerning the passage in the works of the historian Tacitus, who did not live during the purported time of Jesus but was born two decades after his purported death, this is also considered by competent scholars as an interpolation and forgery.30 Christian defenders also like to hold up the passage in Suetonius that refers to someone named "Chrestus" or "Chresto" as reference to their Savior; however, while some have speculated that there was a Roman man of that name at that time, the name "Chrestus" or "Chrestos," meaning "useful," was frequently held by freed slaves. Others opine that this passage is also an interpolation.
As to these references and their constant regurgitation by Christian apologists, Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn says:
"The average Christian minister who has not read outside the pale of accredited Church authorities will impart to any parishioner making the inquiry the information that no event in history iis better attested by witness than the occurences in the Gospel narrative of Christ's life. He will go over the usual citation of the historians who mention Jesus and the letters claiming to have been written about him. When the credulous questioner, putting trust in the intelligence and good faith of his pastor, gets this answer, he goes away assured on the point of the veracity of the Gospel story. The pastor does not qualify his data with the information that the practice of forgery, fictionizing and fable was rampant in the early Church. In the simple interest of truth, then, it is important to examine the body of alleged testimony from secular history and see what credibility and authority it possess.
"First, as to the historians whose works record the existence of Jesus, the list comprises but four. They are Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus. There are short paragraphs in the works of each of these, two in Josephus. The total quantity of this material is given by Harry Elmer Barnes in The Twilight of Christianity as some twenty-four lines. It may total a little more, perhaps twice that amount. This meager testimony constitutes the body or mass of the evidence of 'one of the best attested events in history.' Even if it could be accepted as indisputably authentic and reliable, it would be faltering support for an event that has dominated the thought of half the world for eighteen centuries.
"But what is the standing of this witness? Not even Catholic scholars of importance have dissented from a general agreement of academic investigators that these passages, one and all, must by put down as forgeries and interpolations by partisan Christian scribes who wished zealously to array the authority of these historians behind the historicity of the Gospel life of Jesus. A sum total of forty or fifty lines from secular history supporting the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, and they completely discredited!"30a
Of these "references," Dujardin says, "But even if they are authentic, and were derived from earlier sources, they would not carry us back earlier than the period in which the gospel legend took form, and so could attest only the legend of Jesus, and not his historicity." In any case, these scarce and brief "references" to a man who supposedly shook up the world can hardly be held up as proof of his existence, and it is absurd that the purported historicity of the entire Christian religion is founded upon them.31 As it is said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"; yet, no proof of any kind for the historicity of Jesus has ever existed or is forthcoming.
It is evident that there was no single historical person upon whom the Christian religion was founded, and that "Jesus Christ" is a compilation of legends, heroes, gods and godmen. There is not adequate room here to go into detail about each god or godman that contributed to the formation of the Jewish Jesus character; suffice it to say that there is plenty of documentation to show that this issue is not a question of "faith" or "belief." The truth is that during the era this character supposedly lived there was an extensive library at Alexandria and an incredibly nimble brotherhood network that stretched from Europe to China, and this information network had access to numerous manuscripts that told the same narrative portrayed in the New Testament with different place names and ethnicity for the characters. In actuality, the legend of Jesus nearly identically parallels the story of Krishna, for example, even in detail, as was presented by noted mythologist and scholar Gerald Massey over 100 years ago, as well as by Rev. Robert Taylor 160 years ago, among others.32 The Krishna tale as told in the Hindu Vedas has been dated to at least as far back as 1400 B.C.E.33 The same can be said of the well-woven Horus mythos, which also is practically identical, in detail, to the Jesus story, but which predates the Christian version by thousands of years.
As concerns the specious claim that the analogies between the Christ myth and those outlined below are "non-existent" because they are not found in "primary sources," let us turn to the words of the early Church fathers, who acknowledged that major important aspects of the Christ character are indeed to be found in the stories of earlier, "Pagan" gods, but who asserted that the reason for these similarities was because the evidently prescient devil "anticipated" Christ and planted "foreshadowing" of his "coming" in the heathens' minds.
In his First Apology, Christian father Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) acknowledged the similarities between the older Pagan gods and religions and those of Christianity, when he attempted to demonstrate, in the face of ridicule, that Christianity was no more ridiculous than the earlier myths:
"ANALOGIES TO THE HISTORY OF CHRIST. And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Aesculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre?"
In his endless apologizing, Justin reiterates the similarities between his godman and the gods of other cultures:
"As to the objection of our Jesus's being crucified, I say, that suffering was common to all the aforementioned sons of Jove [Jupiter]... As to his being born of a virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that. As to his curing the lame, and the paralytic, and such as were cripples from birth, this is little more than what you say of your Aesculapius."
In making these comparisons between Christianity and its predecessor Paganism, however, Martyr sinisterly spluttered:
"It having reached the Devil’s ears that the prophets had foretold the coming of Christ, the Son of God, he set the heathen Poets to bring forward a great many who should be called the sons of Jove. The Devil laying his scheme in this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ was of the same characters the prodigious fables related of the sons of Jove."
In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Martyr again admits the pre-existence of the Christian tale and then uses his standard, irrational and self-serving apology, i.e., "the devil got there first":
"Be well assured, then, Trypho, that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah’s days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter’s] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, "strong as a giant to run his race," has been in like manner imitated? And when he [the devil] brings forward Aesculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ?... And when I hear, Trypho, that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving serpent counterfeited also this."
And in his Octavius, Christian writer Minucius Felix (c. 250 CE) denied that Christians worshipped a "criminal and his cross," and retorted that the Pagans did esteem a crucified man:
"Chapter XXIX.-Argument: Nor is It More True that a Man Fastened to a Cross on Account of His Crimes is Worshipped by Christians, for They Believe Not Only that He Was Innocent, But with Reason that He Was God. But, on the Other Hand, the Heathens Invoke the Divine Powers of Kings Raised into Gods by Themselves; They Pray to Images, and Beseech Their Genii.
"These, and such as these infamous things, we are not at liberty even to hear; it is even disgraceful with any more words to defend ourselves from such charges. For you pretend that those things are done by chaste and modest persons, which we should not believe to be done at all, unless you proved that they were true concerning yourselves. For in that you attribute to our religion the worship of a criminal and his cross, you wander far from the neighbourhood of the truth, in thinking either that a criminal deserved, or that an earthly being was able, to be believed God... Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses gilded and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it..."
The Jesus story incorporated elements from the tales of other deities recorded in this widespread area, such as many of the following world saviors and "sons of God," most or all of whom predate the Christian myth, and a number of whom were crucified or executed.33a
• Adad of Assyria
• Adonis, Apollo, Heracles ("Hercules") and Zeus of Greece
• Alcides of Thebes
• Attis of Phrygia
• Baal of Phoenicia
• Bali of Afghanistan
• Beddru of Japan
• Buddha of India
• Crite of Chaldea
• Deva Tat of Siam
• Hesus of the Druids
• Horus, Osiris, and Serapis of Egypt, whose long-haired, bearded appearance was adopted for the Christ character34
• Indra of Tibet/India
• Jao of Nepal
• Krishna of India
• Mikado of the Sintoos
• Mithra of Persia
• Odin of the Scandinavians
• Prometheus of Caucasus/Greece
• Quetzalcoatl of Mexico
• Salivahana of Bermuda
• Tammuz of Syria (who was, in a typical mythmaking move, later turned into the disciple Thomas35)
• Thor of the Gauls
• Universal Monarch of the Sibyls36
• Wittoba of the Bilingonese
• Xamolxis of Thrace
• Zarathustra/Zoroaster of Persia
• Zoar of the Bonzes
The Major Players
Although most people think of Buddha as being one person who lived around 500 B.C.E., like Jesus the character commonly portrayed as Buddha can also be demonstrated to be a compilation of godmen, legends and sayings of various holy men both preceding and succeeding the period attributed to the Buddha.37
The Buddha character has the following in common with the Christ figure:38
• Buddha was born of the virgin Maya, who was considered the "Queen of Heaven."38a
• He was of royal descent.
• He crushed a serpent's head.
• Sakyamuni Buddha had 12 disciples.38b
• He performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick, fed 500 men from a "small basket of cakes," and walked on water.38c
• He abolished idolatry, was a "sower of the word," and preached "the establishment of a kingdom of righteousness."38d
• He taught chastity, temperance, tolerance, compassion, love, and the equality of all.
• He was transfigured on a mount.
• Sakya Buddha was crucified in a sin-atonement, suffered for three days in hell, and was resurrected.38e
• He ascended to Nirvana or "heaven."
• Buddha was considered the "Good Shepherd"39, the "Carpenter"40, the "Infinite and Everlasting."40a
• He was called the "Savior of the World" and the "Light of the World."
Regarding the Buddhist influence on the gospel story, in 2003 Buddhist and Sanskrit scholar Dr. Christian Lindtner wrote the following:
"The Sanskrit manuscripts prove without a shadow of doubt:
"Everything that Jesus says or does was already said or done by the Buddha.
"Jesus, therefore, is a mere literary fiction.
• "The Last Supper was the Last Supper of the Buddha.
• "Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was baptism in the name of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Samgha.
• "All the miracles performed by Jesus had already been performed by the Buddha.
• "The twelve disciples of Jesus were, in fact, the twelve disciples of the Buddha.
• "It was king Gautama--not Jesus--who was crucified.
• "It was Tathâgata--not Jesus--who was resurrected....
• "There is nothing in the Gospels, no person, no event, that cannot be traced back to cognate persons, events or circumstances in the Buddhist gospels.
• "...Jesus is a Buddha disguised as a new Jewish legislator, teacher, Messiah and king of Israel.
"The Gospels, forming the foundation of Christianity, are, therefore, typical Buddhist literature, fiction, designed for missionaries whose language was Greek.40b"
Concerning the "crucifixion" of Buddha, as related in a Buddhist text dating to the first century BCE (Samghabhedavastu/ Mahâparinirvâna sûtra), Ken Humphreys states:
"In this story of 'Gautama, a holy man' our hero is wrongfully condemned to die on the cross for murdering the courtesan Bhadra. Gautama is impaled on a cross, and his mentor Krishna Dvapayana visits him and enters into a long dialogue, at the end of which Gautama dies at the place of skulls after engendering two offspring - the progenitors of the Ikshavaku Dynasty."
Humphreys further relates that "the dead Buddha is burned and it is the smoke of his corpse which rises - the true 'resurrection.'"
According to Dr. Burkhard Scherer, a "classical Philologist, Indologist and Lecturer in Religious Studies (Buddhist and Hindu Studies)" at Canterbury Christ Church University, the fact that there is "massive" Buddhist influence in the gospels has long been well known among the elite scholars. Says Dr. Scherer:
"...it is very important to draw attention on the fact that there is (massive) Buddhist influence in the Gospels....
"Since more than hundred years Buddhist influence in the Gospels has been known and acknowledged by scholars from both sides. Just recently, Duncan McDerret published his excellent The Bible and the Buddhist (Sardini, Bornato [Italy] 2001). With McDerret, I am convinced that there are many Buddhist narratives in the Gospels.40c"
Horus of Egypt
The stories of Jesus and Horus are very similar, with Horus even contributing the name of Jesus Christ. Horus and his once-and-future Father, Osiris, are frequently interchangeable in the mythos ("I and my Father are one").41 The legends of Horus go back thousands of years, and he shares the following in common with Jesus:
• Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave/manger42, with his birth being announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men.43
• He was a child teacher in the Temple and was baptized when he was 30 years old.44
• Horus was also baptized by "Anup the Baptizer," who becomes "John the Baptist."
• He had 12 disciples.
• He performed miracles and raised one man, El-Azar-us, from the dead.
• He walked on water.
• Horus was transfigured on the Mount.
• He was crucified, buried in a tomb and resurrected.
• He was also the "Way, the Truth, the Light, the Messiah, God's Anointed Son, the Son of Man, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the Word" etc.
• He was "the Fisher," and was associated with the Lamb, Lion and Fish ("Ichthys").45
• Horus's personal epithet was "Iusa," the "ever-becoming son" of "Ptah," the "Father."46
• Horus was called "the KRST," or "Anointed One," long before the Christians duplicated the story.47
In fact, in the catacombs at Rome are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis--the original "Madonna and Child"48--and the Vatican itself is built upon the papacy of Mithra49, who shares many qualities with Jesus and who existed as a deity long before the Jesus character was formalized. The Christian hierarchy is nearly identical to the Mithraic version it replaced50. Virtually all of the elements of the Catholic ritual, from miter to wafer to water to altar to doxology, are directly taken from earlier pagan mystery religions.51
Mithra, Sungod of Persia
The story of Mithra precedes the Christian fable by at least 600 years. According to Wheless, the cult of Mithra was, shortly before the Christian era, "the most popular and widely spread 'Pagan' religion of the times." Mithra has the following in common with the Christ character:
• Mithra was born on December 25th.
• He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
• He had 12 companions or disciples.
• He performed miracles.
• He was buried in a tomb.
• After three days he rose again.
• His resurrection was celebrated every year.
• Mithra was called "the Good Shepherd."
• He was considered "the Way, the Truth and the Light, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah."
• He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
• His sacred day was Sunday, "the Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
• Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter, at which time he was resurrected.
• His religion had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper."52
Krishna of India
The similarities between the Christian character and the Indian messiah are many. Indeed, Massey finds over 100 similarities between the Hindu and Christian saviors, and Graves, who includes the various noncanonical gospels in his analysis, lists over 300 likenesses. It should be noted that a common earlier English spelling of Krishna was "Christna," which reveals its relation to '"Christ." It should also be noted that, like the Jewish godman, many people have believed in a historical, carnalized Krishna.53
• Krishna was born of the Virgin Devaki ("Divine One") 53a
• His father was a carpenter.54
• His birth was attended by angels, wise men and shepherds, and he was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh.54a
• He was persecuted by a tyrant who ordered the slaughter of thousands of infants.55
• He was of royal descent.
• He was baptized in the River Ganges.55a
• He worked miracles and wonders.
• He raised the dead and healed lepers, the deaf and the blind.
• Krishna used parables to teach the people about charity and love.
• "He lived poor and he loved the poor."56
• He was transfigured in front of his disciples.57
• In some traditions he died on a tree or was crucified between two thieves.58
• He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.
• Krishna is called the "Shepherd God" and "Lord of lords," and was considered "the Redeemer, Firstborn, Sin Bearer, Liberator, Universal Word."59
• He is the second person of the Trinity,60 and proclaimed himself the "Resurrection" and the "way to the Father."60a
• He was considered the "Beginning, the Middle and the End," ("Alpha and Omega"), as well as being omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.
• His disciples bestowed upon him the title "Jezeus," meaning "pure essence."61
• Krishna is to return to do battle with the "Prince of Evil," who will desolate the earth.62
Prometheus of Greece
The Greek god Prometheus has been claimed to have come from Egypt, but his drama took place in the Caucasus mountains. Prometheus shares a number of striking similarities with the Christ character.
• Prometheus descended from heaven as God incarnate as man, to save mankind.
• He was crucified, suffered and rose from the dead.
• He was called the Logos or Word.62a
Five centuries before the Christian era, esteemed Greek poet Aeschylus wrote Prometheus Bound, which, according to Taylor, was presented in the theater in Athens. Taylor claims that in the play Prometheus is crucified "on a fatal tree" and the sky goes dark:
"The darkness which closed the scene on the suffering Prometheus, was easily exhibited on the stage, by putting out the lamps; but when the tragedy was to become history, and the fiction to be turned into fact, the lamp of day could not be so easily disposed of. Nor can it be denied that the miraculous darkness which the Evangelists so solemnly declare to have attended the crucifixion of Christ, labours under precisely the same fatality of an absolute and total want of evidence."63
Tradition holds that Prometheus was crucified on a rock, yet some sources have opined that legend also held he was crucified on a tree and that Christians muddled the story and/or mutilated the text, as they did with the works of so many ancient authors. In any case, the sun hiding in darkness parallels the Christian fable of the darkness descending whe The Creation of a Myth
The Christians went on a censorship rampage that led to the virtual illiteracy of the ancient world and ensured that their secret would be hidden from the masses64, but the scholars of other schools/sects never gave up their arguments against the historicizing of a very ancient mythological creature. We have lost the arguments of these learned dissenters because the Christians destroyed any traces of their works. Nonetheless, the Christians preserved the contentions of their detractors through the Christians' own refutations.
For example, early Church Father Tertullian (@ 160-220 C.E.), an "ex-Pagan" and Bishop of Carthage, ironically admits the true origins of the Christ story and of all other such godmen by stating in refutation of his critics, "You say we worship the sun; so do you."65 Interestingly, a previously strident believer and defender of the faith, Tertullian later renounced Christianity66.
The "Son" of God is the "Sun" of God 67
The reason why all these narratives are so similar, with a godman who is crucified and resurrected, who does miracles and has 12 disciples, is that these stories were based on the movements of the sun through the heavens, an astrotheological development that can be found throughout the planet because the sun and the 12 zodiac signs can be observed around the globe. In other words, Jesus Christ and all the others upon whom this character is predicated are personifications of the sun, and the Gospel fable is merely a rehash of a mythological formula (the "Mythos," as mentioned above) revolving around the movements of the sun through the heavens.68
For instance, many of the world's crucified godmen have their traditional birthday on December 25th ("Christmas"69). This is because the ancients recognized that (from an earthcentric perspective) the sun makes an annual descent southward until December 21st or 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and then starts to move northward again. During this time, the ancients declared that "God's sun" had "died" for three days and was "born again" on December 25th. The ancients realized quite abundantly that they needed the sun to return every day and that they would be in big trouble if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and reverse its direction. Thus, these many different cultures celebrated the "sun of God's" birthday on December 25th.70 The following are the characteristics of the "sun of God":
• The sun "dies" for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north.
• In some areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo, and the sun would therefore be "born of a Virgin."
• The sun is the "Light of the World."
• The sun "cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him."
• The sun rising in the morning is the "Savior of mankind."
• The sun wears a corona, "crown of thorns" or halo.71
• The sun "walks on water."
• The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass.
• The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12.
• The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30°; hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30.
• The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected.72
Contrary to popular belief, the ancients were not an ignorant and superstitious lot who actually believed their deities to be literal characters. Indeed, this slanderous propaganda has been part of the conspiracy to make the ancients appear as if they were truly the dark and dumb rabble that was in need of the "light of Jesus."73 The reality is that the ancients were no less advanced in their morals and spiritual practices, and in many cases were far more advanced, than the Christians in their own supposed morality and ideology, which, in its very attempt at historicity, is in actuality a degradation of the ancient Mythos. Indeed, unlike the "superior" Christians, the true intelligentsia amongst the ancients were well aware that their gods were astronomical and atmospheric in nature. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle74 surely knew that Zeus, the sky god father figure who migrated to Greece from India and/or Egypt, was never a real person, despite the fact that the Greeks have designated on Crete both a birth cave and a death cave of Zeus. In addition, all over the world are to be found sites where this god or that allegedly was born, walked, suffered, died, etc., a common and unremarkable occurrence that is not monopolized by, and did not originate with, Christianity.74a
Etymology Tells the Story
Zeus, aka "Zeus Pateras," who we now automatically believe to be a myth and not a historical figure, takes his name from the Indian version, "Dyaus Pitar." Dyaus Pitar in turn is related to the Egyptian "Ptah," and from both Pitar and Ptah comes the word "pater," or "father." "Zeus" equals "Dyaus," which became "Deos," "Deus" and "Dios"--"God." "Zeus Pateras," like Dyaus Pitar, means, "God the Father," a very ancient concept that in no way originated with "Jesus" and Christianity. There is no question of Zeus being a historical character. Dyaus Pitar becomes "Jupiter" in Roman mythology, and likewise is not representative of an actual, historical character. In Egyptian mythology, Ptah, the Father, is the unseen god-force, and the sun was viewed as Ptah's visible proxy who brings everlasting life to the earth; hence, the "son of God" is really the "sun of God." Indeed, according to Hotema, the very name "Christ" comes from the Hindi word "Kris" (as in Krishna), which is a name for the sun.75
Furthermore, since Horus was called "Iusa/Iao/Iesu"76 the "KRST," and Krishna/Christna was called "Jezeus," centuries before any Jewish character similarly named, it would be safe to assume that Jesus Christ is just a repeat of Horus and Krishna, among the rest. According to Rev. Taylor, the title "Christ" in its Hebraic form meaning "Anointed" ("Masiah"77) was held by all kings of Israel, as well as being "so commonly assumed by all sorts of impostors, conjurers, and pretenders to supernatural communications, that the very claim to it is in the gospel itself considered as an indication of imposture..."78 Hotema states that the name "Jesus Christ" was not formally adopted in its present form until after the first Council of Nicea, i.e., in 325 C.E.79
In actuality, even the place names and the appellations of many other characters in the New Testament can be revealed to be Hebraicized renderings of the Egyptian texts.
As an example, in the fable of "Lazarus," the mummy raised from the dead by Jesus, the Christian copyists did not change his name much, "El-Azar-us" being the Egyptian mummy raised from the dead by Horus possibly 1,000 years or more before the Jewish version.80 This story is allegory for the sun reviving its old, dying self, or father, as in "El-Osiris."81 It is not a true story.
Horus's principal enemy--originally Horus's other face or "dark" aspect - was "Set" or "Sata," whence comes "Satan."82 Horus struggles with Set in the exact manner that Jesus battles with Satan, with 40 days in the wilderness, among other similarities.83 This is because this myth represents the triumph of light over dark, or the sun's return to relieve the terror of the night.
"Jerusalem" simply means "City of Peace," and the actual city in Israel was named after the holy city of peace in the Egyptian sacred texts that already existed at the time the city was founded. Likewise, "Bethany," site of the famous multiplying of the loaves, means "House of God," and is allegory for the "multiplication of the many out of the One."84 Any town of that designation was named for the allegorical place in the texts that existed before the town's foundation. The Egyptian predecessor and counterpart is "Bethanu."85
n Jesus was crucified. This remarkable occurrence is not recorded in history but is only explainable within the Mythos and as part of a recurring play.
The Book of Revelation is Egyptian and Zoroastrian
One can find certain allegorical place names such as "Jerusalem" and "Israel" in the Book of Revelation. Massey has stated that Revelation, rather than having been written by any apostle called John during the 1st Century C.E., is a very ancient text that dates to the beginning of this era of history, i.e. possibly as early as 4,000 years ago.86 Massey asserts that Revelation relates the Mithraic legend of Zarathustra/Zoroaster.87 Hotema says of this mysterious book, which has baffled mankind for centuries: "It is expressed in terms of creative phenomena; its hero is not Jesus but the Sun of the Universe, its heroine is the Moon; and all its other characters are Planets, Stars and Constellations; while its stage-setting comprises the Sky, the Earth, the Rivers and the Sea." The common form of this text has been attributed by Churchward to Horus's scribe, Aan, whose name has been passed down to us as "John."88
The word Israel itself, far from being a Jewish appellation, probably comes from the combination of three different reigning deities: Isis, the Earth Mother Goddess revered throughout the ancient world; Ra, the Egyptian sungod; and El, the Semitic deity passed down in form as Saturn.90 El was one of the earliest names for the god of the ancient Hebrews (whence Emmanu-El, Micha-El, Gabri-El, Samu-El, etc., and his worship is reflected in the fact that the Jews still consider Saturday as "God's Day."91
Indeed, that the Christians worship on Sunday betrays the genuine origins of their god and godman. Their "savior" is actually the sun, which is the "Light of the world that every eye can see." The sun has been viewed consistently throughout history as the savior of mankind for reasons that are obvious. Without the sun, the planet would scarcely last one day. So important was the sun to the ancients that they composed a "Sun Book," or "Helio Biblia," which became the "Holy Bible."91a
The "Patriarchs" and "Saints" are the Gods of Other Cultures
When one studies mythmaking, one can readily discern and delineate a pattern that is repeated throughout history. Whenever an invading culture takes over its predecessors, it either vilifies the preceding deities or makes them into lesser gods, "patriarchs" or, in the case of Christianity, "saints." This process is exemplified in the adoption of the Hindu god Brahma as the Hebrew patriarch Abraham.92 Another school of thought proposes that the patriarch Joshua was based on Horus as "Iusa," since the cult of Horus had migrated by this period to the Levant. In this theory, the cult of Joshua, which was situated in exactly the area where the Christ drama allegedly took place, then mutated into the Christian story, with Joshua becoming Jesus.93 As Robertson says, "The Book of Joshua leads us to think that he had several attributes of the Sun-god, and that, like Samson and Moses, he was an ancient deity reduced to human status."
Indeed, the legend of Moses, rather than being that of a historical Hebrew character, is found around the ancient Middle and Far East, with the character having different names and races, depending on the locale: "Manou" is the Indian legislator; "Nemo the lawgiver," who brought down the tablets from the Mountain of God, hails from Babylon; "Mises" is found in Syria and Egypt, where also "Manes the lawgiver" takes the stage; "Minos" is the Cretan reformer; and the Ten Commandments are simply a repetition of the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi and the Hindu Vedas, among others.94 Like Moses, Krishna was placed by his mother in a reed boat and set adrift in a river to be discovered by another woman.95 A century ago, Massey outlined, and Graham recently reiterated, that even the Exodus itself is not a historical event. That the historicity of the Exodus has been questioned is echoed by the lack of any archaeological record, as is reported in Biblical Archaeology Review ("BAR"), September/October 1994.96
Like many biblical characters, Noah is also a myth97, long ago appropriated from the Egyptians, the Sumerians and others, as any sophisticated scholar could demonstrate, and yet we find all sorts of books--some even presumably "channeling" the "ultimate truth" from a mystical, omniscient, omnipresent and eternal being such as Jesus himself - prattling on about a genuine, historical Noah, his extraordinary adventures, and the "Great Flood!"98
Additionally, the "Esther" of the Old Testament Book of Esther is a remake of the Goddess Ishtar, Astarte, Astoreth or Isis, from whom comes "Easter"99 and about whose long and ubiquitous reign little is said in "God's infallible Word."100 Per Harwood (Mythology's Last Gods, 230), "Esther" is best transliterated "Ishtar" and "Mordechai" is "Mardukay." The Virgin Mother/Goddess/Queen of Heaven motif is found around the globe, long before the Christian era, with Isis, for instance, also being called "Mata-Meri" ("Mother Mary"). As Walker says, "Mari" was the "basic name of the Goddess known to the Chaldeans as Marratu, to the Jews as Marah, to the Persians as Mariham, to the Christians as Mary... Semites worshipped an androgynous combination of Goddess and God called Mari-El (Mary-God), corresponding to the Egyptian Meri-Ra, which combined the feminine principle of water with the masculine principle of the sun."
Even the Hebraic name of God, "Yahweh," was taken from the Egyptian "IAO."101
In one of the most notorious of Christian deceptions, in order to convert followers of "Lord Buddha," the Church canonized him as "St. Josaphat," which represented a Christian corruption of the buddhistic title, "Bodhisat."102
The "Disciples" are the Signs of the Zodiac
Moreover, it is no accident that there are 12 patriarchs and 12 disciples, 12 being the number of the astrological signs, or months. Indeed, like the 12 Herculean tasks and the 12 "helpers" of Horus, Jesus's 12 disciples are symbolic for the zodiacal signs and do not depict any literal figures who played out a drama upon the earth circa 30 C.E. The disciples can be shown to have been an earlier deity/folkloric hero/constellation.103 Peter is easily revealed to be a mythological character104, while Judas has been said to represent Scorpio, "the backbiter," the time of year when the sun's rays are weakening and the sun appears to be dying.105 James, "brother of Jesus" and "brother of the Lord," is equivalent to Amset, brother of Osiris and brother of the Lord.106 Massey says "Taht-Matiu was the scribe of the gods, and in Christian art Matthew is depicted as the scribe of the gods, with an angel standing near him, to dictate the gospel."107 Even the apostle Paul is a compilation of several characters: The Old Testament Saul, Apollonius of Tyana and the Greek demigod Orpheus.108
Was Jesus an Essene Master? 109
As regards Jesus being an Essene according to "secret" Dead Sea Scrolls, even before the discovery of the scrolls, over the centuries there has been much speculation to this effect, but Massey skillfully argued that many of Jesus's presumed teachings were either in contradiction to or were non-existent in Essene philosophy.110 The Essenes did not believe in corporeal resurrection, nor did they believe in a carnalized messiah. They did not accept the historicity of Jesus. They were not followers of the Hebrew Bible, or its prophets, or the concept of the original fall that must produce a savior. Massey further points out that the Essenes were teetotalers and ate to live rather than the other way around. Compared to this, the assumed Essene Jesus appears to be a glutton and drunkard. Also, whereas according to Josephus the Essenes abhorred the swearing of oaths, Jesus was fond of "swearing unto" his disciples.111 While many Essenic doctrines are included in the New Testament, the list of disparities between the Dead Sea Scroll Essenes and their alleged great master Jesus goes on.112
Qumran is Not an Essene Community
It should also be noted that there is another debate as to whether or not Qumran, the site traditionally associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls, was an Essene community. In BAR, previously cited, it is reported that archaeological finds indicate Qumran was not an Essene community but was possibly a waystation for travelers and merchants crossing the Dead Sea. In BAR, it has also been hypothesized that the fervent tone and warrior-stance of some of the scrolls unearthed near Qumran belie any Essene origin and indicate a possible attribution to Jewish Zealots instead. In Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, Norman Golb makes a very good case that the Dead Sea Scrolls were not written by any Essene scribes but were a collection of tomes from various libraries that were secreted in caves throughout eastern Israel by Jews fleeing the Roman armies during the First Revolt of 70 A.D. Golb also hypothesizes that Qumran itself was a fortress, not a monastery. In any case, it is impossible to equate the "Teacher of Righteousness" found in any scrolls with Jesus Christ.
Was the New Testament Composed by Therapeuts?
In 1829 Rev. Taylor adeptly made the case that the entire Gospel story was already in existence long before the beginning of the Common Era and was probably composed by the monks at Alexandria called "Therapeuts" in Greek and "Essenes" in Egyptian, both names meaning "healers."113 This theory has stemmed in part from the statement of early church father Eusebius, who, in a rare moment of seeming honesty, "admitted...that the canonical Christian gospels and epistles were the ancient writings of the Essenes or Therapeutae reproduced in the name of Jesus."114 Taylor also opines that "the travelling Egyptian Therapeuts brought the whole story from India to their monasteries in Egypt, where, some time after the commencement of the Roman monarchy, it was transmuted in Christianity."115 In addition, Wheless evinces that one can find much of the fable of "Jesus Christ" in the Book of Enoch116, which predated the supposed advent of the Jewish master by hundreds of years.117 According to Massey, it was the "pagan" Gnostics--who included members of the Essene/Therapeut and Nazarene118 brotherhoods, among others--who actually carried to Rome the esoteric (gnostic) texts containing the Mythos, upon which the numerous gospels, including the canonical four, were based. Wheless says, "Obviously, the Gospels and other New Testament booklets, written in Greek and quoting 300 times the Greek Septuagint, and several Greek Pagan authors, as Aratus, and Cleanthes, were written, not by illiterate Jewish peasants, but by Greek-speaking ex-Pagan Fathers and priests far from the Holy Land of the Jews."119 Mead averred, "We thus conclude that the autographs of our four Gospels were most probably written in Egypt, in the reign of Hadrian."120
As Walker said, "Scholars' efforts to eliminate paganism from the Gospels in order to find a historical Jesus have proved as hopeless as searching for a core in an onion." The "gospel" story of Jesus is not a factual portrayal of a historical "master" who walked the earth 2,000 years ago. It is a myth built upon other myths and godmen, who in turn were personifications of the ubiquitous sungod mythos.
"The Christ of the gospels is in no sense an historical personage or a supreme model of humanity, a hero who strove, and suffered, and failed to save the world by his death. It is impossible to establish the existence of an historical character even as an impostor. For such an one the two witnesses, astronomical mythology and gnosticism, completely prove an alibi. The Christ is a popular lay-figure that never lived, and a lay-figure of Pagan origin; a lay-figure that was once the Ram and afterwards the Fish; a lay-figure that in human form was the portrait and image of a dozen different gods."
Story of Jesus Christ
by Acharya S
Member, American School of Classical Studies, Athens
Scholar of Archaeology, History, Mythology and Languages
"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"
Pope Leo X
The story of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels is revealed to be nearly identical in detail to that of the earlier savior-gods Krishna and Horus, who for millennia preceding Christianity held great favor with the people in much the same way as Jesus does today.
Thus, the Jesus character is not unique or original, not "divine revelation." These redeemer tales are similar not because they reflect the actual exploits of a variety of men who did and said the identical things, but because they are representations of the same extremely ancient body of knowledge that revolved around the celestial bodies and natural forces. The result of this mythmaking has been The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold.
Contrary to popular belief, there was no single man at the genesis of Christianity but many characters rolled into one, the majority of whom were personifications of the ubiquitous solar myth, whose exploits were well known, as reflected by such popular deities as Mithra, Heracles/Hercules, Dionysus and many others throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.In this highly controversial and explosive book, archaeologist, historian, mythologist and linguist Acharya S marshals an enormous amount of startling evidence to demonstrate that Christianity and the story of Jesus Christ were created by members of various secret societies, mystery schools and religions in order to unify the Roman Empire under one state religion. In making such a fabrication, this multinational cabal drew upon a multitude of myths and rituals that already existed long before the Christian era, and reworked them for centuries into the story and religion passed down today.
While accessible to the reader, this book is scholarly, containing hundreds of quotes and 1200 footnotes in over 400 pages.
Excerpts from The Christ Conspiracy
From the very beginning of our quest to unravel the Christ conspiracy, we encounter suspicious territory, as we look back in time and discover that the real foundation of Christianity appears nothing like the image provided by the clergy and mainstream authorities. Indeed, far more rosy and cheerful than the reality is the picture painted by the vested interests as to the origins of the Christian religion: To wit, a miracle-making founder and pious, inspired apostles who faithfully and infallibly recorded his words and deeds shortly after his advent, and then went about promulgating the faith with great gusto and success in "saving souls." Contrary to this popular delusion, the reality is that, in addition to the enormous amount of bloodshed which accompanies its foundation, Christianity's history is rife with forgery and fraud. So rampant is this treachery and chicanery that any serious researcher must immediately begin to wonder about the story itself. In truth, the Christian tale has always been as difficult to swallow as the myths and fables of other cultures; yet countless people have been able to overlook the rational mind and to willingly believe it, even though they may equally as easily dismiss the nearly identical stories of these other cultures....
We have seen that there is no evidence for the historicity of the Christian founder, that the earliest Christian proponents were as a whole either utterly credulous or astoundingly deceitful, and that said "defenders of the faith" were compelled under incessant charges of fraud to admit that Christianity was a rehash of older religions. It has also been demonstrated that the world into which Christianity was born was filled with assorted gods and goddesses, as opposed to a monotheistic vacuum. In fact, in their fabulous exploits and wondrous powers many of these gods and goddesses are virtually the same as the Christ character, as attested to by the Christian apologists themselves. In further inspecting this issue we discover that "Jesus Christ" is in fact a compilation of these various gods, who were worshipped and whose dramas were regularly played out by ancient people long before the Christian era....
Horus of Egypt
"Egypt, the primeval seat of learning, was the high seat of Sun adoration. The Sphinx, with the face to the east, represents Harmmachus, young Horus, or the rising Sun. The orb is Osiris, the ruling god of day. In its descent it is the dying deity, going below to the land of Shades; but only to be resurrected as the victorious Horus, piercing the head of the dragon of darkness." James Bonwick, Irish Druids & Old Irish Religions
The Egyptian sun god Horus, who predated the Christ character by thousands of years, shares the following in common with Jesus:
Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men.
His earthly father was named "Seb" ("Joseph"). Seb is also known as "Geb": "As Horus the Elder he...was believed to be the son of Geb and Nut." Lewis Spence, Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends, 84.
He was of royal descent.
At age 12, he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptized, having disappeared for 18 years.
Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus or Iarutana (Jordan) by "Anup the Baptizer" ("John the Baptist"), who was decapitated.
He had 12 disciples, two of whom were his "witnesses" and were named "Anup" and "Aan" (the two "Johns").
He performed miracles, exorcised demons and raised El-Azarus ("El-Osiris"), from the dead.
Horus walked on water.
His personal epithet was "Iusa," the "ever-becoming son" of "Ptah," the "Father." He was thus called "Holy Child."
He delivered a "Sermon on the Mount" and his followers recounted the "Sayings of Iusa."
Horus was transfigured on the Mount.
He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and resurrected.
He was also the "Way, the Truth, the Light," "Messiah," "God's Anointed Son," the "Son of Man," the "Good Shepherd," the "Lamb of God," the "Word made flesh," the "Word of Truth," etc.
He was "the Fisher" and was associated with the Fish ("Ichthys"), Lamb and Lion.
He came to fulfill the Law.
Horus was called "the KRST," or "Anointed One."
Like Jesus, "Horus was supposed to reign one thousand years."
Furthermore, inscribed about 3,500 years ago on the walls of the Temple at Luxor were images of the Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Birth and Adoration of Horus, with Thoth announcing to the Virgin Isis that she will conceive Horus; with Kneph, the "Holy Ghost," impregnating the virgin; and with the infant being attended by three kings, or magi, bearing gifts. In addition, in the catacombs at Rome are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis--the original "Madonna and Child."
Shocking as it may seem to the general populace, the most enduring and profound controversy in the subject of Christianity is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed!
"Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it." C. Dennis McKinsey
"There is not a conception associated with Christ that is not common to some or all of the Savior cults of antiquity." JM Robertson
"The gospel story is an artificial, non-historical work. It has been fabricated from source materials that can be identified and traced to their incorporation into the gospels. There is not a particle of hard evidence that 'Jesus of Nazareth' ever existed.
What do these people know that the Church isn't telling you?
"Prayers offered up in Christian worship in the earliest days of the faith were addressed to 'Our Lord the Sun,' evidencing that 'primitive' Christians were quite in the spirit of Pagan forms and ideologies." Alvin Boyd Kuhn
"The Christian religion and Masonry have one and the same common origin: Both are derived from the worship of the Sun. The difference between their origin is, that the Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun." Thomas Paine
"The Sun has attracted the attention of mankind for adoration all over the world from the very beginning of human history. It has attained the position of pre-eminence among the deities of nature in ancient times. The prominence and glory of the solar orb, its beauty and splendour, its importance in the creation and maintenance of life, its regularity in diffusing light and enlightening the whole earth, its primal role in the cosmic evolution and consequent mystery surrounding it, had secured for the Sun a history of interest and importance equalled by none to which every age and every race has contributed its pages." V.C. Srivastava, Sun-Worship in Ancient India
Could it be that Jesus Christ is another mythical god in the long line of other mythical gods, like Hercules and Zeus?