Re: Theos-World Hi there, I'm Vince and I am new to the group
Mar 22, 2006 01:13 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Yes, I agree that we are in a similar boat, but got there in very
different ways. The three topics that my parents never discussed in
front of the children were religion, politics and race. So, I never
really discovered these things until I was about twelve--and then, on my
own. They then became subjects of primary interest. Since I had no
religious instruction from home, lived in a Jewish neighborhood, and
attended a public school where everyone was Jewish, I just half assumed
that I was a Jew, like everyone else.
As I entered my teens, I discovered the beatniks at Venice beach, and
used to hang around them. My mother became alarmed and decided that I
must be becoming a "juvenile delinquent" and began to take me to a very
conservative Lutheran Church. That was my first formal contact with
Christianity. I found the services and sermons curious. Lots of
mysticism about an invisible god, a ressurected man, and promise of an
afterlife if I believed the right things. The problem was that I didn't
feel like I was damned. I understood about right and wrong actions, but
this idea of "sin" was strange. Why should Eve's eating of an apple have
anything to do with me? After all, it was she who screwed up, not me.
Soon we began going to classes to learn about the religion. The notion
of original sin remain illogical. I couldn't buy it.
The Pastor spent most of his time talking about why Catholicism is in
error and how awful the Jew were. One night the Pastor told us that God
is only now beginning to forgive the Jews for killing Jesus. That was
the first time I ever heard such a thing and the remark deeply disturbed
me. All of my friends were Jews and I didn't find them awful at all. The
implication I got in the Pastor's remark, was that God must have been
pleased with Hitler's attempted extermination of the Jews.
So, other than the unfortunate encounter with the Lutheran Pastor, I
entered a study of Christianity with pretty much of a clean slate, and
began by reading, on my own, the New English Bible of the NT, which had
just been published for the first time. There I was delighted to
discover that the three wise men were called "astrologers." That
delighted me because I had recently discovered that my aunt practiced
astrology professionally, but out of respect for my mother's wishes,
never mentioned it to me. So, from the beginning, my investigation into
Christianity had no theological guidance, which left me to my own
resources to make of it what I could.
When the Nag Hammadi codices were published in translation around 1970,
I raced to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore and bought a copy. I then began
reading more scholarly commentaries on Christianity, Christian and
Gnostic texts, beginning with Elaine Pagel's writings. While all of
this was happening, I attended churches and talked casually to ministers
of various denominations. When we moved to Northern California, my wife
and I began attending the Unitarian Universalist Church where a member
with mainline Christian beliefs is not to be found.
So, like you I discovered that the Bible is misrepresented by a strange
theological structure, but took a very different route to end up in the
same place. When we started the Origins of Christianity class two years
ago, I discovered that there were a lot of barriers to communication.
Theological conditioning from years of church going was to blame. One
of them is as you mentioned: The Gospels read very differently from the
theological interpretations. One member or out group who was raised in a
conservative Christian home discovered this when we began studying
Judaism and investigating the Hebrew scriptures.
Some other barriers that met with considerable resistance were:
1. The Gospels were not written to be historical accounts of Jesus'
life. Rather, they are evangelical tracts written for the purpose of
gaining converts and to answer the objections of critics of the early
2. One must therefore, make a distinction between the historical Jesus,
the Jesus represented in the Gospels, and the theological Jesus.
3. There were, in the beginning dozens of Christian communities with
very divergent beliefs. Many of them had Gospels and religious writings
of their own. Most of these writings were destroyed after Christianity
was declared the only legal religion of the empire. That is, the
variety of Christianity adopted by the Emperor of Rome.
4. Since these other Christian communities, later called "gnostics,"
were outlawed and their writings destroyed, we know little about them
except through a few meager texts that survived, and through the
criticisms of the canonical church fathers.
5. The members of these other Christian communities considered
themselves to be just as Christian as those belonging to the sect
adopted by the Emperors.
6. Critical works of Christianity written by philosophers and other
learned people were systematically destroyed. All that survives are the
reconstructed writings of Porphyry, Celsus, and the preserved orations
of the apostate Emperor Julian.
7. Because of 4 and 6, our knowledge of the earliest history of the
Christian movement is fragmentary, biased in favor of the early Roman
church, and much is left to conjecture and theological manipulation.
I'm pretty much in a similar boat in my own kind of way. My
personal experience has been that I had formerly attended Christian
fundamentalist churches for many years, and so I am quite well
acquainted with Christian fundamentalist doctrines. However, a
vital inconsistency then occured. When I actually went and read the
Bible for myself, I began to find that it said things completely
different than what my former Christian fundamentalist teachers were
I therefore concluded that my former Christian fundamentalist
teachers were actually misrepresenting the Bible, even though they
claim that it infallibly validates their interpretation of absolute
truth. When I began asking the leaders questions about various
inconsistencies in their biblical interpretations, I was then deemed
a threat for asking too many questions which may potentially upset
the religious faith of their converts.
--- In email@example.com, Jerry Hejka-Ekins <jjhe@...>
Dear Vince,have to
I'm glad to know that you did not throw out the baby with the bath
water. There is a lot of value in the Biblical texts, but they
to be read from perspectives other than traditional theology. In
study group, we are into our second year of seminars on the
origins of Christianity. We began with the classical Roman, Greek
Egyptian religions, philosophical schools and cultures (we already
three years into the origins of Judaism and Kaballah). Now we are
looking at both the canonical and the gnostic texts in light of
prevailing beliefs of the time. What we discovered turns
ever learned in Sunday school on its head. We will be ending the
with an historical overview on Christianity's progress from the
the 6th centuries. Keep up your reading.insofar as they have deemed me to be a bit too sinful for them, due
to my metaphysical interests. I still read the Bible quite a bit,
even though some Christians have told me that I have no business
doing so, if I am not strictly aligned with their own belief systems.
Vincent Blazina wrote:
I've pretty much made a separation from the Christian groups,
Jerry Hejka-Ekins <jjhe@...> wrote:
I understand what you are going through with the Christian
out there. We live in a very conservative town in California
of the churches are evangelical in nature. But we have found lots
individuals within the community who have been quietly looking
kind of study we offer. It sounds like you already have developed
ties with those church groups over the years. Some may try to
difficult for you to separate from them. I will be very
learning how your situation progresses.
Hi there, I'm Vince and I am new to the group. I have recently
attending the Theosophical Society of Wheaton, Illinois for the
month, and have been enjoying the various teachings and
at that facility.
My life has been rich with metaphysical experiences, but the
Christian Fundamentalist churches that I had previously attended
twenty years got very judgmental towards me when I might venture
reference them. I also began finding many inconsistencies with
way that many Christians were representing the Bible, and my
questions about Christianity were often deemed dangerous to
I am looking for a place in the Theosophical Society wherein I
potentially freely discuss metaphysical issues as they directly
pertain to my life, with people who are more open to such
discussions. I am very well read with the Bible, although my
interpretations of it are more metaphysical versus orthodox.
I look forward to constuctive discussion with the people here,
would like to learn more about the Theosophical Society and it's
perspectives, insofar as many of them are brand new to me.
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