Sunday, February 3, 2013

Evil Fruit and the End of Religion

The Abrahamic God

Abraham is the father of three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Could these “children” be related? Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. Who is the Most High God? Could this Most High God be the Abrahamic God of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? What happens when a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim all pray to God? Do they all pray to the same God, and does He hear all their prayers?

The fact of the matter is that Jesus only met the messianic criterion of Priest by being of the order of Melchizedek and thus a priest of the same Most High God – not a priest of one people, the Israelites, but a priest of all people. I believe many Christians fail miserably in recognizing this point, believing they have a monopoly on God.

We are brought back to this question. How do we discover and follow - not the God of a single people - but the God of all people? How do we know and follow the Most High God?

We may very well be off the mark. In Luke 2:29-32 it clearly states that this Saviour is not exclusively for Israel only, but for all people – again tying into the idea of Jesus being a priest of the order of Melchizedek – a priest for all people.
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel.
 But this passage from Luke also states that He is to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” which is showing them the correct way and not necessarily representing them. However in John 10:11-18 (specifically 16) Jesus states something interesting:
”I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will leave the sheep because they aren't his and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he is merely hired and has no real concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice; and there will be one flock with one shepherd. The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For my Father has given me this command."

He is not just the Son of God, but the Son of the Most High God. Like Melchizedek, He is a priest (representative and mediator) of the “Most High God” – the God of all humanity. (Hebrews 7:1-28). This most definitely states that the God of Jesus' purpose is beyond that of only the Jews and beyond that of what will become only the Christians.

However the story of Jesus and the Faith of the Cananite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28) would seem to suggest quite the opposite. In verse 24 Jesus quite specifically states that “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. Which would seem to contradict this. How can we make sense of these statements? I find that in the analogy of the vine (John 15:1-2) can we make some sense:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. “

“…while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” The use of the word “every” is more than suggesting a plurality. Is Jesus saying that there could be more than one branch? Most definitely, but is He saying that these are individual people or various “ways” or beliefs? Is He identifying multiple faiths and religions? Again, this is not clear. However, if we take this vine analogy and view it in the context of a family tree we find some interesting results.

When we view the “family tree” of Israel, Jesus’ statement from Matthew 15:24 (“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”) takes on new meaning. The “lost sheep” of Israel becomes Jews (and eventually Christians) as both are from the “branch” of Israel. However, with this train of thought Muslims are not of the “branch” of Israel, but of Ishmael. But are not both children of Abraham? Could this be the “other sheep not of this sheepfold” (John 10:16)?

Ultimately it becomes an issue of whether the importance lies with a “religion” or faith being of “Israel” or of Abraham. There would seem to be evidence to support the value of being a monotheistic Abrahamic “faith”.

I believe Jesus, being a priest of the order of Melchizedek and representing man to the Most High God includes Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. I believe all have suffered serious corruption by the hand of man over the centuries.

Evil Fruit and the End of Religion

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:15-23, KJV
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them [false prophets]. Jesus gives direct instruction as to how to identify “false prophets”. Ultimately it is not by their words or teachings but by their actions and the results (fruits) of their actions. This forces us to carefully examine certain issues:

Islam has produced the Islamic extremist terrorists (who do not even follow the Quran 2:178 and 2:190. These verses clearly states that God does not love those who overstep the limits and that grievous suffering awaits those who do). So can we therefore say that Islam has produced “evil fruit” and condemn it to the realms of false prophets? There is some truth to this but it is somewhat of a blanket statement. The Islamic extremist terrorists are really not true Muslims, but nevertheless are still “evil fruit” of Islam. If we are to adhere to Jesus’ definition of “false prophets” and apply it to Islam, then by these same definitions we must begin looking at other religions.

Christianity has produced the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the overall eradication of the Central and South American Indians and the warfare and “conversion” of the North American Indians. The sexual abuse and pedophilia of the modern day Roman Catholic Church. The embezzlement and lying of certain Christian televangelists. There is no shortage of “evil fruit” in Christianity. And before we use the excuse that these were acts of individuals and not reflective of Christianity as a whole we need to revisit our thoughts and opinions of the previously mentioned Islam Extremists. I believe Christianity has produced “evil fruit” . I also believe that Jesus had no intention of beginning a new religion. If asked the question, Was Jesus Christ Christian, the answer would be, no.

Atheism (as a belief-system) has produced the Nietzsche-like belief or philosophy of the Nazi-party whose fruition was a World War and The Holocaust. I would very much like to meet an individual who would seriously state that this was not “evil fruit” .

Judaism becomes an interesting religion when viewed from this point of view. As mentioned in The Flawed Priesthood , it is not incorrect to say that Jesus was Jewish, neither is it completely true. Jesus was a Jewish heretic. Jesus systematically “disassembled” the Jewish priesthood and threatened its very foundation. It is obvious that Judaism was “off course” and in need or correction.

The genocide that the Israelites committed under the leadership of Moses (primarily in the book of Numbers) is most definitely questionable. The “commissioning” and building of idols (Nehushtan), the practice of animal sacrifice, the very existence of an elitist priesthood, and the aforementioned genocide should be highly suspicious and questioned as the product of “evil fruit” .

By Jesus’ own teachings and definition of “false prophets” Islam, Christianity, Judaism - and even Atheism - have all produced “evil fruit”.

I suppose - ultimately - the Pluralist believes all spiritual paths lead to God/Being itself/monistic substrate/Universal Consciousness/Ultimate Reality - call it what you wish - that all these traditions and paths are valid.

There are many days I think I'm a Pluralist because I believe there is invaluable wisdom within the great many beliefs and traditions out there... but I'm not sure this is correct. I believe there is a great wisdom within the people of these many beliefs and traditions.
I have come to see the great three Abrahamic traditions (not its people) as institutional branches of the same tree.
"No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves" Native American Wisdom
Not only have I moved beyond Christianity  but I have moved beyond that Abrahmaic faiths/institutions and abandoned the (concept of the) Abrahmanic God.

If all have produced “evil fruit” then what exactly is Jesus teaching? If none of these are correct or the truth, then what is the truth? The only conclusion I can come to is that Religion itself is “evil fruit” and as such Jesus’ teaching was not to create another religion, but to end all religion.
“If the cross is the sign of anything, it’s the sign that God has gone out of the religion business and solved all of the world’s problems without requiring a single human being to do a single religious thing. What the cross is actually a sign of the fact that religion can’t do a thing about the world’s problems – that it never did work and it never will…” Robert Farrar Capon, “The Mystery of Christ…and Why We Don’t Get It”, pg. 62

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