The light of non-duality and the path of love according to the life and teachings of Jesus. This comprehensive and crucial translation proves a much better way for Gnostics and Gnostic scholars to enjoy and understand the Gnostic scriptures. I invoke you, the one who is and who pre-existed in the name which is exalted above every name, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of the ages; give me your gifts, of which you do not repent, through the Son of Man, the Spirit, the Paraclete of truth.
Grant what no angel eye has seen and no archon ear (has) heard, and what has not entered into the human heart which came to be angelic and (modelled) after the image of the psychic God when it was formed in the beginning, since I have faith and hope.
Since you asked that I send you a secret book which was revealed to me and Peter by the Lord, I could not turn you away or gainsay (?) you; but I have written it in the Hebrew alphabet and sent it to you, and you alone.
I also sent you, ten months ago, another secret book which the Savior had revealed to me. He said, "Verily I say unto you, no one will ever enter the kingdom of heaven at my bidding, but (only) because you yourselves are full. The Savior answered and said, "For this cause I have said to you, 'Become full,' that you may not be in want. But I answered and said to him, "Lord, we can obey you if you wish, for we have forsaken our fathers and our mothers and our villages, and followed you. The Lord answered and said, "What is your merit if you do the will of the Father and it is not given to you from him as a gift while you are tempted by Satan? The Lord answered and said, "Verily, I say unto you, none will be saved unless they believe in my cross. Then I asked him, "Lord, how shall we be able to prophesy to those who request us to prophesy to them?
And when we had heard these words, we became glad, for we had been grieved at the words we have mentioned before. And when we had passed beyond that place, we sent our mind(s) farther upwards, and saw with our eyes and heard with our ears hymns, and angelic benedictions, and angelic rejoicing.
After this again, we wished to send our spirit upward to the Majesty, and after ascending, we were not permitted to see or hear anything, for the other disciples called us and asked us, "What did you hear from the Master. And when they heard (this), they indeed believed the revelation, but were displeased about those to be born. And I pray that the beginning may come from you, for thus I shall be capable of salvation, since they will be enlightened through me, by my faith - and through another (faith) that is better than mine, for I would that mine be the lesser.
Since you asked me to send you a secret book which was revealed to me and Peter by the Lord, I could neither refuse you nor speak directly to you, but I have written it in Hebrew letters and have sent it to you - and to you alone. Now the twelve disciples were sitting all together at the same time, and, remembering what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether secretly or openly, they were setting it down in books. The Lord answered and said: "What is your merit when you do the will of the Father if it is not given to you by him as a gift, while you are tempted by Satan?
Then I questioned him: "Lord how may we prophesy to those who ask us to prophesy to them?
And when we heard these things, we became elated, for we had been depressed on account of what we had said earlier. And when they heard, they believed the revelation, but were angry about those who would be born. That is the gospel of him whom they seek, which he has revealed to the perfect through the mercies of the Father as the hidden mystery, Jesus the Christ. And as for him, them he found in himself, and him they found in themselves, that illimitable, inconceivable one, that perfect Father who made the all, in whom the All is, and whom the All lacks, since he retained in himself their perfection, which he had not given to the all. This is the book which no one found possible to take, since it was reserved for him who will take it and be slain. Since the perfection of the All is in the Father, it is necessary for the All to ascend to him. Those whose name he knew first were called last, so that the one who has knowledge is he whose name the Father has pronounced. While his wisdom mediates on the logos, and since his teaching expresses it, his knowledge has been revealed.
Certainly, if these things have happened to each one of us, it is fitting for us, surely, to think about the All so that the house may be holy and silent for unity. He is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which had not strayed and went in search of that one which was lost.
Speak concerning the truth to those who seek it and of knowledge to those who, in their error, have committed sin. This is the word of the Gospel of the finding of the Pleroma for those who wait for the salvation which comes from above. This is the perfection in the thought of the Father and these are the words of his reflection. Who, then, has been able to pronounce a name for him, this great name, except him alone to whom the name belongs and the sons of the name in whom the name of the Father is at rest, and who themselves in turn are at rest in his name, since the Father has no beginning? Each one will speak concerning the place from which he has come forth, and to the region from which he received his essential being, he will hasten to return once again. When the totality went about searching for the one from whom they had come forth - and the totality was inside of him, the incomprehensible, inconceivable one who is superior to every thought - ignorance of the Father brought about anguish and terror; and the anguish grew solid like a fog, so that no one was able to see. This was not, then, a humiliation for him, the incomprehensible, inconceivable one, for they were nothing, the anguish and the oblivion and the creature of deceit, while the established truth is immutable, imperturbable, perfect in beauty. Thus, it had no root; it fell into a fog regarding the Father, while it was involved in preparing works and oblivions and terrors, in order that by means of these it might entice those of the middle and capture them.
For this reason, error grew angry at him, persecuted him, was distressed at him, (and) was brought to naught. As for the incomprehensible, inconceivable one, the Father, the perfect one, the one who made the totality, within him is the totality, and of him the totality has need.
As in the case of a person of whom some are ignorant, he wishes to have them know him and love him, so - for what did the totality have need of if not knowledge regarding the Father? After all these, there came the little children also, those to whom the knowledge of the Father belongs. Just as there lies hidden in a will, before it is opened, the fortune of the deceased master of the house, so (it is) with the totality, which lay hidden while the Father of the totality was invisible, being something which is from him, from whom every space comes forth. But those who are to receive teaching are the living, who are inscribed in the book of the living. Those whose name he knew in advance were called at the end, so that one who has knowledge is the one whose name the Father has uttered. This is the knowledge of the living book, which he revealed to the aeons at the end as his letters, revealing how they are not vowels nor are they consonants, so that one might read them and think of something foolish, but (rather that) they are letters of the truth, which they alone speak who know them. In 1945 a discovery of momentous proportions added to the canon of the lost teachings of Jesus. What Quispel held in his hand, the Gospel of Thomas, was only one of the fifty-two texts discovered at Nag Hammadi (the usual English translation of the town's name). Let's break down these strange yet revealing quotes that Elaine Pagels included in her introduction. There is no doubt whatsoever that Jesus knew that the Bible would be changed in the future both unconsciously and on purpose. A whole cottage industry of books has emerged revealing that Jesus did marry Mary Magdalene and that they had children. Give me authority when I ask you; give healing for my body when I ask you through the Evangelist, and redeem my eternal light soul and my spirit. And place upon me your beloved, elect, and blessed greatness, the First-born, the First-begotten, and the wonderful mystery of your house; for yours is the power and the glory and the praise and the greatness for ever and ever. But since you are a minister of the salvation of the saints, endeavor earnestly and take care not to rehearse this text to many - this that the Savior did not wish to tell to all of us, his twelve disciples. Yet, it was you who served me as a parable in parables, and as that which is open in the (words) that are open. But when he saw that we were distressed, he said, "For this cause I tell you this, that you may know yourselves. But we bent (our) knee(s), I and Peter, and gave thanks, and sent our heart(s) upwards to heaven.
Endeavor earnestly, then, to make yourself like them, and pray that you may obtain a portion with them.
Peace be with you from Peace, love from Love, grace from Grace, faith from Faith, life from Holy Life! And I was writing what was in my book - lo, the Savior appeared, after he had departed from us while we gazed at him.
For we have forsaken our forefathers and our mothers and our villages and have followed you.
But if you are oppressed by Satan and are persecuted and you do the Father's will, I say that he will love you and will make you equal with me and will consider that you have become beloved through his providence according to your free choice.
You have constrained me to remain with you eighteen more days for the sake of the parables.
For I am revealed to you building a house which is very valuable to you, since you take shelter under it; in the same way it will be able to support the house of your neighbors when theirs is in danger of falling. And we saw with our eyes and heard with our ears hymns and angelic praises and angelic jubilation.
For the name of the gospel is the manifestation of hope, since that is the discovery of those who seek him, because the All sought him from whom it had come forth. Thus, since it had no root, it was in a fog as regards the Father, engaged in preparing works and forgetfulnesses and fears in order, by these means, to beguile those of the middle and to make them captive. No one was able to be manifest from those who believed in salvation as long as that book had not appeared.
He went before them to their own places, from which they departed when they erred because of the depth of him who surrounds every place, whereas there is nothing which surrounds him. Like people who have moved from a neighborhood, if they have some dishes around which are not good, they usually break them. Having given its hand to the one lying prone on the ground, it placed him firmly on his feet, for he had not yet stood up. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. When their hope, for which they are waiting, is waiting - they whose likeness is the light in which there is no shadow, then at that time the Pleroma is about to come. For this reason, they who have been troubled speak about Christ in their midst so that they may receive a return and he may anoint them with the ointment.
It is he who, in the beginning, gave a name to him who came forth from him - he is the same one - and he begat him for a son. It is he alone who engendered it for himself as a name in the beginning before he had created the Aeons, that the name of the Father should be over their heads as a lord - that is, the real name, which is secure by his authority and by his perfect power.
And he want from that place - the place where he was - because he tasted of that place, as he was nourished and grew.
As for the rest, then, may they know, in their place, that it does not suit me, after having been in the place of rest to say anything more.
For this reason, error became powerful; it worked on its own matter foolishly, not having known the truth. Although he retained their perfection within himself, which he did not give to the totality, the Father was not jealous.
It is about themselves that they receive instruction, receiving it from the Father, turning again to him.
He has gone before them to their places, from which they had moved away, since it was on account of the depth that they received error, the depth of the one who encircles all spaces, while there is none that encircles him. While forebearance is a crown upon it, and his gladness is in harmony with it, his glory has exalted it, his image has revealed it, his repose has received it into itself, his love has made a body over it, his fidelity has embraced it. The tale of the Nag Hammadi scrolls would make a good movie script including murder and intrigue. Puech, using notes from another French scholar, Jean Doresse, had identified the opening lines with fragments of a Greek Gospel of Thomas discovered in the 1890's. Important teachings would be taken out such as: karma, reincarnation, the rigors of the Path, the Divine Feminine within and the importance of women, and the most valuable teaching of all, that we are all Sons and Daughters of God. The twelve disciples, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus and others were his chelas.
Two books on the subject are listed below, Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Bloodline of the Holy Grail. Various esoteric gnostic sects of Christianity throughout history have always held Mary Magdalene in the highest regard, even revered her. Lewis used to say that worship was a dance and liturgy is the only thing that enables true worship because without it, you have to learn the dance all over again every week and never actually get to dancing.As a Catholic, it is precisely the mysterious wafer and what some consider the pointless repetition of someone else's prayers that enables me to enter into the divine presence. Therefore, become seekers for death, like the dead who seek for life; for that which they seek is revealed to them. We heard with our ears, and saw with our eyes, the noise of wars, and a trumpet blare, and a great turmoil.
But I myself went up to Jerusalem, praying that I might obtain a portion among the beloved, who will be made manifest.
For because of what I have said, the Savior did not make the revelation to us for their sakes. Therefore, become seekers for death, just as the dead who seek for life, for that which they seek is revealed to them.
It put forth leaves and, when they budded, they caused the productivity of the date palm to dry up.
It sufficed for some persons to pay attention to the teaching and understand 'The Shepherds' and 'The Seed' and 'The Building' and 'The Lamps of the Virgins' and 'The Wage of the Workers' and 'The Double Drachma' and 'The Woman'. And many times I have said to you all together - and also to you alone, James, I have said - 'Be saved!' And I have commanded you to follow me, and I have taught you the response in the presence of the rulers. Now, then, you who are outside the inheritance of the Father, weep where it behooves you and grieve and proclaim that which is good, since the Son is ascending appropriately. We heard with our ears and saw with our eyes the sound of wars and a trumpet call and a great commotion. But I myself went up to Jerusalem, praying that I may obtain a portion with the beloved who are to be revealed.
You see, the All had been inside of him, that illimitable, inconceivable one, who is better than every thought. For this reason, the compassionate, faithful Jesus was patient in his sufferings until he took that book, since he knew that his death meant life for many. Having divested himself of these perishable rags, he clothed himself in incorruptibility, which no one could possibly take from him. For he who is ignorant, is deficient, and it is a great deficiency, since he lacks that which will make him perfect. It was a great wonder that they were in the Father without knowing him and that they were able to leave on their own, since they were not able to contain him and know him in whom they were, for indeed his will had not come forth from him.
Nevertheless the householder does not suffer a loss, but rejoices, for in the place of these defective dishes there are those which are completely perfect. He gave them the means of knowing the knowledge of the Father and the revelation of his son. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. For by the fruits one knows the things that are yours, that they are the children of the Father, and one knows his aroma, that you originate from the grace of his countenance. The deficiency of matter, however, is not because of the limitlessness of the Father who comes at the time of the deficiency.
Since they were in the depth of his mind, the Logos, who was the first to come forth, caused them to appear, along with an intellect which speaks the unique word by means of a silent grace.
He gave him his name which belonged to him - he, the Father, who possesses everything which exists around him. For the name is not drawn from lexicons nor is his name derived from common name-giving, But it is invisible.
But he is the one in whom I shall be in order to devote myself, at all times, to the Father of the All and the true brothers, those upon whom the love of the Father is lavished, and in whose midst nothing of him is lacking. It set about with a creation, preparing with power and beauty the substitute for the truth. It did not, however, cause destruction because it was eaten, but to those who ate it, it gave (cause) to become glad in the discovery, and he discovered them in himself, and they discovered him in themselves. Since the perfection of the totality is in the Father, it is necessary for the totality to ascend to him. It was a great wonder that they were in the Father, not knowing him, and (that) they were able to come forth by themselves, since they were unable to comprehend or to know the one in whom they were.
In this way, the Word of the Father goes forth in the totality, as the fruit of his heart and an impression of his will.
The priceless papyrus scrolls finally ended up on the black market then eventually found their way to the Coptic Museum of Cairo.
But the discovery of the whole text raised new questions: Did Jesus have a twin brother, as this text implies? To safe guard the teachings for future generations he taught the 'mysteries' and 'secret' teachings to the select few. He was a Lutheran minister in Germany; he came to America, got into contact with the Baptists, found in their teachings the truths that he had been groping for and, under great loss of position and trouble of soul, became a Baptist. This does not mean that the real Church's mission is to take the whole or even half the world to task.
Henceforth, waking or sleeping, remember that you have seen the Son of Man, and spoken with him in person, and listened to him in person. Hence, just as it is good that you be in want and, conversely, bad that you be full, so he who is full is in want, and he who is in want does not become full as he who is in want becomes full, and he who has been filled, in turn attains due perfection. And when it had ripened, it scattered its fruit and again filled the field with ears for another year. We do, indeed, proclaim a portion with those for whom the proclamation was made - those whom the Lord has made his sons.
But it is you who were to me a parable in parables and what is apparent in what are open. Thus it is also with the fruit which came from this single root; when the fruit was picked, fruits were collected by many harvesters. Observe that I have descended, and I have spoken, and I have troubled myself, and I have received my crown, when I saved you. In truth I say to you, had it been to those who would listen to me that I was sent, and had it been with them that I was to speak, I would have never descended upon the earth.
And when it ripened, it scattered its fruit and, in turn, filled the field with ears of grain for another year.
For, even if the Aeon had received their perfection, they would not have been able to approach the perfection of the Father, because he retained their perfection in himself, giving it to them as a way to return to him and as a knowledge unique in perfection. Just as in the case of a will which has not yet been opened, for the fortune of the deceased master of the house is hidden, so also in the case of the All which had been hidden as long as the Father of the All was invisible and unique in himself, in whom every space has its source. Since the perfection of the All is in the Father, it is necessary for the All to ascend to him and for each one to get the things which are his. For he who remains ignorant until the end is a creature of forgetfulness and will perish with it.
For he revealed it as a knowledge with which all its emanations agree, namely, the knowledge of the living book which he revealed to the Aeons at last as his letters, displaying to them that these are not merely vowels nor consonants, so that one may read them and think of something void of meaning; on the contrary, they are letters which convey the truth. For this is the judgement which has come from above and which has judged every person, a drawn two-edged sword cutting on this side and that.
Since there had been fear and confusion and a lack of confidence and doublemindness and division, there were many illusions which were conceived by him, the foregoing, as well as empty ignorance - as if they were fast asleep and found themselves a prey to troubled dreams.
For when they saw it and listened to it, he permitted them to take a taste of and to smell and to grasp the beloved son.
The moment he finds the one, however, the whole number is transferred to the right hand.
Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells.
For forgiveness is that which remains for the light in the deficiency, the word of the pleroma. He did not, you see, get the name on loan, as in the case of others because of the form in which each one of them is going to be created.
All the emanations from the Father, therefore, are Pleromas, and all his emanations have their roots in the one who caused them all to grow from himself. It is they who manifest themselves truly since they are in that true and eternal life and speak of the perfect light filled with the seed of the Father, and which is in his heart and in the Pleroma, while his Spirit rejoices in it and glorifies him in whom it was, because the Father is good.
There was manifested in their heart the living book of the living - the one written in the thought and the mind of the Father, which from before the foundation of the totality was within his incomprehensibility - that (book) which no one was able to take, since it remains for the one who will take it to be slain. For he who is ignorant until the end is a creature of oblivion, and he will vanish along with it.
For if his will had not thus emerged from him - for he revealed it in view of a knowledge in which all its emanations concur. They were intended to not only transmit this information personally, to those they met on their travels but also to future generations as they reincarnated down through the centuries.
Therefore, maybe the so called virgin birth was a myth concocted later to further remove Jesus from us.
If we do not become one with the light and love of God within our hearts but instead turn to darker emotions then that negativity will become an anathema to the Christ within. Continuing, if we drink from the same fount as He did, the bubbling stream of light that is the Christ consciousness, then we will become like him.
If he had remained a Lutheran minister in Germany, I should probably not be a Baptist minister in America. It would be the servant of quite a different Master if it were to set itself up as the accuser of its brethren. Woe to those who have seen the Son of Man; blessed will they be who have not seen the man, and they who have not consorted with him, and they who have not spoken with him, and they who have not listened to anything from him; yours is life! It would indeed be good if it were possible to produce these new plants now; for then you would find the Kingdom. You also: be zealous to reap for yourselves an ear of life, in order that you may be filled with the Kingdom.
It was in a fashioned form while it was preparing, in power and in beauty, the equivalent of truth.
He is the one who set the All in order and in whom the All existed and whom the All lacked. Either there is a place to which they flee, or they lack strength as they come, having pursued unspecified things.
For he came in the likeness of flesh and nothing blocked his way because it was incorruptible and unrestrainable. Thus it is with him who lacks the one, that is, the entire right hand which attracts that in which it is deficient, seizes it from the left side and transfers it to the right. For there are no nostrils which smell the aroma, but it is the Spirit which possesses the sense of smell and it draws it for itself to itself and sinks into the aroma of the Father. For the physician hurries to the place in which there is sickness, because that is the desire which he has.
It happened, then, that it was the first to come forth - at the moment pleasing to the will of him who desired it; and it is in the will that the Father is at rest and with which he is pleased.
But what comes into existence in him is knowledge, which appeared in order that oblivion might vanish and the Father might be known. He retains within himself their perfection, granting it to them as a return to him, and a perfectly unitary knowledge. No one could have become manifest from among those who have believed in salvation unless that book had appeared.


Having stripped himself of the perishable rags, he put on imperishability, which no one can possibly take away from him.
If not, how is it that these miserable ones have no name, (that) they do not have the call? According to its title, it contained the Gospel According to Thomas; yet, unlike the gospels of the New Testament, this text identified itself as a secret gospel.
They were western tertons (buddhists monks and lamas who were with Padma Sambhava a few centuries after Issa left Tibet and who were told they would reincarnate in this age with Padma Sambhava's message). If Jesus was born like Judas Thomas and you and I, then we all have a chance to be Sons and Daughters of God.
To put it another way, nearly every person who goes through the near death experience and is able to remember, finds out that God and the Spiritual Heirarchies do not judge them. According to esoteric teaching brought forth not so long ago, either by the Summit Lighthouse, The Bridge to Freedom or possibly, The I Am Movement; Mary Magdalene was Jesus' Twin Flame. There is no use in denying that our family relations and the training of our childhood exert a very strong influence on all of us and determine our religious affiliations for us.
Its mission is not to say 'No', but to say 'Yes'; a strong 'Yes' to the God who, because there are 'godless' men, has not thought and does not think of becoming a 'manless' Goda€”and a strong 'Yes' to man, for whom, with no exception, Jesus Christ died and rose again. Verily, I say unto you, none of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom belongs to those who put themselves to death. Why are you disturbed when you cast yourselves away of your own accord and separate yourselves from your city? Therefore, it is fitting to be diminished while you can still be filled, and to be filled while it is still possible to be diminished, in order that you can fill yourselves the more.
And when I found that your houses had no ceilings over them, I dwelt in houses which would be able to receive me when I descended. You who are, make yourselves like those who are not, in order that you may come to be with those who are not.
What exists in him is knowledge, which was revealed so that forgetfulness might be destroyed and that they might know the Father, Since forgetfulness existed because they did not know the Father, if they then come to know the Father, from that moment on forgetfulness will cease to exist.
As one of whom some have no knowledge, he desires that they know him and that they love him. But those who are to be taught, the living who are inscribed in the book of the living, learn for themselves, receiving instructions from the Father, turning to him again.
Each letter is a perfect truth like a perfect book, for they are letters written by the hand of the unity, since the Father wrote them for the Aeons, so that they by means of his letters might come to know the Father.
They knew that they had not yet received form nor had they yet received a name, every one of which the Father produces. He is, indeed, the place for it, and he takes it to the place from which it has come, in the first aroma which is cold. It is a matter of falling down and a matter of being readily set upright at the finding of that one who has come to him who will turn back.
The sick man is in a deficient condition, but he does not hide himself because the physician possesses that which he lacks.
But when an anointing is finished, the vessel is usually empty, and the cause of its deficiency is the consumption of its ointment. The name, however, is invisible, for it alone is the mystery of the invisible about to come to ears completely filled with it through the Father`s agency. They, then, became manifest individually in order that they might be in their own thought, for that place to which they extend their thoughts is their root, which lifts them upward through all heights to the Father. Since oblivion came into existence because the Father was not known, then if the Father comes to be known, oblivion will not exist from that moment on.
It is he who fashioned the totality, and within him is the totality, and the totality was in need of him.
For this reason, the merciful one, the faithful one, Jesus, was patient in accepting sufferings until he took that book, since he knows that his death is life for many. For he who is ignorant is in need, and what he lacks is great, since he lacks that which will make him perfect. Quispel also discovered that it contained many sayings known from the New Testament; but these sayings, placed in unfamiliar contexts, suggested other dimensions of meaning.
The Old Testament Prophets' admonishments and wisdom had been filtered over the years, no longer reflecting the vibrancy of the Word. We all have one twin soul who was created out of the same undifferentiated substance of Light many, many lifetimes ago. The metaphysical concepts of the Blood being the Holy Spirit and the Grail being the Christ chalice within, are pushed aside. His victory measures out a portion of the office of Christ that he became if we truly walk the inner mysteries. How extraordinary the Church's preaching, teaching, ministry, theology, political guardianship and missions would be, how it would convict itself of unbelief in what it says, if it did not proclaim to all men that God is not against man but for man. Woe to those who have found relief from their illness, for they will relapse into illness.
Why do you abandon your dwelling place of your own accord, making it ready for those who want to dwell in it? If you contemplate the world, how long it is before you and also how long it is after you, you will find that your life is one single day and your sufferings, one single hour. Thus it is also possible for you all to receive the Kingdom of Heaven: unless you receive it through knowledge, you will not be able to find it. Do you even now dare to sleep, when it behooved you to be awake from the beginning, in order that the Kingdom of Heaven might receive you?
For their sake we proclaim, indeed, a portion with those for whom it was proclaimed, those whom the Lord has made his children. For they were as nothing, this terror and this forgetfulness and this figure of falsehood, whereas this established truth is unchanging, unperturbed and completely beautiful.
After all these came also the little children, those who possess the knowledge of the Father.
If he is called, he hears, he replies, and he turns toward him who called him and he ascends to him and he knows what he is called. If they at that time receive form of his knowledge, though they are truly in him, they do not know him. Either they are falling from high places, or they fly off through the air, though they have no wings at all. In this manner the deficiency is filled by the Pleroma, which has no deficiency, which has given itself out in order to fill the one who is deficient, so that grace may take him, then, from the area which is deficient and has no grace.
Moreover, as for the Father, his name is not pronounced, but it is revealed through a son. But it remained unnamed, unuttered, `till the moment when he, who is perfect, pronounced it himself; and it was he alone who was able to pronounce his name and to see it. They reach his head, which is rest for them, and they remain there near to it so that they say that they have participated in his face by means of embraces. Since the perfection of the totality is in the Father, and it is necessary for the totality to ascend to him, and for each one to receive what are his own, he enrolled them in advance, having prepared them to give to those who came forth from him. If he is called, he hears, he answers, and he turns to him who is calling him, and ascends to him. As the sphere separated out from God forming the Yin and Yang, male and female, twin flames are born. Most men are Catholics or Protestants or Jews, because their parents were Catholics or Protestants or Jews, and thata€™s all there is of it.
It need not concern itself with the 'No' that must be said to human presumption and human sloth. Blessed are they who have not been ill, and have known relief before falling ill; yours is the kingdom of God. In truth I say to you, it is easier for a holy one to sink into defilement, and for a man of light to sink into darkness, than for you to reign - or even not to reign! Why are you troubled when you oust yourselves of your own accord and depart from your city? Thus the logos of the Father goes forth into the All, being the fruit of his heart and expression of his will.
Other times, it is as if certain people were trying to kill them, even though there is no one pursuing them; or, they themselves are killing those beside them, for they are stained by their blood. Because of this a diminishing occurred in the place which there is no grace, the area where the one who is small, who is deficient, is taken hold of. But the one who is without deficiency - one does not trust anyone beside him nor does one pour anything out. His will is his mark, but no one can know it, nor is it possible for them to concentrate on it in order to possess it. Nevertheless, he who exists also with his name and he alone knows it, and to him alone the Father gave a name. When it pleased him, then, that his son should be his pronounced name and when he gave this name to him, he who has come from the depth spoke of his secrets, because he knew that the Father was absolute goodness. If the angels tonight should steal a hundred Baptist babies and replace them by Episcopalian babies, it is fair to assume that the babies which might have grown up to champiA­on episcopacy and the apostolic succession and the Prayer Book, would learn to smile the smile of conA­scious superiority at those very things. This 'No' will be quite audible enough when as the real Church it concerns itself with the washing of feet and nothing else. Or do you perhaps think that the Father is a lover of mankind, or that he is won over without prayers, or that he grants remission to one on another's behalf, or that he bears with one who asks? Why do you abandon your dwelling place of your own accord, readying it for those who desire to dwell in it? Therefore, scorn rejection when you hear it, but, when you hear the promise, be the more glad.
When knowledge, which is its abolishment, approached it with all its emanations, error is empty, since there is nothing in it.
Until the moment when they who are passing through all these things - I mean they who have experienced all these confusions - awake, they see nothing because the dreams were nothing.
He gave them thought and understanding and mercy and salvation and the Spirit of strength derived from the limitlessness of the Father and sweetness. Do not be concerned with other things, namely, that which you have cast forth from yourselves, that which you have dismissed.
But that which he wishes takes place at the moment he wishes it - even if the view does not please anyone: it is God`s will. For this reason, indeed, he sent this particular one in order that he might speak concerning the place and his place of rest from which he had come forth, and that he might glorify the Pleroma, the greatness of his name and the sweetness of his Father. Neither have they been deprived of the glory of the Father nor have they thought of him as small, nor bitter, nor angry, but as absolutely good, unperturbed, sweet, knowing all the spaces before they came into existence and having no need of instruction. Peter's jealousy and possible hatred of women probably had something to do with the Catholic Church's position on Mary Magdalene and women in general.
There are some of us who have become Baptists from simple convicA­tion, and have had to leave the denomination of their parents to follow where truth led them. In truth I say to you, the one who will receive life and believe in the Kingdom will never leave it - not even if the Father desires to banish him! It chooses and also takes the form of the All, purifying it, and causing it to return to the Father and to the Mother, Jesus of the utmost sweetness.
If he pleases, he reveals anyone whom he desires by giving him a form and by giving him a name; and he does give him a name and cause him to come into being.
It is thus that they who cast ignorance from them as sheep do not consider it to be anything, nor regard its properties to be something real, but they renounce them like a dream in the night and they consider the knowledge of the Father to be the dawn. He caused punishments and scourgings to cease, for it was they which caused many in need of mercy to astray from him in error and in chains - and he mightily destroyed them and derided them with knowledge. For this reason, God came and destroyed the division and he brought the hot Pleroma of love, so that the cold may not return, but the unity of the Perfect Thought prevail. Such are they who possess from above something of this immeasurable greatness, as they strain towards that unique and perfect one who exists there for them.
Maybe Mother Mary had a virgin consciousness that was able to hold the immaculate concept for Jesus throughout conception and during his young life. But the majorA­ity of us were born in Baptist families, and I am one of that majority.But that expresses only half of the truth. In their heart, the living book of the Living was manifest, the book which was written in the thought and in the mind of the Father and, from before the foundation of the All, is in that incomprehensible part of him. They actually greeted the Father with a power which is complete and which joins them with the Father.
It is thus that each one has acted, as if he were asleep, during the time when he was ignorant and thus he comes to understand, as if he were awakening.
He became a path for those who went astray and knowledge to those who were ignorant, a discovery for those who sought, and a support for those who tremble, a purity for those who were defiled.
He knows it as a person who, having become intoxicated, has turned from his drunkenness and having come to himself, has restored what is his own. He reveals his hidden self which is his son, so that through the compassion of the Father the Aeons may know him, end their wearying search for the Father and rest themselves in him, knowing that this is rest. The end, you see, is the recognition of him who is hidden, that is, the Father, from whom the beginning came forth and to whom will return all who have come from him. He who is to have knowledge in this manner knows where he comes from and where he is going. But it is our duty and our right clearly and increasingly to understand what our country stands for and to adopt as our perA­sonal principles those ideals of democracy and equality on which our national life is founded.
For without the soul, the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. His tongue is the Holy Spirit, who joins him to truth attaching him to the mouth of the Father by his tongue at the time he shall receive the Holy Spirit.
But they rest in him who rests, without wearying themselves or becoming involved in the search for truth. For where there is envy and strife, there is an incompleteness; but where there is unity, there is completeness.
And no man is a true Baptist until his inheritA­ed tendency has been transformed into conscious purA­pose. For it is the spirit that raises the soul, but the body that kills it; that is, it is it (the soul) which kills itself.
Since this incompleteness came about because they did not know the Father, so when they know the Father, incompleteness, from that moment on, will cease to exist. On the other hand, the fruit which has not yet been revealed does not know anything, nor is it anything either. In a big freight yard you can watch a locomotive distributing a freight train over the various sidings. Verily, I say unto you, he will not forgive the soul the sin by any means, nor the flesh the guilt; for none of those who have worn the flesh will be saved. As one's ignorance disappears when he gains knowledge, and as darkness disappears when light appears, so also incompleteness is eliminated by completeness.
Thus each space which, on its part, is in the Father comes from the existent one, who, on his part, has established it from the nonexistent.
And they listen to their root; they have leisure for themselves, they in whom he will find his root, and he will suffer no loss to his soul. For without the soul the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the Spirit. But if the soul is saved when it is without evil, and if the spirit also is saved, then the body becomes sinless. For it is the spirit which animates the soul, but it is the body which kills it - that is, it is the soul which kills itself. Truly I say to you, the Father will not forgive the sin of the soul at all, nor the guilt of the flesh. By means of knowledge it will purify itself of diversity with a view towards unity, devouring matter within itself like fire and darkness by light, death by life. So there are Baptists who have hitherto discovered only the tail-end of our Baptist ideals and convictions and it is no wonder that they turn out as narrow as the tail they devoutly believe in.
It is possible to play a€?Nearer, my God to Theea€? with one finger on a little reed-organ of four octaves.
But it is very different music when the same melody is played with all the resources of a great pipe-organ and in all the richness of full harmony. Many Baptists are cut on a small pattern because their convictions are so small.The minds of men are widening today.
And men who have grasped great ideas in one part of their life feel impatient of petty ideas in any other part of their life, especially in their religion. Only a large faith, built on generous, gigantic lines will win the thoughtful men and women of the future.
I do believe that we Baptists have a magnificent body of trutha€”free, vital, honest, spiritual, and wholly in tine with the noblest tendencies of our age. But we must realize its largeness and present it in all its out-of-door greatness and freshA­ness, and not show people a few dried plants and stuffed animals as exponents of the Promised Land to which God has led us and to which we invite them.In the next issue of the Monthly I shall try to set forth some of the convictions that have become dear to me personally. Take a solemn mass in a Roman Catholic cathedral, with the dim religious light, the swelling music, the candles, the trooping of the priests and acolytes, the wafting of the incense, the tin-He of the bell, the prostration of the people as the wafer is miraculously transformed into the very body of the Lord.
Take on the other hand a little experience meetA­ing in a country church where one simple soul after the other arises to tell in rude words of its dealings with God. And yet it is only fair to believe that all Christian bodies aim at the same thing:to bring the human soul into saving contact with God through Christ and to secure for it the knowledge and power of a holy life.
Let us rejoice that we are all one in that fundamental aim.But on the other hand it is only true to assert that some religious bodies seek to attain that aim by means that hinder the soul from finding God more than they help it. Judaism, too, sought God with its elaborate temple worship, its bloody sacrifices, its detailed forms. The all-important question of just where to worship and how to worship was relegated to the background as obsolete and outgrown for those who had learned to worship God in spirit and in truth.
All religious bodies carry with them a good many clingA­ing remnants of their childhood stage, beliefs and cusA­toms that were superstitious in their origin and never belonged to genuine Christianity. And some religious bodies have squarely refused ever to strip these things off; they cherish remnants of heathenism as their most precious and fundamental possessions. Thus it becomes a matter of importance for an intelligent Christian to inquire where he can find Christianity in its least adulterated form.
Where is the fundamental aim of bringing the human soul into saving fellowship with God attained most clearly? Where is attention least diverted from what is essential in the religious and ethical life?The Christian faith as Baptists hold it, sets spiritual experience boldly to the front as the one great thing in religion. We summon all men to conA­scious repentance from sin, to conscious prayer for forA­giveness. Have you received the inward assurance that your sins are forgiven and that you are at peace with God? If anyone desires to enter our churches we ask for evidence of such experiA­ence and we ask for nothing else. The next thing we ask him is if he is conscious of being personally called to the work of the ministry; that also probes for experience with God. Finally we ask him for his views of doctrine, but there, too, we discourage any mere recitation of what is orthoA­dox, and are best pleased if all his intellectual beliefs are plainly born of inward conviction and experience.Thus our church membership and our ministry are both based on religious experience. Take our churches right through and nothing so draws and wins them in preachA­ing as the note of personal experience of God; nothing so touches and melts them in the social meetings as the heart-note of experience.
When we insist so strongly on true baptism, it is not an insistence on external forms, but a protest against any external form that has no expeA­rience back of it. Infant baptism, we believe, is an outward act minus any inward experience, and we will have none of it.In this direct insistence on conscious personal experiA­ence a true Baptist Church is about as clear-cut and untrammeled as any religious body can well be.
The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, also seeks to put a man in contact with the grace of God, but the grace of God is received through the sacraments. In the regenerating water of baptism, in the mysterious wafer of the commuA­nion, in the absolution pronounced by the priest in the sacrament of penance, they say a man meets God. The children there are examined as to their knowledge of the catechism and of passages of Scripture. I regard the systematic instruction given for months previous to confirmation as one of the finest features of the Lutheran Church and wish we could copy it. But when the mental exercise of memoriter recitation is made the test for admission to the Church and its sacrament, personal experience is supplanted by something totally different and inferior.
Baptists have simA­plified ritual until we have only two obligatory ritual actions left, baptism and the Lorda€™s Supper, and we insist on experience as the essential ingredient in these too. We believe in clear convictions of truth, but we have no formulated creed to which anybody, minister or layman, is required to assent.
I have met people in other churches who not only have no such experience themselves, but they doubt if anybody can have it.a€?It seems presumption to them for a man to assert that he knows he has received pardon from God and is living in conscious fellowship with him. Yet what is all the apparatus of church life good for, if it does not help men to that experience?The great mass of men take their religion at second hand. He tells others about it; they believe it and then take their belief in his experience as a substiA­tute for having any such experience themselves. The religion of the past is deposited in the Bible, the creeds, the rites and beliefs of the Church, and men devoutly rehearse all that and assent to it, and think that is reliA­gion.
The thoughts and experiences of others are invaluable to us because they enrich and broaden our own, but in religion nothing will take the place of perA­sonal experience. In the study of the natural sciences the modern method is to put the student into direct contact with nature.
The dissection of a single animal will give more realizing knowledge of biology than the best textbooks in which a student reads what others have observed.
And nothing has any value in the sight of God that is not the free outflow of the mana€™s life. When we insist on experience, and not on ritual or creed, we place religion where it is necessarily free, and then, if it is freely given, it has value in Goda€™s sight.Experimental religion is more likely to have an outA­come in moral life than any other kind.
In the lower forms of heathen religion ritual is nearly all there is of religion; morality is only an incidental outcome. In the higher forms of religion there is always danger of gliding back into the lower stages, and of emphasizing ritual at the expense of morality. When we insist on repentance from sin and submission to the will of God, that is a religious experience directly leading to a higher moral life. Such religion lends the most powerful reinforcement to ethical duty and is of high service to the common life of humanity.We can see how profoundly important such a direct experience of God is from the fact that in times of doubt it is often the only thing that remains unshaken. A church that helps men to perA­sonal experience of religion, therefore helps them to the most essential and abiding thing in the moral and spiriA­tual life.I like to think also that a church body which demands religious experience and that alone is deeply democratic. It takes a good deal of historical information merely to understand the ritual and symbols of some of the old churches. If anybody knows just what each garment means which a Catholic priest wears before the altar, and how this garb originatA­ed and what changes it has passed through, he knows enough history to write a book. A poor German or Italian mother cannot follow the new learning which her children get in this country, but she can outclass anybody in loving them.
The gorgeous ritA­ual that drapes the limbs of the ancient churches was wrought out piece by piece in later generations, and modern historical scholarship is constantly making it clearer that the shimmering silk of which those garments are made and the golden threads with which they are embroidered, were taken from the heathenism of the ancient world.
The insistence on correct thinking, on exact orthodoxy of definition, was likewise a product of Greek intellectualism after Christianity had amalgamatA­ed with the Greek civilization of the heathen world. Much less were they part of the Christianity of Jesus himself Original Christianity was exceedinglysimple; it was just a new life with God and a new life with men.
Those who believed in him, felt a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, living in their hearts, inspiring their prayers and testimonies, melting away their selfishness, emboldening them to heroism. We have others who would be only too glad if we had an iron-dad Baptist creed with a thousand points that they might insist onit. I know, too, that a€?experiencea€? with very many is a very shallow emotion, copied often from others, and passing away again without changing life and conduct at all, unless it be to add religious conceit to all other faults.


But our Baptist faith, like our American political constitution, is founded on great principles, and even if some misuse it or misunderstand it, or are inwardly traitors to it, its greatness lifts others up to it. As Moses or Elijah or John the Baptist met God alone amid the lonely crags of the desert, so we want every man to go into that inner soliA­tude of his own soul where no man can follow him, to hear the still small voice of the Eternal and to settle the past and the future with the great Father of his spirit.But religion is not a purely individual matter. We are social beings, and all elements of our life come to their full development only through social interchange and cooperation. A man working alone is an inefficient proA­ducer; by division of labor and cooperation the producA­tive efficiency of all is multiplied. A person educating himself is at a great disadvantage compared with a stuA­dent who has teachers and fellow-students to stimulate him. Our pleasures, our affections, our moral aspiraA­tions are all lifted to higher power and scope by sharing them with others.
We never realize all our powers and enthusiasms until we shout with others in a public meeting, or keep step with others to the drum-beat, and see the flag, which is the symbol of our common life, leading us forward.It stands to reason that religion, too, demands social expression, and will come to its full strength and richA­ness only when it is shared with others. There is a sweetness in private prayer, but there is an additional thrill when we join in a heartfelt hymn and are swept on the wave-crest of a common emotion. Most of us have come to the great religious decision in life only under the influence of social emoA­tion. With most of us the flame of religious longing and determination would flicker lower and lower in the course of the years, if it were not fanned afresh by conA­tact with the experiences and the religious will-power of others. The Roman Catholic church holds that there is no true church apart from the bishA­ops and the Roman pope. Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 solemnly asserted: a€?The one and unique church has one body, and one head, namely Christ, and the vicar of Christ, Peter, and the successor of Peter. Further we declare, assert and define that for every human being it is absolutely essential for salvation that he be subject to the Roman Pontiffa€? Pope Pius IX in 1854 reiterated that a€?it is part of faith that outside of the apostolic Roman church no one can be saved.a€? The Episcopal church holds that all ministerial authority is derived through the ordination coming down through the historic episcopate, and that Presbyterian and Baptist ministers, while they may be very good men and blessed of God in saving souls, are not ministers of the Christian church in the proper sense. Thus the one church makes salvation and the other makes ministerial authority depend on connection with the right church organization.
There are Baptists, too, who are ready to assert that none but a Baptist church is a true church at all.To my mind the essential matter is not that a church body is very ancient, or that it has a continuous history, but that it embodies the Christian spirit in the method of its organization, and by its very constitution offers the largest possible opportunity to its members to live a truly Christian life together. The fundamental question is not even whether a certain church order is biblical, but whether it is Christian.
The Bible merely helps us to see if it is Christian.Now I think our Baptist church organization, though it is faulty in many ways and though it creaks and groans as it works along, just as all other human organizations do, is built on very noble Christian lines and therefore it is dear to me. It admits to membership only those who deliberately apply for it and who can assert that they have met Christ and love him and want to follow him. It scrutinizes their statements to save them from self-deception and votes to receive them only if it feels confident that there is a real beginning of conscious spirA­itual life. It also eliminates from its membership those who are manifestly not living a Christian life. It may make many mistakes in receiving too quickly and in excluding too slowly, but at least it tries to keep its memA­bership clean and homogeneous. Churches may become so worldly that it is hard to see any line dividA­ing them from the world, but still the principle is embedded in the very constitution of our church life, and that always offers a ready possibility of reformation.
Individual pastors in such churches may strive to create a really Christian felA­lowship, but their churches neutralize these efforts by admitting everybody through the gate of infant baptism.
It makes ample room for those who have God-given powA­ers for leadership, but it holds them down to the service of the people by making them responsible to the church for their actions. That democracy of the Baptist church-Cs 15 something to be proud of One of the noblest eleA­ments in the life of our Teutonic ancestors was that their village communities governed themselves in the town meeting. The farther we get back to apostolic Christianity the completer is the democracy we encounter. That type of church organization originated under the despotism of imperial Rome and has perpetuated the political ideas and customs of that epoch. Our congregational government originated in a great wave of popular democracy in England, and has embodied and perpetuated the democratic ideals of the Puritan Revolution. I am proud to think that our church life is in harmony with that great ideal of govA­ernment of the people, by the people and for the people, which mankind is slowly toiling to realize.
According to Catholic and high church views a priest receives an indelible character in ordination which enables him to do things which no other man can do. The havoc which priestly assumption of power has wrought in the history of the church is incalA­culable. Other churches have only a vague line of demarcation between the church and the world, but a very sharp line of demarcation between the ministry and the laity. We have a sharp line of demarcation between church and world, but only a vague line between ministry and laity. We have no rector above the vicar, no bishop above the recA­tor, no archbishop above the bishop, no pope above them all. Jesus bids us call no man father or mater, but all of us are to be brethren, and the only greatness is to be by preeminent service (Matthew 23:1-12). Some have greater natural gifts than others, and that inequality should be frankly recognized. Some have a holier character and deeper spiritual insight, and they should have honor and leadA­ership accordingly. One cause why our cities are so badly governed is because they lack home-rule and are run by distant State legislatures. Every man knows best where the shoe pinches him, and every community on the whole is best acquainted with its own affairs.
The self-government of our churches does not hinder them from joining with others in fraternal cooperation, in associations and State conventions, in city missions societies and national misA­sionary organizations.
I do think, however, that our Baptist churches have lagged in this voluntary cooperaA­tion, and have too generally allowed each church to struggle along as best it could. They ask no favors from the State, except that they accept such exemption from taxation as the State grants to all institutions which labor for the common good and not for private profit.
Baptists insisted on this separation between church and State at a time when the principle was novel and revolutionary. Some Baptists seem to think that this separation is based on the idea that the spiritual life has nothing to do with the secular life.
Our Baptist forefathers insisted on that separation because they saw that it wrought mischief when unspiritual men, actuated by political or covetous motives, tried to interfere with the centers of religious and moral life. To let the churches alone meant to let the religious and moral life of the nation work out its own problems unhampered and unthwarted by baser considerations and forces. But in turn it was also found that the political life of the nation is freed from a warping and disturbing influence when ecclesiastical questions are removed from politics. Other churches have had to be wrenched loose forcibly from their hold on public income and political power.
Baptists have the far nobler and prouder position of declining these things voluntarily and of being pioneers in that principle toward which the civilized nations are slowly drifting.My second reason for being a Baptist is, then, that Baptist churches in their very constitution approximate Christian principles of organization and give a fair chance to any Christian community to form a Christian social life.
And they are on principle free from any entangling alliance with non-religious forces.I know well that Baptist churches have not lived up to these magnificent principles. There are Baptist churches in which a small junta of men rule and democracy has become a mere name.
There are Baptist ministers who are more priestly in spirit and temper than the present pope. My third reason deals with the concept of worship.I can best make this clear by going back a little into the history of religion.
In the rude and primitive forms of religion, worship is mainly an attempt to a€?get on the right sidea€? of the gods. Men are afraid of the terrible powers of nature, of thunder, disease, blight, flood and drought, and they try to placate and conciliate the supernatural beings who show their displeasure by sending these terrors on helpless mortals. So they offer sacrifices and piteous prayers just as they would bring gifts and wail before the angry human despots with whose ferocity and whims they were well acquainted. Men want good harvests, health, offspring, revenge and protection, and they tell the gods of their wants and bring them presents to win their help and favor. To ward off evil and to secure favors is the main object of worship in these lower stages of religion.But each god has his peculiar tastes and disposition which must be consulted. They have their sacred places where they have appeared and where they can best be approached. And they have their priests, who are experts on all these matters and are allowed to draw near the god and offer sacrifices on behalf of the ignorant and unclean folka€”for a conA­sideration.
These forms of worship are handed down from generation to generation, and are carefully preA­served in the memory of the experts, for their effectiveA­ness depends on the very wording of a prayer or on a prostration to right or left. They are told that by being bathed with water or anointed with oil, or touched with hot blooda€”all, of course, with the proper magic forA­mulaa€”they will be supernaturally cleansed, and made holy and freed from the power of the evil forces. Men now have a deep sense of the frail and perishable nature of mortal life; they long for immortality and the assurance of it. They are told that if they pass through certain mysteriA­ous rites, they will come under the protection of the gods who rule the hereafter and will be saved from death; or something of the divine life will enter into them and survive death. Thus in this higher stage of religion men seek expiation of guilt, freedom from impurity, victory over death, direct and concrete contact with the deity. If they are not performed exactly, they lose their power.To anyone who knows the dense pall of superstiA­tion that has hung over mankind, it is a wonderful relief to pass from this smoke of incense and burnt-offering to the outdoor air and sunlight in which Jesus walked with his Father. The crew of supernatural despots who want sacrifices and who love to see men cringe and implore, has vanished away, and the Best Being in the universe bows down with fatherly love. Holy places, holy times, holy formulas, holy experts are all left behind, and the only thing God asks for is love for himself and love for our fellowmen. The old cowering fear of the slave is gone, and instead we see the free love and obedience of the son and child of God. Jesus did not pray because he had to or because he wanted to get something fromGod, but because he loved to pray and speak to his Father. To become a disciple of Jesus means to learn to think of God and live with Him as Jesus did, and to let all life be transformed by that new knowledge and faith.Paul understood Jesus. His contest against the Law was a mighty effort to cut away the old forms of religion that cramped and gagged the spirit of religion, and to set Christians free to look at Christ before them and to lisA­ten to the Spirit within them. Read Romans 8, or Galatians from that point of view.But the old religious habits of mind were very strong in men.
It took hard work to emancipate the Jewish Christians from their old Jewish forms of religion, and the people who had lived in heathenism very soon creA­ated a new system of ceremonialism, which had a Christian face but a pagan spirit.
Christianity had only two religious acts in which form counted for anyA­thing, baptism and the Lorda€™s Supper; one was a bath, the other a meal. But men with pagan habits of mind seized on these and saw in them just what they werelooking for.
Baptism was to them a mystic cleansing which washed away guilt and defilement, a magic bath from which a man rose regenerate as a new man with the past all cleaned away.
When they heard the words a€?This is my body, this is my blood,a€? they felt that in some mysterious way Christ was really present in the bread and wine, and when they swalA­lowed the elements, his divine life entered into them and gave them the assurance and power of immortality. These superstitious ideas became ever more powerful and concrete as time passed; they were adopted by theologians and defended as part of the essence of Christianity.
Gradually it was believed that Christ was not merely present in the sacraA­ment; the bread and wine were actually changed into his body and blood and chewed with the teeth, and this new body of Christ, which was created under the magic formula of the priest, was offered anew to God in the sacrifice of the mass. A new priesthood early grew up, equipped with mysterious powers to consecrate the sacraments and to forgive sins.
Christianity once more had its holy places, holy times, holy formulas, its sacrifice and incense, its set prayers and all the apparatus of worship, just like the heathen religions, only more so. Through it all still breathed the spirit of Jesus with pitying and savA­ing power, but the saving power was largely in spite of what was called Christian worship, and not by means of it.
And this established religion was exceedingly conserA­vative and anxious to keep things just as they had been, and refused to let the spirit of Jesus educate it up to betA­ter things. Just as the ancient heathen priest in Rome muttered formulas in a dead language, so the Christian priest in Rome chants his formulas in Latin, which was a living language when Christianity began and is now a dead language. The Greek Church, too uses a ritual lanA­guage which has become unintelligible to the people.
This is merely a trifling indication of the petrifying conA­servatism in religion.The Reformation was a rising of the religious and I democratic and national spirit against this dead inheritance of the past. Among other things the Reformation simplified worship and swept out a great mass of superstitions ceremonial.
In some countries the break from Catholic forms of worship was far more thorough than in others. The Baptists, and all those bodies with whom we are historically connected, marched in the vanguard of Protestantism. That is one reason why I am a Baptist, because by being a Baptist I am a radical Protestant. I can help to cleanse Christianity of the mass of heathen influence which leaked in during the early centuries and was afterward so religiously preserved and cherished. I can help to bring humanity to that simple, ethical, spiritual worship which Jesus taught and which has been so sadly overlaid by the gilded and jeweled worship of a paganized church.Baptists are, in fact, more Protestant than the great Reformers on some points.
But infant baptism was part and parcel of that very paganizing tendency which I have tried to describe. If baptism saves and if chilA­dren need salvation, of course human love wanted the children to be baptized in order to save them from the risk of hell.
There was widespread doubt about infant baptism at the beginning of the Reformation, but to reject it would have meant churches of baptized believers and would have unchurched the great mass of men. The Reformers recoiled from so sweeping a change, largely for political reasons, and infant baptism was maintained, defended and extolled. It was an alien eleA­ment in Protestantism, and has been most subtly influA­ential in opening the door to other alien elements in worship, organization and doctrine. Modern Protestant Christians no longer believe that unbaptized infants go to hell through their original sin, nor do they believe that baptism regenerA­ates.
And if a baby does not need baptism and if bapA­tism does not do it any good, why should the baby be baptized? Other sentimental reasons are now used to prop the custom, but the number of infant baptisms is constantly decreasing. People are sensibly concluding to give their children a chance to be baptized when it will mean something to them.
They made a cleaner sweep of the old pagan leaven at the outset, and the slow development of the purified Christian spirit in modern Protestantism is swinging their way.The real worship, the only thing that God really cares I for, is a Christ-like life. To live all the time in the consciousness of the love and nearness of God, to merge all our desires and purposes in His will to walk humbly before Him and justly and lovingly with all men, this is the real Christian worship. Without that no prayer, no song, no a€?divine service on Sunday is more than disA­cordant noise in the ears of God. That is what Paul meant when he tells us to offer our bodies, our own selves, as a living sacrifice, and says that will be our a€?reaA­sonable service,a€? that is, our rational form of worship.
When James says that a pure and undefiled a€?religiona€? consists in helping the helpless and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, the word a€?religiona€? means liturgy or ceremonial. A loving and pure life is the true liturgy of Christian worship.The life of Jesus was as full of religion as a nightinA­gale is full of song or a rose full of fragrance, but the bent of his life was away from the inherited forms of worship, and he can scarcely be said to have taught new forms. He taught a prayer when his disciples asked for it, but that prayer was meant to teach utter simplicity. In our common worship we shall come closest to the spirit of true Christianity if every act is full of joy in God and his fellowship, love for one another, hatred for all evil, and an honest desire to live a right life the sight of Christ.
Our worship should eliminate as far as posA­sible all selfish greed, all superstition, and all untrue and unworthy ideas about God.
We are not led into tempA­tation to slip back into superstition by the survival of pagan forms in our ritual. But even then there is an advantage in our simplicity of form, for the deadA­ness will not be hidden and masked by the borrowed life of mere cereA­monial. There is an intellectual element in all religion, and that grows stronger as we follow the development of religion from the rude and barbarous people to the civilized nations.
These are questions with which natural science and philosophy deal, but they are also religious questions and a religious man craves an answer, and seeks in some way to build up a satisfactory and harmonious edifice of thought in which his intellect can dwell content.But the answer which contents a man at one stage of his life is outgrown at the next stage.
If he is a growing man, his belief must keep on growing and adjust itself to his expanding inforA­mation. If an African chief believes that the world ends on the other side of the mountains and that his god makes a new sun every day and extinguishes it the evening, that is a satisfactory scheme of the uniA­verse for him, but not for a boy of ten in our schools. If Christians in the Middle Ages believed that our earth was the universe, and that the stars were set in various crystal globes which revolved around the earth, that was a religious and scientific conception of the universe which satisfied men in that day, but we live in a vaster world now, and a man would commit intelA­lectual suicide if he tried to a€?stand pata€? on that explanaA­tion of Goda€™s universe.
To the moral feelings of a past age it seemed quite right and fair that God should conA­demn men for a sin which Adam committed and that all heathen were hopelessly lost.
Our moral judgment has been made more tender and true by the more searching tuition of the spirit of Christianity, and we repudiate such ideas about Goda€™s dealings with mankind.
It is of the utmost importance that the individual and the race shall retain the capacity for growth in religious thought.
It condemns a grown man not to put away childish things but still to think and talk like a child.Yet that is what religion has very commonly done. I After Christianity had become the State religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great, it was a matter of great concern to the emperors that the Church should remain united and not be broken up by bitter doctrinal fights. So, if some doctrinal question was giving trouble, they summoned a great council of bishops and had them decide by a mere majority vote on the profoundest questions. Moreover these councils were usually packed and engineered by wire-pulling exactly like modern political conventions, and the result was usuA­ally reached by compromises or intimidation.
Yet when the result was reached, it became the binding law of orthodoxy, and men believed that the Holy Ghost, who had promised to lead the Church into all truth, had guidA­ed the decisions.
Such a general council could not err, and its decisions were binding on all Christian thinkers. Such infallible decisions increased as the centuries went on, and each was riveted around the Church like an iron hoop around a barrel. Hoops are good around barrels, but I should not advise putting nice, tightly fitting hoops around the body of a growing child. It is hard to overstate the damage that was done to the intellectual and moral and reliA­gious growing power of humanity by this incubus of dead authority. For instance the doctrine of transubstanA­tiation, that is, the belief that the bread and wine of the Lorda€™s Supper are actually changed into the flesh and blood of Christ, was the product of the Dark Ages. When education and science were at their lowest stage, when the civilization of the ancient world lay buried under the raw barA­barism of the Tentonic tribes, when superstition sprouted like toadstools belief was evolved which laughs at common sense and reason. But the Catholic Church solemnly adopted it, and now American Catholic scholars of the twentieth century have to believe it. But they can not without crippling their intellect in other ways.While the Reformation was in progress, the Reformed bodies also produced creeds in plenty.
For instance, in 1530 the Lutheran party in Germany was in great danger of being persecuted and suppressed by the Emperor. At the Diet of Augsburg they presented a Confession, a summary of their belief, to show that they agreed with the Catholics on all vital points and were not so bad as they had been made out to be. This Augsburg Confession was drafted by Melancthon, who was by nature a timid soul and at that time desperately frightA­ened, and he kept all the braver assertions of the Reformation carefully out of sight.
But this Confession afterward was adopted asone of the creeds of the Lutheran Church and still has to be accepted and subscribed as a binding statement of Gospel truth.
Our Presbyterian brethren have long been restless under the straight Calvinism of their Westminster Confession, and it has cost them a long struggle to secure some modification of it.
The great church historian Harnack, knowing how tenaciously creeds cling to a church, was lost in admiration when American Presbyterians first began to make the effort.Now we Baptists have no authorA­itative creed. Our ministers and professors are not required solemnly to declare that they adopt some obsolete statement as their belief and will always teach that. We have a couple of summaries, called the New Hampshire and the Philadelphia Confession, which are often adopted by newly organized churches, but no one is complied to use them. So far as I remember I never read either of them until I had been several years a Baptist minister, and when I did read them, I was not interested in them. We used to be strict Calvinists, just like our Presbyterian brethren, and we, too have insensibly grown away from rigid Calvinism, but we have had no creed to tinker and no conflict about it. Like Topsy, we just a€?growed.a€?Yet Baptists have been remarkably free from doctrinal vagaries.
There was enough conservative instinct to balance their thinking without carrying a big stick of timber on their shoulders to balance them. Baptists have always insisted that they recognize the .L)Bible alone as their sufficient authority for faith and practice. There are, indeed, many Baptists who have tried to use the Bible just as other denominations use their creeds. A creed contains sharply defined and abstract theology; the Bible contains a record of concrete and glowing religious life.
A creed addresses itself to the intellect; the Bible appeals to the whole soul and edifies it. A creed gives the truth as it looked to one set of clever men at one particular stage of human history; the Bible gives the truth as it looked to a great number of God-filled men running through many hundreds of years. The strength of a creed is in its uniformity and its tight fit; the beauA­ty of the Bible is in its marvelous variety and richness.
The epoch-making treatises of the past grow obsolete with fearful rapidity; human nature with its love and hate and fear and hope and sin and passion is always the same, and what was true in the days of Rameses II under the shadow of the pyramids, is true in the days of Roosevelt I under the shadow of the sky scrapers.
A unique and gifted nation, with a lofty conception of God and a thrilling faith in him, preserves the thoughts of its most daring thinkers, its prophets and revolutionists, its poets and religious historians, and the whole collection throbs with the living breath of Goda€” if only we have a mind to respond. It is the mountain-brook before it had grown muddy in the plain by the inflow of other waters. The New Testament has been the conA­science in the heart of the Church, always warning and recalling it from its sinful wanderings. It is still calling us up higher today, beyond traditional Christianity to the religion of Christ. Baptists, in tying to the New Testament, have hitched their chariot to a star, and they will have to keep moving.It seems to me a great thing that Baptists are not chained by creeds, but have taken the Bible as their authority. We have often refused to take it in its own plain meaning to comprehend the larger sweep of histoA­ry in it.
We have reduced it all to a single level, as if Esther was equal to Isaiah, and the Old Testament to the New, and Zephaniah or Jude to our Lord Jesus Christ. But my faith is that the old veil of Moses will yet be taken away from the Bible and its full light will break forth.This is the last reason which I shall give for being a Baptist.
Baptists have not bound the religious intellect by the adoption of a creed, and they have undertaken to learn what the Bible can tell them and to guide their life thereby. I do not mean that Baptists have been faultless in their application of these principles; they have sinned and bungled more often than not. But the principle is right and has a saving power of guidance in it.POSTLUDEHerein ends this little series.
The articles were written off-hand and amid the pressure of other work, and their faults crave a kindly judgment. My hope was that a few people might actually take time to read them and be helped to a clearer understanding of their own faith and the nature of our denomination and that some who have been familiar with the principles of our denomination, would get some new light by approachA­ing the familiar subject by fresh ways.Sometimes while writing these articles I felt in doubt whether I was doing good or harm. I should do harm if I gave Baptists the impression that a€?we are the people and there are no others.a€? We are not a perfect denomination. I do not want to foster Baptist self-conceit, because thereby I should grieve the spirit of Christ. I do not want to make Baptists shut themselves up in their little clam shells and be indifferA­ent to the ocean outside of them.



Legal change of name 2014
The secret world dungeon reset
Lower confidence level


 

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