Updated: Sep 4, 2018
Originally written September 8, 2010
This is a paper I wrote very early in my spiritual journey (written in 2010). It is a good reflection of my thoughts at that time and shows the many questions I had. I feel it is important to share that even though I did not find many of the answers I was looking for to prove Dan Brown wrong, what I did find was much more meaningful to me. This was the path, guided by my heart, that I followed. For you, dear reader, what I share below might not resonate with you. That is perfectly alright.
On your unique spiritual journey, I encourage you to follow the yearnings of your own heart - wherever it might take you. Those yearnings - whatever they are - are there for a reason. So allow yourself to follow your heart. When you do, you will find yourself in the vibrant flow of heart-guided inspiration.
And that, my friends, is where magic happens.
My Jesus Dilemma
September 8, 2010
It all started in 2005 when I began reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It was spellbinding and so full of excitement and adventure that I could barely put the book down at bedtime. And as incredibly fascinating as the book was, it surely put forth some very foreign and wildly unbelievable ideas!
Jesus" The Son of God? He really didn't die on the cross?
He was married? To Mary Magdalene... the harlot?!
...And they had a child together?
I mean really. Who does this Dan Brown think he is? And who does he take me for - a sucker?!
Admittedly, in spite of the controversy, I was intrigued.
How could it be that someone could come to these wildly absurd conclusions when the bible clearly tells of Jesus' story? And being that Jesus is the central figure in Christianity, if what Dan Brown was asserting in his novel were true, why would there be no mention of these "truths" in the scriptures?
Thus began my quest to prove Dan Brown wrong.
So I began to read. From the pre-histories, through the ancient histories, even to the more recent histories, I read about the people, the places and events that shaped the biblical stories from the scholars and researchers who studied them. And overall, I think that I learned quite a bit. For instance:
- I learned that today, there are many people who support alternative views of who Jesus is, just like there were two thousand years ago.
- I learned of the religious and political turmoil around the time Jesus lived and of some of the different religious sects and movements such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Zealots, the Gnostics, the Mystics, and the Essenes.
- I learned that even in their day, the people of ancient Jerusalem believed they were living in the "end times" just like we do today.
- I learned about the first Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 AD and how it resulted in the Romans sacking the city and looting the holiest treasures from the Temple, as depicted on the Arch of Titus, which still stands in Rome today.
- I learned about the writings of Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, and how the accuracy of his work helped scholars to confirm the existence of King Herod's massive fortress at Masada.
- I also learned about the counsel of Nicaea and how Constantine and his religious leaders decided what books would make up the Christian bible as we know it today and what books would not be included. And I also learned that it was here where the council members voted and decided, once and for all, on whether Jesus was indeed the Son of God.
- I learned of other ancient stories that share striking similarities to stories of the Old Testament, yet are thousands of years older and contain more detail.
- I learned about other ancient writings that have been discovered like the Nag Hammadi scriptures, the Gnostic Gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, and other "books" like the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Gospel of the Infancy, for example; all of which paint a very different picture of the Christianity I had known my whole life.
- I learned about the Knights Templar and their rather dubious rise to considerable wealth almost overnight and the connection that is made between them and King Solomon's temple.
- I learned about the Freemasons and their secret rituals that seem to have origins in ancient Egyptian mysticism.
- I learned of the royal bloodlines and their supposed claim of divine blood through the line of Kind David and, ultimately Jesus.
...and so much more...
I enjoyed what I was learning. It was thrilling, compelling, thought provoking and definitely unorthodox. And for the very first time in my life, it challenged my long held views - made me think about what others had to say - made me think outside the box - and made me start to question: "...exactly why do I believe what I believe?"
But the more I learned, the more new questions would come to mind. And the more questions I had, the more I would dig to try and seek the answers. After a while, it became quite clear that my original mission - to prove Dan Brown wrong - would turn out to be more daunting a challenge than anticipated!
I quickly began to discover that there were so many different angles, so many differing points of view that trying to decipher or find my way through the maze of information was truly overwhelming. That is when I stopped... and took some time to evaluate what really was important to me. My belief in God had not changed (at least not at this time). I still believe in Him and that He was the creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and that there was only one God, and He was The One. However, my views on Jesus were changing. I was no longer sure if he really was the literal Son of God. After all, Islam did not recognize him as such, and neither did Judaism. And if Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all stem from the same Abrahamic roots, what gives Jesus special status in only Christianity?
In addition to my Jesus dilemma, I was also finding it difficult to truly understand and, ultimately, accept the Trinity. Described as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the Trinity is another essential Christian element that I had accepted without question. But now, I was beginning to have questions. And even though I was feeling guilty for having them, that guilt did nothing to help me better understand who or what exactly the Trinity is.
One explanation given to me was that the Trinity was like an onion. Just like the many different layers of the onion make up the whole onion, the Trinity was like the layers of the onion that make up the whole... God? Well, I guess that could make sense, but does that mean the different "layers" of the Trinity are interdependent upon one another in order for the whole to exist? Or can the different layers exist separately and be totally independent from one another? And if that is the case, would it mean, then that we have departed from the concept of monotheism and, as a result, have all blasphemed?
I was confused. Shouldn't this be simple to explain? Was it really supposed to be this complicated? Was I making a big deal of it?
And to further complicate my attempts to understand, I learned that there were other manifestations of God mentioned throughout the bible, like the Evil Spirit of God, the Lying Spirit of God, the Destroyer, and the Burning Bush. And despite that some of these manifestations seem contradictory to who I believe God is, why were they not included in the Trinity? I guess instead of the Trinity it would be more like the Septuplet: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, God the Evil Spirit, God the Lying Spirit, God the Destroyer, and God the Burning Bush.
But why were only three of the manifestations of God selected? And who decided it would be three - that there would be a trinity in the first place? And who decided which of these manifestations would comprise the trinity? And, since I am asking these unconscionable questions, when exactly was the trinity introduced? And by whom?
In the Old Testament, we are told that God is One and that he shares being God with no one else, and that besides Him, there are no other gods. However, in the New Testament, we learn about the Trinity - that God is three-in-one. So, I am to understand that even though God is one, He is also three-in-one? And even though I am having difficulty wrapping my head around this concept, I should just accept it anyway because God is omnipotent and can do anything? Okay. So God the Father is separate from but the same as God the Son; and God the Son is separate from but the same as God the Holy Spirit? And vice versa, vis a vis?
Maybe I am simply misunderstanding or making it more difficult than it really is. Or (at the risk of sounding like I am being facetious, which I am not - I am actually quite serious) maybe it is something I really would just have to accept because it's a "God" thing and I just would not understand.
For me, however, the notion of a Trinity is a contradiction between the scriptures regarding the essential nature of who God is. The God I believe in is One and He is indivisible. And He does not share being God with anyone else.
Another Christian concept was also now beginning to be affected by my Jesus dilemma. As with the concept of a divine Jesus and the Trinity, the concept of salvation through Jesus was something I also accepted without question or hesitation. But here again I was beginning to have questions on a concept based on, at least from my fledgling perspective, a seemingly flawed idea. In Christianity, the only way to salvation, thereby gaining entry to the kingdom of heaven , is through Jesus - by accepting him as your lord and savior. On the contrary, by not accepting Jesus, you subject yourself to an eternity burning in the eternal flames of hell. Well, I guess I'm going to hell - at least until I am convinced somehow that Jesus truly was God's literal son. And I guess all the Jews are going to hell with me, as well as all the Muslims, and the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Jains, the Agnostics, the Atheists, the Sikhs, the Pagans, as well as all those that accept the indigenous beliefs (academia calls them myths) of the Native Americans, the Africans, the Indians, and the Asian peoples, along with anyone else who does not accept Jesus as their lord and savior.
Wow. That's a lot of people going to hell.
So how does salvation work? Is it open to anyone who has ever lived on this earth so long as they accept Jesus as their lord and savior? Does that include people who lived before Jesus? And does it include the people who lived while Jesus lived? And what about those who lived contemporaneously with Jesus but in a different part of the world, say Europe, or South Africa, China or Australia, India, Mexico, the Pacific Islands or the Americas? Would they, too, have the chance at salvation through Jesus or the consequence of hell? And what about the people living after Jesus who never have had the chance to learn about or get to know him? What about them? What about the people who today live way out in the most remote parts of the world where life, for them, has not changed in hundreds or even thousands of years - who are cut off from and have no contact with modern civilization, and who have never even heard of Jesus? Are they, too, damned to hell? If so, would that seem just a little harsh - maybe just a little unfair?
Or maybe it is not my place to think about these things.
And while most people do not believe intelligent life exists outside of earth, I do believe that somewhere in the vastness of the universe, other intelligent beings do indeed exist. So what about them? Since they probably would not have a clue about Jesus, and consequently would not have the chance to accept him as their lord and savior, are they also damned to hell? Or would they be excluded from salvation, as one priest has suggested? And if so, why? And if not, would it mean that God is unfair and mean? Lucky for me, then, that I am one of the few people that was born in a place where I have the chance to get to know Jesus - even though I find it difficult to accept him as God. But at least I have the chance.
You may think these simple musings are nothing more than the ridiculous ramblings of a wretched lost soul, but if intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe, how would our religious beliefs impact them? Or better yet, how would their existence impact our religious beliefs... and should it? Even the Vatican has come out recently with the notion that if alien life does exist, it would not contradict a belief in God. And yes - I can agree with that logic. But would it contradict the belief in who so many believe Jesus is?
My quest to prove Dan Brown wrong had taken me on an incredible journey. It had exposed me to new materials, intriguing points of view, controversial theories and so many differing perspectives that it challenged some of the core beliefs I had held my entire life. It seemed like the more I thought aobut it all; the more I pondered the possibilities; the more questions I asked; the more people I talked with; the more I read; the more documentaries I watched; and the more I tried to digest the information to which I was exposed - the more I realized just how much my views were changing and that some of the most essential tenets of Christianity were becoming further and further misaligned with my new, more spiritual views. And that was a difficult burden to bear. It still is sometimes! After all, my new views on Jesus were much different - in fact they were in contradiction to the views I had accepted my whole life! And that is a very big deal! How would my family and dearest friends react? Would they still love me and accept me? Or would they want to have nothing to do with me? And even worse yet, have I really condemned myself to hell? But how, after very careful consideration, could I continue to accept a doctrine that did not seem as fulfilling as I once thought and that seemed fundamentally flawed in a way that seemed to contradict its own primordial doctrine?
So today, here I am - in a totally different place spiritually than I was even one year ago. I admit that I do not have all the answers - and I do not believe it is possible for us to have all the answers. At least not now - especially in this complex world we live today. And I have not turned my back on Jesus. I still earnestly believe in him and that he was one of God's special anointed ones here to spread His word to man. But there are just far too many questions that I cannot answer nor find satisfactory answers to where I can with ease call myself Christian. What I am sure of is that God does exist. And just like the Old Testament teaches, God is one. Indivisible. And I believe God is the creator of the universe and most of the life within it. Yes, most, not all, of the life in the universe. After all, God did not create Dolly (the cloned sheep), man did. And God did not create seedless watermelon. Man did that too.
As I continue to learn, my goal is not to prove Dan Brown wrong. Instead, my goal is to seek a more complete understanding of my spiritual beliefs. And yes, I feel like I am on a journey... a journey of rediscovery that is taking me closer to a truth that ultimately is far more fantastic than I ever could have imagined!