Letter to a Christian

 

God created man and man created God. So is it in the world. Men make gods and they worship their creations. If would be fitting for the gods to worship men. (Gospel of Philip)

The Sun God, Mithras

Dear Friend,

It is St.John's Day, June the 24th. The "St. John" referred to is John the Baptist. St. John's Day was, historically, the feast of the Midsummer, the day on which the events of A Midsummer Night's Dream took place. Properly speaking it is the last day of the solstice - which means, literally, "standing still sun", since for three days the sun doesn't seem to move. It appears to rise in exactly the same place on the horizon. It is only after this, on the 24th, that the sun begins to move again and the length of the day begins to decrease. In ancient times this was the most important time of the year, only matched by the Midwinter solstice.

The significance of that, of course, is that it is on the fourth day after the Midwinter solstice, when the sun begins to move again, and the light begins to increase, December 25th, that we place the birth of Jesus. December 25th was also known as the birthday of the ancient Sun god Mithras, who was also in ancient times seen as a redeemer and a saviour, and who shares many characteristics with the mythological Jesus: by which I don't mean that Jesus was a myth, but that mythological traditions have become attached to his name. The "borrowing" of Mithras' birthday is one of these.

The Fifth Monarchy

The following is written in the spirit of ecumenical debate.

Friend, my problem with your philosophy is that you always appear to be telling God what to think.

You appear to think that you know more than God. You define God. You think that God has to fit within your definitions. You limit God by your definitions, when, in fact, the only possible definition of God is that he is indefinable.

You say God is a trinity, which is tantamount to saying that God can be defined by the number three. Why not four? Why not one? Why not two? Why not five, seven, eleven, thirteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-three, one hundred and thirty-seven? I pick these numbers because they are all prime numbers, that is they are indivisible except by one, and they are all the beginning of an infinite sequence of multiples of themselves. Every number has meaning. Why limit God by number? God is infinite. God is beyond number and yet containing every number, as numberless as the stars, as infinite as all time and all space and all possibility throughout time.

And why give God a name even? Why give him a place? The drama is infinite and infinitely variable. Why say only one moment in history matters? This is a parochial view of history and a parochial view of God, not a lot different from those Fifth Monarchist believers of the English Civil War who - because of the limitations of their understanding and knowledge - could only imagine God as an Englishman.

And you speak with such certainty about things which are uncertain, as if you are trying to measure the sky. Where does your certainty come from? Not from objective truth, which is measurable and definable, testable in the laboratory. You cannot prove anything you say. But it does have subjective truth and this I can believe in. It is why I continue to listen to you, since I believe in the objective existence of subjective truths. But if it is subjective truth we are dealing with, then why should your truth be considered greater than another's since truth, like number, is infinite?

This is not the same as being in error, or telling lies, by the way: these things exist too, and it's one of the problems of the world that sometimes we are deliberately fed untruths. Sometimes - indeed often - untruths have been said in the name of Christianity.

You talk about the absolute and then diminish the absolute. You take the absolute and then say that it only has a certain name, a certain place, that it is Jewish and Christian, that it cannot appear to a Chinese person, or a Red Indian say, except in your terms, that it was only ever written in Hebrew and Greek, and then translated - not even in Aramaic, the language of Jesus himself, since none of your books were ever written in that language - and that God only ever got round to writing one book (though, of course, it is many books). Once more it's like you are telling God what to think. If God appears to a Chinese person, speaking in Chinese, with Chinese cultural values attached (because all language contains culture) you say that is not God.

 

God speaks

I don't think that anyone with open eyes and open ears and an open mind and an open heart can read the Tao Te Ching or the Buddhist sutras or the Bhagavad Gita and not recognise God in almost every line. God speaks and you ignore him. God recites his poetry and you say it is not God. Why should God be so dumb? Why should he be so limited? Why should he be so uncommunicative? How else do you recognise God except through his prophets and his holy men, of whatever time, of whatever nation?

In Latin America in the 1980s God appears in a Latin American context through Latin American priests identifying with the suffering of the Latin American people, with Latin American martyrs like Archbishop Romero and Latin American theologians like Gutierrez. That is, in Latin America at this time God appears in a Roman Catholic context. This is a constant process. It is what Gutierrez is talking about. When he analyses the bible he does so by trying to understand the biblical context, the time in which the texts appear, and then applying their underlying truths to his modern, contemporary situation. That's why he is so good. He understands all time as apostolic.

God suffers as his people suffer. God suffers to stop the suffering. God gives up his life for his people. This drama is eternal and is applicable now, and it is not only Christian. Indeed, in Latin America at the time of which Gutierrez writes the struggle continues within the church itself, since those creating the suffering would also proclaim their Christianity (as do George Bush and Tony Blair now) and would see their actions as being ordained by Christian precepts.

You see Friend, I have greater faith than you. I think that God breaks in through history again and again. Not just once and in one language and one land, but in every time, in every place, amongst people of every faith. But every human definition is always limited so God always appears in a context that us humans understand.

For a Buddhist God appears in a Buddhist context. The Buddha never denied God - he denied the self, which is a different matter. It is to do with a debate between himself and the followers of orthodox Hinduism, which, like Judaism, is a nationalistic religion which the Buddha, like Christ, was attempting to transcend.

In the 17th century in England, in the time of the Civil War, which was a time of great stirring, God was breaking out all over, in text after text. He is imminent. This is why the 5th Monarchists see God in terms of the English politics of the day. They are both right and wrong at the same time. They sense God's imminence, but can only translate it in their own terms which is why they make God an Englishman. The best text from that era (and the one most resonant of God, to me) is the Fiery Flying Roll by Abeizer Coppe, of whom I will write much more one day.

The problem of faith

God is a stirring of the heart, a shaking up of life, a blessing, a hope, a struggle, a hidden dimension, a return. God is a contradiction, unity in diversity, opposition in friendship, male and female, neither and both, possible and impossible, beginning and end. You talk of God as absolute yet split God in two, since you talk of God and his creation as separate. If God is separate from his creation then God cannot be absolute. Think about it. But if God is IN his creation, IS his creation, then God is always imminent, no more than a breath away: an inkling, a stirring, a moment away, in the very air we breathe, in the very substance of matter, as the mind that sustains the Universe.

Here is the problem of faith. You say one faith is right and all others are wrong. But even in your own faith, amongst people who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, there is error, isn't this right? There is disagreement. So much evil has been done, and is being done, in that name. So it isn't about faith. It isn't about doctrine or dogma, it is about meaning and context. There are good Christians, there are bad Christians. There are good Jews, there are bad Jews. There are good Muslims, there are bad Muslims. There are battles within all of these faiths about the meaning of their faith. Then surely the point is to reach out across the faith barrier, to find out points of agreement, rather than points of disagreement, to hear what the other faiths have to say.

I started off with John the Baptist, and this is where I will end. The previous paragraph mentions the three great related faiths that arise out of historical Judaism. As the Muslims call us: The People of the Book. In fact there is a fourth: the Mandaean religion of Southern Iraq, who I've spoken of before, followers of John the Baptist, also known as Sabian Mandaeans, or Baptisers, since they practice daily Baptism and have their own ancient books including some that purport to be conversations between John the Baptist (whom they call Yohana) and Jesus (whom they call Yeshu). The word "Manda" from which their name derives means "knowledge" and they are clearly a Gnostic sect, which means that, if John the Baptist was a Gnostic, given that Jesus' mission starts with his Baptism, that Jesus was a Gnostic too.

In Matt 6:22 it says: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."

I think this is the hidden truth behind Christianity, the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, and a profoundly Gnostic statement.

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

sandra rinck 8 years ago

I like to say that God worships Man, and Man worships God or God has faith in us just as I have faith in God, with out either, neither would come to be anything at all. Didn't know someone else already wrote it. Darn! great hub.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yes, it's from the Gospel of Philip, as you can see. Also William Blake said, "All Gods reside in the human breast," which is another great line.


pgrundy 8 years ago

I stopped in the middle of this to read the Flying Fiery Roll. And now, I am somewhat stuck on that...oh my! Honestly I can't get past it...How do you know all these wonderful things? Are you a fallen preacher (or a risen one, ascended to postal status?) This is so, so excellent, I love it.

As I was reading the first portion (the portion before the Flying Fiery Roll, as now the whole piece for me is divided into pre- and post-FFR) I thought of a verse from I think Proverbs maybe? If I wasn't so lazy I'd look for it, but anyway, it goes something like, "Will the pot rise up and tell the potter He has no skill?"

For me that's the gist of it. We pots should have a bit of respect for the maker and all the other pots too--it's all so marvellous, the real tragedy is when we miss THAT while arguing about words. Thank you again for a beautifully written hub. I remain your devoted fan.


pgrundy 8 years ago

Oh, and I also ordered your King Arthur book on Amazon, so there's a whole quarter of a cent to you from me! (You aren't getting paid nearly enough!!!!) I can hardly wait to read it.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hi pgrundy, I found the Fiery Flying Roll from reading Christopher Hill The World Turned Upside Down, which I've posted up there somewhere. It's about the sects of the English Civil War. Then I looked for it on the internet and it was... well you know what it's like now. Happy to share all this with you. Plus - hopefully - I will have drawn some flak.


AdsenseStrategies profile image

AdsenseStrategies 8 years ago from CONTACT ME at Adsensibilities@gmail.com

Just thought I'd drop a note seeing as I live in Quebec, where St. John's Day is the "national" holiday -- Bonne Fête Nationale!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Happy Holiday then AdsenseStrategies!

pgrundy, the Arthur book's not my best. Fierce Dancing is best, then Last of the Hippies, which stars the Bard of Ely. I have copies to sell, but I don't know how to do that from my site....


pgrundy 8 years ago

How did this get here twice? Ack!


pgrundy 8 years ago

Oh, well, that's ok. I'll start with your least favorite then and end with your most favorite, thereby retaining all the good things and forgetting any marginal or fuzzy things, should there be any. Thanks for the ranking!

Too bad you can't find a way to sell them directly off your website and keep all the money. There must be a way. I don't know how to do it either though.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

See that's why we're all so useless. We can write, but we just can't seem to figure a way of making money out of it. Well I can't anyway.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Chris, a very apt hub for me because I have just got in from the celebrations for San Juan here and I've never seen anything like it - the beach covered in people and many bathing, a procession down the road with pyrotechnics and teenagers shouting loudly in Spanish and waving torches, men with face paint blowing conches loudly, roadside stalls selling toys, handbags, belts and hippy jewelry, a salsa band with all sorts of percussionists, fire on a platform in the sea, a fire on the cliff, a disco dancing area, restaurants full of very cool looking and smartly dressed people - young couples, beautiful young women, happy families and me on my own as the odd one out! And from the little church a priest in white robe with a staff looking like a druid and three other blokes also with staffs carried a saintly figure on a pedestal surrounded by flowers up the road. I was in the small procession behind for a while but I dropped out. I went for a paddle and took some photos and I'm going to see if any came out. I think I was the only British person there and I didn't hear any English at all. But even though I don't know what it all meant I'm feeling pleased I made the effort to attend the local fiesta in its third and final day.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

PS Get a Paypal account and put a Paypal payment button on your site for selling your books.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Who was the saintly figure do you know? Sounds great. It was definitely a midsummer festival by the sounds of it. Better than being stuck at Stonehenge all night, which is where I was last year.


ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

I wish you could hear applause via the internet because this Hub deserves a standing ovation.

I have always tried to reduce my belief system to the simplest possible formula. The best thing I can come up with, as an agnostic, is “Life is God”. For me, it needs to be in that order. It just is not the same the other way round.

The willful ignorance that some call their religion is something that defies understanding.

Thank you for this truly excellent post.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Thanks again ColdWarBaby. I like your moniker, btw. It describes me too.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

I assume it was San Juan. They have so many saints here and very different images of the same ones and other holy figures eg you can see a Black Madonna and black baby Jesus in the Basilica in Candelaria alongside a big painting of a white grown up Jesus. Same here - in the church there is a Black Madonna and child as well as a white statue of the Virgin Mary. There are paintings of San Juan and San Marcos too. Its all very pagan in the celebrations though with Guanche stuff like blowing conch shells. Basically its like Icke says - it is all the same religion and the same deities with different names and images.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

CJ, this is the best written description of God and religion, or rather what it should be, I've ever read. If there is a God, and sorry - I just don't believe there is, I would hope he would be as you describe.

But then... wouldn't that also be limiting him, even to your broad description? For such a God, wouldn't infinity (or rather our perception of it) still be a limitation?

I am very distrustful (to put it mildly, for sure) of religion and all it encompasses. The greed, the manipulation, the power... The VATICAN. I think Jesus was just an incredible man with an incredible message, possibly a Buddhist, which has been subverted and twisted to fit so many twisted agendas, to give excuse for wars and hatred. Judgement and bloodshed.

The only thing all-powerful, undefinable and limitless I've ever seen is Love. If God is Love, call me a believer. That, I can get behind. But, an omnipotent being who created all we see and can imagine? Is that not just something created by us primitives so we can have something to worship?

I wish we could just move on, already...


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Hi CJ!  It would be vain of me to think, that by asking you what Happy Solstice meant when you said it, that you then decided to write this piece.  But, being the vain person I am, I will think it.   

...and thank you I think, though this has caused even more questions.  However it took me 2 days of digesting this to decide how to reply as you have been so good to reply to so many of my hubs.  You have taxed my brain with his article and I will have to charge you.  I will charge you more readings of my hubs.   So, then we begin to be even except I could never write as you do...yet it's a goal.

I rarely debate religion because it has no end.  No one seems to ever walk away thinking  "Wow, I feel better."  On a private journey, one that all believers take, though in various directions, I have come to "believe" in God, and define Him only insofar as I need to for my life. 

"You limit God by your definitions, when, in fact, the only possible definition of God is that he is indefinable." 

In that way, he is definable in some small measure to me, so that I can develop the relationship.  My point at this moment is that God is personal to those who believe. 

Now, I live my faith in way that enriches my life, but I do not support those who scream from high places that they are right, that shine their beacon as a commercial for all to hear whether they want to or not.  I deplore and run from those even within my own faith who think they are missionaries for Christ as they stuff their theology down the throats of others in the name of "mission." 

Teaching and sharing is one thing, screaming and yelling from the housetop is another and only serves to feed your own ego  but bring no one to Christ.

I believe in eternal progression, which causes me to realize that some things we cannot define nor understand in this life in the flesh.  That also helps me understand the level of earth suffering that takes place with each day.  We have a purpose, all things do: in the cycle of life things are born, things progress and things suffer and die.  I try not to be responsible for too much of either.  It is all I can do to live my life, love my people, fulfill civic responsibility and not damge the earth too much in the process.  I do think God intends for us to get to know Him, as my relationship and education in the matter leans me towards that "natural family relationship" of which I believe the scriptures speak.  Now, for one that does not believe the scriptures, that would not persuade them. 

A believer requires faith and acts on inspiration from their faith, a non-believer requires science and with science comes knowledge and with knowledge there is not reason for faith.  One, you don't know, but believe.  One you don't need to believe, because you know. 

So what seperates us from the radical "God says kill you" and "God says love you."  I think we have to rely on good vs evil outcome.  Something inherent in me believes that we can know right from wrong, without eternal pondering and investigating.  If I were to study religion, surely I could come to a conclusion without being an eternal student?  I try to learn within the boundaries of belief, rather than suspend belief until I've searched all beliefs. 

I like simplicity.  I like my faith.  I don't like causing others misery over it, nor do I want them to define my religion and cause me misery. 

I stand ready to share with those who would really like to know, but am not eager to be a shouting voice to those who are not even asking.  I think it has a negative effect and has nothing to do with missionary work, but more to do with "hear am I, listen to ME." 

If one is not hungry, why force feed them; as there are many who are ready to be fed. 

If truth is reason, than I believe that God wants a relationship with what He has created.  However, I am not one to define Him, but I do believe I know Him enough to live my life in a healthy way.  Perhaps there are many who live in a healthy way and do not want to know Him.  I'm not out to get them. 

I have enough to do to walk my own path and stay on it.  Religion in the flesh, is subjective.  Once we pass from the flesh, then we either enter into another phase of understanding or we don't.  Either case I'd like to be as prepared as I can be. 

If there is only that which we can prove, then our existence is not very important.  I don't believe that.

I loved this dissertation and think you put a lot of reason and excellent History into the work.  My comments do not do it honor, but I was inspired to make them. 

If you wrote about a floating rock, I would read it.  I'm listening, and your next writing will say...?   And Happy Solstice to you...  I'm off to an evening business banquet - my mind is also on the table I decorated and the food I will eat and whatever the drinks are to be enjoyed for the evening... so forgive if this was disjointed.  =) 


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Constant Walker, my position is agnostic. I don't know. I find the word itself - "God - very useful in raising questions. That's all I set out to do in this piece. I'm just one of those kind of people. Trying to imagine the universe without the word "God" in my vocabulary, would be like trying to talk or write without the definite article.

marisuewrites, thank you for taxing me in return. I won't reply in detail right now as I sat up till all hours last night piecing this together and I'm - a colloquial English word this - totally knackered today.

I'll write again tomorrow after I've had a good night's rest.

This wasn't my best piece. I'm not a theologian, and I don't really want to debate religion with anyone. I accept your words on the matter marisue, "that God is personal to those who believe."


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

CJ, you're fans will allow you some rest. LOL go to it! I, too, avoid debates on religion, beyond a few remarks...I just go about my business. Really, it's all personal preference....as no one is ever convinced of anything different than what they already believe....unless they are searching. =) I think you raised many questions and provoked many thoughts and that is the purpose of writing, yes?

It serves you well. See you later! =)


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

One point of clarification - I was speaking of "self-appointed" missionaries, AND, isn't it interesting that man needs a God and we cannot seem to take the word God out of our voice...as you say.  I find that fascinating if He does not exist.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

CJ, next year try Iceland for Summer Solstice. Icelandic friends claim Solstice there is hands down, mucho better than Stonehenge, which has become too commercial. I intended to see for myself this year, but alas, Real Life (and the tanking dollar) got in the way. But I think Iceland Air serves Birmingham. If so, YOU have no excuse. =)

I too ordered one of your books, The Last Hippie (from the Bard's hub...you're welcome, Steve). Listen to your friend aboyt PayPal. You should be selling your books from your own site!


Jonno.Norton 8 years ago

If anyone else is interested in the similarities between Mithra, Jesus, and the plethora of other solar messiahs sharing the same virgin birth, performance of miracles, death and ressurection etc, there is a great video you can watch for free online at www.zeitgeistmovie.com

The movie has an interactive transcript as well, which you can read at http://zeitgeistmovie.com/transcript.htm where it sites its sources. The movie is in three parts, and only the first part is about solar messiahs, the rest is about 9/11 and world banks, but it's all really great material all around. A must-watch documentary of 2008, for sure.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hey Jonno, thanks for this. You've sorted out my viewing for this evening.


Gail Jewel 8 years ago

Great Hub! Everyones comments are valid and contain truth! I think that we are all part of the infinite God in different manifestations. One living body with different functions. If we wish to give 'it' a name, God is fine, or Goddess for us women ; ) Still, 'it' had to begin somewhere and the big question for me is; when who and what started it? And what was there before, the BIG BANG!. But that question I believe will remain a mystery. How important is it, knowing? Not that important. Instead more important is having an open mind and not allowing, religion (which has its place), to control and manipulate. I agree CJ that God speaks to us with the one voice, through many mediums and I love the wisdom of the I Ching. Likewise some of the wisdom in the Bible is a revelation (pardon the pun).


celebrity  6 years ago

pardon the pun


Talisker profile image

Talisker 4 years ago from UK

I've enjoyed reading this hub, so often when 'God' is spoken of, a great deal of venom follows from fiercly religious folk. They seem so ungodly in their opinions, yet they back them up with endless passages from the bible as if it it an impenetrable sheild. Your hub however, is fair, very thorough and respectful to all, without stating anything as absolute truth. As an agnostic myself, it is nice to read sense and wonder, rather than extremism and fear!

A great hub!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Thanks Talisker. I'm an agnostic too and you've named yourself after my favourite whisky. This is a very old hub, so I thought I'd better read it again. It stands the test of time I think. It is full of breadth and passion. I think God does break into reality every so often, though how exactly your define "God" (or "reality") is up to you.


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 4 years ago from trailer in the country

Do you know that in the Chinese Bible, they use the word "Tao" for Word/Jesus?..."the Tao became flesh and dwelt among us".

The meaning of Tao is "the Way". and Jesus is also called "The way". I find that interesting.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I didn't know that, Enlydia Listener. I know that Tao means, The Way,and that Jesus is called the Way, but I didn't know that the Chinese use the word Tao for Jesus in the Bible. That is certainly very interesting.

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