The Apostle Paul taught the gentle Jesus Message of love and forgiveness, yet his central message was of Salvation through the Cross, a message not given by Jesus. Paul suffered and endured, and he converted many pagans to the new faith. It is paramount that we today come to terms with a truer salvation message and discard the outdated need for a suffering Master.
Salvation Through a Belief is Questionable
The Apostle Paul taught the necessary social and moral values: love, forgiveness, honesty, gentleness, and controlling emotion and physical behavior and such. Yet his centerpiece is the Crucifixion narrative, a story of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Son of God, adopted by the churches Paul founded and influenced, and now is the cornerstone of the establishment Christian Church.
But the Crucifixion narrative is illogical on its face, for it glorifies suffering and conceptualizes good and evil, qualities that a genuinely elevated Master would reject.
Paul’s trials were many; he was beaten, stoned, flogged, and routinely run out of cities by his Jewish Judaic and Jewish Christian adversaries, and yet he showed no animosity toward them, but rather he viewed his own suffering as a necessary sacrifice toward furthering the word of God, even for converting his adversaries to bring them salvation.
Salvation Comes Through Knowledge and Understanding
The disciplines of metaphysics, spiritualism, mysticism, and most Eastern religions, give us direction on obtaining eternal life. In the process, suffering may occur but suffering is not the centerpiece for obtaining life. Yet the Christian Church has sowed Paul's message of God coming down to earth and intentionally suffering for us; an apparent gratifying message for those who suffer, and generally all of us do suffer until we are able to understand and live the higher thought.
Why then, the Crucifixion?
The Crucifixion story looks to be the “carrot on the stick”, the seductive lure that brought pagan Romans, Greeks, and Syrians to embrace the new religion. And after a time it was pagans converts — Paul’s converts — who essentially wrote the New Testament Bible, as the Jewish Jesus followers had already generally turned back to their Judea Jewish roots. It is for this reason the Christian Church is centered in Rome and not Jerusalem where it would logically otherwise be. Paul’s biblical epistles (letters to churches and to his church pastors) are believed to be the oldest books of the New Testament, older even than the four gospels (Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John), and thus may reflect ideas other than what Jesus said and taught and may have colored the whole of the New Testament Bible through the prism of Paul’s eyes. And Paul’s Crucifixion narrative depends entirely upon other sources for he was not witness to it, nor did he physically know or walk with Jesus during the Jesus ministry.
The Jesus teachings of love and forgiveness that Paul did teach are germane to a higher message of unity among all beings, a “present moment” focus on “self awareness”, a longstanding spiritual message for securing eternal life. This is the message given by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical gospel found buried near the town of Nag Hammadi, Egypt in the year 1945. It is a collection of Jesus sayings having a central message of the eternal “Kingdom” being here with us now in front of our faces, the Master’s elevated teaching on present moment awareness . The Thomas Gospel has no Crucifixion story.
Suffering Not the Way to Eternal Life
To obtain eternal life we must rise above forms, eliminating attachment to the resultants of the five physical senses, for they are illusion, not real things. Temporal in nature, these forms will one day end. Physical death assures this, and yet physical death too is illusion. By nature we are eternal beings. We close off this knowledge for the specific purpose of creating a temporary reality where we take on various roles, acting out narratives just as if we are characters within a book, having a beginning point called “birth” and a final chapter ending in “death”. Books do not continue on after ending. We pick up another book to read, and the cycle continues. It is called “reincarnation”, incarnating into a new storyline, and then reincarnating into another storyline when the former’s usefulness ends. Obtaining eternal life has everything to do with waking up to this recurring cycle and moving our living narratives in more advanced direction where death and pain are past relics to be discarded.
The Crucifixion is a narrative that is temporal, for all narratives are temporal. Its symbolic legitimate purpose, if there is one, points to mankind’s deepest yearning to live beyond death and be eternal. It is a message of hope for those who may be without hope, and is simple in nature. Yet it means nothing to the learned man who understands already that we are by nature eternal and that physical death ends only the present living narrative, whereupon a new living narrative will expectedly naturally form from the mind.
The Crucifixion-Salvation narrative was a story born by Paul for converting pagans to Jesus and it was further continued by the ancient Roman Catholic Church, but seems not to have been needed by the “gnostic” (knowledge based) followers of Jesus during his day. Once understood, we can embrace the Gospel of Thomas sayings which are congruent with the disciplines of metaphysics, mysticism, and Eastern religions, and there we will find a Christian way to life where there is no Crucifixion narrative.
About the Author
Arthur Telling has written numerous stories and articles on religion, philosophy, and metaphysics. His article, “A Different Jesus Message” appeared in the Nov. 2011 AMORC Rosicrucian Digest. Telling is author of eight books including his newest release: “And the Cock Crows: How Rome Buried the Jesus Message”. His website: www.arthurtelling.com