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The Christian Path

There is much animosity between the official Christian churches and the so-called New Age movement with church officials making wild allegations about those holding alternative beliefs and the New Agers frequently rubbishing the Christian faith. Such conflicts may be more a battle for the money of the seekers rather than for the truth. Surely the same God is worshipped with equal sincerity under many different names.

Jesus was, at the very least, a remarkable man. There exist numerous accounts of his miracles and resurrection, and his teachings have survived for two millennia and continue to influence two billion people (one third of the earth's population) as the world's largest religion. Such a significant philosophy is worthy of contemplation and debate.

The essence of Christianity suggests that this earthly existence is merely temporary; a preparation, or trial, for a much greater reality yet to come, i.e. the Kingdom of God. God is seen as a caring father who wants his children to live according to His Will, but will forgive those who stray so long as they recognize and try to correct their error or sin.

This does not mean there shall be no judgment, Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.(1) Jesus told of the signs that would precede the close of the age, For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places ... And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.(2) Of course these happenings can be recognized throughout human history, and many false prophets have worn the clothes of priesthood.

When asked for the great commandment Jesus replied You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. and You shall love your neighbour as yourself.(3) So Jesus asks that we are open towards God and live in harmony with our fellow man; a message of mutual tolerance and respect that could only benefit the troubled world of today.

But who, or what is God? Very few claim to have direct experience of Him, but we can speculate. The image of God as a white-haired old man sitting in the sky might be a little far-fetched but perhaps there is some supreme, omniscient, omnipotent power behind the world we experience? The concept of the universe having had some initial cause is somehow more satisfying than it just being there by chance. And what Creator wouldn't care about the progress of His achievement or want it to succeed?

If we accept the simple premise that we have free will (i.e. the ability to decide our own actions) we exceed the limitations of scientific explanation. We ourselves are able to act as a first cause, to impose our will on physical reality i.e. we possess a 'spark of divinity'. God created man in his own image(4). If we, of infinitesimal significance compared to the observable universe, have this power isn't it possible that there is something called God out there with far greater power?

Critics claim the Bible contradicts itself, making it all things to all men. The Old Testament says Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot(5), while later Jesus says Judge not, that you be not judged.(6) But of course these are two sides of the same coin. As the Qabalah balances Geburah (strength, severity) with Chesed (mercy), so man must learn to balance justice with forgiveness. We must accept the faults in others for none is perfect; but there must also be laws, and penalties for those who break them.

As with the symbols of the occult, the Bible does not provide instant enlightenment, it does prepare the seeker for certain landmarks which may be encountered on a personal journey through life. We are expected to use our powers of judgment to evaluate what we may find along the way.

A being from another planet observing a church service such as the Holy Communion would be hard pushed to distinguish it from a ceremony of ritual magick. Both seek to contact some unseen higher force. Both use carefully chosen words, weapons and robes charged with the symbolism of many centuries. What right has the follower of one path to mock those of the other?

Prayer is a central feature of the Christian faith, this is the act of seeking oneness with God, thanking him for his gifts, asking forgiveness for the errors and sins of the past and requesting guidance for the future. But what is this if not a meditation by another name?

The true meaning of Christianity has become detached from the churches organized in its name. How often is the sixth commandment broken in the name of religion? How many of the church-going classes twist the message of Christ to suit their own purposes? Beware of practising your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.(7) How many in the church are true believers and not just on board for an easy ride? Of course there are genuine churchmen, but the dog-collar does not maketh the wearer.

Bible references: 1 Matthew 13 40-42; 2 Matthew 24 7-11; 3 Matthew 22 37-39; 4 Genesis 1 27; 5 Deuteronomy 19 21; 6 Matthew 7 1; 7 Matthew 6 1.

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