Thursday, August 10, 2006

Open Letter to Christian Evangelists

I appreciate your sharing your religious views with me. I often do not reciprocate because I wish to avoid unnecessary conflict, but you seem so intense that I shall provide you with comments from my heart to yours.

Jesus’ life and teachings have such importance that we can lift them out of the bible altogether and they can stand on their own as the only primary religious truths on this world. We do not need any associated writings by prophets, seers, historians, philosophers, or epistleers.

Jesus spent over 4 years living and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and encouraging his followers to follow his lead and embrace that gospel:

  1. The reality of the sovereignty and Fatherhood of God – the Father loves us as his children.
  2. The truth of the Brotherhood of Man – we must love and unselfishly serve others
  3. Faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to do God’s will – to be like God

Through the faith-embrace of our eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father, following Jesus’ guidance and inspiration, we shall engage in eternal adventures with the Father’s individuated spirit presences within us as our constant companions, both here on earth, and in heaven.

We have the divinely endowed purpose here to learn to show the nature of our loving Heavenly Father to the others around us – to develop balanced and majestic personalities like that of Jesus.

To the extent Christianity or any other religion falls short of the above concepts, it fails the mission the Father set for Jesus on this world, and it fails the Great commission Jesus gave his apostles before he disappeared from view for the last time on the morning of Pentecost.

The above principles of the gospel sit in the Bible for all to read and heed, woven through Jesus’ life and teachings, both public and private. And yet, when I ask my Christian brothers to tell me the gospel in a nutshell, they usually tell me anything but the above, and add other things that never comprised the teachings or focus of Jesus’ religious life.

I believe Christianity contains more of Jesus’ teachings than any other religion, but that it fell grossly short of the above ambitions because of cult practices, denominationalism, dogmatizing, formalizing, polluting, and crystallizing the religion OF Jesus into a religion ABOUT Jesus.

That distraction retarded the spread of the gospel at least 1500 years, paving the way for the rise of Islam. Had early Christians remained loyal to the gospel of the Kingdom of God as expressed by Jesus, Muhammad would have embraced it and Islam would not exist as we know it today – Islam (Submission to the Will of God) would constitute the religion of Jesus I outlined above. In that respect, Christianity shot itself in the foot, and produced militant Islam to terrorize the world today. In fact, Islam’s growth has outpaced Christianity’s growth for the past several years.

Some day, Christianity must reform itself and rejuvenate its interest, thrust, and focus on the gospel of the Kingdom of God without all the other ritualistic, denominational, and dogmatic trappings. When and as it does, it will attract far more converts from misguided religions than it does today.

The question: will YOU play a role in that reformation and refocus, or will you tune in only to fundamentalist dogma that distracts from the Great Commission?

As just one example of the wrong focus, people somehow mention how others are “bound for hell” because of not embracing Paul’s atonement doctrine. A person who embraces the religion of Jesus has no concern for hell. He does not enter his religion out of fear of burning, but out of desire to walk with God, accept the Father’s inner leading, feel Jesus’ personal spirit presence (the “comforter”), and show the nature of the Father to others. The truth-seeker cannot help feeling a craving for those things, and the gospel gratifies that craving.

Christianity focuses on Paul’s atonement doctrine: Accept on faith that the death of Jesus constituted a human sacrifice that appeases God, atones for your sins, and allows you to have relationship with God, or you will burn in hell forever.”

That seems to ignore Luke 4:18, Luke 4:43, Matthew 6:14 and 15, Luke 10:25-28, Mark 12:29-31, and John 3:16, and to violate the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18:20 and Mark 16:15. In fact, Jesus started teaching the gospel before he ordained his apostles in the Sermon on the Mount, and he did not even mention his death till over 3 years into his public ministry. Therefore, neither his death nor any thing related to or derived from it had any role in the gospel teachings. Jesus’ gospel also did not concern his status as Messiah or a divine being, for he told his apostles to stay quiet about it. And yet, Jesus very clearly said he came here to teach the gospel of the Kingdom of God

Upon dedicing to start his public mission. Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…

After selecting the first apostles, but before ordaining them. Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

After ordaining his apostles. Luke 4:43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

Over 3 years into his public ministry. Matthew 16:20-21 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Just 8 months before his death. Mark 9:9-10 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

You see from the above chronology that the gospel could not possibly contain any element of the Atonement Doctrine.

On top of that, Jesus’ very clear teachings about Love and Forgiveness, and God’s father relationship to us as his children constitute the essence of his teachings, and they also make the Atonement Doctrine impossible.

You receive the Father’s forgiveness you if you forgive others, but not if you don’t.
Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

You live forever (in Heaven) if you love God and your fellow humans. Luke 10:25-28 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

You must believe Jesus’ teachings (which you will if you accept his authority to teach) in order to live forever. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

He supplemented the Ten Commandments with a new one. John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

He made it clear that we already have the Father’s spirit within us. Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

He even claimed that his own spirit dwells with us. John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

He loyally taught the Gospel the Father sent him to teach. John 17:7-10 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

His last Commandment, the Great Commission. Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He claimed absolute divine authority from the Father. Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

He said to spread his commands, not Paul’s atonement doctrine. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

So now I ask: why would you take Paul’s atonement doctrine to heart above the direct unequivocal teachings of Jesus, particularly when Paul never met Jesus in person and never listened to his teachings? Paul’s letters caused much mischief in the spread of Christianity. They corrupted the simple gospel of the Kingdom of God with the personal religious philosophy of Paul.

For that reason, I encourage you as follows: refocus on the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus.

Thanks for allowing me to share my views with you.

Bob Hurt.


Rev. Doyle said...

In my studies and walk with Christ the Urantia Book came to me in 1974. My Ordination as a Christian Minister was a very hard choice for me to make, because of the bibilical doctrine teaching I recieved and the Truth I discovered in Urantia.
Then through Prayer, medition and study I was able to understand there is no wrong way to God the Father. As a Minister helping to guide souls to become citizens of the heavenly kingdom from here on earth where there is only incompleteness, I have used our masters teaching from the Bible to bring others forward. For the time period of Paul of Tarsus, the culture was still making animal sacrifices. Paul's doctrine of atonement was a necessary compromise to keep the Masters teachings alive at the time.
We receive as we are can comprehend and there are many who turn to religion and God in time of trouble and guilt, of course Atonement isn't a necessary concept for teaching the Gospel but it can be very comforting and in a real sense Christ had to die of the flesh so we could be reborn in the spirit.
I enjoyed reading you discourse very much and with your permission I would like to post it on my website. With credits and links back to here and/or the forum whichever you prefere.

Er. Rajan C Mathew FIE said...

Dear Bob,
You very aptly stressed the essence of the teachings of Jesus on earth. It is unfortunate that the so called followers of Jesus are not able to open up their minds to receive the truths. Our book, the Urantia Book, would slowly and surely lead the men and women of this earth to realize the essence of good living, in the ages ahead, if not now.
Loving regards.

Bob Hurt said...

I encourage all readers to share my comments above with others, via email, mail, pamphlet, website, and any and all other media.

Bob Hurt