Monday 31 August 2009

Heresy and Belief

Christianity borrowed and adapted from older religions, and the New Testament is, arguably, little more than a palimpsest. But perhaps the objection is more fundamental than that. The original parchment is, of course, Judaism, and prior to the advent of St. Paul Christianity was little more than a Judaic heresy.

Yes, the foundation is Judaic but it proceeds by way of an almost total misunderstanding, or, perhaps, a deliberate perversion of the mother tradition. The Messiah, the anointed one, of the Old Testament, is a figure who combines both spiritual and political power. He comes as an earthly ruler and spiritual authority, a judge rather than a saviour of souls; his power is of this world. Mohammed might be said to have been such a figure, and there have been others, pretenders of one kind or another, in both the Jewish and the Muslim tradition. But Jesus is not to be perceived in such a light, for the simple reason that the Messiah was not and could not be the son of God. For if God is one, indivisible and absolute, such a claim is logically absurd; it is also heretical.

So, Christianity, as a religion, is founded on a fallacy, an error of interpretation, and a heresy. So, has belief in itself been enough to give life to their God, to their Messiah, to their Christ? Perhaps it has, but it has also given rise to theological and philosophical problems beyond all resolution. However, there is another question, even more fundamental. Is it possible for a mortal to become God? Would belief in itself be sufficient to invest you or me or any of us with divine and miraculous powers?

Well, again perhaps, though it is not a question that I can answer. All I will say that if it is possible to give life to a god it is equally possible to kill him, and the Christians have been doing that, in their several ways, for well over a century.

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"


  1. Hello!
    You wrote:
    "Is it possible for a mortal to become God? Would belief in itself be sufficient to invest you or me or any of us with divine and miraculous powers?

    Well, again perhaps, though it is not a question that I can answer"

    No, that would contradict the laws of nature. According to science it is impossible to break the laws of nature, if that is what you mean by a "miracle". The Creator doesn't break His laws of nature either.

    (btw. proof for a Creator found in my blog).
    Anders Branderud

  2. Ana
    I have read this somewhat interesting blog with amazement.
    Here are my thoughts: Christianity was not heresy prior to St. Paul. Rather, it was the teaching of Jesus, who God had sent as the Messiah to the Jews to guide them back to the faith they had all but abandoned. However, they rejected him. The New Testament was interpolated but in it's original form, it consisted of the revelations Jesus received from God. I believe Jesus as the Messiah was very much a saviour of the souls.
    The advent of Muhammad was that on par with that of Moses; they were both law-bearing Prophets. The basis of Islam is of course in the belief of Unity of God.
    As I am not sure I know the reference of your paragraph in italic, I shall not comment on it.
    (You do not have to make this comment public. I simply wished to exchange views).

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  4. Thank you for that, Anders. It is indeed a complex question. I'll certainly have a look at your blog.

    Thank you also, Shermeen, for that thoughtful response. As far as I can tell-and I do stress that theology is not an area that I'm particularly confortable with-the Messiah, in Jewish tradition, would come as a great judge and law-maker, in the form of a Moses or a Muhammad, as you quite rightly say. Both Judaism and Islam are montheistic, so for a prophet to suggest that he was the actual Son of God would be heretical. That would seem to be the basis for the crucifixion. The passage in italics, incidentally, is from Nietzsche's Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Joyful Science), the section headed The Parable of the Madman. It is here that he says 'God is Dead.'

  5. Ana,
    Ah, Nietzsche! Well, no wonder I had no idea. Incidentally, our eldest has high opinion of Nietzsche, has read him well, but is also a firm believer in the Unity of God.

  6. I do too. Nietzsche's statement about God is really to do with the death of faith. The big question is what would morality be like, what shape would it take, if there was no God?

  7. This historical Jesus did not suggest that he was the actual/'unique' Son of God in any way other than many of his predecessors were. He may have emphasised it more because of his own fatherless birth (which is a whole new can of worms, so to say). I once wrote a long essay on the identity of Jesus being the only original element in Christianity.

  8. I would be interested in reading that, if you still have it, Rehan.

  9. Rehan, please forgive me but I'm reluctant to publicise my email address openly. I've had stalkers, even coming here. If you are brave enough to give me yours I will certainly respond.

  10. Good morning, Ana. I have dared to invite myself to your other realm! But, at the risk of sounding ungracious, I have to say that you're a bit wayward in your understanding of Christianity. Goodness knows what Amicus and Hawthorn would say to you.

    I'll just make one point for now - the New Testament in no way overwrites, supersedes or otherwise detracts from the Old, which is fully and indispensably a major part of Christian teaching.

    Jamie M

  11. Nice to see you here, Jamie, in the lair of the Imp. :-)

    It's difficult to explain exactly just how I think, Jamie, the way I examine things. I have, if you like, a compound brain in the way that a fly has a compound eye! Just think of this as a perspective, of someone standing outside both Jewish and Christian traditions and trying to see how they fitted one to the other. In the early days Christianity was, indeed, little more than a Jewish heresy. It was Paul who laid the foundations of a new religion.

    Anyway, do browse through my archive. You'll find other prespectives on Christianity, perhaps not quite so shocking, though you might want to avoid "Christianity and the Mother Goddess." :-) Again a big welcome.