Reforming Christianity II - Breaking With Churchianity
In the last article, I took a stab at deconstructing the Old Testament. There’s so much to say about that sloppy mess of a “holy” text, but I basically confined myself to pointing out that it’s not as old as it portends to be, that it’s not about a universalist god, but an ethnic deity, and that the Jewish supremacist narrative it presents is poisonous and evil.
You’d think that be enough for my target audience of ostensibly right-wing, nationalist-type people to start seriously reconsidering whether or not they want anything to do with the OT. I really should be able to end the discussion on the three points that I mentioned above with no more needing to be said, but the fear-based mind-control programming runs deep, unfortunately. Fear of being wrong, fear of Yahweh’s wrath and fear of the Jews’ very real earthly power are all no doubt motivating factors.
So, the only way out is through at this point, and plowing ahead our only recourse to try and reach these frightened, cowering, and hapless lost souls.
Remember how your English teacher in high school always tried to find hidden narratives in books like The Scarlet Letter and so on? Mine was always finding allusions to homosexuality in the classics. But maybe things were better when you were in school and the rot hadn’t gotten so bad in the education system. Or maybe you also had a lisping fairy teach you about American literature too, I don’t know. The true lesson that you should have learned while studying The Scarlet Letter with your homosexual high school teacher is that anyone with a clever mind and a sharp tongue can reinterpret a text any which way that he wants.
This realization helps quite a bit when making sense of religion as well.
Case in point, we are told that the Old Testament is actually a collection of books predicting the coming of Jesus Christ. You really have to squint and read the book diagonally to come even close to seeing what they mean with this one. Anyone who went into reading the Torah without knowing what it was supposed to be about would come away with the conclusion that it’s a book about the murderous rampage of a psychotic tribe of desert people through the ancient world. Then, they’d read the prophets and come away thinking that it was about Jews proclaiming to the world that their jealous deity would conquer the world using a Jewish warlord or a high priest as his instrument of destruction. And that angry angels would come down and wreak vengeance on cities and kingdoms that had snubbed the Jews at some point in their history.
Luckily, we have priests, the church equivalent of English teachers, really, to tell us that we’re reading it all wrong. That all that Jewish supremacist stuff is actually about the coming of Christ and world peace. Frankly, at the pace we’re going, we’re only a few years away from a singularity event where Western Churchianity will declare that, actually, if you really squint and look at the text diagonally, Christ was a person of color and a bisexual to boot, bringing their narrative into line with my high school English teacher’s worldview. I will, on account of my age, probably live to see that day, unfortunately.
Jokes aside, the whole justification for the inclusion of the Old Testament into Nicene Christianity is that the coming of Christ is prophesied by Yahweh’s prophets and that references to Christ are everywhere in the Old Testament. This is simply not true. It is such a bald-faced lie that I chuckle and shake my head every time that I hear this claim and know in my heart of hearts that this line only ever worked because most peasants, even if they ostensibly know how to read, are functionally illiterate. Also, it is much easier to convince people to believe a lie than it is to show them how they’ve been duped. People have a hard time understanding the concept of the “Big Lie” in general. Little lies, the kind of lies that they themselves tell and are told are one thing. But big ones about, say, the official chronology of our history or about vaccines or about the 6 mill— … you know what, never mind.
But this is part of a larger process that involved the nascent new religion’s gradual Judaization.
As we get to what is understood to be Christianity proper, we can’t help but notice that there are at least two strains of it - the anti-Judaic and the pro-Judaic. These two categories also overlap quite neatly with what is now labeled Gnostic and what would go on to become the standardized Churchianity that we know today. The Gnostics, after all, believed that the god of the Jews was a demonic entity, possibly even the Demiurge himself, while Churchians worship the Jews’ God and claim Christ had some familial relation to him. This is key to understanding the struggle within early Christianity and the reason for why we have a Judaized version of it now. Point being, you may disagree with the Gnostic school of thought, but you have to concede that it was clearly the more anti-Judaic of the two.
With all that out of the way, we should have a talk about the New Testament.
The Gospel of Mark and the letters of Paul are very anti-Judaic. Hardly a good word is spared for the so-called Apostles in Mark. Peter is a dupe and a traitor who gets constantly rebuked by Jesus. If read on its own, the narrative is quite clear: Christ isn’t a big fan of the Jews that he mingles with and wants nothing to do with their religion, refusing to declare himself the blood heir of David and going out of his way to flaunt their traditions.
But, of course, none of that matters when you rely on an authority to interpret the text for you.
The standard Church narrative is that Peter’s failings are a metaphor for the shortcomings of man instead of it being a clear attack by the author Mark on Peter, an actual historical religious figure. The Church believes that it can decide what is a metaphor and what should be interpreted literally in their religion. Someone at some point in Church history put his stamp of approval on a particular interpretation and this became dogma. Referencing established dogma is enough to end all discussion on the matter.
Luckily, truth doesn’t actually work that way.
By the time we get to Matthew, who the Church insists came before Mark despite all textual and historical proof to the contrary, we see the full-blown Judaization agenda in the new and improved story of Christ’s life. We are told that he is a circumcised rabbi and that, really, Peter and the other clowns around him (the Apostles) who were used for comedic relief in Mark were really not all that bad. This is, again, an attempt to Correct the Record (tm) by a writer with a political agenda in mind. Mark and Paul were too anti-Judaic, you see? The narrative had to be toned down.
With Paul, we have a very clear message that shines out through the first 10 authentic letters (edited as they are) which has to do with a rejection of Moses’ laws (the 613 mitzvot of the Old Testament) and a promotion of a mystical kind of religiosity. Paul says that Moses did not speak with God on Mt. Sinai, but with angels, who, in Paul’s understanding, are not chubby babies with wings, but dark archons who keep us shackled to a fallen world. Paul also talks about rejecting “the Yoke of Moses” and rejects the authority of the Jewish ruling caste of priests. He attempts to reinterpret the Old Testament to serve his own agenda and ease Hellenized Jews into moving past it.
Peter, in contrast, was basically just promoting basically a modified form of Judaism. As far as we can tell from Paul’s letters, this was the source of their conflict. Peter, by the way, is remembered fondly by the Jewish rabbis of today, who believe that he was a secret friend of the Jews, a fisherman from Judea who went to Rome and did his best to get Rome to stop persecuting his compatriots. If it’s any consolation, Peter almost certainly died in Jerusalem and never went to Rome. Peter and James - the so-called pillars of the Jerusalem Church - probably got killed because they got caught up in the Jewish revolutionary political movements of their time in Palestine against Rome.
Naturally, the later writings in Luke-Acts, which are yet another attempt to Correct the Record (tm) on early Church history and solidify the position of the Petrine Church in Rome, try to sanitize the apparent conflict described in Paul’s letters by saying that the two titans made peace in the end.
Paul, in contrast to Peter, as most of us know from Sunday school, spent most of his time with the gentiles i.e., the Greeks and Romans spread throughout the empire. But the more important difference to consider is that his metaphysics was quite Greek, with Paul going so far as to proclaim to the Athenians that he was preaching the gospel of the “Unknown God” a deity conceptualized by the Greeks as being higher than the gods of traditional cosmology - Zeus, Poseidon, Ares and so on. Furthermore, when Paul speaks about the Christ, it isn’t about a physical person that he met somewhere, but about a mystical vision that he had. The first mention of Christ that we have is from Paul, and, surprise surprise, “Christ” is a Greek word. Paul and Mark go further still and borrow the concept of Anastasis from the Greeks - of spiritual rebirth - which is curiously completely absent within all the writings of the Jews leading up to that period.
I am hardly the first to postulate that Paul was a part of the gnostic faction - the gnostics themselves claimed him centuries ago, and scholars have caught up to these claims today. Mark’s gospel, in keeping with this narrative, doesn’t even have an earthly origin story for his Christ.
Again, that all changes with Matthew, who insists on Jesus being a Jewish rabbi born to a Jewish woman, and advanced the supposed historical fact that the graves of Jerusalem opened and a zombie army rose from the earth upon Jesus’ death. This episode is curiously absent in the Roman records of the time and it is a crude Judaization of the Greek idea of spiritual Anastasis. The resurrection became earthly and physical and materialist - a concept that the Jews, a profoundly anti-spiritual people by their nature, could wrap their heads around.
The Christianity project, in general, was also almost certainly an Imperial project - an attempt to create a syncretic, universal religion that could be accepted and applied to the various peoples of the Roman Empire. As such, it borrowed elements from both the dominant Greek culture and other subordinated cultures as well. It was paramount to get the Jews to go along with this new religion by tweaking their belief system. Their worldview was too anti-Roman and exclusionary, leading to constant rebellions in Palestine and Judea. Paul’s teachings are decidedly far more pro-Greek and pro-Roman while Peter’s and James’ are just hardline ethno-Judaism. Just look at the narrative presented in Maccabees where the Jews brag about massacring helpless Greeks and forcibly circumcizing their boys during the Maccabean revolt while crying out, “Mi chamocha ba'elim YAHWEH, which, according to Wikipedia, translates to "Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Lord!" Yes, that’s your god ordering the massacre of Greeks, your cultural ancestors, the primogenitors of our European culture as we know it.
Anyways, the Romans knew that something had to be done.
Now, in the comments section of my last post, some posters raised the issue of Christ’s real identity. There is a popular revisionist theory out there now that Jesus Christ was just a reworked Julius Caesar. While I certainly think that Julius Caesar deserves to be worshipped as a demi-god in the pantheon of European heroes at the very least, I don’t find the rest of the argument too convincing. Sure, Mark no doubt cribbed a lot from the story of the populist strongman and hero of the peasants and proles when crafting the story of his own protagonist, but that’s as far as I’ll go with the Caesar argument. Furthermore, it leaves us with the question of “what next?” because one is going to go along with a Caesar-worship cult in the current year.
Me, I’m convinced by the argument that Christ’s story as told by Mark was also partly a re-telling of Paul’s story. Just think: both men went to war with the Jewish establishment and had a strong pro-Roman message to share with their followers. Both men also had a strong dislike of Peter, who appears to have been Paul’s archenemy during his proselytizing campaign, eventually leading to the famous confrontation in Galatians where Paul urges Peter to cut his own member off. Oh and Paul and Christ are also both often depicted with swords … but that’s just another a parallel that I personally see and I don’t know how scholarly such an assertion on my part is, so take it with a grain of salt.
By the time we get to Tertullian centuries later, we have a holy man of the Roman Church denouncing Paul as the “father of all heresies” and proclaiming, “what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” which is a clear attack on Paul’s hellenized teachings and the Pauline Church and was interpreted as such at the time. Tertullian, a hateful semite rat, despised the Greeks so much that he decided that the Church would adopt Latin going forward, raising questions about whether or not Latin was ever a real language or not … but I digress.
I bring Tertullian up because he is part of a concerted semitic attack on Marcion and Paul and because he was yet another leading activist for the judaization of Christianity. Naturally, he equated Yahweh with the supreme deity of the universe and subordinated Christ to this deity. Yes indeed, you read that right, the ardent fighter of heresies was himself a heretic who did not understand the Holy Trinity. And yet, his attacks on Marcion served the Church’s purpose, and so he occupies a position of honor in Church history, despite his blatant “Yahweh First” agenda, while Marcion does not.
All this is to say, again, is that there were at least two different strains of early Christianity - Paul’s and friends’ vs Peter’s and friends’. This conflict begins in the letters of Paul and continues right up to the Nicene Council, with Peter’s faction eventually winning out. The faction that ended up being called the heretics were the Greek-inspired Gnostics, who regarded Paul as their spiritual father, although Paul was almost certainly tapping into an even older Greek tradition himself.
Naturally, the Church denies that Paul had anything to do with what the heretics taught, while also leaning on the arguments of people like Tertullian who accuse Paul of being the source of all of these anti-Judaic heresies. There are, indeed, clear heretical, gnostic themes in Paul’s letters if one reads them without relying on Churchian interpretations to keep oneself on the straight and narrow path of theological orthodoxy. You can, if you squint your eyes and read the text diagonally, come to the realization that Paul and Peter had no conflicts and that there was no split in the early Church. Alternatively, you can also open your eyes a bit wider and see that our Churchianity is a far more Judaized form of what Christianity could have been.
With all of that out of the way,I think we can start talking about Marcion and what I believe is the path forward to reforming Christianity.
It should be obvious, at this point, what I’m gearing up to say next.