Category Archives: Renaissance

The Struggles of Early Christianity: Augustine and Mani, Earthly and Cosmic Christ

This blog seeks to reopen the debates of Early Christianity about the principles: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. It seeks to understand what was meant by the Logos and the Paraclete. I stumbled upon a blog that was perfect for this journey. The following is quoted from Mieke Mosmuller’s philosophical reflections blog.  Augustine and Manicheism III

“In the book ‘Contra Faustum’ Augustine writes as follows and we can see clearly, what Rudolf Steiner meant:

Faustus objects to the incarnation of God on the ground that the evangelists are at variance with each other, and that incarnation is unsuitable to deity. Augustine attempts to remove the critical and theological difficulties.

1. Faustus said: Do I believe in the incarnation? For my part, this is the very thing I long tried to persuade myself of, that God was born; but the discrepancy in the genealogies of Luke and Matthew stumbled me, as I knew not which to follow. For I thought it might happen that, from not being omniscient, I might take the true for false, and the false for true. So, in despair of settling this dispute, I betook myself to Mark and John, two authorities still, and evangelists as much as the others. I approved with good reason of the beginning of Mark and John, for they have nothing of David, or Mary, or Joseph. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” meaning Christ. Mark says, “The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” as if correcting Matthew, who calls him the Son of David. Perhaps, however, the Jesus of Matthew is a different person from the Jesus of Mark. This is my reason for not believing in the birth of Christ.

Remove this difficulty, if you can, by harmonizing the accounts, and I am ready to yield. In any case, however, it is hardly consistent to believe that God, the God of Christians, was born from the womb.

2. Augustine replied: Had you read the Gospel with care, and inquired into those places where you found opposition, instead of rashly condemning them, you would have seen that the recognition of the authority of the evangelists by so many learned men all over the world, in spite of this most obvious discrepancy, proves that there is more in it than appears at first sight. Any one can see, as well as you, that the ancestors of Christ in Matthew and Luke are different; while Joseph appears in both, at the end in Matthew and at the beginning in Luke. Joseph, it is plain, might be called the father of Christ, on account of his being in a certain sense the husband of the mother of Christ; and so his name, as the male representative, appears at the beginning or end of the genealogies. Any one can see as well as you that Joseph has one father in Matthew and another in Luke, and so with the grandfather and with all the rest up to David. Did all the able and learned men, not many Latin writers certainly, but innumerable Greek, who have examined most attentively the sacred Scriptures, overlook this manifest difference? Of course they saw it. No one can help seeing it. But with a due regard to the high authority of Scripture, they believed that there was something here which would be given to those that ask, and denied to those that snarl; would be found by those that seek, and taken away from those that criticise; would be open to those that knock, and shut against those that contradict. They asked, sought, and knocked; they received, found, and entered in.”

This quote shows the great debates within early Christianity. Those with ties to the Old Mysteries that persisted until the 4th Century, sought for the Cosmic Christ and could not accept that a divine being would, or even could, incarnate into matter. The physical world had evolved from being maya, illusion, to be the creation of a lesser-god that, through temptation, had corrupted Mankind. But the New Mysteries, established on Golgotha, declared that this God, the Christ, had indeed fully incarnated into a physical body and, by doing so, had altered the future path of Mankind and the Earth. But the forces promoting a physical Christ, could not figure out the birth of Christ. The mysteries of the Baptism and the Transfiguration were already lost. Gone too, by the time of Augustine, was the understanding of the different between Jesus and Christ. Grasping this difference made the birth stories of Matthew and Luke understandable. For the four Gospels, are not contradicting each other. The Birth of Christ is at the Baptism. Now this paper  about Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks will make more sense.

THE SUN IS RISING, AN EASTER STORY

The sun was rising as I slid into Dan’s waiting car. “Good morning” I bid him and off to the office we sped. Dan’s eyes were focused on the intersection ahead as he posed common courtesy questions. After getting through our health and well being replies, I asked “All set for Easter?” as it was only three days away.
 
Dan, raised Catholic but trained as a scientist, replied, “as much as I need to.” He paused, and then continued, “You know, I find it incredible that the world’s biggest religion wants for us to believe in a fairytale of a Jewish boy who was born not only as our spiritual father but also as another God or two! No, I don’t buy this born-of-a-virgin tale used to white-wash his criminal deeds. Essentially this good guy was a disrupter of the peace who was punished, perhaps too severely, for his crimes with death and then we are to believe that he rose from the dead. Geez Louise.”
 
Quietly I listened. Also schooled as a scientist, I knew I too had mocked this same way years ago. But something about my grandfather had touched me deeply. He was a 33° Mason and, at one point, head of all its lodges in Ohio. I never joined the Masons but my curiosity in esoteric Christianity was ignited by him. It was a hidden flame that grew stronger over my adult years.
 
With my eyes fixed on the road ahead, I thought again about the Mystery of Golgotha and how the crowd had thought that Elijah might come to help him. But no such help came. As he died with a loud cry, the veil of the temple tore in half from top to bottom thereby exposing the Holy of the Holies. No longer could the veil hide the ancient mysteries of the Jewish people. The Roman centurion observing this realized its significance when he said “Surely this man was the Son of God.”
 
The radio droned on about why the local team had made a mistake in trading one of their stars as I recalled how, when my youngest child entered school, I had studied, during this newly offered spare time, those ancient mysteries. My recollection drifted to Isis’s statement “no mortal may lift my veil!” Of course, I had realized back then, no mortal! But, what happens when we become immortal? Does one lift her veil after initiation?
 
My recollection flowed on to recall my excitement when I realized a couple years later that this Temple Veil was indeed the Veil of Isis, of Sophia, woven by Lucifer to hide the spiritual world from all save the temple priests. And as Christ died, the tearing of this veil for all of humanity opened the Mysteries for all of humanity. It was foretold at the baptism when the veil of the heavens opened and in the form of a white dove the spirit of Christ had descended and remained upon the one called Jesus of Nazareth. There on the Jordan, it was John, the reincarnated Elijah, who witnessed from the earth this opening of the veil. On Golgotha, John, in a different form, again was present. Instinctively the crowd knew that Elijah was there. But as Grunewald wrote on his masterpiece, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Yes, that time for the new mysteries had come. For three years the god Christ had been incarnating into this physical vehicle until accomplished for his triumphant entry to the holy city of the human body while riding humbly on a donkey.
 
In that magical moment, I felt that I knew something Dan did not. I could see where he could not. But I shut down the pride that arose. Silently I sat in my seat unaware of the sportscaster’s claims. After a short, silently wailing while, I said “shall we do dinner together tonight after work?”

Materialism and Christianity

Easter was THE important Christian festival. St. Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain.” A key purpose to the Council of Nicaea was to set the date of Easter (as calendars in those days had insufficient leap years to prevent the spring equinox from sliding in March towards February). The festival of the birth of Jesus was not at all celebrated. Christians felt that Jesus (both of Matthew’s gospel and of Luke’s) was born as a man and Christ entered this body at the baptism. As full of mystery as birth and baptism may be, for early Christians the important new mystery was what happened from Golgotha to the grave to the resurrection.  With the early Christians, we do not find symbols of the suffering of Christ; rather we find their focus is on the resurrection.

Later, after 325 when the Council of Nicaea took place, materialism began to set in; even Christianity succumbed. The symbolic emphasis moved to the suffering Christ on the crucifix, to the bodily suffering of Christ. The crucifix is the expression of the transition to materialism taking root in Christianity. Spiritual reality is expelled by materialism. This comes to full reality with the 8th Ecumenical Council (Fourth in Constantinople). Here, by majority vote of the bishops, 27 canons were passed. The eleventh canon states “Though the Old and New Testaments teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul [compare to Aristotle], and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means, using a wisdom that has been made foolishness. Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.”Diagram of body soul spirit

Photius, who is revered as a saint in the Eastern Church but despised in the West, had argued that Aristotle indicated that each person has two aspects to their soul, one aspect focuses on the senses of the physical body and is thereby liable to error while another aspect focuses on the spiritual and is thus immune to error. With this decree, however, the human was reduced; no longer body, soul, and spirit, but now only body and (one) soul. One could be excommunicated from Christ’s Church for stating anything differently. When Christianity reaches the twentieth century, few theologians use or understand the term ‘soul’ anymore. Materialism reigns supreme.

Following this Ecumenical Council, the Eucharist was altered. Only the ‘prepared’ priests could receive the wine while all received just the body, the bread. For the congregation, this meant only the body matters. The troubadours then come to this drama to sing about the search for the Holy Grail. Where has the blood of Christ gone? Spirit triumphant over death, over the physical fades away replaced by portrayals the pain-racked soul of Jesus. Who guards and sustains mankind? Replacing the Triumphant Son of Man is the Man of Sorrows.

The Knights Templars dash onto this scene two hundred years later. In their initiation ceremony, one was led to understand why they rejected the crucifix as a symbol of their Christianity. Supposedly, during the initiation process, the elect was to spit on a cross that had an image of the suffering savior.

Western culture where materialism is most deeply rooted must find a renewal of the Easter experience. The renewed Easter thought should lead one to be lifted into the Spirit.  Christ then becomes ‘visible’ as a super-sensible, super-earthly Being who entered into the stream of earthly evolution.

At the tomb that is the body, do we see only the stone? When we enter the tomb (Oh Man, Know Thou Thyself — Delphi) can we see the Kingdom within? Will we find “The One you seek is not here” or will we find “The One Who is here now,” the one Who from the spirit calls you to your spirit-awakening.

“In this Easter mood we shall also be able to find the strength with which our will must be imbued if the forces of decline are to be countered by those which lead humanity upwards. We need the forces that can bring about this ascent. And the moment we truly understand the Easter thought of Resurrection, this Easter thought — bringing warmth and illumination — will kindle within us the forces needed for the future evolution of mankind. Easter must become an inner festival, a festival in which we celebrate in ourselves the victory of the Spirit over the body. But we need the Christ for Whom we can seek in our inmost being, because when we truly seek Him, He at once appears.” — Rudolf Steiner,The Festivals and Their Meaning II, Lecture 4, March 27, 1921.

Was Leonardo a Christian Mystic?

This theme has been one that has caught my attention for the past 15 years or so. We all know that Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible genius and is known as The Renaissance Man. The inventions in his notebooks were way ahead of his time. Did young Leonardo receive special training in Florence from the likes of Ficino, Plethon, and Argyropoulos? Were the initiations of the Cathars still active in Florence despite their genocide via the Albigensian Crusade and the Dominican-led Inquisition? What was taught at the Plato Academy at Careggi that so inspired Florentine artists to depict scenes from Greek mythology?  My lecture on this subject can be found here.

I was given a book on this subject a couple years ago but it has waited until this month for me to begin reading it.  OMG – anyone interested in this subject should read it. While I don’t agree with all of the conclusions reached, the research, investigation, and academic thoroughness are top notch. The book is The Two Children by David Ovason, Century press in London, ISBN 0 7126 84921. Wow, I wish I had read this 15 years ago! Of course, it was only published in 2001.

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