The "Battle for God"
Most of us are painfully aware of the verbal and physical conflicts plaguing and dividing us, many of which are initiated or perpetuated by those claiming to be religious Jews or Christians or Muslims.
As it grew worse and worse in recent decades many progressive scholars have been trying to explain how and why "religious fundamentalism," particularly within Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has driven misguided zealots to become more desperate and to increasingly resort to judgmental and dictatorial attitudes and positions.
Most critics of the "religious right" trace the roots of modern fundamentalism to early 20th-century religious Zionists in Palestine (who succeeded in getting the U.N. to establish the modern state of Israel in 1948), then to biblically literalist American Protestants on the Christian Right in America, and to Shiite Muslims in Iran and elsewhere in the Mid-East.
The problem has since grown immense, because proud and militant religious zealots claiming to serve Judaism or Christianity or Islam have increasingly resorted to violence and killing in order to assert themselves and their bigoted "fundamentalist" ideology. They justify themselves with the misguided doctrines of men, believing that God is on their side in a "holy war." However, while they claim they are honest and devout and seek only to "do God’s will," they unwittingly betray God as they fight for worldly power, and they serve not God or humanity, but themselves and those who support them.
However, that battle which is fought in the political arena and on the battlefields is discussed in many other articles on this web site, and this article is about a more subtle, behind the scenes "battle" going on.
In fact, it's a competitive battle that is usually so subtle that it could be called a passive-aggressive competition for "spiritual" status, power, and hierarchy.
In other words, it’s a contest over who is, or who will be, the "religious" authority.
It may not yet be physically aggressive or harmful, as the organized fundamentalist religious battles are, but it could become so. Even at best, it does produce other forms of conflict and division.
This contest or competition stems from differing beliefs about the coming of a man who fulfills the prophecy of a Mashiach of Judaism, the Messiah of Christianity, the Kalki Avatar of Hinduism, the Buddha Maitreya of Buddhism, the Saoshyant of Zoroastrianism, and the Imam Mahdi of Islam. And, in a lesser way, it even involves expectations of the coming of Melchizedek, or the Hopi’s Pahana, the Mayan’s Kukulcan, the Aztec’s Quetzalcoatl, among many other titles and names for an expected "holy one."
Ironically, the one who does fulfill all those prophecies confesses he is not holy, and states strongly and clearly that only the Lord of hosts, the Lord God, who is in heaven, is the one and only Holy One and Savior, regardless of what you may call Him/Her. For God has both male and female aspects, as has been recognized by all who truly know God and have Wisdom.
For example, according to the Book of Wisdom (which many believe was written by Solomon): "Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her. And Wisdom is far better than weapons of war."
The humble and great Jewish leader, Hillel the Elder, understood the book of Wisdom before Jesus was born. Hillel taught the Golden Rule first, and originated the Talmudic tradition, which is interpretation of the Torah. But Hillel did not consider himself as "holy." He served the Holy One.
Jesus of Nazareth also understood the book of Wisdom, and contrary to what many Christians have been led to believe, Jesus did not consider himself good or holy either. In fact, even though he realized he was "one" with God, he also said that all human beings can realize that. Moreover, he said that a servant of God should not consider himself greater than his master, which is why he said: "God is greater than I." He also said: "Do not call me good, for only God is good." And he said:"You have not heard God’s voice or seen God’s shape at any time." For Jesus too served God the Holy One.
The mistake human beings make is seeking Divinity in the world, rather than within. That is why many ancient sovereigns and emperors got away with being regarded as Divinity, and that is why even today some religions or religious denominations or sects look to human patriarchs and regard them as Divinity.
This common human error has caused many people to believe in a person, whether dead or living, as the "incarnation" of God the Holy One. Some believe such a one has already come and gone. Some believe such a one is here now. And some believe such a one is yet to come. But all such beliefs are misguided, because the only Holy One is God in heaven, which is also within, above and around us all.
This subject is a sensitive and touchy one, but it’s time that the subject be broached because unless we reach a sufficient level of understanding about it, the conflicts and divisions will only continue and get worse. Followers will increasingly ignore the teachings of their "masters," and argue over whose "master" is really the master.
As the modern son of man sings in a song, "Lots of people say they know God’s name. But to me, they all speak of the same; Of the Great Spirit-Parent who loves us all. Why fight over a name? Why don’t we tear down that wall?"
Since Christianity is the largest religion in the world, we should understand why its scriptures warned that there would be many "hypocrites, false prophets and false shepherds" now at the end of the age, dividing and misleading people. For it is true, after all, that many hypocrites, false prophets and false shepherds have been leading their blind flocks astray.
However, many of the hypocrites, false prophets and false shepherds claim to be Christians, and no one should assume that all the teachings of all the other religious and spiritual leaders in the world today are false just because they are not exclusively Christian. In fact, those who understand Christianity in the light of other religions and spiritual teachings are more receptive to, and better express, the real truth.
To understand the actual message of Jesus of Nazareth one needs to understand that Jesus was not "God Incarnate" or "the only begotten son of God." In spite of the Nicene Creed and the Christian scriptures that would seem to justify that idea, Jesus of Nazareth was a son of man conceived from the union of his father Joseph’s seed and his mother Mary’s egg (as is explained in the article on The Virgin Birth Story).
Nevertheless, Jesus of Nazareth was a Mashiach or Messiah-Christ, and he was also a Buddha and an Avatar who realized his and our oneness with God, as many truly enlightened ones have.
As is explained in the article on The Highest State of Consciousness, many human beings in the history of humanity have realized that they were one with God, and that God is within. All human beings are capable of realizing that.
The error is in thinking that only one person can be, has been, or is "God Incarnate," because even Jesus was not, and no other person has been or will be. Again, that is why Jesus said "God is greater than I," and "You have not heard God’s voice or seen God’s shape at any time."
That is because, at best, a son of man can only be a servant of God even if and even though he realizes he is one with God.
Even so, during the last fifty years there have been and even today there are individuals acclaimed as "God-Man." They have been and are regarded as the Christ or the Buddha or the Avatar or the Mahdi or the Saoshyant or some other title, or as one who fulfills all prophecies and serves in an all-encompassing role.
Several decades ago it became evident to many of us that there were several men either claiming to be or acclaimed as the modern Avatar-Buddha-Saoshyant-Christ-Mahdi, etc. Some of them are still around, and new ones have joined their number. Some of them have been or are frauds and imposters, but even the frauds express many truths, which makes them appear to be genuine. After all, if they didn’t, no one would buy what they have to say.
Like genuine spiritual teachers, teachers who claim sovereign Divinity for themselves have offered and do offer much wisdom and truth. However, they are wrong to the extent that they claim to be, or are regarded by their devotees to be, the ultimate Divinity as Man-as-God, or "God-Man," or "God Incarnate."
No Avatar or Buddha or Christ or any other representative or host for Divinity has ever been "God Himself." Yeshuah who was Jesus of Nazareth was not either, because no man has ever been, is, or can be. No individual man is or has ever been "God Incarnate," individually, because all human beings are, in a sense, incarnations of God, the Great Spirit-Parent of all. The primordial "Word" of God is made flesh in us all, and at best human beings can realize that, and realize that we are at once one with God, and one with all our fellow human beings. (See The Highest State of Consciousness.)
To put it in Christian terms, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was and still is God. In the Word is Life, and the Life is the Light of human beings. It will always be. For the Word and the Light of God is made flesh in all men and women born into this world. In fact, the Divine Light-Energy of God is the Source of our existence, and the Essence of all life and form. And God is our God, by any other name, and there is no other.
Of course, in spite of contradictory opinion, certain Hindu doctrines claim that a Hindu Avatar is God, and Christian doctrine also makes that claim. What we read in certain verses in the Christian gospels calling Jesus the Lord God and Savior, rather than a Mashiach (Messiah), and the Nicene Creed which claims that Jesus was "God Incarnate" and born of a virgin, has led people to believe it. But it is not true, as is explained in the articles About Christianity, The Virgin Birth Story, The Martyrdom of Jesus, Wisdom and Judgment, and The Highest State of Consciousness.
Similarly, no Hindu Avatar or Siddha or Sat Guru or Swami has been or is "God Incarnate." In correct Hindu terminology, Brahman is the formless, infinite Supreme Being and Creator, while the Atman is the Supreme Soul, also called the Ancient One or the Oversoul. But, while the Atman within can be realized and a human being can realize that he is one with the Atman and with Brahman/God, it does not mean that the individual is a unique incarnation of "God Himself."
If Jesus said such things as "I am the Light and the Truth," and "Before Abraham was, I am," he was speaking as, but for, the Ancient One, the Atman, the Oversoul. He realized his oneness with the Ancient Soul, and with God. For those who have realized that God is within us and we are within God have felt that oneness, and some have expressed it. But it is now time to understand the phenomenon, and realize that all human beings are capable of realizing that the True Self is the Self of All.
Therefore, we should not regard any man or any woman as "Holy," because the only Holy One is God, who is called by many names. Self-realized men and women can be honored, and even exalted as great teachers, but to worship any person is to worship an idol. To regard any person or place as "holy" is to not recognize God’s entire Creation.
Human beings living on earth can no longer sustain, and they should not try to justify, the idea that one individual or one religion is superior to all others. We must rise above that antiquated notion, just as we must rise above and advance beyond the notion that one race or nation or culture is superior to all others. It’s just not true.
Unfortunately, because some human beings believe it is true, because some are prone to look to "holy men" or conquering heroes, and because they argue and even fight over which person was or is holy or righteous, the son of man who actually delivers righteous judgment and fulfills the prophecies of all the religions in the world has been rejected by his generation, and has suffered many things, just as prophets like Isaiah and Jesus foresaw and foretold.
Part of the reason the son of man is rejected is because he is not a theologian. He does not favor any particular religion, nor has he memorized or even read all the scriptures or books of any particular religion. God and the Universal Spirit of truth requires only that the son of man understands what is at the core and heart of all religions, so that he may remind humanity of the true purpose of their religions – to instruct people that they should love God the Supreme Universal Consciousness, and love one another as they love God.
That is why it is crucial that all humanity understand the function and role of the son of man, the main messenger for the Spirit of truth, who claims not divinity for himself, or power for himself, but rather delivers the message that empowers and liberates us all.
Now of course, there are a number of good and true spiritual teachers in the world who also serve the Spirit of truth. Some of them can tell you much of the same universal truth that the messenger has to tell you, because they have been given the gift of revelation and realization of divine, eternal, universal truths. In fact, the son of man admits that some of them are far more learned and knowledgeable than he is in some respects, and they have much to teach those who wish to learn from them.
But, the prophesied messenger of God and the Spirit of truth is different, and unique. He must be a spiritual teacher in his own way, but he must also deliver the judgment that will save and change the whole world, and he must also tell you what is to come, which is discussed in The 21st Century Declaration of Independence, How the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, and The Future.
Unlike the son of man, most of the other true spiritual teachers do not judge. They are very wise, but the best of them are very humble and meek. That is, they are loving and gentle, and most of them are non-judgmental. They tend not to be fault-finders. They tend not to judge or criticize or rebuke wrong-doers. Rather, they are forgiving and accepting, and they offer their wisdom for the edification of those who seek it, and especially of those who have been led astray and need redemption. And most truly good spiritual teachers do not seek or recruit students. They accept students who come to them with a sincere desire to learn the truth, and they do not ask for financial contributions or remuneration.
Therefore, you should beware of pretenders and imposters who claim to know and serve God but do not fit that standard or criteria.
Speaking of standards, below is a list of questions that a would-be follower, student or disciple should ask before joining a religious leader or guru or spiritual teacher and his/her group or congregation. The total of "yes" answers to the following questions could provide a comparative "rating" of religious leaders, spiritual teachers, or gurus:
(1) Is what the leader/teacher/guru offers free, and, if there is a charge for educational materials, is it minimal and reasonable?
(2) Does the leader/teacher/guru avoid the temptation of unjustly profiting and having more personal wealth than is needed for him/her to live in reasonable comfort and dignity?
(3) Is it unnecessary to join an organization in order to have access to the teachings, and are there books, tapes, educational materials, open meetings, etc. that openly transmit the teaching or knowledge to the public?
(4) Is it easy to leave the leader/teacher/guru and the group, and are ex-disciples, ex-students and critics of the leader/teacher/guru treated compassionately, kindly and fairly?
(5) Are members allowed free contact with their families and old friends?
(6) Are the teachings in harmony with universal and eternal truths at the core of all religions and with the basic and most essential spiritual teachings of the most enlightened and well known spiritual teachers throughout history?
(7) Is the organization non-authoritarian and free of hierarchy, and are there signs of democracy whereby questioning, debate, and thinking for oneself are welcomed?
(8) Is the legitimacy of the leader/teacher/guru anchored in a tradition that points back to previous prophets or teachers or gurus?
(9) Does the leader/teacher/guru refrain from claiming to be, or to know, the one and only route to enlightenment or salvation?
(10) Does the organization respect all religions and encourage students to learn universal truths, rather than resort to psychologically coercive or brainwashing-style techniques to lead students to believe that they are "saved" or "chosen" and that everyone else is doomed?
These ratings are merely guidelines to consider, but potential students and disciples would be well-advised to avoid becoming involved with low scoring religious leaders or spiritual teachers or gurus. Traditionally, almost all genuine religious leaders, spiritual teachers and gurus would have had little difficulty in scoring at least seven "yes" answers, and the best would score 10.
If you seek one, you will find that there are many good spiritual teachers who understand the core, universal truths that are common to all religions, and many teach a combination of religious philosophies and spiritual teachings with an emphasis on universal love, peace, freedom, compassion, understanding, tolerance, charity, forgiveness, and pacifism.
Good spiritual teachers understand the universal teachings of all those who realized and taught the eternal, universal truths.
There are also many good teachers who operate within a specific religious context and use a specific religion’s scriptures as their main teaching aid. However, the good ones also understand and emphasize the eternal, universal, core principles and values that are common to all religions, and point out how and why all religions are related. The best ones do not claim that their religion, or their idea of religion, is superior to all others. They teach that we, the people of earth, are all one in Spirit.
Keep in mind, though, that there have been and are pretenders in every religious tradition. There are some claiming to be Christian authorities who do not know God or Jesus. There are some claiming to be authorities on Judaism or authorities on Islam who also do not know God/Allah. And there are some who claim to be authorities on Buddhism and Hinduism who are not.
Now, as the end of the age the Avatar-Christ Jesus of Nazareth ushered in, it is crucial that all people understand that only one person fulfills Judeo-Christian prophecy along with all the other religious prophecies. That is in fact why Jesus warned us against those claiming to be the Christ, or claiming to know who and where the Christ is or will be on earth.
Like the prophet Isaiah, the prophet Jesus knew the modern son of man would serve the Christ-Avatar-Buddha-Mahdi-Saoshyant-Ancient One who is in heaven with God. For the Ancient One is the Spirit of truth that will eventually enlighten us all, and it is God and the Ancient One and the Spirit of truth that the modern son of man serves.
It is time to realize that no religion or race or nation or culture is superior to all others. It is time to stop arguing and fighting over the name a nature of God. Let God bless the whole world, and every human being on the face of the earth.