Introduction To Christianity & The Jewish People [UBS #16]

As stated in Introduction To “UBS” Study the following is: My opinions posted on this part of the study may or may not be my final feeling on the matter. I’ll be writing (or recording video) as I go, so it’s inevitable that some concepts may not have long enough to settle in my mind so a final thought or feeling can be reached. Some new and non-institutional concepts are going to be introduced, compared to the Bible, looked at with logic, and commented on. Whether or not you agree with these concepts are completely irrelevant. The purpose of this study is not whether you or I agree with the said study or with each other, but to help bring us closer to each other as brethren and ultimately closer to God. Your participation in this study is welcome and will be greatly appreciated.

Bestowal

Christ recieved much advice before he left to incarnate as man on Earth. This advice you may read at the end of this study, when the study-source is revealed.

Christ, while truly a dual-origin being, was not a double personality. He was not God in association with man but, rather, God incarnate in man. And he was always just that combined being. The only progressive factor in such a nonunderstandable relationship was the progressive self-conscious realization and recognition (by the human mind) of this fact of being God and man. Christ did not progressively become God. God did not, at some vital moment in the earth life of Jesus, become man. Jesus was God and man —always and even forevermore. And this God and this man were, and now are, one, even as the Paradise Trinity of three beings is in reality one Deity. Never lose sight of the fact that the supreme spiritual purpose of the Christ bestowal was to enhance the revelation of God.

The Occident of the First Century after Christ

Jesus did not come to this world during an age of spiritual decadence; at the time of his birth Earth was experiencing such a revival of spiritual thinking and religious living as it had not known in all its previous post-Adamic history nor has experienced in any era since. When Christ incarnated on Earth, the world presented the most favorable condition for the Creator Son’s bestowal that had ever previously prevailed or has since obtained. In the centuries just prior to these times Greek culture and the Greek language had spread over Occident and near Orient, and the Jews, being a Levantine race, in nature part Occidental and part Oriental, were eminently fitted to utilize such cultural and linguistic settings for the effective spread of a new religion to both East and West. These most favorable circumstances were further enhanced by the tolerant political rule of the Mediterranean world by the Romans. This entire combination of world influences is well illustrated by the activities of Paul, who, being in religious culture a Hebrew of the Hebrews, proclaimed the gospel of a Jewish Messiah in the Greek tongue, while he himself was a Roman citizen.

Nothing like the civilization of the times of Jesus has been seen in the Occident before or since those days. European civilization was unified and co-ordinated under an extraordinary threefold influence:
1. The Roman political and social systems.
2. The Grecian language and culture —and philosophy to a certain extent.
3. The rapidly spreading influence of Jewish religious and moral teachings.

When Jesus was born, the entire Mediterranean world was a unified empire. Good roads, for the first time in the world’s history, interconnected many major centers. The seas were cleared of pirates, and a great era of trade and travel was rapidly advancing. Europe did not again enjoy another such period of travel and trade until the nineteenth century after Christ.

Notwithstanding the internal peace and superficial prosperity of the Greco-Roman world, a majority of the inhabitants of the empire languished in squalor and poverty. The small upper class was rich; a miserable and impoverished lower class embraced the rank and file of humanity. There was no happy and prosperous middle class in those days; it had just begun to make its appearance in Roman society. The first struggles between the expanding Roman and Parthian states had been concluded in the then recent past, leaving Syria in the hands of the Romans. In the times of Jesus, Palestine and Syria were enjoying a period of prosperity, relative peace, and extensive commercial intercourse with the lands to both the East and the West.

The Jewish People
The Jews were a part of the older Semitic race, which also included the Babylonians, the Phoenicians, and the more recent enemies of Rome, the Carthaginians. During the fore part of the first century after Christ, the Jews were the most influential group of the Semitic peoples, and they happened to occupy a peculiarly strategic geographic position in the world as it was at that time ruled and organized for trade. Many of the great highways joining the nations of antiquity passed through Palestine, which thus became the meeting place, or crossroads, of three continents. The travel, trade, and armies of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Parthia, and Rome successively swept over Palestine. From time immemorial, many caravan routes from the Orient passed through some part of this region to the few good seaports of the eastern end of the Mediterranean, whence ships carried their cargoes to all the maritime Occident. And more than half of this caravan traffic passed through or near the little town of Nazareth in Galilee.

Although Palestine was the home of Jewish religious culture and the birthplace of Christianity, the Jews were abroad in the world, dwelling in many nations and trading in every province of the Roman and Parthian states. Greece provided a language and a culture, Rome built the roads and unified an empire, but the dispersion of the Jews, with their more than two hundred synagogues and well-organized religious communities scattered hither and yon throughout the Roman world, provided the cultural centers in which the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven found initial reception, and from which it subsequently spread to the uttermost parts of the world. Each Jewish synagogue tolerated a fringe of gentile believers, “devout” or “God-fearing” men, and it was among this fringe of proselytes that Paul made the bulk of his early converts to Christianity. Even the temple at Jerusalem possessed its ornate court of the gentiles. There was very close connection between the culture, commerce, and worship of Jerusalem and Antioch. In Antioch Paul’s disciples were first called “Christians.”

The centralization of the Jewish temple worship at Jerusalem constituted alike the secret of the survival of their monotheism and the promise of the nurture and sending forth to the world of a new and enlarged concept of that one God of all nations and Father of all mortals. The temple service at Jerusalem represented the survival of a religious cultural concept in the face of the downfall of a succession of gentile national overlords and racial persecutors. The Jewish people of this time, although under Roman suzerainty, enjoyed a considerable degree of self-government and, remembering the then only recent heroic exploits of deliverance executed by Judas Maccabee and his immediate successors, were vibrant with the expectation of the immediate appearance of a still greater deliverer, the long-expected Messiah.

The secret of the survival of Palestine, the kingdom of the Jews, as a semi-independent state was wrapped up in the foreign policy of the Roman government, which desired to maintain control of the Palestinian highway of travel between Syria and Egypt as well as the western terminals of the caravan routes between the Orient and the Occident. Rome did not wish any power to arise in the Levant which might curb her future expansion in these regions. The policy of intrigue which had for its object the pitting of Seleucid Syria and Ptolemaic Egypt against each other necessitated fostering Palestine as a separate and independent state. Roman policy, the degeneration of Egypt, and the progressive weakening of the Seleucids before the rising power of Parthia, explain why it was that for several generations a small and unpowerful group of Jews was able to maintain its independence against both Seleucidae to the north and Ptolemies to the south. This fortuitous liberty and independence of the political rule of surrounding and more powerful peoples the Jews attributed to the fact that they were the “chosen people,” to the direct interposition of Yahweh. Such an attitude of racial superiority made it all the harder for them to endure Roman suzerainty when it finally fell upon their land. But even in that sad hour the Jews refused to learn that their world mission was spiritual, not political.

The Jews were unusually apprehensive and suspicious during the times of Jesus because they were then ruled by an outsider, Herod the Idumean, who had seized the overlordship of Judea by cleverly ingratiating himself with the Roman rulers. And though Herod professed loyalty to the Hebrew ceremonial observances, he proceeded to build temples for many strange gods. The friendly relations of Herod with the Roman rulers made the world safe for Jewish travel and thus opened the way for increased Jewish penetration even of distant portions of the Roman Empire and of foreign treaty nations with the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Herod’s reign also contributed much toward the further blending of Hebrew and Hellenistic philosophies. Herod built the harbor of Caesarea, which further aided in making Palestine the crossroads of the civilized world. He died in 4 B.C., and his son Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea during Jesus’ youth and ministry to A.D. 39. Antipas, like his father, was a great builder. He rebuilt many of the cities of Galilee, including the important trade center of Sepphoris. The Galileans were not regarded with full favor by the Jerusalem religious leaders and rabbinical teachers. Galilee was more gentile than Jewish when Jesus was born.

Among The Gentiles

Although the social and economic condition of the Roman state was not of the highest order, the widespread domestic peace and prosperity was propitious for the bestowal of Christ. In the first century after Christ the society of the Mediterranean world consisted of five well-defined strata:
1. The aristocracy. The upper classes with money and official power, the privileged and ruling groups.
2. The business groups. The merchant princes and the bankers, the traders —the big importers and exporters —the international merchants.
3. The small middle class. Although this group was indeed small, it was very influential and provided the moral backbone of the early Christian church, which encouraged these groups to continue in their various crafts and trades. Among the Jews many of the Pharisees belonged to this class of tradesmen.
4. The free proletariat. This group had little or no social standing. Though proud of their freedom, they were placed at great disadvantage because they were forced to compete with slave labor. The upper classes regarded them disdainfully, allowing that they were useless except for “breeding purposes.”
5. The slaves. Half the population of the Roman state were slaves; many were superior individuals and quickly made their way up among the free proletariat and even among the tradesmen. The majority were either mediocre or very inferior. Slavery, even of superior peoples, was a feature of Roman military conquest. The power of the master over his slave was unqualified. The early Christian church was largely composed of the lower classes and these slaves. Superior slaves often received wages and by saving their earnings were able to purchase their freedom. Many such emancipated slaves rose to high positions in state, church, and the business world. And it was just such possibilities that made the early Christian church so tolerant of this modified form of slavery.

There was no widespread social problem in the Roman Empire in the first century after Christ. The major portion of the populace regarded themselves as belonging in that group into which they chanced to be born. There was always the open door through which talented and able individuals could ascend from the lower to the higher strata of Roman society, but the people were generally content with their social rank. They were not class conscious, neither did they look upon these class distinctions as being unjust or wrong. Christianity was in no sense an economic movement having for its purpose the amelioration of the miseries of the depressed classes. Although woman enjoyed more freedom throughout the Roman Empire than in her restricted position in Palestine, the family devotion and natural affection of the Jews far transcended that of the gentile world.

Gentile Philosophy

The gentiles were, from a moral standpoint, somewhat inferior to the Jews, but there was present in the hearts of the nobler gentiles abundant soil of natural goodness and potential human affection in which it was possible for the seed of Christianity to sprout and bring forth an abundant harvest of moral character and spiritual achievement. The gentile world was then dominated by four great philosophies, all more or less derived from the earlier Platonism of the Greeks. These schools of philosophy were:
1. The Epicurean. This school of thought was dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. The better Epicureans were not given to sensual excesses. At least this doctrine helped to deliver the Romans from a more deadly form of fatalism; it taught that men could do something to improve their terrestrial status. It did effectually combat ignorant superstition.
2. The Stoic. Stoicism was the superior philosophy of the better classes. The Stoics believed that a controlling Reason-Fate dominated all nature. They taught that the soul of man was divine; that it was imprisoned in the evil body of physical nature. Man’s soul achieved liberty by living in harmony with nature, with God; thus virtue came to be its own reward. Stoicism ascended to a sublime morality, ideals never since transcended by any purely human system of philosophy. While the Stoics professed to be the “offspring of God,” they failed to know him and therefore failed to find him. Stoicism remained a philosophy; it never became a religion. Its followers sought to attune their minds to the harmony of the Universal Mind, but they failed to envisage themselves as the children of a loving Father. Paul leaned heavily toward Stoicism when he wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
3. The Cynic. Although the Cynics traced their philosophy to Diogenes of Athens, they derived much of their doctrine from the remnants of the teachings of Machiventa Melchizedek. Cynicism had formerly been more of a religion than a philosophy. At least the Cynics made their religio-philosophy democratic. In the fields and in the market places they continually preached their doctrine that “man could save himself if he would.” They preached simplicity and virtue and urged men to meet death fearlessly. These wandering Cynic preachers did much to prepare the spiritually hungry populace for the later Christian missionaries. Their plan of popular preaching was much after the pattern, and in accordance with the style, of Paul’s Epistles.
4. The Skeptic. Skepticism asserted that knowledge was fallacious, and that conviction and assurance were impossible. It was a purely negative attitude and never became widespread.

These philosophies were semireligious; they were often invigorating, ethical, and ennobling but were usually above the common people. With the possible exception of Cynicism, they were philosophies for the strong and the wise, not religions of salvation for even the poor and the weak.

Gentile Religions

Throughout preceding ages religion had chiefly been an affair of the tribe or nation; it had not often been a matter of concern to the individual. Gods were tribal or national, not personal. Such religious systems afforded little satisfaction for the individual spiritual longings of the average person. In the times of Jesus the religions of the Occident included:
1. The pagan cults. These were a combination of Hellenic and Latin mythology, patriotism, and tradition.
2. Emperor worship. This deification of man as the symbol of the state was very seriously resented by the Jews and the early Christians and led directly to the bitter persecutions of both churches by the Roman government.
3. Astrology. This pseudo science of Babylon developed into a religion throughout the Greco-Roman Empire. Even in the twentieth century man has not been fully delivered from this superstitious belief.
4. The mystery religions. Upon such a spiritually hungry world a flood of mystery cults had broken, new and strange religions from the Levant, which had enamored the common people and had promised them individual salvation. These religions rapidly became the accepted belief of the lower classes of the Greco-Roman world. And they did much to prepare the way for the rapid spread of the vastly superior Christian teachings, which presented a majestic concept of Deity, associated with an intriguing theology for the intelligent and a profound proffer of salvation for all, including the ignorant but spiritually hungry average man of those days. The mystery religions spelled the end of national beliefs and resulted in the birth of the numerous personal cults.

The mysteries were many but were all characterized by:
1. Some mythical legend, a mystery —whence their name. As a rule this mystery pertained to the story of some god’s life and death and return to life, as illustrated by the teachings of Mithraism, which, for a time, were contemporary with, and a competitor of, Paul’s rising cult of Christianity.
2. The mysteries were nonnational and interracial. They were personal and fraternal, giving rise to religious brotherhoods and numerous sectarian societies.
3. They were, in their services, characterized by elaborate ceremonies of initiation and impressive sacraments of worship. Their secret rites and rituals were sometimes gruesome and revolting.
4. But no matter what the nature of their ceremonies or the degree of their excesses, these mysteries invariably promised their devotees salvation, “deliverance from evil, survival after death, and enduring life in blissful realms beyond this world of sorrow and slavery.”

But do not make the mistake of confusing the teachings of Jesus with the mysteries. The popularity of the mysteries reveals man’s quest for survival, thus portraying a real hunger and thirst for personal religion and individual righteousness. Although the mysteries failed adequately to satisfy this longing, they did prepare the way for the subsequent appearance of Jesus, who truly brought to this world the bread of life and the water thereof. Paul, in an effort to utilize the widespread adherence to the better types of the mystery religions, made certain adaptations of the teachings of Jesus so as to render them more acceptable to a larger number of prospective converts. But even Paul’s compromise of Jesus’ teachings (Christianity) was superior to the best in the mysteries in that:
1. Paul taught a moral redemption, an ethical salvation. Christianity pointed to a new life and proclaimed a new ideal. Paul forsook magic rites and ceremonial enchantments.
2. Christianity presented a religion which grappled with final solutions of the human problem, for it not only offered salvation from sorrow and even from death, but it also promised deliverance from sin followed by the endowment of a righteous character of eternal survival qualities.
3. The mysteries were built upon myths. Christianity, as Paul preached it, was founded upon a historic fact: the bestowal of Christ, the Son of God, upon mankind.

Morality among the gentiles was not necessarily related to either philosophy or religion. Outside of Palestine it not always occurred to people that a priest of religion was supposed to lead a moral life. Jewish religion and subsequently the teachings of Jesus and later the evolving Christianity of Paul were the first European religions to lay one hand upon morals and the other upon ethics, insisting that religionists pay some attention to both. Into such a generation of men, dominated by such incomplete systems of philosophy and perplexed by such complex cults of religion, Jesus was born in Palestine. And to this same generation he subsequently gave his gospel of personal religion —sonship with God.

Hebrew Religion

By the close of the first century before Christ the religious thought of Jerusalem had been tremendously influenced and somewhat modified by Greek cultural teachings and even by Greek philosophy. In the long contest between the views of the Eastern and Western schools of Hebrew thought, Jerusalem and the rest of the Occident and the Levant in general adopted the Western Jewish or modified Hellenistic viewpoint. In the days of Jesus three languages prevailed in Palestine: The common people spoke some dialect of Aramaic; the priests and rabbis spoke Hebrew; the educated classes and the better strata of Jews in general spoke Greek. The early translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek at Alexandria was responsible in no small measure for the subsequent predominance of the Greek wing of Jewish culture and theology. And the writings of the Christian teachers were soon to appear in the same language. The renaissance of Judaism dates from the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. This was a vital influence which later determined the drift of Paul’s Christian cult toward the West instead of toward the East.

Though the Hellenized Jewish beliefs were very little influenced by the teachings of the Epicureans, they were very materially affected by the philosophy of Plato and the self-abnegation doctrines of the Stoics. The great inroad of Stoicism is exemplified by the Fourth Book of the Maccabees; the penetration of both Platonic philosophy and Stoic doctrines is exhibited in the Wisdom of Solomon. The Hellenized Jews brought to the Hebrew scriptures such an allegorical interpretation that they found no difficulty in conforming Hebrew theology with their revered Aristotelian philosophy. But this all led to disastrous confusion until these problems were taken in hand by Philo of Alexandria, who proceeded to harmonize and systemize Greek philosophy and Hebrew theology into a compact and fairly consistent system of religious belief and practice. And it was this later teaching of combined Greek philosophy and Hebrew theology that prevailed in Palestine when Jesus lived and taught, and which Paul utilized as the foundation on which to build his more advanced and enlightening cult of Christianity. Philo was a great teacher; not since Moses had there lived a man who exerted such a profound influence on the ethical and religious thought of the Occidental world. In the matter of the combination of the better elements in contemporaneous systems of ethical and religious teachings, there have been seven outstanding human teachers: Sethard, Moses, Zoroaster, Lao-tse, Buddha, Philo, and Paul.

Many, but not all, of Philo’s inconsistencies resulting from an effort to combine Greek mystical philosophy and Roman Stoic doctrines with the legalistic theology of the Hebrews, Paul recognized and wisely eliminated from his pre-Christian basic theology. Philo led the way for Paul more fully to restore the concept of the Paradise Trinity, which had long been dormant in Jewish theology. In only one matter did Paul fail to keep pace with Philo or to transcend the teachings of this wealthy and educated Jew of Alexandria, and that was the doctrine of the atonement; Philo taught deliverance from the doctrine of forgiveness only by the shedding of blood. He also possibly glimpsed the reality and presence of the Thought Adjusters more clearly than did Paul. But Paul’s theory of original sin, the doctrines of hereditary guilt and innate evil and redemption therefrom, was partially Mithraic in origin, having little in common with Hebrew theology, Philo’s philosophy, or Jesus’ teachings. Some phases of Paul’s teachings regarding original sin and the atonement were original with himself.

The Gospel of John, the last of the narratives of Jesus’ earth life, was addressed to the Western peoples and presents its story much in the light of the viewpoint of the later Alexandrian Christians, who were also disciples of the teachings of Philo. At about the time of Christ a strange reversion of feeling toward the Jews occurred in Alexandria, and from this former Jewish stronghold there went forth a virulent wave of persecution, extending even to Rome, from which many thousands were banished. But such a campaign of misrepresentation was short-lived; very soon the imperial government fully restored the curtailed liberties of the Jews throughout the empire. Throughout the whole wide world, no matter where the Jews found themselves dispersed by commerce or oppression, all with one accord kept their hearts centered on the holy temple at Jerusalem. Jewish theology did survive as it was interpreted and practiced at Jerusalem, notwithstanding that it was several times saved from oblivion by the timely intervention of certain Babylonian teachers. As many as two and one-half million of these dispersed Jews used to come to Jerusalem for the celebration of their national religious festivals. And no matter what the theologic or philosophic differences of the Eastern (Babylonian) and the Western (Hellenic) Jews, they were all agreed on Jerusalem as the center of their worship and in ever looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.

Jews and Gentiles

By the times of Jesus the Jews had arrived at a settled concept of their origin, history, and destiny. They had built up a rigid wall of separation between themselves and the gentile world; they looked upon all gentile ways with utter contempt. They worshiped the letter of the law and indulged a form of self-righteousness based upon the false pride of descent. They had formed preconceived notions regarding the promised Messiah, and most of these expectations envisaged a Messiah who would come as a part of their national and racial history. To the Hebrews of those days Jewish theology was irrevocably settled, forever fixed. The teachings and practices of Jesus regarding tolerance and kindness ran counter to the long-standing attitude of the Jews toward other peoples whom they considered heathen. For generations the Jews had nourished an attitude toward the outside world which made it impossible for them to accept the Master’s teachings about the spiritual brotherhood of man. They were unwilling to share Yahweh on equal terms with the gentiles and were likewise unwilling to accept as the Son of God one who taught such new and strange doctrines.

The scribes, the Pharisees, and the priesthood held the Jews in a terrible bondage of ritualism and legalism, a bondage far more real than that of the Roman political rule. The Jews of Jesus’ time were not only held in subjugation to the law but were equally bound by the slavish demands of the traditions, which involved and invaded every domain of personal and social life. These minute regulations of conduct pursued and dominated every loyal Jew, and it is not strange that they promptly rejected one of their number who presumed to ignore their sacred traditions, and who dared to flout their long-honored regulations of social conduct. They could hardly regard with favor the teachings of one who did not hesitate to clash with dogmas which they regarded as having been ordained by Father Abraham himself. Moses had given them their law and they would not compromise. By the time of the first century after Christ the spoken interpretation of the law by the recognized teachers, the scribes, had become a higher authority than the written law itself. And all this made it easier for certain religious leaders of the Jews to array the people against the acceptance of a new gospel.

These circumstances rendered it impossible for the Jews to fulfill their divine destiny as messengers of the new gospel of religious freedom and spiritual liberty. They could not break the fetters of tradition. Jeremiah had told of the “law to be written in men’s hearts,” Ezekiel had spoken of a “new spirit to live in man’s soul,” and the Psalmist had prayed that God would “create a clean heart within and renew a right spirit.” But when the Jewish religion of good works and slavery to law fell victim to the stagnation of traditionalistic inertia, the motion of religious evolution passed westward to the European peoples. And so a different people were called upon to carry an advancing theology to the world, a system of teaching embodying the philosophy of the Greeks, the law of the Romans, the morality of the Hebrews, and the gospel of personality sanctity and spiritual liberty formulated by Paul and based on the teachings of Jesus. Paul’s cult of Christianity exhibited its morality as a Jewish birthmark. The Jews viewed history as the providence of God —Yahweh at work. The Greeks brought to the new teaching clearer concepts of the eternal life. Paul’s doctrines were influenced in theology and philosophy not only by Jesus’ teachings but also by Plato and Philo. In ethics he was inspired not only by Christ but also by the Stoics.

The gospel of Jesus, as it was embodied in Paul’s cult of Antioch Christianity, became blended with the following teachings:
1. The philosophic reasoning of the Greek proselytes to Judaism, including some of their concepts of the eternal life.
2. The appealing teachings of the prevailing mystery cults, especially the Mithraic doctrines of redemption, atonement, and salvation by the sacrifice made by some god.
3. The sturdy morality of the established Jewish religion.

The Mediterranean Roman Empire, the Parthian kingdom, and the adjacent peoples of Jesus’ time all held crude and primitive ideas regarding the geography of the world, astronomy, health, and disease; and naturally they were amazed by the new and startling pronouncements of the carpenter of Nazareth. The ideas of spirit possession, good and bad, applied not merely to human beings, but every rock and tree was viewed by many as being spirit possessed. This was an enchanted age, and everybody believed in miracles as commonplace occurrences.

Previous Written Records

The New Testament records had their origin in the following circumstances:
1. The Gospel by Mark. John Mark wrote the earliest (excepting the notes of Andrew), briefest, and most simple record of Jesus’ life. He presented the Master as a minister, as man among men. Although Mark was a lad lingering about many of the scenes which he depicts, his record is in reality the Gospel according to Simon Peter. He was early associated with Peter; later with Paul. Mark wrote this record at the instigation of Peter and on the earnest petition of the church at Rome. Knowing how consistently the Master refused to write out his teachings when on earth and in the flesh, Mark, like the apostles and other leading disciples, was hesitant to put them in writing. But Peter felt the church at Rome required the assistance of such a written narrative, and Mark consented to undertake its preparation. He made many notes before Peter died in A.D. 67, and in accordance with the outline approved by Peter and for the church at Rome, he began his writing soon after Peter’s death. The Gospel was completed near the end of A.D. 68. Mark wrote entirely from his own memory and Peter’s memory. The record has since been considerably changed, numerous passages having been taken out and some later matter added at the end to replace the latter one fifth of the original Gospel, which was lost from the first manuscript before it was ever copied. This record by Mark, in conjunction with Andrew’s and Matthew’s notes, was the written basis of all subsequent Gospel narratives which sought to portray the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. The Gospel of Matthew. The so-called Gospel according to Matthew is the record of the Master’s life which was written for the edification of Jewish Christians. The author of this record constantly seeks to show in Jesus’ life that much which he did was that “it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” Matthew’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a son of David, picturing him as showing great respect for the law and the prophets. The Apostle Matthew did not write this Gospel. It was written by Isador, one of his disciples, who had as a help in his work not only Matthew’s personal remembrance of these events but also a certain record which the latter had made of the sayings of Jesus directly after the crucifixion. This record by Matthew was written in Aramaic; Isador wrote in Greek. There was no intent to deceive in accrediting the production to Matthew. It was the custom in those days for pupils thus to honor their teachers. Matthew’s original record was edited and added to in A.D. 40 just before he left Jerusalem to engage in evangelistic preaching. It was a private record, the last copy having been destroyed in the burning of a Syrian monastery in A.D. 416. Isador escaped from Jerusalem in A.D. 70 after the investment of the city by the armies of Titus, taking with him to Pella a copy of Matthew’s notes. In the year 71, while living at Pella, Isador wrote the Gospel according to Matthew. He also had with him the first four fifths of Mark’s narrative.
3. The Gospel by Luke. Luke, the physician of Antioch in Pisidia, was a gentile convert of Paul, and he wrote quite a different story of the Master’s life. He began to follow Paul and learn of the life and teachings of Jesus in A.D. 47. Luke preserves much of the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” in his record as he gathered up these facts from Paul and others. Luke presents the Master as “the friend of publicans and sinners.” He did not formulate his many notes into the Gospel until after Paul’s death. Luke wrote in the year 82 in Achaia. He planned three books dealing with the history of Christ and Christianity but died in A.D. 90 just before he finished the second of these works, the “Acts of the Apostles.” As material for the compilation of his Gospel, Luke first depended upon the story of Jesus’ life as Paul had related it to him. Luke’s Gospel is, therefore, in some ways the Gospel according to Paul. But Luke had other sources of information. He not only interviewed scores of eyewitnesses to the numerous episodes of Jesus’ life which he records, but he also had with him a copy of Mark’s Gospel, that is, the first four fifths, Isador’s narrative, and a brief record made in the year A.D. 78 at Antioch by a believer named Cedes. Luke also had a mutilated and much-edited copy of some notes purported to have been made by the Apostle Andrew.
4. The Gospel of John. The Gospel according to John relates much of Jesus’ work in Judea and around Jerusalem which is not contained in the other records. This is the so-called Gospel according to John the son of Zebedee, and though John did not write it, he did inspire it. Since its first writing it has several times been edited to make it appear to have been written by John himself. When this record was made, John had the other Gospels, and he saw that much had been omitted; accordingly, in the year A.D. 101 he encouraged his associate, Nathan, a Greek Jew from Caesarea, to begin the writing. John supplied his material from memory and by reference to the three records already in existence. He had no written records of his own. The Epistle known as “First John” was written by John himself as a covering letter for the work which Nathan executed under his direction.

All these writers presented honest pictures of Jesus as they saw, remembered, or had learned of him, and as their concepts of these distant events were affected by their subsequent espousal of Paul’s theology of Christianity. And these records, imperfect as they are, have been sufficient to change the course of the history of Earth for two thousand years.

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Melchizedek and Abraham (UBS #11)

As stated in Introduction To “UBS” Study the following is: My opinions posted on this part of the study may or may not be my final feeling on the matter. I’ll be writing (or recording video) as I go, so it’s inevitable that some concepts may not have long enough to settle in my mind so a final thought or feeling can be reached. Some new and non-institutional concepts are going to be introduced, compared to the Bible, looked at with logic, and commented on. Whether or not you agree with these concepts are completely irrelevant. The purpose of this study is not whether you or I agree with the said study or with each other, but to help bring us closer to each other as brethren and ultimately closer to God. Your participation in this study is welcome and will be greatly appreciated.

Revealed truth was threatened with extinction during the millenniums which followed the miscarriage of the Adamic mission on Earth. Though making progress intellectually, the human races were slowly losing ground spiritually. About 3000 B.C. the concept of God had grown very hazy in the minds of men.

It was 1,973 years before the birth of Jesus that Machiventa was bestowed upon the human races of Earth. His coming was unspectacular; his materialization was not witnessed by human eyes. He was first observed by mortal man on that eventful day when he entered the tent of Amdon, a Chaldean herder of Sumerian extraction. And the proclamation of his mission was embodied in the simple statement which he made to this shepherd, “I am Melchizedek, priest of El Elyon, the Most High, the one and only God.” (Gen. 14:18; Psalm 110:4) And that night, as they talked out under the stars, Melchizedek began his mission of the revelation of the truth of the reality of God when, with a sweep of his arm, he turned to Amdon, saying, “El Elyon, the Most High, is the divine creator of the stars of the firmament and even of this very earth on which we live, and he is also the supreme God of heaven.” Within a few years Melchizedek had gathered around himself a group of pupils, disciples, and believers who formed the nucleus of the later community of Salem. He was soon known throughout Palestine as the priest of El Elyon, the Most High, and as the sage of Salem. Among some of the surrounding tribes he was often referred to as the sheik, or king, of Salem. Salem was the site which after the disappearance of Melchizedek became the city of Jebus, subsequently being called Jerusalem.

In personal appearance, Melchizedek resembled the then blended Nodite and Sumerian peoples, being almost six feet in height and possessing a commanding presence. He spoke Chaldean and a half dozen other languages. He dressed much as did the Canaanite priests except that on his breast he wore an emblem of three concentric circles, the symbol of the Trinity. In the course of his ministry this insignia of three concentric circles became regarded as so sacred by his followers that they never dared to use it, and it was soon forgotten with the passing of a few generations. Though Machiventa lived after the manner of the men of the realm, he never married, nor could he have left offspring on earth. His physical body, while resembling that of the human male, was in reality on the order of those especially constructed bodies used by the one hundred materialized members of the Planetary Prince’s staff except that it did not carry the life plasm of any human race. Nor was there available on Earth the tree of life. Had Machiventa remained for any long period on earth, his physical mechanism would have gradually deteriorated; as it was, he terminated his bestowal mission in ninety-four years long before his material body had begun to disintegrate.

Melchizedek Teachings
Melchizedek taught the concept of one God, a universal Deity. Melchizedek remained all but silent as to the status of Lucifer. To a majority of the Salem students Edentia was heaven and the Most High was God. The symbol of the three concentric circles, which Melchizedek adopted as the insignia of his bestowal, a majority of the people interpreted as standing for the three kingdoms of men, angels, and God. And they were allowed to continue in that belief; very few of his followers ever knew that these three circles were emblematic of the infinity, eternity, and universality of the Trinity of divine maintenance and direction; even Abraham rather regarded this symbol as standing for the three Most Highs, as he had been instructed that the three Most Highs functioned as one.

But to some, Melchizedek taught advanced truth, embracing the conduct and organization of the local universe, while to his brilliant disciple Nordan the Kenite and his band of earnest students he taught the truths of the superuniverse. The members of the family of Katro, with whom Melchizedek lived for more than thirty years, knew many of these higher truths and long perpetuated them in their family, even to the days of their illustrious descendant Moses, who thus had a compelling tradition of the days of Melchizedek handed down to him on this, his father’s side, as well as through other sources on his mother’s side.

Melchizedek taught his followers all they had capacity to receive and assimilate. Even many modern religious ideas about heaven and earth, of man, God, and angels, are not far removed from these teachings of Melchizedek. But this great teacher subordinated everything to the doctrine of one God, a universe Deity, a heavenly Creator, a divine Father. Emphasis was placed upon this teaching for the purpose of appealing to man’s adoration and of preparing the way for the subsequent appearance of Michael as the Son of this same Universal Father. Melchizedek taught that at some future time another Son of God would come in the flesh as he had come, but that he would be born of a woman; and that is why numerous later teachers held that Jesus was a priest, or minister, “forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

The ceremonies of the Salem worship were very simple. Every person who signed or marked the clay-tablet rolls of the Melchizedek church committed to memory, and subscribed to, the following belief:
1. I believe in El Elyon, the Most High God, the only Universal Father and Creator of all things.
2. I accept the Melchizedek covenant with the Most High, which bestows the favor of God on my faith, not on sacrifices and burnt offerings.
3. I promise to obey the seven commandments of Melchizedek and to tell the good news of this covenant with the Most High to all men.

The seven commandments promulgated by Melchizedek were patterned along the lines of the ancient Dalamatian supreme law and very much resembled the seven commands taught in the first and second Edens. These commands of the Salem religion were:
1. You shall not serve any God but the Most High Creator of heaven and earth.
2. You shall not doubt that faith is the only requirement for eternal salvation.
3. You shall not bear false witness.
4. You shall not kill.
5. You shall not steal.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not show disrespect for your parents and elders.

While no sacrifices were permitted within the colony, Melchizedek well knew how difficult it is to suddenly uproot long-established customs and accordingly had wisely offered these people the substitute of a sacrament of bread and wine for the older sacrifice of flesh and blood. It is of record, “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine.” (Gen. 14:18) But even this cautious innovation was not altogether successful; the various tribes all maintained auxiliary centers on the outskirts of Salem where they offered sacrifices and burnt offerings. Even Abraham resorted to this barbarous practice after his victory over Chedorlaomer; he simply did not feel quite at ease until he had offered a conventional sacrifice. And Melchizedek never did succeed in fully eradicating this proclivity to sacrifice from the religious practices of his followers, even of Abraham. Like Jesus, Melchizedek attended strictly to the fulfillment of the mission of his bestowal. He did not attempt to reform the mores, to change the habits of the world, nor to promulgate even advanced sanitary practices or scientific truths. He came to achieve two tasks: to keep alive on earth the truth of the one God and to prepare the way for the subsequent mortal bestowal of the Son of the Father.

Melchizedek taught elementary revealed truth at Salem for ninety-four years, and during this time Abraham attended the Salem school three different times. He finally became a convert to the Salem teachings, becoming one of Melchizedek’s most brilliant pupils and chief supporters.

Selection of Abraham
Although it may be an error to speak of “chosen people,” (Deut. 7:6, 14:2) it is not a mistake to refer to Abraham as a chosen individual. Melchizedek did lay upon Abraham the responsibility of keeping alive the truth of one God as distinguished from the prevailing belief in plural deities.

A few weeks after the death of Abraham’s father, Terah, Melchizedek sent one of his students, Jaram the Hittite, to extend this invitation to both Abraham and Nahor: “Come to Salem, where you shall hear our teachings of the truth of the eternal Creator, and in the enlightened offspring of you two brothers shall all the world be blessed.” Now Nahor had not wholly accepted the Melchizedek gospel; he remained behind and built up a strong city-state which bore his name; but Lot, Abraham’s nephew, decided to go with his uncle to Salem. Upon arriving at Salem, Abraham and Lot chose a hilly fastness near the city where they could defend themselves against the many surprise attacks of northern raiders. At this time the Hittites, Assyrians, Philistines, and other groups were constantly raiding the tribes of central and southern Palestine. From their stronghold in the hills Abraham and Lot made frequent pilgrimages to Salem.

Not long after they had established themselves near Salem, Abraham and Lot journeyed to the valley of the Nile to obtain food supplies as there was then a drought in Palestine. During his brief sojourn in Egypt Abraham found a distant relative on the Egyptian throne, and he served as the commander of two very successful military expeditions for this king. During the latter part of his sojourn on the Nile he and his wife, Sarah, lived at court, and when leaving Egypt, he was given a share of the spoils of his military campaigns. It required great determination for Abraham to forgo the honors of the Egyptian court and return to the more spiritual work sponsored by Machiventa. But Melchizedek was revered even in Egypt, and when the full story was laid before Pharaoh, he strongly urged Abraham to return to the execution of his vows to the cause of Salem. Abraham had kingly ambitions, and on the way back from Egypt he laid before Lot his plan to subdue all Canaan and bring its people under the rule of Salem. Lot was more bent on business; so, after a later disagreement, he went to Sodom to engage in trade and animal husbandry. Lot liked neither a military nor a herder’s life. (Gen. 12:10-13:18)

Covenant with Abraham
Melchizedek explained to Abraham the futility of contending with the Amorite confederation but made it equally clear that these backward clans were certainly committing suicide by their foolish practices so that in a few generations they would be so weakened that the descendants of Abraham, meanwhile greatly increased, could easily overcome them. And Melchizedek made a formal covenant with Abraham at Salem. Said he to Abraham: “Look now up to the heavens and number the stars if you are able; so numerous shall your seed be.” (Gen. 15:5) And Abraham believed Melchizedek, “and it was counted to him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6) And then Melchizedek told Abraham the story of the future occupation of Canaan by his offspring after their sojourn in Egypt.

This covenant of Melchizedek with Abraham represents the great agreement between divinity and humanity whereby God agrees to do everything; man only agrees to believe God’s promises and follow his instructions. Heretofore it had been believed that salvation could be secured only by works —sacrifices and offerings; now, Melchizedek again brought to Earth the good news that salvation, favor with God, is to be had by faith. But this gospel of simple faith in God was too advanced; the Semitic tribesmen subsequently preferred to go back to the older sacrifices and atonement for sin by the shedding of blood. It was not long after the establishment of this covenant that Isaac, the son of Abraham, was born in accordance with the promise of Melchizedek. After the birth of Isaac, Abraham took a very solemn attitude toward his covenant with Melchizedek, going over to Salem to have it stated in writing. It was at this public and formal acceptance of the covenant that he changed his name from Abram to Abraham. (Gen. 17:5; Neh. 9:7)

Melchizedek Missionaries
Salem missionaries penetrated all Europe, even to the British Isles. One group went by way of the Faroes to the Andonites of Iceland, while another traversed China and reached the Japanese of the eastern islands. The lives and experiences of the men and women who ventured forth from Salem, Mesopotamia, and Lake Van to enlighten the tribes of the Eastern Hemisphere present a heroic chapter in the annals of the human race. But the task was so great and the tribes were so backward that the results were vague and indefinite. From one generation to another the Salem gospel found lodgment here and there, but except in Palestine, never was the idea of one God able to claim the continued allegiance of a whole tribe or race. Long before the coming of Jesus the teachings of the early Salem missionaries had become generally submerged in the older and more universal superstitions and beliefs. The original Melchizedek gospel had been almost wholly absorbed in the beliefs in the Great Mother, the Sun, and other ancient cults.

The Melchizedek Departure
It was a great trial for Abraham when Melchizedek so suddenly disappeared. Although he had fully warned his followers that he must sometime go as he had come, they were not reconciled to the loss of their wonderful leader. The great organization built up at Salem nearly disappeared, though the traditions of these days were what Moses built upon when he led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt.

Abraham became fearful and timid immediately after the disappearance of Melchizedek. He withheld his identity upon arrival at Gerar, so that Abimelech appropriated his wife. (Shortly after his marriage to Sarah, Abraham one night had overheard a plot to murder him in order to get his brilliant wife. This dread became a terror to the otherwise brave and daring leader; all his life he feared that someone would kill him secretly in order to get Sarah. And this explains why, on three separate occasions, this brave man exhibited real cowardice.)

It was hard for the next generation to comprehend the story of Melchizedek; within five hundred years many regarded the whole narrative as a myth. Isaac held fairly well to the teachings of his father and nourished the gospel of the Salem colony, but it was harder for Jacob to grasp the significance of these traditions. Joseph was a firm believer in Melchizedek and was, largely because of this, regarded by his brothers as a dreamer. Joseph’s honor in Egypt was chiefly due to the memory of his great-grandfather Abraham. Joseph was offered military command of the Egyptian armies, but being such a firm believer in the traditions of Melchizedek and the later teachings of Abraham and Isaac, he elected to serve as a civil administrator, believing that he could thus better labor for the advancement of the kingdom of heaven. The teaching of Melchizedek was full and replete, but the records of these days seemed impossible and fantastic to the later Hebrew priests, although many had some understanding of these transactions, at least up to the times of the en masse editing of the Old Testament records in Babylon.

What the Old Testament records describe as conversations between Abraham and God were in reality conferences between Abraham and Melchizedek. Later scribes regarded the term Melchizedek as synonymous with God. The record of so many contacts of Abraham and Sarah with “the angel of the Lord” refers to their numerous visits with Melchizedek. The Hebrew narratives of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are far more reliable than those about Abraham, although they also contain many diversions from the facts, alterations made intentionally and unintentionally at the time of the compilation of these records by the Hebrew priests during the Babylonian captivity. Keturah was not a wife of Abraham; like Hagar, she was merely a concubine. All of Abraham’s property went to Isaac, the son of Sarah, the status wife. Abraham was not so old as the records indicate, and his wife was much younger. These ages were deliberately altered in order to provide for the subsequent alleged miraculous birth of Isaac.

The national ego of the Jews was tremendously depressed by the Babylonian captivity. In their reaction against national inferiority they swung to the other extreme of national and racial egotism, in which they distorted and perverted their traditions with the view of exalting themselves above all races as the chosen people of God; and hence they carefully edited all their records for the purpose of raising Abraham and their other national leaders high up above all other persons, not excepting Melchizedek himself. The Hebrew scribes therefore destroyed every record of these momentous times which they could find, preserving only the narrative of the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek after the battle of Siddim, which they deemed reflected great honor upon Abraham.

Melchizedek Teachings in the Orient

India
The amalgamation of the onetime thirty-three Aryan deities was well under way when the Salem missionaries penetrated the north of India. The polytheism of these Aryans represented a degeneration of their earlier monotheism occasioned by their separation into tribal units, each tribe having its venerated god. This devolution of the original monotheism and trinitarianism of Andite Mesopotamia was in process of resynthesis in the early centuries of the second millennium before Christ. The many gods were organized into a pantheon under the triune leadership of Dyaus pitar, the lord of heaven; Indra, the tempestuous lord of the atmosphere; and Agni, the three-headed fire god, lord of the earth and the vestigial symbol of an earlier Trinity concept.

Definite henotheistic developments were paving the way for an evolved monotheism. Agni, the most ancient deity, was often exalted as the father-head of the entire pantheon. The deity-father principle, sometimes called Prajapati, sometimes termed Brahma, was submerged in the theologic battle which the Brahman priests later fought with the Salem teachers. The Brahman was conceived as the energy-divinity principle activating the entire Vedic pantheon. The Salem missionaries preached the one God of Melchizedek, the Most High of heaven. This portrayal was not altogether disharmonious with the emerging concept of the Father-Brahma as the source of all gods, but the Salem doctrine was nonritualistic and hence ran directly counter to the dogmas, traditions, and teachings of the Brahman priesthood. Never would the Brahman priests accept the Salem teaching of salvation through faith, favor with God apart from ritualistic observances and sacrificial ceremonials. The rejection of the Melchizedek gospel of trust in God and salvation through faith marked a vital turning point for India. The Salem missionaries had contributed much to the loss of faith in all the ancient Vedic gods, but the leaders, the priests of Vedism, refused to accept the Melchizedek teaching of one God and one simple faith.

These were the times of the compilation of the later scriptures of the Hindu faith, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. Having rejected the teachings of personal religion through the personal faith experience with the one God, and having become contaminated with the flood of debasing and debilitating cults and creeds from the Deccan, with their anthropomorphisms and reincarnations, the Brahmanic priesthood experienced a violent reaction against these vitiating beliefs; there was a definite effort to seek and to find true reality. The Brahmans set out to deanthropomorphize the Indian concept of deity, but in so doing they stumbled into the grievous error of depersonalizing the concept of God, and they emerged, not with a lofty and spiritual ideal of the Father, but with a distant and metaphysical idea of an all-encompassing Absolute.

Brahman-Narayana was conceived as the Absolute, the infinite IT IS, the primordial creative potency of the potential cosmos, the Universal Self existing static and potential throughout all eternity. Had the philosophers of those days been able to make the next advance in deity conception, had they been able to conceive of the Brahman as associative and creative, as a personality approachable by created and evolving beings, then might such a teaching have become the most advanced portraiture of Deity on Earth since it would have encompassed the first five levels of total deity function and might possibly have envisioned the remaining two. In certain phases the concept of the One Universal Oversoul as the totality of the summation of all creature existence led the Indian philosophers very close to the truth of the Supreme Being, but this truth availed them naught because they failed to evolve any reasonable or rational personal approach to the attainment of their theoretic monotheistic goal of Brahman-Narayana.

With the passing of the centuries in India, the populace returned in measure to the ancient rituals of the Vedas as they had been modified by the teachings of the Melchizedek missionaries and crystallized by the later Brahman priesthood. This, the oldest and most cosmopolitan of the world’s religions, has undergone further changes in response to Buddhism and Jainism and to the later appearing influences of Mohammedanism and Christianity. But by the time the teachings of Jesus arrived, they had already become so Occidentalized as to be a “white man’s religion,” hence strange and foreign to the Hindu mind.

Hindu theology, at present, depicts four descending levels of deity and divinity:
1. The Brahman, the Absolute, the Infinite One, the IT IS.
2. The Trimurti, the supreme trinity of Hinduism. In this association Brahma, the first member, is conceived as being self-created out of the Brahman —infinity. Were it not for close identification with the pantheistic Infinite One, Brahma could constitute the foundation for a concept of the Universal Father. Brahma is also identified with fate. The worship of the second and third members, Siva and Vishnu, arose in the first millennium after Christ. Siva is lord of life and death, god of fertility, and master of destruction. Vishnu is extremely popular due to the belief that he periodically incarnates in human form. In this way, Vishnu becomes real and living in the imaginations of the Indians. Siva and Vishnu are each regarded by some as supreme over all.
3. Vedic and post-Vedic deities. Many of the ancient gods of the Aryans, such as Agni, Indra, Soma, have persisted as secondary to the three members of the Trimurti. Numerous additional gods have arisen since the early days of Vedic India, and these have also been incorporated into the Hindu pantheon.
4. The demigods: supermen, semigods, heroes, demons, ghosts, evil spirits, sprites, monsters, goblins, and saints of the later-day cults.

Hinduism has survived because it is essentially an integral part of the basic social fabric of India. It has no great hierarchy which can be disturbed or destroyed; it is interwoven into the life pattern of the people. It has an adaptability to changing conditions that excels all other cults, and it displays a tolerant attitude of adoption toward many other religions, Gautama Buddha and even Christ himself being claimed as incarnations of Vishnu. Today, in India, the great need is for the portrayal of the Jesusonian gospel —the Fatherhood of God and the sonship and consequent brotherhood of all men, which is personally realized in loving ministry and social service. In India the philosophical framework is existent, the cult structure is present; all that is needed is the vitalizing spark of the dynamic love portrayed in the original gospel of the Son of Man, divested of the Occidental dogmas and doctrines which have tended to make Christ’s life bestowal a white man’s religion.

China
It was in direct consequence of this teaching that the earliest form of Taoism arose in China, a vastly different religion than the one which bears that name today. Early or proto-Taoism was a compound of the following factors:
1. The lingering teachings of Singlangton, which persisted in the concept of Shang-ti, the God of Heaven. In the times of Singlangton the Chinese people became virtually monotheistic; they concentrated their worship on the One Truth, later known as the Spirit of Heaven, the universe ruler. And the yellow race never fully lost this early concept of Deity, although in subsequent centuries many subordinate gods and spirits insidiously crept into their religion.
2. The Salem religion of a Most High Creator Deity who would bestow his favor upon mankind in response to man’s faith. But it is all too true that, by the time the Melchizedek missionaries had penetrated to the lands of the yellow race, their original message had become considerably changed from the simple doctrines of Salem in the days of Machiventa.
3. The Brahman-Absolute concept of the Indian philosophers, coupled with the desire to escape all evil. Perhaps the greatest extraneous influence in the eastward spread of the Salem religion was exerted by the Indian teachers of the Vedic faith, who injected their conception of the Brahman —the Absolute —into the salvationistic thought of the Salemites.

This composite belief spread through the lands of the yellow and brown races as an underlying influence in religio-philosophic thought. In Japan this proto-Taoism was known as Shinto, and in this country, far-distant from Salem of Palestine, the peoples learned of the incarnation of Machiventa Melchizedek, who dwelt upon earth that the name of God might not be forgotten by mankind.

Lao-tse and Confucius
Lao-tse built directly upon the concepts of the Salem traditions when he declared Tao to be the One First Cause of all creation. Lao was a man of great spiritual vision. He taught that man’s eternal destiny was “everlasting union with Tao, Supreme God and Universal King.” His comprehension of ultimate causation was most discerning, for he wrote: “Unity arises out of the Absolute Tao, and from Unity there appears cosmic Duality, and from such Duality, Trinity springs forth into existence, and Trinity is the primal source of all reality.” “All reality is ever in balance between the potentials and the actuals of the cosmos, and these are eternally harmonized by the spirit of divinity.” Lao-tse also made one of the earliest presentations of the doctrine of returning good for evil: “Goodness begets goodness, but to the one who is truly good, evil also begets goodness.” He taught the return of the creature to the Creator and pictured life as the emergence of a personality from the cosmic potentials, while death was like the returning home of this creature personality. His concept of true faith was unusual, and he too likened it to the “attitude of a little child.”

His understanding of the eternal purpose of God was clear, for he said: “The Absolute Deity does not strive but is always victorious; he does not coerce mankind but always stands ready to respond to their true desires; the will of God is eternal in patience and eternal in the inevitability of its expression.” And of the true religionist he said, in expressing the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive: “The good man seeks not to retain truth for himself but rather attempts to bestow these riches upon his fellows, for that is the realization of truth. The will of the Absolute God always benefits, never destroys; the purpose of the true believer is always to act but never to coerce.” Lao’s teaching of nonresistance and the distinction which he made between action and coercion became later perverted into the beliefs of “seeing, doing, and thinking nothing.” But Lao never taught such error, albeit his presentation of nonresistance has been a factor in the further development of the pacific predilections of the Chinese peoples.

Confucius (Kung Fu-tze) was a younger contemporary of Lao in sixth-century China. Confucius based his doctrines upon the better moral traditions of the long history of the yellow race, and he was also somewhat influenced by the lingering traditions of the Salem missionaries. His chief work consisted in the compilation of the wise sayings of ancient philosophers. He was a rejected teacher during his lifetime, but his writings and teachings have ever since exerted a great influence in China and Japan. Confucius set a new pace for the shamans in that he put morality in the place of magic. The Confucian preachment of morality was predicated on the theory that the earthly way is the distorted shadow of the heavenly way; that the true pattern of temporal civilization is the mirror reflection of the eternal order of heaven. The potential God concept in Confucianism was almost completely subordinated to the emphasis placed upon the Way of Heaven, the pattern of the cosmos.

The teachings of Lao have been lost to all but a few in the Orient, but the writings of Confucius have ever since constituted the basis of the moral fabric of the culture of almost a third of man. These Confucian precepts, while perpetuating the best of the past, were somewhat inimical to the very Chinese spirit of investigation that had produced those achievements which were so venerated. The influence of these doctrines was unsuccessfully combated both by the imperial efforts of Ch’in Shih Huang Ti and by the teachings of Mo Ti, who proclaimed a brotherhood founded not on ethical duty but on the love of God. He sought to rekindle the ancient quest for new truth, but his teachings failed before the vigorous opposition of the disciples of Confucius.

Gautama Siddhartha
Contemporary with Lao-tse and Confucius in China, another great teacher of truth arose in India. Gautama Siddhartha was born in the sixth century before Christ in the north Indian province of Nepal. His followers later made it appear that he was the son of a fabulously wealthy ruler, but, in truth, he was the heir apparent to the throne of a petty chieftain who ruled by sufferance over a small and secluded mountain valley in the southern Himalayas. Gautama formulated those theories which grew into the philosophy of Buddhism after six years of the futile practice of Yoga. Siddhartha made a determined but unavailing fight against the growing caste system. There was a lofty sincerity and a unique unselfishness about this young prophet prince that greatly appealed to the men of those days. He detracted from the practice of seeking individual salvation through physical affliction and personal pain. And he exhorted his followers to carry his gospel to all the world.

Amid the confusion and extreme cult practices of India, the saner and more moderate teachings of Gautama came as a refreshing relief. He denounced gods, priests, and their sacrifices, but he too failed to perceive the personality of the One Universal. Not believing in the existence of individual human souls, Gautama, of course, made a valiant fight against the time-honored belief in transmigration of the soul. He made a noble effort to deliver men from fear, to make them feel at ease and at home in the great universe, but he failed to show them the pathway to that real and supernal home of ascending mortals and to the expanding service of eternal existence. Gautama was a real prophet, and had he heeded the instruction of the hermit Godad, he might have aroused all India by the inspiration of the revival of the Salem gospel of salvation by faith. Godad was descended through a family that had never lost the traditions of the Melchizedek missionaries.

When proclaimed at its best, Gautama’s gospel of universal salvation, free from sacrifice, torture, ritual, and priests, was a revolutionary and amazing doctrine for its time. And it came surprisingly near to being a revival of the Salem gospel. It brought succor to millions of despairing souls, and notwithstanding its grotesque perversion during later centuries, it still persists as the hope of millions of human beings. Siddhartha taught far more truth than has survived in the modern cults bearing his name. Modern Buddhism is no more the teachings of Gautama Siddhartha than is Christianity the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

All Earth is waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Christ, unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin. The hour is striking for presenting to Buddhism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, even to the peoples of all faiths, not the gospel about Jesus, but the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus.

Melchizedek Teachings in the Levant

Mesopotamia
Only, during the Melchizedek era, the seventh day was regarded as the worst of bad luck. It was taboo-ridden; it was unlawful to go on a journey, cook food, or make a fire on the evil seventh day. The Jews carried back to Palestine many of the Mesopotamian taboos which they had found resting on the Babylonian observance of the seventh day, the Shabattum. Although the Salem teachers did much to refine and uplift the religions of Mesopotamia, they did not succeed in bringing the various peoples to the permanent recognition of one God. Such teaching gained the ascendancy for more than one hundred and fifty years and then gradually gave way to the older belief in a multiplicity of deities.

The early progress of the Melchizedek teaching was highly gratifying until Nabodad, the leader of the school at Kish, decided to make a concerted attack upon the prevalent practices of temple harlotry. But the Salem missionaries failed in their effort to bring about this social reform, and in the wreck of this failure all their more important spiritual and philosophic teachings went down in defeat. This defeat of the Salem gospel was immediately followed by a great increase in the cult of Ishtar, a ritual which had already invaded Palestine as Ashtoreth, Egypt as Isis, Greece as Aphrodite, and the northern tribes as Astarte. And it was in connection with this revival of the worship of Ishtar that the Babylonian priests turned anew to stargazing; astrology experienced its last great Mesopotamian revival, fortunetelling became the vogue, and for centuries the priesthood increasingly deteriorated.

Melchizedek had warned his followers to teach about the one God, the Father and Maker of all, and to preach only the gospel of divine favor through faith alone. But it has often been the error of the teachers of new truth to attempt too much, to attempt to supplant slow evolution by sudden revolution. The Melchizedek missionaries in Mesopotamia raised a moral standard too high for the people; they attempted too much, and their noble cause went down in defeat. They had been commissioned to preach a definite gospel, to proclaim the truth of the reality of the Universal Father, but they became entangled in the apparently worthy cause of reforming the mores, and thus was their great mission sidetracked and virtually lost in frustration and oblivion.

It was the Salem missionaries of the period following the rejection of their teaching who wrote many of the Old Testament Psalms, inscribing them on stone, where later-day Hebrew priests found them during the captivity and subsequently incorporated them among the collection of hymns ascribed to Jewish authorship. These beautiful psalms from Babylon were not written in the temples of Bel-Marduk; they were the work of the descendants of the earlier Salem missionaries, and they are a striking contrast to the magical conglomerations of the Babylonian priests. The Book of Job is a fairly good reflection of the teachings of the Salem school at Kish and throughout Mesopotamia. Much of the Mesopotamian religious culture found its way into Hebrew literature and liturgy by way of Egypt through the work of Amenemope and Ikhnaton. The Egyptians remarkably preserved the teachings of social obligation derived from the earlier Andite Mesopotamians and so largely lost by the later Babylonians who occupied the Euphrates valley.

Egypt
It was political and moral, rather than philosophic or religious, tendencies that rendered Egypt more favorable to the Salem teaching than Mesopotamia. Each tribal leader in Egypt, after fighting his way to the throne, sought to perpetuate his dynasty by proclaiming his tribal god the original deity and creator of all other gods. In this way the Egyptians gradually got used to the idea of a supergod, a steppingstone to the later doctrine of a universal creator Deity. The idea of monotheism wavered back and forth in Egypt for many centuries, the belief in one God always gaining ground but never quite dominating the evolving concepts of polytheism.

The superstitions of these times are well illustrated by the general belief in the efficacy of spittle as a healing agent, an idea which had its origin in Egypt and spread therefrom to Arabia and Mesopotamia. In the legendary battle of Horus with Set the young god lost his eye, but after Set was vanquished, this eye was restored by the wise god Thoth, who spat upon the wound and healed it. The Egyptians long believed that the stars twinkling in the night sky represented the survival of the souls of the worthy dead; other survivors they thought were absorbed into the sun. During a certain period, solar veneration became a species of ancestor worship. The sloping entrance passage of the great pyramid pointed directly toward the Pole Star so that the soul of the king, when emerging from the tomb, could go straight to the stationary and established constellations of the fixed stars, the supposed abode of the kings.

The concept of judgment in the hereafter for the sins of one’s life in the flesh on earth was carried over into Hebrew theology from Egypt. The word judgment appears only once in the entire Book of Hebrew Psalms, and that particular psalm was written by an Egyptian.

Three thousand years before the Hebrew scriptures were written, the motto of the Egyptians was: “Established is the man whose standard is righteousness; who walks according to its way.” They taught gentleness, moderation, and discretion. The message of one of the great teachers of this epoch was: “Do right and deal justly with all.” The Egyptian triad of this age was Truth-Justice-Righteousness. Of all the purely human religions of Earth none ever surpassed the social ideals and the moral grandeur of this onetime humanism of the Nile valley.

Egypt was intellectual and moral but not overly spiritual. In six thousand years only four great prophets arose among the Egyptians. Amenemope they followed for a season; Okhban they murdered; Ikhnaton they accepted but halfheartedly for one short generation; Moses they rejected. Again was it political rather than religious circumstances that made it easy for Abraham and, later on, for Joseph to exert great influence throughout Egypt in behalf of the Salem teachings of one God. But when the Salem missionaries first entered Egypt, they encountered this highly ethical culture of evolution blended with the modified moral standards of Mesopotamian immigrants. These early Nile valley teachers were the first to proclaim conscience as the mandate of God, the voice of Deity.

Teachings of Amenemope
In due time there grew up in Egypt a teacher called by many the “son of man” and by others Amenemope. This seer exalted conscience to its highest pinnacle of arbitrament between right and wrong, taught punishment for sin, and proclaimed salvation through calling upon the solar deity. Amenemope taught that riches and fortune were the gift of God, and this concept thoroughly colored the later appearing Hebrew philosophy. This noble teacher believed that God-consciousness was the determining factor in all conduct; that every moment should be lived in the realization of the presence of, and responsibility to, God. The teachings of this sage were subsequently translated into Hebrew and became the sacred book of that people long before the Old Testament was reduced to writing. The chief preachment of this good man had to do with instructing his son in uprightness and honesty in governmental positions of trust, and these noble sentiments of long ago would do honor to any modern statesman.

This wise man of the Nile taught that “riches take themselves wings and fly away” —that all things earthly are evanescent. His great prayer was to be “saved from fear.” He exhorted all to turn away from “the words of men” to “the acts of God.” In substance he taught: Man proposes but God disposes. His teachings, translated into Hebrew, determined the philosophy of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. Translated into Greek, they gave color to all subsequent Hellenic religious philosophy. The later Alexandrian philosopher, Philo, possessed a copy of the Book of Wisdom. Amenemope functioned to conserve the ethics of evolution and the morals of revelation and in his writings passed them on both to the Hebrews and to the Greeks. He was not the greatest of the religious teachers of this age, but he was the most influential in that he colored the subsequent thought of two vital links in the growth of Occidental civilization —the Hebrews, among whom evolved the acme of Occidental religious faith, and the Greeks, who developed pure philosophic thought to its greatest European heights.

Ikhnaton
During this time of increasing spiritual depression in Mesopotamia, he kept alive the doctrine of El Elyon, the One God, in Egypt, thus maintaining the philosophic monotheistic channel which was vital to the religious background of the then future bestowal of Christ. And it was in recognition of this exploit, among other reasons, that the child Jesus was taken to Egypt, where some of the spiritual successors of Ikhnaton saw him and to some extent understood certain phases of his divine mission to Earth. Moses, the greatest character between Melchizedek and Jesus, was the joint gift to the world of the Hebrew race and the Egyptian royal family; and had Ikhnaton possessed the versatility and ability of Moses, had he manifested a political genius to match his surprising religious leadership, then would Egypt have become the great monotheistic nation of that age; and if this had happened, it is barely possible that Jesus might have lived the greater portion of his mortal life in Egypt.

Never in all history did any king so methodically proceed to swing a whole nation from polytheism to monotheism as did this extraordinary Ikhnaton. With the most amazing determination this young ruler broke with the past, changed his name, abandoned his capital, built an entirely new city, and created a new art and literature for a whole people. But he went too fast; he built too much, more than could stand when he had gone. Again, he failed to provide for the material stability and prosperity of his people, all of which reacted unfavorably against his religious teachings when the subsequent floods of adversity and oppression swept over the Egyptians. Had this man of amazingly clear vision and extraordinary singleness of purpose had the political sagacity of Moses, he would have changed the whole history of the evolution of religion and the revelation of truth in the Occidental world. During his lifetime he was able to curb the activities of the priests, whom he generally discredited, but they maintained their cults in secret and sprang into action as soon as the young king passed from power; and they were not slow to connect all of Egypt’s subsequent troubles with the establishment of monotheism during his reign.

Ikhnaton was wise enough to maintain the outward worship of Aton, the sun-god, while he led his associates in the disguised worship of the One God, creator of Aton and supreme Father of all. This young teacher-king was a prolific writer, being author of the exposition entitled “The One God,” a book of thirty-one chapters, which the priests, when returned to power, utterly destroyed. Ikhnaton also wrote one hundred and thirty-seven hymns, twelve of which are now preserved in the Old Testament Book of Psalms, credited to Hebrew authorship. The supreme word of Ikhnaton’s religion in daily life was “righteousness,” and he rapidly expanded the concept of right doing to embrace international as well as national ethics. This was a generation of amazing personal piety and was characterized by a genuine aspiration among the more intelligent men and women to find God and to know him. In those days social position or wealth gave no Egyptian any advantage in the eyes of the law. The family life of Egypt did much to preserve and augment moral culture and was the inspiration of the later superb family life of the Jews in Palestine.

Although the effort of this Egyptian ruler to impose the worship of one God upon his people appeared to fail, it should be recorded that the repercussions of his work persisted for centuries both in Palestine and Greece, and that Egypt thus became the agent for transmitting the combined evolutionary culture of the Nile and the revelatory religion of the Euphrates to all of the subsequent peoples of the Occident. The glory of this great era of moral development and spiritual growth in the Nile valley was rapidly passing at about the time the national life of the Hebrews was beginning, and consequent upon their sojourn in Egypt these Bedouins carried away much of these teachings and perpetuated many of Ikhnaton’s doctrines in their racial religion.

Iran
The doctrine of the Abrahamic covenant was virtually extinct in Persia when, in that great century of moral renaissance, the sixth before Christ, Zoroaster appeared to revive the smouldering embers of the Salem gospel. This founder of a new religion was a virile and adventurous youth, who, on his first pilgrimage to Ur in Mesopotamia, had learned of the traditions of the Planetary Prince and the Lucifer rebellion —along with many other traditions —all of which had made a strong appeal to his religious nature. Accordingly, as the result of a dream while in Ur, he settled upon a program of returning to his northern home to undertake the remodeling of the religion of his people. He had imbibed the Hebraic idea of a God of justice, the Mosaic concept of divinity. The idea of a supreme God was clear in his mind, and he set down all other gods as devils, consigned them to the ranks of the demons of which he had heard in Mesopotamia. He had learned of the story of the Seven Master Spirits as the tradition lingered in Ur, and, accordingly, he created a galaxy of seven supreme gods with Ahura-Mazda at its head. These subordinate gods he associated with the idealization of Right Law, Good Thought, Noble Government, Holy Character, Health, and Immortality.

And this new religion was one of action —work —not prayers and rituals. Its God was a being of supreme wisdom and the patron of civilization; it was a militant religious philosophy which dared to battle with evil, inaction, and backwardness. Zoroaster did not teach the worship of fire but sought to utilize the flame as a symbol of the pure and wise Spirit of universal and supreme dominance. (All too true, his later followers did both reverence and worship this symbolic fire.) Finally, upon the conversion of an Iranian prince, this new religion was spread by the sword. And Zoroaster heroically died in battle for that which he believed was the “truth of the Lord of light.” Zoroastrianism is the only Urantian creed that perpetuates the Dalamatian and Edenic teachings about the Seven Master Spirits. While failing to evolve the Trinity concept, it did in a certain way approach that of God the Sevenfold. Original Zoroastrianism was not a pure dualism; though the early teachings did picture evil as a time co-ordinate of goodness, it was definitely eternity-submerged in the ultimate reality of the good. Only in later times did the belief gain credence that good and evil contended on equal terms.

The Jewish traditions of heaven and hell and the doctrine of devils as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, while founded on the lingering traditions of Lucifer and Caligastia, were principally derived from the Zoroastrians during the times when the Jews were under the political and cultural dominance of the Persians. Zoroaster, like the Egyptians, taught the “day of judgment,” but he connected this event with the end of the world. Even the religion which succeeded Zoroastrianism in Persia was markedly influenced by it. When the Iranian priests sought to overthrow the teachings of Zoroaster, they resurrected the ancient worship of Mithra. And Mithraism spread throughout the Levant and Mediterranean regions, being for some time a contemporary of both Judaism and Christianity. The teachings of Zoroaster thus came successively to impress three great religions: Judaism and Christianity and, through them, Mohammedanism.

Arabia
Here and there throughout Arabia were families and clans that held on to the hazy idea of the one God. Such groups treasured the traditions of Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, and Zoroaster. There were numerous centers that might have responded to the Jesusonian gospel, but the Christian missionaries of the desert lands were an austere and unyielding group in contrast with the compromisers and innovators who functioned as missionaries in the Mediterranean countries. Had the followers of Jesus taken more seriously his injunction to “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” and had they been more gracious in that preaching, less stringent in collateral social requirements of their own devising, then many lands would gladly have received the simple gospel of the carpenter’s son, Arabia among them. Despite the fact that the great Levantine monotheisms failed to take root in Arabia, this desert land was capable of producing a faith which, though less demanding in its social requirements, was nonetheless monotheistic.

There was only one factor of a tribal, racial, or national nature about the primitive and unorganized beliefs of the desert, and that was the peculiar and general respect which almost all Arabian tribes were willing to pay to a certain black stone fetish in a certain temple at Mecca. This point of common contact and reverence subsequently led to the establishment of the Islamic religion. What Yahweh, the volcano spirit, was to the Jewish Semites, the Kaaba stone became to their Arabic cousins. The strength of Islam has been its clear-cut and well-defined presentation of Allah as the one and only Deity; its weakness, the association of military force with its promulgation, together with its degradation of woman. But it has steadfastly held to its presentation of the One Universal Deity of all, “who knows the invisible and the visible. He is the merciful and the compassionate.” “Truly God is plenteous in goodness to all men.” “And when I am sick, it is he who heals me.” “For whenever as many as three speak together, God is present as a fourth,” for is he not “the first and the last, also the seen and the hidden”?

Teachings in the Occident

The Greeks
The early influence of the Salem teachers was nearly destroyed by the so-called Aryan invasion from southern Europe and the East. These Hellenic invaders brought along with them anthropomorphic God concepts similar to those which their Aryan fellows had carried to India. This importation inaugurated the evolution of the Greek family of gods and goddesses. This new religion was partly based on the cults of the incoming Hellenic barbarians, but it also shared in the myths of the older inhabitants of Greece. The Hellenic Greeks found the Mediterranean world largely dominated by the mother cult, and they imposed upon these peoples their man-god, Dyaus-Zeus, who had already become, like Yahweh among the henotheistic Semites, head of the whole Greek pantheon of subordinate gods. And the Greeks would have eventually achieved a true monotheism in the concept of Zeus except for their retention of the overcontrol of Fate. A God of final value must, himself, be the arbiter of fate and the creator of destiny.

A lightly regarded and superficial religion cannot endure, especially when it has no priesthood to foster its forms and to fill the hearts of the devotees with fear and awe. The Olympian religion did not promise salvation, nor did it quench the spiritual thirst of its believers; therefore was it doomed to perish. Within a millennium of its inception it had nearly vanished, and the Greeks were without a national religion, the gods of Olympus having lost their hold upon the better minds. This was the situation when, during the sixth century before Christ, the Orient and the Levant experienced a revival of spiritual consciousness and a new awakening to the recognition of monotheism. But the West did not share in this new development; neither Europe nor northern Africa extensively participated in this religious renaissance. The Greeks, however, did engage in a magnificent intellectual advancement. They had begun to master fear and no longer sought religion as an antidote therefor, but they did not perceive that true religion is the cure for soul hunger, spiritual disquiet, and moral despair. They sought for the solace of the soul in deep thinking —philosophy and metaphysics. They turned from the contemplation of self-preservation —salvation —to self-realization and self-understanding.

The philosophers disdained all forms of worship, notwithstanding that they practically all held loosely to the background of a belief in the Salem doctrine of “the Intelligence of the universe,” “the idea of God,” and “the Great Source.” In so far as the Greek philosophers gave recognition to the divine and the superfinite, they were frankly monotheistic; they gave scant recognition to the whole galaxy of Olympian gods and goddesses. The Greek poets of the fifth and sixth centuries, notably Pindar, attempted the reformation of Greek religion. They elevated its ideals, but they were more artists than religionists. They failed to develop a technique for fostering and conserving supreme values.

Xenophanes taught one God, but his deity concept was too pantheistic to be a personal Father to mortal man. Anaxagoras was a mechanist except that he did recognize a First Cause, an Initial Mind. Socrates and his successors, Plato and Aristotle, taught that virtue is knowledge; goodness, health of the soul; that it is better to suffer injustice than to be guilty of it, that it is wrong to return evil for evil, and that the gods are wise and good. Their cardinal virtues were: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.

But the average men of these times could not grasp, nor were they much interested in, the Greek philosophy of self-realization and an abstract Deity; they rather craved promises of salvation, coupled with a personal God who could hear their prayers. They exiled the philosophers, persecuted the remnants of the Salem cult, both doctrines having become much blended, and made ready for that terrible orgiastic plunge into the follies of the mystery cults which were then overspreading the Mediterranean lands. The Eleusinian mysteries grew up within the Olympian pantheon, a Greek version of the worship of fertility; Dionysus nature worship flourished; the best of the cults was the Orphic brotherhood, whose moral preachments and promises of salvation made a great appeal to many.

All Greece became involved in these new methods of attaining salvation, these emotional and fiery ceremonials. No nation ever attained such heights of artistic philosophy in so short a time; none ever created such an advanced system of ethics practically without Deity and entirely devoid of the promise of human salvation; no nation ever plunged so quickly, deeply, and violently into such depths of intellectual stagnation, moral depravity, and spiritual poverty as these same Greek peoples when they flung themselves into the mad whirl of the mystery cults. Religions have long endured without philosophical support, but few philosophies, as such, have long persisted without some identification with religion. Philosophy is to religion as conception is to action. But the ideal human estate is that in which philosophy, religion, and science are welded into a meaningful unity by the conjoined action of wisdom, faith, and experience.

In Rome
In the great monotheistic renaissance of Melchizedek’s gospel during the sixth century before Christ, too few of the Salem missionaries penetrated Italy, and those who did were unable to overcome the influence of the rapidly spreading Etruscan priesthood with its new galaxy of gods and temples, all of which became organized into the Roman state religion. This religion of the Latin tribes was not trivial and venal like that of the Greeks, neither was it austere and tyrannical like that of the Hebrews; it consisted for the most part in the observance of mere forms, vows, and taboos. Roman religion was greatly influenced by extensive cultural importations from Greece. Eventually most of the Olympian gods were transplanted and incorporated into the Latin pantheon. The Greeks long worshiped the fire of the family hearth —Hestia was the virgin goddess of the hearth; Vesta was the Roman goddess of the home. Zeus became Jupiter; Aphrodite, Venus; and so on down through the many Olympian deities.

The religious initiation of Roman youths was the occasion of their solemn consecration to the service of the state. Oaths and admissions to citizenship were in reality religious ceremonies. The Latin peoples maintained temples, altars, and shrines and, in a crisis, would consult the oracles. They preserved the bones of heroes and later on those of the Christian saints. This formal and unemotional form of pseudoreligious patriotism was doomed to collapse, even as the highly intellectual and artistic worship of the Greeks had gone down before the fervid and deeply emotional worship of the mystery cults. The greatest of these devastating cults was the mystery religion of the Mother of God sect, which had its headquarters, in those days, on the exact site of the present church of St. Peter’s in Rome. The emerging Roman state conquered politically but was in turn conquered by the cults, rituals, mysteries, and god concepts of Egypt, Greece, and the Levant. These imported cults continued to flourish throughout the Roman state up to the time of Augustus, who, purely for political and civic reasons, made a heroic and somewhat successful effort to destroy the mysteries and revive the older political religion.

One of the priests of the state religion told Augustus of the earlier attempts of the Salem teachers to spread the doctrine of one God, a final Deity presiding over all supernatural beings; and this idea took such a firm hold on the emperor that he built many temples, stocked them well with beautiful images, reorganized the state priesthood, re-established the state religion, appointed himself acting high priest of all, and as emperor did not hesitate to proclaim himself the supreme god. This new religion of Augustus worship flourished and was observed throughout the empire during his lifetime except in Palestine, the home of the Jews. And this era of the human gods continued until the official Roman cult had a roster of more than twoscore self-elevated human deities, all claiming miraculous births and other superhuman attributes.

The last stand of the dwindling band of Salem believers was made by an earnest group of preachers, the Cynics, who exhorted the Romans to abandon their wild and senseless religious rituals and return to a form of worship embodying Melchizedek’s gospel as it had been modified and contaminated through contact with the philosophy of the Greeks. But the people at large rejected the Cynics; they preferred to plunge into the rituals of the mysteries, which not only offered hopes of personal salvation but also gratified the desire for diversion, excitement, and entertainment.

The Mystery Cults
The three mystery cults which became most popular were:
1. The Phrygian cult of Cybele and her son Attis.
2. The Egyptian cult of Osiris and his mother Isis.
3. The Iranian cult of the worship of Mithras as the savior and redeemer of sinful mankind.

The Phrygian and Egyptian mysteries taught that the divine son (respectively Attis and Osiris) had experienced death and had been resurrected by divine power, and further that all who were properly initiated into the mystery, and who reverently celebrated the anniversary of the god’s death and resurrection, would thereby become partakers of his divine nature and his immortality. The Phrygian ceremonies were imposing but degrading; their bloody festivals indicate how degraded and primitive these Levantine mysteries became. The most holy day was Black Friday, the “day of blood,” commemorating the self-inflicted death of Attis. After three days of the celebration of the sacrifice and death of Attis the festival was turned to joy in honor of his resurrection.

The rituals of the worship of Isis and Osiris were more refined and impressive than were those of the Phrygian cult. This Egyptian ritual was built around the legend of the Nile god of old, a god who died and was resurrected, which concept was derived from the observation of the annually recurring stoppage of vegetation growth followed by the springtime restoration of all living plants. The frenzy of the observance of these mystery cults and the orgies of their ceremonials, which were supposed to lead up to the “enthusiasm” of the realization of divinity, were sometimes most revolting.

The Cult of Mithras
The cult of Mithras arose in Iran and long persisted in its homeland despite the militant opposition of the followers of Zoroaster. But by the time Mithraism reached Rome, it had become greatly improved by the absorption of many of Zoroaster’s teachings. It was chiefly through the Mithraic cult that Zoroaster’s religion exerted an influence upon later appearing Christianity. The Mithraic cult portrayed a militant god taking origin in a great rock, engaging in valiant exploits, and causing water to gush forth from a rock struck with his arrows. There was a flood from which one man escaped in a specially built boat and a last supper which Mithras celebrated with the sun-god before he ascended into the heavens. This sun-god, or Sol Invictus, was a degeneration of the Ahura-Mazda deity concept of Zoroastrianism. Mithras was conceived as the surviving champion of the sun-god in his struggle with the god of darkness. And in recognition of his slaying the mythical sacred bull, Mithras was made immortal, being exalted to the station of intercessor for the human race among the gods on high.

The adherents of this cult worshiped in caves and other secret places, chanting hymns, mumbling magic, eating the flesh of the sacrificial animals, and drinking the blood. Three times a day they worshiped, with special weekly ceremonials on the day of the sun-god and with the most elaborate observance of all on the annual festival of Mithras, December twenty-fifth. It was believed that the partaking of the sacrament ensured eternal life, the immediate passing, after death, to the bosom of Mithras, there to tarry in bliss until the judgment day. On the judgment day the Mithraic keys of heaven would unlock the gates of Paradise for the reception of the faithful; whereupon all the unbaptized of the living and the dead would be annihilated upon the return of Mithras to earth. It was taught that, when a man died, he went before Mithras for judgment, and that at the end of the world Mithras would summon all the dead from their graves to face the last judgment. The wicked would be destroyed by fire, and the righteous would reign with Mithras forever. At first it was a religion only for men, and there were seven different orders into which believers could be successively initiated. Later on, the wives and daughters of believers were admitted to the temples of the Great Mother, which adjoined the Mithraic temples. The women’s cult was a mixture of Mithraic ritual and the ceremonies of the Phrygian cult of Cybele, the mother of Attis.

Mithraism and Christianity
Prior to the coming of the mystery cults and Christianity, personal religion hardly developed as an independent institution in the civilized lands of North Africa and Europe; it was more of a family, city-state, political, and imperial affair. The Hellenic Greeks never evolved a centralized worship system; the ritual was local; they had no priesthood and no “sacred book.” Much as the Romans, their religious institutions lacked a powerful driving agency for the preservation of higher moral and spiritual values. While it is true that the institutionalization of religion has usually detracted from its spiritual quality, it is also a fact that no religion has thus far succeeded in surviving without the aid of institutional organization of some degree, greater or lesser. Occidental religion thus languished until the days of the Skeptics, Cynics, Epicureans, and Stoics, but most important of all, until the times of the great contest between Mithraism and Paul’s new religion of Christianity.

During the third century after Christ, Mithraic and Christian churches were very similar both in appearance and in the character of their ritual. A majority of such places of worship were underground, and both contained altars whose backgrounds variously depicted the sufferings of the savior who had brought salvation to a sin-cursed human race. Always had it been the practice of Mithraic worshipers, on entering the temple, to dip their fingers in holy water. And since in some districts there were those who at one time belonged to both religions, they introduced this custom into the majority of the Christian churches in the vicinity of Rome. Both religions employed baptism and partook of the sacrament of bread and wine. The one great difference between Mithraism and Christianity, aside from the characters of Mithras and Jesus, was that the one encouraged militarism while the other was ultrapacific. Mithraism’s tolerance for other religions (except later Christianity) led to its final undoing. But the deciding factor in the struggle between the two was the admission of women into the full fellowship of the Christian faith.

In the end the nominal Christian faith dominated the Occident. Greek philosophy supplied the concepts of ethical value; Mithraism, the ritual of worship observance; and Christianity, as such, the technique for the conservation of moral and social values.

The Christian Religion
The Son did not incarnate in the likeness of mortal flesh and bestow himself upon humanity to reconcile an angry God but rather to win all mankind to the recognition of the Father’s love and to the realization of their sonship with God. After all, even the great advocate of the atonement doctrine realized something of this truth, for he declared that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” (2 Cor. 5:19) It is not the purpose of this post to deal with the origin and dissemination of the Christian religion. Suffice it to say that it is built around the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the humanly incarnate Son of God, known as the Christ, the anointed one. Christianity was spread throughout the Levant and Occident by the followers of this Galilean, and their missionary zeal equaled that of their illustrious predecessors, the Sethites and Salemites, as well as that of their earnest Asiatic contemporaries, the Buddhist teachers. The Christian religion, as a system of belief, arose through the compounding of the following teachings, influences, beliefs, cults, and personal individual attitudes:
1. The Melchizedek teachings, which are a basic factor in all the religions of Occident and Orient that have arisen in the last four thousand years.
2. The Hebraic system of morality, ethics, theology, and belief in both Providence and the supreme Yahweh.
3. The Zoroastrian conception of the struggle between cosmic good and evil, which had already left its imprint on both Judaism and Mithraism. Through prolonged contact attendant upon the struggles between Mithraism and Christianity, the doctrines of the Iranian prophet became a potent factor in determining the theologic and philosophic cast and structure of the dogmas, tenets, and cosmology of the Hellenized and Latinized versions of the teachings of Jesus.
4. The mystery cults, especially Mithraism but also the worship of the Great Mother in the Phrygian cult. Even the legends of the birth of Jesus became tainted with the Roman version of the miraculous birth of the Iranian savior-hero, Mithras, whose advent on earth was supposed to have been witnessed by only a handful of gift-bearing shepherds who had been informed of this impending event by angels.
5. The historic fact of the human life of Joshua ben Joseph, the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the glorified Christ, the Son of God.
6. The personal viewpoint of Paul of Tarsus. And it should be recorded that Mithraism was the dominant religion of Tarsus during his adolescence. Paul little dreamed that his well-intentioned letters to his converts would someday be regarded by still later Christians as the “word of God.” Such well-meaning teachers must not be held accountable for the use made of their writings by later-day successors.
7. The philosophic thought of the Hellenistic peoples, from Alexandria and Antioch through Greece to Syracuse and Rome. The philosophy of the Greeks was more in harmony with Paul’s version of Christianity than with any other current religious system and became an important factor in the success of Christianity in the Occident. Greek philosophy, coupled with Paul’s theology, still forms the basis of European ethics.

As the original teachings of Jesus penetrated the Occident, they became Occidentalized, and as they became Occidentalized, they began to lose their potentially universal appeal to all races and kinds of men. Christianity, today, has become a religion well adapted to the social, economic, and political mores of the white races. It has long since ceased to be the religion of Jesus, although it still valiantly portrays a beautiful religion about Jesus to such individuals as sincerely seek to follow in the way of its teaching. It has glorified Jesus as the Christ, the Messianic anointed one from God, but has largely forgotten the Master’s personal gospel: the Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of all men. And this is the long story of the teachings of Machiventa Melchizedek. When Christ made ready to appear on Earth, the God concept was existent in the hearts of men and women, the same God concept that still flames anew in the living spiritual experience of the manifold children of the Universal Father as they live their intriguing temporal lives on the whirling planets of space.

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