Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent


The Mystery of the Real Jesus (Part 1)

posted by dchopra

A stir was made recently by the documentary film from ‘Titanic’ director James Cameron that claimed to have found the final resting place of Jesus and his family, and although the evidence presented wasn’t satisfying to the vast majority of biblical scholars, the search for the real Jesus has become a preoccupation, even obsession. Modern people want evidence that a wandering rabbi, or teacher, actually preached in northern Galilee two thousand years ago, yet outside the New Testament, even the simplest facts about Jesus are essentially non-existent. This has given rise to a number of contending views:


1. The real Jesus is contained in the four gospels.
2. The Jesus found in scripture is so confusing and contradictory that the real person has been lost.
3. Historical evidence is irrelevant. The real Jesus exists in disembodied form.
4. There was no real Jesus, or if he existed, he is buried under layers of theology.
5. In the absence of historical documents, a circumstantial case can be made that reveals much about Jesus and his times.
There are pros and cons to each position, most of them unknown to practicing Christians and skeptics alike. I will devote a post to each argument, although entire books go into extensive detail about them.
Argument #1: The real Jesus is contained in the four gospels.
Pros: This would seem to be the simplest and most logical position to take. The four gospel writers either knew Jesus personally or talked to his disciples. They wrote their accounts roughly in the generation after Jesus died, or the one after that (in any case, before 100 CE). In addition, the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke overlap extensively –John is a separate case–further corroborating each other. If the four gospels don’t offer the true Jesus as he existed, no other documents can claim such authenticity. They are the best we have or can hope to have in the future.
Cons: There are no cons if you believe that the four gospels are divinely revealed. But we live in an age of doubt and scholarly research, which have combined to upset the tradition of faith. Here are some of the relevant facts that make the four gospels less than convincing:
.
–The gospels are by unknown writers. Only tradition names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the authors. There is no historical evidence that these four figures wrote anything down, and we do not know their actual relationship to Jesus when he was alive. That again is a matter of tradition.
–It is likely that many unknown scribes altered the original texts before a final version was settled on between the third and fourth centuries CE.
–Whoever wrote these accounts, they do not offer the same picture of Jesus, but rather are full of contradictions. Nor do they agree on the same time line of events. (We don’t know if Jesus taught for three years, as tradition holds, or as little as eighteen months. We don’t know if he went to Jerusalem for high holy days or only once on the Passover when he was arrested and crucified.)
–Words are attributed to Jesus that no one could have heard (such as the scene in the garden of Gesthemane when Jesus asks God to take away the cup from his lips, meaning his coming doom on the cross. This is also when the text tells us that the disciples had all fallen asleep, without anyone to overhear his words. Since he was immediately arrested, he would not have had time to recount them, either).
–The four gospels are full of gaps. Except for a single incident in Jerusalem when he was around twelve, the gospels offer nothing about Jesus’ life between the birth story and his appearance to be baptized by John the Baptist when he was around thirty.
–The Jesus of the gospels is psychologically incomplete (for example, not once does he either smile or laugh. We have to wait for later accounts to learn even the barest facts about his brothers and sisters).
-Many key teachings of Jesus are countered by their direct opposite. Jesus preached love, peace, and forgiveness but also vengeance, punishment, intolerance for sinners, and so on. He preaches humility but also says that no one can come to God except through him. He denounces the Pharisees as hypocrites who are blindly tied to the laws of Moses but at other times commands that his followers uphold the same laws.
–Jesus rarely refers to any historical or biographical facts. Such a basic thing as his marital status becomes open to speculation.
–The writers of the gospels did not set out to tell the facts of a life but to convert nonbelievers and support their own belief in Jesus as the Messiah. For this reason they almost certainly exaggerated events, invented miracles, put words into Jesus’ mouth, or all three. (For example, Jesus often directly quotes the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah or refers to them. Is this how the actual Messiah spoke or how a Messiah has to speak if converts are to be won over?)
–Other documents may be as old as the four gospels and therefore have their own claim to authenticity. These include the so-called Gnostic Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, which are early documents banned by the church after 313 CE, when the Emperor Constantine officially adopted Christianity, ending the persecution of the faith but beginning a massive effort to destroy heresy and authorize one church and one scripture.
–Among hundreds of early Christian congregations, scriptures differed widely. For example, local beliefs had a lot to do with the birth story of Jesus set down in the gospels. The fact that a scribe from a certain church was drawing from local stories probably played a big part.
–Mark appears to be the first gospel written, and scholars generally agree that it was based on a lost document (known as Q, from Quelle, the German word for source), which is thought to have been a list of Jesus’ most important sayings, parables, and teachings. To this bare list Mark added all the stories he could find–these were handed down orally. At a certain point Q disappeared as the popularity of such lists of wise sayings waned.
Unless you believe that the gospels are revealed truth, these internal problems with the written text are enough, I think, to cast doubt on the Jesus we meet in the Bible. The hunt for the real Jesus had to continue elsewhere, as we will see in the next post.



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Comments read comments(28)
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Stella

posted March 14, 2008 at 2:18 pm


Thank you.



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Hannah

posted March 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm


Some very good points are brought up.



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Bob

posted March 15, 2008 at 6:39 am


I think you’re missing the point, the same way the Pharisees did.
Let me put it this way: I didn’t marry my wife because I gathered just enough scientific/historical evidence to convince me it was a good idea. I married her, because she captured my heart. She transformed my life by her love for me.
As Christians, we go to Church because Jesus has captured our hearts. That’s what you’re missing — it’s about the heart.
It’s like the prayers say,
“Tender Heart of Mary, be my safety,
Heart of Jesus, in you I trust
But like being in love, it’s not something you can really explain to someone else; not until they fall in love, too.
Maybe someday, in regard to Jesus, it will happen for you.
You’re in my prayers, Dr. Chopra,
Bob



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dissent of marxism

posted March 15, 2008 at 9:12 am


The Gospels are very accurate history. The people and places mentioned within them are reality. Real history. That a little Jewish guy didn’t make the big splash on Jewish front pages is not surprising. There are lots of messiah-types popping up all the time and Judea 33 wasn’t any different. (Look at Obama worship now.) Jesus certainly didn’t just come and go. This blog is proof of that. And the suppression of “Christianity” was not implemented until well after the resurrection, but the denial of Jesus as the Messiah and especially as Deity, was attacked even in Roman historical records. Religious orthodox Jews hounded the followers of Jesus all over Roman Judea and beyond. That is another fact. In fact, no one was called a “Christian” while Jesus was walking with His Apostles and disciples. The Gospels and the letters in the New Testament are historical documents worthy of value.



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Stephen

posted March 15, 2008 at 12:14 pm


Well I’d have to disagree that the gospels are very accurate history. That is not the case. One example being Quirynius (Cyrenius, etc) being governor of Syria during Herod’s reign. Didn’t happen. There is hisorical record to the contrary. I do think the gospels hold a lot of truth, but also a lot of mistakes.



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Niraley

posted March 15, 2008 at 4:15 pm


The problem now a days is that people especially all kinds of experts apply modern scientific and psychological standards to the Bible, especially to the New Testament. That is why Bible, or as a matter of fact no religous or historical or otherwise ancient records will match the modern standards. The authencity of any record is judged by the time when it was recorded after the event. The farther in time it is recorded from the event the less reliable it is. The New Testament was written within 100 AD. Mark was written some 40 years after Christ and trhe rest between 60-70 AD. All other historical records especially the historical biographies were written 400-600 years after the event. So if these biographies are reliable why is not the New Testament which was written with 100 years of Christs’ existence. Also, don’t forget that Paul wrote his letters within 20 years of the Crucifixion.
Apart from that the Roman Jewish historical sources mention about Christ. There is no doubt about the historical existence of Jesus.
The disparity in the books of New Testament is because they were written at different times based on the soures available at that time. Some of the events are the same with some variations. But it does not prove that they are unreliable. Also almost all the 12 closest followers of Christ (Apostles) including Paul were crucified. If Jesus was false they would not have given their lives for Christ. Deep in their hearts they believed that Jesus was the Christ. Since they were ardent followers of Christ they narrated to others what they saw and whom they touched form their faith point of view. Not from historical or psychological points of view. In the religious and regular history of the world no leader or prophet gave his own life for what he believed.
Please read Hans Kuhn’s books for further explanation. In his works he explains Christianity from different angles which meet the modern standards. There is no religion in the world and there is no historical event in the world which does not have pros and cons. Then why single out Christ.
The other gospels were written within 200 to 400 hundred years after Christ. They were written by different groups like agnostics, or who believed that Christ was neither a Son of God, or God Himself which is contrary to the four gospels.
If you any further concern, please let me know.



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Anonymous

posted March 15, 2008 at 5:42 pm


Jesus is Lord
The Word of God Made Flesh.



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Purple rain

posted March 15, 2008 at 7:57 pm


The Gospels as well as the rest of the New Testament were written to combat false teaching and wierd beliefs. Not unlike the conservative versus liberal contention of today.
The Gospels though, are indeed quite historically accurate. It was once denied that Pontius Pilate and Ciaphas ever existed. The turn of the archeaologists spade revealed otherwise.



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PK

posted March 15, 2008 at 9:31 pm


Niraley: During the Middle Ages in particular, many Jews accepted martyrdom for themselves and their children rather than save their lives by converting to Christianity as demanded by the followers of your Lord. So by your logic this proves that the religion for which these Jews died was the true faith.



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Ramesh Indupalli

posted March 15, 2008 at 10:42 pm


Now the time is arrived to think about Jesus and His life on the earth.
Debate between un-seen spirituality and volatile psychology which do not fit together.
Human psychology has many theories to apply them as per the need of the day!(Father of psychology)Sigmond froyd no more in modern days.
Most of the time Carl Jung is elected and selected by the most of the psychologists.
This firmly confirms seen and practical psychology is evolving every single day!so the psychology makes difference depending on social,
economical changes.
Now can anybody rely on consistently modified psychology today and in
future?Spirituality is un-seen so we can not blame it,it all depend on the person who accept sprituality and deny it.
Likewise psychology is not reaching one goal or target.Spirituality is the main stream of us which focus on one The Almighty God. CHRISTIAN,HINDU,ISLAM and multiple other religions.which prove the answer to our existence.
so,diversified psychology theories or united spirituality beliefs.
Our consciousness works till we die and why do we have common mind since longtime?why do we feel and express our innermind which acts
like a dictator which is enlightened hope of survival compare to other living creatures?
Now the the time for us to go around circle of psychology or straight
spirituality?.Can we find the meaning of our consciousness in future?
One can break psychology chains or feel free will?upto all of us.
Remember if you are digging truth of the religions(spiritual)you have to dig psychology without common understanding.
Atleast we have the consciousness to follow good or bad!
Then i expect digging on good and bad starts- which is the drama of the
human roles since longtime till now.Faith unseen is more stronger than
seen psychology.We can fail seen things but can not fail un-seen faith.
THIS THOUGHT IS FOR BOTH PSYCHOLOGISTS AND BELIEVERS OF ALMIGHTY GOD
REGARDLESS OF MULTIPLE RELIGIONS BASED ON SPIRITUALITY.



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Gene

posted March 16, 2008 at 9:31 am


Bob, you bring up a very good and important point that no one else addresses. I like your wisdom. Kudos.
I’ve noticed that in these comments, no one refutes or addresses any of the bulleted points that Dr. Chopra raises.



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Bob

posted March 16, 2008 at 1:21 pm


Niraley: Thanks for that post about the historicity of the Gospels. Very well said.
Gene: Thanks. And you’re absolutely right about how very few people challenge Dr. Chopra’s points (with the exception of Niraly). For a man who seems to be arguing against accepting much on faith, Dr. Chopra seems to rely a lot on his fans accepting what he says on faith.
PK: God may be perfect, but no one ever said his people were. There are, to be sure, plenty examples of Christians behaving horribly. However, other religions suffer from this problem as well.
For instance, India was home to the Thuggees: Hindus who believed they had to murder people by strangulation to prevent the goddess Kali from returning anytime soon.
Sticking with Hinduism, you also have the horrors of the caste system. It took Gandhi, and soon after him a Roman Catholic nun (Mother Theresa), to open India’s eyes to the immorality of an idea like the “untouchables”.
And, of course, in modern American Protestantism they have Jeremiah Wright, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, and Jim Bakker just to name a few.
So let’s not get too harsh with the medieval Catholic Church. It did, after all, serve as the foundation for Western Civilization as we know it. God bless those Irish monks, huh?



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PK

posted March 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm


My point is not that Christians have behaved badly, but that if you’re going to use martyrdom, as Niraley does, as evidence for the truth of the belief for which a person is willing to die, then Christianity has no exclusive honor in that regard.
As for getting harsh with the medieval Church, its record of dealing with dissenters from the true faith by setting them on fire speaks for itself.
The heritage of Western Civilization includes slavery, the mistreatment of Jews and other minorities, the suppression of woman, and the exploitation and extermination of native peoples,–but of course the medieval Church is only responsible for the good things.



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Bob

posted March 17, 2008 at 11:55 am


PK,
Again, if you want to examine records, let’s include the atrocious records of all the other faiths as well. Every religion I can think of off hand has made mistakes quite comparable to the ones the medieval Church. I already made mention of this concerning Hinduism. And if you want to talk about maltreatment of dissenters, then look no further than Protestant America in 1692.
All religions have a checkered history, so what we have to judge them on is how they behave in the here and now, which leads me to this strange idea you brought up, that the Catholic Church has suppressed women.
Society as a whole has suppressed women, I won’t argue that. But within the Church, we have a woman — The Blessed Virgin Mary — who is second only to Christ Himself. She holds the title of Queen of Heaven and Earth and Queen of the Angels.
Then we have included in the Doctors of the Church — that is, 33 saints who are of “eminent learning and great sanctity” — women like Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux. We hold these women to be fountains of spiritual knowledge, not second-class citizens. That’s important to remember.
I must say, I think the Muslim approach to femininity merits far more criticism than the Catholic Church does. Remember, in many Muslim nations they still, to this day, stone women for adultery, and beat them for revealing too much skin. Let’s talk about that for a while.
But let’s do it on another thread, because I think we’ve gotten off topic on this one ;-)



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PK

posted March 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm


Yes, all religions have atrocious blots on their records in addition to more admirable features. But citing a few woman saints and the so-called Queen of Heaven as evidence that the Catholic Church hasn’t suppressed women is a massive denial of the realities of social history. And for many centuries “society as a whole” under Western civilization was society as organized and run by the Catholic Church. As for judging religions on how they behave in the here and now, you are the one who mentioned not getting harsh with the medieval Church, which is what I was objecting to, especially given its approach to dissenters, i.e., setting them on fire. As for the current Catholic Church, its opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, for example, is only adding to the burden of the world’s misery in the here and now.



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Omshakti7/ Leslie

posted March 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm


Thank you for Your even handed approach to this subject. This can be such a volatile area reguarding Jesus/Yeshua bar Yosef. I am very much looking forward to your future postings as well. I interpret all Sacred writings metaphysically. In looking at any sacred book it is important to understand it’s historical context as well as it’s inner truth. As one of my teachers once said,”A text without a context is a pretext.” The Bible and other sacred books have been used as justification for many inhumanities. Slave ownership has been jusified by the story of Ham and Japheth. Jesus thought outside the box. He would be appalled to see his message of Divine Love so distorted. I apologize for getting off subject here. It is such a healthy thing that we can engage in a dialogue on Jesus. What is true for us will always be the Truth. This dialogue will help us more clearly see what is true for us. Thanks for all the wonderful food for thought.



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BlueNote

posted March 17, 2008 at 5:32 pm


I was expecting a more thoughtful analysis from Mr. Chopra. By repeating these same weak arguments against the validity of the Gospels, he shows a serious lack of knowledge of Christian theology. The most glaring is this statement:
“Many key teachings of Jesus are countered by their direct opposite. … He denounces the Pharisees as hypocrites who are blindly tied to the laws of Moses but at other times commands that his followers uphold the same laws.”
Where is the contridiction? Jesus was not saying that the laws of Moses were bad or no longer valid. He was pointing out that the Pharisees practice of the law was devoid of love for God and humantity.



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Bob

posted March 18, 2008 at 9:44 am


PK:
“opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, for example, is only adding to the burden of the world’s misery in the here and now.”
Here’s an easy way to stop the spread of AIDS: Save sex for within the boundaries of a loving marriage, one that is faithful, forever, and open to the gift of new life; let it be a selfless act of union between two people joined under God in the blessed Sacrament of Marriage, a sacred expression of a sacred love.
And my earlier point was simply that you keep criticizing the RCC while ignoring the problems that every other faith has faced. But in this day and age, that’s par for the course. Being anti-Christian — specifically Anti-Catholic — this is the last acceptable prejudice in this country, and this blog contributes to it.
***
Bluenote: That last paragraph of your post was right on :0) I have to say, I think a lot of people who criticize Christianity have never bothered to actually read the New Testament in its entirety.



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PK

posted March 18, 2008 at 1:23 pm


Bob
As long as people like you keep saying that it’s better to let people suffer and die from AIDS than allow the use of condoms, people like me will run the risk of being accused of being anti-Catholic for pointing out that what you and your religion are promoting is evil. Your “easy way to stop AIDS” is an ignorant moralizing posture with no basis in reality.
As for my “ignoring the problems that every other faith has faced,” my previous post began with “Yes, all religions have atrocious blots on their records in addition to more admirable features.” Which part of “all religions” did you not understand? Stop whining when people say that Catholicism is no worse but also no better than many of the other religious attempts to impose its supposed “universal” values on others, attempts that in the past and sometimes in the present have had horrendous results.



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Bob

posted March 19, 2008 at 8:36 am


“As long as people like you keep saying that it’s better to let people suffer and die from AIDS”
I just re-read my post, and maybe you should, too, because I did not say what you just attributed to me.
I want to see an end to AIDS just like you, but it I believe it’s an end that should be brought on by virtuous means, that is, by treating sex as something that’s sacred, open to life, and based in a faithful marriage rather than something meaningless and cheap and cut off from the possibility of new life.



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PK

posted March 19, 2008 at 11:45 am


You believe that cutting off the “possibility of new life” by using condoms is more important than saving the actually existing lives of people whose sexual activities you condemn as “meaningless and cheap.” So whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, it is wholly factual to say, as I did–to quote my full statement rather than the truncated version that you used–that you and your Church believe that “it’s better to let people suffer and die from AIDS than allow the use of condoms.” Your use of the phrase “by virtuous means” underscores the evil that can follow from the blind imposition of supposedly “universal” moral judgments on the complexities of life as experienced by real human beings. And that, and not unreasoning prejudice, is why some people your religion distasteful.



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Amy

posted March 19, 2008 at 1:41 pm


The writers of the gospels did not set out to tell the facts of a life but to convert nonbelievers and support their own belief in Jesus as the Messiah. For this reason they almost certainly exaggerated events, invented miracles, put words into Jesus’ mouth, or all three. (For example, Jesus often directly quotes the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah or refers to them. Is this how the actual Messiah spoke or how a Messiah has to speak if converts are to be won over?)
You bring up some points worth discussing, but I could not let this one go by. Just because they were trying to convince people of Jesus’ divitinty, why is it certain that they must have exaggerated, invented miracles or put words into their mouths? They would not have had to if these things actually happened. Your comment assumes that the miracles and words of Jesus didn’t happen, that Jesus is not the Messiah and that the writers would have had to resort to fiction to convince people otherwise. An objective point of view would have take into consideration the possibility that the writers of the Gospels were simply telling the truth.



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Titus

posted March 19, 2008 at 4:51 pm


There is some speculation that Polycarp forged New Testament documents to make Jesus seem more orthodox than he was. Jesus is a gnostic construct of the Christos. Plato’s truth as exemplified by the Sun.
Discovering my gnosis, thanks to the holy spirit, has liberated me from the shackels of the evil god of abraham, the Demiurge Yaldaboath.
In Christ’s name.



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Bob

posted March 20, 2008 at 10:19 am


“You believe that cutting off the “possibility of new life” by using condoms is more important than saving the actually existing lives of people”
No, I simply believe that the ends can’t always justify the means.
What you advocate is choosing the lesser of the two evils. What I’m advocating is choosing a third way, one that isn’t morally questionable and will still save lives and eliminate suffering.
“…you condemn…”
I never used that word, because I don’t condemn anyone for making poor decisions. I just wish they’d choose a better road, one that will lead to a happier, healthier life.
it’s better to let people suffer and die from AIDS than allow the use of condoms.”
Again, I never wrote that sentence, and you won’t find that anywhere in the documents of the Vatican either.
Here’s your problem: You see only 2 choices.
You offer up Number 1: people have sex outside of marriage and cut off possibilties of new life through birth control, or
Number 2: people still have sex outside of marriage, but contract AIDS and the like and suffer terribly, because they didn’t have a condom.
I see a third option; one that will keep people from getting AIDS (hence eliminate their suffering) and at the same time strengthen society because it strengthens love and family life: Keep it your pants until you’re married and ready to have kids.
There ya go. No STDs, no unwanted pregnancies, and a lot less emotionally unstable girls finding their way to Eliot Spitzer and his wallet.
What on earth is wrong with that?



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Titus

posted March 20, 2008 at 11:09 am


Its not so much that people should stop having sex. That is absurd, and not the way that Saklas created us. The evil of the flesh that St. Paul spoke of is the material plane, not biological urges. Thats why this line of thinking is so warped. The reason that Jesus discouraged sex, was not becaus sex was bad, but that breeding children served the evil of the System. We should stop having children, whose only purpose is to work for the system, pay taxes for the system, and as a soldier, kill for the system. We are prisoners of this world. Imprisoned by and evil god.



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PK

posted March 21, 2008 at 12:50 am


Bob
You consider that birth control is so “evil” that it would be better for people to suffer and die than that condoms be allowed. I won’t bother to ask why requiring someone to undergo suffering and death is less “evil” than having sex without the intent to procreate; there’s no need to subject the world further to the misplaced moral certainty that you and your Church have inflicted on the world.
There’s a difference between condemning a person for who he or she is and condemning that person to death. You condemn people to death by denying the use of condoms.
“It’s better to let people suffer and die from AIDS than allow the use of condoms” is a wholly factual summary of your attitude and that of your Church, which your comments do nothing to deny.



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Soterios

posted March 21, 2008 at 3:32 pm


Like many other New Age mouthpieces your research is littered with
inaccuracies. The points you mention make it obvious that you are not that familiar with the NT texts.
If you take a look at http://earlychristianwritings.com you will be presented with plenty of historical evidence providing deeper insight into Christ’s childhood acts and character.
I agree that there has been much corruption, obfuscation and elimination of key truths within the New Testament, but you will find the missing wisdom if you are really seeking it. It’s not called the divine mystery for nothing.
Surely Christ’s character is adequately revealed in his compassion for others? Let’s face it, on earth you are not defined by who you are, but by your acts and accomplishments. Many saints of the Christian era were happy to be stoned, crucified, sawn in half and fed to wild animals for their beliefs based on Christ’s teachings? Would you be happy to die in the same way for yours?



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Matt

posted March 24, 2008 at 5:35 pm


Why is Deepak commenting on Christianity & Jesus?
Isn’t he a practicing Hindu or am I wrong?
I find his posts borderline offensive as a Christian, but this is America, so he does have a right to his opinion, but the fact that he keeps writing on the subject is a bit annoying as a Christian.
His writings are just another common attempt to humanize Jesus just like scientists & all the new age Da Vinci code junk.
So why is it that after 2,000 years all these writers & hollywood types think that they have discovered the true Jesus.
Perhaps it is because they are struggling with their own morality that they have trouble accepting the Jesus of the Bible.
But then there is a lot of money to be made on putting a new spin on Jesus. Deepak is just another new age wannabe in my opinion.



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