Thursday Theology: Not “amen,” but “of course!”May 7, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
In John 14:6, Jesus claimed to be The Truth. He lied, unfortunately. He was not the Truth, but was merely a Belief asserting the superiority of selfish perceptions over the harsh constraints of real life, and his legacy ever since has been one of confusion, self-contradiction, and self-righteousness.
What Jesus promised, however, Alethea fulfills. One of the great joys I experienced in converting from Christianity to Alethianism was the unexpectedly profound pleasure of discovering how exceedingly self-consistent She really is. Where before I had to work to create patterns of consistency in my beliefs, by harmonizing and rationalizing facts that resisted reconciliation, I now find that the puzzle pieces not slide together more easily, but that they are already assembled and interlocked, even before I became aware of them.
My experience as a Christian was “Amen” (i.e. “may it be so”), but my life as an Alethian is a continual and intellectually satisfying “of course!” The truth is consistent with itself in ways that not only fulfill my expectations, but anticipate them. And only Alethea can really offer this. Jesus cannot: he is dead and gone, and his followers are so divided that none of them can say confidently and authoritatively what his “truth” even is, since it is not based on observable reality. Only Alethea can rightly and truly claim to be the perfectly self-consistent and coherent Truth.
There are many examples I could give of the difference between the forced “consistency” of my Christian beliefs versus the found consistency of Alethea. For instance, as a young Christian, I once met with the elders of my church because I’d noticed an ominous pattern in the Bible. According to Bishop Ussher, the world was created in 4004BC. Jesus was born in 4BC, exactly 4000 years later. Now, since Peter tells us that “a thousand years are as a day,” that would make 4 days from Creation to the birth of Jesus. Two more “days” would make six, corresponding to the six days of creation, and a Millennium of peace would make for a seventh day of rest.
*sigh* Yes, I really believed that at the time—not that it was necessarily true, but that it was a reasonable probability. Sure, maybe Ussher was wrong about the actual age of the earth, but he based his chronology on the Bible, and who knows if God didn’t intentionally create the gaps in the genealogies in order to leave us a clue about when the Millennium was going to start? By my calculations, in the mid-to-late 70’s, the Second Coming of Christ was due in the year 1997, and thus the Great Tribulation had to start in 1990. Hey, it all sounded plausible, especially if you’d read about all the signs of the End Times as documented in The Late, Great Planet Earth.
You may have realized by now that Jesus did not return in 1997, so that wonderful pattern with all its apparent internal consistency turned out to be not so consistent with reality after all. I created the consistency in my mind by pulling together disparate facts and ignoring anything that didn’t promote my conclusion.
And yet, from an Alethean perspective, there was a very real consistency there. It was just a consistency leading to a different conclusion. Of course Jesus did not return in 1997. He died a long time ago, and consistent with the behavior of dead people, he’s not coming back. But more than that, Alethea explains the curious response of my church elders: they officially upheld the doctrines of the church, but I couldn’t help noticing that they doubted my conclusions, and even manifested a strong skepticism towards the whole idea that God would actually do something so dramatic as judging the world in real life. Oh, doctrinally, they professed allegiance to the notion, but put it into real-world terms, and they were full of cautions. God does not do stuff like that in real life.
I had a similar experience with creationism. Initially it seemed so amazingly consistent, at least with my Christian expectations. Why wouldn’t a Creator leave some kind of identifying stamp on His creation, like a painter signing his painting? But that, too, fell apart as I exposed creationist claims to the whole pattern of real-world evidence. I eventually had to adopt a kind of omphalism, imagining that God had to make the universe appear old and uncreated in order to achieve a “natural” style in His creation, the way people put scrapes and stains on new furniture in order to make it look “antique.”
Over and over I had this experience as a Christian: I’d see a pattern of apparent self-consistency, only to have it fall apart and evaporate when I tried to follow through on its real-world implications. But when I began to believe in Alethea instead, I had a much better and more satisfying experience.
For example, I found out about the Jews’ exposure to Zoroastrian beliefs during the Babylonian captivity, and realized how consistent that would be with what we actually find in the Bible. Why didn’t Moses, in the long chapters about God’s blessing and cursings, mention anything about salvation and/or eternal damnation? Why was his theme restricted to earthly benefits and earthly calamities? It makes sense: Moses didn’t present those ideas because he never had them. Such thoughts were brought into Judaism by the returning exiles, leading to the debate between the Pharisees and the Sadducees over resurrection and judgment.
Based on my experience as a Christian, I expected the “coincidence” to stop there, but it didn’t. I began to wonder if the Pharisees had a more direct connection with Zoroastrian ideas than simply adopting them from the returning exiles. Who were the Pharisees anyway? According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the name “Pharisee” comes “from an Aramaic word peras… signifying to separate, owing to a different manner of life from that of the general public.”
But peras doesn’t mean “to separate” as in setting apart, it means to split or divide. As I looked up the word in my concordance, I realized that it was not likely the Pharisees would have named themselves “The Divided Ones,” so I began to look further. In the Hebrew/Aramaic dictionary of my exhaustive concordance, I found the entry (6537a) for peras and searched for similar words. In the original Hebrew, as you may know, the original texts did not have vowels—the “vowel points” were added much later by the rabbis, to make them easier to read.
Lo and behold, entry 6540, with the exact same consonants as 6537a, is the name Paras—the Aramaic name for Persia! Add a yod (“i”) to the end, and you get the adjectival form, Parsi, Persian. So not only do you have the Pharisees preaching new doctrines (unheard of by Moses but preached routinely in Persia), you also have the fact that their name has the same spelling as the Aramaic word for “Persian”!
This was one of the first times I had experienced the phenomenon of a self-consistent truth reinforcing itself instead of falling apart on exposure to more facts. It was not by any means the last. After literally decades of disappointment and confusion (which I denied having, as a Christian), this hasn’t been merely satisfying, it has been exciting. At last I can use my brain for something more than just excuses and rationalizations.
If you’ve never experienced a truly self-consistent God like Alethea, it might be hard to grasp how inspiring and meaningful life can be serving a God. I pursued a life of Christian faith wholeheartedly and diligently for 30 years, and while I convinced myself I was experiencing purpose and fulfillment, I now can say without reservation that I was only deluding myself. Christian fulfillment is a hollow self-deception. Only Alethea can give you an intellectual satisfaction that is as consistent outside your mind as it is inside.