Back Tae Torah part 3: Goodbye Real Jesus. Hello Fake Jesus
From the Low to the Glow
We ended up in a wee side chapel called Academy Street Gospel Hall. The last six elderly people of this old church opened the door, looking terrified as a boisterous crowd of teens that could barely speak English spoke in unison: “can we come tae yer church?” From here, news spread: we were ‘star billing’ for a wee bit. The hall started filling up with folks from around Aberdeen. A minibus now arrived on Sundays to take our motley crew down to ‘real church’ in town. They got me preaching there every other Sunday and took me around churches all over the place - to tell my story.
This amazing ‘story’ on our housing estate? It was dead within months. They stopped coming on the minibus. A few came into town but most melted back into the estate.
What happened? We believed these city-centre saints had the goods. Our broken lives needed their ‘stardust’; our darkness needed their ‘glow.’ I was a kid from care-home world with benefits, free school meals, empty cupboards, casual daily violence, bullying, neglect and chaos; often coming home with my homework to a house that had the local police sitting drinking tea in our kitchen while others hunted through the bedrooms looking for my wee brother. But never finding him (pssst…if only they had checked the sitting room TV cupboard - you can just manage to squish yourself in there if you are a beanpole kid).
In truth I was simply bowled over by the love.
But this love wasn’t quite as ‘free’ as I first imagined. One day, on mission work with estate folks in town, I mentioned this to a city-centre church sister who had come to help. I had just chosen to stop eating black pudding and this nice lass laughed and told me: “No you are free from the law, the Old Testament stuff is all done away with. You will offend Jesus, if you try working for your salvation.”
The thing is, the idea of ‘working’ or ‘keeping laws’ to ‘get saved’ had never crossed any of our minds. I thought we did the ‘commands stuff’ out of love and gratitude to Him. I thought that’s what the big Jesus-adventure we had was all about: “if you love me, get stuck into my commandments,” was our take! But none of us wanted to offend Jesus (or perhaps, in fact, the city-centre saints), so we believed them. We started to ignore most of the Bible that we had paid attention to and which gave us so much hope and life. Instead, we embraced their ‘freedom’.
And over the years, I began to regard the Bible less and less literally. More ‘contextually’, more as ‘poetic metaphor.’ Until finally, I arrived. Yup, I became Mr. evolved post-Christian Christian with an iPad. No more Neanderthal Hebrew clutching an old Bible!
From the Goo to the New
Like many of us, I saw myself climbing out of the slime and goo of the Old Testament and its smelly laws. I was evolving into the new, translucent super-Christian of the 21st century, who follow their own ‘hearts’ smelling of roses and pomegranates. But in reality, from here I began moving in endless circles of terminal ‘evolution’.
I learned how to summon the ‘Holy Spirit’ to pop up at will in signs and wonders sessions, including a 2-day ‘Come Holy Spirit’ workshop with an underground, rough-sleeping lesbian gang in a flat in Belgium. It’s a long story.
I kick-started a Nine O’Clock service-style church with friends in Aberdeen, chatting to tearful chums in chill-out rooms and playing newly written worship songs to pogoing ravers in our be-sheeted and slide-festooned church hall.
Dancing and chanting poetry over the mic with a DJ at Greenbelt in the undersea club worship tent.
Meditating, live Yogic breathing and Cosmic Mass-ing on stage with NOS at Ponds Forge.
Experimenting with new mysticism, Celtic Christianity and New Monasticism.
Launching a Club Church called Raven in Edinburgh with the CofS and Episcopal Church, with a 24-7 late-night full-time monastery called the Friary. Which was donated by real friars.
Hosting Art Parties in tenements and fostering artist-economics and artist-run-festivals.
Endless online blogging on alt.worship, post-graduate study on media and theology and blah-ing on emerging church stuff at conferences.
Speaking at mission chats, on ‘crazy’ mission situations to prep ministers at CofS colleges, on self-harm at Scottish Parliament, on future of the CofS on TV.
And finally spiralling into activist-organising ‘citywide Dream Days’; crazy ideas on housing estates and festival spaces; grassroots theology and food; cafe-chats with gay community activists, politicians, artists and outlawed south American priests.
Goodbye Fake Jesus
Then one day, everything inside me screamed: ‘enough!’ I had an awful sense, that we had gone and lost Jesus; that I had lost Jesus in the middle of all this. I’d spent seven years as a funding coordinator with a group called Seedbed, travelling around Scotland listening to the dreams and supporting the ideas of many a bonnie saint; and offering funding to pioneering projects all over the nation. But while I was waving my arms to cheer them on, inside I was dying.
On my journeys with Seedbed, encouraging reflection by the practitioners I engaged with was key part of my work. So too for myself. In my own research into 18th-21st century movements, I’d been tracking the roots of ‘new theology’ and found a particular movement of thinkers, ministers and Victorian mystics in the 1800s who had sought to dislocate the Jesus story completely from His roots in the Old Testament. They wanted to be free to refashion Jesus and Christianity, and turn it into something utterly different. My research suggested that, influenced by the explosion of ‘Victorian Theosophy’ (a heady cocktail mix of hinduism, evolution and christianity) seeded by Blavatsky, codified by Alice Bailey (mother of new age/Lucis Trust), the new theology’s ‘dream of a new humanity and new world ’ was used by Hitler to mesmerise Europe, refashioned and spread globally via Parsons and the birth of the ‘Space Industry’, and applied by Aleister Crowley via his insane creed: “Do as Thou wilt is the whole of the Law.” It had had a massive influence on music, film and arts industries.
The plan of Alice Bailey and many others was to create a ‘new kind’ of Christianity out of the ashes of the old - by hollowing it out of its ‘original content’ and replacing it with their theosophical mix - like a trojan horse - a takeover from within - which would bring about their vision of a new world ruled by a new jesus.
This plan has been moving forward since 1800s, as a hidden seed within Pentecostalism from Azusa Street in the 1900s, and later going viral via the 1960’s and groups like the Jesus Movement to Vineyard to more recent groups, like Bethel - who may be unfortunately the latest carriers of Hinduism’s focus on ’bodily Experience’. Another track can also be traced from 1800s to the Fuller and other Catholic and Protestant Seminaries’ movers and shakers who were exploring new forms of Christianity and theology: a mixing of Theosophy, catholic mysticism and social justice. Some are embracing new scientism and mixing it with ancient mysticism, and some well-known names are going for the new ‘dominionism’ by taking 20th century ‘theosophy’ global in the 21st century to transform the world system itself. With this the western church, now aligned with Catholic networks of power and global influence, might be able to retake its place in the world. Exactly where this ‘trojan horse’ according to Alice Bailey and friends, was designed to take us.
My understanding is that, unfettered by the authority of the old Torah instructions that would have informed previous generations of saints and energised a groundswell of resistance among them, what was the ‘new theology’ is at last able to come to a full head of steam in the Christian mainstream globally. As theologians and missional folks in UK, I realised nothing we were doing was addressing this, including Seedbed. We are asleep and none seem to be on watch, or even felt the need to be on watch anymore. None of the projects or initiatives were preparing for the danger I became convinced was ahead. I still see those dangers looming in the following ways:
It opens the door in us to a New Spirit: The Electrical Phenomenology of Hinduism is already posing as the Holy Spirit. People are now placing massive authority on ‘electrical sensations, drunken feelings, inner voices and angelic experiences’ common to Hinduism and many other ancient paths and mystery schools around the world. And are now treating as an enemy the old ‘external’ instructions of Yahweh/Jesus regarding how to engage with the high voltage supernatural.
It brings us into bondage to a New Jesus: One who finally programs us to ditch the old Hebrew Testament (as a hateful document), like ejecting the fuel section stage of an Apollo mission. Inspiring his worship artists, inspired prophets and Church-kraftsmen to get busy with the ’new Christological spaceship’ that can head for the stars baby! Liberated at last, from that nasty Old Testament god, his muddy biological creation, his family ways, his cruel justice and restrictive laws and ground rules - we can finally follow ‘only’ our own passions, feelings and experiences - as our compass.
It preaches a whole New Kingdom (Dominionism): where ‘new Christian’ leadership is unleashed to ‘transform’ (dominate) the new political, technological and spiritual landscape, with its new Jesus and the good news of new ‘resurrected/upgraded’ humanity and a one world order. A rainbow order of peace and security - but a new order in which there will be no place for the annoying light of the Torah commandments and those embarrassing, regressive humans who still cling to them.
Hello Real Jesus
“This is huge!” I thought. Is what we call Christianity today actually Theosophy? How much of it would be completely alien to the 1st century Apostles, let alone the apostles and prophets that preceded them? All of whom were unevolved Hebrews? Would they have been astounded at our stupidity in getting rid of those foundational laws, guidelines, wise instructions and feasts?
I then began wondering about my part in it all these years. I felt a huge stab of shame. What of the Jesus who I had left back on the estate? What of the guys I left there, and our own quirky alien way of following Jesus? At home in the Old as well as the New Testament; our minds untouched by the 1800’s dispensational-theology voodoo that split the bible in two. Had we schemies, unaffected by new rapidly-growing mainstream, stumbled by accident on tae the rock-solid gospel? Did I sell my Messiah out for a few scraps from the table of the nice ‘proper Christians’ from the town?
I decided that I had to get back to this for the sake of those I care about and have worked with all over Scotland. And for my own sake. I have to sort this - this thought burned in me and would not let me go. I knew I had to get back to my home town, back to my housing estate, back to the folks I left behind… back to the old Jesus I betrayed and left there on that estate. I guess if you want to find something you’ve lost, go back to the last place you lost it.
How I got back and what happened on my return is my final piece of the story.
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