Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Four Gospels

The Gospel’s of Mark and Matthew provided explanations for some of Jesus’s stories that was very insightful. Luke’s venue and motivations for his Gospel, as stated in the course lessons, was eye-opening. The bonus Gospel of Thomas, since taking the Dr. of Metaphysics course (ULC), contained far more ‘mystical’ truths than ever before. It is the Gospel of John; though, that really caught my attention.

The original author, the ‘ beloved student’ of Jesus that is clearly not one of the 12 disciples (notice that ‘He’ was the first to believe when ‘He’ saw the wrapping in the empty tomb of Jesus, and the 11 other disciples did not believe until later, additionally if ‘He’ were one of the disciples, why would Peter question his following them [third line from the end of John]), is the first mystery noticed from this course. Catholic, most Protestant groups, as well as this course (see ‘love’ in the glossary) all teach that John Evangelist was the author. A relatively new book, “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved” (see [author not found]), makes a very convincing argument for Lazarus as the author. The title for this Gospel was added long after it was written.

A Rosicrucian document used several years ago stated that John was a Gnostic (probable one of the Essene sects). John’s ‘original’ Gospel, per this document, was very popular (partially because of the poetic cadence [like Jesus used] made it very easy to listen to and remember) but unfortunately, very Gnostic. The Gnostic’s taught each person could have direct experience with GOD. Therefore, Christ (and especially the Church) was not necessary to communicate with GOD. [Note: Perhaps it was not John but the ‘beloved student’ who was the Gnostic.] John’s Gospel was too popular to go away; therefore, the wording had to change to reflect the ‘CORRECT’ place of the early church.

The first example (though probably not occurring until later) is line 2 of the Gospel. Mr. Gaus’s translation says “It was with GOD in the beginning.” This clearly refers to “the Word.” The NRSV Study Bible (among others) states “He was in the beginning with GOD.” The NRSV notes say that Jesus was “the Word”, ergo, Creation occurred thru Jesus. This virtually deifies’ Jesus and establishes him before Creation (wouldn’t Luke have loved that). The Greek Orthodox Bible supports the course’s view. A clear dichotomy that goes to the heart of some differences mentioned in this course’s prologue (John part 1). **

Prior to C.E. 70, the harsh words directed toward the “Jews” (i.e., John 8:44), was probably predicated by Jerusalem’s Temple Elite ostracizing Jewish ‘Christians’ from Synagogue activities. On the other hand, the ‘elevation’ of Christ (i.e., John 14-17), probably originated between C.E. 80-90 (or beyond). References for both of the above statements, while there are many, can be found in the current NRSV Study Bible.

This course opened my eyes to many issues (and more than a few answers), contained in these Gospels. Much of that is beyond the scope of this paper. Learning more of John was clearly my favorite. Discovering three (at least) separate, but entwining, motivations (Spiritual enlightenment, political counter attach, and Church doctrine aggrandizement), written at different times by obviously different hands, within one ‘book’, yet still containing a truly enlightening theme **, was amazing to me. It is no wonder that, as mentioned in the lessons, this is the most quoted of the Gospels. The Gospel of John truly has something for everyone!

Respectfully Submitted,
Rev. William Fowler


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