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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Friday, December 31, 2010

ULC Gospel of Thomas

Universal Life Church
Lesson 20 - Gospel of Thomas - Final Essay

This student has for several years studied Gnostic texts and researched texts presented on the Ecclisia Gnostica, Gnostic Society Web site. Dr. Hoeller, the Bishop of the Ecclisia Gnostica diocese which encompasses California, Utah and Oregon is responsible for the wealth of information on the Web site.

The Gnostic Catechism is highly recommended to anyone interested in learning more about Gnosticism and its practices. Although Gnosticism offers numerous myths, this writer has only been interested in the basic premises and their practical applications. Although there may be many myth systems the primary "truths" are inherent throughout them all. That is Gnosis, finding the Supreme Substance within oneself rather than seeking God without as espoused by orthodox Christianity. Whereas this Supreme Substance exists within and without all living creatures. Are we dealing with pantheism? Whose "knows"? :)

A while back, several copies of various Gnostic Gospels and other texts relating to Gnosticism, were obtained. Among them was the Gospel of Thomas and it proved to be rather baffling. The syntax was not what was customary for this reader and therefore difficult to understand. Incomplete sentences were a bother, as well as lack of term definition. Yes, there were interpretations presented, and they were about as mysterious as the initial quotations for this student.

The interpretations offered in the course on Gospel of Thomas conducted by Rev. Raymond Thompson presented expanding clarity to the words of wisdom thus making it understandable. Sometimes what seemed to be over emphasis on certain points really was the "covering of all the bases" and presented greater and deeper clarification. In fact, this student found the Thompson text much more lovely than the original quotations which on their own left one "hanging" and not apprehending the meaning . Without Rev. Thompson's insight, which was gained from his study of the Gnostic texts and his years of experience with Gnosticism, frankly this Gospel may have seemed rather pointless.

The Gospel of Thomas is not a gospel in the conventional since. There is no narrative, but rather a collection of "sayings" from Jesus' entire career. One hundred fourteen "sayings" to be exact. Had they been presented in a narrative form there may have been facilitated a greater understanding. Without the context which a narrative would have provided there was omitted the supporting elements necessary for greater understanding for this writer.

The Gospel of Thomas is a good course which many seminary students will appreciate and is highly recommended by this writer.

by Brother Joseph Kovacic 


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for Free, for Life, right now, use the Free Online Ordination, button -- Click the link!

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning, I've enjoyed watching the continual growth of the seminary.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Secrets of Deliberate Creation

A no-nonsense way to get the results you want...

So SIMPLE, POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE you can toss aside all

the self-improvement programs you have ever purchased

December 30, 2010
From the Desk of Dr. Robert Anthony

Dear Friend,

If you don't already know me, let me give you a quick introduction of who I am and what I do…

My name is Dr, Robert Anthony. I am a best-selling author, Master Hypnotist, International Trainer, and Personal Performance Consultant.  Over the past 25 years I've trained and worked with thousands of people, helping them to overcome obstacles that have held them back and create the lives they've always dreamed of.  I believe I can help you too. 

You will learn more about me later, but for now just sit back and relax and allow me to share some important life-changing information with you. If you cannot see and feel the power behind what I am about to reveal, then this is not for you.  If you can, then your life is about to change dramatically.  Either way, you will make the 'right' decision for yourself.

Before I share The Secret of Deliberate Creation I will like to take a few minutes to set the record straight. I think you need to know this before you consider what I have to offer.

Over the past five years, since the "Secret" was published, dozens of manifestation "experts" and "gurus" have showed up on the scene.  Everyone is cashing in on promoting the "Law of Attraction" by offering "manifestation" books, seminars and audio programs.

I think it is important to go on record that I have been teaching the "Law of Attraction" and Manifestation "Secrets" for over 25 years. This is nothing new to me. In fact, you can check it out. I have written fifteen books on different aspects of manifestation and the Law of Attraction which have been published since 1980!

No, I wasn't in the "Secret", but it is not because I was not asked. In fact, I was the first person Rhonda Byrnes approached for the project. She personally emailed me and said I was her first choice. She also acknowledges me in the introduction of the book.

However, for reasons I prefer to keep private I declined to be part of the project.  Now that the dust has cleared, I believe it was the right decision. This is a real story... and I can guarantee you it is genuine and true.

Millions of people who have read my books and have used my programs know that I don't mince words. I am very direct, but I get results.  This is what I want for you.  I want you to get the results you desire. I also want to earn your business by delivering the most effective and workable Deliberate Creation program on the market.  No fluff and No filler.  Just amazing results – if you take the time to use the program as instructed.

"When I first listened to the Secret of Deliberate Creation I could not believe what I was hearing. It is like someone hitting you on the head with a two-by-four! I learned more from this program than all the self-improvement stuff I have ever read or heard. There is so much information that you need to listen to them many times over."

-- Tom Console, Scottsdale Arizona

The Truth About Manifesting Your Desires...

To be perfectly honest, most of what is being taught about "Manifestation" and the "Law of Attraction" borders on metaphysical malpractice.

After listening to the manifestation experts you may have been led to believe that all you have to do to "manifest your dreams" is to set your intention, send out positive thoughts, and believe the Universe will magically provide it for you. You are then told to keep repeating this process until the manifestation has happened.

I'm here to tell you that if you do this, you will be very disappointed.
This is where books and programs like the "Secret" are insufficient. While it is important to set your intention, think positively and have a strong belief, it only represents a fraction of what you must do to deliberately create the things you desire.

"I purchased your Secret of Deliberate Creation out of frustration because none of the otherself-help material I purchased over years gets results. However, something just "clicked" while listening to your program for just two weeks! My life changed forever and I can now manifest anything I desire. Thank you for helping me to focus my life in the right direction.  

-- Kirk Fowler – Las Vegas, Nevada

Manifestation is About Alignment...

Before we go any further, let's clarify what "alignment" really means because I see people using this term without really explaining it.
Alignment occurs on two levels:

  1. Alignment with the Laws of Quantum Physics – In short, in the world of Quantum Physics - like thoughts (positive or negative) attract their equivalent or vibrational match. Whatever you focus on with intensity and emotion will set the Universe in motion to bring that into your life.

  2. Conscious and Subconscious Alignment – Your Conscious desires and your Subconscious intention must be in alignment. If you Conscious Mind wants one thing and your Subconscious Mind wants something else (counter-intention) it is impossible to create what you want. It's that simple.
The Secret of Deliberate Creation focuses on helping you get what you want by using multiple strategies that automatically bring you into alignment with your goal, thereby attracting the results you desire.
Some Tough Questions...
What stands between you and having what you want? Be honest. A lack of education? A toxic marriage? A bad divorce? You have no relationship and can't find anyone? A problem employer? You are stuck in a job you hate? Be honest. A medical condition? A weight problem? A lack of money? Be rigorously honest.

I'm proposing that the real reason that you don't have what you want is because you are creating your life unconsciously by DEFAULT instead of consciously by DESIGN. Most of the time you are blocking the deliberate creation process because your conscious messages and your unconscious messages are in conflict.

Am I saying that you are deliberately or consciously sabotaging yourself? Absolutely not; but I am saying that through limited, mostly unconscious beliefs, and negative, unexamined habitual patterns, you are creating your life by DEFAULT.

You cannot achieve success by simply slapping positive thoughts on top of a lifetime of negative expectations. You need to uncover and release the unconscious obstacles and habitual patterns that hold you back from creating the life you desire.  The Secret of Deliberate Creation is designed to do this for you.

The focus of The Secret of Deliberate Creation is about collapsing the limiting beliefs and unconscious habitual patterns that stand between you and what you want.

Once you become "conscious" about what is truly happening in your life and why you don't have what you want, you are destined to live a life that is free of fear, doubt and worry. One in which you feel happy and rejoice soundly in the knowledge that you are meant to thrive; not struggle. A life Consciously Chosen and Deliberately Created that puts you into a "state" of unlimited possibility instead of a state of limitation and unfulfilled desires.

Taking Control of Your Life...
In What we are talking about is taking control of your life. Let's use a car analogy. Cars have driver's seats and passenger seats. Passengers have no power or control over what happens in the car. Drivers have all the power and control.  When you are an Unconscious Creator, you are in the passenger seat. But when you become a Conscious Deliberate Creator, you have the opportunity to jump into the driver's seat and take control of your life.

When you do that, you will be guided to the right people, circumstances, conditions and opportunities that are in alignment with what you truly desire. Once you collapse the limited beliefs and habitual patterns that have you locked into limitation, you will KNOW at a very deep inner level that you will never have to worry about creating anything you desire again.

My Secret Struggle...
I will be honest with you. For most of my life I struggled with money issues. Earning it, not handling it properly, not having what I felt was enough, living in fear of losing it - were all issues in my life at one time or another.

When I was first introduced to the idea of Deliberate Creation, it was just an intellectual concept. When I tried to apply that concept to money, it scared the heck out of me.

Despite how much I knew at a deep inner level about being in alignment, I still lived in financial fear. And those fears kept me from applying what I KNEW was the Truth.  So I was in a trap.  I had all the information I needed to be free, but I just could not get myself to DO IT. And as the saying goes, if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.

Then one day I had a revelation. Something inside of me said, "Robert, as long as you intellectually understand about Deliberate Creation but don't actually start trusting it, what you are really saying is that there is no such thing.  And so you continue to feed your financial limitations. The end result is that you will never experience financial freedom. Like the trapeze artist in the circus, you must let go of one trapeze in order to reach the other."

In other words I was told to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It was at that point I decided follow – to the letter - what I will teach you in The Secret of Deliberate Creation.

There are no words that can express the freedom I experienced once I let go and trusted the process. I trusted my Subconscious Mind and the principles of Quantum Physics to lead me to the right people, circumstances, conditions and opportunities that would turn my financial life around.

Again, I will be perfectly honest. I had a few setbacks in the beginning, but I decided that this either works or it doesn't. I needed to KNOW for SURE. So I took a breath and chose to be consistent in applying the principles. I was consistent in KNOWING and ACTING that my Subconscious Mind and the Laws of Quantum Physics were at work and that money would never be an issue for me again.  And from that point on, money has flowed freely into my life from every direction!

What I was doing was not the same as "fake it until you make it".  The reason I was able to make the transition I just described is that I reclaimed my power. I finally realized that the flow of whatever I desire is always there if I choose to be part of it.  As you will learn, that choice is always yours.

Playing the Game of Life to Win
Through this very same process you can Deliberately Create a successful business, more sales, a beautiful home, education for your children, fulfilling relationships or anything else you desire.

However, Deliberate Creation is not something that you can just accept intellectually. That was my problem in the beginning. I understood it intellectually, but I did not ACT on my beliefs.

There are two kinds of people:

  1. Those who play the game of life TO WIN.  (Take Action on what they KNOW.)

  2. Those who play the game of life to NOT TO LOSE.  (Keep collecting more information and avoid taking Action.)

I fell into the second category.  I had all the information I needed, but I did not take action.

This is the reason why most people do not have what they want. Their true or hidden goal is not to get what they want, but to avoid failure and disappointment.  So they do nothing.  They just read and study and accumulate more information.

You always have a choice. You can play the game of life to AVOID LOSING and live an unstable, stressful life of limitation in which, no matter how much you read and study this stuff, you will never CONSISTENTLY get what you want, or..…

You can play the game of life to WIN and DO WHAT YOU KNOW. When you do, your life will no longer be about survival, but about experiencing joy and abundance and creating anything you desire regardless of your current circumstances, the economy or any other perceived obstacle.

Putting Together the Pieces of the Puzzle
The results I achieved came about because I have been a seeker all of my life. I am also a good researcher so I have read and studied about everything that has ever been written on the subject of success and deliberate creation. It has been a bit like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle.

My intention was to put the pieces together for my clients so they did not have to take as long as I did to "get it".  After several years of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, I created The Secret of Deliberate Creation program.

Once you understand and follow The Secret of Deliberate Creation as I have it laid out for you – you can live in a natural state that allows you to easily and effortlessly create and attract an unlimited amount of abundance in your life with no stress and no worries.

A Simple, Easy, Effective Process For Rapid Change

The thing you will probably struggle with the most is the idea that you can change your life quickly.  In fact, most therapists are trained to believe "it takes a long time to change".

The problem is when we buy into the "it takes a long time to change" mentality it makes things more difficult for ourselves.

We are also programmed with the "no pain no gain" mentality.  If you are programmed enough like that, it builds up and your life becomes a struggle.

You don't have to struggle or "work hard" to get what you want. That is just another belief system. The fact of the matter is that the people who are the happiest; the people who are the most successful personally and financially, do not struggle or work hard.

Applying the principles in The Secret of Deliberate Creation to make rapid changes in your life is a simple and easy process.

If it is that simple, I guess it begs the question; why does this program have six hours of instruction? Good question!

The reason I have included six hours of instruction is that there is a world of difference between KNOWING how to do something and actually DOING it.  We don't do what we know because our Subconscious mind resists change. If the Subconscious mind is not convinced the change is possible and safe, it will not allow the change to be made. The Subconscious holds all the cards.

So my job is twofold.  First, I must "convince" your Conscious or logical mind how and why this works. After your Conscious mind accepts the "logic" of how and why it works, it will allow the information to enter your Subconscious.

Permanent and lasting change
requires that both the logical (Conscious) and emotional (Subconscious) mind are in alignment.  To do this I use several techniques to make SURE that this happens.

Second, after aligning your Conscious and Subconscious mind I will give you simple instructions on how to use the information to create anything you desire. With everything in place, your Subconscious will align your intentions with the principles of Deliberate Creation through the use of Quantum Physics (Law of Attraction) and you can create whatever you desire in an easy stress-free manner.

And, it's a repeatable process. It is not hit or miss. You can do it over and over again.

Though I own literally hundreds of spoken-word audio courses, I don't ever remember taking the time to write a testimonial. But I had to this time. Excellence of this extraordinary degree demands acknowledgment, respect and, most of all, gratitude.

The only way I can describe it to someone who thinks this is just another self improvement program is this:

Imagine what romance, adventure, excitement and sheer fun would suddenly flood into your life if you stumbled across a real-life treasure map. Imagine further that this treasure map leads you, step by easy step, to one of the world's richest gold hoards, buried right in your own neighborhood. If you take just a moment to imagine those feelings vividly right now, you'll be getting close to the feelings this program ushers into your life as soon as you get into it.

This is the real thing, life's ultimate Treasure Map, the most reliable, easiest-to-follow map anyone can possess to find every treasure he or she desires in life, whether that treasure be gold, love, health or anything else that adds richness to life.

I thought "Think and Grow Rich," the book that launched a million millionaires, was the landmark work in this field. It has now been surpassed by "The Secret of Deliberate Creation," the new king of the hill in making dreams come true and manifesting one's desires, purely with the power of thought. Thoughts really do have wings.

Without this program, a person can spend years, even decades, drilling dry holes and burrowing down barren shafts, reaping only dust. With it, that same person will be guided straight to the mother lode, literally at the speed of thought. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

-- Gary Bencivenga, Accountable Advertising, Garden City, NY
So Powerful That You Can "Certify" Your Success

It's no secret that 95% of all "Self-Improvement" efforts fail.  The primary reason for this is something we touched on earlier.  Most people never go beyond information to achieve results.

How can you know for SURE that the principles you are studying actually work and get results?  The answer is simple; you must find a way to "certify" your success.

What do I mean by certify?  No philosophy or teaching should ever be accepted by anyone (including what I teach) unless you can certify its validity in your own life.

How can you do that?  You take small steps and prove it out for yourself.

This is why I offer my…..

"Quick Start Guarantee"

With every copy of The Secret of Deliberate Creation I offer my Quick Start Guarantee. It is very simple. My Quick Start Guarantee is a self-proving process that will allow you to rapidly earn your original investment back and manifest the cost of program, or you can ask for a refund.

In other words, if you cannot manifest the cost of the program, how can you possibly expect to manifest anything else? It makes no sense!

Rather than trying to manifest $10,000 or a new car as soon as you finish the program, why not use the exact same principles and manifest the entire cost of this program first? What's the point of trying to manifest $10,000 or a new car if you cannot manifest the cost of the program first within a reasonable period of time?

I want you to certify your success as a Deliberate Creator. Besides paying for the entire cost of the program with ease... you will also prove to yourself that this is the real deal...

The Quick Start Program will show you how to do just that. You will receive five instruction cards with precise instructions on how to manifest the cost of this program. Plus you will receive a rapid manifestation audio CD to walk you through it step-by-step... I will be there with you each day as your personal coach...

And here's the point... in reality there is no difference between manifesting the cost of this program or $10,000 or more. But I will show you how to walk before you run... Once you have absolute confidence -- there will be no stopping you...

Still not sure?  Let me put you at ease.

My 365 Day Unconditional Guarantee

I'm so confident The Secret of Deliberate Creation will transform your life... financially, emotionally, in every area... that I'm willing to take all the risk, and lay bare my most prized work for the taking...

In addition to the Quick Start Guarantee of recovering the cost of the program, I also guarantee that this program will work for anyone who actually uses it. I know that it is impossible to fail if you follow the simple steps. It is impossible not to get results because that would be the first time in history that these principles have failed.

That's why I offer my 365 Day Unconditional Guarantee. The only way this program can "fail", is if you fail to apply it to your life. However, if you find you are not totally thrilled with the results… I'll refund your full purchase price on the spot. No questions asked. No hard feelings, either. Just return your product in good resalable condition, and you'll receive a full refund.

I am making this offer because I know that once you use The Secret of Deliberate Creation and FINALLY get the results you desire, you would almost certainly want to show your appreciation and want to do something nice for me.

If you could earn more money in the next three, six or twelve months than you did last year, improve your relationships and have a happier and richer life from using this program, would you tell your friends about it?  Of course you would!  That's the law of reciprocity at work.  If you're happy, then I will also prosper. I know this is true because half of my business comes from client referrals.

Okay, you are probably wondering "What's this going to cost me?"  Here's the deal.  It is simple and straightforward.

How to Get Your Copy of

The Secret of Deliberate Creation

Attractive Six CD Boxed Set: "The Secret of Deliberate Creation" is available for immediate dispatch for $167 plus $10 shipping and handling.
Normally priced at $225, you save 25% by ordering NOW...
  • Plus, you will also receive: "The Secret of Deliberate Creation - Quick Start Program" which guarantees you will create the money to cover the entire cost of this program...

  • Plus the Total Success Library including 7 of my best selling books and the Intention Activator worth well over $300, and is yours FREE -- for ordering NOW...

It doesn't get any better than this!

A Mercedes-Benz costs more than a regular car, right? And there's good reason for it. I own a Mercedes because they put the best available engineering and design into it.  It is one of the safest and most technologically advanced cars in the world. And on top of that, they add their own innovations that most other auto manufactures end up copying.

I've also spent years researching this material and putting together the cutting edge of everything that's out there to bring you the Mercedes-Benz of All Manifestation Programs.

I've worked with thousands of people directly… and impacted millions of lives over 25 years. What I'd like to put in your hands today is my most powerful work to date.

The Secret of Deliberate Creation is a program that's designed specifically for generating the rapid life-changing results you are looking for.

Trust me -- I know what's out there.  You can go online right now and spend half as much or three times as much money on programs that won't contain half as much useful information as you'll find in The Secret of Deliberate Creation. It doesn't get any better than this. I promise you that!

Right NOW Could Be a Turning Point in Your Life

One of the overreaching principles of success is the power of "Now". The fact is that nothing ever happens tomorrow -- things only happen RIGHT NOW. Tomorrow is an illusion.

So you may think that you'll get around to this tomorrow, but how likely is that?
If you're not where you want to be RIGHT NOW in your relationships, finances and personal success, it's because you've postponed taking care of that part of your life.

Why keep on doing it? Why postpone getting the keys to your fulfillment another day, when you can acquire them RIGHT NOW?

Your life is not a dress rehearsal.  You can change the direction of your life RIGHT NOW, or you could just sit back, turn on the TV and stay the same person for the rest of your life… 

I don't think you want to do that or you would have not read this far.
I have tried to be as factual as possible. Now that you have the facts, it's time to decide if The Secret of Deliberate Creation is "right" for you.

If you have that feeling inside that you are tired of struggling and want to break free and be happy, healthy and abundant in every area of your life STARTING NOW then this is your time to make the changes.

Remember, The Secret of Deliberate Creation comes with both my QUICK START and my 365 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  I don't think I can be any fairer than that. 
Do something different today. Invest in the most invaluable asset in your life. Not your home, not your car, not your retirement, but in YOU!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I look forward to helping you achieve all your great dreams.

Your Friend,

Dr. Robert Anthony

International Trainer, Hypnotist, Personal Performance Consultant

P.S.  I am not done yet! Before I go I want to tell you about some Special Free Gifts I have for you. I KNOW you are going to be happy with The Secret of Deliberate Creation, but let me give you some free gifts that will make you even happier! it is my my way of saying "thank you" for ordering today.


My Complete Total Success Library

The complete TOTAL SUCCESS LIBRARY includes:

Gift #1: "Beyond Positive Thinking" – A No-Nonsense Formula For Getting The Results You Want ($19.95 Value)

"For the first time ever – an advanced success system that never fails" – that is how Dr. Joe Vitale describes "Beyond Positive Thinking" which is my latest update my all-time best seller "The Advanced Formula For Total Success."

Beyond Positive Thinking reveals a proven advanced formula to achieve all your personal goals and intentions — 100% Guaranteed. Still in print, 178 pages – you get it here as a GIFT!

GIFT #2: "Betting on Yourself" - Step-By-Step Strategies For The Total Winner ($19.95 Value)

Do you consider yourself "lucky" or "unlucky"? A gambler or not? Have you ever found yourself saying: "I'll bet (this or that) is going to happen?" The fact is we are ALL gamblers. Any situation that involves financial, physical or emotional risk is a gamble.

"Betting on Yourself" is concerned with winning the most important game of all – the Game of Life... It will give you a new perspective on winning, attracting new opportunities and creating good luck and good fortune. 185 pages. I recently saw the out-of-print version of this book selling on an auction for $94.89!

GIFT #3: "The Ultimate Secrets Of Total Self Confidence" ($12.95 Value)

My first book which still continues to be a best seller. It is an excellent book for those who want a step-by-step strategy for building self-confidence and creating the life they desire.

Recently, I completely rewrote and revised this book. The newly written material makes this book a better value than ever.

Many people tell me The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence is a modern day version of Napoleon Hill's - THINK AND GROW RICH. A wonderful compliment since this was my favorite book. This book is must for your collection. It is highly suggested for anybody beginning their journey of personal growth. Still in print – 151 pages.

GIFT #4: "Magic Power of Super Persuasion" - For Top Achievers Who Want To Turn Personal Ideas Into Positive Results ($9.95 Value)

Eighty five percent of your success depends on your ability to communicate your ideas. The Magic Power of Super Persuasion will help you to redesign your communication patterns so that you can communicate your ideas more effectively.

You will learn how to strengthen your self-confidence and personal power, build trust and credibility, open up closed minds, persuade others to cooperate with you in producing the results you desire, and much, much more. A book that will give you more than your money's worth... 154 pages.

GIFT #5: "Doing What You Love, Loving What You Do - The Ultimate Key To Personal Happiness and Financial Freedom ($19.95 Value)

The key to happiness and success is following your passion. This book will show you precisely how to do that. If you are not following your dream or want to expand on what you already love to do, you will find this book helpful and inspiring.

As far as I am concerned, this book is worth having if you just read the last chapter – "A Lesson from Ramon". I have never met anyone who more clearly exemplifies the principles of success and happiness than Ramon. His words will inspire and motivate you for the rest of your life. 123 pages.

GIFT #6: "How to Make the Impossible Possible" - Turning Your Life Around Through Possibility Thinking (A $19.95 Value)

The interesting thing about life is just when you think you have it figured out, a new lesson presents itself that you are totally unprepared for. How To Make the Impossible Possible shows how we create impossible situations and why things go wrong - even if we are positive.

I wrote this book when I was going through a very difficult period in my life. It was a period of self-doubt where I had to reach a little deeper to find the answers I needed. In it, I share how to turn any impossible situation into possible positive outcome. This is a book that can make a difference in anyone's life. 181 pages.

GIFT #7: "50 Ideas That Can Change Your Life!" - An Indispensable Guide To Happiness and Prosperity (A $19.95 Value)

Unlike any other book I have written... I am not much of a storyteller. I'm more of a "just give me the facts" type of person. However, I decided to teach the lessons from my other books in story form. There are 50 ideas in the form of observations and anecdotes that are designed to help you have a clearer picture of how to apply the

principles for success.

Each chapter is separate from the other so you can pick it up and put it down and not have to read the entire book at once. You will want to share this with your friends and family. 68 pages.

GIFT #8: "The Intention Activator" Software Program (A $49.95 Value)

[Available for Microsoft Windows only]

"The Intention Activator" is a revolutionary tool that lets you effortlessly break bad habits, permanently destroy limiting beliefs, and attract exactly what you want.

The Intention Activator is designed to keep your ATTENTION on your INTENTION. This is done by installing a small scrolling marquee on the very top of your computer "Desktop".

The program continuously displays your "intention statements" on your Desktop…leaving your other applications undisturbed. It runs along the top of your screen .…causing you to automatically…and effortlessly focus on them.

Anytime your Desktop is displayed the scrolling marquee reminds you of your intention. It keeps you focused on what you want and increases your motivation and desire to make it happen. If you are using another program you can either shut it off, or just leave it running in the background.


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for Free, for Life, right now, use the Free Online Ordination, button -- Click the link!

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning, I've enjoyed watching the continual growth of the seminary.

Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Gospel According to Thomas

The Gospel According to Thomas is one of many scriptural works written in the early Christian era to answer the questions  and allay the doubts of different communities with differing cultural and religious backgrounds who were seekers after truth in the aftermath of the life and preaching of Jesus.  When the content of the canonical scriptures was decided, these works ‘missed the cut’ and in many cases, were subsequently deemed to be evil and heretical by the fathers of the church who were anxious to ensure conformity and orthodoxy in order to enhance the power and influence of the fledgling  church in a new era of power and patronage.

During this time of intense flux,  numerous works were written to attempt to explain,  incorporate and annex the essential message of Jesus and his life, this task rendered the more difficult as he had articulated no specific doctrinal  agenda nor had he described the type of earthly institution that should succeed and represent him, if any.  Given the mixture of prescriptive official persuasions such as Judaism and the plethora of pantheistic and Hellenistic  belief systems that abounded within the Roman Empire, it was inevitable that  the simple teachings of  Jesus should be variously interpreted and subsumed into pre-existing religions in order to enhance their status and to limit the damage that  radical, untamed teachings might do to the statuesque.

A particular feature of this fertile intellectual atmosphere was the emergence of many movements  referred to collectively as ‘Gnostic’.  These  were groups of people who  were not satisfied with the codes of behaviour  and statements of faith  that had been handed down and widely practised.  Christian teaching had become hostile to Judaism claiming that an evil spirit had inspired the Jews to misunderstand  the purposes of God throughout their troubled history.  This led on to a negative evaluation of the material world  and the attribution of ‘good’ only to the spiritual world;  everything material, including human appetites is, therefore, inherently bad.    In essence, Gnosticism  was an attempt to reconcile facets of Christianity with the Platonic dualism of  matter and spirit.  Gnostics, therefore, tended to live the ascetic life (although some,  considering themselves irredeemable, conveniently  practised hedonism)  to minimise the corrupting effects of the flesh.  Salvation came about  when the soul escaped from the prison of the body by liberating the divine spark , which is within everyone,  through ‘gnosis’ a secret revelation  given to members of a particular Gnostic sect.  Gnosticism tended to be a charismatic and egalitarian cult that contained certain elements recognisable to Christians, such as the Godhead, Gospels and a Redeemer.  In his epistles,   Paul denounced certain heresies which scholars now term ‘ proto-Gnosticism’ which developed into fully-fledged Gnosticism during  the second century  under teachers such as Basilides and Valentinus.  The acceptability of this cult to a people schooled in Greek intellectual philosophy but equally  open to the acceptance  of a belief system that offered salvation and redemption, was a danger to Christianity at a time when the body of doctrine was not articulated  and recorded with sufficient precision or  prescription.

The Gospel According To Thomas   came to light in 1945 in the desert at Nag Hammadi as part of a treasure trove of  thirteen codices although some fragments of the work had been discovered in 1897 at Oxyrrhynchus..  Unrelated documents of a commercial nature that were also in the earthenware jar suggest a date in the mid fourth century  and other references indicate that these volumes had been in the possession of the Pachomian monks who inhabited the area.  A number of these works, translated into Coptic from Greek,  were soon published and became well known;  among these was the Gospel of Thomas.

The Gospel itself takes the form of  Coptic text consisting of 114 sayings or logia  attributed to Jesus. About half of these sayings are similar to ones found in the canonical gospels whilst others are previously unknown.  There is no narrative element,  no birth in a stable, no crucifixion and no resurrection;  it is a collection of  propositions that is presented to us as the authentic  words of Jesus rather than second-hand reports or  stories. In the words of the opening lines: ‘These are the words that the living Jesus spoke’.   This discovery gave scholars access to a work that has remained untouched for at least 1700 years, that may derive from direct recollections of Jesus by those who walked with him and that has not been distorted or manipulated by centuries of church politics and  intrigue.

The dating of the Gospel of Thomas is the subject of some long-term debate with commentators largely split into an ‘early’ and a ‘late’ camp.   The proponents of an early dating such as Theissen and Merz  suggest that it is written in an early format like the Q source and that  the genre is  typical of other first century works.  They suggest that it may have predated the gospels because the order of  any similar logia is different  and it also lacks any eschatological references.  Some theologians such as Elaine Pagels have formed the opinion that there is an interplay between the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Thomas wherein John is responding implicitly  to the logia of Thomas.   The reference in logion 12 to James the Just as leader of the community also  lends some weight to the notion of a dating  prior to  AD 70. 

The ‘late’ camp, however,  prefers a date after AD100 on the grounds that the sayings follow the vocabulary that is found in the Gospel of Luke in Greek.  Nor, according to Bart Ehrman is it apocalyptic as one might expect in an earlier work so he concludes that it is probably an early Gnostic work  dating from the early second century.  Snodgrass and Perrin go further in suggesting that the Gospel  is heavily dependent on Syriac writings  and should therefore be dated after the completion of the synoptic gospels.  Perrin even goes so far as to suggest dependence on the Diatesseran which was compiled in 172.  Its existence is certainly referred to by Hippolytus of Rome  and Origen of Alexandria  around 220-230 AD which affords us part of a chronological time frame.

This is an issue that seems unlikely ever to be finally resolved if only because the experts cannot easily agree on the basic frame of reference.  Richard Valantasis has written:

      ‘Assigning a date to the Gospel of Thomas is very complex because it is  difficult to know precisely to what a date is being assigned.  Scholars have proposed a date as early as AD60 or as late as AD140 dependent upon whether the Gospel is identified with the original core of sayings, or with the author’s published text, or with the Greek or Coptic texts, or with parallels in other literature.’

It is not difficult to see why the Gospel of Thomas was excluded from the canon and came to be regarded, by the later fourth century as a Manichaean heresy.  It seems to have no apostolic authority and no clear chronology,  it may have been deemed  not to be in use in a sufficient numbers of centres,  it does not appear to complement other documents,  it smacks of Gnosticism at least by association and, if Gnostic,  it involves secret arcane knowledge not accessible to all  which seems to run contrary to the concept of the Christian faith as open to any and all who truly seek to comprehend it.

It may be, however, that the Gnostic label is unfairly applied to the Gospel of Thomas without a proper  contextual approach to the Gospel.  Early commentators viewed it from a strict paradigm of Gnosticism  described by Irenaeus of Lyons; later  scholars, after the Nag Hammadi discovery appear to have judged it rather too readily on the basis of the circumstances in which it was unearthed.  The cache contained other texts of a more clearly Gnostic nature suggesting that it represented the library of a Gnostic community and the Gospel of Thomas appears to have been labelled as Gnostic on the basis of proximity, at least in part.  One is rather tempted to echo the words of the Duke of Wellington who, on being accused of being Irish  (he was born in Dublin), retorted  ‘just because one is born in a stable, does not make one a horse’!   Similarly, a text discovered with a haul of Gnostic documents is not ipso facto of the same stamp;  the jar also contained various receipts for purchases of grain and flour  so it may well be that the contents were not  the result of a  conscious choice to seal up a Gnostic collection.  We can have no idea of the motivation of those who actually  buried or abandoned these texts or the circumstances in which they found themselves.

It behoves us, therefore, to examine closely and to re-contextualise the Gospel of Thomas in order to free it from the constraints of the time and to  determine what it has to offer us today in our very different spiritual, moral and social climate.   If we do this, we may conclude that it sits easily with ideas of current  philosophy and sociology and also resonates with the wisdom of other ancient cultures.   We can appreciate the  stress upon awareness of ourselves and  the quest for spiritual illumination which is to be found in logion 84:

       When you see your likeness,  you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you and that neither die nor become visible,  how much will you bear!

According to Richard  Valantasis,  ‘This saying  describes the burden and wonder of the seeker awakening to the immortal, pre-existent and invisible part of their lives.’

Jesus is speaking here to his listeners in the language and customs of their own culture.   He endeavours to  make clear that  they must rely not on training or status but  must connect with  the inner light and life that is common to all.  He is urging on his hearers a state of grace and serenity, perhaps even surrender, when he says the following:

Logion 24;   His disciples said: ‘Show us the place where you are, for we must seek
                    it.’  He said to them ‘Whosoever has ears to hear, let him hear. There is
                    light within a man of light and it illuminates the whole world.  When it
                    does not shine, there is darkness.’

Logion 67:   Jesus said: He who understands the All but is lacking himself lacks                     

Logion 77:  Jesus said:  I am the light that is above them all.  I am the All.
                    The All comes from me,  cleave the wood, I am there;  lift up
                    the stone, and you will find me there.

Some might suggest that these sentiments chime in well with the  concept of God and Jesus  as the ‘ground of being’,  intrinsic rather than theistic, as   expressed in the works of John Shelby Spong.   In this respect, the Gospel of Thomas speaks clearly to the spiritual  yearnings of so many seekers after truth in this modern age of uncertainty.

Gnosticism has a strongly dualistic tradition  and  many have seen a tension between this and the non-dualistic vision of human wholeness  to be found in the sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.  In logion 72, Jesus states, ‘I am not a divider’,  and in

Logion 61:    Whoever is united will be filled with light, but whoever is divided will be
                     filled with darkness.

In many instances, Jesus makes clear that the state of grace to which he refers is the Kingdom of God :

Logion  51:     His disciples asked,  ‘On which day will peace for the dead come about?
                       When will a new world come?  Jesus replied, ‘What you desire has already
                       come but you don’t realise it.’

Logion  113:     His disciples enquired, ‘On what day will the kingdom come?’  
                       Lord Jesus replied, ‘It won’t come through anticipation;  they won’t say,
                       Look, it’s here, or look over there.  The Kingdom of Heaven covers the
                       Earth with glory but  mankind fails to see it.’

Logion 37:     His disciples asked, ‘On what day will you make yourself known to us?
                       Lord Jesus replied, ‘When you rid yourself of guilt and shame and tear off
                       your old rags  and trample them beneath your feet like children.’

Logion 3  :    If those who lead you say, ‘God’s Kingdom’s in Heaven,’  then
                     birds will fly there first.   If they say it’s in the sea, the fish will swim there
                     first.’   For God’s Kingdom dwells in your heart and all around you;  when
                     you know yourself, you too shall be known.’

Jesus is stating clearly that the expectation of an imperial kingdom that will be imposed by divine diktat is a misunderstanding of his purpose and mission; rather he seeks to teach that the kingdom is already within all of us  and its fruits are within our grasp if we can  set aside our  self-centred outlook on life and  open ourselves up to a new oneness with God and humanity.    ‘If you bring forth what is within you,   what you have will save you.’   (Logion 70). 

The  distinguished theologian,  John Dominic Crossan, has described the Gospel of Thomas as a gospel of  ‘Celibate Asceticism’  and the element of asceticism in the Gospel has exercised commentators greatly as it seems to suggest that Jesus  is out of step with  the culture and philosophy of his own Judaic background   as well as the present.   A strictly ascetic code necessitating the renunciation of a world characterised by family life and human relationships as well as  material comforts,  would seem to identify the Gospel of Thomas as a recipe for isolation  and  detachment.  As Martin Buber says,  ‘Real relationships with God cannot be achieved if real relationships to the world and to mankind are lacking’.   The world in which Jesus lived was as challenged, if differently  in terms of degree and kind, as our own so that we need to assess the  role of self-abnegation in the Gospel of Thomas and perhaps reject more swinging criticism that has been directed at it.

In fact,  paradoxically, the present age may be   more of a corrective  to this criticism than  the early Christian era.   From behind the  veil of materialism,  self-interest,   indiscriminate acquisitiveness,  amoral competitiveness and obsession with status and possessions,  we may appreciate the words of Jesus and  put them into a measured context.  We may accept that the Gospel of Thomas is an ascetic  gospel which advocates an act of renunciation in order to achieve spiritual fulfilment  but we can appreciate that this does not necessitate a wholesale rejection of the world.   A modern reading of the Gospel tends rather to suggest that we need to renounce  the contemporary lifestyle culture which dictates that personal satisfaction is based upon getting and spending, conspicuous consumption and the pursuit of ever greater wealth and influence.  We live in a society where, increasingly, a man’s worth and status is adjudged on the basis of the house that he occupies, the car that he drives, his job title and his income rather than  his value as an individual and equal member of the human community.  Writing recently in the Gospel and Our Culture network newsletter, the Rev. David Kettle states that “Modern consumerism fosters and exploits needy, narcissistic personalities.  It displaces the ‘real’ beyond consumers, peddle ‘identity’ and ‘life’ through consumption, and induces bondage to self-displacing mirages and spectres”.  It is this vision of a world in which true, authentic human values and genuine self-esteem have been all but obliterated that is addressed directly by the Gospel of Thomas and we can appreciate that Jesus is not suggesting that there is anything fundamentally  evil or immoral in  wealth or comfort,  rather that basing ones sense of identity, personal worth  and social position on these criteria  exclusively is illusory and  morally corrosive.  Jesus makes clear that the poor , having less to forfeit, are closer to this  realisation  but  elsewhere he also indicates that envy of the possessions of  others is equally as  damaging a delusion.

Self-knowledge, the search after the truth that is within and renunciation of the transient and the meretricious, these are essential characteristics of the message set out in the Gospel of Thomas.  Rather than suggest, as many scholars have, that  Jesus’ strictures on wealth and excess present an obstacle to our acceptance of his words,  they resonate  well with the opinions of  philosophers and commentators on the modern world who are increasingly aware of the tendency within contemporary society to  reduce all values to the lowest common denominator  of  utilitarianism and  monetary  cost.  Even the  human rights industry, hailed as a great success of our times,  has turned against us as  the rights of the individual have now become private property to be wielded against others in a self-interested and usually lucrative way.  During his recent pastoral visit to Britain, Pope Benedict XIV  referred to  ‘a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms’,  (to which one might also add the description ‘contradictory’)   which has resulted from  initiatives within societies that have lost that overall frame of reference of human dignity, inter-dependence and immutable principle.  Instead, individuals and groups are pitted against one another, as each demands stridently its human rights, in the process  damaging our fundamental respect for the dignity of all and the responsibility of all to see that of God in everyone. 

In the course of 114 logia, the Gospel of Thomas  gives us a new glimpse of how we might change the way in which we interact with our world and our fellow beings.  Richard Valantasis considers that they have a great deal to teach us, saying,

        “These sayings guide their readers and hearers into being different kinds of people,
         or at least, they suggest that a different way of living exists and should be
         attempted.  The alternative experience of self and world posited in these sayings
         aim towards the construction of an alternative way of understanding self and of
         living in the world;  they point towards a transformation of identity and call us  to
         the unity of self that fulfils.  To a new understanding of self and a relationship to

When Jesus says, in logion, 42,  “Become passers-by”, we should not construe this as an exhortation to take monastic vows as the only way to avoid the contagion of a morally bankrupt world.  Rather we should see it, in conjunction  with, say, logion 2, where Jesus says:
            “He who seeks , let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds, he
            will be troubled, and if he is troubled, he will be amazed, and he will reign over
            the All“.

Jesus is telling us how we should conduct ourselves during the search for enlightenment and self-knowledge  and an ability to distinguish between the eternal and the transient is part of this process.  The Gospel of Thomas offers us guidance as to what really matters and what is really important in a fractured and  subversive world.

by Graham Louden


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