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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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Four Gospels Course

 Rev. David Mavity

The Four Gospels Essay
“For what is now called the Christian religion existed even among the ancients and was not lacking from the beginning of the human race until 'Christ came in the flesh'. From that time, true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christian.”(Saint. Augustine).

This statement is often taken by many to be a Christian claim of vast superiority over
every other faith, but a careful study of the Gospels will show that Augustine, himself a
Neo- Platonist, meant that Christianity is one great Teacher’s view of a very old and
universal philosophy, as well as a reformation of His own faith, Judaism. I see this as one
of the true beauties of Christianity, when properly understood.

A thinking and reflective Christian is a follower of a Rabbi who fully understood His
connection with God, his understanding of all people as His brothers and sisters, and the
realization of the inherent presence of God within ourselves. (In certain esoteric traditions,
Jesus is considered the only human to have reached the level of “Ipsissimus” [he who is
most like himself,] which reflects his knowledge of the Divine within.) An informed
Christian will also understand his/ her faith as a very simple philosophy, very similar to
other faiths, and should be able to converse amicably with those of other religions, seeing
the points on which they can agree. A famous Christian occultist, the Rev. Ann Davies,
once observed that “a Cabalist (Christian adept/ mystic) can enter any church, synagogue,
or temple, and worship fervently, because he understands the universality of true
religion.” Augustine’s quote essentially says that the Christian religion is another view of
the  “perennial philosophy.”


I believe that if I was able to go back in time, and talk to just one person, I’d ask Jesus
“did you intend to start a new religion?” I believe his answer would be a horrified “no.”
He was trying to explain the relationship of God to man, establish a simple way for man
to “reconnect” with his creator, and reform what had become a corrupted system. I also
believe he would explain Christianity as a philosophy, a new approach to his own
religious tradition, a “new way.”

The Gospels demonstrate a very simple doctrine of Christian philosophy, and act as a
guide on how to live, act, and treat your fellow man, as well as a “hidden doctrine,”
which I’ll touch on later. Basic Christianity lays out thusly:
1.     Love God. We are his children, and He loves us all, equally.
2.     Love you neighbor. Since all people are equally loved by God, they are your brothers and sisters.
3.     There is karmaic retribution, for all deeds done, whether good or bad.
4.     “The Kingdom of God is inside you.” (Luke 17:21. Compare to Thomas 3) This is the secret, or esoteric doctrine.
We can see that Jesus’ focus was on love, for God and your fellow man, as well as a
cosmic sort of punishment for not following this teaching.
Jesus taught using metaphor. It is a clever technique, as He designed them to be
understood by the common people in one sense, and by his disciples and the more
enlightened in another, knowing that not all were prepared for the full import of His
message- “milk for babes, meat for strong men.” (1 Corinthians 3:2) The standard New
Testament doesn’t explain this esoteric doctrine, although it makes it clear that the
disciples were privy to it. We can get a clearer understanding by looking at the first 3
statements in Thomas:

1. “And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."
-Jesus made it abundantly clear that we are all immortal, and proved it with His Resurrection. Knowing this, really knowing this, frees us.
2. Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all.
- He is discussing humanity’s search for the Divine. Most consider God to be something “out there,” the classic old, bearded man sitting on a throne in the sky. Where did Jesus say the Kingdom of God is? Pretty disturbing to those who believe that God is “out there.” 
3. Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. 

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." 

-These three statements really hold the key to understanding Jesus’
message and living a Christian life. If all people are your brothers and
sisters, little sparks of the divine in human bodies, how could you possibly
hate them or treat them badly? 


Understanding these basic points in the Gospels and Christian philosophy
properly is not only key for anyone of that faith, but especially for a Christian 
minister, and particularly for a U.L.C. Christian minister who understands the
ideas of Universal Life  and “We Are One.” We meet, talk to, and counsel
(without even knowing it) people of different religions (or none) every day . It is
crucial, if our ministry is primarily a Christian one, that we understand the
universal nature of the teachings in the Gospels. Mainstream Christianity’s biggest
mistake has been in treating Jesus as an exception, rather than an exemplar- a big
brother, elder, teacher and counselor with the very simple, beautiful, and universal
message carried in the Gospels. It is our duty to follow His example.


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