A. Julie Ferwerda

Just some of the comments after Julie posted her thoughts on Facebook on 30th January.

I can’t seem to discern fact from fiction . . . with all the data coming at me (historical, mythological, linguistic, religious), I am completely hesitant to think I know ANYTHING about Jesus – his true purpose and position in history. My nagging questions revolve around the fact that I have no peace in trying to worship, pray to, or elevate him anymore.

What if the whole Jesus Religion today came on the heels of zealous, hopeful followers who were ready to mythologise yet another human to demi god status (complete with all the same legends as demi gods of the centuries before)? There is so much misunderstanding, distortion, legend, and deception surrounding the life of Jesus. I guess I need a Damascus Road to figure it out.

So many of the teachers I read now have confirmed my own realization in recent years that “praying” is not what we were taught in church, but is more of contemplation of spirit. I don’t really pray in the traditional sense anymore and have never missed it! I feel more connected to God than ever.

John Stevens I can totally relate Julie. There are so many questions & so few answers it seems. Yet, there is something compelling about the Jesus character, whether historical, mythical, legendary or some composite character of all of the above. For me, i’m ok with the idea that a real historical figure spoke the sermon on the mount. It’s where i draw my ethics from. The ideas encased in it still carry transformative power for me.

John, I at least believe that Jesus is an archetype for us all of what it means to be the Christ, the Anointed…those who bring healing to the world through loving others as we love ourselves. I agree with the beauty of the teachings and feel they are all part of that dying to self needed to live in the Kingdom.

Grant Cottrell i love that you’re able to bring things like this to the table like you have Julie and open it up for discussion. or not. to share your *journey*. it’s helpful. it’s helped me. you are quite the thinker and communicator.

Julie: BUT, I do love listening to one of the bishops, Lazar Puhalo. Check him out, he makes so much sense on many issues! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaDTWZIXfLU

Dogma is always the first mistake of any religion. God is not a set of beliefs, but a revelation of becoming.

But the truths of God that are transformative only happen within. As Richard Rohr says, religion only provides a strong container, but in order to fill the container, that cannot come through a set of beliefs, only through an inner experience.

Dave Lewerenz I see God as a power within us all, no matter what we believe. but that all belief systems are child’s play of sorts. We have ideas, but no one really knows what they are talking about, because we are all still kids.

Julie: I don’t promote stopping at any point on the journey and I’m not even the same person I was when I wrote Raising Hell Book nearly 5 years ago. On the other hand, getting free of the lie of hell is crucial, and considering the audience of the book, it’s exactly as it should be, and will remain a stepping stone for Christians to a more reasoned and hopefully fearless faith.

Just because something may not be true to fact doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true in principle.

I’m in the same place. It wouldn’t change my faith. And even if Jesus is an archetype, I still think his teachings are right on.

My faith is still very sincere and deeper than ever. I still feel God’s smile and that it is he who puts the questions in me. So then I have no choice but to wrestle with them.

Caleb Shaw I share similiar sentiments Julie, atheism isn’t an option but the historical Jesus seems non existent outside the bible… I’m no fan of using circular reasoning to prove His literal existence… but I still believe He’s real… God appears to people as Jesus as thats how they are ready to connect… I also don’t see any need to worship God if I’m His child. Maybe that will change if I’m standing in some literal throne room but I doubt it.

Marge Ague Sweigart Yes, I can totally relate, Julie. It is a bit shocking to find out that beliefs you held so strongly for most of your life are based on fables. I still believe that there must be some kind of intelligent (and benevolent) creator behind it all, but he/she/it bears almost no resemblance to the God of Christianity.

Continue to seek wisdom and knowledge but don’t negate the power and strength of your spiritual connection to Christ.

Matthew Wiley The overall message Jesus seemed to give in the gospels, at least to me, was that God is better than we may think He is, and that we have more potential in us than we may realize.
Maybe when Jesus said ‘when you see me, you see the Father’ he wasn’t saying that he was the second person of some kind of Trinity (although he could be for all I know), but rather that he was simply seeking to be an example of what God is really like, was seeking to give flesh and blood to the heart of God, so we could understand it better.
And maybe he was so in tune with God, so much more than most people are, that he knew God well enough to be able to do that, and do it well.
Also I wonder if when Jesus says ‘follow me’, he’s implying that we can, not that he’s this high standard we can never reach, but that we can walk in his footsteps, even if we may often stumble along the way, as he stumbled along the Via Dolorosa.
Then especially the picture of Jesus on the cross, at least to me, if we try to go by Jesus’ saying to us that when we see him we see the Father, shows that God shares in our struggle and our pain, it shows us that we are not alone in the dark.
If this man who died like a criminal, but who forgave rather than condemned those who killed him, and who may have actually come back from the dead, really existed 2,000 years ago, then I’d say at the very least he had God in him, and that he points the way to God, points the way to the only God that is really worth believing in, a God whose love for us will never fail and who truly understands us, all of our struggles and our messes and is with us in the pain and in the dark, a God who can, even if only a little bit at a time, one step at a time, truly make us whole and lead us home.
I’m not sure how much I believe in Jesus, that’s hard for me to say. But I do believe in what he represents to me. All in all I don’t really know for sure right now.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep trying to believe and trust in the God that I believe Jesus points to and even symbolizes in some ways, at least for me.
Josh Gould i have the same struggles though i tend not to dwell on them too much because what we think about jesus’ divine status is irrelevant. his entire purpose as laid out in the gospels is to transform us into people who act a certain way towards others. not as some sort of religious duty, but in a way that naturally comes from within.
Think of it like riding a bike. when you pick up a bike and sit on it, it’s your natural inclination to begin pedalling to move forward and the balancing act is not something you have to force yourself to do because you know you should. you just simply balance and pedal naturally. the life jesus described to his disciples is like this. he tried to teach people that their interactions with others (the way they help, love, etc) should just be something they do instinctively.

Irene Clark I do not put a lot of effort into “studying” Jesus or even God. I just kind of let God take care of things. I do not worship Jesus as I see him as us (humanity) – Jesus represents each one of us – we are all sons of God – not any more or any less divine than the man Jesus. I feel religion turned the man Jesus into an idol. Jesus was a great teacher. I do believe he was divine. I do believe each of us are divine – we are all one with God.

Jeanne Schlumbohm I don’t know what to think about it all. I prayed about 6 months ago in complete frustration: “please tear down all the man-made junk I have believed and been taught and let me know who you are, who you are to me, and how am I to relate to you”. It’s been a hard process.
If deism is to make sense to me, I’d have to know then, why create us at all, for what purpose. Just some cosmic chess game?

Kim Harvey Sixty six books and two thousand years later, we’re still trying to decode a simple message. God in us, God in everyone.

Jody Burns Ignorance before Light….darkness before understanding.
God’s plan is to cause what we think to be right in our own eyes (ignorance) that out of that His One Life is revealed, the Light.

Ken Dahl Julie Ferwerda dares to say out loud what so many others are secretly thinking… her fear has been replaced. Many people are afraid of losing their fear. Think about that for a minute…

Blake Scafidel I’m there too, Julie. I’ve concluded from my own research that Jesus was most likely a composite character, that, while he probably existed and made significant waves with the religious rulers while bringing good will to the common folk, I think that much of what was written about him was, as you’ve said, a mixture of mythology and historical details superimposed onto whatever details might actually be remembered from those that recorded it decades later.
Obviously SOMEONE wrote the words we’ve read, and yes they certainly reflect a wisdom that we seem to all be able to wrap our heads around. But I tend to cringe at those who seem to throw Jesus quotes around as if we could ever arrive at the ‘perfectness’ that seems to come from his character–as if it is the ultimate answer to every problem everywhere. I just dont buy it anymore.

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ~ Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

Julie Ferwerda I do love the thought of the “Cosmic Christ” or Cosmic Jesus, which is back to Jesus as a real person, but also a prototype or archetype of ALL our journeys. Adam, the first man/humanity, Jesus (Christ) the second, reborn humanity.

Chè Heru Our goal here in life is to help each other. Not because we have hopes of them joining our religion or group. But because it’s the right thing to do. To love all. No matter where they come from or how they look like. Love is bigger than religion. It is larger than a political affiliation or party. God is love and when you truly understand that you only see creation and not schisms.

http://www.grahamhancock.com/forum/freke_Gandy_jesusMysteries.php?p=2 (link from Carol Sexton Boyd)

Michael Snider Julie, I’m in the same dilemma over Jesus. Modern Christianity has used the name and character in building empires. Who is Jesus? His good news would have won most to him. Men so warped and corrupted it that it seems impossible to know without direct interaction with him, and I don’t mean a some altered state of mind. I have taken part in the new age/charismatic drivel. Yuch, hope someone has a revelation.

Blake Scafidel I think our limited knowledge of whatever happened 2000+ years ago (meaning, we only see what was written in the bible), causes us to attach meaning to our ‘experience’ and therefore somehow validate scripture as ‘truth’.
I think it’s just easier to label whatever experience we have with the ‘invisible’ as being a ‘relationship with Jesus’ or ‘God’, because that is all we know. That’s why it makes ‘sense’ but in completely different ways to different people in different cultures and influences, accounting for the infinite numbers of religions all over the world.

Jason Williamson David, you are not supplying any evidence in any way. You are willing into existence an ideology that more than likely only exists in your mind with millions of variations spread through the minds of others. You believe only a variation of what Jesus, Paul, and Peter believed and they also believed in different things. Even the bible is clear that these guys were not always on the same page.

Julie Ferwerda Jeanne Schlumbohm, you said, “I prayed about 6 months ago in complete frustration: “please tear down all the man-made junk I have believed and been taught and let me know who you are, who you are to me, and how am I to relate to you”. It’s been a hard process.”
I did the same about 1.5 years ago. It was hard at first, but then I learned to lean into it and be at peace by taking the patient approach. If you don’t need God to be what you want him to be, and you let go of having to know, he shows up in amazing ways to show you who he is…in his/her own timing. It gets easier! There truly is no fear in love…

Blake Scafidel That’s a nice cliche, David. And I do realize how much a security blanket religion is for some. It was for me for 40 years. I was ‘happy with Jesus’ and carried him around in my shirt pocket. I could make everything in the bible make sense and tie it to my experience. I had a tight-knit argument (or as some would call it, ‘apologetics’) for most biblical arguments. So I’m familiar with the territory.

Chè Heru Blake Scafidel i grew up in church for 25 years. My Father Is A Pastor So ALL I did Was Read The Bible Growing up. Once i started to question everything i started finding answers that weren’t in the bible. The more i opened my mind the more God gave me wisdom. Wisdom isn’t just in the pages of a bible. There was wisdombeing taught long before the bible existed and long after. I love the journey i have been on. I’ve met some awesome people and I’ve been criticized by many religious who think i have back slid. Which is the farthest from the truth. I now love all of humanity. Not just the ones that attend a building on sunday

Julie Ferwerda Chè Heru, I remember years ago (pre-enlightenment) when studying about the Israelites telling Pharoah they wanted to go out into the wilderness to sacrifice a ram to God (for Passover), I discovered that the reason the Egyptians were so offended by this was because they worshiped the ram god (Aries, which falls on the corresponding astrological calendar) on the very same day as Passover. Anyhow, there were all these weird threads and crossovers between the two belief systems, once you started digging. I was rather baffled and even now I wish I understood how it all fits together. I mean, the snake is both the symbol of failure, death, and healing. “As the serpent was lifted in the wilderness, so the son of man must be lifted up.” So much mystery in there, but you won’t hear it in a sermon on Sunday morning!

Blake Scafidel That’s awesome Ché! I’m still amazed at how wisdom permeates a diversity of cultures and beliefs, but since it may also have been written the bible, people just assume it’s all a very intentional book written by God and everything else in it must be absolute truth!

Chè Heru When I realized who put the books together it made sence. Council of nicea. Constantine (emperor at the time) used it for political reasons. It had nothing to do with spirituality. He wasn’t even christian. Lol so I find it odd that people who heard a preacher tell them the bible is 100% never took the time to make sure that claim was correct. I read the Egyptian book of the dead which predates the bible and has passages in it that are identical to psalms and proverbs. Almost verbatim. To me it’s not a coincidence.

Julie Ferwerda You are speaking my language now. I am totally up on the Constantine connection! And how ludicrous to think our bible today is some magical book handed over by God.

Julie Ferwerda I studied the oldest established city in Turkey in one of my college archaeology classes…it was like 10,000-12,000 years old. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe

Chè Heru It’s double talk. In one breath they say don’t trust man trust god. But God didn’t put the books together it was Greeks wwho had nothing to do with the writing of it. Then used it to indoctrinate those they conquered. They used missionaries to teach natives they were savages and teach manifest destiny based in old testament scriptures showing where God told his chosen to take land that was already occupied by (heathens) or unholy people. It’s the same evil concept. Not fruits of a loving god who loves all of his creation. God by definition can’t play favorites lol

Stephanie McEntire Buker Does anyone here realize that we are writing our own Gospel? ….that no two stories will be the same …in the truth of every day life? I think that’s the interesting point. Did Jesus not say that the whole idea of spirituality is not something we have “built”…or can “build” (while God might look down and go …awww…look at how cute they are…like a kid with building blocks…) BUT the truth is…”a temple not made with hands….that inhabits all of who we all are….” WE don’t build it…it is built up..already…and Jesus said that God inhabits this whole idea….of living stones….no two the same….all different…all with a story….Jesus came to love the world…and in that idea…why is it we all try so hard to make each other the same? Jesus himself didn’t do that….

So why is it we all try to hard to envelop a “belief” in…on and over another? Just live your story.

Michael Pierson Hang in there Julie, God has you where you are for a reason. You know it’s funny that I really don’t know you but in the last couple days you have really been on my heart, So I pray for you and I know you are in His hands.

Elaine Pietryak Johnson Fun to find like minded people online that make you feel like you’re not alone Chè Heru. J and I met this way.

Crystal Cates Kurz Elaine I only know you through FB from J, but feel so close to you. Chè I have met and hung out a little, but because if FB I feel like I’ve know you for years. Justin is a dear friend that because if him I know Elaine and Julie . Because of Juile I am now friends with Caleb and Gabby Miller, and Jim Palmer. I never thought in a million years I would have connections with people like yourselves on such a deep passionate level..on FaceBook. I love FB and will use it to stay connected to you guys. I love you all

Juli Walterman I think its good to come to a place where outside information has no bearing on who God or Jesus is for you. It means not one stone is left standing, that man made temple is destroyed and now whats left? For that we can only go within. Find what has been and continues to be real for us. And go from there

Thomas Kemper Julie, it’s good to hear you talk this way, honestly. I have been there myself quite often in the past year. I went from being sick of a God of hell, to a believer in a God of redemption for all, to a seeker of the entire truth, to a finder of questions, to real serious doubt. To near abandonment of the whole nine. I know what you mean when you say that what we can know about Jesus is very little, and I agree (and have always agreed) with you that men have made the religion, but the thing that keeps me grounded, even in the times when I am sick and tired of God and Jesus and the Bible and the church and every last bit of it, is that I know that I need God, and I know that Jesus – who he is to me – can be the human face of that God.

After all these years going round and round with it all, I have come full circle so many times that I realize it’s really a spiral. But the advancement is so subtle that I think I am merely going in circles. But with each circle I describe, I make a little progress. Knowing what the world is, is not, could be, isn’t known, is unknowable, the entirety of it – in all its dizzying complexity – doesn’t have to be exclusive to my belief in the best that lives inside me, what I find there that I call God, what I know as the creator. You are right: the Jesus of today is not the same Jesus of then. And in the end I find it refreshing, against all expectation, to find this so. I know that men (mostly men) have written and re-written Christianity again and again through the ages. I find comfort in knowing that I know this. Knowing the truth about this sets me free.

BUT: do I necessarily share this with everyone I know? Of course not. It would hurt too many good-hearted people who love me. I know they already worry about me, pray about me, treat me with kid-gloves, all because I don’t believe in hell anymore. Unfortunately, this liberality is all they can handle, I think. So what I have learned to do over the years, is to go as far with a person as I think they are ready to go. And in some situations (like working with some fellow absurdists in the kitchen of Shambhala Mountain Center), I – that is, we – can go a long, long ways. I think Paul says something about this. Something about eating meat or not eating it, in order to not cause his brothers to stumble. He also says something about comforting others with the comfort whereby we have ourselves found comfort, and that is the core of it, in my vision.

So here I find myself part of a kind of secret society, the kind which exists in pretty much everything I have ever attended to. I only speak of it with the initiated. And here on your page. Where I don’t know anybody.

Keep the faith, even if that faith is no-faith. Not lack of faith. Not atheism. But faith that can never quite be touched. Faith that knows without having to try. In the end, delving too deeply can be exhausting and can make us a bit boring (delving/boring?), and what I really need at times is just the gentle comfort of a father’s touch, a greater kindness, solid arms to hold me. And I choose to believe this can be had in the Father and the son, and the spirit which binds them to me.

Tiffany Dawn Smith Have just read the majority of this and am really impressed at the civility of most of the people in this post. You obviously have a good friend base here. Good to hear someone asking these questions too and so impressed with many of Che’s answers. Best in ur search, will be following ur wall closer now

Juli Walterman Thomas Kemper- reading your words was like reading my own over the years. What you described as a spiral I came to see as well. Funny enough the vision I had of my own journey was of a slinky that is connected to itself.

Julie Ferwerda Fractals! The universe appears to be made of them.

Julie Ferwerda Yes, Tiffany Dawn Smith, I feel incredibly blessed to have a large friend base of people who are able and willing to discuss these topics fearlessly and gracefully, even if they don’t all agree. Of course, the unfriend/block button has come in handy a time or two.

Michelle Cornley-Banks Julie, I believe the struggle is there because the true spirit of worship needs not have Jesus in it at all. Your spirit is in tuned with the ONE TRUE GOD the one Jesus himself would have prayed to on the cross and all the other things that are put before us through the teaching of religion keep us from getting closer to HIM. You are on a spiritual path that GOD is leading you down, HE is using you to bring others closer to HIM in HIS TRUEST form so we can worship the way it was done long before pen was being put to paper.

Don Griffin I had to lose it all before I could find the treasure within, and the journey continues. There will never be peace as long as we keep running the same old circles of debates and sparring with wit and words.

Kim Harvey I met he/she/it or what I called “God” for no other reason than where I was born, no name was give, and it was people, the church who Insisted I met Their Jesus.


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