Learning to Touch God in Jesus Christ

Jesus Revolution' trailer: 'Chosen's Jonathan Roumie, Joel CourtneyBeing able to touch the living God in Jesus Christ is not a mystery, but it does require that we learn how to do it. I’ve already spent a lifetime, and I’ve yet to hear anyone in a sermon at church, or even a friend, show me why I want to “touch” Jesus Christ. Pray to him yes, but touching him for what reason? Some rather interesting books have been published that recount stories of people the mystical teachings of jesus who remembered living past lives that intersected with the life of Jesus. This is fascinating because it’s amazing how little we really know about Jesus, one of the most influential persons of modern human history. For example, we don’t even know his real birthday. Certainly we celebrate his birthday as ‘Christmas’ but this date has no basis in historical fact or even biblical reference. Granted, the bible gives some clues about general time periods and seasons, which we will examine shortly, but nothing specific. (Unfortunately, the bible has very little value of historicity, given the large number of changes, edits, and deletions that have occurred as well as the poor habit of accepting myths and stories as facts, and even incorporating myths and stories from other cultures and religions into Christianity such that very little remains that can be identified as both unique and historically factual. But this is a discussion for a later time. )Let’s explore what we can ascertain about Jesus’ true birthday. We begin with an examination of the pre-Christian predictions of the coming of the Messiah, which leads one to the Jewish Talmud. The Talmud predicted the coming Messiah would be signaled by an omen in Pisces. This could be interpreted either as occurring during the zodiacal time period of Pisces, which begins in the middle of June and lasts for approximately one month, or when an astronomical omen occurs within the area of the constellation of Pisces, regardless of timeframe. We’ll leave that data point for the moment and examine how early Christians dealt with the matter.

Unfortunately, there is no mention of a holiday festival commemorating Jesus’ birth by the earliest (first and second century) Christian writers. Origen of Alexandria (c. 165-264 C. E. ) went so far as to mock Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries of their gods (and saviors), dismissing them as pagan practices that should not be similarly adopted for Christianity. Finally, in about 200 C. E., a Christian teacher in Egypt, Clement of Alexandria (c. 150- 215 C. E. ), made reference to a discussion on the date Jesus was born. According to Clement, several different days were proposed by various Christian groups, including January 2nd and 6th, April 18th, 19th, and 21st, and may 1st, 20th, and 28th, of which Clement “preferred” May 20th. Perhaps surprisingly to modern day Christians, December 25th wasn’t mentioned at all. Eventually, the early Church settled on January 6th, which Epiphanius explained was the date of the pagan festival of Kore, which the Christian festival of the birth of Christ subsumed in order to replace.

Beginning no later than the early-fourth century (and likely much earlier given the festival of Kore event just described), Christians began deliberately adapting and Christianizing pagan festivals as a means of assimilating and replacing the various pagan religions. A famous proponent of this practice was Pope Gregory the great, who wrote in a letter, dated 601 C. E., to a Christian missionary in Britain, his recommendation that local pagan temples not be destroyed but rather be converted into Christian churches and their pagan festivals be celebrated as feasts for Christian martyrs; thus, more effectively assimilating and replacing the former pagan religion and its adherents. (Similarly, in 533 C. E., the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus also called for the transferal of Roman religious allegiances to Christianity from its pagan roots by means of assimilation, wherever possible, of pagan beliefs, practices, festivals, and places of worship. This second example demonstrates the practice of assimilating Paganism into Christianity was widespread, deliberate, and relentless until Paganism and its followers were completely subsumed into the new religion. )

Once Christianity became legally accepted by the Roman Empire under Constantine, the young religion was forced to undergo a massive process of change in order to adapt and survive in the highly paganistic Roman environment. Nothing was more important to the Roman Empire than peace and stability, for through the Pax Romana, Roman peace led to prosperity, growth and strength. So, for example, to harmonize Christianity with Roman law and dissociate itself from its Jewish origins, Christianity shortly adopted Sunday as its own holy day vice the Sabbath (Saturday), which had been recognized since the beginning – given that Jesus was a practicing Jew after all.

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