Christianity as Historical Fact

Through the investigation of the dreams of his patients (Jung) discovered that these contents go on appearing and operating, producing living effects in the inner psychic world, quite untroubled by the dreamer’s rationalistic conscious judgments.  But, according to Jung, these symbolic religious experiences do not spring from personally acquired complexes but rather from a much deeper, generally human unconscious psychic matrix that, as is well known, he called the collective unconscious, and also the “objective psyche.”  P&R 52

Christianity was born out of a meditation on disillusion.  In the first centuries B.C. and A.D., the whole Jewish race was excited about the end of the world.  The Dead Sea Scrolls tell us all about this.  It was going to come.  Christianity was born out of this.  And then every thousand years the Christians think the world is going to end again.  In the year 1000 there were people in France who gave their property to the church to gain merit just before the end of the world.  Some of their descendents are still in the courts,  I understand, trying to get the land back.  Now of course, we’re coming to the year 2000 (~1980), so it’s time to give it back again.  People are meditating on the atom bomb and so forth, so this is a regular cycle in our culture – every thousand years, we have disillusion meditations.  TMTT 149

Problems with Christian historical fact

The first people to listen to St. Paul were the merchants of Corinth, and so we have the vocabulary of debt and payment in our interpretation of the mythic themes.  Whereas in the Orient, the interpretation is in terms of ignorance and illumination, not debt and payment.  The debt and payment explanation goes haywire when you realize there was no Garden of Eden, there was no fall of man, and so there was no offense to God.  So what is all this about paying a debt?  You have to read the symbols in another vocabulary now.  Furthermore, we have to deal with the assumption and ascension to heaven.  What heaven?  Going at the speed of light, the bodies would not be out of the galaxy yet.  Your mythology, your imagery, has to keep up with what you know of the universe, because what it has to do is put you in accord with the universe and known, not as it was known in 2000 B.C. in the Near East.   TMTT 22

   The religious tradition that was put into you in infancy is still there.  There’s no use getting rid of it just because you can’t interpret these forms in terms of modern scientific realizations.  There cannot have been an ascension to heaven.  There cannot have been an assumption to heaven.  Even at the speed of light those bodies would not yet be out of the galaxy.  But we’re taught that this assumption and this ascension were physical events when they can’t have been.  Such an interpretation is losing the message in the symbol.  The coordination of earthly and spiritual realizations can be interpreted out of those symbols.  TMTT 206

   I’m going to make just a brief reference to what happened with Christianity in those early centuries (~300AD).  There was a conflict between two interpretations of the Christ: either as an example of the mystery hero who dies to be resurrected or as the unique incarnation.  That was the big argument between the Gnostics and the Orthodox Christian community.  The Orthodox community opted for the importance of the historicity of the incarnation, and to know what the Christian belief is, you have only to recite the credo known as the “Apostles’ Creed” with attention to what you’re saying. 

   “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”  That’s that.  “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary … suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.”  Now those last few phrases – “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried” – are the only historical statements in that sentence.  The rest of it is mythology.  “He descended into hell.”  This is all to be taken literally.  “The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”  Do you believe those things literally?  “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting, Amen.”

  Now as for the resurrection of the body, I can give you some assurance on that.  You’ll be thirty-five years old, the age of the body in its perfection.  So, try to remember how it was back then, or get ready for a good-looking future condition, and you’ll have life everlasting.  Thirty-five years old, perfect – and won’t it be a bore?  O.K., that’s the story.  TMTT 208

(In the Gospel of Mark) Jesus is reported to have said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.”  But actually, that generation did pass away, and many more have passed away, and those things have not taken place.   RG 19

   When you go into a church, you often see the stations of the cross around you, and there is meant to be no doubt that this represents what actually did happen to Jesus of Nazareth on the day of his crucifixion: first Jesus’ condemnation by Pilate, then Jesus’ taking up the cross, then Jesus stumbling, and so forth, on up to his being laid in his tomb.  The station that would come after the one showing the burial – the station that isn’t shown as part of the series – would be the Resurrection.  And finally after that would come still another one, the ascension to heaven. 

   Now, if all that is taken literally, then you’re in trouble.  Read a modern book of physics, and you’ll wonder where he went – even going at the speed of light, he would not be out of the galaxy yet.  Then we find there’s no literal place for the literal body to go, so we say “This is untrue.”  We lose our religion; we lose our symbols. 

   When the symbol is interpreted concretely that way, you’ve lost the message.   The symbol that should be introducing us to our own deep, inward life is lost and we have no vehicle for connection.  So the popular way of interpreting the word myth is “falsehood,” whereas myths, in the sense that I’m speaking of them, are the final terms of wisdom – that is the wisdoms of the deep mysteries of life.  G 15