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Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted April 17, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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God's Will Be Done?

Read More: forgiveness, gays, God, Jesus Christ, judgment, New Testament, Old Testament, prejudice

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I received a comment to last week's blog, "The Power of Love":

"How can a Christian overcome prejudices, when our prejudices are backed by the Bible? Such as my loathing for gays... when the Bible clearly states it is a sin and an abomination? How do I tolerate what is wrong in the eyes of God? And why SHOULD I tolerate it? I know the Bible also says not to be judgmental, but the Bible ALSO says to NOT surround yourself with people who habitually sin and have no remorse."

Here is my response:

The Bible says many things.  The Bible tells us to detest rabbits and pigs, and not to eat their meat. The Bible tells us not to eat shellfish. It tells us to detest shellfish.

The Bible tells us that a woman must not wear men's clothes. The Bible tells us not to eat any meat with the blood still in it. The Bible tells us to not cut our hair at the sides of our head or clip off the edges of our beard.

The Bible tells us not to put tattoo marks on ourselves. The Bible tells us to do no work on Sunday. The Bible tells us, "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself..."

God tells us to obey all of his commandments and that we are sinners if we do not.

What about the commandment, Thou shall not kill? This is not ambiguous. It's not conditional. There are no exceptions or special circumstances.

God doesn't say thou shall not kill unless it's in your best interest to do so. God doesn't say thou shall not kill unless someone is attacking you in which case it's okay to kill them.  God doesn't say thou shall not kill unless someone has killed others in which case it's okay to put them to death. God says, Thou shall not kill. End of story.

So I put it to you:  Why do you see it as your Biblical, God-inspired responsibility to detest gay people and why do you use the quote in the Bible to justify your detesting of gays when, most likely, you don't detest people who eat rabbit meat, bacon, pork and ham.

Most likely you don't detest people who eat shellfish. Most likely you don't detest women who wear men's clothing. Most likely you don't detest people who eat meat with blood still in it.

Most likely you don't detest men who cut their hair on the sides of their head and clip their beards. Most likely you don't detest people who have tattoos.

Most likely you don't detest people who work on Sunday. Most likely you don't detest people who resent illegal aliens and voice rage at those who want to help illegal immigrants.

Most likely you don't detest people in the military who kill people to keep you safe. Most likely you don't detest people who favor capital punishment and put murderers to death.

All of those people are breaking God's laws. They are sinners. They are detestable. Why do you tolerate all those behaviors that God insists are sins and abominations, and yet choose to be intolerant towards gays?

If you're going to use your devotion to the Bible and to God to justify your judgment and hatred of gay people, you should use that same devotion to the Bible and to God to judge and hate everybody who breaks God's rules, regardless of how ridiculous those rules may seem to be in this day and age.

And if you don't, then you need to look inside yourself and ask why you don't, why you have been so selective in what you hate.

I would suggest to you that it is blasphemy to follow one of God's rules (to detest gay people) but to ignore all his other rules, and that it makes a mockery of your devotion to the Bible and to God.

Perhaps it would be wiser to consider letting go of all your prejudice and judgment, and to follow the principles of forgiveness, acceptance and love that Jesus Christ spoke of in the New Testament.

If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would most likely be consoling the downtrodden, including gays, not condemning them. He would most likely be protesting mass murder that we refer to as war.

Jesus Christ advised us in the New Testament that if we have two coats, we should give one away. That makes me think that if he were alive today he would be in favor of universal health care and would condemn those who have way too much and don't want to share it with others.

People conveniently forget many of the things Jesus Christ preached, favoring the angry, jealous, vengeful God of the Old Testament instead.

What it comes down to is this: It's a mistake to take the Bible literally. It's a mistake to believe everything that is written in it. I say this because there are many inconsistencies, because there are many things that may have had relevance back then when it was written, but don't have relevance today, and (most of all) because it was written by human beings who are fallible and have their own agendas that often have nothing to do with the Will of God.

If I were you I would put aside the Old Testament and put your trust and faith in the Sermon on the Mount. I don't believe Jesus would steer you wrong.

I leave you with one particular oddity in the Old Testament that I find fascinating, which no one has yet, to my knowledge, addressed.  In Genesis 1:26, it is written: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." My question to you is: Who's "us"? What's all this about "our" image, "our" likeness? Who's God talking to?

In next week's blog, "In God We Trust," I will discuss the differences between the message of the Old Testament and the message of the New Testament, and how to reconcile them.


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I've heard it said that whatever we most hate in another, may be a trait of our own that we are trying to deny.

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I'll make three points with extensive elaboration:

1. We really live in a secular society. Most Christians aren't following Jesus. Most Christians aren't even following Paul!

The apostle Paul taught his followers to bless their persecutors and not curse them (Romans 12:14), to care for their enemies by providing them with food and drink (12:20), and to pay their taxes and obey all earthly governments (13:1-7). He mentioned giving all his belongings to feed the hungry (I Corinthians 13:3), and taught giving to the person in need (Ephesians 4:23). He told his followers it was wrong to take their conflicts before non-Christian courts rather than before the saints. (I Corinthians 6:1)

Paul taught that "it is good for a man not to touch a woman," but that "it is better to marry than to burn (with desire)." i.e., it is best to be celibate, but because of prevailing immoralities, marriage is acceptable. Divorce is permissible in the case of an unbeliever demanding separation. (I Corinthians 7) Paul repeatedly attacked sexual immorality.

"This is God's will--your sanctification, that you keep yourselves from sexual immorality, that each of you learn how to take his own wife in purity and honor, not in lustful passion like the gentiles who have no knowledge of God." (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

Paul told his followers not to associate with sexually immoral people (I Corinthians 5:9-12, 6:15,18). He condemned homosexuality (Romans 1:24-27) and incest (I Corinthians 5:1).

"Make no mistake," warned Paul, "no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10 [NEB])

Paul condemned wickedness, immorality, depravity, greed, murder, quarreling, deceit, malignity, gossip, slander, insolence, pride (Romans 1:29-30), drunkenness, carousing, debauchery, jealousy (Romans 13:13), sensuality, magic arts, animosities, bad temper, selfishness, dissensions, envy (Galatians 5:19-21; greediness (Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5), foul speech, anger, clamor, abusive language, malice (Ephesians 4:29-32), *dishonesty* (Colossians 3:13), materialism (I Timothy 6:6-11), conceit, avarice, boasting and treachery. (II Timothy 3:2-4)

Paul told the gentiles to train themselves for godliness, to practice self-control and lead upright, godly lives (Galatians 5:23; I Timothy 4:7; II Timothy 1:7; Titus 2:11-12). He instructed them to ALWAYS pray constantly. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Paul praised love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, fidelity and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). He told his followers to conduct themselves with humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2), to speak to one another in psalms and hymns; to sing heartily and make music to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)

Paul wrote further that women should cover their heads while worshiping, and that long hair on males is dishonorable. (I Corinthians 11:5-14) According to Paul, Christian women are to dress modestly and prudently, and are not to be adorned with braided hair, gold or pearls or expensive clothes. (I Timothy 2:9)

If Christians actually followed their own teachings, they would more closely resemble Krishna devotees!

2. I would like to see organized religion take up the struggle for animal rights. Religion has been wrong before. It has been said that on issues such as women's rights and human slavery, religion has impeded social and moral progress.

It was a Spanish Catholic priest, Bartolome de las Casas, who first proposed enslaving black Africans in place of the Native Americans who were dying off in great numbers.

The church of the past never considered human slavery to be a moral evil. The Protestant churches of Virginia, South Carolina, and other southern states actually passed resolutions in favor of the human slave traffic.

Human slavery was called "by Divine Appointment," "a Divine institution," "a moral relation," "God's institution," "not immoral," but "founded in right." The slave trade was called "legal," "licit," "in accordance with humane principles" and "the laws of revealed religion."

New Testament verses calling for obedience and subservience on the part of slaves (Titus 2:9-10; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; I Peter 2:18-25) and respect for the master (I Timothy 6:1-2; Ephesians 6:5-9) were often cited in order to justify human slavery. Some of Jesus' parables refer to human slaves. Paul's epistle to Philemon concerns a runaway slave returned to his master.

The Quakers were one of the earliest religious denominations to condemn human slavery. "Paul's outright endorsement of slavery should be an undying embarrassment to Christianity as long as they hold the entire New Testament to be the word of God," says contemporary Quaker physician Dr. Charles P. Vaclavik. "Without a doubt, the American slaveholders quoted Paul again and again to substantiate their right to hold slaves.

"The moralist movement to abolish slavery had to go to non-Biblical sources to demonstrate the immoral nature of slavery. The abolitionists could not turn to Christian sources to condemn slavery, for Christianity had become the bastion of the evil practice through its endorsement by the Apostle Paul. Only the Old Testament gave the abolitionist any Biblical support in his efforts to free the slaves. 'You shall not surrender to his master a slave who has taken refuge with you.' (Deuteronomy 23:15) What a pittance of material opposing slavery from a book supposedly representing the word of God."

In 1852, Josiah Priest wrote Bible Defense of Slavery. Others claimed blacks were subhuman. Buckner H. Payne, calling himself "Ariel," wrote in 1867: "the tempter in the Garden of Eden...was a beast, a talking beast...the negro." Ariel argued that since the negro was not part of Noah's family, he must have been a beast. Eight souls were saved on the ark, therefore, the negro must be a beast, and "consequently, he has no soul to be saved."

The status of animals in contemporary human society is like that of human slaves in centuries past. Quoting Luke 4:18, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28 or any other biblical passages in favor of liberty, equality and an end to human slavery in the 18th or 19th century would have been met with the same kind of response animal rights activists receive today if they quote Bible verses in favor of ethical vegetarianism and compassion towards animals.

Some of the worst crimes in history have also been committed in the name of religion. There's a great song along these lines from 1992 by Rage Against the Machine, entitled "Killing in the Name Of".

Someone once pointed out that while Hitler may have claimed to be a Christian, he imprisoned Christian clergy who opposed the Nazi regime, and even Christian churches were subject to the terror of the Nazis. Thinking along these lines, I realize that while I would like to see organized religion support animal liberation (e.g., as was the case with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement) rather than simply remain an obstacle to social and moral progress (e.g., 19th century southern churches upheld human slavery on biblical grounds), this support must come freely and voluntarily (e.g., "The Liberation of All Life" resolution issued by the World Council of Churches in 1988).

Religious institutions can't be coerced into rewriting their holy books or teaching a convoluted doctrine to suit the whims or the secular political ideology of a particular demagogue. Liberals argue that principle of the separation of church and state (upon which the United States was founded) gives us freedom FROM religious tyranny and theocracy. Conservatives argue (the other side of the coin!) that one of the reasons America's founding fathers established the separation of church and state was to prevent government intrusion into religious affairs.

I agree with Reverend Marc Wessels, Executive Director of the International Network for Religion and Animals (INRA), who said on Earth Day 1990:

"It is a fact that no significant social reform has yet taken place in this country without the voice of the religious community being heard. The endeavors of the abolition of slavery; the women's suffrage movement; the emergence of the pacifist tradition during World War I; the struggles to support civil rights, labor unions, and migrant farm workers; and the anti-nuclear and peace movements have all succeeded in part because of the power and support of organized religion. Such authority and energy is required by individual Christians and the institutional church today if the liberation of animals is to become a reality."

3. Professor Henry Bigelow observed: "There will come a time when the world will look back to modern vivisection in the name of science as they do now to burning at the stake in the name of religion."

Animal rights, as a secular, moral philosophy, may appear to be at odds with traditional religious thinking (e.g., human "dominion" over other animals), but this is equally true of democracy and representative government in place of the divine right of kings, the separation of church and state, the abolition of human slavery, the emancipation of women, birth control, the sexual revolution, lesbian and gay rights, and perhaps every kind of social progress since the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment.

Some of the greatest figures in human history have been in favor of ethical vegetarianism and animal rights. These include: Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, Alice Walker, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Browning, Percy Shelley, Voltaire, Thomas Hardy, Rachel Carson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Victor Hugo, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pythagoras, Susan B. Anthony, Albert Schweitzer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gertrude Stein, Frederick Douglass, Francis Bacon, William Wordsworth, the Buddha, Mark Twain, and Henry David Thoreau.

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I take particular exception to your blog, Dr. Jacobson, and I wonder exactly how extensive your knowledge of the Old Testament is. That is because you come across to me as someone who has a smattering of knowledge, yet present yourself as an expert (this isn't to say my impression is accurate, just that you come across in that manner).

I do not know whether you are Jewish, as I am (and by the way, I am not religious), however, it appears to me you lack an understanding of the Old Testament, thus perpetuate the libel that the Old Testament is mostly about laws. This is not the case at all. Judaism and the Old Testament is rife with justice tempered with mercy and compassion. In fact, it is a Jewish expression that justice without mercy is no justice at all. The truth is, the Old Testament was written with nuances, with the meanings in many passages to be revealed as a nation grew.

Which brings me to this point, and that is, much of the Old Testament (and specifically, the Five Books of Moses) were written because after 400 years of bondage, the Hebrew people needed to reclaim their heritage and covenant with G-d; so immeresed had they become in the Egyptian culture that they had no longer any idea of what their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) had blazed for them.

The laws to which you referred to, you have taken out of context, both major and minor. For example, a minor point is, the commandment is to rest on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Sunday is not the Sabbath, hence it doesn't say to rest on Sunday; it is well-established that a reason Sunday became the Sabbath was religiously political in nature, to "de-Judaize" the sabbath.

A major point, though, is the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." That is false. The commandment reads, "Thou shalt not murder," and the Old Testament spells out the difference between the two. Indeed, there are references in the Old Testament in which G-d directly demands a person to slay another. When that person refused, that person was set upon by a wild beast and killed for disobeying G-d.

Another major point regards what foods the Hebrews were to refrain from eating, and/or even raising. This wasn't because of health reasons, as many people believe, although through the ages, it had a sound basis. Again, it goes back to the need for the Hebrew people to craft their identity. Same for not getting tattoos, and other "factoids" you used to prop up your argument.

The fact is, these commandments were for the Hebrews to differentiate themselves from other cultures in which those practices forbid in the Old Testament, were commonly practiced, and also include the commandment not to interact, mingle and intermarry ... until that point in time the Nation of Israel truly was a nation.

It must remembered, that after 400 years in bondage, the Hebrews were a nation of "children." They had no or few customs dating back to Jacob (Israel), and were adrift as a people. Whenever something arose in which they weren't accustomed, they reverted to the practices practiced under the yoke of the Pharohs, particularly worshipping false idols.

People may joke about why the Hebrews took 40 years in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land, but if one knows the Bible, Moses brought them to the entrance into Canaan and the people were not ready, so G-d forbid them to enter and made them nomadic until every generation of those who had left Egypt no longer were alive.

Yes, on the surface, the Old Testament is filled with contradictions, and they seem overly harsh. However, it is important to know and understand the historical context. Without taking into consideration that aspect, Dr. Jacobson, your argument is not only disingenuous, as I earlier stated, it promulgates the insidious libel that the Old Testament, hence Judaism, is a bible and a religion composed only of laws and no heart.

In closing, to answer the last statement you made, in re: Genesis 1:26, and one which I found particularly smarmy, G-d was speaking to the angels is one theory put forth when He says to make man in our image. Another theory put forth is, it is the "royal" pronoun, as is evidenced in British royalty; for example, when Queen Elizabeth emplloys it.

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God using the "Royal We". That's a good one. The fact that you present different theories in your answer to my question posed at the end of the blog is also quite amusing. A more appropriate and honest answer would have been: "I don't know." But of course your entire comment was more of an attempt to attack me than generate any meaningful dialogue. When people disagree with my ideas, i'm fine with that, but when they attack me personally, call me names like disingenuous and smarmy, attribute things to me that i didn't state or imply, come to conclusions about me from things I didn't say, make accusations against me and make assumptions about me without having any knowledge whatsoever as to who i am, it suggests to me that their arguments are ultimately based on emotion and are hollow. Speak to your truths, don't crucify the messenger of an idea you can't understand or tolerate because you're locked into historical dogma. that's what they did to Jesus, remember? all the wisdom of the ages, all the truths of the many bibles from many cultures serve no one, no higher purpose, no G-d, if we don't act righteously in our treatment of others who don't share our particular beliefs. it seems important to you that people appreciate that the old testament and judaism are not simply composed of rules but heart. and yet you displayed no heart in your discourse with me. i find that fascinating.

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I remember advice from a wise person directly pertinent to deborah's comment: choose your enemies carefully because you will become like them.

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Indeed! Most religions have one key law in common: "love thy neighbour". I'm pretty sure that means everyone. :-)

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One of my favorite Biblical quotes: "Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who do you injury..." .... forgive them for they know not what they do....

this is one of the most difficult of all tasks on the path of true enlightenment and spiritual liberation. so very difficult..... turn the other cheek, so very difficult... but it must be done... for the meek (not the weak, the non-violent) shall inherit the earth....

it requires vigilance over our thoughts. we must pause when we feel the anger rise within us and not impulsively respond but give ourselves time to calm down, to remember the truth that when we are hated and attacked it really isn't personal, it's a reflection of the person's fear and confusion projected and displaced on us inappropriately.

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In an e-mail dated December 12, 2005, my dear friend Matias Carnevale Cano in Argentina, wrote:

I am re-reading Keith Akers' (as of yet unpublished) manuscript, Broken Thread: The Fate of the Jewish Followers of Jesus in Early Christianity, because I keep on finding Christians who deny the relevance of a correspondence between life and faith. Many think that faith is just believing in Christ, thus they can do whatever they please...Thank God I do not follow that idea. These persons would not accept the importance of vegetarianism or even leading a simple life, such a pity. If what they have to give is "love", it takes just a look to see what the world is becoming because of this Christian 'love.'

Repeating Psalm 37:11, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Here Jesus refers to Isaiah’s vision (11:6-9) of the future Kingdom of Peace, where the earth is restored to a vegetarian paradise. (Genesis 1:29-31) Jesus taught his followers to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and to do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

The kingdom of God belongs to the gentle and kind. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:7-9) “Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Jesus called the peacemakers or pacifists sons of God, because they emulate God’s universal and unconditional love. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:45-48; Luke 6:32-35)

Although the Ten Commandments teach “thou shalt not kill,” Jesus extended this morality to the point where one must never even get angry without cause. (Matthew 5:21-22) And although the Ten Commandments teach “thou shalt not commit adultery,” Jesus taught that “whoever looks upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

The Bible limits compensation to “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but Jesus taught his followers not to defend themselves against attack or aggression. “All who take up the sword must perish by the sword,” Jesus warned. (Matthew 26:52) The Bible teaches men to love their neighbors and hate their enemies, but Jesus taught them to love their enemies and bless and pray for their persecutors. (Matthew 5:38-44; Luke 6:27-29)

Jesus forbade divorce, except for unfaithfulness. When asked why Moses permitted divorce, Jesus replied that it was a concession to the hardness of the heart. He insisted upon the moral standards given by God at the beginning. (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18)

Jesus told his followers there is no need to pray to God for material blessings or even necessities. (Matthew 6:8,31-33; Luke 12:29-30) God’s compassion extends to all creation and He will easily provide for all of man’s needs:

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them...Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin. And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field...will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:26-30; Luke 12:24-28)

Jesus and his disciples lived lives of voluntary poverty and preached God’s word among “the poor.” When asked why he ate with sinners, he replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32)

In the (updated) 1986 edition of A Vegetarian Sourcebook, Keith Akers notes that there was a link in Judaism between meat-eating and animal sacrifices, that the prophetic tradition to which Jesus belonged attacked animal sacrifices, and that Jesus attacked the practice of animal sacrifice by driving the money-changers and their animals out of the Temple. He concludes, “The evidence indicates that for those who first heard the message of Jesus... the rejection of animal sacrifices had directly vegetarian implications.”

Jesus taught humility and servitude. “You know the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 22:25-27) When his disciples argued amongst themselves who would be the greatest, Jesus told them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:33-35) On another occasion he explained, “For he who is least among you all will be great.” (Luke 9:48) According to Jesus, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11)

Jesus told his disciples they were to think of themselves as unprofitable servants who simply do their duty. (Luke 17:7-10) Jesus even washed the feet of his disciples after the Last Supper, to set an example to his disciples about humility and equality before God. (John 13:1-16)

Jesus taught that before God, no one can be called good. (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19) He saw the righteous and the wicked with equal vision. When Jesus was informed about Galileans who suffered at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, he responded: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them,” Jesus continued. “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

The Pharisees apparently claimed religious leadership without such humility before God. “If you were (spiritually) blind,” Jesus told them on one occasion, “you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore, your sin remains.” (John 9:41)

According to Luke, the Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness and therefore looked down upon others. Jesus told a parable of two men—a Pharisee and a tax collector—praying at Temple. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like the other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.”

Meanwhile, the tax collector stood off in the distance. He would not even raise his eyes towards heaven, but merely prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus said it was the tax collector who went home justified, not the Pharisee, for “everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus instructed his followers to perform their charity, prayer and fasting in private. Religious devotion must never become a means to adulation, fame and social recognition. (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18) Jesus’ disciples did not fast in the same manner as the disciples of John the Baptist or the Pharisees (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39), but they did fast. (Matthew 6:16-18) Jesus even taught that certain kinds of demons could only be exorcised through prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29) Jesus taught constant prayer. (Luke 21:36) He often withdrew into the wilderness to pray. (Luke 5:16) At least once, Jesus went to the mountains and spent the night in prayer. (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12)

Jesus explained that celibacy is not something everyone can practice; it is meant only for those whom God has ordained it. He used the euphemism “eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” recalling his euphemism about denying or dismembering bodily urges rather than having the entire body destroyed by sin. (Matthew 5:29-30, 18:8-9, 19:10-12)

The apparent celibacy of Jesus is unusual by ancient Hebrew standards. The Bible does call for temporary abstinences, under certain circumstances. According to the Talmud, Moses voluntarily chose to give up sexual relations with his wife after he received his call from God. He reasoned that if the Israelites, to whom the Lord spoke only once and briefly, were ordered to abstain from sexual relations temporarily (Exodus 19:10,15), then he—being in continual dialogue with God—should remain celibate.

Philo of Alexandria tells us that to sanctify himself, Moses cleansed himself of “all the mortal calls of nature, food and drink and intercourse with women. This last he had disdained for many a day, almost from the time when, possessed by the Spirit, he entered on his work as a prophet, since he held it fitting to hold himself always in readiness to receive the oracular messages.” Given this information, Jesus’ apparent voluntary embrace of celibacy, from the time of his baptism and reception of the Spirit of God, becomes meaningful to Jews and Christians alike.

John the Baptist told the people to share half of their food and clothing with the needy. (Luke 3:11) Jesus was pleased when Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, promised to give half his goods to the poor. “Today salvation has come to this house, because he is also a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:2-10)

However, Jesus went even further, and called for renunciation of worldly goods. He did not regard the accumulation of material possessions as a meaningful goal in life. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy...But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 12:33-34)

Jesus told the multitudes that followed him, “...whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25,33) “No one can serve two masters,” Jesus explained. “...he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13)

Jesus had no interest in worldly disputes over money and property. (Luke 12:13-14) “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Jesus condemned those who lay up treasures for themselves, but are not rich towards God. (Luke 12:15-21)

In his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus expressed concern for materialistic persons. When a rich, young ruler came to Jesus and said he had kept God’s commandments since youth, Jesus prized him dearly and replied, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” The man went away, saddened. Jesus observed that it is hard for those attached to earthly riches to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:16-24; Mark 10:17-23; Luke 18:18-25)

Jesus even demanded the renunciation of family ties. (Luke 14:26) It appears Jesus had little contact even with his own family; he regarded only those who do God’s will as his brethren. (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21) When a woman said to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts which nursed you,” Jesus replied, “More blessed still are those who hear and keep the word of God.” (Luke 11:27-28)

Perhaps the most famous narrative depicting Jesus as a Jewish religious reformer is John 8:1-11. Jesus was teaching people at Temple early in the morning. The scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in the act of adultery. “Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?”

“Let he among you who is without sin,” Jesus responded, “cast the first stone.” The woman’s accusers all found themselves convicted by their own conscience. They released her and went away. No one was left to condemn her. “Neither do I condemn you;” Jesus told her, “go and sin no more.”

Aside from the Pharisees, the gospels and Book of Acts mention the Sadducees as the only other major school of Judaic thought. The Sadducees tended to be rich, nationalist and secularist.

The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Jesus, wrote that the "Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances...which are not written into the laws of Moses and" which "the Sadducees reject," but they "are able to persuade none but the rich," whereas "the Pharisees have the multitude on their side."

Thus Jesus never rejected Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17); only the excesses of the Pharisees with regards to its observance.

(It was Paul, not Jesus, who taught that the Law was abolished.)

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another great comment chock full of wonderful information. you offered up a number of my favorite quotes and passages that speak to the Christ message of unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness which must, in my opinion, transcend any other rules in any and all books of life. you are masterful in your acquisition of knowledge and the imparting of it to others. i am honored you share it with me here... i don't want to become an annoying broken record to my readers and particularly to scholars like yourself, but if you haven't read A Course In Miracles, i deeply encourage you to do so. it is the next level of Christ's message to the world.

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Well said. Loving thy neighbour may SOUND easy or maybe even weak. However, it's anything but! It takes courage to face our fears that spawn hatred.

I think it was from the Course of Miracles that I learned the deceptively simple, profound concept: "It's either love or fear. If it's not love, than it's fear."

Therefore, "hating" someone with a sexual orientation different than one's own is really just a mask over one's fear. I have generally found that accurate information is usually enough to dispell such fears.

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Love or fear. Love or a call for love. Consequently, the only appropriate response to anything out there that threatens us or frightens us is to hold onto the one true thought there is: love. and to express it. fear is an illusion. a misperception. just as darkness is the absence of light, and when we turn on a light, the darkness goes away, so is fear the absence of love. and when we turn on the love, the fear goes away.

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Saturday is the Sabbath, not Sunday, just to correct that. :) (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown)

As for hating anything, hate the sin, not the person.

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To quote kskeene: "As for hating anything, hate the sin, not the person."

That's good parenting advice for raising children.

When it comes to "sin", we are ALL God's Children.

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thank you for the clarification about the sabbath... i do not claim to be an expert by any means in regard to the Bible in general and the Old Testament in particular, and, just to clarify something: this blog post was not an intention to attack the Old Testament. when I pointed out what I perceive as inconsistencies and rules of God that may have had some relevance at some point but, in my opinion, shouldn't be the basis of our beliefs and actions now, it was solely to address the rationale that some people have for hating gays... and, i agree, the more simpler and direct answer to that question of is it righteous to hate gays is to reference 'love thy neighbor'.. "continue to love your enemies'... etc...... in the case of gays, i would not use the quote, 'hate the sin, not the sinner'.... i agree with the gist of it, that we should object to behaviors we don't like in people and not hate and demonize them, but i reject the idea of gay people being sinners, and more to the point, i reject the idea of sin altogether insofar as my belief system tells me that this entire world is an illusion made from our collective fear, and not the Reality that God created, and since sin is part of this world of illusion, it is no more real than anything else we perceive with the body/ego's eyes. what we see with our body/ego's eyes is not Vision of Reality, it is perception of the collective illusion....

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In a nutshell, yes.

If we believe that God is Love, Perfect and The Creator of us all (yes?), then it follows that God creates each of us lovingly and perfectly.

Research shows that sexual orientation is formed IN THE WOMB during the first couple of months of gestation. It's neither a choice nor a virture.

Therefore, hating a person's sexual orientation or calling it a sin is rather like hating or judging someone's skin colour as "good" or "bad".

Surely, we are evolved beyond that now? :-)

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it would be nice if we were evolved beyond that now, but that is not the case. most of us have not evolved to a state of releasing our judgments and our attack thoughts, and accepting others regardless of their differences.

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"When we turn to the protection of animals, we sometimes hear it said that we ought to protect men first and animals afterwards...By condoning cruelty to animals, we perpetuate the very spirit which condones cruelty to men."

---Henry Salt

The fate of the animals and the fate of man are interconnected. (Ecclesiastes 3:19) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, worshiped worldwide by millions of Vaishnavaite Hindus (myself included) as a saktyavesa-avatar, or empowered representative of God, said in 1974:

"We simply request, 'Don't kill. Don't maintain slaughterhouses.' That is very sinful. It brings a very awkward karmic reaction upon society. Stop these slaughterhouses. We don't say, 'Stop eating meat.' You can eat meat, but don't take it from the slaughterhouse, by killing. Simply wait (until the animal dies of natural causes) and you'll get the carcasses.

"You are killing innocent cows and other animals--nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They'll fight among themselves--Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? This is nature's law. Tit for tat. 'You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.'

"They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they'll create their own slaughterhouse. You see? Just take Belfast. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature's law. It is not necessary that you be sent to the ordinary slaughterhouse. You'll make a slaughterhouse at home. You'll kill your own child--abortion. This is nature's law.

"Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed and now they're being killed by their own mothers. People do not know how nature is working. If you kill you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.

"We don't want to stop trade, or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war--a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals--they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction."

Similarly, in his purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.10.9, Srila Prabhupada writes: "One cannot continue killing animals and at the same time be a religious man. That is the greatest hypocrisy. Jesus Christ said, 'Do not kill,' but hypocrites nevertheless maintain thousands of slaughterhouses while posing as Christians. Such hypocrisy is condemned..."

And:

"If one kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in his next life and in life after life. There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. According to Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is clearly said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society brings about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves. Presently, they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply waiting to be used for wholesale destruction."

(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.251, purport)

"Actually, one who is guided by Jesus Christ will certainly get liberation. But it is very hard to find a man who is actually being guided by Jesus Christ...violence is against the Bible's injunctions. How can they kill if they are following the Bible?"

---Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers

"If you love your neighbor as yourself, then why this 'civilization' which claims to be Christian, is slaughtering so many animals, and why they are constantly slaughtering each other in wars, in the streets? Jesus says you will not kill...and my spiritual master is giving love of God, he is giving love of God to the world."

---Srimad Bhagavatam lecture, 1971

At a monastic retreat near Paris in July of 1973, the following conversation took place between A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and French Roman Catholic Cardinal Jean Danielou:

ACBSP: Jesus Christ said, "Thou shalt not kill." So why is it that the Christian people are engaged in animal killing?

CD: Certainly in Christianity it is forbidden to kill, but we believe that there is a difference between the life of a human being, and the life of the beasts. The life of a human being is sacred because man is made in the image of God; therefore, to kill a human being is forbidden.

ACBSP: But the Bible does not simply say, "Do not kill the human being." It says broadly, "Thou shalt not kill."

CD: We believe that only human life is sacred.

ACBSP: That is your interpretation. the commandment is "Thou shalt not kill."

CD: It is necessary for man to kill animals in order to have food to eat.

ACBSP: No. Man can eat grains, vegetables, fruits...

CD: No flesh?

ACBSP: No. Human beings are meant to eat vegetarian food. The tiger does not come to eat your fruits. His prescribed food is animal flesh. But man's food is vegetables, fruits, grains...So how can you say that animal killing is not a sin?...Jesus Christ taught "Thou shalt not kill." Why do you interpret this to suit your own convenience? When there is no other food, someone may eat meat to keep from starving. That is another thing. But it is most sinful to regularly maintain slaughterhouses just to satisfy your tongue. Actually, you will not even have a human society until this cruel practice of maintaining slaughterhouses is stopped.

In 1974, near Frankfurt, Germany, a similar discussion took place with Father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine monk:

Father Emmanuel: We Christians also preach love of God, and we try to realize love of God and render service to Him with all our heart and all our soul. Now, what is the difference between your movement and ours? Why do you send your disciples to the Western countries to preach love of God when the gospel of Jesus Christ is propounding the same message?

ACBSP: The problem is that the Christians do not follow the commandments of God. Do you agree?

FE: Yes, to a large extent you're right.

ACBSP: Then what is the meaning of the Christians' love for God? If you do not follow the orders of God, then where is your love? Therefore we have come to teach what it means to love God: if you love Him, you cannot be disobedient to His orders. And if you're disobedient, your love is not true...They have rubber-stamped themselves "Christian," "Hindu," or "Mohammadan," but they do not obey God. That is the problem...The first point is that they violate the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" by maintaining slaughterhouses. Do you agree that this commandment is being violated?

FE: Personally, I agree.

ACBSP: Good. So if the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals...This program follows the teachings of the Bible; it is not my philosophy. Please act accordingly and you will see how the world situation will change.

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"Thou shalt not kill does not apply to murder of one's own kind only; but to all living beings: and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai."

---Count Leo Tolstoy

In his 1984 pamphlet, "You Mean *That's* in the Bible?", aimed at a Christian audience, on the topic of vegetarianism, writer Steven Rosen notes: "scriptural knowledge is simple for the simple--but it is difficult for the twisted. The Bible clearly says 'thou shalt not kill' (Exodus 20:13). It could not be stated more clearly.

"The exact Hebrew is lo tirtzach, which accurately translates: 'thou shalt not kill.' One of the greatest scholars of Hebrew/English linguistics (in the Twentieth Century)--Dr. Reuben Alcalay---has written in his mammoth book The Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary that 'tirtzach' refers to 'any kind of killing whatsoever.' The word 'lo,' as you might suspect, means 'thou shalt not. DON'T KILL!

"Let's face it, the Bible is clear on this point."

Rosen repeats this observation in his 1987 book, Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World's Religions: "Essential to the principle of compassion and mutual love is the Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Although simple and direct, the commandment is rarely taken literally. The exact Hebrew for Exodus 20:13, where this commandment is found, reads 'lo tirtzach.' According to Reuben Alcalay, the word 'tirtzach refers to 'any kind of killing whatsoever.' The exact translation, therefore, asks us to refrain from killing in toto.

"'Thou shalt not' needs no interpretation. The controversial word is 'kill,' commonly defined as 1) to deprive of life; 2) to put an end to; 3) to destroy the vital or essential quality of. If anything that has life can be killed, then an animal can be killed; according to this commandment, the killing of animals is forbidden.

However, Rosen admits: "The Hebrew word for 'murder' is ratzakh, whereas the word for 'kill' is haroq. The commandment, in the original Hebrew, indeed states: 'Lo tirtzakh' (a form of ratzakh), not 'Lo Taharoq.' In other words, it is 'Thou shalt not murder,' as opposed to 'Thou shalt not kill.' Why, then, does Reuben Alcalay say that tirtzakh refers to 'any kind of killing whatsoever' ?

"The difference between these two words--'kill' and 'murder'--has more to do with the modern usage than original texts: the demarcation between these words may have been different in biblical times. Indeed, the Bible appears conflicted in this regard, as do the Bible translations. The HarperCollins Study Bible, which is the New Revised standard Version and the rendition used by the Society of Biblical Literature, interprets the commandment as 'Thou shalt not murder,' but it then includes a footnote saying 'or kill.' The New Oxford Annotated Bible does the same.

"The King James Version of the Bible, and others too numerous to mention here, translate the verse as 'Thou Shalt not kill,' while others keep going back and forth, changing from 'kill' to 'murder' and, every few years, back again. Perhaps the most important version to use the word 'kill' instead of 'murder' is The Holy Bible: From Ancient Eastern Manuscripts. This work is based on the earliest editions of the text, making use of rare Aramaic fragments. Here we find that the Exodus verse is unequivocally rendered as 'Thou shalt not kill,' though a lengthy Introduction explains why well-meaning translators choose otherwise."

In a chapter in Holy Cow entitled 'Thou Shalt Not Kill', Steven Rosen quotes Philip L. Pick (1910-1992), founder of the Jewish Vegetarian Society, after researching the subject for nearly 30 years, as having concluded:

"...the oft-used translation 'thou shalt not commit murder' wrongfully restricts the original meaning of the word. Certainly today, the abundance of non-flesh, health giving foods unquestionably means that every time a creature is killed for food a sin against God has been committed."

"If you want to pass from the consciousness of flesh into the consciousness of Spirit, you must withdraw your attention from the things of the flesh," taught Dr. Charles Filmore, founder of Unity. "You must recognize that there is but one universal life, one universal substance, one universal intelligence, and that every animal is contending for its life and is entitled to that life.

"But in the matter of animal slaughter, who countenances it or defends it after his eyes have been opened to the unity of life?

"Let us remember that the right kind of food will give our minds and our spirits opportunity to express that which is one with ideal life."

Founded in the 19th century at Lee's Summit, Missouri, the Unity School teaches that the time will come when man will look back upon eating animal flesh as he now looks upon cannibalism:

"As man unfolds spiritually he more and more perceives the necessity of fulfilling the divine law in every department of his life. From experience and observation Unity believes that somewhere along the way, as he develops spiritually, man comes to question seriously the rightness of meat as part of his diet. Man is naturally loathe to take life, even though the idea of killing animals for food has so long been sponsored by the race that he feels it is right and proper to do so.

"However, the Commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill,' considered in its fullest sense, includes the killing of animals...There is a kindred spirit in all living things--a love for life. Any man who considers honestly the oneness of life feels an aversion to eating meat: that is a reaction of his mind towards anything so foreign to the idea of universal life."

Civil rights leader Dick Gregory credits the Judeo-Christian ethic and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with having caused him to become a vegetarian. In 1973, he drew a connection between vegetarianism and nonviolent civil disobedience:

"...the philosophy of nonviolence, which I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during my involvement in the civil rights movement was first responsible for my change in diet. I became a vegetarian in 1965. I had been a participant in all of the 'major' and most of the 'minor' civil rights demonstrations of the early sixties, including the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March.

"Under the leadership of Dr. King, I became totally committed to nonviolence, and I was convinced that nonviolence meant opposition to killing in any form. I felt the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other--war, lynching, assassination, murder and the like--but in their practice of killing animals for food or sport. Animals and humans suffer and die alike...Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and brutal taking of life."

In a 1979 interview, Gregory explained: "Because of the civil rights movement, I decided I couldn't be thoroughly nonviolent and participate in the destruction of animals for my dinner...I didn't become a vegetarian for health reasons; I became a vegetarian strictly for moral reasons...Vegetarianism will definitely become a people's movement."

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Thank you for your two comments in general, and, in particular: thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge, perspectives, insights and humanity. you have given us a tremendous amount of information and so very much to think about.... namaste.

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Lots of good comments

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Jesus told his disciples to ALWAYS "pray without ceasing" (Luke 21:36), and Paul repeated these words to the gentiles (I Thessalonians 5:17). However, this is the only point on which Jesus and Paul agree. Paul taught a completely different theology from that of Jesus and the original apostles.

Jesus repeatedly spoke of God's tender care for the nonhuman creation (Matthew 6:26-30, 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7, 24-28). Paul, on the other hand, in I Corinthians 9:9-10, asked scornfully, "Does God take care for oxen?" when referring to one of the commandments in Mosaic Law calling for the humane treatment of animals.

Christians foolishly argue they are no longer under Mosaic Law, because Paul referred to his background as a former Pharisee and previous adherence to Mosaic Law (with its dietary laws and commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals) as "so much garbage." (Philippians 3:4-8)

Nothing in the synoptic gospels suggests a break with Judaism. Jesus was called "Rabbi," meaning "Master" or "Teacher," 42 times in the gospels. Jesus' ministry was a rabbinic one. He went to the synagogue (Matthew 12:9), taught in the synagogues (Matthew 4:23, 13:54; Mark 1:39), expressed concern for Jairus, "one of the rulers of the synagogue" (Mark 5:36) and it "was his custom" to go to the synagogue (Luke 4:16).

Jesus himself said, "Do not suppose I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill...till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle pass from the Law till all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven...unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)

Jesus also upheld the Torah in Luke 16:17: "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid."

Nor do these words refer merely to the Ten Commandments. Jesus meant the entire Torah: 613 commandments. When a man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, "You know the commandments." He quoted not just the Ten Commandments, but a commandment from Leviticus 19:13 as well: "Do not defraud." (Mark 10:17-22)

Jesus' disciples were once accused by the scribes and Pharisees of violating rabbinical tradition (Matthew 15:1-2; Mark 7:5), but not biblical law. Jesus never says anywhere in the entire New Testament that the Law is abolished; this was Paul's theology.

Sometimes Christians cite Matthew 7:12, where Jesus says "Do unto others..." and this "covers" the Law and the prophets. But Jesus was merely repeating in the positive what Rabbi Hillel taught a generation earlier. Hillel was asked: "What is Judaism?" He replied: "Whatever is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is Judaism. All the rest is commentary." No one took Hillel's words to mean the Law had been abolished--why should we assume this of Jesus?

If Jesus really came to abolish the Law and the prophets, Simon (Peter) would not have resisted a divine command to kill and eat both "clean" and "unclean" animals (Acts 10), nor would there have been a debate in the early church as to what extent the gentiles were to observe Mosaic Law (Acts 15). When Paul visited the church at Jerusalem, James and the elders told him all its members were "zealous for the Law," and they were worried because they heard rumors Paul was preaching against Mosaic Law (Acts 21). None of these events would have happened had Jesus really come to abolish the Law and the prophets.

Paul says if anyone has confidence in the Law, "I am ahead of him."

Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said he did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets? Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said whoever sets aside even the least of the Law's demands shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19)?

Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who taught that following the commandments of God is the only way to eternal life (Mark 10:17-22)? Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus who said that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid (Luke 16:17)?

Paul may have regarded the Law as "so much garbage," but it should be obvious JESUS DIDN'T THINK THE LAW WAS "GARBAGE"!

In The Story of Christian Origins, secular scholar Dr. Martin A. Larson notes further that Paul declares that his followers may even eat food offered to pagan idols (contradicting the resurrected Jesus in Revelation 2:14,20). Whereas Jesus honored women and found in them his most devoted followers, Paul never tires of proclaiming their inferiority.

Christians believe in Paul, not Jesus. Bertrand Russell called Paul the "inventor" of Christianity.

Paul, who once persecuted the brethren, considered himself a Roman (Acts 22:25-26) and an apostate from Judaism (Philippians 3:4-8). Jesus, on the other hand, insisted that even seemingly insignificant demands from the Law of Moses could not be set aside. (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17) It is hard to tell at times if Paul rejected the entire Law or the excesses of the Pharisees in regards to its observance, since he quoted the Law as spiritual authority (e.g., I Corinthians 14:21,34). On at least one occasion, he acknowledged the Law to be spiritual, but admitted his own inability to observe it. (Romans 7:12,14-25)

On another occasion, Paul stated that laws are laid down for the lawless: morality is meant for those who would otherwise lack morals. (I Timothy 1:8-11) Many of Paul’s statements are not against the Law itself, but against the hypocrisy with which it was being enforced or observed (Galatians 2:1-14), and the fact that the gentiles were not obliged to follow all of Mosaic Law. (Acts 15)

According to writer Holger Kersten:

"What we refer to as Christianity today is largely an artificial doctrine of rules and precepts, created by Paul and more worthy of the designation ‘Paulinism.’

"The church historian Wilhelm Nestle expressed the issue in the following manner, ‘Christianity is the religion founded by Paul; it replaced Christ’s gospel with a gospel about Christ.’

"Paulinism in this sense means a misinterpretation and indeed counterfeiting of Christ’s actual teachings, as arranged and initiated by Paul.

"It has long been a truism for modern theologians as well as researchers on ecclesiastical history that the Christianity of the organized Church, with its central tenet of salvation through the death and suffering of Jesus, has been based on a misinterpretation. ‘All the good in Christianity can be traced to Jesus, all the bad to Paul,’ wrote the theologian Overbeck.

"By building on the belief of salvation through the expiatory death of God’s first-born in a bloody sacrifice, Paul regressed to the primitive Semitic religions of earlier times, in which parents were commanded to give up their first-born in a bloody sacrifice.

"Paul also prepared the path for the later ecclesiastical teachings on original sin and the trinity. As long ago as the 18th century, the English philosopher Lord Bolingbroke (1678-1751) could make out two completely different religions in the New Testament, that of Jesus and that of Paul. Kant, Lessing, Fichte and Schelling also sharply distinguish the teachings of Jesus from those of the ‘disciples.’ A great number of reputable modern theologians support and defend these observations."

The Reverend J. Todd Ferrier, founder of the Order of the Cross (an informal, mystical Christian order, abstaining from fleah and wine and believing in reincarnation), wrote in 1903:

"But Paul, great and noble man as he was, never was one of the recognized heads at Jerusalem. He had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees...He strove to be all things to all men that he might gain some. And we admire him for his strenuous endeavors to win the world for Christ. But no one could be all things to all men without running the great risks of most disastrous results...

"But here as a further thought in connection with the teaching of the great Apostle an important question is forced upon our attention, which one of these days must receive the due consideration from biblical scholars that it deserves. It is this:

"How is it that the gospel of Paul is more to many people than the gospel of those privileged souls who sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His secrets in the Upper Room?"

Christian theologian Dr. Upton Clary Ewing writes:

“With all due respect for the integrity of Paul, he was not one of the Twelve Apostles… Paul never knew Jesus in life. He never walked and prayed with Him as He went from place to place, teaching the word of God.”

In the excellent book Christ or Paul?, the Reverend V.A. Holmes-Gore wrote:

“Let the reader contrast the true Christian standard with that of Paul and he will see the terrible betrayal of all that the Master taught…For the surest way to betray a great Teacher is to misrepresent his message…That is what Paul and his followers did, and because the Church has followed Paul in his error it has failed lamentably to redeem the world…The teachings given by the blessed Master Christ, which the disciples John and Peter and James, the brother of the Master, tried in vain to defend and preserve intact, were as utterly opposed to the Pauline Gospel as the light is opposed to the darkness.”

The great theologian Soren Kirkegaard, writing in the Journals, echoes the above sentiment:

“In the teachings of Christ, religion is completely present tense: Jesus is the prototype and our task is to imitate him, become a disciple. But then through Paul came a basic alteration. Paul draws attention away from imitating Christ and fixes attention on the death of Christ, The Atoner. What Martin Luther, in his reformation, failed to realize is that even before Catholicism, Christianity had become degenerate at the hands of Paul. Paul made Christianity the religion of Paul, not of Christ. Paul threw the Christianity of Christ away, completely, turning it upside down, making it just the opposite of the original proclamation of Christ.”

The great American philosopher Will Durant, in his Caesar and Christ, wrote:

"Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ…Through these interpretations Paul could neglect the actual life and sayings of Jesus, which he had not directly known…Paul replaced conduct with creed as the test of virtue. It was a tragic change.”

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, wrote in a letter to William Short:

“Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.”

According to Reverend David Owen, "When you read the epistles of Paul, all you get are Paul’s own ideas; he never quotes the sayings of Jesus, he never reports on the life of Jesus." That point is also made by the famous theologian Helmut Koester, in his The Theological Aspects of Primitive Christian Heresy:

“Paul himself stands in the twilight zone of heresy. In reading Paul, one immediately encounters a major difficulty. Whatever Jesus had preached did not become the content of the missionary proclamation of Paul…Sayings of Jesus do not play a role in Paul’s understanding of the event of salvation…Paul did not care at all what Jesus had said… Had Paul been completely successful, very little of the sayings of Jesus would have survived.”

In an essay entitled “Discussion on Fellowship,” Mahatma Gandhi wrote:

“I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus and the Letters of Paul. Paul’s Letters are a graft on Christ’s teachings, Paul’s own gloss apart from Christ’s own experience.”

George Bernard Shaw, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, wrote:

“There is not one word of Pauline Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus…There has really never been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul’s soul upon the soul of Jesus…It is now easy to understand how the Christianity of Jesus…was suppressed by the police and the Church, while Paulinism overran the whole western civilized world, which was at the time the Roman Empire, and was adopted by it as its official faith.”

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote in his Quest for the Historical Jesus and his Mysticism of Paul:

“Paul…did not desire to know Christ…Paul shows us with what complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was regarded…What is the significance for our faith and for our religious life, the fact that the Gospel of Paul is different from the Gospel of Jesus?…The attitude which Paul himself takes up towards the Gospel of Jesus is that he does not repeat it in the words of Jesus, and does not appeal to its authority…The fateful thing is that the Greek, the Catholic, and the Protestant theologies all contain the Gospel of Paul in a form which does not continue the Gospel of Jesus, but displaces it.”

William Wrede, in his excellent book Paul, informs us:

“The obvious contradictions in the three accounts (given by Paul in regard to his conversion) are enough to arouse distrust…The moral majesty of Jesus, his purity and piety, his ministry among his people, his manner as a prophet, the whole concrete ethical-religious content of his earthly life, signifies for Paul’s Christology nothing whatever…The name ‘disciple of Jesus’ has little applicability to Paul…Jesus or Paul: this alternative characterizes, at least in part, the religious and theological warfare of the present day.”

Rudolf Bultman, one of the most respected theologians of the 20th century, wrote in his Significance of the Historical Jesus for the Theology of Paul:

“It is most obvious that Paul does not appeal to the words of the Lord in support of his… views. When the essential Pauline conceptions are considered, it is clear that Paul is not dependent on Jesus. Jesus’ teaching is—to all intents and purposes—irrelevant for Paul.”

Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the coming of God's kingdom (Matthew 6:9-10), the kingdom of peace, in which the entire world is restored to a vegetarian paradise (Genesis 1:29; Isaiah 11:6-9). Recalling Psalm 37:11, he blessed the meek, saying they would inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5) The kingdom of God belongs to the gentle and kind (Matthew 5:7-9) Christians are to "Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful." (Luke 6:36) Those who take up the sword must perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

Jesus repeatedly spoke of God's tender care for the nonhuman creation (Matthew 6:26-30, 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7, 24-28). Paul, on the other hand, asked scornfully in I Corinthians 9: "Does God take care for oxen?"

From history, we learn that the earliest Christians were vegetarians as well as pacifists. For example, Clemens Prudentius, the first Christian hymn writer, in one of his hymns exhorts his fellow Christians not to pollute their hands and hearts by the slaughter of innocent cows and sheep, and points to the variety of nourishing and pleasant foods obtainable without blood-shedding.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) Professor G.J. Heering in The Fall of Christianity, notes that "...the gospel condemns war...We have primarily to recognize, however hard it may be to do so, that the waging of war has no place in the moral and spiritual teachings of Jesus."

Hippolytus, second century Christian father and historian, who wrote what he considered the apostolic tradition and so the authentic Christian teaching, maintained that when he applied for admission to the Christian fellowship, a soldier must refuse to kill, even if he were commanded by his superiors to do so, and also must not take an oath.

Justin Martyr, the principal apologist of the early church (AD 150) wrote that: "Christians seek no earthly realm, but a heavenly, and that this will be a realm of peace. The prophecy of Isaiah—that swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears to pruning hooks—begins to find fulfillment in the missions of Christians. For we refrain from the making of war on our enemies, but gladly go to death for Christ’s sake. Christians are warriors of a different world, peaceful fighters. For Caesar’s soldiers possess nothing which they can lose more precious than their life, while our love goes out to that eternal life which God will give."

Origen, the great Christian father of the second century, and a vegetarian, would hear nothing of earthly military service: he regarded it as completely forbidden: "We Christians no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace for the sake of Jesus who is our leader. We do not serve as soldiers under the Emperor, even though he requires it.

"Persons who possess authority to kill, or soldiers, should not kill at all, even when it is commanded of them. Every one who receives a distinctive leading position, or a magisterial power, and does not clothe himself in the weaponlessness of which is becoming to the gospel, should be separated from the flock."

Although the son of a military officer, the early Christian father Tertullian (AD 200) was a vegetarian opposed to militarism and violence. The question Tertullian faced was not whether a Christian may be a soldier, but whether a soldier may even be allowed within the church. He answered "No." The soldier who becomes a Christian ought to leave the army.

"One soul cannot be true to two lords — God and Caesar. How shall a Christian man wage war; nay, how shall he even be a soldier in peace time, without the sword, which the Lord has taken away?--for in disarming Peter he ungirded every soldier."

The great church father Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, denounced war and wrote: "The whole earth is drenched in adversaries’ blood, and if murder is committed, privately it is a crime, but if it happens with State authority, courage is the name for it: not the goodness of the cause, but the greatness of the cruelty makes the abominations blameless." Attacking even capital punishment, Cyprian wrote:

"Christians are not allowed to kill, it is not permitted to guiltless to put even the guilty to death."

The Christian writer Lactantius of Bithinia wrote: "When God prohibits killing, He not only forbids us to commit brigandage, which is not allowed even by public laws, but he warns us not to do even those things which are legal among men. And so it will not be lawful for a just man to serve as a soldier for justice itself is his military service, nor to accuse anyone of a capital offense, because it makes no difference whether they kill with a sword or with a word, since killing itself is forbidden."

It's possible historically that Christianity similarly began as a vegetarian religion, but was corrupted over the centuries. Secular scholar Keith Akers writes in his as of yet unpublished manuscript, Broken Thread: The Fate of the Jewish Followers of Jesus in Early Christianity:

"The 'orthodox' response to vegetarianism has been somewhat contradictory...The objection to meat consumption has been taken as evidence of heresy when Christians have been faced with outsiders; however, vegetarianism met with a kinder reception among the monastic communities...Vegetarianism does attain a certain status even in orthodox circles.

"Indeed, a list of known vegetarians among the church leaders reads very much like a Who's Who in the early church. Peter is described as a vegetarian in the Recognitions and Homilies. Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius, said that James (the brother of Jesus) was a vegetarian and was raised as a vegetarian. Clement of Alexandria thought that Matthew was a vegetarian...

"According to Eusebius, the apostles--all the apostles, and not just James--abstained from both meat and wine, thus making them vegetarians and teetotalers, just like James. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nanziance, John Chrysostom, and Tertullian were all probably vegetarians, based on their writings...they themselves are evidently vegetarian and can be counted on to say a few kind words about vegetarianism. On the other hand, there are practically no references to any Christians eating fish or meat before the council of Nicaea.

"The rule of Benedict forbade eating any four-legged animals, unless one was sick. Columbanus allowed vegetables, lentil porridge, flour, and bread only, at all times, even for the sick. A fifth-century Irish rule forbids meat, fish, cheese, and butter at all times, though the sick, elderly, travel-weary, or even monks on holidays may eat cheese or butter, but no one may ever eat meat.

"The Carthusians were especially strict about vegetarianism. The origin of their order is related by the story of St. Bruno and his companions, who on the Sunday before Lent are sitting before some meat and are debating whether they should eat meat at all.

"During the debate, numerous examples of vegetarians among their monastic predecessors are mentioned--the Desert Fathers, Paul (the Hermit), Antony, Hilarion, Macharius, and Arsenius, are all cited as vegetarian examples. After much discussion, they fall asleep--and remain asleep for 45 days, waking up when Archbishop Hugh shows up on Wednesday of Holy Week! When they wake up, the meat miraculously turns to ashes, and they fall on their knees and determine never to eat meat again.

"It is true that the church rejected the requirement for vegetarianism, following the dicta of Paul. However, it is interesting under these circumstances that there are so many vegetarians. In fact, outside of the references to Jesus eating fish in the New Testament, there re hardly any references to any early Christians eating meat.

Thus vegetarianism was practiced by the apostles, by James the brother of Jesus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nanziance, John Chrysostom, Tertullian, Bonaventure, Arnobius, Cassian, Jerome, the Desert Fathers, Paul (the Hermit), Antony, Hilarion, Machrius, Columbanus, and Aresenius--but not by Jesus himself!

"It is as if everyone in the early church understood the message except the messenger. This is extremely implausible. The much more likely explanation is that the original tradition was vegetarian, but that under the pressure of expediency and the popularity of Paul's writings in the second century, the tradition was first dropped as a requirement and finally dropped even as a desideratum."

In her 2004 book, Vegetarian Christian Saints: Mystics, Ascetics & Monks, Jewish scholar Dr. Holly Roberts (she has a Master's degree in Christian theology) documents the lives and teachings of over 150 canonized vegetarian saints:

St. Anthony of Egypt; St. Hilarion; St. Macarius the Elder; St. Palaemon; St. Pachomius; St. Paul the Hermit; St. Marcian; St. Macarius the Younger; St. Aphraates; St. James of Nisibis; St. Ammon; St. Julian Sabas; St. Apollo; St. John of Egypt; St. Porphyry of Gaza; St. Dorotheus the Theban; St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch; St. Sabas; St. Fugentius of Ruspe; St. Gerasimus; St. Mary of Egypt; St. Dositheus; St. Abraham Kidunaja; St. John the Silent; St. Theodore of Sykeon; St. Lups of Troyes; St. Lupicinus; St. Romanus; St. Gudelinis; St. Liphardus; St. Maurus of Glanfeuil; St. Urbicius; St. Senoch; St. Hospitius; St. Winwaloe; St. Kertigan; St. Fintan; St. Molua; St. Amatus; St. Guthlac; St. Joannicus; St. Theodore the Studite; St. Lioba; St. Euthymius the Younger; St. Luke the Younger; St. Paul of Latros; St. Antony of the Caves of Kiev; St. Theodosius Pechersky; St. Fantinus; St. Wulfstan; St. Gregory of Makar; St. Elphege; St. Theobald of Provins; St. Stephen of Grandmont; St. Henry of Coquet; St. William of Malavalle; St. Godric; St. Stephen of Obazine; St. William of Bourges; St. Humility of Florence; St. Simon Stock; St. Agnes of Montepulciano; St. Laurence Justinian; St. Herculanus of Piegaro; St. Francis of Assisi; St. Clare of Assisi; St. Aventine of Troyes; st. Felix of Cantalice; St. Joseph of Cupertino; St. Benedict; St. Bruno; St. Alberic; St. Robert of Molesme; St. Stephen Harding; St. Gilbert of Sempringham; St. Dominic; St. John of Matha; St. Albert of Jerusalem; St. Angela Merici; St. Paula; St. Genevieve; St. David; St. Leonard of Noblac; St. Kevin; St. Anskar; St. Ulrich; St. Yvo; St. Laurence O'Toole; St. Hedwig; St. Mary of Onigines; St. Elizabeth of Hungary; St. Ivo Helory; St. Philip Benizi; St. Albert of Trapani; St. Nicholas of Tolentino; St. Rita of Cascia; St. Francis of Paola; St. John Capistrano; St. John of Kanti; St. Peter of Alcantara; St. Francis Xavier; St. Philip Neri; St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi; St. Jean-Marie Vianney; St. Basil the Great; St. Jerome; St. Ephraem; St. Peter Damian; St. Bernard; St. Catherine of Siena; St. Robert Bellarmine; St. Peter Celestine; St. Olympias; St. Publius; St. Malchus; St. Asella; St. Sulpicius Severus; St. Maxentius; St. Monegundis; St. Paul Aurelian; St. Coleman of Kilmacduagh; St. Bavo; St. Amandus; St. Giles; St. Silvin; st. Benedict of Aniane; St. Aybert; St. Dominic Loricatus; St. Richard of Wyche; St. Margaret of Cortona; St. Clare of Rimini; St. Frances of Rome; St. James de la Marca; St. Michael of Giedroyc; St. Mariana of Quito; St. John de Britto; St. Callistratus; St. Marianus; St. Brendon of Clonfert; St. Kieran (Carian); St. Stephen of Mar Saba; St. Anselm; St. Martin de Porres; St. Procpius; St. Boniface of Tarsus; St. Serenus.

In the (updated) 1986 edition of A Vegetarian Sourcebook, Keith Akers similarly concludes: "But many others, both orthodox and heterodox, testified to the vegetarian origins of Christianity. Both Athanasius and his opponent Arius were strict vegetarians. Many early church fathers were vegetarian, including Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Heironymus, Boniface, and John Chrysostom.

"Many of the monasteries both in ancient times and at the present day practiced vegetarianism...The requirement to be vegetarian has been diluted considerably since the earliest days, but the practice of vegetarianism was continued by many saints, monks, and laymen. Vegetarianism is at the heart of Christianity."

In her 1991 essay, "The Bible and Peace and War," Ursula King asks, "how are we to explain that Jesus, the founder of Christianity, is often called ‘the Prince of Peace’ and yet Western civilization so deeply shaped by the Christian story which is clearly pacifist in origin and essence, has become so militaristic from an early stage in its history?"

King quotes Christian pacifist John Ferguson from War and Peace in the World’s Religions, "The historic association of the Christian faith with nations of commercial enterprise, imperialistic expansion and technological advancement has meant that Christian peoples, although their faith is one of the most pacifistic in its origins, have a record of military activity second to none."

According to King, "In the early Church, pacifism was the dominant position up to the reign of Constantine, when Christianity became a state religion. Until then no Christian author approved of Christian participation in battle, whereas in AD 314 the Council of Arles decreed that Christians who gave up their arms in time of peace should be excommunicated."

In Theology and Social Structure, Robin Gill has written: "The situation of the pre-Constantine church appears all the more remarkable when it is realized that no major Christian church or denomination has been consistently pacifist since Constantine. Indeed, Christian pacifism has been largely confined to a small group of sects, such as the Quakers, Anabaptists, Mennonites, Brethren and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Further, pacifists within the churches, as distinct from sects, have in times of war been barely tolerated by their fellow Christians."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that in today’s world the choice is either nonviolence or nonexistence.

I'm not saying we should lay down our arms (the Bhagavad-gita, after all, was spoken on a battlefield!), but that it's not hard to imagine Christianity similarly beginning as a vegetarian religion, and being corrupted over the centuries...the corruption beginning, perhaps, with the apostle Paul?

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Ancient Greece, more than any other society in human history, has come to be seen as the basis of Western civilization. According to Dr. T.Z. Lavine: "It may be said that the Western world has had a long-standing love affair with...Athens, as our ideal and model...than to any other city in all of human history, except possibly Jerusalem. But we relate to Jerusalem not as an ideal city, but only in devotion to the great persons who lived there and to the sacred events that happened there.

"Why the long love affair with the ancient city of Athens? Athens is our ideal as the first democracy, and as a city devoted to human excellence in mind and body, to philosophy, the arts and science, and to the cultivation of the art of living..." The ancient Greco-Roman civilization had a tradition of poets and philosophers advocating moral and ethical consideration for animals--even to the point of not eating them.

The Greek poet Hesiod (800 BC) espoused vegetarianism. In passages 109-201 of Works and Days, he wrote that the first race of humans, the golden race, was created by the gods of Olympus under the rule of Cronus. These humans were free from sorrow, toil and grief. They did not have to labor for food: the earth spontaneously gave them nourishment. Humans in the golden age were vegetarian. Hesiod suggests that gods and men freely mixed, and even shared their meals together. Death in this age was comparable to going to sleep.

This golden age of rule under Cronus eventually gave way to rule under Zeus. A new race of silver men appeared. These were not descendants of the original golden race, but a new creation. This race was foolish and impious, and did not offer sacrifices to the gods. Zeus thus destroyed them and created a third race, a race of bronze. The bronze race was fond of violence. They did not eat bread, and they eventually destroyed each other.

The fourth race appeared in what was called the age of heroes. This age was characterized by demigods who died in battle and were rewarded for their heroism. The fifth and current race indicates the further deterioration of humanity. This is the age of iron. It is a time of anxiety, toil, sorrow, war and false pride. The human race in this age is described by Hesiod as the worst of races, and he expressed the desire to have been born in an earlier age.

Yet the centuries ahead brought a spiritual and intellectual awakening across the globe. In Egypt, Pharaoh Necho caused Africa to be circumnavigated. Zoroaster appeared in Persia, Confucius and Lao-Tzu in China, the Hebrew prophets in Israel, and the Buddha in India. In Ionia, it was the time of Thales, Anaximander and Pythagoras.

Pythagoras (570-470 BC) was born on the island colony of Samos. Historian Dr. Martin A. Larson describes him as "A universal genius...He made important contributions to music and astronomy; he was a metaphysician, a natural philosopher, a social revolutionary, a political organizer, and the universal theologian. He was one of those all-embracing intellects which appears at rare intervals."

Pythagoras' biographer Diogenes Laertius records that he did not "neglect medicine;" his followers contributed to medical wisdom. In the history of religion, Pythagoras was the first person to teach the concepts of reincarnation, heaven and hell to the Western world.

Diogenes Laertius writes that Pythagoras warned that all who did not accept his teachings would suffer torment in the afterlife, while promising his followers the spiritual kingdom. According to the early Christian father Eusebius: "Pythagoras...declared...that the doctrines which he had received...were a personal revelation to himself from God."

Pythagoras was driven from his native Samos in 529 BC when the tyrant Polycrates declared him a subversive. He went to Croton in Italy, established a school of philosophy, and lectured to classes of up to six hundred students. He founded a monastic order that soon became very influential. It was basically a religious sect made up of dedicated saints practicing vegetarianism, voluntary poverty and chastity. In less that two decades, the Pythagoreans were numerous and powerful enough to take political power without having to resort to force or violence. History shows that when the Pythagoreans were attacked and massacred in Magna Grecia in 450 BC, they practiced nonviolence and did not resist their aggressors.

Ancient and modern historians alike acknowledge that Pythagoras was vegetarian. This was the conclusion of Plutarch, Ovid, Diogenes Laertius and Iamblichus in ancient times, and it is the conclusion of scholars today. Nor was vegetarianism loosely connected with the Pythagorean philosophy--it was an integral part of it.

"Oh, my fellow men!" exclaimed Pythagoras. "Do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have corn. We have apples bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on the vines. There are sweet flavored herbs and vegetables which can be cooked and softened over the fire. Nor are you denied milk or thyme-scented honey. The earth affords you a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter."

Pythagoras' meals consisted of honeycomb, millet or barley bread, and vegetables. He would pay fishermen to throw their catch back into the sea. Ironically, he claimed to have been a fisherman in a previous life. He abhorred animal sacrifice and wine, and would only sacrifice cakes, honey, and frankincense to the gods. He revered the altar at Delos because it was free from blood sacrifices. Upon it, he offered flour, meal, and cakes made without the use of fire. Pythagoras would not associate with cooks or hunters.

According to Iamblichus, Pythagoras taught his followers not to kill even a flea, especially in a temple. He not only showed respect for gods, humans, and animals, but also for the trees, which were not to be destroyed, unless absolutely necessary. It is said Pythagoras pet an eagle, told an ox not to trample a bean field, and fed a ferocious bear barley and acorns, telling it not to attack humans any more.

Pythagoras not only taught transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation, but even claimed to remember his previous lives. It is said Pythagoras once stopped a man from beating a dog, because in the dog's yelping he recognized the voice of an old friend. For Pythagoras, killing animals for food meant causing suffering or death to living creatures just as worthy of moral concern as human beings, and who may also have been human in previous lifetimes.

The Roman poet Ovid (43 BC - 18 AD), quoted Pythagoras in the 15th chapter of Metamorphosis as follows: "Our souls are immortal, and are ever received into new homes where they live and dwell, when they have left their previous abode...All things change, but nothing dies; the spirit wanders hither and tither, taking possession of what limbs it pleases, passing from beasts into human beings, or again our human spirit passes into beasts, but never at any time does it perish...Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another!"

If souls can transmigrate from one species to another, and all souls are of the same nature, then the unnecessarily killing animals is as morally indefensible as the unnecessary killing of human beings. Pythagoras may have also drawn a parallel between the plight of animals in human hands, and the fate of humans in the hands of the gods. We humans would suffer should the gods unnecessarily kill or torment us; we should likewise treat the animal world with mercy.

Local tradition says Pythagoras spent time living in a cave on Mount Kerkis in Samos. He was the first person in the history of the world to deduce that the Earth is a sphere. He may have reached this conclusion by comparing the Earth to the Sun and the Moon, or perhaps he noticed the curved shadow of the Earth upon the Moon during a lunar eclipse, or he may have seen that when ships depart and recede over the horizon, their masts disappear last.

The famous "Pythagorean theorem" is now known to have been mathematical knowledge long before Pythagoras. Square roots and cube roots and the "Pythagorean" theorem are mentioned in the Sulbha Sutras of Bodhayana, in India. (700 BC) Bodhayana also calculated the areas of triangles, circles, trapezoids and determined the value of pi = 3.14136 in measuring and constructing temple altars. Some scholars believe Pythagoras may have received his wisdom from the East.

What was significant about Pythagoras' approach, however, was that he didn't just list examples of this theorem: he developed a method of mathematical proof of the theorem, based on deduction. Our modern tradition of mathematical proof, the basis for every kind of science, originated in the West with Pythagoras. Whereas classical Indian mathematics tended to be intuitive, the Greeks established a tradition of rigorous mathematical proofs. Pythagoras further taught that the world is well-ordered, harmonious, and may be comprehended through human reason. He was the first to use the word "cosmos" to denote a fathomable universe. According to Pythagoras, the laws of nature could be deduced purely by thought.

During the Renaissance and the age of Enlightenment, Kepler and Newton thought of the world in terms of harmony--the order and beauty of planetary motion and the existence of mathematical laws explaining such motion, and from them came our modern scientific belief that the entire universe can be measured, quantified, and explained in terms of mathematical relationships. These ideas began with Pythagoras. "Chemistry is simply numbers," said Dr. Carl Sagan, "an idea Pythagoras would have liked."

Pythagorean science was far more theoretical than experimental. However, one of Pythagoras' students, Alcmaeon, is the first person known to have dissected a human body. He further identified arteries and veins, discovered the optic nerve and the eustachian tubes, and declared the brain to be the seat of the intellect. This final contention was denied by Aristotle, who placed intelligence in the heart. Alcmaeon also founded the science of embryology.

The Pythagoreans also contributed to medical ethics through the Oath of Hippocrates. Hippocrates was a physician who lived in the 5th century BC. In a treatise entitled "The Sacred Disease," he maintained that epilepsy and other illnesses were not the result of evil spirits or angry gods, but due to natural causes.

Hippocrates has been called the "Father of Medicine," the "wisest and greatest practitioner of his art," and the "most important and most complete medical personality of antiquity." Before Hippocrates, the physician studied plants and animals and had a working knowledge of both harmful and beneficial remedies. He could simultaneously heal some patients while killing others.

Hippocrates believed in the sanctity of life and called other physicians to the highest ethical standards and conduct.

"Throughout the primitive world, the doctor and the sorcerer tended to be the same person," observed anthropologist Margaret Mead. "He with the power to kill had the power to cure, including especially the undoing of his own killing activities. He who had the power to cure would necessarily also be able to kill."

According to Mead, the Oath of Hippocrates marked a turning point in the history of Western civilization because "for the first time in our tradition" it caused "a complete separation between curing and killing.

"With the Greeks," concluded Dr. Mead, "the distinction was made clear. One profession, the followers of Asclepius, were to be dedicated completely to life under all circumstances, regardless of the rank, age, or intellect--the life of a slave, the life of the Emperor, the life of a foreign man, the life of a defective child."

The United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, tried to downplay the historical influence of the Oath of Hippocrates, by noting it "echoes Pythagorean doctrines," and the Pythagoreans were a minority religion in ancient Greece.

Dr. Herbert Ratner observes: "Hippocrates' profound grasp of the nature of a learned profession serving one of man's basic needs makes the Hippocratic Oath one of the great documents and classics of man, a fact not only signified by its universal inclusion in collections of the great books of Western civilization, but by the universal veneration accorded it by physicians, singly and collectively, throughout the ages...the Oath, properly constituted, becomes the one hope of preserving the unconfused role of the physician as healer."

American medical science consultant Dr. Andrew C. Ivy said, "The moral imperative of the Oath of Hippocrates I believe is necessary for the survival of the scientific and technical philosophy of medicine."

The Oath of Hippocrates and its modern equivalent, the Declaration of Geneva, enacted by the World Medical Association in 1948, are frequently cited by the American Medical Association in its prohibition against medical participation in legally authorized executions. A code of conduct for physicians as healers, as well as concern for the rights and well-being of the patient, originated with Hippocrates and the Pythagorean tradition.

Despite these and many other outstanding contributions to ethics, medicine, music, astronomy, geometry and general science, mathematics dominated Pythagorean thought. The Pythagoreans were mathematicians as well as mystics. Pythagoras taught that the laws of Nature could be deduced through logic and reason. They delighted in the absolute certainty of mathematics, and found in it a pure and undefiled realm accessible to the human intellect. They believed that in mathematics they had glimpsed a perfect reality, a realm of the gods, of which our own world is but an imperfect reflection.

Pythagorean theology was dualistic; it contrasted this corruptible, earthly sphere with a pure and divine realm. One's higher nature, the eternal soul, is entangled in temporal flesh. The body is like a tomb. The soul must not become a slave to the body and its lusts. One must not fall prey to the demands of the flesh.

Pythagoreanism exerted a profound influence upon Plato, and, later, Christian theology. In Plato's famous parable of the cave, prisoners are tied to stakes so they can only see shadows of passerby and believe the shadows to be real--unaware of the higher reality that is accessible if they would simply turn their heads. The Pythagorean concept of a perfect and mystical world, unseen by the senses, and inaccessible to flesh and blood was also readily accepted by the early Christians.

History tells us there were two classes of Pythagoreans. The akousmatikoi heard the teachings of the Master and followed them to a degree, but were never initiated into the deeper levels of mysticism. By contrast, the mathematikoi were strict Pythagoreans, living as ascetics, and observing the holy way of life taught by the Master.

Pythagoras established a monastic order at Croton that soon became a vegetarian colony. After the massacre in Magna Grecia in 450 BC, the political fortunes of the Pythaoreans declined. By 350 BC, Pythagoreanism had become more of a religious sect than a philosophical school of thought. As a religion, Pythagoreanism continued to attract spiritual seekers for over seven centuries.

Pythagorean thought was familiar to the leadership of the early Christian church. The Christian father Justin Martyr wrote that when he was a youth seeking spiritual enlightenment, he first went to the Pythagoreans. A "celebrated" Pythagorean teacher told him, however, that before he could be initiated into any kind of mysticism, he would first have to master music, geometry and astronomy.

Discouraged, he turned to the Platonists. Their way of life may have been equally demanding. Jesus' demands upon anyone wishing to become his disciple are well-known. These did not deter Justin Martyr from eventually converting to Christianity.

Although the Pythagoreans acknowledged the minor gods of the Greek pantheon, they also recognized a Supreme Being. According to authorities within the early Christian church, the Pythagoreans were monotheists:

"God is one; and He is not...outside of the frame of things, but within it; but, in all the entireness of His being is in the whole circle of existence...the mind and vital power of the whole world," wrote Clement of Alexandria in Exhortation VI, quoting Pythagoras. The Pythagoreans held a pantheistic concept of God, recognizing His omnipresent Spirit, but with no knowledge of His personal qualities--a concept which the Stoics were to adopt. Like the Jews and the Zoroastrians, the Pythagoreans consequently forbade the worship of images and statues.

First century Pythagoreanism is described in detail in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana. The ancient texts records this neoplatonic philosopher and miracle worker having a divine birth, absorbing the wisdom of Pythagoras, practicing celibacy, vegetarianism, as well as voluntary poverty; healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, exorcising demons, foretelling the future, and teaching the innermost secrets of religion. Finally, the text says he never died, but went directly to heaven in a physical assumption.

Belief in the golden age and vegetarianism existed outside the Pythagorean tradition. The Cynic, Crates (4th century BC), wrote a poem linking nonviolence to vegetarianism, and expressing the hope for a vegetarian utopia. Dicaerchus' Life in Greece has been called the first cultural history of a people. Dicaerchus, who lived in the late 4th century BC, did not believe in reincarnation, the soul, or the afterlife. Nonetheless, he also wrote in favor of ethical vegetarianism, insisting it is morally wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to a being that can experience pain.

In her book, From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest, Dr. T.Z. Lavine writes:

"Plato is the most celebrated, honored and revered of all the philosophers of the Western world. He lived in Athens...in the fourth century before Christ...He is said to be the greatest of the philosophers which Western civilization has produced; he is said to be the father of Western philosophy; the son of the god Apollo...

"The British philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead said of him that the history of Western philosophy is only a series of footnotes to Plato. The American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'Plato is philosophy, and philosophy is Plato...Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought.'"

According to Diogenes Laertius, Plato (427-347 BC) began as a follower of Socrates. After Socrates' death, he became the pupil of the leading Pythagoreans of his day--Philolaus, Eurytas, Archytas, and others. Plato was also the greatest collector of Pythagorean literature in antiquity. Ovid attributed Plato's great longevity to his "moral purity, temperance, and natural food diet of herbs, berries, nuts, grains and the wild plants...which the earth, the best of mothers, produces."

An economic link between flesh-eating and war can be found in Plato's Republic. Plato records a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon in which Socrates extols the peace and happiness that come to people eating a vegetarian diet. The citizens, Socrates says, will feast upon barley meal, wheat flour, salt, olives, cheese, onions, greens, figs, chickpeas, beans, myrtle berries and acorns.

These are the foods of peace and good health: "And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them."

Glaucon does not believe people will be satisfied with such fare. He insists that people will desire the "ordinary conveniences of life," including animal flesh. He asks Socrates what foods would be eaten if he were not founding a Republic but a city of pigs. Pigs are omnivores, they can be made to eat even the flesh of their own kind, and they experience inebriation on alcohol.

Socrates responds: "The true state I believe to be the one we have described--the healthy state, as it were. But if it is your pleasure that we contemplate also a fevered state, there is nothing to hinder."

Socrates then proceeds to stock the once ideal state with swineherds, huntsmen, and "cattle in great number." The dialogue continues. Socrates asks Glaucon:

"...and there will be animals of many other kinds, if people eat them?"

"Certainly."

"And living in this way we shall have much greater need of physicians than before?"

"Much greater."

"And the country which was enough to support the original inhabitants will be too small now, and not enough?"

"Quite true."

"Then a slice of our neighbor's land will be wanted by us for pasture and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth?"

"That, Socrates, will be inevitable. "

"And so we shall go to war, Glaucon. Shall we not?"

"Most certainly," replies Glaucon.

Critics of Plato, reading the rest of the Republic, have complained that Plato's "ideal" society is a militaristic or fascist state, with censorship and a rigidly controlled economy. Plato would hardly disagree with these critics; what they have failed to observe is that the state which he describes is not his idea--it is merely a result of Glaucon's demand for meat, which Socrates himself disavows.

Philosophy professor Daniel Dombrowski says, "That the Republic was to be a vegetarian city is one of the best-kept secrets in the history of philosophy." (Republic 369d-373e)

Plato also developed a theory that it would not be possible to have a just and good society until kings were philosophers or until philosophers became kings. In this way, the leaders would have a true understanding of justice and virtue, and would be able to rule properly for the benefit of all the citizens. According to Plato, the ideal society consists of three classes of men: the governing class, the military class, and the mercantile class.

Perhaps because he lived in a slave state, Plato failed to recognize laborers as a fourth, or working class. However, he taught that people fall into different classes according to their talents and abilities, rather than as a result of their birth. Plato taught further that women are recognized as equals with men in the ideal society, and may also become rulers, soldiers, or merchants.

In Plato's ideal state, the guardian (ruling) class and the military class are trained to be just and virtuous. They must live like members of an ascetic religious order. They have no worldly possessions or private property, nor do they have any dealings with money. Sex and marriage in these classes exist solely for the sake of procreation. They take their meals communally, the food itself is simple, and consumed in moderation.

Plato infers that the guardian class, which consists entirely of philosophers, should be vegetarian. In the Republic, he depicts what history would be if philosophers of the golden age were to rule, and in the Statesman, he describes the people of the golden age as vegetarian.

In the Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger, who is the hero of the dialogue, describes an age similar to the creation account found in Genesis 1, in which "God was supreme governor...So it befell that savagery was nowhere to be found nor preying of creature on creature, nor did war rage nor any strife whatsoever...they had fruits without stint from trees and bushes; these needed no cultivation but sprang up of themselves out of the ground without man's toil." (Statesman 271e, 272a)

According to Plato, vegetarianism was divinely ordained. In the Timaeus, Plato says the gods created certain kinds of life to be our food:

"These are the trees and plants and seeds which have been improved by cultivation and are now domesticated among us; anciently there were only the wild kinds, which are older than the cultivated." (Timaeus 77a) These kinds of life were especially created "to be food for us." (77c)

Plato also makes a passing reference to "the fruits of the earth or herb of the field, which God planted to be our daily food." (80d)

Plato's writings contain frequent references to reincarnation. The souls of animals and the souls of men are taught to be of equal worth. This is made clear in the story of Er. (Republic 614-621) In this story, souls with human bodies become animals in their next life, while souls clothed in animal bodies become human.

Plato presented detailed accounts of reincarnation in many of his other writings. (Phaedrus 248c; Phaedo 81-83, 85a; Meno 81b; Timaeus 90e-91c, etc.) According to Plato, pure souls have fallen from the plane of absolute reality because of sensual desire, and have taken on physical bodies.

First, the fallen souls are embodied in human forms. Of these, the highest is that of the philosopher, who delights in higher knowledge, and lives on the level of the mind, rather than the body. As long as he remains caught up in the heavenly spheres, he returns to eternal life and existence. But if he becomes entangled in carnal desires, he will descend into the animal kingdom.

Plato believed gluttons and drunkards could easily become asses in future lifetimes, cruel and violent people may take birth as hawks or wolves, and blind followers of social convention may be reborn as bees or ants. Eventually, the soul will again receive another human body, and with it another opportunity to seek first the spiritual kingdom, righteousness, and eternal life.

Plato wrote about ethics, politics, justice, knowledge, virtue, the soul, rebirth, judgment, heaven, hell, monastic living, and a transcendent realm of goodness. The early church historian Eusebius observed: "Plato, more than anyone else, shared in the philosophy of Pythagoras." Early church father Justin Martyr is known to have said repeatedly that Plato must have been versed in Christian prophecy.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was a student of Plato's who became a leading philosopher with his own school of thought. Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle, taught that grass was the most ancient kind of offering made to the gods. This was followed later by trees, and eventually fruits, barley, frankincense, and so forth. The sacrifice of animals came much later. According to Theophrastus, a vegetarian, this defiled the pure religion.

Porphyry (3rd century AD), wrote in his masterpiece De Abstentia that Theophrastus regarded vegetarianism as a return to primeval perfection. Theophrastus taught that the most ancient libations were performed with sobriety. Water was initially offered, and only in later times did the offerings consist of honey, oil, and wine. When animal sacrifices began, not only did meat-eating become widespread, but so did atheism, as a reaction against the anger of the gods for deliberately killing animals. (De Abstentia 2:7,20,32)

Theophrastus also regarded vegetarianism as a matter of ethics. To kill animals unnecessarily is unjust. (De Abstentia 2:11-12) He suggested that war, pestilence and damaged crops may have caused humans to start killing animals for food, but in a world where fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables are in abundance, there is no need to sacrifice or eat animals. Besides, he insisted, the gods consider the products of the soil to be the most beautiful and honorable gifts.

Diogenes Laertius recorded that Theophrastus wrote several books on animals. Theophrastus has been called the "father of ecology." He conducted the most extensive studies of plants in antiquity. More than any Greek philosopher, Theophrastus understood the difference between plants and animals, especially with regard to conscious awareness and suffering. He taught that piety and justice require us to refrain from harming others whenever we can. And animals can be harmed, whereas plants cannot. He observed that animals are capable of passion, perception and reason.

Humanism was gradually replacing mysticism. During the 1st century BC, Diodorus Siculus wrote his universal history of the world. Dismissing the idea of a golden age, he wrote that the first humans were vegetarians learning to cope with the elements. According to Siculus, humans in the beginning enjoyed neither peace nor bliss. They were brutish, undisciplined, and attacked by wild animals.

Plutarch (45-125 AD) was a Greek priest at Delphi. This gave him access to Greece's most ancient traditions. Plutarch was one of the few writers in the ancient world to advocate vegetarianism out of compassion for animals without referring to reincarnation. His essay "On Eating Flesh" is a thought-provoking literary classic:

"You ask me upon what grounds Pythagoras abstained from feeding on the flesh of animals," he began. "I, for my part, marvel of what sort of feeling, mind, or reason that man was possessed who was the first to pollute his mouth with gore and to allow his lips to touch the flesh of a murdered being; who spread his table with the mangled forms of dead bodies, and claimed as his daily food what were but now beings endowed with movement, with perception, and with voice.

"How could his eyes endure the spectacle of the flayed and dismembered limbs? How could his sense of smell endure the horrid stench? How, I ask, was his taste not sickened by contact with festering wounds, with the pollution of corrupted blood and juices?"

Plutarch challenged the flesh-eaters by insisting that if they felt nature had intended them to be predators, they should then kill for themselves what they wish to eat--with their bare hands, unaided by toolmaking or weapons. He also observed that the first man put to death in Athens was the most degraded amongst knaves, but eventually the philosopher Polemarchus (what to speak of Socrates) was put to death as well.

He concluded that killing animals, whether human or otherwise, is a bloodthirsty and savage practice which only serves to incline the mind towards more brutality. His argument appears to link the needless slaughter of animals to capital punishment.

During the 3rd century AD, Porphyry made allusions to the golden age in De Abstentia. Porphyry was a disciple of Plotinus (205-270 AD), a neoplatonic philosopher who was renowned for his wisdom, asceticism, and deep spirituality. Plotinus acknowledged the reality of transmigration of souls and the equality of all living creatures. A celibate vegetarian, he would not consume even medicines which contained animal products.

Like his teacher Plotinus, Porphyry was vegetarian. He wrote De Abstentia, or On Abstinence (From Eating Animal Food) to another disciple, Firmus Castricius, who had abandoned both spiritual life and vegetarianism. Porphyry gave every possible reason why Firmus should remain vegetarian. His work is divided into four separate books, each focusing on a different aspect of vegetarianism.

Porphyry wrote that before animal sacrifice began, the human race abstained from eating animals altogether. (De Abstentia 2:10) Humans originally sacrificed grass. When widespread famine occurred, animals were offered to placate the gods. This was unnecessary. Like the biblical story of Cain and Abel (Hebrews 11:4), the gods are more pleased with the faith of the worshippers than with the object of sacrifice.

Porphyry depicted humanity in a state of gradual decline since the golden age. All sacrifices in the golden age were "simple, pure, and bloodless." The degeneration of mankind began with the shedding of blood. However, even after men began to kill animals, they still protected animals which were domesticated and working cooperatively with humans. Porphyry wrote that the moral degeneration of man will continue to the point of cannibalism, but go no further. (2:31,53)

According to Porphyry, animals have rights. Animals are our brothers and sisters. Animals have been endowed with life, feelings, ideas, memory, and industry. The only thing animals may be said to lack which sets humans apart from them is the gift of speech. "If they had it," asked Porphyry, "should we dare to kill and eat them? Should we dare to commit these fratricides?"

Porphyry further observed that, in reality, animals do possess language, which the ancients were said to have understood. The birds and beasts communicate, but men no longer understand their language. Animals not only think, feel, and suffer, they learn to understand human language. Men may not understand foreigners, but that does not make them irrational brutes. Moreover, it is absurd to say animals lack reason when we admit that dogs, elephants, and many other animals can depart from reason--i.e., go mad.

In De Abstentia, Porphyry also dealt with Greek vegetarianism and its relationship to other ancient cultures. He wrote favorably of Egyptian priests, Persian Magi (Zoroastrians), the life of the Spartans as recorded by Lycurgus, the Jews, the Essenes, the brahmana priests of India, the Buddhists, and other traditions where religious vegetarianism has been observed. The Greeks called the holy teachers of India Gymnosophists. Porphyry described the fertile Ganges region as a paradise--as if the golden age still existed in other parts of the world.

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I have just finished reading a fine article by Walter Jacobson, MD, titled "God's Will Be Done" and I have a question for him. In his essay he quotes many commands written in the Bible. Does he have a list of the scriptural quotes he used to write the essay? I would like to have them as a reference.

Thank you.

Matt Wisniewski
Vegan
Lagrange, OH

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i don't have that information. if you want to know the biblical passages, google the quotes i used and that will take you to the specific passages in the bible that you're looking for.

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Thanks Doc ... I spent half-hour with Google as you suggested & it wasn't hard to find the verses that support your essay. Here they are:
1) The Bible tells us to detest rabbits and pigs, and not to eat their meat. The Bible tells us not to eat shellfish. It tells us to detest shellfish. See Lev 11-12:8
2) The Bible tells us that a woman must not wear men's clothes – see Duet 22:5
3) The Bible tells us not to eat any meat with the blood still in it. – Lev. 19:26
4) The Bible tells us to not cut our hair at the sides of our head or clip off the edges of our beard. – Lev. 19:27
5) The Bible tells us not to put tattoo marks on ourselves. – Lev. 19:28
6) The Bible tells us to do no work on Sunday. – Exod. 35:2
7) The Bible tells us, "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself..." – Lev. 19:33-34
8) God tells us to obey all of his commandments and that we are sinners if we do not.
What about the commandment, Thou shall not kill? – Exod. 20:1-17
... best wishes ...

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Hello Brother:

First … I have no intentions of “haunting” your blog. This last thing caught my attention as it was posted on my birthday. April 17th! (smiles)
Then, after reading the extensive replies, I was dismayed no one was able to adequately respond (only one even tried) to your observation.

---I leave you with one particular oddity in the Old Testament that I find fascinating, which no one has yet, to my knowledge, addressed. In Genesis 1:26, it is written: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." My question to you is: Who's "us"? What's all this about "our" image, "our" likeness? Who's God talking to?---

I feel overly compelled not to leave that a near total blank.
Ill give my input and then Ill be on my way.
So here I go … Answer?

God, was talking to Himself.

God is a Miraculous Trinitarian entity

>God is truly only One God, not three gods.
Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

>God in Three Persons is recognized by Abraham in the Old Testament.
Genesis 18:1-3
The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my Lord, do not pass your servant by.
(Later in this same chapter Abraham pleads with God over Sodom and Gomorrah)

>All Three were present at the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the New Testament
Matthew 3:16+17 (and other Gospels)
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

>Jesus was present at the Beginning of Time as God
John 1:1-5 (Through verse 15 continues to verify that Jesus is That Word)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

>So the last question is why exactly would God talk to Himself? Jesus was kind enough to answer this question when He resurrected Lazarus.
John 11:41+42
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

God talks to Himself simply when He wishes to expose to those who (heard Him then, and) read the Word now the truth of His nature. Not for His sake, but for our sake, so that He could best reveal who He is to us, as we come to know Him.

It seems in the case of Genesis, God was even as far back as the very beginning, revealing His Trinitarian nature for future generations.

BLX

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The use of the plural personal pronoun was historically used by a ruling monarch.

It would be interesting to know if it was used in the original scrolls or just inserted during translation into English.

At the time of the King James translation, the plural personal pronoun would have been used to imply God's supreme power.

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thanks for sharing your knowledge about the Bible and for your passion to enlighten others and spread the Word. I can't say that you've convinced me regarding your interpretations of biblical passages but you have generated food for thought. please share any of your thoughts on these blogs. by no means do i dread seeing new comments from you or fear you "haunting" my blogs.

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