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CHAPTER EIGHTIn Portland, Oregon
THERE WERE MANY BAPTIST CHURCHES IN PORTLAND, OREGON. The two which I wish to mention briefly are the White Temple Baptist church on the west side and the Hinson Memorial Baptist church on the east side. At the time of which I write, there was no Hinson Memorial church on the East side. The White Temple was there where it is now, and the pastor was the Reverend Walter Benwell Hinson. Running true to Baptist traditions, and in spite of their "salvation" and "sanctification," these Baptists began to fight amongst themselves. The history of the Baptist church, and of every other church for that matter, is a history replete with fights, arguments, splits, etc. and, as a result, we have the Christian Church - (The Campbellites) and several other smaller fry too numerous to mention.
It seems strange that wherever we have a system of religion founded on the story of "god crucified," there we have bloodshed, wars, strifes, and the many other things which should not go with true religion. This present war is a religious war. The recent war in Spain was a religious war. Hitler claims that he is an "agent of God, sent to bring permanent peace" to this earth, and the allies claim they are agents of God, sent to crush Hitler. While each side fights and brutally murders other human beings in the name of God, the Roman Catholic church says that neither side knows God, as it is the only church, and its head is the only man authorized to "act and teach for God." The Protestants deny this, and they, the Baptists included, tell the world that they have the only true religion. You cannot know God unless you know Him by way of the Protestant chruch.
How we are up against it - for there are ten other major systems of religion operating on this earth, and each tell us the same thing - they and they alone have the true religion. They and they alone, have the true conception of God. It is a pretty safe bet in the face of conditions like these to question the claims of all. We cannot admit the existence of more than one God. Nor can we decide which of the varying claims to truth and divinity is true. Therefore, we have but one thing left, and that is to deny that any of the "fighting salvationists" know anything about God. That is the stand I take. That is the stand I shall justify before this book is closed. Let me interpolate here for a moment, before I forget something which I read yesterday and which is very pertinent to this autobiography. The main, and the earliest Christian "bible" is the Latin Vulgate. It is from this edition (one of sixteen) that the present volume has been derived. Let me say that the history of the Christian bible is a history of change after change. Every system of religion that cared to change the book, added to it, took away from it to its heart's content. Just recently the Yale Divinity School took the name Jehovah completely out of it. If this school can take away, it can also add.
The Vulgate edition comes from the hands of a Catholic Pope called Jerome. Here is his statement as to how the "inspiration" came to him. He states that when he got ready to do some "translating" he would pull a bell, and the "Holy Ghost" in the form of a dove would fly into the room, fasten its claws into his hair. Then, with feet firmly anchored, this Holy Ghost would bend over and stick his bill in Pope Jerome's mouth, and thus would transmit to Brother Jerome the "sacred interpretation" of the Scriptures. Personally I don't believe that, but you may if you choose to. In any event, the Christian bible is founded on that fact. At least the edition we have today is. And don't forget the "four legs."
All right, we come back to the two Baptist churches in Portland, Oregon. One Sunday I was sitting playing the piano at the "Y" when Jim Palmer came along and, tapping me on the shoulder, said, "Frank, I'm taking you to the White Temple tonight." I thanked Jim, and that evening we went to the White Temple where he held membership. I went several times after that, and was very much impressed by Doctor Hinson. Tall, gaunt, eloquent, earnest - surely, I thought, here is a man who knows God and here is a "different" man. Then and there I made up my mind to have a personal talk with Doctor Hinson. During that week, I went up to his study and was invited in. We had a long talk, but it brought me no more satisfaction - it brought me no closer to finding God than the many other talks with preachers I had had. I explained in detail to Doctor Hinson that I wanted to find the Power of the Great Spirit-God. "You mean you want to be a Christian," said the good doctor. I told him that I did not care whether I was a Christian, Mohammedan, Confucianist, Brahmin, Buddhist, or what have you, I wanted to know the Power of God in my life. That was all I was asking, and was I asking too much? Doctor Hinson looked at me rather skeptically, and finally said, "I think what is necessary here is that you follow the Lord in Baptism." I carefully explained that I had followed the Lord in baptism several times already, but still had not found out anything about God. The suggestion was made that I try again and so, being willing to do anything to find God in my life, I "followed the Lord in baptism" once more.
The baptismal service was conducted in the evening, and the church was full. After coming up out of the water, Doctor Hinson-earnest, good old soul said to me, "Frank, you'll never know how you have repaid me." What he meant, I do not know, for certainly I felt no different after coming out of the water. I was wet, and we went into a little back room to change clothes, but as far as knowing God through that experience, I never did. It brought me just absolutely nothing, and I was in the same seeking frame of mind after the ceremony as I was before I went into that pool. Before I met organized religion, I knew God. But organized religion al most drove God permanently out of my life.
The good Baptists who read this (if any of them ever do) will tell me here that I certainly did not "believe." No, I certainly did not "believe," if by that you mean "believe" the theory you hold that Almighty God, the Infinite Builder and Creator of this universe, came down to earth to die on a cross to save one he had never heard of, from sin. I never did believe that and I never shall believe that. Moreover, neither do you. For to ask one to believe something that one's reason cannot grasp is asking one to do the impossible. Unless your reason is most deplorably warped, you cannot believe in the death of a "just God" for an "unjust sinner." The whole story does not belong in the realm of the True Spirit-God. It belongs in the realm of religious tradition and superstition. It is not of God.
After the ceremony, the congregation started singing:
"Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest;
Beneath thy contemplation, sink heart and voice oprest."
and as they sang, there in the little back room changing my wet clothes for dry ones, I wondered. Here I was with another baptism, member of the White Temple Baptist church now, but did I know God? Had the Power of the Great Spirit -God-been manifested in my life? What was that hymn they were singing out there-Jerusalem the golden? What had that to do with my finding the Power which is God? Little cared I about Jerusalem, and I cared not whether that city was blest with milk and honey, or whether it was cursed with thistles and wild mustard. What I wanted was God in my life, and I knew, the very moment I came out of that pool, that another attempt to find God was a failure.
What I wanted, and all I had asked Hinson for, was that the Spirit of God, about which he did so much talking, be made known to me. Now perhaps I am different from all others. Perhaps every other church member except me does not have the same trouble I had. Perhaps the fullness of the Power of the Great Spirit-God-does actually exist in other lives, maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Can that be it? Could that be it? That suspicion was gone a few days later, when once more, I was in Doctor Hinson's study talking about God again. I told Doctor Hinson that what I had gone through hadn't meant one thing to me insofar as finding God went. Then, I knew all that the whole Baptist denomination had to offer me was pagan tradition and religios myth, for Doctor Hinson said to me, "Frank, we never shall really know whether what we are believing is true until we pass on to the Great Beyond."
That was the worst thing Doctor Hinson could have said to me. By that admission, he told me as plain as words could tell it that all the Baptist denomination, and all the Christian churches for that matter, really have is an old traditional theory of God, the truth of falsity of which cannot be known until after death. That was what I had suspected for a long time. Now, it came to me from the one man I really thought knew God. What was the use? I am perfectly willing to grant the Baptist or any other church the right to believe anything it wants to believe. (They should pay taxes, though.) It is not my business, what they believe. They can even believe a lie and know or suspect it is a lie as far as I am concerned. They can know, or suspect that their religion is only a "belief" of unproven worth, and they can choose to believe it so far as I am concerned. That is their business-not mine. They can be the biggest bunch of hypocrites on the face of the earth if they choose to. None of those things is my business.
It is my business, however, when and if I discover that the story they bring to the world is not true, to tell the world what I have discovered. That is my business. I shall work hard at that business. Not that I care very much what happens to the organization which attempts to bring these unproven and untrue stories of God to the public-that is not it-for if they are untrue, they cannot last, and the condition of the Christian church today gives little sign of lasting. According to its own heads, "Ichabod" is written over the door. These differing religious organizations have been clut tering up the earth with their pagan theories of God, and in the name of God, they are given their properties tax-free. They say they will not fight to defend America if it is attacked. The Lutherans went on record as saying that the other day, and last night over the radio, the Methodist church went on record as saying the same thing. This being the case, these religionists should be made by law to prove the truth of the story by which they hold their property tax-free, and if they cannot prove the truth of their story, they should not be allowed to preach it, for it might very easily be, if their story of God is not true, that the church instead of being an "agent of God" on the earth, is an agent of the very opposite power.
That is logic which cannot be overthrown. In any event, whether the story is true or not, it has been told in detail by other systems of religion, far larger than the Christian religion, and still the world has not yet had the Power of the great Spirit, God, brought to it. All it has had brought to it is a conglomeration of religions, and it is my opinion, based on my own experience, that had it not been for all these systems of religion, this world would have found God a long time ago. This world will never find-it can never find the truths of God through anything any system of religion on the face of the earth teaches, just so long as that system of religion is based upon the theory of God Almighty being crucified on a cross. That story was hoary with age and was known to millions, thousands of years before the Christian religion, and its Jesus Christ were ever heard of. The Hindoo "god" who was crucified on a cross was Jeseus Chrishna which is not much different from Jesus Christ.
You will begin to see at this point in this book, just what we of "Psychiana" are driving at. I know and you know too that this world is impossible of salvation through any church organization in it. You also know, or strongly suspect that God still exists, in spite of the efforts of the church to legislate God away off into space. You know that the Creator still lives in the creation. This being true-the Creator can be found. It took much suffering, it took a devious trail before the Truths of God as they exist were made known to me- but it was worth it, for it brought to this world the true conception of God, and that conception is proving its worth by its effects in human lives. It is doing something no church has been able to do-it is making God real to all men, in spite of, and without church theology. As a matter of fact, God is being found by men and women today, not by believing what the churches teach, but by denying it.
Disappointment again-stark, gaunt, soul-searing disappointment, with God farther away than he ever was. Surely I was giving the Christian church every opportunity to prove its claim that it knew God and was teaching the truths of God. Many and many a time the suspicion began to form in my mind that the world might be better off without these churches and ministers if all they could offer seeking souls after God was "after you die." I did not want God after I was dead. I wanted to know God now. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God lived and I also knew that sooner or later I should come into the experience which would make God a living reality to me. Had I not known from childhood that God had set me aside for His work? Was I not trying to find God as honestly as I possibly could try, and through the only organization which publicly professes to be "God-inspired"? What was wrong? Was the fault with the preachers and the churches, or was it with me? Did these churches actually know God, and were they really telling the truth about God, or was the whole thing just a form of godliness, just a system of religion, having no Power whatsoever in it?' Were these good folks who attended these churches, and these good ministers who preached to them just doing it because it was the custom to do it, or did they know beyond any shadow of doubt that God lived and was known to them? Gradually the suspicion became stronger that God was not to be found in anything these churches taught.
Then there must be another conception of God which is absolutely unknown to the church. Was that it? What was the Power which kept eternally urging me on in my search for the actual truths of God? For you could not fool me. No quasi-religious experience would satisfy me. No church dogmas or doctrines could fill the aching void in my life- for I wanted to know God, and I had made up my mind to find out what the literal truths of God are, or die in the attempt. I nearly died in the attempt, but I thank God now that I had the bull-dog tenacity to continue the search until I had found the answer. I did not care what any church in existence told me about God, unless they could prove to me that what they teach is true. This, none of them to date has been able to do. If I seek for God among the Christians, they tell me a story that God Almighty, two thousand years ago, came down from heaven, born of a virgin, and was crucified on a cross for the sins of the world. What sins, I have never been able to find out.
If I seek for God among the Hindoos, I am told that thirty-five hundred years ago God Almighty came down from heaven, was born of a virgin, and was crucified on a cross for the sins of the world. Not long ago a minister told me that this world had never heard of a "crucified god" out side of Jesus Christ, the only true God. If there should be others who think that, let me here give you a list of enough "gods" who, according to their own traditions, were God Almighty. Most of them were born of virgins, and they all came down from heaven to save this world from sin. It is interesting to note that none of these crucified "gods," the Christian "god" included, have ever been able to achieve their objective. This world has rejected every crucified God ever offered to it, and the reason the world has rejected them all is because none of them was the true god, and the world knew it. I shall give you just a few. There are scores more, and incidentally, there is no more proof of the existence of the "crucified god" of the Christian religion than there is of the rest of these "gods." Not as much in some instances. Here they are: they really do not belong in this autobiography, but they are of such staggering import to the subject matter of this book, and they have such a profound bearing on the truth of what I later discovered that I shall, at the risk of turning this autobiography into a historical volume, insert them here. I believe the world should know these facts. I believe Christians should know them, too. They are taken from two of my other books, Crucified Gods Galore and Gleams Over the Horizon.
"It is claimed by the disciples of Jesus Christ, that he was of supernatural and divine origin; that he had a human being for a mother, and a God for his father; that, although he was woman-conceived, he was Deity-begotten, and molded in the human form, but comprehending in essence a full measure of the infinite Godhead, thus making him half human and half divine in his sublunary origin. It is claimed that he was full and perfect God, and perfect man; and while he was God, he was also the son of God, and as such was sent down by his father to save a fallen and guilty world; and that thus his mission pertained to the whole human race; and his inspired seers are made to declare that ultimately every nation, tongue, kindred, and people under heaven will acknowledge allegiance to his government, and concede his right to reign and rule the world; that 'every knee must bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father'.
"But we do not find that this prophecy has ever been or is likely to be fulfilled. We do not observe that this claim to the infinite deityship of Jesus Christ has been or is likely to be universally conceded. On the contrary, it is found that by a portion-and a large portion of the people of even those nations now called Christian-this claim has been steadily and unswervingly controverted through the whole line of history stretching through the nearly two thousand years which have elapsed since his advent to earth.
"Even some of those who are represented to have been personally acquainted with him-aye! some of his own brethren in the flesh, children in the same household, chil dren of the same mother-had the temerity to question the tenableness of his claim to a divine emanation. And when we extend our researches to other countries, we find this claim, so far from being conceded, is denied and contested by whole nations upon other grounds. It is met and confronted by rival claims.
"Upon this ground hundreds of millions of established believers in divine revelation-hundreds of millions of believers in the divine character and origin of religion-reject the pretensions set up for Jesus Christ. They admit both a God and a Savior, but do not accept Jesus of Nazareth as being either. They admit a Messiah, but not the Messiah; these nations contend that the title is misplaced which makes 'the man Christ Jesus' the Savior of the world. They claim to have been honored with the birth of the true Savior among them, and defend this claim upon the ground of priority of date. They aver that the advent of their Messiah was long prior to that of the Christians' and that this circumstance adjudicates for them a superiority of claim as to having had the true Messiah born upon their soil.
"It is argued that, as the story of the incarnation of the Christians' Savior is of more recent date than that of these oriental and ancient religions (as is conceded by Christians themselves), the origin of the former is thus indicated and foreshadowed as being an outgrowth from, if not a plagiarism upon the latter-a borrowed copy, of which the pagan stories furnish the original. Here, then, we observe a rivalship of claims as to which of the remarkable personages who have figured in the world as Saviors, Messiahs, and Sons of God in different ages and different countries can be considered the true Savior and 'sent of God';or whether all should be, or the claims of all, rejected.
"For researches into oriental history reveal the remarkable fact that stores of incarnate Gods answering to and rsembling the miraculous character of Jesus Christ have been prevalent in most, if not all, the principal religious heathen nations of antiquity; and the accounts of narrations of some of these deific incarnations bear such a striking resemblance to that of the Christian Savior-not only in their general features, but in some cases in the most minute details, from the legend of the immaculate conception to that of the crucifixion and subsequent ascension into heaven-that one might almost be mistaken for the other.
"More than twenty claims of this kind-claims of beings invested with divine honor (deified)-have come forward and presented themselves at the bar of the world with their credentials to contest the verdict of Christendom in having proclaimed Jesus Christ 'the only son, and sent of God'; twenty Messiahs, Saviors, and Sons of God, according to history or tradition, have in past times descended from heaven and taken upon themselves the form of men, clothing themselves with human flesh, and furnishing incontestable evidence of a divine origin, by various miracles, marvelous works, and superlative virtues; and finally these twenty Jesus Christs, accepting their character for the name, laid the foundation for the salvation of the world, and ascended back to heaven.
"1. Chrishna of Hindostan; 2. Buddha Sakya of India; 3. Salivahana of Bermuda; 4. Zulis, or Zhule, also Osiris and Orus, of Egypt; 5. Odin of the Scandinavians; 6. Crite of Chaldea; 7. Zoroaster and Mithra of Persia; 8. Baal and Taut, 'the only Begotten of God,' of Phenicia; 9. Indra of Thibet ; 10. Bali of Afghanistan; 1 1. Jao of Nepal ; 12. Wittoba of the Bilingonese; 13. Thammuz of Syria; 14. Atys of Phrygia; 15. Xamolxis of Thrace; 16. Zoar of the Bonzes; 17. Adad of Assyria; 18. Deva Tat, and Sammonodadam of Siam; 19. Alcides of Thebes; 20. Mikado of the Sintoos; 21. Beddru of Japan; 22. Hesus of Eros, and Bremrillah, of the Druids; 23. Thor, son of Odin, of the Gauls; 24. Cadmus of Greece; 25. Hil and Feta of the Mandaites; 26. Gentaut and Quetzalcoatl of Mexico; 27. Universal Monarch of the Sibyls; 28. Ischy of the Island of Formosa; 29. Divine Teacher of Plato; 30. Holy One of Xaca; 31. Fohi and Tien of China; 32. Adonis, son of the virgin Io of Greece; 33. Ixion and Quirinus of Rome; 34. Prometheus of Caucasus; 35. Mohamud, or Mahomet, of Arabia.
"These have all received divine honors; nearly all have been worshiped as Gods or sons of God; were mostly incarnated as Christs, Saviors, Messiahs, or Mediators; not a few of them were reputedly born of virgins; some of them filling a character almost identical with that ascribed by the Christians' bible to Jesus Christ ; many of them, like him, are reported to have been crucified; and all of them, taken together, furnish a prototype and parallel for nearly every important incident and wonder-inciting miracle, doctrine, and precept recorded in the New Testament, of the Christians' Savior. Surely, with so many Saviors the world can not, or should not, be lost."