When one traces the history of Christianities through the Creeds, statements of faith, liturgical styles, and Biblical Canons what is seen is different communities attempts to assert themselves as “the one true path”. Not realizing the beauty of the forest that was fed by the one river within the community traditions birthed by the life, teachings, death, and new life of Brother Jesus.

The Johannine community writings are such writings. They are the “Gnostic” portion of the Canon decided under Constantine. More likely added because they brought the mystic more fully to the forefront of the Christian Testament, but also because it allowed for the more mystery faith communities to still remain as part of the new Empire Religion, and older mystery religions to easily assimilate.  These writings are Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation.

The Last book of the Christian Testament is one of the most controversial, even from early Canon setting. Revelation (of St. John). Read it, it is like a religious acid trip. No other word to describe it. It has been used to speak of the end of  the world, fueled an understanding that apocalyptic writings meant that, and has been used as a text of control. When in fact, it is a text that has survived many occasions to be exorcised from the Bible by those using religion to control the people. Why does it matter? In the 7 letters to the 7 churches, it is the story of sedition (treason) and shattering the established oppressive Empire that states those that are “persons” and those that are not. The language was apocalyptic and mythological to hide the under current so as not to increase the genocide of Christians and other monotheists of the time by Roman authorities.

Spiritual Practice:  After reading Revelation, spend time writing a revelation letter to your own religious community. What form and images would it take? what changes would be called for?

2 & 3 John are later letters, that illustrate a bit more of a structured church with bishops/presbyters. But still show us a community struggling with concepts of reconciliation and belonging.

1 John is a commentary. Yes you read that right. It is the commentary on the Gospel of John bluntly putting forward what a community of Love and belonging is.

The Gospel of John. As noted, the Gnostic gospel. Written for a very metaphysical audience as noted with the opening lines of creation not speaking of the physical, but of the light being birthed into the darkness. Echoing the creation narrative, but showing the inward light shining outwards. As a community of belonging is laid out through stories, teachings and miracles, it is shown how the darkness will brutally try to shatter authentic belonging through love. The 2003 movie Gospel of John is available free online, a DVD copy has each chapter of the DVD aligned with the Gospel chapters and is quite useful for group exploration and discussion. For scholarly read of the Gospel of John I point you to the Roman Catholic theologian Raymond Brown, no one is better.

The central theme of all of Johannine writings are summed up in the simple new command, better described as a gift:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

-Gospel of John 13:34, New Living Translation

The great mystery teaching of all time.

L-O-V-E.

Out of that belonging. It is scary enough the world will try to destroy those that live it.

Will you live LOVE today?

 

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