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The Evolution of God

Before reading this article, I would like to make one more plea asking you to fill out my York Rite Survey. The results of this survey will be used to help me develop a program to help the York Rite in my jurisdiction and hopefully the benefits will extend beyond my state. Anyone can fill it out, it is crucial that I get more responses from non-York Rite Masons. Please provide me with some brotherly relief and take two minutes to fill out this survey. Thank you.

I was having my coffee and enjoying my Sunday morning while watching a recent rerun of an episode of The Colbert Report when the show suddenly caught my attention. Colbert’s guest was Robert Wright who has written a book entitled The Evolution of God. This is a topic that I have long been fascinated with because as I have studied the Bible over the years, I have noticed how the depiction of God evolves throughout the history of the Hebrews and eventually gets a huge makeover when Jesus begins to teach.

The God that Abraham served was extremely personal and was even willing to appear to Abraham as a human, almost like a personal angel. The God of Moses was wrathful. The God of David was often a warrior. Then as the Bible transfers to the New Testament, God becomes a universal being who exists for all of creation. This evolution is not unique to the religions which look to the books of the Bible for enlightenment, mankind is continually making God into a more loving and universal creature. Polytheism and idolatry are types of worship which continually keep disappearing and our society is now starting to make the leap from Deism to agnosticism and eventually atheism. While I have not yet read Robert Wright’s book, he explains that he came to a similar conclusion in his interview with Colbert.

This is a topic that is very relevant to Freemasonry. As Freemasons, we have carried the banner of universality in spirituality for nearly three centuries. There are very few places in the world where men of all creeds can sit in harmony and recognize each other as equals and not judge a man based on his own religious choices. Oh sure, there are plenty of examples of Freemasons that don’t understand this and erroneously regard Freemasonry as a Christian organization, but the knowledgeable Mason understands the fallacy of this idea. It is crucial that Freemasons understand the critical role of the organization in creating peaceful relations among men of all beliefs.

In this age of combative 24-hour news and increased divisiveness in issues such as religion and politics, it is crucial for Freemasons to remain the peacemakers. This is an idea that Albert Pike expounds upon in the 6th degree of the Scottish Rite and the American York Rite gives an example of peaceful religious relations in the Order of the Red Cross, when Darius offers his protection to the Jews so that they can rebuild the temple of their God. Of course, these ideas are well covered by the symbol of the Master Mason’s trowel. As society evolves and the perception of God evolves with it, Freemasons should be happy to be at the forefront of the fight for religious understanding and equality.

Today’s men can use a place to go to escape from religious and political bickering and enjoy fellowship with men of all walks of life which are bound to aid, support, and protect each other. I plan on buying a copy of the book The Evolution of God and gaining some insight into mankind’s perception of Deity. After all, couldn’t understanding someone else’s perspective do us all some good?

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View Comments (3)

  • I am excited about this book, and I basically follow his premise, but I would be remiss if I didn't provide a caveat for this though process. There is a parallel theory that is much older than Wright's that Albert Pike follows in Morals and Dogma to some extent, and that some Christians push a bit harder than appropriate. This older theory suggests that the Mosaic Law was harsh and bloodthirsty and unmitigated by pity, the prophets (presumably because they hinted at Christ's coming) introduced the idea of a loving God, and Jesus Christ solidified and articulated the Law of Love, and gave a broken Abrahamic structure what it needed to gain its full humanity.

    It's a carefully crafted lie that comes from selecting the Scripture passages that back up the argument, and rejecting those that don't. Leviticus 19:18 says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." There are a lot of other quotes some Christians falsely believe originated with Jesus that actually come from the Jewish patriarchs and prophets. There is a lot of divinely sanctioned violence in the Old Testament, and much less in the New Testament, but there is the theme of God's love for us and our love for God throughout both works.

    The other error made by non-Jews is to assume that the Jewish religion stopped evolving when Moses died, or when the first Temple was built, or after the book of Malachi was written. Actually, Judaism has constantly and consistently evolved from Jacob (Israel) to the present, and the structure of Judaism as it is contemporarily practiced comes much more from the Torah filtered through Talmud than from the Bible directly. The Talmud was continually being written from about 100 BCE to about 500 CE, and contains mostly plurality of opinion. Both the majority opinion and the minority opinion is recorded for most legal decisions, and both have merit. Most Talmud is filtered through Rabbinical Law, and at least six eras (each lasting centuries) of filtering have been applied thus far. Thus to assume that Judaism is Christianity without Christ, and was waiting around for Jesus to complete it is totally wrong. While living among Christians has greatly shaped Judaism, Jesus himself was not a significant influence on Judaism.

    Judaism was indistinguishable from Christianity to outsiders until about 100 CE, and internally, Christians regarded themselves as a Jewish sect until St. Paul opened Christianity up to gentiles. But the version of Judaism that the apostles subscribed to (probably Essenism) is not the version that survived in history (Pharisaism). Most Essenes either became Hellenized, or became Christians, or both. In any case, the Essenes were gone within a generation of the Fall of the Second Temple, along with the Sadducees and Zealots. The Pharisees survived by figuring out how to exist without the Temple, animal sacrifice, and ultimately without the Land of Israel. Jesus' criticism of the Pharisees was a criticism of the Pharisees of His time, and with the cataclysm that followed the Destruction of the Temple, and exile, the Pharisees of even a century later were very different.

    In short, Wright's evolution is fascinating and believable, but the old canard that Judaism is the ugly primitive origin of Christianity, or that Christianity is the natural culmination of the Jewish faith, is erroneous and somewhat insulting.

  • Brother,

    Please forgive my abbreviated discussion on the evolution of man's perception of God. I hope that you realize that it was not my intent to make the Jews look like they worship a blood thirsty God and I do not believe that Wright intends to make that point either based on the interview I watched this morning. I'll find out more when I read the book.

    I believe very strongly that if one wants to get to the heart of Christianity, one must get to the heart of Judaism.

  • I've read exerpts of Wright's book before it came out, and I think he does an excellent job with this, as I have stated above. I don't think you had any other intention than to share Wright's remarkable insights with your readers.

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