A Partial List of Errors in "For Christ's Sake" by Glenville Whittaker
A close reading of the book shows that Whittaker's knowledge of the Bible, the supposed source of his thesis, is shallow and often mistaken. However, this can only be a partial list of errors because from around half-way through the book Whittaker goes on as if he has proven his thesis and the book becomes an extended "begging the question" argument. The editor's comments are in a slightly larger font.
Chapter 2 - The Virgin Birth
p.19 "Jesus had seen nothing wrong with Judaism, while pointing his finger strongly at its leaders, the Pharisees, whom he called hypocrites for their pride, their immersion in dogma and an outer show of correctness." - The Pharisees were not the Judaic leaders. These were the Sadducees. The Pharisees opposed Roman rule, the wealthy priestly caste and their Hellenism. We do not know what Jesus thought about the Pharisees, we know what the writers of the gospels and the Pauline letters claimed he said about the Pharisees. A probable explanation for the hatred of the Pharisees expressed in the New Testament is that they were critics of and competitors to the nascent Christian cults and that they were respected. No doubt there were hypocrites among them and thank God there have never been any Christian hypocrites.
Chapter 3 - The Early Times
p.32 Essene family living in the nearby Essene quarter, and learning from them something of that sect's more gentle teaching of an inner communion with a loving god. - Whittaker accepts that the Qumran community were the Essenes (see Chapter 22) but maintains a fantasy New Age idea about them. All Essene families are kindly. The residents of Qumran were, after all, waiting and "preparing themselves for the war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness, a war that will end with the conquest of the entire world, and the destruction of all the wicked." see Vermes or Joan Taylor or any modern scholarship on the Essenes/Qumran
p.33 "If we could go back in time and meet a famous personality of our choice, we could do far worse than visit the boy Jesus in the temple, passing his time while waiting for his mother to catch the next plane from Paris." I questioned the author as to the meaning of this perplexing sentence. He informed me it refers to a famous film that everyone in the Western world must know of called "Home Alone." His indepth knowledge of Hollywood movies may help explain why he knows so little about Jesus.
p.33 He infers from the comments made by his neighbours after Jesus reads and preaches at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-22) which he paraphrases "the wonderment at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth" and "Isn't this Jesus the carpenter's son from Nazareth?" that he must have been gone from Nazareth in his twenties for a few years - the so-called "missing years." In fact the Bible says they say "Isn't this Joseph's son?" They are in Nazareth after all and Jesus went to the synagogue every Sabbath day. They're not recognising a long lost son but are amazed at the authority of his preaching. Whittaker asserts that he may not have gone to India or Egypt but he had left the area and learnt his trade, "that of a formidable teacher of truth," he had become a Spiritual Master. Yet there is no indication from the text that Jesus has been gone any longer than 40 days in the desert after his baptism by John the Baptist and enough time to make a name for himself in Galilee preaching in the synagogues.
p.36 "Possibly, during his missing years, Jesus encountered and attached himself to such a teacher, and either had the torch of 'mastership' passed on to him, … There is, however, one candidate for this role of mentor or predecessor who stands out as possessing the strongest credentials – John the Baptist" - There is no indication in the Bible that there were any "missing years" when Jesus went to India, Tibet, Egypt of wherever to be initiated into secret Knowledge. Whittaker uses his "personal common sense" to decide Jesus would not have travelled far and he settles on John the Baptist and the baptism in the Jordan recorded in the Bible as the initiation Jesus apparently needed to enter his Mastership.
Chapter 4 - A Tale of Two Baptisms
p.42 Whittaker redefines: 'repent' to "an inner turning towards a God within" See also p. 150 'Repent' is a word denoting regret and guilt not brightness and inspiration.
p.45 "the only reason Jesus would go to John was to receive esoteric teachings, training or instruction in which he quickly became so proficient he became empowered" - This is what Whittaker should be proving but he provides no evidence for it. There are innumerable possible reasons that would fit the facts with more relevance and simplicity.
p.47 Whittaker claims there were 2 baptisms, one in the Jordan as recorded in the Gospels and one after he left the river and 'prayed' (a word that Whittaker redefines:" 'prayed' – a word we need to remove from its present definition to something much more profound"). Only Luke mentions the prayer but they all say the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and Matthew and Luke stress it happened immediately Jesus left the river while Luke doesn't even say he had left the river. Whittaker provides this scenario because he makes further claims that the real baptism was an initiation into the secret Knowledge and could not have been done outside but can only be performed indoors or in strictest secrecy but the Bible account does not allow for this.
p.48 "However, all-powerful as he may be, we can unequivocally accept that God is not able to speak with a disembodied human voice. He is not a ventriloquist." - If God is omnipotent then he is not prevented from ventriloquising by Glenville Whittaker.
p.48 "Notwithstanding the words 'spoken' by God, the description of this episode leaves no room for doubt: this is the spiritual baptism that John has predicted "someone mightier than I" would be able to perform." - Whittaker provides no evidence for this.
p.48 Whittaker claims that Jesus' method of spiritual baptism required laying on of hands by an empowered person.
p.50 "The mystery here is that John, to give Jesus his uniqueness, has to say one is coming who, unlike him, can baptize in the 'Holy Spirit'. But the first instance in the New Testament of such a baptism is Jesus' own. Did Jesus baptize himself? Was he an auto-baptizer? If so, why did he need to go to John in the first place? The inference has to be that – notwithstanding his regular baptisms in water and the words put into his mouth that he cannot baptize in spirit, but someone is expected soon who can – John also has the power to perform the spiritual baptism, and, if so, then yes, he has to be given the kudos of being Jesus' predecessor." - Whittaker makes use of modern scholarship on the writing of the Gospels to dispute the authenticity of statements in the Bible that do not suit his purpose. In this case he believes Jesus had to be initiated by a Master to become a Master and so he accepts that orthodox Christians later downgraded John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11when they were in the process of "deifying" Jesus.
p.51 "we can be sure, no voice came from the sky" - This is a particularly strange assertion from Whittaker because his own guru and Master spoke of his hearing a voice from outside when he was empowered as the living Perfect Master on earth in the present age. This was not only recorded in many publications by followers of the Master but Prem Rawat, himself, confidently spoke of it in an interview published in the New York Times of April 8, 1973.
p.52 "Nobody before John had actually done any baptizing. Far from being a well-worn tradition, it was something entirely new, and not associated with the purification rituals of ancient religious practices" - Ritual immersion or baptism, did not begin in the 1st century A.D. It was a common practice in Judaism to remove ritual uncleaness. John the Baptist was not the first Jew to associate this with repentance of sin. New converts to Judaism in the 1st century BC underwent three rites: circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice before being able to attend the Temple. This has been recorded in one of the most believable ways. Two famous rabbis, Hillel and Shammai, debated the allowable source of the water.
p.54 Whittaker claims baptism in the Jordan is only allegorical and really means "a kind of inner transformation." The evidence against this theory is considerable" but Whittaker prefers us keep an open mind. What evidence? That's right, every instance of baptism ever recorded in the Bible and for 2,000 years thereafter has been done in or by water. That is pretty convincing.
p.54 Whittaker claims 'water' could be a metaphor for "a flow of grace and divine presence."
p.55 Whittaker claims John The Baptist proclaims Jesus his successor after he returns from 40 days in the desert though John was already in prison when Jesus returned to Galilee. See his statement on p.83
p.56 Whittaker claims Jesus was not tempted by the devil but spent 40 days as a pupa in quiet meditation and contemplation.
p.56/57 Whittaker claims the gospels are wrong and Jesus knew the disciples before requesting they follow him
Chapter 5 - Jesus' Men … And Women
p.61 Whittaker claims that Jesus became a popular sensation, he was bigger than the Beatles, he was the greatest word-of-mouth success in all of human history. Why? Not because he was a divine orator teaching the truth with authority, not because he healed the sick and exorcised the possessed, not because he performed real miracles in full public view, not because people thought he was the Messiah come to destroy the Romans (as if only the Jews hated their brutal Roman overlords) but because he had an esoteric Knowledge that he revealed to a few and initiated them in a secret ritual in a hidden place and these incredibly loyal, devoted followers were sworn to secrecy. "Something more was going on, something more powerful was being whispered urgently on the street corners and in the meeting places of these distant lands and cities." - Exactly who was doing this whispering is not known.
p.62 "Jesus may, like many famous people, have had something of a private life"
p.64 "We might then realize that his was a mission not essentially of teaching, or of 'healing', but of devotion, of loyalty to the man himself, of recognizing his significance – even his preciousness – and caring for him in a personal way. - So Jesus was really just about getting devotees who would adore him and care for him.
p.66 "Much of the theory that Jesus was single and celibate comes from an assumption that the Son of God would be above the need for female company." - These words echo what Whittaker said about his Master Prem Rawat marrying when he was 16 to a 24 year old woman: "Well I was quite shocked with everybody, ergh, I think, the feeling was, we still had that residual feeling that Master didn't need worldly things, you know, he didn't need to get married, he would always be the Master." Actually the reason people believe Jesus was single is because the Bible never says he had a wife or children.
p.66 "There is one extra and telling piece of evidence in support of Mary's role as 'wife'; it was she, along with Jesus' mother, who was watching as he was crucified, close enough, according to John, for Jesus' words to be heard."- John's gospel was the last one to be written and is not historical but theological and according that Gospel, Jesus' aunt was also present as well as Mary of Clopas. Using Whittaker's logic it would appear she was Jesus' mistress. The disciple Jesus loved was also there so maybe Jesus was in a homosexual marriage. Seriously though, John was the last canonical gospel to be written and by then it is reasonable to believe that John was trying to rehabilitate the Holy Family, after all James had been the head of the church after Jesus died and Mary was beginning to mutate into Cybele from the mother who thought he was crazy in Mark 3:20-21.
p.67 "The story provides almost overwhelmingly strong evidence for Mary to be given the benefit of the doubt; it is very likely she was Jesus' partner." - The mind boggles.
p.69/70 "We need also to acknowledge the discovery, in the summer of 2012, of a 'business card' sized piece of papyrus with four lines on either side which include the words: "Jesus said, 'My wife…' " "Professor Karen L. King discoverer of the papyrus fragment says: "The fragment does not provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, but concerns an early Christian debate over whether women who are wives and mothers can be disciples of Jesus."
p.70 "Whether Jesus was married is beside the point. It would have no bearing on either his teachings or his works" - wonderful, something on which we agree.
p.70/71 "the unnamed 'disciple whom Jesus loved'. This personage appears time and again" - he is mentioned only 5 times, all in the Gospel of John. While none of the gospels is historical, John is the least historical.
p.75/76 "Once Jesus had left the scene, it would not be possible for anyone else to become a disciple, what would later be called a Christian, in its original sense, for his was a very personal form of teaching and interaction with those who followed him." Compare this to p.231 "in many cases the secret teaching, and the right to initiate, was passed on to ever new generations, gradually dissipating, until, after two or three hundred years …"They can't both be correct.
p.76 "it is likely that Jesus did not intend any organized religion to develop after his unexpected death" - Mark 3:14-15 "And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons" Mark 6:7 "And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. " Luke 9:2 "He sent them forth to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." - This certainly sounds like Jesus was preparing a movement to last and, as we know, it has last lasted nearly 2,000 years.
p.77 "it is instructive that the earliest dated inscription relating to Jesus, found on a Syrian house-cum-place of gathering, an early 'church', dated 318 C.E., uses instead of Christos – the term referring to the notion of a Jewish Messiah – Chrestos, almost identical in spelling but very different in meaning, indicating one who had become 'perfect', complete, sanctified; someone who had achieved the highest human state." - it may have been a spelling error! Seriously 'Chrestos' has a range of meaning and it occurs 7 times in the Bible and is translated with mildly positive English words. The building in question is a Marcionite church and 'Chrestos' fits into their dualistic Gnostic doctrines. Gnostics have always been with us in all religions. The falling out of favour of 'Chrestos' merely reflects the temporal power of the "orthodox" church and its ability to oppress those with different views on Jesus. The title 'Christ' was not inappropriate to the orthodox as they redefined the meaning of 'Messiah' much as the author is attempting to redefine many words in the Bible. I suspect his success will not match their's.
p.79/80 "To the disciples Jesus was their everything."
Chapter 6 - The Embarrassments
p.82 "he was arrested before being tried and crucified by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate for no clear reason." - The reason was obvious. Jesus was a danger to public order. He had arrived in Jerusalem just before Passover. Mark 21:9 "And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" That was enough to have him crucified but then he went and raised a ruckus in the Temple accusing harmless shopkeepers and moneychangers of being robbers and physically attacking them. The Romans crucified anyone who endangered the peace. Jesus was just one of many thousands. As was customary, his crime was even recorded on his cross: INRI "Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum"
p.83-85 Much ado about nothing - Jesus and John The Baptist
p.85 "A further 'embarrassment' is said to be Jesus' poor view of his own disciples." - For people who Whittaker believes were initiated into the Kingdom of Heaven and were taught techniques that they use every day in prayerful communion with God the disciples show no fine qualities and were cowardly, petty and selfish and one even betrayed him as Whittaker agrees. This is an important caveat to all of Whittaker's high flying prose about the initiations into the Kingdom of Heaven or Eternal Life he claims Jesus did. In fact this also tallies perfectly with Prem Rawat's modern initiations. Only a small percentage of the people initiated into Prem Rawat's Knowledge become enthusiastic followers and those who do show no unusual qualities.
p.89 "Even Paul, who was persecuting the followers of 'the way' until his own dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus a couple of years after the crucifixion, claimed to have seen the living Christ." - The story of Paul's conversion is recounted 3 times in Acts. Twice he is quoted giving evidence in the hope of escaping a death sentence. He does not claim that he saw Jesus, he and some men with whom he was travelling on the road were blinded by a light and then he heard Jesus. He did not see him then. Paul had visions of Christ, he did not see Jesus.
At the same time, neither man would have cause to dispute what was clear and obvious to both of them, that there were those with the gift and those without. Peter had actually walked with Jesus and was the addressee of many of those sayings referring to a mystery seen by only a few, while Paul had also received a baptism in light 'from Jesus', this time posthumously. - There is no evidence for this. There is evidence for conflict between he original disciples and Paul with his Gentile Christianity during which Peter continued in his cowardly ways until Paul "bribed" James the Just and was given the imprimatur to continue proselytising amongst the Gentiles.
Chapter 7 - What We Know
p.98 "It has already been proposed that we remove from the story anything that is patently untrue, namely, accounts of miracles. Let us also take out of the equation something else that, common sense left at the door, are accepted as an unquestionable part of Christian belief: prophecies. The future cannot be known; Jesus had no more power of predicting the future than you or I." - Whittaker is at odds with the Bible here.
p.109 "we must not conclude that the new church was unnecessarily authoritarian. In its infancy it was remarkably tolerant of variations of belief and activity within its walls." - In "its infancy" there was no established church hierarchy, there were many "Christianities" and there was no way for those with "orthodox" views to do anything about others but use persuasion but once they had some power …
Chapter 8 - The Beginning Of His Teachings
p.117 "It requires an unrealistically wide stretch of the imagination to accept that it happened this way." - But an even greater stretch to imagine it happened the way Whittaker is imagining. During the heyday of the "cult scare" in the 1970's people were often recorded as meeting some members on the street and leaving with them and joining a derided cult without there being any initiations. In Whittaker's case, Divine Light Mission was joined by thousands who often had wait a considerable time before being initiated and they never had any personal dealing with the Master.
p.118 "But beside his actions, there are his actual teachings, which are focused on two areas: talks and parables about the interaction between God and man and the role of the master, and preparing people for, or actually showing them how to experience in some way, the Kingdom of Heaven. This appears to be the clue. The theory has increasingly been mooted over the past fifty years that Jesus was able to show people an inner experience that gave them some awareness of a new way of seeing things, in some cases actually believing they have 'seen' the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet these teaching sessions – the central part of his work, one would think – are simply not recorded." - Whittaker provides no evidence for this sweeping statement. If the "central part of his work" was not recorded, how can Whittaker know about it? Whittaker's religious beliefs are based on a minor and very controversial Indian guru. Experts in Christianity say Jesus' teachings are focused on repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God
p.120 "But John's gospel then adds an interesting extra detail: the two men asked Jesus where he lived and requested he show them. We are told John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, "This is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit…The two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and saith unto them, 'What seek ye?' They said unto him: 'Rabbi, where dwellest thou?' He saith unto them, 'Come and see'. They came and saw where he dwelt, and they stayed with him that day…" The next thing we are told is that they began to spread the message, Andrew going to find his brother Simon with the life-changing information: "We have found the Christ". Something must have happened during that day 'at home' with Jesus that convinced them of his identity, but we are not told what that is." - This story is told in John 1:30-39. After what John The Baptist has said I'd follow Jesus myself but there is no mention of a 'home'. Modern English bibles translate this as "where are you staying?" There is no evidence that anything happened or that it was important. It is only mentioned in John's gospel the least historical. There are many examples of people dropping everything to follow a religious leader. Prem Rawat's early career in the West is full of such stories. Many of Whittaker's friends rushed off to India at the first suggestion that a Master was alive and quick and easy spiritual enlightenment was promised.
p.121 "There could be another explanation; that these first disciples were asking him to give them the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist had claimed he could, using the simple metaphor, 'home'." See note above, 'home' is not mentioned.
p.122 "The alternative account, in the other gospels, also has a reason why the fishermen 'fell down at Jesus' knees' and became his disciples. They had witnessed the miracle of their two boats, after an unproductive night's fishing, being suddenly filled with fish, so much so that 'their nets were breaking'. As so often, we have to make our own choice: a physical miracle, with its allegorical meaning that countless 'men' will be caught as a result of their 'fishing', or a practical process where Jesus shows or teaches them how to access something utterly life-changing within themselves by giving them the baptism in the Holy Spirit" - It's not an alternative account, it's another story in Luke 5:6 not mentioned in Mark or Matthew. We do not have to make a choice between Whittaker's fantasy and the story as told. There is no evidence or even hint in Luke that it was in any way esoteric and metaphorical.
p.124 "Jesus began his stream-entering session with his first disciples 'at the tenth hour', and the Bible tell us they spent the rest of the day closeted away while Jesus showed them his – and their – home. It appeared to have taken not much more than half a day." - Whittaker does not even seem to understand how Jews kept time in Jesus' days. The 10th hour is actually 4pm and there is nothing in John (only John has this story) about Jesus and the 2 disciples being closeted away or doing anything at all or not spending it outside. 'Home' is not mentioned, it is simply where Jesus was staying at that time and even the timing is all wrong, there was much less than half a day.
p.125 "The only qualities apparently required by Jesus, and presumably Buddha also, were sincerity, love, and trust." - There are 2 presumptions here. Whittaker provides no evidence for either but as Prem Rawat demands prior trust in him before he reveals his Knowledge so Whittaker pushes this concept wherever possible.
p.125 "If this is what happened in the two cases, it means that ironically the later students of both Buddhism and Christianity made a similar simple error." - Actually it's an enormous mind-boggling error. Amazing that every Buddhist and Christian has made this error but Whittaker has seen the light. If true, it is not ironic, it is tragic.
p. 126 "Yet it is most unlikely that they would leave their livelihoods, their homes, their families, on an uncertain path with no income, facing possible persecution and death at the end of it, " - Thousands if not millions of people have done that very thing on the slimmest of evidence for the most egregious of charlatans. Many of Prem Rawat early devotees that Whittaker knew well personally did the exact same thing. One of the most well-known cases was that of Jeremy Spencer, the singer-guitarist with Fleetwwod Mac, who left his L.A. hotel to buy a magazine, met some members of the "Children of God" on the street, joined them there and then and never returned.
p.126 "unless they had undergone the most profound inner transformation." As Whittaker points out on p.85 the disciples did not actually have a profound inner transformation. Simon Peter remained a blowhard coward with alpha male problems and the brothers James and John lusted to be bigwigs sitting by his throne. This is a common problem, talk is cheap but inner transformation is very rare. Certainly there is no visible evidence in the life of Whittaker and his fellow devotees of Prem Rawat that they have attained any state similar to that Whittaker writes about!
Chapters 9-10 A fuller account of the place of this document in Whittaker's thesis is available: The Secret Gospel Of Mark by Morton Smith.
p.130 "A popular view is that with many lapses of memory over the decades after the crucifixion, the four gospels mix up and conflate stories and names. The names, and exact number, of the twelve apostles are notoriously at variance from gospel to gospel, and the events after the crucifixion are likewise very disparate" - The gospels are indeed far from mistake-free and often contradictory. However this in no way helps Whittaker's arguments. In fact, the very minor things he relies on might be the most glaring errors.
p.141 "One is that nowhere in the four gospels is there a reference to Jesus conducting any baptisms, of any kind." - Actually, there is. "Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people." (John 3:22) and a probable explanation occurs some paragraphs later "Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), he left Judea and returned to Galilee." (John 4:1-3)
p.142 "The baptism gives a powerful experience. Once you have had it, says Paul, human differences are blown away" Ephesians is one of the epistles considered suspect in authorship but we can see that Paul is being unrealistic in what he claims for the baptism. If baptism was as powerful as written here then why did Paul continually have problems with the churches he founded and why did nearly all his epistles contain rebukes to these members.
p.143/144 " Quite possibly, since everything we know tells us Jesus had little time for symbolic gestures, neither of these theories is correct, and the sheet was only used as a kind of covering, to provide privacy and retain secrecy. If it had been an indoor initiation, it might not have been needed. At a time when the privacy Jesus required for his initiations was not easily come by, the erection of a simple tent or covering made of a large sheet of linen might have been one of the tasks the disciples closest to him, Peter and James, were used to performing before they retired to a position a short distance away to stand guard while the process was taking place. If this were the case, it is not the only instance in the gospels where a tent to provide Jesus with privacy is mentioned." There is no evidence Jesus initiated people and so there can be no evidence that he required secrecy. The story of the young man is certainly mysterious but the resurrection of Lazarus occurred in daylight with many witnesses. (John 11)
p.144 "Nowhere else in the New Testament can references to Jesus baptizing be found". - see note re page 142
p.146 "What kind of initiation was taking place at night and in secret, under a linen sheet? It seems the garden where the second initiation took place was a regular venue for this event, for in John we are told, "Jesus often met there with his disciples," again, if true, providing evidence that Jesus was frequently in the Jerusalem area. It was on the Mount of Olives, and one can imagine Jesus with his subject, huddled together between olive trees while conducting his initiation: meantime, three of his stalwarts, Peter, James and John, stood 'a stone's throw' away, keeping guard." - There is no evidence that any initiation is taking place but it is certainly strange. There are bound to be some weird and mysterious events in a book nearly 2,000 years old.
"Privacy was of the essence. "We are told", says Smith, "that before performing a cure (Jesus) took the sick man aside, privately. Or, if he went where the patient was, he shut out everyone and took with him only his closest disciples." - There are 41 stories of Jesus' healings mentioned in the Bible. They did not require privacy nor secrecy and they are easily found in the gospels.
p.150 " If Jesus were conducting an initiation at night in a quiet part of a small orchard, and if Morton Smith is right in his conclusions about the process taking place, we can see that Jesus was concerned with the recipient's senses: sight, hearing and, possibly, taste: eyes, ears and tongue. We do not know what he was doing but we might inquire why this should be the case. And here we have a clue given at the very beginning of his ministry, his baptism at the hands of John – repentance, the need to repent, in the sense of turning around. Later Jesus makes a famous pronouncement; the Kingdom of God is within you. If it were in the sky – addressing people who believed God lived beyond the stars – birds would get there first, he joked. It is not in the world around; it is within. It is possible that to begin the process of knowing, of approaching, or even of entering, this inner place, senses had to be turned away from the external world to face, in some way, inwards." - This discussion of an initiation is complete conjecture. The joke about the birds is in the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it is not a gospel accepted in the Bible. The "kingdom of God" is mentioned 71 times in the Bible. Only once is it said to be 'within' and on many occasions it is used in a way that is inimical to thinking of it as 'within'. 'Repentance' is not a simple turning around but is defined as a sincere turning away from sin to God. It has never been associated with turning the senses within, something that makes no sense. Can a person turn their eyeballs backwards or hear the internal process of their body or roll their tongue backwards and extend it down into their intestines or up into their nasal cavities? The ideas are ridiculous.
p.152 "With the help of Morton Smith's discovery, we have a new and far more credible explanation for one of the New Testament's enduring mysteries; the rebirth into the spirit via an initiation as the cornerstone of Jesus' work. In this interpretation, he was dealing with the business of bringing the dead back to life, but in a much more real way than a physical resurrection. He was offering life everlasting" - One must accept that Whittaker's hypothesis is more credible than Smith's, for what it's worth. Life everlasting does not seem more real than physical resurrection, especially if, as Whittaker demands, there can be no miracles.
Chapter 11 - A fuller discussion of this chapter is available here: The Secret Behind the Secret
p.155 "Clement's letter, in dwelling so strongly on the need for confidentiality, reveals something much more than the existence of a secret knowledge. From this revelation comes the reason why, in any of the gospels, so very little is said about the initiation." This extremely controversial letter that is at best an 18th century copy of a letter attributed to Clement (and there are many other letters categorised as pseudo-Clement) certainly does not provide evidence that Jesus conducted secret initiations that have always been believed to be straightforward baptisms and healings.
p.155 While alive, Jesus performs his 'signs' behind closed doors." - This is untrue, from his first miracle performed at a wedding party most of his signs were public. One can hardly feed thousands of people in private nor get the crew of a fishing boat to pull in a record haul in secret. Even the resurrection of Lazarus was done in public.
p.155"Could the 'curing' have been, in some way, a metaphor for the initiations" - W. has not proven healing is a metaphor for initiation and examination of the healing stories in the Bible shows that they were not private and required no fancy positions, incantations or suchlike.
p.155 "Elaine Pagels alludes to this by pointing out that Paul himself, while being the author and originator of the newly evolving church of the Christ, was himself a Gnostic who had received the initiation – the epiphany on the road to Damascus – but who felt it needed to be kept secret." Paul's epiphany on the Road to Damascus occurred in public with assorted travellers as eye-witnesses except that they were all struck blind and only Paul heard Jesus' voice. There are many beliefs shared by both orthodox and Gnostic Christianity though to imagine they are somehow separate in the time of Paul is ridiculous. Paul had no need to be secret about anything. He was the man making Christianity up as he went.
p.156 "Even a skeptical reading of the story of Jesus cannot mistake the extraordinary loyalty and devotion amongst those who followed him. They did not regard him as the Son of God, or heir of David, in some mystical or grandiose way. But something developed between them, a bond of loyalty, trust and recognition that ran deeper than such questions of nomenclature. They belonged to him. It is as if they recognized something profound in him, something inexpressible; they seemed to know that he was a supremely special human being, their own true master, in a very personal, human way." - He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:15-16) "And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Messiah of God." (Luke 9:20) Wow, like, the Messiah of God, the heir of David. Is there any way that's not mystical and grandiose? How loyal and devoted were they? They all ran away when he was arrested and one of them betrayed him."
Chapter 12 - The Healings
p.170 But this unveiling is not for everybody. The key to making it take place is to believe that Jesus can indeed do it. Any doubt will cause the 'miracle' not to happen. The word Jesus uses is 'trust', which is now usually translated as 'faith'. It appears that if you trust Jesus and ask for his special gift, you might be in line to receive it and be admitted to the Kingdom. The act of initiation was not just a sequence of physical interactions, of instructions, leading to an inner revelation, but a powerful bonding of trust and love between a teacher and a supplicant during which a profound inner transcendence took place. It was a private and confidential affair, which is why Jesus repeatedly told those he had 'cured' to keep quiet about it." - Yet Jesus healed many who apparently had no faith. Some were healed because their friends had faith. Others were "possessed" by demonic spirits and healed by exorcism against their wills. One gropu of 10 lepers was told to go to the priests and tell them that Jesus has cured them.
p.186 "If the two first disciples of Jesus, who had asked him to show them his 'home', had undergone a comparable experience, it would explain why they also, without hesitation, became his followers." - See notes re page 120, there was no mention of 'home,' nothing said about an initiation or experience
p.269 "The Gospel of Thomas, the one book found at Nag Hammadi which is universally accepted as being of equal validity to the New Testament" - The Gospel of Thomas is accepted as valid by no Christian Church. It is certainly accepted as an ancient text though scholars disagree on exact dating. It is accepted as being an authentic gnostic text and as such is accepted as being of equal validity as an ancient writing about Jesus but is not accepted as a Christian document.
p.274 "It was not what Jesus would have wanted. But, of course, alone amongst the very early apostles – and he only had this title because he gave it to himself – Paul had never been a disciple of the living Jesus, he never had that special loving closeness and loyalty to the real man. To him, no matter how dedicated he was to the work of spreading the news of Jesus' apparent resurrection, devotion was an ideal, a concept. He knew all about the sudden revealing of inner light and the sense of being enveloped in the presence of God – he had had such a powerful experience of it himself that it changed his life. But he did not go on from there to have the shared devotion to a living human being which we suggested in an earlier chapter was the real 'secret behind the secret', and why, in its absence, with nowhere to channel his newly-gained feelings of divine love, he had to pursue what he thought was his God-given role. That inner secret involved keeping the secret teaching secret, but when Paul received his transformation there was no Jesus there, perhaps wiping the mud from his hands, to look him in the eye and say, "Now make sure you tell no-one what has happened".
"Without this restraint, of course, community coordinators would become, in time, spiritual leaders of their particular flock, with a new title – episcoli, or bishop"
The rest of the book is so dependant on Whittaker's thesis being correct that there seems little point in disputing it. It skims through the three centuries following Jesus' death up to the conversion of Christianity to Constantianity and mentions St Paul, gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi texts, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong, Augustine, Mary Magdalene, the anatagonism between Paul's version of Christianity and the original diciples led by James the Just. For someone who knows nothing of these events, it could provide something of an eye-opener though there are far better books available that do not use such a marginal viewpoint. He is also far too credulous when it comes to gnostic claims as this allows hi m to create mre parallels between his version of Jesus' teachings and Rawat's teachings.
p.230 This brought back memories. It was one of David Lovejoy's quotations of choice and in his posh English accent he would repeat these lines and go on to discuss how Guru Maharaj Ji had to place the wettest logs closest to the fire to dry them out and so humbly explain why he was the Divine United Organisation Director of Australia when his only qualification seemed to be that he was the first person initiated into Maharaji's Knowledge to arrive in Australia.
"Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that you should show forth the praises of him who hath taken you out of the darkness into his marvelous light."
Chapter 19 - Deciphering The Signs
p.297 "Nevertheless, a poem from one of the Hindu sants – holy men – named Brahmanand, proclaims:
"Without earth, there stands a palace in which shines a brilliant light.
A blind man sees it again and again, and is filled with bliss.
In the midst of heaven is the well of divine nectar
A lame man climbs up without a ladder and drinks.
The living man dies and then lives again.
Without food, he is vital and strong."
This is one of Rawatism's seminal texts. Rawat's father quoted it, Rawat in the West in his persona of Guru Maharaj Ji quoted it and in India he still quotes it. You see the palace of light by squeezing your eyes, you climb the ladder with your tongue to reach the pineal gland
Chapter 20 - Other Sightings
There are many books on the "Perennial Philosophy" and anyone interested should begin with Aldous Huxley's book of that title. Of further interest would be parts 3 & 4 of "In The Light of Knowledge" by Mike Finch which discusses the topic of this chapter from the viewpoint of a devotee of Prem Rawat. That book was written in the days that this could be expressed openly. This chapter adds nothing to the copious literature on Masters through history.
Chapter 21 - The Game of the Name
This chapter makes no sense unless you understand that Prem Rawat, Whittaker's Master, speaks about "the Breath" interminably. He claims that we do not breathe but that it is "The Gift of Breath" - "Breath comes into you" - "Breath comes into me" - "Fulfillment in Every Breath" - "What Each Breath Tells Us" - "Breath is amazing" - "Breath brings me something, and leaves" etc. He also breathes on his new devotees giving them "Holy Breath." For decades he called his organisation Élan Vital and still teaches that the life-force that drives our breathing and that the energy that "is keeping us alive" can be experienced by using his 3rd technique of meditation formerly called "Holy Name" or "The Word." In the North Indian religious mileu from which Rawatism arose, Naam Jaap is a central concept.
p.324 "A tidy explanation of this view can be found in the autobiography of the scion of a wealthy Californian family who became an Indian sadhu, Ram Peri: 'Before the world comes into existence,' he says, 'there is only consciousness. Matter exists in potential, and is indistinguishable from consciousness' " - Will Ganz who calls himself Rampuri not Ram Peri, was instrumental in setting Rawat up in the USA. However he soon became disllusioned with Rawat and his family and teachings and became a sadhu and now somewhat famous ethno-botanical spiritual expert (i.e. ganja smoker). He considers Prem Rawat an ignorant pohony. That's obviously not something Whittaker would want you to know.
p.328 "Yet we are still left with a mystifying conundrum. What is it about the pneuma, the breath, which makes it the elephant in the living room, the most frequently mentioned entity in the entire New Testament, yet one we gloss over or wrap in a miraculous 'this is not to be explained' cloak?" - And even more mystifying the 'breath' is the elephant in the room of our lives that we are always breathing and we never talk about it. Could it be a satanic conspiracy? Seriously, pneuma is translated as 'spirit' or 'Spirit' in nearly all app. 400 times it is used in the New Testament and in a quarter of the useages it is "hagion pneuma" or "Holy Spirit." I think it's had an enormous amount of discussion and explanation over the centuries.
p.333 "As a postscript, there is room for considering that the idea of the 'name' of God could also be an alternative phrase for word, spirit or logos: not God, Dios, Dieu, or Gott, but rather an 'unpronounceable' subtle movement of energy from the source to its perimeter; from the heart of one side of the membrane to suffuse the entirety of the other." - This page is only half-evil. Anybody concentrating on their breath can soon "feel" a subtle vibration of energy but most of us accept this as a by product of our organisms and nothing to get up about. Certainly nothing that would warrant considering Prem Rawat to be the Master and so he should be worshipped and live in luxury at our expense. Yet on this flimsy foundation rests Glen Whittaker's faith in his Perfect Master.
Chapter 22 - Essene Essentials
p.341 "The cherished hope of Christian scholars, that the Dead Sea Scrolls would cast important new light on Jesus of Nazareth and early Christianity, turned out, after a false start, to be a mirage." - So there was little point in writing this chapter.
p.354 " Interestingly, there is some evidence – a series of bath-like constructions – that the Essenes practiced a form of baptism by immersion" - The residents at Qumran were obsessed with ritual purity and uncleanness and spiritual purification by immersion in water was a regular part of their lives, not a one-off baptism. The mikva'ot or ritual baths were built according to rules still adhered to.
p. 356 " It has also been suggested that as the two communities were based in the same part of Jerusalem, near the 'Essene Gate', the location of the last supper could have been an Essene meeting house, borrowed for the occasion. This would explain the mysterious account of Jesus telling his disciples to meet and follow a man carrying a jar of water, "and wherever he enters say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says: Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' " - It would not explain that mystery at all. Whether it was the house of an Essene, a Christian or a Jew it still requires divine knowledge that only that appropriate man would be carrying a water jar in the whole of Jerusalem.
"Ultimately, of course, does it really matter? What is of interest is the fact that the information contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that something very similar to, and in its own way just as nobly expressed as the Christian message, was already in existence long before Jesus began his mission." - Yes, it's called Judaism and their book is the Tanakh, commonly called the Old Testament.
Chapter 23 - Final Thoughts
p.359 "There is a theme that is found in the scriptures of all the major religions relating to a master figure: the notion that he can take his followers, if they have sufficient faith in his ability, on a journey from a place of illusion, or unreality, or impermanence – the words vary – to a place of safety, the home of the divine." - This is a fantasy on Whittaker's part. It certainly isn't found in the Koran, the Bible, the Vedas, Upanishads or the Gita. Some religious traditions make fleeting mention of this as a metaphor. However, it is a significant theme in the teachings of Prem Rawat aka Maharaji, GWhittaker's own Master whom he has spent 40 years following across the desert and never once jumped off the boat.
p.361 "Buddha, we are told, did not believe in miracles. When he was asked by a visiting king to produce one to prove who he was, he laughed: 'I eat when I'm hungry and I sleep when I'm tired. That's my miracle'" - This a Zen Buddhist story usually attibuted to a Zen Master. It has no bearing on whether Gotama believed in miracles, the point is that miracles are irrelevant to enlightenment. Certainly the Buddhist monks who compiled the Pali canon did believe in miracles as Whittaker would have known if he'd actually read "Buddha" by Karen Armstrong as he claims.
p.361 "Like Buddha, it is quite likely that Jesus of Nazareth did not believe in miracles." - There is no evidence for this incredible assertion. As a 1st century Jew, it would have been a miracle if Yeshua didn't believe in miracles.
p.362 "We have suggested throughout this book that Jesus was able to draw people into a direct experience of God by showing them 'the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven' and by his very presence providing the essential ingredient which makes the journey possible: faith in himself as the great healer, the guide. This process appears to encompass a revelation, or a means of entry through a previously closed inner door into an internal world of serenity, of light, of 'direct' gnosis or 'knowing'. From many examples drawn from a wide variety of scriptures we have seen that uncannily similar analogies have existed elsewhere at various times." - Whittaker has used only a handful of examples. Click Here to see a book containing many examples.
p.666 "A considerable proportion of Christians believe that their savior will actually reappear one day, but what would be achieved if he did?" - Well it would certainly teach Whittaker a lesson, give incontrovertible proof that miracles occur and provide a hint that the destruction the planet, the resurrection of all mankind and the Judgement Day were nigh.
"This is not to deny that religions, of whatever kind, do have their own profound value, and there might well be a place for them in a future world." - This is very magnanimous of Whittaker and he is certainly a little more tolerant in this regard than his Master who scoffs at religions and says "every Perfect Master has fought religion" including Jesus too and that religions are started by people who "want something to believe in".
"In the second half of the twentieth century, a great surge in interest amongst the younger generation in alternative paths to 'God-realization' led to various 'gurus' coming to the west, but for the most part they taught a combination of mantra meditation and the usual array of religious practices, nevertheless providing some degree of internal satisfaction amongst their followers. They have become a small, but significant, fringe activity in the field of western spirituality" - Some of them are so far out that their members write books about spirituality but don't mention them …
"Where do these new revelations about Jesus leave the average 'Christian' in the western world today?" - They will affect average Christians in the same way as unusual Christians. They will be completely unaffected. In the unlikely event they hear about W.'s claims they will dismiss them as unworthy of serious consideration, which, on the basis of this book, they are.
Whittaker mentions a few possible claimants to Master-hood that he could accept … Guru Nanak, Kabir, maybe Buddha. Could he have forgotten the lineage as taught by Prem Rawat? A lineage he has so enthusiastically promoted in the past?
It may well be that Whittaker is correct in one respect that there are, and were, no miracles. I agree with that premise. However the Whittaker's "deconstruction" of the myth is completely unpersuasive, riddled with errors of fact and interpretation, a combination of soaring arrogance and bottomless ignorance and is as fatuous as his guru and Master, Prem Rawat aka Maharaji aka Guru Maharaj Ji, the Lord of the Universe and Supreme Ruler. It may be that Whittaker's original powers of discrimination and intelligence have been eroded by 45 years of listening to that man's repetitive absurd drivel though squeezing your eyeballs, poking your thumbs in your ears, turning your tongue backwards up to your nasal cavities and remembering that you're breathing for an hour or two a day might have been the primary cause.