In celebrating the birth of the Christ as we enter the year of our Lord, 2006, it is of interest to note that we do not make reference to "the year of our God." That would be, of course, because we do not know when God was born, except to guess that it was upwards of 20 billion years ago and sometime in the near future.
We do know that God was around at the beginning and we do know that God has been around ever since because, after all, there is nowhere else for God to go. We can honestly say that here we are, right along with everything else. God is everywhere, in all things, in all times and in all places. As a result, there is not even the slightest hope of approaching the comprehension of God from the gutters of supernatural conjecture. Knowing God is worth a good deal more effort than that.
From Babylon came the concept of law, from Egypt came the concept of monotheism, from Judea came the concept of a universal god (of Abraham), from Rome came the concept of a Roman god (of Abraham), from Mecca came the concept of an Islamic god (of Abraham) in rebuttal to the growing Roman menace that mocked law and threatened everything around Rome with conquest and dominion. "As each claimed to be the 'one true faith,' their simultaneous existence (and growth) undermined the other's claims to universal truth" (2).
Arnold Toynbee coined the term "axis age" to embrace the era during which the major world belief systems emerged, from just less than half a millennium before Christ to slightly more than half a millennium after Christ, i.e., from the emergence of Greek science and democracy to the emergence of Islam. Since then, the western god has changed hands so many times that the work of this god can only be consistently recognized on earth in the trail of self-righteousness and vengeance in thought and belligerence in action aimed at conquest and control.
In the evolutionary west, Abraham's God was defined and interpreted by Jewish state-theologians, then by Roman imperialists, then by European colonialists and currently by American capitalists. These "cult"ural approaches have led to the inevitable unification of Europe, the western hemisphere and, during the past half century, the world, under western socioeconomic systems (3).
Nascent Christianity emerged as a rejection of Abrahamic absolutism, legalism, penalism, self-righteousness, vengeance and greed. Given the overwhelmingly despotic nature of Biblical times, with Judea under Roman dominion, this rejection was necessary if not overdue. The Christ did more, however, than reject the past. He literally provided the human rights basis for western democracy and the vision of a global human community living in peace and harmony (4).
Thomas Jefferson and America's revolutionary Fathers agreed with the first Christian because they had to confront the same absolutism, legalism, penalism, self-righteousness, vengeance and greed in the Old Testament Roman god being used to justify British colonialism. Jefferson's Declaration was a rejection of Old Testament Romanism in order to establish nascent Christian human rights as the basis for the modern world's first democracy. It was the case with the efforts of both Jesus and Jefferson that "the plan was set ... the plan was gone" (5).
The Plan Was Gone
In the early 4th century, the message of the first Christian was adopted by the Roman emperor, Constantine, and it was compromised beyond recognition. Rome did more than adopt Christianity, Rome redefined Christianity by re-integrating it with Judaism, its rejected ideological parent religion and then devoting the entire perverted program to fulfilling the desires of Rome. To employ a "Bushism," this was the marvel of Roman "strategerie" that kept Rome in power for over a millennium.
The cross of Jesus was placed on Roman banners, Rome declared itself "Christian" and more - as the self-appointed defender of the Christian belief system. It employed Old Testament self-righteousness, vengeance and belligerence in making the western world "Christian." The chosen approach of Rome was not to honor Christian values and ethics in action but to use its defense of Christian values to justify Roman expansionism.
In other words, Rome chose to advance Christianity by imposing itself on those who were not similarly "Christian," those who had something Rome wanted. The stage was set for preemptive conquest and dominion, ideologically in the name of the Christ and operationally in the name of Rome.
The Plan Returns
The spoils of war from the less-than-holy Crusades were carted back to Rome where the booty was found to contain the ancient Greek literature, preserved in Arabic. The re-emergence of Greek approaches to thought eventually catalyzed the Renaissance and the Reformation and ultimately the Newtonian Revolution, the EuroAmerican Enlightenment and Thomas Jefferson's Declaration. Similarly trained in Greek literature and thought, it was in Jefferson and our Deist founding fathers in whom the Christ was reborn on earth, bearing God's gift of nascent Christian human rights.