Episode:Melchizedek Gospel—Response in the Occident (Part 3)
Caesar Augustus mandated worship of the emperor in a bid to eradicate the proliferating mystery religions among the Latins. The Cynics exhorted the Romans to abandon the fervid and emotional mystery cults and return to a form of worship embodying Melchizedek's gospel. But the people at large preferred to plunge into the rituals of the mysteries, which offered hopes of personal salvation while gratifying earthly desires.
Summary by Kermit
Commentary of Previous Week’s Text
We emphasized in this discussion that the oft referred to 6th century B.C. awakening was not merely spiritual. Our discussion centered upon the distinction made many times on this broadcast between “merely spiritual” and cosmic (triunity). The Holy Spirit’s delivery of the cosmic mind to us mortals is truly whole, encompassing the three domains—causation (logical acumen), duty (moral discrimination), and worship (spiritual insight). Note how the revelators invoke these cosmic intuitions in their characterization of the consequences of the Greek “plunge” into the mystery cults as: “intellectual stagnation, moral depravity, and spiritual poverty.” These intuitions are designed to uplift the domains of science, philosophy, and religion. In the final paragraph of section 2, the revelators’ further point to this cosmic trio with the last sentence, “But the ideal human estate is that in which philosophy, religion, and science are welded into a meaningful unity by the conjoined action of wisdom, faith, and experience.” But, here the order of these domains is changed. We should know by now that there is nothing casual about words order in the revelation. Why now are we asked to reflect on philosophy (wisdom), religion (faith), and experience (science)? By stating philosophy first the authors are emphasizing the full superadditive nature of all three. Next is religion, because that is the initiating spark, and lastly, science because it is the foundational element. This threefold actuality becomes realized via their harmonization by personality, and “revelation confirms the experiential harmony of this triune approach to universal reality.” [101:2.8, p. 1106]
All serious students should consult the archive of this broadcast for the exploration of the consequences of fixating on the spiritual component to the neglect of the other two leading to dangerous fanatacism. As was said, “ the greater gift you access, in this case the Holy Spirit, the more disastrous is its misuse.” Included in this section is an edifying illumination of a fuller meaning of the revelators’ statement in Paper 101, “It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward.”
98:3. The Melchizedek Teachings in Rome
Here the revelators are setting the stage for us to understand the roots of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and the origins of some of our traditions and religious and civil practices. In addition to the Hebrew and Greek threads of development we are now introduced to the Roman influences. It is the confluence of these three threads, punctuated by the 6th century awakening, which synergize to come forward as Christianity. And as evolutionary processes seem to work, the core elements of each of these threads is accompanied by no small amount of benighted baggage.
Roman importation of Greek culture including the pantheon of Greek gods, finding expression in the Latin pantheon greatly influenced Roman religion. It differed from Hebrew and Greek religion consisting of forms, vows, and taboos. As with the highly intellectual and artistic worship of the Greeks, the formal and unemotional form of pseudoreligious patriotism of the Romans went down to the fervid and deeply emotional worship of the mystery cults. We commented on the interesting combination of elements in our religious traditions and practices derived from the Romans. These are to be seen both in our governmental forms and religious environments. It’s sad to record many of these elements are today perceived as instituted by God rather than a product of evolution. The revelators are here exposing the primitive pedigree of our religious and even civil forms.
The mystery cults are referred to as devastating, in that they served to sever the individuals connection to the cosmos, supplying an unprofitable emotionalism which survives to this day in some extreme expressions of Christianity.
Along with this emotionalism is escapism, our strong inherent (genetic) tendency to seek deliverance from the harsh realities of living and death.
For purely and political and civic reasons, Augustus attempted to destroy the mysteries. These mysteries with their plethora of celebrations and holidays severely impacted the ability of the Romans to conduct routine daily affairs. Acting on the reminder of the earlier attempts of the Salem teachers to teach the doctrine of one God, Augustus undertook the reform of the religious structure and re-established the state religion, appointing himself high priest and even supreme god. But as emperors came and went, the official Roman cult had a roster of more than two score of self-elevated human deities.
The Cynics represented the last dwindling band of religionists who tried to guide the Romans back to Melchizedek’s gospel (as modified and contaminated by the Greeks), but were unsuccessful. They could not compete with the diversion, excitement, and entertainment of the mysteries plus the promise of personal salvation.
98:4. The Mystery Cults
Unable or unwilling to grasp the meaning of Greek philosophy, and having lost their primitive family and state religions, the majority of people in the Greco-Roman world were attracted to these mystery cults. They sought religious consolation for today and assurances of hope for immortality after death. Are the rank and file of Christians different today?
There were three most prominent mystery cults of that day, two of which we discussed. Both of those involved mother-son pairs: the Phrygian cult of Cybele and her son Attis, and the Egyptian cults of Osiris and his mother Isis. The Phrygian, ceremonies are described as imposing, degrading, and bloody, while the Egyptian rituals are described as more refined, albeit sometimes most revolting.
These mystery cults all involved saviors of miraculous birth, heroic death and resurrection. It is easy to see how these stories feed into today’s Christian story. Tonight we will treat the Iranian cult of the worship of Mithras is somewhat more detail.