Confession and Absolution of Sins from ULC Seminary

Confession and Absolution of Sins

 

Wiccan Studies

This essay will be a three part essay. The first part will be about things that I have learned from the course. The second part will be about things I already knew. The third part will be about things I had hoped to learn but didn’t.
In the very first lesson, in the history of Wicca, I learned all about the significance of planting the crops to the point that men would take small portions of their blood to put in with each seed. If that is something I already knew, it has been buried deep within the archives of my brain, but I think it was a new insight for me.
I also learned a little more about Gardnerian Wicca versus Seax Wicca; particularly that Raymond Buckland had been in Gardner’s original coven and had branched out on his own, forming the Seax Wicca Trad.
Also, after learning about some of the practices of Gardnerian Wicca, such as the secrecy, Seax Wicca suddenly started making more sense to me. I’d already known a little about other Trads; Dianic Wicca, for example. Now, the more I know, the more closely I relate to Seax Wicca, rather than any other Trad.
I also learned about dowsing. I was unable to make any distinguishable differences in the definition of dowsing versus the definition of scrying. What the course instructor referred to as dowsing, some of those methods used, I had thought were scrying. I’m still confused as to whether there is a difference, or if it is one of those things in which it depends upon where you are coming from that determines how you name it. For example, one person in one part of the country may pronounce tomato completely different than a person in another part of the country. Could, in fact, some of Lord Starwalker’s dowsing techniques also be considered scrying?
As for things I already knew, I’ve cast many circles and many spells. I’ve actually gotten quite adept at the art of spell writing. I already understood the concept of not leaving your circle until you are done, or if you have to, you must cut a doorway.
I had also already become quite familiar with how to set up an altar and how to position things the way I liked them. I had to agree to disagree with the instructor’s ideas of how an altar should be set up. I follow the very traditional set-up of East = Air, South = Fire, West = Water, and North = Earth, with Akasha, the Spirit, and fifth element, somewhere in the middle, towards the north. My circles have followed this East to South to West to North to the altar many a time. In this, I am set in my ways.
Another thing about me is that I do not use, or even own, a wand. I use my athame for all circle and spell-casting purposes. I feel more as one with steel. I know that is somewhat of a controversy amongst witches and Wiccans. Many swear by their wooden wands. But I’d like to remind that steel also comes from within the Earth too. I don’t think it’s so much the tool that you use as the intent behind the spell and the Spirit that one is in when casting the spell.
One major thing that I did not learn that I had hoped to is how to perform handfastings and Wiccanings. I was directed, by a fellow minister, to a good website containing information on handfastings. I also found several websites with suggestions on Wiccaning ceremonies.
Perhaps not having all the answers was good in this course. It made a person think; to search out one’s own answers. If I didn’t know something, because the lesson wasn’t specific enough, it would lead me to do research on my own to get the answers.
Overall, I would rate this course positively but would caution that, if you’re taking it just to learn how to perform a handfasting, you should visit www.handfasting.info. The course was very well worth it and I will miss receiving the weekly emails. It is time to choose another course and move forward.
Special thanks to all who helped me along the way.
Brightest Blessings!
Rev. Jayne Morrison
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Universal Life Church – Creating a Sacred Space

Creating my Sacred Place was easy for me to do. There is a beach that I go to that is very peaceful and has a lot of wildlife there. Once you get to this beach you can smell the salt water. I like the smell of it and if I forget that smell I go be to the beach. I do find that my Sacred Place is very relaxing and safe. I always invite the Holy Spirit to be with my. When I am with the Holy Spirit I fill so much love, peace, and safety. I have a log that I sit on and the Holy Spirit sits beside me. I find this so comforting.
    The first day after being in my Sacred Place I took the family out to dinner and we had the greatest customer service I ever had. It was so enjoyable and the kids a such a good time. The next I took the boys out for haircuts and we had a great time at barber shop. Most of the time we just go in and come right out. But this time every one in the barber shop was have a great time. After the hair cuts we went on a drive and saw all kinds of wildlife. It was great we saw so many Eagles that we stop counting. I am seeing more and people are talking to me more. They start the conversion. I did do the reading 3 times and I wanting to go back to it for a 4th & 5th time. Thank you very much this class is a real blessing for me!!!

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Gospel of Thomas — ULC

Gospel of Thomas
Submitted by Joy Maestas

I do have a somewhat different perspective on these teachings then my Teacher, so hopefully he will have an open mind on my perspective.  I will be reading more to learn about this Divine web but my take is from a Christian back ground not a Catholic one so I see differences in our perception.  The Kingdom Jesus refers to is the real kingdom in Heaven where our Father and Jesus are now residing.  I see beyond the physical and know the real Kingdom is not yet come to this plane. Coming to self knowledge it the knowledge in Christ that all things are created through him and without him nothing exists.  Without him in us we do not exist but are spiritually dead and there for misfortune.

I can understand how you would call this world a Divine Web as everything in this world is connected, every creature, plant, human has the same make up and I think I just had a epiphany in understanding the Divine web.
4. Jesus said, “An old man will not be reluctant to ask a little child of seven days about the dwelling of life, and he will become one and the same.”
I love this quote, as in  Matthew 18:2 he stated “And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
To be innocent as a child, not hating, blindly trusting, loving all.  I don’t know how Baptism is in the Catholic church but for Christians it is the outward sign that we have giving ourselves to Christ and we are putting the old life behind (going under the water) and living now as a disciple of Jesus (coming out of the water). It has nothing to do with forgiveness of sin.  When he (Jesus) shed his blood on the cross is when our sin was washed out and we were make clean in the sight of our Father.
Again our back grounds clash, as I whole heartedly believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, he taught over and over his kingdom of which he ruled was not of this earth and he was a Rabbi/Teacher and as High Priest Offered himself as the Lamb sacrifice which was the offering for sin. He is still Jewish and still their Messiah, more Jews today are turning and accepting Jesus as their Risen Messiah then ever before and I and they await his return.  I have studied a lot in the Jewish history and Talmud.

Number 5, We do agree this Thomas was around and part of the original group that followed Jesus, so this quote is found in Matthew and Luke.
Matthew 10:26

“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

Luke used it twice to make a point, Luke 8:17
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Luke 12:2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.
When we reach our Spiritual Father who is in Heaven with my Savior Jesus that is when we will have that which is concealed made known and that which is hidden will come to light.  In this end times and yes I believe we are in the end times before his return.  We are increasing in knowledge some man made some revealed by the Holy Spirit to us. As we progress in our spiritual journey the mysteries that are hidden from in the scriptures are made known to us.  One person is not awake can read the same passages and get nothing, another who is awake will read it and it can be life changing.  Awake meaning spiritually not physically.

#6 Refers to their Jewish upbringing where they were instructed to fast at certain times and the prayers were ritual and not from the heart. Giving to charity was a new thing as they only gave to the temple and they were instructed not to eat certain foods.  Jesus was trying to let them know to not to imitate the teachers of his time but instructed them to fast but not let any one know as this is something to do and it is for revelation from the Father and when praying to do so until the Father and recognize him 1st.  Later when he gave revelation to Paul that no food was unclean as it was all created by the Father, this was a real eye opener for them as up to that time they were still only eating what Jewish law considered to be clean.

I find the Book of Thomas totally fascinating as it reinforces what Matthew, Mark and Luke and Paul,wrote also.  I even ordered the Nag Hammadi Library so I can read the other papers found.

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Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

ULC Buddhism Course by Rev. Jean Pagano

Buddhism Final
Jean Pagano
The Buddhism course is one of the best courses I have taken at ULC. It is a perfect blend of philosophy, history, and wisdom, blended together in an unbiased overview of one of the world’s great religions.
One of the truly beautiful things about the Buddha is that he is, first and foremost, a man. He is not a divinity, he is a man. Since the rest of humanity is also just men/women, then one can aspire to what the Buddha has attained because of this commonality. This is truly revolutionary and, quite frankly, refreshing.
The Four Great Vows, a) to save all people; b) to renounce all worldly desires; c) to learn all the teachings; and d) to attain perfect enlightenment, are all great guides. In this modern technological age, renouncing all worldly desires is very, very difficult, if not impossible. This is especially so in the Western world.
The Four Noble Truths are powerful in both their simplicity and their interconnectedness: a) all life is suffering; b) the cause of suffering is desire; c) the end of desire leads to the end of suffering; and d) the way to end desire, and hence to end suffering, is to follow the Eightfold path.
The Eightfold path is the blueprint to break the cycle of suffering. It is simply stated, but within its simplicity is a very difficult process. It truly takes a remarkable individual to follow these tenets, in my opinion. While I may attempt to do so, I know that I cannot accomplish them all – at this time. The Eightfold path is: a) Right View or Right Understanding; b) Right Thought or Right Intention; c) Right Speech; d) Right Action; e) Right Livelihood; f) Right Effort; g) Right Mindfulness; and h) Right Concentration.
An aspirant looks to the Three Jewels: a) the Buddha; b) the Dharma (or the teachings of Buddha); and c) the Sangha (the Buddhist community). There is great refuge to be found in the Master, in his works, and in the community of like-minded individuals.
From a historical perspective, the differences between Theraveda and Mahayana were very interesting. In great movements, schisms are inevitable, yet the differences between the two give some insights into the religion itself.
The Six Worlds present an interesting dissection of life: Gods, anti-Gods, humans, animals, hungry-ghosts, and hell-beings. Surrounding these worlds are the twelve links of dependent arising. They are ignorance or spiritual blindness, karma, consciousness, name and form, the five senses and the faculty of thinking, contact, feelings/emotions, craving, grasping, becoming, birth, and aging, decay, and death.
The ten fetters are so very important and interesting. They are: self-belief, doubt, superstition, sensual desire, ill will, materialism, a lust for anything without form or shape, awareness of superiority and inferiority, agitation, and ignorance. The Four Stages of Enlightenment describe one’s journey on the path to Enlightenment: the Stream-Enterer, who has freed themselves from the first three fetters; the Once-Returner, who has freed themselves from the fourth and fifth of the fetters; the Non-returner who has completely freed themselves from the first five fetters and will be reborn in the heaven of the Pure Abodes, where they will gain enlightenment; and Arahant, who will not be reborn but will enter parinirvana.
The differences between Theravada and Mahayana give some excellent insight into the differences between the two major schools of Buddhism. I found the Basic Points Unifying the Theravada and the Mahayana to be especially powerful especially the one that proclaims “We do not believe the world is created and ruled by God”. To me, this one statement repudiates much of modern Western religion. I agree, with whole heart, the basic premise of this statement. I particularly like the Mahayana concept of the Bodhisattva, one who returns to the world in order to bring everyone to Enlightenment.
The Buddhist vow to not kill speaks directly to me. As a vegetarian, I am ultimately concerned with the well-being of animal, vegetable, and mineral entities. This is one of the highest moral requirements, as I see it. I am glad to see that Buddhism is thriving across the world. It places the requirements on the individual and does not lean upon messiahs or prophets to attain enlightenment, wisdom, or goodness. All of these things remain in the realm of the individual. Therefore, the individual sets out upon the path of enlightenment and achieves it by following the requirements set down by Buddha.
This course is a complete overview of Buddhism and gives the learner all of the tools they need to investigate, engage, and attain an understanding of Buddhism. I would highly recommend it.

 

Wiccan

Having been a practicing pagan, and at one point a devout wiccan, for several years I decided to take this course for three reasons, none of which were to actually learn anything new. I took it to see what kind of courses and what quality of courses ULC Seminary offered, to reaffirm the ideals and beliefs that I had already had and ultimately as a step towards completing the ULC Seminary Program. Having taken the course I can honestly say I learned some new things that I had not originally thought I would.
 
After practicing for almost ten years and doing a fair amount of research on my own I thought I knew a fair amount. However, I discovered through the course that there are different ideologies within Wiccan than those that I personally was taught and followed. In fact some of those ideologies and practices are quite different from my training and practices. I attribute part of this to my specific group following a Celtic Wiccan path and part of it to the differences between Gardnerian, traditionalists and modern eclectic Wiccans see and do things. A good example of this is the different grounding rituals. This course taught a grounding and banishing ritual based on Jewish tradition and my personal grounding and banishing ritual is based on the tree of life.
 
The course also brought about some new thinking and contemplation on my part. Lessons 6 and 7 on Dowsing and Lessons 8, 23 and 24 on Magic, for example gave me new ideas on spell craft and implementation. Some of the things mentioned are things I already did while others were things I had never even thought off. The magic lesson covering morality was nice to read as I know a lot of my fellow pagans do not have a strong moral compass with regard to magic use and will now have guidance on proper use and disuse.
 
In short, while I went into this course feeling that I wouldn’t truly learn anything and that is was just a simple step on the way toward my goal; I discovered a wealth of knowledge and view points I hadn’t seen before, which caused me to open my mind a little further and refreshed my thirst for knowledge.
 
by Justin M. Oles
 

 

Spirituality Course by Brendan Cook

Doctor of Spirituality
Lesson 1
Homework
Brendan CookPrayer Exercise
The primary obstacle to recognizing the presence of Love within me is, as it likely is for most people, the ego.
The ego, this “small self” exists through, and thrives on, fear. The ego is what emphasizes and maintains the notion of separation between self and other. I am me, you are not me. The fears that bring the ego into being are fundamental ones, chiefly survival. When an infant is born, it is completely egoless. Once it begins to be able to move on its own, and physically be separated from its mother, then the ego begins to form, as this being needs a way to be able to see to its own needs and survival (however unlikely that might be at such a tender age).

This ego begins the work of establishing the boundaries between self and not self, in order to try to make sense of the world. The ego continues to form as the child grows, which is why childhood traumas (physical and psychoemotional) have such a strong role in determining how we perceive the world as adults. And this is where the obstacle comes in to recognizing that we are a part of and exist wholly within God’s Love.
It is worth noting that one spiritual tradition which is widely recognized as having had some of the most loving, enlightened and egoless masters is Buddhism. This is largely due to the nature of the practices, which seek to eliminate the ego. While the ego, once formed, can never be gotten rid of, its influence of fear can be, and the meditation practices within Buddhism are excellent for that.
Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki (author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) made the point over and over that we can attain enlightenment when we return to the heart-mind of a child. Suzuki was advocating a return, through meditation, to a state of awareness and being where the ego was no longer required to protect us from the world, so that we could fully connect to it and all the things and people in it. This is not to say that enlightened spiritual masters have come only from Buddhism; far from it. But the Zen practitioners often have a very clear, simple, direct and unvarnished way of putting things which make them easy to understand intellectually, easy to begin to practice, which only later reveal their true depths.
Modern Zen Master Robert Kennedy, S.J., a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), has been quoted as saying that he never feels closer to God than when he is on the meditation cushion. Getting the ego out of the way allows us to truly perceive and connect with the universe in which we live, which is all God’s Love.
With respect to how prayers might change if we are fully connected to and realize the Love of God, we must begin with the notion of fear. If we start from the position that fear stems from the belief that Love is or can be absent, and that simultaneously it is impossible for the all-encompassing, all-pervasive Love of God to be absent, we now have an emotion which is based on unreality. This fear is simply a manifestation and construct of our ego. It does not exist; it does not have its own separate verifiable reality.
If we have accepted the idea that God’s Love can never be absent, that it can never be diminished, that we exist wholly within it, that the entire universe exists within it, that all the universes of the multiverse do as well, then how can it be threatened? As there is nothing which is not contained within God’s Love, how could something threaten it? To connect to it requires only one simple, but perhaps monumentally difficult act: Recognizing and accepting our place within God’s Love by completely releasing our fear.
This, in turn, will affect both how we pray and what we pray for. Many people pray to God – or, perhaps, more toward God. There is a sense that God is “up there” or “out there” while I am “down here.” However, the recognition that we are all WITHIN God’s Love changes things. We are no longer separate from God, which means we no longer have to pray TO God. Once we have accepted that we exist within the Love of God, we can pray WITH God. Rather than pray for a specific result, or specific thing, we can, for example, pray that God’s will reveal itself more fully in our lives.
It is for this reason that Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me, but your will be done.” When he was about to be betrayed, Jesus asked if he might be released from his suffering, but only if it was God’s Will. It is natural to not prefer suffering, and so Jesus asked that he might be spared that, but at the same time, put himself wholly within God’s Love. Like Jesus, putting ourselves wholly within God’s Love allows us to pray with God that his Love and Will manifest through us.Prayer Visualization
During the portion of the prayer visualization where we were supposed to affirm our intent to come to a deeper understanding of Love’s presence, I noticed a similar experience to when I practice a meta (loving kindness) meditation. I noticed after a few minutes a strong sense of compassion filling me.

Upon opening my eyes and looking around, I noticed that my perception of things was slightly different. Things seemed both more and less real. Despite this shift, I felt very strongly grounded and present and the sense of compassion did not diminish now that my eyes were open.
In bringing to mind a situation in which I felt scared, I went back to my childhood. I recalled an event that occurred when I was about 4 or 5. At the time, we were living in Madagascar and I was attending a French school. Due to what I found out later was a series of miscommunications, nobody came to pick me up at the end of school. I waited and nobody came. I was the only student left, and still nobody came. The teacher sat with me, and still nobody came. She and the headmistress tried calling out house, but could not reach anyone on the phone (probably more a function of shoddy infrastructure than my parents not being there to answer). By now it was getting dark, and I was still there waiting with the headmistress. At about 7:30 or 8, my parents finally arrived to pick me up. I was very scared and very lonely.
This experience left an indelible impression on me, despite the fact that I was with someone the entire time and that my parents did, in fact, come and get me. I left me with a constellation of feelings and beliefs about being left behind and/or abandoned. Doing this visualization helped me realized several things: 1) this has been with me now for over 30 years, 2) this experience has had a significant influence on the way that personal and romantic relationships have been experienced. More importantly, however, continuing the meditation even after the sense of peace filled me has actually helped me heal the trauma to a certain degree. 

 

Druidry by REVEREND KURT FONDRIEST

DRUID LESSON
BY
REVEREND KURT FONDRIEST
     The lessons on Druidism were  a reawakening or reaffirming belief on this path called life. I took the class first of all for several reasons. As a visual artist much of my paintings revolve around our relationship with a spiritual landscape which includes the symbol of the tree. This symbol is a strong image of personal empowerment for me.  I grew up in a small town in rural Ohio. Here is where I discovered my creativity.  I would sit for  hours under the mighty pine, oak or maple and draw my natural surroundings. It was while under these natural cathedrals I committed in furthering my education as an artist.
     I left my small town for the big city “Chicago”where I pursued my dream of becoming an artist. I earned my B.F.A, M.F.A. in fine arts and art therapy. I have been a practicing artist and art therapist for over 30 years. The image of the tree also has meaning as a symbol of my health. I live with a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia. I see the tree as a image of resiliency.  Trees can withstand the most severe weather , they can grow around any obstacle , in essence they are a visual lesson for our souls to grow from.
     In several of these lessons the book ” Druid Magic” by Maya Magee Sutton PH.D and Nicholas R. Mann was referenced. I found the book on Amazon for 95 cents. The wealth of information is priceless. I have it amongst my other earthen spirituality books that I re-read quite often. 
It refers to the druid as artist, poet, teacher and counselor just to name a few, however these are all aspects of myself.  I connected with this and used the book as a reference point with the assignments from the course. This only strengthened my basic connection that I have had all along my life, that I was or am a druid.
     Now what is a druid?  My understanding from  the assignments and book  is that a Druid is one who is in search of the universal truth and lives by this truth.  This for me is a reflection of how I try to live my life. The universal truth is an awakening to one self that all of creation is following many Individualized paths to discover this enlightenment.  When I paint the image of the tree it is very significant to my own sense of spiritual symbolism. I remember how the assignments referred to the druid arts. These forms of natural self expression is what I found to strengthen my own earthen aesthetics. This to me is what enables me to rekindle my sense of the essence of my own creation and how I continue to relate to its continued evolution.


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Wiccan Basic Training

The Wiccan Basic Training Course did not hold my interest as much as the other courses I have taken though the ULC Seminary. I truly had misgivings when I found most of the course online at another website and for free. By time my concerns were passed onto the Seminary, Lord Skywalker had passed into the Summerland. Perhaps communication with him would have removed the barrier I had erected regarding the validity of this course.
That being said, Lord Skywalker touched on many subjects and showed the variety, scope and depth of Wicca.
This is obviously a subject which cannot be learned through reading but must be lived. The course was written from personal experience and holistic viewpoint, unlike some agenda driven books I’ve read on Wicca and practitioners encountered. Any magik works and ceremonies were pleasant, gentle and always reminding of the nature of magik and its power, his web links fun and informative.
I particularly liked the lessons on pendulum use and dowsing. These were non invasive uses of energy and fun to play with. As with all Wicca, practice, total concentration and dedication made worlds of difference in the outcome. I found the most successful attempts at these occurred when I didn’t have any stimulant in my system i.e. coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar. Windy days seemed to interfere with dowsing as I couldn’t keep a steady energy going and consecrating the dowsing tool with the element searched for seemed to make a positive difference in the outcome.
The Banishing Lesson #24, confused me, why were Wiccans using the Hebrew Kabbala and invoking the Hebrew God Yahweh and archangels Rapheal, Gabriel, Auriel and Micheal? And then end with an Irish blessing? All the components, deities and rituals are familiar to me; I’ve not encountered them in this combination. This lesson just didn’t have the feel of the other lessons, although it does demonstrate the variety and freedom Wicca allows.
I would recommend this as an introduction to Wicca; it appears some on the Forum has taken to filling some of the blanks left by Lord Starwalker’s passing, thank you.
A personal note, Wicca is an earth religion; therefore the practice of it is subject to one’s surroundings. The ceremonies, herbs, simple feasts, garments or lack of, tools etc…in my opinion, should reflect and be a part of the natural surroundings. The ethics, soul and spirit of Wicca is universal, the practice is regional.
May the Energy Which Animates Your Heart bring your Hearts desire, and the Lord and Lady bring their Blessings.
Rev. Linda Spicer
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Gospel of Luke

                                                            Gospel of Luke 

The debate over who actually wrote the Gospel of Luke is one of the most lively exegetic topics in modern theology. Although some scholars insist that Luke, a companion of Paul who was named in Colossians, is highly likely to have been the author, the debate is by no means settled and there are many who believe that the issue of Lukan authorship is very much up for further research. One of the few things that most scholars do agree upon is that the author of the Gospel of Luke is likely to be the same person who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, since there are many philosophical and stylistic similarities between the two. Beyond this, there is very little agreement, with some scholars even doubting that the author of the books was named Luke.

The most common theory is that the Gospel of Luke was written by Luke the physician.

 Luke was a companion of Saint Paul the Apostle and is mentioned on a number of occasions in epistles attributed to Paul. Most early Christian documents assume that Luke was the author of the gospel bearing his name, but it is unclear whether this theory gave rise to the title The Gospel According to Luke, or whether the title gave rise to the theory (Green, 1995). Nevertheless ancient source are almost unanimous in their belief (or assumption) that the Luke referenced by Paul must be the same Luke who wrote the gospel in his name. Supporting this belief is the existence of certain passages in the gospel where the term ‘we’ is used to referred to activities surrounding Paul, strongly suggesting that the author was an associate of Paul’s and therefore tying in with the belief that it was Luke.

However in the preface to Luke there is explicit mention on having eyewitness accounts ‘handed down to us’, strongly suggesting that the author was not present at the time. This raises the question of why the author would then use ‘we’ in certain parts of the text, but there are numerous possible explanations for this that, although unlikely, cannot be discounted. It is possible that the preface was written after the gospel, by another author, but in this case the subsequent author clearly went to great lengths to copy the style of the rest of the gospel. Again, however, this cannot be ruled out. It is equally possible that the ‘we’ portion of the gospel could have been from another author and was simply included by whoever was responsible for the majority of the gospel. A small number of critics have advanced the theory that the author of Luke may have been female.

This is based on the fact that the gospel spends considerably more time dealing with the roles and lives of women, affording more time to the lives of Elizabeth, the wife of John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary than is the case in the other gospels (Reid, 1996). However, as evidence of female authorship of the gospel, this is clearly extremely thin: there is no reason to think that the author of Luke may not simply have chosen to cover this because he recognised that females were unfairly underrepresented in the other gospels, and this may have even been the reason for the decision to write this gospel in the first place. There is no specific reason to assume that the author was male, but nor is there any firm evidence to support the idea that the author was female.

Most of the debate over the authorship of the Gospel of Luke returns to the use of the term ‘we’ when discussing parts of the journeys undertaken with Paul. There are those who suggest that this was a stylistic convention of the time, used to refer to long journeys. However there is little evidence to support this idea. Some believe, instead, that the author used the style in order to add an element of historic accuracy to the gospels and perhaps even to misguide readers into believing that he was present when he was not.

 Since such practices do occasionally occur today, there is no reason to assume that they could not have occurred at the time that the gospel was written, which is believed to be between 80-90 CE.

There does seem to be a great deal of evidence to support the idea that the Gospel of Luke was indeed written by Luke the physician. Questions surrounding the question of authorship are a popular topic among theology discussions, and many Religious Studies classes focus on this issue. While the arguments in favour of another author can be made to work, they depend on a number of assumptions that seem to exist primarily in order to challenge the popular assumptions of Lukan authorship.

The Gospel of Luke like the other three Gospels depicts the life, teachings, death and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This is the largest of the four Gospels.

The Gospel opens with a salutation to Theophilus and proceeds to tell the story of the appearance of Angel Gabriel to Zachariah, whose wife Elizabeth did not have the ability to bear a child. The Angel announces to Zachariah that his wife will bear a child and that “he will bring back many people of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go as God’s messenger, strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah. He will bring fathers and children again; he will turn the disobedient people back to the way of thinking of the righteous; he will get the Lord’s people ready for him”. The dumb founded Zachariah could not believe the words of the Angel Gabriel. Zachariah was spending a long time in the Temple and when he came out he could not speak. He was punished with the dumbness till the miracle was realized by him. People knew that he had seen a vision in the Temple since he was making signs to them with his hands and unable to say a word.

Gabriel then appears before Mary, who was promised in marriage to Joseph and proclaims that the Holy Spirit will come on her and she will give birth to a son who is to be named Jesus. He adds that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God” and that the Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob for ever and his kingdom will never end”.

After a few months Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, and when Mary greeted her, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb “jumped with gladness”. In due course Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy and he was circumcised and named John. Zachariah regained his speech at that time, as he was filled with the Holly Spirit. The baby grew up into John the Baptist.

Joseph and Mary went to Becklehem to register their names for the census and ordered by Emperor Augustus. There Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in the manger. An Angel announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds. The shepherds visited the Holy Baby and spread the word around.

The baby was named Jesus, as preordained, was circumcised, and was taken for the ceremony of purification. There Simeon, a God-fearing man, filled with Holy Spirit, held the baby in his hand and praised the Lord for bringing glory to the people of Israel.

When Jesus was twelve years old his parents took him for the Passover ceremony as usual, but that year he did not return with his parents, and stayed back in the temple, with the Jewish teachers listening carefully, and asking intelligent questions. Jesus grew into a boy of great wisdom.

While Herod was the ruler of Galilee, John the Baptist was appealing to the people to turn away from their sins and to get baptized. He also preached the Good News that one much greater than him is coming to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. He also spoke critically of Governor Herod and subsequently became imprisoned.

When Jesus was about thirty years old the power of the Holy Spirit started radiating from him very powerfully and he was revered and praised by all. The Devil tried his level best to tempt Jesus through many tricks, but Jesus did not succumb to any of the tricks.

But when Jesus went to Nazareth to read from the scriptures, He was not appreciated there. There is a saying that the darkest place is under the candle. Nazareth was the place where Jesus had been brought up. Yet people failed to recognize the Holy Spirit emanating from Him.

The power embedded in Jesus started performing miracles. At Capernaum, a town in Galilee, He drove away the evil Spirit that had possessed a man. He cured the high fever of Simon’s mother-in-law.

Learning about His miraculous powers, sick people started flocking to Jesus. A touch by his hand cured every one of them. He cured a leper of his leprosy. Once a paralyzed man was carried on a bed and brought to Jesus. He told the man that “your sins are forgiven you, my friend”. The listeners were puzzled by this, thinking that only god can forgive sins. They thought Jesus was impersonating God. The paralyzed man walked back home.

Jesus was unconventional in many of his acts. He kept company with outcasts, supported and eating on Sabbath days, and even cured the crippled hand of a man on a Sabbath day. Gradually anger hatred and fear started building up against Jesus among the Pharisees and the teachers of law.

Jesus went on healing and teaching the people who flocked to him. He even breathed life into a dead man. He assured the poor and the sorrow-stricken that there is a great reward awaiting them in Heaven. He taught them to shun violence. He spread the gospel of love. He warned people against judging others. Through powerful parables Jesus started driving great ideas into the minds of the people.

As time passed, the number of miracles performed by the spiritual power of Jesus grew unbelievably. The fisherman who could not net any fish in spite of a hard day’s labor, caught netfuls of fish at the order of Jesus. A mob of evil spirits had been driven away from a possessed man into a group of swine. He calmed a storm in the ocean with a single command. A woman who had been sick for twelve days touched the robe of Jesus and got cured instantly. He raised from death the daughter of Jairus. Once He fed a crowd of five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus had gathered His disciples from among the fisherman. He gave them power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases. In due course of time He told His disciples about His impending death and resurrection. He recruited more disciples and sent seventy two of them to different towns with the message of God’s love.

To the skeptical teacher of law, He gave the parable of the Good Samaritan. He advised the Pharisees to keep their minds clean and worthy. He even told them that they “are like unmarked graves which people walk on without knowing it.” When one of the teachers of the law protested saying that Jesus was insulting them, Jesus accused them of holding the keys to the house of knowledge, neither themselves going in, nor allowing anybody else to go in. This infuriated the teachers and they wanted to wreak vengeance on Him.

In the meanwhile Jesus went on enriching the peoples’ minds through the parables of the Yeast, Mustard Seed, the Narrow Door, the Unfruitful Tree, Faithful and the Unfaithful Servant, the Great Feast, Worthless Salt, the Lost Sheep and many more. His healing miracles continued as ever. He taught the people that the kingdom of God is within themselves. He reminded them that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of the needle.

Jesus drove the merchants from the Temple, and warned people to watch out for the Teachers of Law who take advantage of the weak. They wanted to kill Jesus and finally Judas under the devil’s influence agreed to betray Christ. During the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples saying that it was His body, and gave them the wine as new covenant sealed with His blood. He added that “the one who betrays me is here at the table with me”. Jesus also predicted the denial of Peter.

Jesus was arrested after being kissed and identified by Judas, and Peter three times denied knowledge of Him, as predicted by Jesus. The elders of the Jews, the teachers and the Chief Priests asked Him if He was the “ Son of God “ and He answered “ you say that I am “. For claiming Himself to be God, they decided to punish Him and took Him to Pilate. Pilate sent for Herod. Pilate told the crowd that he did not find Jesus guilty, but the crowd shouted that Jesus must be killed. He was nailed on the Cross along with two criminals.

At Jesus’ death, noon turned into darkness, and the curtain in the Temple tore into two. His body was received by Joseph of Arimathea and some ladies who were with him and He was buried. But the third day Jesus resurrected, as He had foretold earlier. Jesus later appeared before His disciples and then was taken into heaven.

Conclusion:

The word Gospel literally means “Good News”. But the Gospels in the Bible are more than “Good News”. They belong to the genre of biography and historiography. As biography it races the birth, growth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. As historiography it draws a continuous line from the scriptures, from Abraham, through Moses, David, and Isaiah to the age of Jesus.

The gospel of St. Luke, from another perspective, is the exposition of God. Its power as scripture is simply unique.

References

Green, Joel. The theology of the Gospel of Luke. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Reid, Barbara. Choosing the better part? Women in the Gospel of Luke. Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1996.

Andy Gaus  The Unvarnished Gospel , 2001.

Rev. Steve Dunkley

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