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Quote of the week from In Search of the Loving God:
nother quite astounding, but little heard of, consequence of this doctrinal bickering in the sixth century [within Christianity], was that it paved the way for the rise of Islam, which has ever since been the Christian world’s greatest enemy, and fiercest competitor. The western Arabs in Syria had long been Monophysite Christians, and as such had been greatly persecuted by those favoring a dual-nature Christology, including Justinian himself, before he met Theodora. Mundhir, a late sixth century leader of the Syrian Arabs, like his father before him, proudly protected the Arab Christians from the Persian Arabs, who were pagans. He twice defeated the Persians, who were also the enemies of Constantinople and the Christian Empire, breaking their power. Conscious of the service he had rendered Constantinople, Mundhir wrote to one of Justinian’s successors asking for money to pay his tribes for their military service. Not only did he receive back an insulting refusal from the emperor, but by mistake he also received a letter intended for the imperial commander, who had also been fighting the Persians, ordering him to invite Mundhir to a conference and kill him! Not surprisingly, this treachery caused Mundhir to withdraw his support, and this in turn allowed the Persians to regain their strength, regroup, and defeat the weak Greek forces. Mundhir was not, however, about to allow the Persians to plunder Christian Syria, so he once again fought on the side of the Greeks, and achieved a great victory over the Persians. This time he brought home huge amounts of booty, and was finally able to handsomely reward the tribes the emperor had refused to supply money to pay. After this Mundhir did his best to heal the rift in Christianity which kept his countrymen fighting each other, and had long been a cause of their persecution by the Greeks. He traveled to Constantinople (in 580 A.D.) to plead with the emperor to put a stop to the theological disputes which were ruining Arab Christianity, and to beg for tolerance of the Monophysite position. The emperor received him with honor, pledged his support, and called the disputing bishops together, getting them to agree to live in peace with each other. Unfortunately the disputing factions did not keep their promises, and were soon persecuting each other again.
Consideration of the political and military machinations of church leaders in those days shows why “bishops” are among the title pieces in the game of chess, along with knights, castles, kings and queens. Mundhir’s appeal to the emperor obviously created resentment amongst some of the bishops, for the upshot of it was that a plot was laid against him. A false friend asked him to visit him to discuss a religious matter, and while Mundhir was away from his guards, accused him of treachery, seized him, and sent him in chains to Constantinople. He ended up in permanent forced exile in Sicily. This outrage, on top of all the persecution they had received from the empire, greatly angered the Arab Christians, and this anger soon hardened into an implacable hatred of the Greeks. From this time on the Syrian Arabs joined forces with the Persians, their former enemies, and the supremacy of the Christian Arabs ended. Although Christianity persisted amongst them, it became less popular, as it was seen to be associated with their loathsome enemies, the Greeks. This end of the predominance of Christianity amongst the Arabs, and their seeking instead unity amongst themselves, was a direct consequence of the treachery and intolerance of the Imperial Christian Church. The church would pay dearly for this treachery, and for its long history of shameful treatment of Arab Christians: Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was just at this time approaching manhood.
Within two centuries Muhammad’s powerful and united Islamic empire would advance as far as France, and threaten the very existence of Christian Europe. Constantinople itself, the capital of the early Christian empire, later fell to the Muslims, and remains Islamic to this day, as the city of Istanbul. Justinian’s exquisitely beautiful church of Haghia Sophia, in this city, has been a Muslim Mosque since the fifteenth century. If the sixth century Christian establishment had been able to be even reasonably tolerant of Monophysite Christianity, and had been able to avoid even just the grossest of their treachery, then Muhammad would not have had fertile ground in which to plant his new religion, which was, in the beginning, only very reluctantly accepted by the Arabs, and it is highly likely the Arab world would be Christian today. Instead, the policy of the Imperial Christians was, in the words of one modern scholar, “as foolish as it was wicked. Henceforth they stood for tyranny and injustice in the eyes of the Arabs, and through them Christianity was associated with perfidy.” [And, quite clearly, this view of the Christian West by the Arab world persists in many places to the present day!]
— From In Search of the Loving God, Chapter 8, "Doctrinal Bickering: Preparing the Way for Islam" pp. 121-124.
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Endorsements and Reviews:
In Search of the Loving God is a book written with a purpose - and that purpose is to bring an age old message of truth and love to our tired, confused and desperate world. Mark is out to conquer hearts and win love for God. His book mingles impressive scholarship with both poetic appeal and down to earth empirical experiences. The world is in great need of the healing that this book could bring it.
(Ian D. Baynes, B.V.Sc., M.A.P.S.)
In Search of the Loving God reads like a combination mystery, history, and Bible commentary all rolled into one. Read it for its enlightening view on Scripture and revealing stories of the church's history. May the Spirit use this book to reach many people with its hopeful
message for the future of Christianity.
(Joy Wells, Educator)
Mr Mason's skills as both researcher and writer are such that I was unable to put the book down once I started it. He makes what could be a very dry topic not only readable, but also highly relevant to someone who is attempting to move beyond surface spirituality to a level of deep understanding and growth.
His book is divided into two parts. The first gives a very comprehensive, and eye-opening, history of the Bible and Christianity as a religion. He shows incredibly clearly how and why the church strayed from the teachings of Jesus and what that means to the church today. The second section shows how the Bible and its teachings are relevant to seekers in today's world. He describes Bible passages that teach us about reincarnation, a simple lifestyle and free will, and he includes wonderful and affirming interpretations about what hell and the book of Revelation really means.
(Patricia Vallerand, from her review of In Search of the Loving God in the Observer Quarterly)
To read more reviews, and more of what readers are saying about his book, see the reviews and endorsements page at this site.
Author's description of In Search of the Loving God:
In Search of the Loving God proposes that the key to knowing and loving God is meditation, but that before we can love God, and effectively meditate, we need to overcome our fear of Him. The book challenges traditional Christian beliefs by taking a fresh look at the life of Jesus, and at how the church soon became corrupt and power-seeking and largely ignored Jesus' teachings, invented the concept of everlasting punishment in hell in order to control people through fear, and eventually terrorized European society with the Inquisition and the witch craze, in which millions of women were burned at the stake, often for no crime greater than being a midwife. It looks at the disturbing similarities between medieval Christianity and modern religious fundamentalism, which in America manifests as the Christian Coalition, and other organizations of the religious right. It shows how the "us and them" nature of our society is based on, and underpinned by, the medieval Christian belief that some people are valuable to God and are saved, while others are not and are eternally damned. The importance of the separation of church and state in protecting us against fundamentalism, and preserving our freedom to make our own moral choices is highlighted, as is the reality of our free will -- God's greatest gift to us.
The book has chapters on why there is no honest Biblical basis for believing in everlasting punishment in hell, Biblical evidence for believing in Reincarnation, a metaphysical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, how to meditate, the reality of miracles in our lives, and on how Christianity could be more accepting of other religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. It advocates a radical reform of Christianity, which would result in it becoming a religion of love and acceptance, rather than what it traditionally has been: a religion of guilt and fear. Abandoning the belief in eternal hell, and embracing reincarnation and meditation may sound particularly New Age, but the Bible shows Jesus taught these concepts, and that they open the way to knowing and loving God. If you are looking for a loving and inclusive spirituality, a Christianity that embraces God and all people, then this book might be a stepping stone on your path.
In divine love,
Challenge yourself to this zany and informative Religous History Quiz
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The Hot Springs of America, a novel, showing how another "terrorist" attack could mean the end of our current democracy, and plunge America into a second civil war. Read two complete chapters online, and if want to read the rest, the e-book can be purchased for just $5.95 (PayPal or Credit Card). To start reading, click here: The Hot Springs of America.
Original Songs: Songs of love, peace and the spirit. A number of songs I have written, including "Avatar" and "Live by the Words We Say": Songs.
Clipper Ship is a suite of productivity tools that makes working on a computer easier and more enjoyable. It includes an "instant spreadsheet," allowing you to do calculations with numbers in editors or word processors, even if they are mixed with text. It also allows you to paste often-used blocks of text from a pick list, and copy symbols not on your keyboard from a symbol list. It has a macro recorder, enabling you to record and replay keystrokes and mouse actions. It has an Area from Map feature that easily gets diminsions and areas from on-screen maps including Google Earth. It has an image capture feature that copies the current window or the whole screen into the Paint program so you can edit and save the images. It has a multi-clipboard, enabling you to paste any of the last 12 clips you have copied, monitors your typing speed in the current session (if you care to look at it!), and it is also an abbreviation expander with over 26,000 built-in short forms for words and phrases. It is fully Windows 7 compatible, and also works on previous versions of windows. To find out more, and to download the free 'Lite' version of the program, click here: Clipper Ship.
Aquarius Database is a freeware business database with perpetual inventory stock control and many other nice features, which will meet the needs of many startup and/or small businesses, and which can be extended later to give added functionality as a business grows. To find out more about it, click here: Aquarius Database.
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