Did Jesus Really Say That?
The questioner knows that I always "vet" gospel quotations to see if Jesus really said them or not. My resource for such checking is THE FIVE GOSPELS. What Did Jesus Really Say?, written by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and The Jesus Seminar. Altogether, hundreds of "non-partisan" Bible scholars contributed to the work. The "five" in the title refers to the fact that the Gospel of Thomas should have been included in the official canon decided upon in the fourth century, but it was not "politically correct" to do so back then.
The scripture being questioned appears in Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, besides Matthew. It is known as The Great Commission, and reads like this: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." It was copied from one to another in all of those New Testament books. Scholars know with absolute certainty that it was not written by Luke, who wrote both Luke and Acts, nor was it written by whoever wrote the other three books. The Great Commission was written by early Christian Church leaders who wanted to market their new religion more effectively. In other words, truthful words, this quote from first century Jesus was made up by second or third century clergy to serve their own purposes.
A next question might be, "Who cares?" I care, because I care about truth. I will not quote Jesus if Jesus did not say what I am quoting. This apparently is not a scruple for non-Unity clergy, all of whom should know the scholarship with which I have made myself familiar.
A follow-up question might be, "Should we then not baptize?" In Unity we do what is helpful for advancing spiritual unfoldment. If baptism is desired by a congregant, I will perform the ritual, but in an adaptive way. I do not use water, because that symbolically implies cleansing, as if the child or adult being baptized is in need of a good scrubbing. We know that everyone is born with original virtue, not the "original sin" that was made up by St. Augustine. I present the ritual of baptism as a christening, not a cleansing. Christening is a fine word, made even better by pronouncing it as a CHRIST -in-ing, for it is an acknowledging that the Christ spirit indwells the individual being baptized, just as it indwells all people, everywhere, always. If such an acknowledgement inspires folks to work on expressing more of their Christ, then the ritual serves its good purpose, even though it was not commanded to be done by Jesus Christ.
A final question on this same topic might be, "Why 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'?" The church leadership wrote it up that way because by the time of the writing they were Trinitarians. The earliest leaders of Christianity were monotheists, for they were initially Jewish, envisioning Spirit as being a singularity. It is historical fact that the later Christian leaders had developed an intense hatred for Jews. In my opinion, they were embarrassed by the historical connection with Judaism. They wanted their religion to be more distinct from its Jewish origins. They, therefore, changed their image of God. No longer was it the Jewish Jehovah. Now it was the three-in-one, with Jesus, conveniently, being named one of the three, even though he adamantly denied being God, as is recorded in the gospel accounts!
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