The Natural Christianity Project

"It is the purpose of this lecture to revive some of the primordial links of relationship between the religious emotions in man's heart and the phenomena of the external world. For religion once owned to a close affinity with natural events and the course of the solar year."
- Alvin Boyd Kuhn

Introduction

I grew up in a small town in central Oklahoma where the two most important things in life were God and football. My mother would take us to church every Sunday and during the summer I’d attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) where I’d spend my days participating in Sword drills, memorizing Bible verses, and pledging allegiance to various things like the American flag; the Christian flag; and the Bible. Needless to say, my life was steeped in good, old-fashioned Biblical indoctrination right from the start.

When I left home for college, I developed a fascination with philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion. Even though I majored in Computer Science, I took enough extracurricular courses in philosophy that I practically minored in it. I would spend my days writing computer programs and studying complex algorithms, while spending my nights reading the great philosophers of history. It was during this period that I first became exposed to the esoteric and mystical side of Christianity.

After college, I got married and went to work as a software engineer. A few years passed, during which I continued to study philosophy and ancient wisdom traditions. As I dug deeper, I came across a passage by the Jewish historian Josephus that would change the way I read and understood the Bible forever.

The Josephus Epiphany

What started as a leisurely night of reading, quickly turned into the beginning of one of the greatest intellectual pursuits of my life. While reading Josephus’s work, Antiquities of the Jews, I stumbled across a curious passage about the tabernacle in Book III, Chapter VI that caught me by surprise. It said:

"However, this proportion of measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world."

An “imitation of the system of the world?” What did that mean? Further into the chapter, he describes the candlestick in the following way:

"It was made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all); by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun among them. It terminated into seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the number of planets."

As I continued reading, I quickly came across another passage that was just as cryptic. In Chapter VII, Josephus writes about how Moses set up the tabernacle and makes two references that spurred my curiosity even further. The first passage was:

"And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished in so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly imitated the Decanti, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number."

The second reference was about the veils used in the tabernacle:

"The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the purple signified the sea, because that colour is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish; the blue is fit to signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. […] And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four [elements]."

What amazed me was that here we had a well-noted Jewish historian, one that many Christian scholars and theologians often reference, commenting on how objects and materials used in the tabernacle were symbolically representative of various celestial objects (i.e. the candlestick and the planets). He also described the correspondence between the veils and the four classical elements (Fire, Air, Water, Earth) that were famously written about by many of the ancient philosophers including Plato.

As I allowed what I had read to sink in, I slowly realized that what I thought were just a bunch of overly detailed instructions and processes for establishing a place of worship, were, in reality, a rich codex of symbolism and meaning.

Instantly, I began asking myself questions like: Where did Josephus learn all this? Are there other writers or resources saying the same type of things? How far does the rabbit hole go and what other symbolic meanings tie Scripture to the natural world? And, most importantly, why have I never heard about this type of Symbolism in church on Sunday mornings - why is it not taught?

As a result of that initial spark of light, the information I’ve learned over the years has taken me on a journey through the works of some of the greatest philosophers in history such as Philo; Plato; and Pythagoras. I’ve studied the writings of many of the early church fathers such as Clement, Origen, and Justin Martyr. And I’ve explored some of the rediscovered ideas of the ancient traditions through the works of more recent (and mostly unknown) religious thinkers such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn; Gerald Massey; and Reverend Robert Taylor. Through it all, I have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding of the correspondences between the philosophies and observations of the natural world and the stories in the Bible.

What I discovered was that there is a whole segment of the Christian tradition that understands the Biblical narrative in a completely different way than what I was taught in church on Sunday mornings.

A Connection, Severed

You see, the beliefs we hold don’t just appear out of nowhere. Rather, they are the result of thousands of years of philosophical and theological evolution. What started as Man’s quest to find meaning in life, has evolved into the various religious systems that we find all over the world today. They are embedded in the foundations of the Jewish and Christian traditions. The seeds of these religions were planted long ago when man had nothing but the natural world to instruct and guide his understanding.

The connection ancient man had to the natural world around him eventually developed into a complex understanding of his own spiritual constitution. The result of these observations became a complex system of correspondences between the heavens above and the world below. It was this system of correspondences that spawned the famous hermetic axiom “As above, so below” upon which various mythologies and religions - including Christianity - were built. It was a deep fusion of astronomy and allegory.

With over two decades of research and time spent thinking about these ideas, it has become my belief that as we look at Christian theology today, it seems that our connection to the natural world (and the symbolic framework used to interact with it) was cut off somewhere along the way.

Purpose of the Project

No doubt, it’s a complex process of evolution that has moved us from the ancient observations about the heavens to the Scriptures we have today. Anyone looking to understand the deeper meanings of the Biblical stories has a lot of information and knowledge to sift through and process. There is a multitude of ancient and modern-day philosophers and writings to wade through, many of which are difficult to understand.

But that is why I have decided to launch The Natural Christianity Project.

I want to begin the process of organizing the ideas and research I’ve thought about and collected over the years. I want to aggregate as many of my writings into a centralized location and create a resource that gives others enough introductory information and commentary from which to begin their study into how these ancient observations were transformed into the complex Biblical narratives we have today.

I want to continue the process of unearthing the symbolic and mystical references that lie hidden within Scripture, focusing specifically on the science of correspondences and the mythologies that communicate philosophical truth.

Most importantly, I also want to understand what we have lost and what we can learn about our own spiritual journey from these ideas.

Disclaimer

Let me state upfront that over the millennia, science has proven some of the understandings and beliefs about ancient astronomy and astrology to be false. And there is no doubt that some of the ideas presented have been corrected as science has progressed - I do not dispute that.

However, we must keep in mind that the writers and practitioners of ancient times did believe these ideas to be true (not necessarily factually true, but spiritually true - there is a difference).

Even though some of the archaic understandings have proven to be false (i.e. we now know there are more than 7 planets), we can’t allow ourselves to miss the bigger picture. Even as some of the astronomical observations that we will discuss may have changed over the centuries, they still informed the biblical narrative we have today, and they were used as visceral object lessons to speak about the spiritual journey of man.

I’ll also admit this upfront - I know some of these topics could be considered “controversial” to some people. One thing can be said about the nature of theology - everyone has their own.

Sure, groups of people may come together and agree to have a shared theological understanding of God and the Bible, but when it comes down to what each person truly believes, I suspect that most people will have slight differences. That’s because everyone brings a different set of experiences and circumstances to the table when they read the Bible and think about the idea of God. Each person will read a passage of Scripture differently because their unique life experiences serve as a foundation from which they understand things. As a result, we all have our own, personal theology that we subscribe to.

And my research and resources that will be provided on this website will be no different.

They will present a single man’s research and angle on the topic. It is a perspective that I have come to call Natural Christianity, told from a viewpoint that is informed by a specific set of life experiences, education, research, and thought processes - all of which are still being refined.

Roadmap

So, we will need to lay some initial groundwork. Define some terms. Talk about some basic astronomy and science. This will give us a firm foundation upon which to begin analyzing the correspondences and underlying philosophies.

Here is a glimpse of some of the things I plan to dive into:

  • Rhythms and Cycles of Nature
  • A History of Stargazing: Stellar, Lunar and Solar Cults
  • Sol Invictus: The Importance of the Sun in Ancient Traditions
  • The Zodiac and Other Constellations
  • The Sun’s Journey Through the Zodiac
  • The “Wandering Stars” (Planets)
  • The Lunar Calendar
  • Symbolic Numbers
  • As Above, So Below - Hermetic Philosophy
  • Spirit, Matter & the Journey of the Soul
  • The 4 Classical Elements (Air, Water, Earth, Fire)
  • Mystery Schools/Traditions
  • Sacred Geometry
  • Biblical Symbolism (Both Old and New Testaments)

And much, much more…

If this sounds like something that interests you, consider subscribing to the Natural Christianity Newsletter where I will send you updates directly to your inbox. You can subscribe by simply entering your email in the form below. I promise to never spam you with unnecessary emails and I will never sell your information. Sign-up is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Here’s to a fascinating journey.

Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash