Bishop Pike and the Jesus Mystery

In the previous post, Bloodline Secrets, I started by stating the advantage of using the Noetitek™ system to analyze and explore matters “…steeped in culture-sustaining tradition aimed at elucidation of the masses…” This article will present and discuss a leading-edge example of one man’s steadfast effort to sustain cultural tradition in tandem with diligently pursuing elucidation of the masses of people who are adherent, in varying degrees, to the multivariate religious brand known as “Christian.” The man was James A. Pike, the Episcopal Bishop for the State of California a half-century ago, a controversial priest who died in the Judean wilderness in 1969 near the end of his quest to know and understand the historical Jesus. Pike was a self-honest clergyman impelled by a desire for truth and by respect for what Church fathers in the day called, condescendingly, “the little people,” the flock.

Before proceeding, I should disclose that I am not and have never been an Anglican/Episcopalian, although many of my “kith and kin” are, or were, lifelong members and people worthy of respect for their moral convictions and noteworthy contributions to society. Having only an in-depth familiarity through prolonged firsthand investigation during the mid-1970s, and through armchair study, I have no agenda of advocacy, nor do I have any desire to protest its doctrines. But I will say that, several years after Pike’s death I still saw no discernible changes emerge locally due to his influence, and I found some attitudes and doctrines to be far from congruent with my personal experiences or with my certainties as expressed in recent years via various posts about my philo-religion: NoetiTaoism™; see, for example, “NoetiTaoism—Questions and Answers” (May, 2011). However, my recent research indicates that the Church has made many changes over the past forty years that would please Pike.

To further preface the following paragraphs, I suggest that anyone interested in learning details about James A. Pike and his quest for the historical Jesus read three books: The Death and Life of Bishop Pike (1976), by William Stringfellow and Anthony Towne; If This Be Heresy (1967) by James A. Pike; and The Wilderness Revolt (1972), by Diane Kennedy Pike and R. Scott Kennedy, the last book being a thesis assembled after Pike’s death by his third wife, Diane, who had participated with him in conducting the research, drafting the notes, and compiling the files used to create the book which presents “a new view on the life and death of Jesus…” Bishop Pike had written several other books, but this was his crowning work, which, some would say he guided to completion from beyond the mortal cocoon and coil. Pike was no enemy of psychic phenomena or the idea that a person’s spirit survives bodily death—to the contrary.

Bishop Pike was a tireless civic as well as religious leader, an advocate of truth and social justice who worked with people of both great and small renown in support of all sorts of projects and programs to benefit the people of the State of California, the nation, and beyond. Jack E. Early was one example of the latter. I happen to have a copy of Pike’s book (a synchronistic acquisition), If This Be Heresy, which he inscribed for Jack Early, the man who created an inspirational place of beauty: Jack Early Park, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge from a high and rocky place that had been inaccessible before Early envisioned it and made it a reality for the sake of the public’s enjoyment. Pike knew that the human spirit can be elevated in locations other than church pews, and he supported achievement of that in every possible venue. He is best remembered for his liberal activism related to major issues such as: women’s rights and birth control; racism and civil rights for minorities; capital punishment; censorship; fair housing; civil liberties and civil disobedience; the Vietnam War; and many other crucial and controversial matters during the 1960s. For Pike, virtue always ruled over political correctness.

Blind faith in Church doctrine was also not Pike’s way and not on his agenda for others. As a leader in the Episcopal Church, he advocated such things as: reexamination of traditional dogma; ecumenical renewal; discovery/recovery of Christian origins and historical Jesus; reformation of ecclesiastical due process; and ordination of women. He openly expressed interest in parapsychology and wrote a book, The Other Side: An Account of My Experiences with Psychic Phenomena, in which he disclosed experiences centering on communications with his deceased son. While some may dismiss his account as ravings of a man whose mind was clouded by grief, mysticism, and magical thinking, Pike had been a senior trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission and had been an officer in Naval Intelligence during World War II. He had also been head of the Department of Religion at Columbia University and Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. For ten years he served as Chairman of the California Advisory Committee to the U. S. Civil Rights Commission and was also a staff member of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He was not naïve, unschooled, or unworldly.

Heresy procedures were initiated against Pike three times during the mid-1960s due to his preference for ecclesiastical honesty over obedience to dogma, and for people over tradition. In a 1964 sermon on doctrine, for example, Pike said that: the three-persons-in-one-substance doctrine (Trinity) was “non-communicative and unnecessary,” which drew fire against him, including a call for the House of Bishops to try him for heresy. As I understand Pike from his own writings, his conviction was that doctrine should be able to be affirmed by virtue of historical facts and experiential-faith-supportive data relevant and acceptable to modern-day people. He was not opposed to myth and poetry but believed that the stuff of symbols and metaphors should be reserved for use as “avenues for communication,” not taken as strictly factual, and he further asserted that this perceived antiquated approach was diminishing Church membership. Despite his agnosticism, and despite the fact that formal heresy charges were made against him by fellow bishops, Bishop Pike was never tried for or convicted of heresy.

Pike resigned as Bishop of California to focus on his then “all-consuming interest”: to know the true origins of Christianity and to know the truth about the faith as it was delivered to the Apostles and saints in Jesus’ day and during the centuries before Christianity became a patented (by canons) and trademarked (by icons) religion. As his wife, Diane, inscribed in red ink on the title page of the copy of The Wilderness Revolt that I have in my library: “In the joy of sharing this study which has opened so many doors of understanding for me,” in my study of Pike I gained a better picture of him as a spiritual descendant of Jesus—perhaps a lesser priest in the Order of Melchizedek—because Pike sought to cleanse the Church much as Jesus sought to cleanse the Temple, and both sought to reveal mysteries of the Kingdom to their flock. Why a “lesser priest?” Because Pike never understood certain truths, such as the nature and significance of the Holy Trinity—a basically valid theological concept although scientific explanation and evidence for it had yet to be found.

A bedrock discovery enabled by the new science Noetitek™ system was the full dimensional structure of Omniverse/Creation/Reality and the functional operation of those dimensions. Within that structure, another name for the first three dimensions—three sub-particle-based meta-physical dimensions as yet undiscovered by physicists—is the Trinity, the three-working-as-one “force” of higher Consciousness by which, in which, and through which Time and Space and all things come into being. See earlier posts such as: “The Structure of Consciousness” (September, 2013). NoetiTaoism™ embodies knowledge and understanding that has eluded the Elect of western religion. If Bishop Pike were alive today, I believe he would join in my heresy: that there should be no antagonism between—nor is there wisdom in separating the truth-seeking quests of—the domains of religion and science. In spite of overlapping agendas, they remain overly proprietary and far from grafting and blossoming as one plant. Yet there are buds.

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