por Paulo Neto

In Spiritism, can biblical texts be questioned? - Part 2 and final

Let us see again Genesis, Chapter I, item 29:

But who dares to consent and interpret the Holy Scriptures?Who has this right? Who has the necessary knowledge, except for the theologians?

Who dares it? In the first place is Science. It asks no one's permission to know the laws of nature, and overrides errors and prejudices.

Who has this right? In this century of intellectual emancipation and freedom of conscience, the right of examination pertains to everyone, and the Scriptures are no longer the Holy Ark in which no one dared to touch without running the risk of being struck.

Regarding the necessary special knowledge, without contesting that of the theologians, and as much enlightened as those of the Middle Ages could have been, and in particular the Fathers of the Church, they were not enough to stop condemning as heresy the movement of the Earth and the belief in the antipodes. (1) And without going that far, have not the theologians of our days cast an anathema over the theory of the periods of formation of the Earth?

Men could only explain the Scriptures with the help of what they had the knowledge of: false or incomplete notions about the laws of nature later revealed by Science. For this reason, the theologians themselves, in very good faith, have been deceived about the meaning of certain words and facts of the Gospel. By wanting at all costs to find in it the confirmation of a preconceived thought, they walked in circles, without abandoning their point of view, always returning to the same circle, without abandoning their ideas, in such a way that they saw only what they wanted to see. No matter how wise the theologians were, they could not understand the causes that depended of laws they did not know.

But who will judge the different interpretations, often contradictory, given outside of Theology? The future, logic and common sense will. Men, increasingly enlightened as new facts and new laws are revealed, will be able to separate utopian systems from reality. Now, Science makes known some laws; Spiritism allows us to know others; all are indispensable for the understanding of the sacred texts of all religions, from Confucius and Buddha to Christianity. In relation to Theology, it cannot, in seriousness, claim contradictions of Science, for it is not always in agreement with itself. (2)(Emphasis added)

This speech of Kardec is very clear as to the necessity in the advance of the studies of the biblical texts taking as base the new laws that the Science and the Spiritism make known. How long will the interpretations of the theologians of the past prevail? This is our challenge:

 [...] All the Scriptures contain great truths under the veil of allegory, and because they have attached themselves to the word, and that is why the commentators have gone astray. They lacked the key to understand the true meaning. This key is in the discoveries of Science and in the laws of the invisible world, which Spiritism reveals. From now on, with the aid of this new knowledge, what was obscure will become clear and intelligible. (3) (Italics in the original and bold ours).

Let us continue, let us reestablish the teachings of Jesus in His true sense, but for this it is necessary to abandon the mythical Jesus, created by the theologians of the old and maintained by those of the present, to follow the historical Jesus, who is the true one.

Some theological points refuted by Kardec

Since the Encoder in The Gospel According to Spiritism dealt with only the moral teaching of Jesus, some confreres think that he questioned nothing about the theological interpretations then in force in his time, many of them still today being taught in the so-called Christian churches.

For information purposes: The Gospel According to Spiritismcontains 28 Chapters of which 20, or 71%, have some excerpts from the Sermon on the Mount (SM); if we analyze it considering the number of verses, the SM has 111 (Matthew 5, 6 and 7), of which 95 are mentioned in The Gospel According to Spiritism, i.e., 86%.

Apart from some issues in The Book of Spirits, among the works in which parts were developed, we find two where Kardec's comments stand out for his questioning of the current theology: Heaven and Hell (08/1865) and Genesis (01/1868). Subsequently, the book Posthumous Works (01/1890) was published, containing several manuscripts of his private collection, in which we find several unpublished texts and we can also see his critiques regarding theological interpretations.

In Chapter V - Considerations on the plurality of existences, from The Book of Spirits, Kardec makes it very clear that John the Baptist was the reincarnated prophet Elijah, which means that he fought against the dominant theology that does not accept the principle of reincarnation. In The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter IV - No one can see the Kingdom of God and not be born again, reinforce this, that is, that Elijah reincarnated, returning in the personality of John the Baptist. The doctrinal principle of reincarnation, quite right, hurts the dogmas of all Christian churches, since they all preach the unique life.

In Heaven and Hell, we have Kardec discussing, contrary to the current interpretation of Heaven, Hell, and the Doctrine of eternal punishments, Angels, Demons, and the prohibition of evoking the dead.

In Genesis, we find the Encoder, questioning the following points: the Mosaic genesis, the miracles of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus, the appearance of Jesus after death and the disappearance of the body of Jesus.

Of all miracles, there is one that I consider very interesting, because it supports what I have been saying for some time. It is about the supposed transformation of water into wine performed by Jesus at the Wedding at Cana. I copy these paragraphs from Kardec's comments:

47. This miracle, mentioned in one and only Gospel, the one of John, is indicated as the first one that Jesus performed, and for that reason it should be the most striking. It must have caused a very weak impression because no other evangelist spoke about it. Such an extraordinary event would have impressed the guests very much, and especially the owner of the house and it looks like as if he was even unaware of what happened there.

Considered in itself this fact is of little importance if compared to those that really testify the spiritual qualities of Jesus. Assuming that things happened as they are reported, it is remarkable that it is the only phenomenon of this kind that He performed. Jesus was of a very high nature to deal with purely material effects, suited only to arouse the curiosity of the multitude that would have compared Him to a magician. He knew that useful things would win more sympathies and bring Him more followers than those that were a result of a great skill or ability, but they would never touch the heart.

Although, the fact can strictly be explained, to a certain extent, by a fluid action, that  - magnetism offers examples - could have changed the properties of water, giving it the taste of wine. But this hypothesis is unlikely, since in this case water, having only the taste of wine, would have preserved its color, which would not fail to be noticed. It is more rational to see there one of these parables so frequent in the teachings of Jesus, as the young prodigal, the wedding feast, and many others. He would have made some allusion to wine and water during the meal, from which he drew an instruction. What justifies this opinion are the words which the steward addressed to Him: "Every man serves at first the good wine and after they have drunk enough then the inferior wine is used. But for you, you have reserved the good wine until now". (4) (Emphasis in italics on the original, our bold)

From the speech of the steward to the bridegroom - "Every man at first serves good wine and after they drink enough the inferior wine is used. But for you, you have reserved the good wine until now". - is the meaning of this parable: Jesus, or his teachings, is the good wine, the best quality.

In Posthumous Works, in the Chapter “A Study on the nature of Christ”, the Encoder presents his arguments that firmly oppose the dogma of the divinity of Jesus, and, indirectly, the Trinity. He clarifies that there is nothing in the Gospels that can support the divinity of Jesus rather several of his lines prove that he was an envoy (messenger).

The dogma of the divinity of Jesus was based on the absolute equality between His person and God, since He Himself is God. This is an article of faith. These words, which Jesus so often repeated: He who sent me, not only prove a duality of persons, but also, as we have already said, exclude the absolute equality between them, since he who is sent necessarily is subordinate to the one who sends . By obeying, he practices an act of submission. [...]. (5) (Emphasis added)

The belief in the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity are doctrinal principles of all Christian churches, so Kardec, in refuting such ideas, overturns these two beliefs, a fact that has never made him uncomfortable or even done something in which the feeling of respect and love of neighbor was not the basis of his action.

But let's look at something interesting that Kardec stated earlier:

Since He wrote nothing, his only historians were the Apostles who also wrote nothing when Christ was still alive. Since no profane historian, his contemporary, spoke of him, there are no other documents besides the Gospels, about his life and his doctrine. So, all youhave to do is find the key to the problem. All subsequent writings, not excluding those of St. Paul, are only - and cannot be more than this – simple comments or opinions, reflections of personal opinions, often contradictory, which in no case could have the authority of the narrative of someone who received instruction directly from the Master. (6)(Emphasis added)

Dear reader, please note that Kardec is saying that Paul's writings contain only "simple comments or opinions, and reflections of personal opinions", which oppose to what the Spiritists think about the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Let us see what the exegete Bart D. Ehrman in Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene says about Paul's writings:

 [...] for a long time scholars think that some of the New Testament Epistles attributed to Paul were actually written by others on his behalf under a pseudonym. This is because they, for the most part, represent points of view contrary to those of the undoubtedly Pauline Epistles. In fact, six Epistles were questioned, almost half of the entire corpus of the Pauline texts: 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. [...]. (7) (Emphasis added).

Therefore, those who consider all the Pauline texts as inspired or representing some divine revelation may be spreading things no longer suited to reality, which arose, of course, after the Textual Criticism focused on them.

A little further on, Ehrman states:

The Bible was written in a specific time and place. To pull it out of its context and pretend that its words will automatically apply to our own time and place, without any change, is pure madness(not to hard-hitting). (8) (Emphasis added)

Thus, it is necessary to clarify the need to contextualize the biblical narratives and to do this, it is worthwhile to separate the chaff from the wheat, otherwise we will not get to the true meaning of what the author really wants to say, or recounts.


For several times we hear justification of this kind: "There are issues in relation to the Bible, which should not be spoken at public meetings; they would be appropriate for a restricted audience trained on specific studies. The themes of the lectures in public meetings should be only the moral ones, which alleviate and / or provoke elevation of thoughts on the part of the listeners".

In principle one can agree with this type of idea, but seeing things more accurately, we believe that, within the Spiritist House, one should not have any concern other than to speak the truth; we only have to exercise the charity to do whatever is possible to dose it, for "Truth is like light: one must become accustomed to it little by little, if not it overshadows". (9)

We are of the opinion that if we can say nothing, then we will have, for example, to give up claiming that Jesus is our model and guide, to silence about reincarnation, among several other doctrinal points.

Also, considering that the people dedicated to the enlightenment of our neighbors, we believe that it is not at all improbable that many of them may, in some situations, be assisted by good Spirits who are interested in the progress of Humanity, taking into account that "ideas only bear fruit when the earth is ready to receive them". (10)


[1] Nota da Transcrição: Quando a Terra era considerada fixa no centro do Universo, considerava-se absurda e herética a ideia de habitantes vivendo do lado oposto dela, pois estariam de ponta-cabeça e cairiam do planeta. (N. do E.)
[2] KARDEC, A. A Gênese, p. 54-55.
[3] KARDEC, Obras Póstumas, p. 354.
[4] KARDEC, A Gênese, p. 337.
[5] KARDEC, Obras Póstumas, p. 142.
[6] KARDEC, Obras Póstumas, p. 136.
[7] EHRMAN, Pedro, Paulo e Maria Madalena, p.232-233.
[8] EHRMAN, Pedro, Paulo e Maria Madalena, p. 292-293
[9] KARDEC, O Livro dos Espíritos, p. 287.
[10] KARDEC, O Céu e o Inferno, p. 9. 



EHRMAN, B. D. Peter, Paul and Mary MagdaleneRio de Janeiro: Record, 2008.

KARDEC, A. Heaven and HellBrasilia: FEB, 2013.

KARDEC, A. The Gospel according to Spiritism. Brasilia: FEB, 2013.

KARDEC, A. The Book of Spirits. Brasilia: FEB, 2013.

KARDEC, A. Posthumous Works. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 2006.

KARDEC, A. Spiritist Journey in 1862. Matao, SP: The Clarim, 2000.

PAROSCHI, W. Textual Criticism of the New TestamentSao Paulo: Vida Nova, 1993.

PIRES, J. H. Existential Conception of GodSao Paulo: Paideia, 2003.

Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



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 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita