Why Harpur Must Be Read
1. Tom Harpur is a highly read and respected Canadian scholar, columnist and author.
2. He is passionate about important issues. Here is an admirable statement:
Faithful readers of my previous books, and of my columns over the years, will know that I have been steadily and inexorably pushed by the Spirit toward an independent realization of many of the truths expressed much more boldly and fully in this volume (p. 177). Anyone so devoted to world peace, unity, and the pursuit of truth like this should be recognized.
3. Jesus said, Come to terms quickly with your accuser (Matthew 5:25). Harpur presents very serious and valid criticisms of the Church and Christianity. The Church is guilty of horrible atrocities such as the Inquisition, genocide, and abuses. To this day the Church oppresses, manipulates, and abuses people. I believe these accusations must be acknowledged. For a more extended critique of the church, you must read Sam Harris , The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.
4. He has unique and penetrating insight into the Church, which I love and am passionate about. He ministered to local congregations for years, and that is a valuable asset. When he writes, (quoting Gibbon), The practice of superstition is so congenial to the multitudes that, if they are forcibly awakened, they still regret the loss of their pleasing vision , that is a pastorally sensitive insight. Throughout his book he tries to ease his traditionally biased readers into some of the radical statements he s about to make, like a good pastor would. I would love to sit down with him in such a setting as this over a bottle of fine red wine and discuss the welfare of the Church in Canada and the world (He is a wine-expert of sorts. See his book, The Spirituality of Wine). His dog is welcomed to!
5. He has, in one volume, The Pagan Christ, condensed an important philosophy that I think must be understood so that it can be discussed intelligently. I believe Harpur represents one of the oldest opponents of Christianity: Gnosticism. I realize he claims that his form of Gnosticism is ancient with pagan roots, and that the official Christian Church rejected early Gnosticism, to its eternal detriment. I personally believe it was rejected for good reason (I ll have to elaborate later in a fuller essay). But the fact that this philosophy continues to present itself to the Church from the earliest days until now, even emerging from within the Church (as Harpur is himself a testimony to), demands that it be heard, understood, and debated.