I had not heard of the Westar Institute. Nor of this author. But I really enjoyed your link to the quotes from Tom Harpur and Alvin Kuhn! It is just the kind of conclusion I am reaching about esoteric Christiainity and the meanings of the allegories in world religions in general.
You're right, it is similar to Spong and also to Freke/Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries.
Anyone who considers themselves a student of world religions, a believer in "everything," or a mystic, or a liberal Christian, should enjoy this site. I wish I could quote the whole page here.
A couple of quotes from Kuhn, (1880-1963):
The entire body of scripture must now be transfigured in our consciousness with the light which it was designed first to conceal, then to reveal. The task now confronting modern intelligence is to throw off the blinders of a shallow realism that have obscured mystical vision, and to awaken the long-stifled faculties of insight into noumenal verities. It will inaugurate finally a re-enlightenment and transfiguration of human society.
The early Church itself for some time was so steeped in the spirit of esotericism that it instituted a graded system of instruction, even to the point of conducting Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries. Direct and significant testimony that that doctrine was interpreted at two distinct levels is found in a statement of Synesius, Bishop of Alexandria in the fourth century: “In my capacity as bishop of the Church, I shall continue to disseminate the fables of our religion; but in my private capacity I shall remain a philosopher to the end.”
dado should like this one:
The Sermon on the Mount was composed of material long embodied in the literature of Judaism. The Talmud, Mishna, or Midraish Haggadah of the Jews long antecedent to the first century contained passages often matching in exact words such elements of the ‘Sermon’ as the following: to look on a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery; you will be dealt with according to the measure of your dealings with others; one must first pluck the beam from one’s own eye before seeing the mote in the neighbour’s eye...[etc., etc.] An objective comparison of the ethical code taught in the school of the famed Rabbi Hillel in Jesus’ own time reveals that its spiritual morality is equal in purity and idealism to the ethics of the great “Sermon” itself.
Christianity started as Gnosticism, became vitiated by the introduction of exoteric elements and proceeded along the track of that course of literalization and historicization which made it acceptable to all the ignorant and repellent to the intelligent. Endless controversy arose between the leaders of the two trends and it appears Paul was arrayed against Peter. If it was not Paul, the subjective esotericist against Peter, the objective exotericist, it was at least Pauline spirituality against Petrine literalism. As has been so often admitted by scholars, Paul preached the Gospel of the immanent Christ; Peter stood for the fact and message of a personal Jesus. The resolution of the controversy in favour of the Petrine party was fateful for the whole future of Christianity and the West