An Examination of a New Age Scripture
In recent years, trance channeling has become chic among seekers of spiritual enlightenment. Popularized by actress Shirley MacLaine's book and TV miniseries, Out on a Limb, and by lectures and seminars by modern-day mediums such as Ramtha and Lazaris, trance channelers have drawn a wide, enthusiastic following.
In addition to lectures, a number of books have been published which were channeled by discarnate intelligences. Such books include The Urantia Book, A Course in Miracles, and The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. One of the earliest channeled revelations was entitled Oahspe (pronounced "Oh-ahs-phee"). It was conveyed by automatic writing in which spirit entities guided the hand of the writer. The word "Oahspe" means "earth, sky, spirit."1 It purports to be a revelation that supersedes all previous ones, including the Bible. It states that Jesus actually was the Jewish teacher Joshu, and that many of the writings attributed to Jesus were plagiarized from Joshu. Oahspe is a popular book among New Age and psychic enthusiasts. It first was published in New York in 1882.
Oahspe was revealed to Dr. John Ballou Newbrough, a New York dentist. He was born in Wooster, Ohio, on June 5, 1828. He went to California during the Gold Rush of 1849, but returned to New York and practiced dentistry.2 He became involved in spiritualism and probably had his first psychic experience in the 1850s. He was a trustee of the First Society of Spiritualists of New York City.3 He began experimenting with automatic writing. In a letter to the periodical The Banner of Light (June 2, 1883), he wrote:
Newbrough studied spiritualism for about 15 years, but became dissatisfied with it. Rather than receiving messages from departed friends and loved ones, he wanted "to learn something about the spirit world; what the angels did, how they traveled, and the general plan of the universe."5
To enhance his spiritual receptivity, Newbrough became a vegetarian and spent time in meditation. His weight fell from 250 to 180 pounds, his rheumatism was gone and he had no more headaches.6
Early one morning in 1870, Newbrough was awakened by a striking vision. His room was flooded with "pillars of soft light" and there were "great numbers of beautiful spirits and angels." One of them asked him, "Do you want to perform a mission for Jehovih?" (Oahspe spells the Divine Name "Jehovih" rather than "Jehovah"). Newbrough was to produce a book, through automatic writing, which would inaugurate a new era of mankind. The new era was called the "Kosmon era." It was the seventh age and was characterized by non-violence. In it, wars would cease voluntarily.7
The angels imposed a beam of light on Newbrough's hands as he sat at a typewriter. The angels appeared an hour before dawn and the typing continued for fifty weeks.8 The purpose of Oahspe was:
The first edition of Oahspe was published in 1882 and a second edition was published in 1892. The 1892 edition contained portraits of great spiritual teachers which were painted by Newbrough while in a trance.10
Oahspe gives an account of the origin of man on earth. It covers a period of 48,000 years from the creation of man to the submersion of the continent of Pan. Pan was in the Pacific and sank 24,000 years ago. The sinking of Pan is referred to by the ancients as the Deluge or Flood.11 Before the sinking of Pan, man was guided by angelic revelation. Man often lapsed "into degradation and bestiality, but [he was] ever in the aggregate [of] making progress toward something more noble."12 The survivors of Pan founded such countries as Japan, China, India, Peru, Egypt, Yucatan, and Mexico.13
According to Oahspe, Jehovih is the Great Spirit of the universe. He consists of "earth [corpor], sky, and spirit."14 Jehovih states,
Oahspe states that:
As Jehovih is the Great Spirit, the word "God," and "Lord" refers to angelic beings. A "God" is one who "is sufficiently wise and powerful to take charge of a planet and the atmospheric heaven." He is assisted on the throne by a "Vice-God."
Angels work intimately with humanity. Oahspe states that:
The angelic ministry among humanity was disrupted by the appearance of a Beast. The words of the Beast are those of Jesus in Matthew 10:34-36: "Think not I am come to send peace on the earth; I come not to send peace, but a sword; I come to set man at variance against his father; and a daughter against her mother."18 The Beast divided itself into four Heads "and possessed the earth about, and man fell down and worshipped them."19 The names of the Heads were Brahmin, Buddhist, Christian, and Mohammedan. Each Head had its own army and their "trade was killing man."20
To end the violence and confusion which was perpetrated by the Beast, Jehovih sent His angels to earth. He proclaimed that:
Neither shalt thou have any God, nor Lord, nor Saviour, but only thy Creator, Jehovih! Him only shalt thou worship henceforth forevermore."21
Jehovih concluded that:
According to Oahspe, Jesus was the Jewish teacher Joshu. He was born in Jerusalem and he "labored to bring the Jews back to their pristine purity." Oahspe states that he was "a law-giver of sub-cycle ranks."23 He was denounced as a heretic and was stoned to death at Jerusalem.24 Oahspe states that the word "Christ" and "Kriste" means "wisdom, knowledge, [and] education," and it is also synonymous with a "warrior."25 It states that Christians, or Kriste, were a brotherhood of warriors. They were given that name by the Hebrews and it meant "one who rushes into a multitude of rioters and, with a sword, enforces peace ..."
The word "Christian" is synonymous with words as "Brahmin," "ashtaroth," "vishnu," and "manito."26
Oahspe states that Christians worship a "drujan," a lower, mischievous God. In the Book of Es, Oahspe states that when Christians go to heaven and say, "I want to go to Jesus, I want to go to Kriste, he [is] shown the drujan God, and [is] told: 'That is he!'"27 The "drujans" were lost spirits who, instead of following Jehovih's Plan, were enticed by earthly attractions.28 The drujan Gods also inspired the Mormon, Shaker, and Swedenborgian religions, as well as the divisive competition among Christian churches.29
Salvation, according to Oahspe, is based upon giving. It states, "If ye have great learning and ye give of it, then shall more learning be added unto you; if ye have goodness of heart, and gentle words, then, by giving this away, more shall be added unto you."30 However, "he who locketh up the light of the Father that is in him cannot obtain more light; he who locketh up goodness of heart cannot obtain strength of spirit."31 Oahspe states that one should not concern himself with his own salvation, but with the salvation of others. Jehovih declares that:
Oahspe demands of the clergy and the churches that they "prove that [they] have a good and sufficient doctrine for the salvation of souls." It accuses them of serving man more than Jehovih. It admonishes churches to divide up their possessions and give to the poor.33 It charges churches with professing a gospel of words and of divisive doctrines.34 Salvation, according to Oahspe, is through good works:
Oahspe teaches that life continues to progress in the spirit realm. It affirms the practice of "communing with angels," and conversing with the "dead."
Oahspe declares, "Behold, I have seen my father and mother and brother and sister who were dead; they have spoken to me, [and] there is no devil nor place of hell."37 Oahspe states that:
Oahspe claims that the reality of spirits testifies to the iniquities of earthly religions.
The spirits reveal the truth of heavenly existence. Oahspe contends that:
Oahspe charges the Christian faith with professing doctrines, rather than beneficial works, and of denying the reality of spirit existence. It characterizes churches as being benefactors of wealth. It declares, further, that "the selfishness of man hath made the world a place of wretchedness. The people are in misery and want."41
The "new religion" proposed by Oahspe not only encouraged spirit communication, but also social reform. This reform was implemented in an Oahspe-based community called "Shalam," located near the Rio Grande in New Mexico.
Newbrough and his followers began an orphanage in New York City. Oahspe envisioned a "new kingdom of man" and a prophet named Tae was given the responsibility of establishing this kingdom. Jehovih commanded Tae to:
The word "Shalam" meant "a land of peace and plenty."43 It began in 1884 and was incorporated in December 1885.
At Shalam, no one was to rule over another. However, dissension began after Newbrough and his associate Andrew Howland tried to impose autocratic control over the members. Several were evicted and many others left voluntarily. Newbrough died at Shalam on Aug. 22, 1891. The community continued to decline and the property was sold Sept. 30, 1907. Several communities were begun, but none survived.
Currently, the major Oahspe organization is the Universal Faithists of Kosmon in Salt Lake City. "Faithist" is the name for Oahspe students. A Global Council, also based in Salt Lake City, was organized in 1982-1983 and it elected its first officers in 1986. The Council is a consortium of Oahspe readers.
Oahspe sharply criticizes the Christian faith. Its claims about the life of Jesus, the Bible, and the historical Christian faith likely cannot stand the scrutiny of critical Biblical or historical analysis. Like any other channeled work, its content is of questionable origin. Some may conclude that it is the product of demon spirits, and others will presume that it is the result of the author's subconscious mind.
Historically, Oahspe is probably the first channeled revelation. Apart from other channeled writings, it puts itself on the level of the Bible, purporting to be a work which is even greater than the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Channeled works often claim that the New Testament has distorted Jesus' actual teachings, or that it does not contain his real teachings. Claims of this sort must be evaluated according to the soundest Biblical, theological, and historical evidence. Regardless of what Oahspe or any similar writing may boast about its own authenticity, its claims must coincide with the most accurate Biblical and historical sources available.
Readers of Oahspe are likely persons who have had negative experiences with churches and with Christianity. In talking to them, listen carefully and do not judge. A personal witness of love is the greatest testimony.
Oahspe makes no claims of infallibility. It does not profess to be a final revelation. Its stated purpose is to enable mortals "to hear the Creator's voice." Multitudes of people are earnestly striving to hear the voice of the Lord. As we are able to share our experience with God in a loving, compassionate, and patient way, the light of God's truth will surely shine forth and give direction to wandering souls.
Copyright 1991-PFO. All rights reserved by Personal Freedom Outreach.