Sylvia Browne

I have just finished reading two books from this most prolific author. I had not heard of her before, but while reading these books, carrying them around with me in public, I encountered several people who immediately recognized what i was reading. “Oh, I have read most of her books!”, was a comment I heard more than once. I felt left out!!! Where have I been?!! But I guess this is yet one more instance of things coming our way when the time is right, when we are ready to receive them. I operate on that principle, in fact, when I post on The Urban Monk. I trust that you, the reader, are receiving these offerings at the time which is right for you. Not that you will thus necessarily agree with what I say, but more along the lines that you are being thoughtfully prodded by Spirit at a time when you can receive it.

The two books I read by Sylvia Browne are, The Two Marys, and The Mystical Life of Jesus. These two books outline the lives of Jesus, his mother Mary, and his wife, Mary Magdalene. Sylvia Browne is a psychic, a gift she has had since childhood. She receives a lot of information from her spirit guide, Francine. But these two books also contain a lot of research into the lives of these pivotal people.

Sylvia calls herself a “gnostic Christian”. She founded a church called “Novus Spiritus”. She is completely and unapologetically a Christian. But her beliefs do not rely only on biblical revelation as do the beliefs of most Christians. Being “gnostic”, that is, “knowing” or knowledge based, she also takes from revelation received through other, more esoteric sources (such as her own spirit guide). This of course leads her to sound quite different from orthodox Church teaching! She says she has been severely criticized and persecuted throughout her life and ministry. But her faith in God, and relationship with him and his son, remains strong despite the opposition.

Sylvia is very critical of “Pauline Christianity”, which comes mostly from Paul’s writings in the Bible and is what primarily comprises orthodox Church theology. She draws heavily on the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings. But she also relies on other writings, many of which have come to light only in the past century or so, having been destroyed by the Church when they made decisions on what would comprise Church theology and what would not.

I myself find it very interesting that so many of these early writings have been recently re-discovered. What does that fact alone tell us? What is God saying to us in our day by allowing these earlier banned documents to be revealed?

I would not be as critical as Sylvia Browne of the early Church’s decisions about what was in and what was out as far as early writings circulating among believers. I view the Church leaders in the perspective that they were operating to the best of their ability with what they were given. I do view their decisions as human ones, made with human reasoning, but I do not necessarily, out-of-hand, consider them nefarious.

Moving to the content of Sylvia Browne’s books, they tell a much more complete story of the lives of these three characters so central to the Christian faith. We get details of what Jesus was up to before beginning his public ministry in Palestine. We get filled in on story elements missing in the biblical accounts. And it is most fascinating to consider!! Especially for someone like me who has been part of Church all my life and studied extensively the Church’s book, the Bible.

Well before encountering these books I had come to accept the fact of Jesus being a married man. And, dear reader, I find nothing in the Biblical writings which would preclude this!! It is only Church tradition which has led us to believe that Jesus was single. (And what does that tell us!!!)

These books tell us much about Jesus’ travels as a young man, going to numerous places to learn from scholars of his day, taking with him various companions. Browne also paints a picture of Jesus coming from a fairly well-to-do family, not the poor downtrodden picture we often get from Church tradition. His uncle, Joseph of Arimathaea, was a wealthy business man, with ships, tin-mines in the British Isles, etc. Jesus’ father Joseph, as a carpenter, had an extensive, successful business with numerous employees working for him. Jesus was able to use family resources to become a student and itinerant teacher.

The part of Sylvia Browne’s stories about which I have the biggest questions center around the resurrection and time following. She has received information from beyond that Jesus did not die on the cross when he was crucified. After surviving this horrific experience, he spent a short time in Palestine, appearing to his disciples, giving them final messages (all recorded in the Bible), and then travelled once again, re-visiting some of his earlier places, and eventually settling in the south of France, in the Languedoc region. I had long known that Mary Magdalene had lived out her life there, but to consider Jesus and Mary living out their lives there together, was a new one for me! I take that information with a grain of salt, putting it on the back burner, so to speak, for future consideration.

Francine has told Sylvia that a lot of this information will come to light in the coming years, probably soon! We will see, I guess, whether this pans out. Once again, I take information coming from sources like this with some hesitation. Not all mystical, psychic revelations are 100% accurate. There is variance in the information which comes out of all these stories. Taken together they present a fascinating picture. But I take no one account as truth over all others. And I encourage my friends and readers to do the same. Learn as much as you can from this, adding it to the fabric of the larger picture. New information (like Sylvia Browne’s is for me) does not need to negate what I have learned from other sources, from other peoples’ stories of truth.

Again, these books are fascinating to read. I highly encourage everyone to read them! Learn from them, take the parts which you can accept, and allow the rest to slough off like water off a duck’s back. “. . . read it (the Bible, and I would add, her books) with new eyes of love and right living and spiritual search. . . . If you stop searching for truth, then you become complacent and you really don’t realize what his life was about.” (p 121, The Mystical Life of Jesus). I hope you enjoy these writings as much as I did, and that you let me know your reactions!

8 thoughts on “Sylvia Browne

  1. These gnostic “gospels” you speak of, are they the ones that were written centuries after the life of Jesus, contain scant details about his life, are flagrant pieces of Gnostic propaganda, were virtually never quoted or referenced by any of the early church fathers (except to dismiss them as absurd and unreliable) and are considered by Scholars today to be obvious forgeries? Or did you have a different set of gnostic “gospels” in mind?

    And, by the way, if you accept those “gospels” while casting doubt on the Gospels that contain records of eye-witnesses to the events, and were recorded within the lifetime of those eye-witnesses, pray tell on what basis you accept the one and reject the other. Is it because your spirit guide told you so? I recall a young man who received a revelation from a “spirit of God” that brought forth another Testament about Jesus’ life. His name was Joseph Smith and his additional testament is called the Book of Mormon. I can only assume you accept this source of information about Jesus’ life as well, right?

  2. I am a bit puzzled by your reply to my review of Sylvia Browne’s books! For one thing, I never mentioned “gnostic gospels” in my review. I did not refer to them, nor quote them in any way. So I am not sure what you were reading!! Certainly Browne quotes some of these early extra-canonical works in her books, but I never even mentioned that!! All my comments were directed toward Sylvia Browne’s writing. I was critiquing her, not critiquing her use of sources.

    So you are wrong if you hear me accepting these “‘gospels’ while casting doubt on the Gospels. . .” I certainly do not “. . . accept the one and reject the other.” I read and receive Sylvia’s stories with a grain of salt, as I say. They are an interesting and informative perspective on stories I have heard from only one side thus far in my life. And nothing more.

    But thanks for replying. I do appreciate the dialogue!!

  3. You wrote, “But she also relies on other writings, many of which have come to light only in the past century or so, having been destroyed by the Church …” You call these “early writings” and the entire theme of the post is of the flavour of gnosticism, so I’m not sure what else you would have meant by that but the gnostic “gospels.”

    But, fine, forget about the gnostic forgeries for now. Let’s focus on Francine. Anybody who would claim that Jesus didn’t die on the cross was obviously not present and is directly contradicting the records of those who were present. The eye-witnesses whose testimony makes up the New Testament all agree he died. His enemies agree he died. The Roman historian, Tacitus, confirms his death. Josephus (a Jew) confirms his death. In fact the first time that I know of when it was alleged he didn’t die wasn’t until the rise of Islam. By claiming Jesus didn’t die “Francine” is placing herself squarely in the company of Muslims relying on “divine revelation” hundreds of years removed from the events.

    Gary Habermas has researched this extensively and he reports, “virtually all scholars today agree that Jesus died by crucifixion.” – Every ancient source even remotely close to the events confirms it and modern scholars “virtually all” confirm it.

    If you want to base your understanding of Jesus on a “spirit guide” with such a demonstrably poor knowledge of ancient history then be my guest but if you hope to persuade anybody else to trust “Francine” then you have your work cut out for you. You’ll need to provide some kind of explanation for how absolutely every single Gospel in the New Testament could be so horridly wrong on such an absolutely pivotal point. Not only the Gospels, but the other books in the New Testament that take it for granted that Jesus died and rose again. In fact, the core of Christianity is the message that Jesus died for your sins. If he didn’t die then he certainly didn’t die for your sins. Without a death there is no resurrection of Jesus, another core message of Christianity (1 Cor 15). Without these two pillars, what scraps of Christianity remain under this “new revelation?”

    In other words, why believe “Francine” instead of the eye-witnesses, disciples, enemies, ancient historians and modern scholars all combined?

  4. Paul, please read what I have written! I say very clearly that I have trouble accepting what Sylvia Browne writes about the crucifixion. I listen to what she is saying; I report what she writes. But do not assume that I accept all of what she writes. I say I take it with a grain of salt. I want to be open; I accept the validity of sources such as spirit guides; but I have great trouble, as I say in my post, with accepting that Jesus did not die on the cross. That one will take more for me to accept than reading one book. Please do not jump to conclusions. Hear me a little more carefully, please!

  5. You say you take it with hesitation which sends the message that you remain open to the prospect that it may be true. Taking something with hesitation is a far cry from rejecting it as unsubstantiated and contrary to every other reliable record of the events that humanity has access to.

    Furthermore, the entire post was praising the book from front to back. Sure there was a grain of salt here or there but the thrust of the article was “you should really read this!” What I pointed out was that “Francine” is dead wrong on one of the absolutely most critical aspects of Jesus’ life. If “Francine” is wrong on the most important issue then on what grounds should I trust anything she says on the more trivial details? What if told you about this great book that tells us all kinds of hitherto unknown details about the childhood of Sir Winston Churchill, but it claims that he was born after World War Two? Frankly I wouldn’t care what kind of little nuggets of possible truths might lie between the lines when the overall picture of his life was so catstrophically wrong. When the big picture is utterly false what would ever inspire me to consider some of the fine details here or there? The source has been shown to be false, plain and simple.

    It would be wise of you to do more than just throw a few grains of salt at the book’s claims about Jesus’ crucifixion and accept other claims; you should just throw the book out! “Hesitation” is not an appropriate response to claims which are verifiably false; rejection is.

    The New Testament has long been known to be the earliest and most reliable record of Jesus’ magnificent and mysterious life. If somebody claims to have some “additional information” about Jesus (like the Gnostics or the Mormons) then it is absolutely imperative that any seeker of truth ask some tough questions about the alleged source of the new claims. If the source has credentials that are roughly on parwith the credentials of the New Testament (i.e. written relatively soon after the events, based on eye-witness testimony, etc) then it may be worth considering. However, if the credentials are unknown, or the “new information” flatly contradicts well established and critically important details about Jesus’ life then the seeker of truth should just walk right on by. No hestitation is necessary; you can save your grains of salt for something that stands at least a small chance of being accurate.

  6. One of my first questions would be this: If a spirit guide claims something that (1) is demonstrably historically false, and (2) strikes at the heart of a faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ, then who, exactly, is this “spirit guide?”

    Jesus told Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” Now, obviously, Thomas believed in Jesus; Jesus was demonstrating that it was important that Thomas also believed that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. To deny Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is to deny the true Jesus, and to contradict Christ Himself, and to deny His fundamental sacrifice for us.

  7. Desmognathus, I will not speak for the Urban Monk (he is capable of explaining and defending his own views) but I know many self-professing Christians who gladly wander through the Bible, especially the New Testament, and simply scratch out those parts that don’t line up with their “new revelations.” Don’t like Hell? Get rid of it! Somebody (or some “thing”) else claims Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Scrap that part! Some of Paul’s doctrines rub you the wrong way? Introduce a “new perspective” on Paul that claims he clearly didn’t get what Jesus was up to.

    The Urban Monk can respond how he sees fit, and this may not apply to him at all, but I have met “Christians” who would simply dismiss the passages you quoted as later embellishments and encourage us to get back to the “original” Jesus. What grounds they have to claim these are not authentic records of the life of Jesus … well that’s a good question to ask them and I won’t attempt to answer on their behalf.

    If, however, there is remarkably good grounds to conclude that a “spirit guide” is deliberately spreading false information on a very theologically significant subject, then I think your question with respect to what kind of spiritual beings would do such a thing is a very legitimate and very pressing question. That of course assumes the information is false. If the information is accurate then it is the New Testament that is horribly inaccurate and should be scrapped.

    Clearly this is no small issue that has been raised! Good insight!

  8. I would be skeptical of spirit guides who lead their mystics to only reveal truth upon payment of $850 for a psychic reading.

    Considering we are in a recession, these spirit guides should consider lowering their rates. I doubt reselling spiritual information comes with a lot of overhead.

    Urban Monk, do you know if there’s a way I could get into the business? I’m sure my rates can be much more competitive.

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