Rational Religion

The Mystery of Freemasonry and the Quest to Find the Jesus of History

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 04/25/2019
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Author Biography

Tony Sunderland is an award-winning author and educational researcher who is acknowledged as an innovator in the writing and presentation of nationally accredited courses ranging from social science to the history of learning. He is particularly interested in the practice and history of what has become known as the ‘Western way of life’. He believes that there are many alternative explanations of how ‘things came to be’ in the Western world and that these have either been ignored or suppressed by dominant and overpowering narratives of what can be termed as consensus history. Tony has visited many of the main archaeological sites in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Turkey and Greece. His current research interests centre on the investigation and understanding of ancient cultures that existed in the vicinity of the greater Mediterranean region. Tony has been married for 29 years and has two children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

Rational Religion by Tony Sunderland takes us on a journey of discovery back in time into the origins of religious rituals and faith. Could the embodiment of an all-powerful being to both the Catholic church and the secretive organization of the Freemasons have major similarities? Tony Sunderland takes us back to the Neolithic times to examine their culture where religious rituals were combined with the seasons; the placements of the stones in early monuments such as Gobekli Tepe and Stonehenge 5000 years later substantiate this. The significance of obelisks to both the Freemasons and the Catholic church are explained in depth. Discover the history behind the signs and symbols that could reveal a fresh new perspective on the story of Jesus, where the bigger picture is a personal awareness of man and not a spiritual entity. The author looks to the scriptures and the writing of St. Paul in an attempt to comprehend who Jesus was and what his mission entailed. The author also questions why Freemasonry has become so influential in the West and what are their core values and teachings?

I absolutely love any book that questions the usual narrative and takes the time to unravel the history of such a secretive and little known organization as the Freemasons. I found the historical links between ancient Egypt and Freemasonry absolutely enthralling. The comparisons made between the teachings of the Jewish faith and those of Qumran, which took their teachings from the recently discovered Dead Sea scrolls was truly fascinating. Rational Religion by Tony Sunderland takes a detailed, well-researched and educated look at the origins of faith. I totally agree that the power of a divine being is within us all to make choices based on free will and not the idea that a God has the ultimate control. This book is an amazing read and has been such education and revelation to me.

Grant Leishman

Rational Religion: The Mystery of Freemasonry and the Quest to Find the Jesus of History takes us on a journey through time, back even past the birth of Jesus to the time when man first began to gather together in communities and to question their place in the universe. Author Tony Sunderland has approached the subject from the beginning precepts of Freemasonry and his knowledge and understanding of the craft. He takes us through the basic concept of pantheism that predicates Freemasonry and the idea that this is an organization of secrecy and development designed for the individual to discover enlightenment personally through following levels of study and to awaken the spark of the divine that is believed, by the Freemasons, to be a part of us all. We then travel back to the dawn of civilization to examine the ideas and philosophies that governed ancient groupings of humanity, including the two most influential of them all; the Egyptians and the Greeks. The author then examines the greatest religion of the past two millennia, that of Christianity. He looks to the Bible and to other historical sources to try to understand who Jesus was and what his place was in contemporary Jewish society of the time. Unlike many works, the author focuses on the human Jewish Jesus as opposed to the divine Messianic Jesus.

I love books that challenge established precepts and that investigate what often seems to be the impossible and Rational Religion does exactly that. First, Tony Sunderland’s exposition on the origins and purposes of Freemasonry was fascinating. As a former member of a Druidic Order, I had often wondered about the mysterious nature of Freemasonry and of course had always heard of the “conspiracy theories” regarding the Knights Templar, the Illuminati, and the Catholic Church, so I did find his simple explanations fascinating, even if he was still unwilling to divulge too many of the secrets of the Order. Second, the honest attempt to discover the real human Jewish Jesus was enlightening on its own. I was enthralled with his attempts to draw a possible relationship between the Jewish Jesus and the isolationist Jewish sect of Qumran, from where we received the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was, for me, riveting reading. His comparison between the mindset of the Jewish people in 70 CE, before the destruction of the second Temple, and that of people today was simply chilling, frighteningly realistic and perhaps even prophetic. This is a fascinating and very readable book that I highly recommend to anyone who has ever asked the question “why?"

Joel R. Dennstedt

Rational Religion is Tony Sunderland’s third foray into the rich historical hinterland of religious origins and development (The Obelisk and The Cross; A Crisis of Faith). He outlines an ambitious goal for his new book: “… to find out how Freemasonry became such a powerful institution in Western society. What religious beliefs and esoteric truths are hidden in the higher levels of the craft, and are they relevant and meaningful to people today?”

While Mr. Sunderland does include many elements related to this theme, his evocation of ancient formulas, credos, rituals, and initiations does not follow any straight-line argument of connection or causation, nor does he specifically reveal a particularly Freemason accounting of beliefs. A well-honed theory or argument is not his main concern. Rather, as Krishnamurti used to posit before every deep discussion: We are engaged in mutual inquiry.

What thus emerges from Tony Sunderland in Rational Religion is what he also provides in his previous two books: a wonderfully engaging, intellectually revealing tapestry of hints and indications, facts and speculations, and thoroughly compelling discoveries, which together create a “big picture” from whence to consider optional details perhaps forever hidden. This makes for fascinating personal conjectures about one’s own beliefs and rituals. As Sunderland does not lead his reader by the nose, one feels more empowered and informed, which is a great way to study any such deeply personal and relevant subject. One golden, irresistible tidbit guaranteed to whet your appetite: “As the world grows in its development, it necessarily outgrows its ancient ideas of God, which were only temporary and provisional. A man who has a higher conception of God than those about him, and who denies that their conception is God, is very likely to be called an Atheist by men who are really far less believers in a God than he.”