122. Reincarnation of Apostle Paul, Nick Bunick’s Claims Scrutinized
Popular author Nick Bunick claims past-life regression provided remembrances of Jesus, but biblical scholars have doubts.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with bestselling author of, Time For Truth, Nick Bunick. During the interview Mr. Bunick discusses how a chance visit to a psychic revealed his past, “Alex, I had no idea what he was talking about. Two thousand years ago I walked with the Master? I didn’t even have a religion. I’d never read the Gospels. I did have a relationship with God; it was a spiritual relationship. But what happened to me then over the next six or seven years, I had affirmation after affirmation from other sources that indeed, my spirit and soul had manifested itself 2,000 years ago in the person we know as the Apostle Paul.”
But, as Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris explains during the interview, biblical scholars take exception with some of Mr. Bunick’s claims, “I’ve tried to get a sense for biblical scholarship in general and it surprised how much we do know about the Bible. It is the most studied document in history. Millions of man-hours have been spent scouring the earth, finding every copy we can get our hands on. Scholars have gone through and scrutinized every word and every letter. I don’t think these scholars would agree with your account. Secular scholars like Bart Ehrman and Robert Price, as well as Christian Biblical scholars don’t find any support for your claim that the Bible used to support reincarnation.”
According to Bunick transcripts of past-life regression sessions, “gave information about the life of Paul never before known before, as well as the life of Jesus never before known. And also, it conflicted in many places with what is written in the New Testament.”
Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and I have to tell you that in preparing for this episode, in particular the introduction to this episode, I was really challenged. I was trying to figure out how to wrap my arms around what I wanted to say. And then I was going through the forum and I came across a video that one of our listeners had posted.
The video was from philosopher/writer, Alan Watts, who in the 1950’s was one of the first people in the West to really popularize Zen Buddhism. Now since then his message has become very popular with Atheists and secular folks for a variety of reasons I can’t totally understand. But nevertheless, I want to play you about a minute of audio here and then talk about this for a minute. Here’s Alan Watts:
“I am not a Zen Buddhist. I am not advocating Zen Buddhism. I’m not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell. I am an entertainer. [audience laughter] That is to say in the same sense that when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play Mozart, he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music. He doesn’t want to convert you to anything; he doesn’t want you to join an organization in favor of Mozart’s music as opposed to, say, Beethoven’s. And I approach you in the same spirit as a musician with his piano or violinist with his violin. I just want you to enjoy a point of view which I enjoy.”
So what struck me about this, of course, is the “I’m an entertainer.” Here’s a guy who became somewhat of a cultural lightning rod. He has these ideas that at the time were very controversial, this Zen Buddhist kind of “we are nothing, there is nothing,” at least the Western interpretation of that kind of thing going on. He’s in the middle of all this controversy, in the middle of all this debate and people want him to go back and forth. He steps back and says, “I’m an entertainer. I’m just playing my violin here and if the song resonates with you, great. And if not, don’t worry about it.”
What really struck me was is that what we’re doing here at Skeptiko? Am I just singing my song and some people are going to get it and some people aren’t? While I can see the appeal, at the end of the day I can’t really get there. I need more. I need the engagement. I need the give and take. I need the dialogue because my song isn’t written yet. My song is being written.
I don’t know what the truth is, and I don’t even know if I can get there. But I do know that the process we go through here, using the scientific method, using reason and logic, and maybe even battling it out a little bit, is the only way I can feel like I’m getting closer to that truth that I’m after.
And so it is with that spirit that I approach today’s guest, Nick Bunick, because Nick Bunick claims that he’s the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. He claims that he has past life memories of Paul walking with Jesus and he claims that he has a lot of new and different information about the Bible by virtue of this direct knowing and walking with Jesus.
To use the Alan Watts metaphor, that’s his song. But as I just said, I’m not Alan Watts. And as much as I like parts of Nick Bunick’s song, that is at the highest spiritual truth is to love everyone and to tell the truth, I can’t help but want to dive into his story with the skepticism that requires me to bring everything that I know about his topic and bounce it off of his ideas and see what shakes out. And that’s what I’ve tried to do in this interview.
So stay with me for this interview with Nick Bunick, author of Time For Truth, and stick around after the interview and I’ll tell you a little bit about the email exchange that Bob Price and I had after the show.
Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Nick Bunick, best-selling author of several books including his latest titled, Time for Truth. Nick, welcome to Skeptiko.
Nick Bunick: Thank you, Alex, my pleasure.
Alex Tsakiris: So Nick, your books describe some amazing spiritual events that have occurred in your life and how these events have convinced you that you’re the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul described in the Bible. So this is going to be a very interesting discussion for our audience. Why don’t you start by telling us about your story and how it started for you?
Nick Bunick: Certainly. Well, I’m not a New Age person. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I went to college on a football scholarship with the University of Florida. And I found myself years later, fortunately, living the American Dream. I owned three companies; I had a wonderful family, which I still do, and live in a nice community.
One day, a friend of mine, a very conservative individual, a graduate from Notre Dame, a CPA type, a staunch Catholic, persuaded me to go to a psychic that he’d had an incredible experience with. And Alex, at that time of my life I honestly and truly did not believe in psychics. I had a vision of a psychic as a person with turban on their head, a crystal ball in front of them. I found that I was wrong.
The gentleman’s name was Duane Berry and when I walked into his kitchen, he was in a total trance. He never saw me; his eyes were closed. He didn’t know who I was, didn’t know my name or anything about me, yet he knew everything that was going on in my life. In the middle of this presentation, he said to me something that began the journey I’m on today. He said to me that “there will come a day when you’ll be speaking in front of thousands of people and live audiences and millions on television and radio,” which by the way, has happened. “It has to do with the time 2,000 years ago when you walked with the Master.”
Alex, I had no idea what he was talking about. Two thousand years ago I walked with the Master? I didn’t even have a religion. I’d never read the Gospels. I did have a relationship with God; it was a spiritual relationship. But what happened to me then over the next six or seven years, I had affirmation after affirmation from other sources that indeed, my spirit and soul had manifested itself 2,000 years ago in the person we know as the Apostle Paul.
I went to a local psychic in my own city, which is a world-renowned psychic by the name of Lori McCoy. In the middle of the presentation, Lori sat up with her eyes as big as saucers. She said, “Oh my God. Oh my God. You knew Jesus. You knew Jesus.”
And what happened after the session was over, she said to me she knew a woman who specialized in past life age regression, a hypnotist whose field was past life regression. I agreed to meet with her. Her name was Julie Ingram. We then spent six months together. We had 13 sessions, each lasting two hours, for a total of 26 hours we captured tape.
And with hypnosis, I have the entire memory of the Apostle Paul, beginning as a young child chasing sheep in my father’s fields, his estate outside of the city of Tasis in the area of Selicia, which today is Turkey, until Paul moved to the Holy Land when he was 18 years old and finished his education. When he was 20 years old, that’s when he met Jesus, who was two years older than him.
I have information that came out in the transcriptions of my hypnosis that gave information about the life of Paul never before known before, as well as the life of Jesus never before known. And also, it conflicted in many places with what is written in the New Testament.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and basically, just at a high level the message that you have is that the Bible is wrong because it doesn’t focus enough about love and compassion and it’s too divisive for people. Is that the crux of it?
Nick Bunick: Well, yes. In the 4th Century, when Constantine formed the Roman Catholic Church called the Roman Universal Church-the word “universal” means Catholic in Latin-they distorted the message of Jesus and Paul. They took messages of love and changed it to messages of fear; messages of compassion they changed to messages of guilt. A message that was supposed to bring us together as brothers and sisters all having a common God and common parent, instead they used it to polarize people, saying that if you don’t believe what we’re preaching then God’s going to punish you. You’ll go to Hell.
And all of these teachings are totally wrong. We’ve had 1,600 years of torturing and murdering millions and millions of people in the name of God. The greatest sin one can commit is a sin in the name of God. And I’m asking for the Church to acknowledge that it’s time for truth. I point out in my book, Time for Truth, where all of these changes were made. Why they were made, who made them, what was their purpose, and what the Church should do in order to have a new beginning.
Alex Tsakiris: And I really want to get into that because I have to tell you, Nick, on one hand I find your story very comforting, very reassuring, and it really jives with a lot of the spiritual beliefs that I have about love and compassion. I’m not hostile to the idea of reincarnation. In fact, I think there’s some very good scientific evidence in favor of that.
But I’m still having trouble with your account, and a big part of the reason why I wanted to have you on Skeptiko today was to explore that evidence in a little bit of detail, and maybe ask the broader question of how do we verify the mystic? How do we verify someone who says like you have that, “Hey, I’ve gone on the other side of the mountain and I’ve brought back these spiritual truths.” How do we approach that?
Nick Bunick: Well, I think one has to look into their own heart and soul and ask if religion has been working for us. Are you talking about my own personal experiences, Alex, or are you talking about my philosophies and belief systems? Which are you talking about?
Alex Tsakiris: It’s interesting even the way that you answered that because I think that there are two ways that we can break it down. One is the way that you just said, which is you’re giving your personal spiritual experience which is strong and profound and I wouldn’t challenge in any way. And I think it’s totally fine for you to say, “Hey, if my spiritual message resonates with you, someone out there in the audience, then consider what I’m saying.” I’m fine with that.
But the other part of that, I think what you’re saying is you’re making some very specific historical claims about your past life as the Apostle Paul and about some of the things that you know about the Bible. For example, let’s jump into this in a little bit of detail because one of the claims that you make-and I want to hash this out-was this idea that the Bible used to be reincarnation-friendly, if you will. You say that the Council of Nicaea and actually, I think in another broadcast I saw you said in the second Council of Nicaea in 553 A.D. that the Church…
Nick Bunick: Let me go into that area. There are so many areas we can go into. All of your questions are tremendously profound and I wish we had hours to talk about them. But let me address the last one, dealing with reincarnation. Two thousand years ago, the Judaic religion had three main sects, which were the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes.
The Pharisees and the Essenes, with the Pharisees being the majority of the population, believed in reincarnation and they practiced reincarnation, and Jesus believed in reincarnation. What happened was that-by the way, I have some of the writings of the early great Judaic teachers of that time that talk about reincarnation repeatedly. I’m talking about Josephus, who eventually became a historian for the Romans after they recaptured Jerusalem.
But anyway, what happened was that the Gospels were originally written in Aramaic and from Aramaic they were translated into Greek and from Greek they were translated to Latin. Then in the 4th Century under Constantine and the new Church, they went ahead and hired 24 scholars over a period of 25 years who translated the Gospels from ancient Latin into contemporary Latin.
They made many, many, many changes. Some of the changes they made were intentional and some weren’t. Some were just a matter of trying to decide what a certain word meant because as you translate from one language to another language it could have several meanings.
Just like the word, “almah,” which meant “virgin,” also meant a young girl. So the question was when the scribe came to the part of saying that Mary was an Allah, did they mean to say that she was a virgin or was she a young girl, a mere 16 years old when she gave birth. This, of course, created a great argument back in those days as well as even today as to whether or not there was a virgin birth.
But at any rate, the Church tried to purge everything dealing with reincarnation out of the New Testament. Everything. It was their belief that we have 80 million people in the empire under their rule, and the way to rule these people was to believe they only had one life and that one life was beholden to the Church. That redemption and salvation could only come through the Church rather than having your own relationship with God, which reincarnation does allow you to have.
They missed it in two places. One of the places they missed it is in the chapter of Matthew where Jeshua-by the way, 2,000 years ago his name was not Jesus, it was Jeshua. Jesus is the Latin translation of the name Jeshua, which they created in the 4th Century, changing his name to Jesus.
Jesus met his disciples along the sea of Galilee, which really wasn’t a sea. It was a lake called Lake Tiberius at that time, after the Emperor Tiberius. He asked them, in Matthew, Chapter 16, “Who are they saying that I am?” And they’re saying, “Well, some are saying that you are he who was the prophet Elijah,” who had lived 700 years earlier. And Jeshua answers them and says, “No, he who is the prophet Elijah has already come. They took his life just as surely someday they’ll take mine, also.”
The next paragraph says, “And the disciples knew that he was saying that John the Baptist was basically the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah.” That is one of two places in the New Testament that is very specific. They missed it when they were purging everything dealing with reincarnation.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, Nick. Let me just jump in here and say, maybe. Maybe. But I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I’ll tell you what I have done and dipped into a little bit, and that’s just to try and get a sense for Biblical scholarship in general.
What I came to understand, and it kind of surprised me, is how much we do know about the Bible. I mean, it is the most studied historical document in history and through the ages, literally millions of man hours have been spent scouring the Earth, finding every copy that we can get our hands on. From the ancient Greek, the Aramaic, the Latin, and every translation around the world.
And they’ve gone through and they’ve pared out every word and compared every version. Every letter, as you just said, and I’ve got to tell you, the little bit that I gleaned from that, at a very high level with the people that I think are the most trusted, they just don’t agree with your account. I mean, you take somebody like Bart Ehrman who published a…
Nick Bunick: I’m very familiar with Bart’s works.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, he gives no time or attention to the notion that reincarnation has been purged from the Bible. Neither does Robert Price, and these are both secular guys. You want to go over in the Christian camp, the Christian Biblical scholars, they’re even more hostile to the idea. But the way they support their argument is very compelling to me because what they say is, “Hey, look. You want to say something happened at the Council at Nicaea? Great.
On one hand, we have the Gospel before the Council of Nicaea. We have the Gospel after the Council of Nicaea. We can compare it.” The same with the 5th Ecumenical Conference. Some people call it the Second Council of Nicaea. And they’ve uncovered a lot of the other writings that came from those councils. How do you counter that claim when a guy says, “Look, we have those documents and we can’t put our finger on what you’re saying.”
Nick Bunick: Rather than arguing about something which I have no knowledge of, that is their specific words that they’re saying, let me just say that the early Christian teachers like Elijah, Justin Martyr, Gregory, all wrote about reincarnation. I can quote from their writings. I have my book in front of me right now and I’m trying to find the right chapter. Philo de Judias was a famous 1st Century Jewish scholar from Alexandria, one of the greatest, and he wrote-and this is 1st Century-“The air is full of souls. Those who are nearest to Earth descending to be tied to mortal bodies return to other bodies designed to live within them.” That was his quote.
Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century was one of the most prominent leaders and he spoke of the soul inhabiting more than one human body and said it took on new ones even though it could not remember its previous experiences. Gregory, who was a Bishop of Nicaea in the 4th Century and also one of the leaders of the Church, he wrote, “It is absolutely necessary that the soul shall be healed and purified. If this does not take place during this life on Earth, it must be accomplished with future lives.”
Origen, who was one of the leaders of the Church, a very brilliant mind, he wrote the following, “Every soul comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of his previous life. Its work in this world determines its place in the world, which is to follow this one.” So here you have the early Christian leaders.
I could go on and tell you much more than that. The early Christian leaders and teachers repeatedly talked about reincarnation, and what happened in the 5th Ecumenical Council in 553 A.D., they passed a number of anathemas, which means curses.
The very first one put out there–there were 15 of them–and on June 2nd the very first one they went ahead and passed, said as follows: “If anyone does not anathemize,–which means put a curse on–Arias, and it goes on to mention a number of people including Origen, as well as imperious writings, as well as other heretics already condemned and anathemized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,” which means cursed by them, and it goes on to say that “If you continue to teach the teachings of reincarnation you will be excommunicated from the Church and there will be a curse on you.”
Alex Tsakiris: So Nick, we are going to have to dive into a little bit of detail here because I think there are two important points. One, as I said, I’m not hostile to the idea of reincarnation and if I think it’s been established to a certain extent scientifically true here in the 21st Century, then I have no doubt that it’s happened throughout time and I have no doubt that other people might have tapped into it and found it to be true.
The problem that I come back to in terms of trying to sort out your account exactly is that it seems to me that you have to be precisely correct on everything if I’m really to believe your account–if I am hearing it the right way. So here’s where I’m sorting that out. I have no doubt that there were early Christians or Christian followers or Christian leaders who wrote some things.
But what I think is pretty solid from the way I’ve read it, is when the Biblical scholars come back and say, “No, that really didn’t happen that way in terms of the Church drilling it out of the Bible the way that they did.” And I guess I’d say something similar to some of the other specific claims that you make about Jesus not really being from Nazareth but in fact from Galilee or Paul being the only apostle that was illiterate…
Nick Bunick: No I didn’t say-he was a disciple. I didn’t say apostle. Only 10% of the population at that time was literate and the first nine disciples came from along the Sea of Galilee and were fishermen and they were not literate. The other three that joined him from Jerusalem were literate. But I don’t know if that’s relevant or not. But it doesn’t make a difference to me if one chooses to believe that or not. It’s not a big issue.
As a matter of fact, I don’t even believe reincarnation necessarily is a big issue. I believe a person can live their life according to God’s will, which I believe is embracing universal compassion and universal love and caring about our fellow man and living in truth, regardless of whether they believe in reincarnation or not. But let me go on and tell a little more about my experience so that your listeners understand where I’m coming from.
After we finished my age regressions and we had those 26 hours on tape, we went ahead and transcribed it and made a manuscript out of it called, “He Walked With the Master.” I had four major publishing companies in New York that wanted to publish it. I couldn’t do it, Alex. I didn’t have the courage to do it. I said, “This is going to destroy my business life. It’s going to destroy my family. It’s going to destroy my personal life. People will think I’m either fabricating it or that I’m insane.” As far as I was concerned, it was a dead issue. I wasn’t going to deal with it any longer.
Then on August 14th of 1995, I had an experience that changed my life. I didn’t believe in Angels or spirit guides. I thought they belonged in the same toy box as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I found out that I was wrong. I had an experience that afternoon that I can only describe as angelic. They told me many things.
One of the things they told me was, “Nick, God gave us all the gift of free will. If you don’t want to go forth with the story and your manuscript that’s your choice, but we’re going to bring many, many witnesses around you. It’s going to be around the numbers 444, which means the power of God is love. It’s our way of letting you know and letting people know their Angels and spirit guides are with them and protecting them and giving them hope when they feel despair and courage when they feel fear, etc.”
Well, that same evening, Alex, I received a phone call from a gentleman I’d only met once before in my life. He was Canadian. His name was Abe Pauls and he was calling me from Geneva, Switzerland and he said to me, “Nick, I’m here at the Hilton Hotel in Geneva. Something woke me up. I looked at the clock and it’s 4:44 in the morning. I have absolutely no idea why I’m calling you.”
Let me skip forward. Two days later, on a Monday morning, that had happened on a Saturday evening because of the difference in time between Geneva and where I live. Monday morning I go to work and one of my colleagues is waiting for me in my foyer of my office by the name of Rick Epcot and he’s holding five sheets of paper in his hand.
He said to me, “Nick, something happened to me last night. I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt compelled to write these things down. I don’t know what they mean but I know I’m supposed to give them to you.” And he handed me five sheets of paper.
The very first page, on the top left-hand side, he’d written “4:44 am” with a circle around it. What he had written on those five sheets of paper was the exact same things that I had been told by my spirit guides and Angels. I don’t know which-I don’t know how to separate them-on that Saturday afternoon two days earlier. Two of the pages are in my book, Time for Truth, that someone can read and see the pages themselves, literally.
What happens from that point on, Alex, is I began having incredible 444 experiences, but not only me, the people around me began to have them. Even healings and lifesaving experiences. I give one whole chapter to that in my book.
When my first book came out, The Messengers, which was a best-seller in ’97, I received over 10,000 letters the first six months. Half of the people were having 444 experiences. They literally created a website forum called “The 444 Forum” where people all over the world would write in about their 444 experiences. Many of them were extraordinary experiences.
And it’s happening again now with my new book. If you go to my website, nickbunick.com, you’ll find many, many people talking about 444 experiences as recently as yesterday, last night’s postings of people sharing their 444 experiences.
So there’s no question in my mind that there is a divine intervention in our lives, that we have Angels and spirit guides, because there are too many stories that there’s no other explanation that I have in my book as well as other people have shared with us that are incredible. Indeed, God does have, like the CEO of a corporation, He has offices working underneath Him. He has messengers which I call, “part of Oneness” which are spirit guides and the Angels, who impact our lives and are with us on a daily basis.
Now, getting back to reincarnation, I had several experiences in my life beyond the one that we were talking about earlier. As far as my regressions to Paul, I have total knowledge of his life even though I never read the Gospels before in my life–of every mission he took; the names of the cities and I can’t even pronounce them now. Selenis and Pythagorus and anyway, the point is that I wouldn’t have this knowledge.
It’s coming from my soul memory. I, as Nick Bunick, as a mortal being in the life time, would absolutely have no knowledge of all these events that took place and the missions he went to. So I am totally convinced that what I experienced is real; that I tapped into my soul memory, which I still have access to today, which is a gift they gave me. I’m not clairvoyant; I’m not clairaudient, but they gave me claircognizance. They gave me the ability to tap into my soul-mind, which I’m very grateful for.
And I also talk about other experiences in my book I had which deal with age regression and with reincarnation. I know that your air-time is very, very valuable so I don’t know how much detail you want me to go into, Alex, but I challenge anybody to read the book as an Agnostic or an Atheist, and when you’re through not say, “Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe indeed there is something way beyond what I thought there was and that God does intervene in our lives.”
Alex Tsakiris: You know, for me that’s not the question. I’m not an Agnostic; I’m not an Atheist. I’m a believer, if you want to just throw out labels. But I need more. One of the things that I need is I need a way to make as many of the different accounts out there make sense. And I also need a way to sort through the accounts that don’t seem to fall into my normal strike zone in terms of what’s real.
I’ll just tell you real briefly an experience I had back when I was younger and just looking to have a good time in life. I was hanging out with a group of guys who weren’t particularly religious, but one of them happened to go see a psychic. The psychic said, “Hey, you are the reincarnation of-one of the Apostles.” I can’t remember which one.
This woman was very, very nice, very engaging, and a very soulful, if I can say, person. She had a lot of nice things to say. She always seemed to have a positive demeanor and she’s wasn’t even charging really for these readings or anything. But before I knew it, almost half of the people in this circle of friends that I had, had readings and wouldn’t you know? They were all right there at the time of Christ and they were all these major-no one was a peasant or someone in the crowd. They were all John the Baptist or some figure.
Nick Bunick: Oh, sure. I know what you’re saying, Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: If you Google this as well, if you Google reincarnation of Apostle Paul, you’ll find plenty of folks. You’ll find people who have built large followings at churches that sell millions of books based on these same recollections that you have. That doesn’t mean-and I’m not saying that any of those people are fabricating this, because I don’t know. I’m just saying, how do I sort it out? How do I figure it out beyond my own personal experience?
Of course I can have my own personal experience, but how do I try and glean off of other people’s experiences and find out what’s real? And that’s what we’ve explored on this show and that’s why science is so helpful and that’s why I tried to pull you back into the Biblical scholarship thing. We could hash that out for days and not know the answer.
Nick Bunick: Let me go back to the Biblical part. I find a source of information. I’ve read many of those books by people and the source information is always the same source of information. It’s the Gospels. That’s what they use as their source of information. And if the source of information is not accurate, then obviously they’re not going to have accurate information.
My information that I have shows many, many places there are confrontations with what’s written in the New Testament and what I experienced under hypnosis. For example, how many times have I been in a Catholic Church because my wife is a very staunch Catholic, and I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood in Boston, and I’ve heard the priest say that Paul had his conversion on the way to Damascus. Conversion to what, Alex? The only religion that existed at that time was the Judaic religion.
He didn’t have a conversion; what happened was he made a commitment to Jeshua that he would become an Apostle, which comes from the ancient word, “apostos,” which means a teacher. That’s the experience he had on the way there and the Church says in the New Testament that Paul is on his way to Damascus to arrest a number of Syrian Jews in Syria that were practicing the religion that Jesus was the Messiah.
Now visualize this, Alex. Paul is a Jew living in Jerusalem. He’s going to get on a camel and go 140 miles through the desert to Syria, a foreign country, and arrest some Syrians? How many is he going to arrest? Five, ten, fifteen? Let’s say five. And with his sword he’s going to say, “You guys are under arrest.”
He’s going to bring them back on camels tied together, 14 days through the desert, where he has to feed them and sleep and take care of their bodily functions all by himself? When he gets to Jerusalem, what’s he going to do? He going to say to the Romans, “I want you to put these people in prison because I don’t like the way they’re practicing their religion.” It’s insane.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and I think you’d find a lot of kinship with the writing of Ehrman, who you’re familiar with, but also Bob Price and so many other secular folks who started being Christians and then they investigated the texts. I don’t think they confine themselves. They certainly don’t confine themselves to only the Gospels. They look at every document of that era in order to try and piece it together. So Josephus is on the table and all the rest of that.
But maybe you could distill it down to-I mean I’ve picked on one point that you raise that’s very specific in terms of it could be verified or challenged by a Biblical scholar. What are some of the things you’ve learned through your experiences about the Bible where you think we could maybe get to the bottom of a new discovery? And I could bounce that off of someone and they could say, “Yea” or “Nay.”
Nick Bunick: Okay. One of the people Paul appointed to head his church was a man by the name of Lucius, who was a good friend of his. And Lucius became in charge of the Church in Legoshia. Lucius was married to a Jewish woman by the name of Maria. This comes from the memory of Paul. And while he was there in that position, he had an affair with a Roman woman by the name of Vesta and had a child by her.
This created an incredible scandal and Paul went ahead and removed Lucius from his position of responsibility and said, “From this point on, if anybody is in a position of responsibility within my administration of my churches, whether they be a man or a woman, they will have fidelity towards their marriage. They will not get involved in romantic trysts outside of marriage. It could cause a scandal to the church.” And the Church changed all of that, of course, to say that Paul said you have to be celibate, which he never said.
Now, the interesting thing about verification of what I just told you, which again is not in the New Testament, I was invited back to the Edgar Cayce Foundation as a guest of theirs and I spent two or three days with them. I had the pleasure of having breakfast one morning with Edgar Cayce’s grandson at his home, Edgar Cayce.
One of the things they told me that apparently had never been published, that Edgar Cayce in one of his readings had said that he had been Lucius 2,000 years ago and he told the exact same story that I just told you that I experienced while remembering Paul. It was a confirmation. The only two places the confirmation-it’s not in the Gospels-were in my experiences under hypnosis of the memory of Paul and Edgar Cayce and the reading he gave with exactly the same story.
Alex Tsakiris: Great. That’s exactly what I was looking for and I appreciate you sharing that with us. What I’m going to try and do is take that account of Lucius and share it with a couple of folks. Maybe we can get Bob Price to weigh in on it. I have no idea, Nick, what those folks will say, but I think it will help me and maybe help our listeners have an anchor point in trying to come to grips with this account.
It’s an amazing account and like I say, I’m certainly not hostile to the message. I love the message. But there’s a side of me that needs to tackle it as best I can. And then you get to a point where you just have to leave it alone and either go with it or not go with it.
Nick Bunick: Let me add one more thing, Alex. It has to do with women and the Church. The Church tells us that Jesus had 12 disciples and of course they give you the impression the disciples were like his bodyguards or his caretakers. What they don’t tell you is that the word disciples comes from the ancient word, “discipulos,” which means pupils. And now speaking from the memory of Paul, Jesus didn’t have 12 pupils. He had hundreds of pupils, hundreds of them, and half of them were women.
But the Church did not want to acknowledge the role the women played in the life of Jesus and Paul. And when Paul went out in the world and formed his churches throughout the whole Roman Empire, many, many, many of his administrators were women. When he wrote about them in his letters, some which ended up being published in the Gospels, they changed the women’s names to men’s names.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay. Well, that’s certainly a fact that we can track down. Nick, I really appreciate your openness with this topic and your ability to just handle anything that comes your way. That’s certainly what I’d expect if you are who you say you are, which is really a neat thing.
Tell us a little bit about where you’re going with The Time for Truth, your new book, and what’s going on in your life right now.
Nick Bunick: Well, at my website I have thousands of people who are visiting it. We have hundreds of people that are commenting on it. We have a tremendous number of people who have joined me. My goal is to have the Church acknowledge the truth of the changes they made-the inappropriate behavior and activities that have been going on for 1,600 years which is causing the Church basically to die.
Today only about 30% of the population who are Christians go to church. Even in Italy, where 95% of the people are Catholics, only about 29% of them attend church. In Germany I think it’s around 15%. Hundreds and hundreds of churches are closing down every year across the world. The reason being, Alex, is that people are tired of being told that they’re sinners; they’re going to go to Hell when they die; that God’s going to punish them. That there’s a Devil.
Even the word “Hell,” this is from 2,000 years ago from the memory of Paul-there was a dump outside of Jerusalem called Gehenna that burnt 24 hours a day. It was a dump where the people would bring their refuse. And the word Gehenna, which is a Hebrew word for sinner, the English translation is the word Hell. And that’s where the Church came up with the concept of Hell 400 years later. The people don’t want to hear that anymore. That’s why people are not attending church. Even in the United States only about 26% of the Christians are going to church.
Alex Tsakiris: Nick, why do you think church-you keep coming back to attending church-is attending church important? And how does your understanding of the spiritual order of things, how does that square with other religions or other people who are “spiritual but not religious?”
Nick Bunick: I don’t think you have to have a religion to have a relationship with God. My relationship with God is strictly a spiritual relationship. I don’t have a religion. But there are 2 billion Christians in the world; 1.6 billion are Catholics. So they play a very, very important part when it’s one-third of the population of the world.
And then you have another 1.6 billion that are Muslims. So here you have these two major religions in the world. Both of them, which represent almost 75% of the population of the world, both of them saying the same thing. If you don’t believe in our God and what we are teaching, God’s going to punish you and you go to Hell when you die.
How can you have peace and love and compassion in the world for one another? How can we live in a peaceful world if you have two of the major religions in the world representing 75% of the population both saying that God’s going to punish you and you’re going to go to Hell if you don’t believe in their teachings? And my experience is strictly to Christian religion because I don’t have any knowledge of the Muslim religion. So I have to confine myself basically to Catholicism, which represents about 1.6 billion people in the world.
The Church influences a tremendous number of people. Everything we do in life is around-even the secularists, there’s this constant battle between what is God’s role in our lives and where does religion play? So my position is simply this: since it does influence the minds of billions of people in the world, then I want it to be the true teachings of Jeshua and Paul, and not the false teachings which has brought us 1,600 years of strife and torture and murder of millions of innocent people.
Alex Tsakiris: It’s an amazing account and I think you’ve acquitted yourself very well in terms of saying what you had to say. I know you will be open to some kind of follow-up on this because I’d love to keep this dialogue going.
One of the things I really wanted to do today and do on this show in general is to show that we don’t have to have a knee-jerk reaction to these kinds of really hard questions. That’s why I appreciate this kind of dialogue that we’ve had, but I think that the dialogue really picks up when we try and take the next step and try to follow it through and see where it leads in terms of really trying to get as close as we can to the truth. That’s what you say you want, too.
Nick Bunick: Absolutely. That’s why I call my book Time for Truth.
Alex, I encourage anybody who listens to this program to go to my website, nickbunick.com and see the impact of the teachings, the messages in my book are having on people’s lives all over the world. Just yesterday a woman was saying that all her life she felt she was responsible for the death of Jesus. She’d been taught that as a child that she was responsible for the death of Jesus and this placed tremendous hurt in her life in terms of the guilt. After she finished reading my book she said, “Nick, I released it all and my life is totally different today than it’s ever been before. I cannot tell you what a difference it has made in my life, being able to release that guilt.”
Alex Tsakiris: Nick, thanks so much for joining us today and hopefully this will be just the first of a couple of conversations on this.
Nick Bunick: Anytime, Alex. I really enjoy the fact you’re challenging me. I like that and I’d rather have that than softballs thrown at me. I’ll be available to you anytime you want to do it again.
Alex Tsakiris: Thanks again to Nick Bunick for joining me today on Skeptiko. I want to tell you a little bit about what I did after this show.
The first thing I did was look for an article to support this idea that I thought I was pretty sure about, and that’s that there is a lot of Biblical scholarship on reincarnation and the Gospels, and it just isn’t there.
I found a perfect article and I’ll link it up at Skeptiko. The article’s by this guy, Dr. Paul R. Eddy. I don’t know, but he seems to be enough of a scholar and this point seems to be pretty well established that I didn’t feel a need to dig very much further. He really lays out a strong case refuting this idea that the Bible has been sanitized from reincarnation.
Again, let me make it clear. I believe that the scientific evidence for reincarnation is really strong. I just don’t think that there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the Bible sanitized a whole bunch of information about reincarnation and took it out during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Centuries. I just don’t think that’s a strong argument to make.
The second bit of research I did was I sent an email to Robert Price, who is a well-known secular Biblical scholar and I asked him to comment on Nick’s recollection with Lucius. If you remember in the show, he goes into this long thing about how Lucius was appointed to the Church and how this later becomes interpreted that Paul advocates celibacy. Here’s what Dr. Price wrote me back:
“For one thing, Paul comes pretty close to advocating celibacy in Corinthians 1:7. This guy sounds like he wants to make Paul a healthy-minded, 21st Century American with nice, wholesome views about sexuality.”
So I immediately had to look up Corinthians and I found further evidence for what Bob was saying from a website, and I’ll link that up, too. This guy describes himself as a contrarian pastor, but here are the verses Bob was alluding to:
In Corinthians 1:7 Paul says, “Now for the matters you wrote about. It is good for a man not to marry.” And then they interpret that, what does it mean to marry? What does it mean about sexual relations with a woman, and all this. But then he further clarifies it in Verse 7A where he says, “I wish that all men were as I am.” And Paul was a celibate.
So of course, I can’t know if this really contradicts Nick Bunick’s recollection. All I can do with both of these pieces of information is throw it out there and try to sort through it and find out what fits together best for me.
As I told Nick during the interview, I very much resonate on a personal level with a lot of the spiritual ideas he has, but at the same time, I need to balance that with the best solid facts that I can get my hands on. And in this case, that leaves me less than convinced about the source of Nick Bunick’s very inspiring message.
Well, that’s going to do it for this episode of Skeptiko. I have several interesting interviews coming up in the near future so you’re going to want to stay with me for that. To get a hold of some of the links I mentioned during this show, be sure to visit the Skeptiko website at www.skeptiko.com. You’ll find a link to all our previous shows, an email link to me, and a link to our forums.
Thanks to all of you who continue to connect with me, either directly through the website, through the forum, or by blogging about the show. I sure appreciate all of that.
That’s all for this time. Take care, and bye for now.