It is time to put down the Torah, the Bible and the Koran and just talk to each other. There is a lot of violence in those sacred books, and if we seek to live by the Books, we will continue to be a violent people motivated by history and confused beliefs. God is still God and still talking and inspiring man. With our heads to far in the history, we are missing the messages and guides for the present and future. Talk to your brother of a different mother, he too has directions and inspirations from a loving Father.

The story of the disciples, who represented the 12 human characteristics of man, demonstrates that the story of Christianity and its evolution is the story of the world. The Christian churches that were established could represent the nations of the world giving birth to itself.

What does it say about human nature, when a gentle man walks among people, talking to them and healing their pain, and they turn on Him and crucify Him? What does it say to those who want to go out and help the poor and oppressed? What does it say about trust and dependency? Will there always be a Judas to watch for in Christian work? In the message of Jesus, even though the knowledge of a Judas is pre known, does the work of the messenger continue on? Huston Smith[1] suggests that sometimes people have problems distinguishing between the religion of Jesus and the religion about Jesus. Christianity sometimes gets away from the message and tries to analyze the messenger. The evolution of Christianity moved into violence and sacrifice, somewhere along the way it lost the Jesus message of love and helping.

Christianity moved into what became “churches,” these churches divided off into

 

political power bases and belief systems. It is a true testament to the miracle of God,

 

that the Christian church has survived. It is broken into a Western church called

 

Catholicism and an Eastern Church represented by the Orthodox countries and

 

religions.

 

During the days of Peter and Paul, it was just a question of serving Jews or Gentiles, to circumcise

 

or not to circumcise. The fight spread all over the world, and serious

 

battles were fought over rites and rituals. Churches could not agree on the elements

 

which represent the “true” wishes of God, or even who was God, or how many Gods

 

are to be worshiped.  

 

               One individual who had a significant influence on Christianity and the early church

 

was Marcion (c 85-c. 160 A.D.) Many of his views are being discussed 2,000 years

 

later, and have can be the discussion in theological centers of learning. He was a

 

Gnostic ship-owner, who started the belief about two Gods. This introduced the concept of dualism. He believed that the God of the Old Testament was not the same as the God of the New Testament.

 

He believed that the God of goodness and kindness sent His son Jesus to earth because

 

He took pity on earth. The believed that the two gods were in a constant battle for the

 

souls of men. He believed that the evil God of the Old Testament was a punishing God,

 

one of wrath and fire punishing mankind when ever He had a temper fit.

 

Marcion started his own belief system. He denied the virgin birth, the infancy stories,

 

the crucifixion and the resurrection. Of course without these core beliefs, there is no

 

Christianity. Marcion ideas are close to some of the beliefs of some of the new

 

religions. Some of the new religions, not only do not believe in the “Jesus” story, but

 

some go as far and rewriting the chapters in Genesis of the Old Testament. In true Star Wars fashion, some of the new religions believe that there were several chapters before the book of Genesis. These chapters center on the theory that Adam and Eve were not suppose to be together. Eve was suppose to be Satan’s bride, and when she became involved with Adam, the Gods let sin come into the world through the sexual union between the two. There is a whole dialogue concerning sex and sin.

Marcion[2] and the other major heresies were the forerunners of the thinkers and writers of books such as The Da Vinci Code[3]. Today they are not called heresies, and  there is no one or religion powerful enough to punish the thinkers or writers.

The question is however, what difference it makes if the writers say that Jesus did not exist. That the writers of the Gospels copied from each other, or that Jesus had a child by Mary Magdalene. These stories make exciting bar room talk, but it has no place in the church. It has no place in religion. It is not religion any more than the Crusades

 

were about religion and the kingdom of God. Religion is not suppose to cloud the mind so that you cannot see the face and the purpose of God. It is a spiritual miracle that the message of Jesus Christ survived. The mind of man tried to destroy it two thousand years ago. The spirit of the message however, has been passed down to this generation. Jesus is the heart of God, and He is received in the heart, when the heart knows, religion is being experienced, but Christians must be careful how Church history is read and accepted. A Culture of Violence, the Foundation of the Christian Church Church history does not center on a spiritual issue. It centers around the history of the world and its violent struggle through the ages. The violence of the Middle East and Europe remains centerfold in any research of the history of the church. Violent king seeking to capture other kings and kingdoms. The blood baths of European history gives birth to a violent and oppressive set of beliefs. It does not appear as if religion or European history had any significant effect on each other. Religion did not make the Europeans a more compassionate people, and history of religion does not provide spiritual road maps of man in search of his god.  Spiritual searches seem to take a philosophical journey rather than a spiritual one. The journeys of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates appear to be more spiritual quest than Peter, John or Paul.  The battles of the Caesars, the Pharos, the Alexander’s and the Constantine’s of history had little to do with the will of God for His people. A religion that comes out of a bloody crucifixion could and did inspire a careless  regard for humankind. What would have happened if the Prophet and messenger of  God gave us a quiet reflection on the spiritual meaning of life? What would have happened if the quieter populations of the world gave birth to this new religion? What would have happened if Jesus sat under the tree, talking to a group of people about God’s plans for the world, rather than being nailed to the tree with blood dripping  down its bark? Did a violent people need a violent religion? Did Europe need a Jesus on a cross crying out to His heavenly Father? Did the Christ message get lost or  swallowed up in the message of violence.

 

It would appear that a people born of violence were not afraid to die for their religious beliefs, but may have lacked the courage to live for them. To die for the love of Jesus  takes no spiritual sense, it does make sense if motivated by the violence of the time.

Violent actions produce violent thoughts and the belief that through force individuals

 

will change their ways.

 

Christian history tells little about man and women living lives

 

of kindness and grace. It tells little about individuals living in complex societies and

 

obeying the laws of those societies. Stories of men and women spreading love and

 

kindness without challenging the status quo. This would have been a message of

 

Christianity, that could have had a different history.

 

The armies and the fighting forces of the world would still have fought their needed

 

battles, but the mingling of Christian history with warfare produced a story of violence

 

and conflict. Perhaps this trend of thought is naïve . Christianity was born at the cross of violence

 

not at the heart of love. What is the meaning and significance of the cross? It was always a symbol of death.

 

Perhaps the message was not suppose to be in the cross. Perhaps the message was

 

suppose to be in the quiet heart of the women in the life of the man called Jesus.

 

Perhaps only the women heard and understood the message that the Christ came into

 

the world to deliver. Perhaps the one who bore the life, wiped the blood which oozed

 

out of Christ tortured body, stood by the door of the tomb which housed the human

 

remains of the Savior, and were the first to hear the words of the risen Christ saying

 

“GO and Tell.”

 

               That story would not be exciting. That story of women as the foundation of The Christ

 

message would not sell in the local markets. It is more exciting to read about body part

 

being torn apart by lions for the sake of depraved human entertainment.

 

The history of the churches of the past are very similar to the stories of conflict and

 

confusion in modern day churches. People gather around strength and differences,

 

and the individual who is strong enough to prevail become the leaders of the church.

 

The Jews and their religion had their own cultural and spiritual belief systems for

 

centuries. It was a family tradition and religion.

 

As the children in the family grow up,

 

they sometimes want to branch out on their own. Two men, Peter, a Jew, and Paul also a

 

Jew, decided to do his own thing. Peter wanted to bring some new ideas back to the

 

Jewish family and Paul wanted to start a new family all together.

 

               The battles of these two people and positions, is also not about religion or spirituality.

 

It centers on power and influence.

 

               Christianity then became a struggle between two power forces. The Peter religion and

 

the Paul’s religion. However, neither of these men were strong enough to inspire

 

religions to be named after them, so they started the religion of the written word. Each

 

writer claimed to have divine inspiration, and a fax machine straight to the front office

 

of God.

 

These writers hired themselves an army of translators, since all of these

 

messages were sent back written in a different language or coded, they were able to

 

announce themselves as the only authentic voice of God. Each writer had a different

 

Fax machine and a different set of translators, as a results, Christianity became a

 

religion of words and translations of words. There was even the question of plagiarism.

 

It was difficult to determine who copied from whom. It could be suggested that some

 

of the translators were moonlighting with for the opposition.

 

Debates began to center around who wrote what, and who wrote it first. Theories developed with respect to who had the “real” fax machine. The real one was able to send secret messages. Gnostic

messages sent in a form that only the select could or would understand. This was not religion, this was politics. This was sociology and or psychology, but it was not religion.

 

Peter set up and organization with specific rules of order. The individuals who became

 

part of this organization, did not have to think, they only had to follow the rules of

 

order, and let selected individuals think for them.

 

Peters organization became the

 

Catholic Church, which because it followed the order and structure of the Roman

 

government was successful. It still however was not religion. It was obedience. Paul

 

decides to go out into the ’Hinter” lands and start club houses around the known

 

world. The members of these club houses focused on issues relating to life and

 

acceptable behaviors for living effectively with each other. There were many conflicts,

 

but it still was not religion.

 

               Enters Constantine the Great. He represented the Roman government. He was

 

engaged in the many fun sports of the time which were the bloody battles. Christians

 

running around not quite sure of who or what they were had been a minor annoyance,

 

but the bulk of the Christian’s time was spent in internal disputes over who said what,

 

who saw what, and who wrote what.

 

             In between these disputes on who was or was not a Christian, and who had the authority to speak for Christians, there was always the willingness on the part of some individuals to go to the cross of sacrifice and suffering. Since they were not clear about the religion, they were clear about the suffering part. Constantine realizing that he was only making the confused Christians happy by leading them to the enlighten, through suffering and death decided not to help Christians enter into heaven on his watch. He made an interesting decision. He decided to make Christianity the official state religion of Rome. Christians were not sure of whom they were or have clear foundation on a religion with structure. By becoming the official religion of the state, they permitted the state to determine what Christianity was. The state, as represented by Rome was in the business of conquering countries and bringing them into the Roman Empire through force. The state did not take on the religion of Jesus the Christ. The church and the followers of the disciples took on the personality of the Roman state. The history of the church from that point on became the history of violence. The violence of Rome became the violence of the Church and this continued for over one thousand years.

                 This is our bible. These were the events, which influence the writing of the bible. The studying of the bible must be taken in the context of the history of the people and the times. Words can be used to express those events, but unless there is an understanding of the cultural and historical factors surrounding any given event, the words are almost meaningless. The bible cannot be studied in any meaningful way without paying attention to what was going on during the time when the writer was writing.

All of the characters in the bible have personalities. Each of these personalities contributed to the richness of the story. The story would just be a collection of words without some context. The same word may have different meanings for different peoples. The same scene described could be perceived in a different way depending on cultural background. Hermeneutics ask the researcher to take into consideration the entire variable surrounding world. The who, what where, when, how and why are the major questions of the bible. These are the questioning world that should be used if the biblical stories are to have meaning in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church History- Christian Evolution: A Simple Chronology

 

Bruce Shelly[4] provides a simple chronology:

 

The Period of Jesus and the Apostles (30-70 AD)

  • u The death of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection
  • u Christianity comes into being. Men preach the gospel

 

 

 

The Age of Catholic Christianity (70-312)

  • u Christianity spreads. People are willing to die for the faith
  • u Early teachings called heresies. Church council called to settle differences-canonizing the scripture

 

The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

  • u Constantine makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire
  • u More people become Christians. Monasticism begins

 

The Middle Ages (590-1517)

 

  • u The Roman Empire Falls along with the Byzantine Empire
  • u Benedictine monks sent as missionaries, the ruler of the church is now the pope
  • u The church loses its soul with the crusades

 

The Age of Reformation (1517-1648

  • u The protestant movement with Martin Luther
  • u Beginning of the different denominations, Lutheran, Reformed Anabaptist and
  • u The pope loses his power and influence

 

The age of Reason and Revival (1648-1789)

  • u People begin to ask who needs God. The Mind becomes God
  • u Return of Pietism, Methodism and the great awakening

 

The Age of Progress (1789-1914)

  • u Christian message is carried all over the world, faith leaves public life
  • u Pluralistic and totalitarian countries do not see need for Christianity

 

The Age of Ideologies (1912-present )

What is the future?

 

Today many new belief systems are spreading all over the United States. America has

 

an influx of religions from the East. The ideas are new to some. There are many

 

paths to finding the Christ. There are many paths to finding and worshiping God.

 

[1] Huston Smith, The Religions of the World, Our Great Wisdom Tradition, Harper San Francisco, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers 10 East53rd Street, New York, NY10022, V111. Christianity

[2] Gnosticism, Montanism, challenged the church to define itself more clearly. Marcion was the son of a bishop. He was called the first born of Satan. He could not believe that the father of Jesus was the same God of the Old Testament. Professor Mickler Church History 1 Winter 2005,

[3] Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Doubleday New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland. Interesting story about Jesus not dying on cross, but marrying and having a child. The story detains how the Catholic Church tries to kill all the descendants of Jesus in order to keep the male domination of the church. Entertainment but not religion

[4] http://www.church–history.com/

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