Religion 21st Century

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  • Christianity - The Polymorphous Aggregate of Different Groups

    Christians come in all shapes, sizes, colors and display remarkable diversity in beliefs, behavior and social policies. Although I have met Christians who deny it, the religion began as a branch of Judaism. The biblical stories suggest that the first Christians were a Jewish sect who differed in one important respect from other Jewish sects. Jews expected God’s son, the Messiah, to arrive on earth. The Christian sect claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the wait was over. Edited selections from the Hebrew Bible are retained as the Old Testament in the modern Christian Bible.

    The Jew's idea of one God who preferred only one group was assumed by the new sect and eventually Christians claimed that they alone had inherited God’s preference. The teachings of Jesus usurped Jewish myths and Jewish law. The Christian myths that supported the divinity of Jesus were three stories: miraculous birth, supernatural powers and resurrection after death. As every mythologist knows, these were not new myths. They were old and archetypal stories adapted to support the Christian claim of special status and privilege. Like their Jewish antecedents, Christians continue to misconstrue their myths as historical fact.

    The New Testament is the Christian section of the Bible, originally written in Greek. This most often appears as a twenty-seven book canon which includes the Gospels, four narratives of Jesus Christ's ministry, a narrative of the Apostles' ministries; twenty-one early letters, commonly called "epistles" written by various authors and an Apocalyptic prophecy. A good way to enter controversy is to discuss the real origins of the New Testament writings or to propose modern interpretations of what was originally intended by the many authors a long time ago. Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185 AD, stated that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written by Peter and Paul who disagreed on fundamental doctrines. Luke was written some time later. Peter was perhaps the most important proselytizer in the 60 years following Jesus death. He spread the gospel in Turkey and Greece, preaching an apocalyptic vision with promises of salvation to those who signed up for his new Jesus worship.

    Whoever the original authors of the new testament were, their works were copied, revised, edited and finally transformed about 1500 years later into the bible that modern Christians read. For centuries, the Roman Church coveted its Latin Bible. The Roman Church did not depend entirely on the Bible, creating a meta- structure of myths, minor deities, rituals, dogmas, rules of conduct and business opportunities that continue to be profitable.

    Tyndale is credited with the first English translation of the New Testament in 1525. The English protestant bible, the King James Version, was first published in 1611 by the Church of England. The fraudulent claim that the modern bible is the “Word of God” is made by evangelistic preachers and television advertising in the US of 2008.

    In the New Testament, Jesus appears as a rebel who taught a benevolent social philosophy that featured community, love, charity and personal sacrifice. He taught that you should love your neighbors and follow the empathetic rule - do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12) His most extraordinary advice was to forgive your enemies: “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

    Jesus got into trouble with orthodox Jews. Jesus` followers claimed that he was the messiah (aka the King of Israel.) The poor and displaced Jews who believed in him joined his flock. Other Jews with vested interest claimed he was a fake prophet and arranged to have him killed through the agency of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilot. After Jesus died, The Romans destroyed the temple at Jerusalem, scattered the Jewish sects and took some Christian Jews to Rome, where they preached their new religion.

    Kaufmann suggested: ”The Gospels leave no doubt that Jesus communicated an exalted conception of himself, though he was mysterious about it. According to all three Synoptics:” he charged his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” which is, of course, the messiah. After his crucifixion, his disciples might have remained a Jewish sect, revering his memory while giving up that for which he had been crucified; or, if they wanted to make Jesus a rallying point, they had to make the mystery of this person more explicit. This is what Paul did in terms of an elaborate theology and the author of the fourth Gospel even went beyond him to fashion Christianity into a mystery religion, complete with sacraments."

    • Religion for the 21st Century is available as printed books and an eBook download. 332 Pages, The book is intended for an educated reader who is interested in a world view of religious expressions past, present and future. The main theme is that each religious group has its own claims and stories and will tend to reject others. A reader committed to one point of view may not accept the egalitarian review presented here. Innate tendencies are expressed as religions and in the past have created conflicts that hinder progress towards the real and true. The book examines paths for religious renewal in the 21st century.

      The author is Stephen Gislason

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