I find it interesting that, in virtually every history class, book, lecture or seminar I attend, post Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, there is always some reference to some type of corruption, immorality, abuse, or controversy concerning the leadership of the Church – usually a Western (eventually Roman Catholic and Protestant) phenomenon.
Once the Christian Church “stopped” being persecuted, i.e. after the Edict of Milan (313) by Emperor Constantine, enabling Christian persons to find themselves in leadership positions, there seems to be a “never ending train of goodies” of some sort of abuse. First, going back to the Edict, heavy restrictions placed upon the Jews, greatly excepted by Church bishops. Continuing with Jews, Theodosius, once he made Christianity the Imperial religion, put further restrictions, forbidding intermarriage between Christians and Jews. Next, the “Golden Mouth Preacher,” St. John Chrysostom himself, preached eight sermons against the Jews, even calling for their expulsion and death (for they put Christ to death). The 4th Lateran Council, in all of its wisdom, ordered Jews to wear badges… Hitler anyone? With support of the Church, in the 1200’s, both England and France expelled their Jews, and in the 1400’s, Simon of Trent was called upon by people in Italy to come and do the same… with the support of the Papacy. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, in his writings, called for an attempt of conversion, but if they could not be converted, they should be killed. Of course, Jews were , for necessary, for Christians could not lend money (save the Templar Knights), so the Jews were the lenders. However, because Jews were “sadists,” they were accused of killing children in the middle ages and early Renaissance period as “ritual murder.” The claims were… by the Church and the Inquisition, that Jews required the blood of Christians to complete their rituals… wait… did not Rome accuse Christians of this same practice? Yet, it happened, causing the murder of many Jews. Some Jewish men were even accused… by Dominican Friars, of menstruating, and needing the blood of Christians, especially young boys, to cure this ailment. Of course anti-Semitism came to a for front during the NAZI control of Germany… any wonder, Hitler had read Luther, as any German or Austrian would, and its no wonder why anti-Semitism was rampant in Germany and Middle Europe, since the Protestant and Reform movements, like their Catholic counterparts, actively pursued anti-Semitic policies.
It did not stop with Jews… gypsies, Cathars, and homosexuals were also targeted by the Church… yes, some groups heretical, some living in sin, and yet, killed, by the Church. Wait… in many ways, that still happens, maybe not the body is dead (maybe it is), but the spirit is drilled by fire and sword. Do not forget the Witchcraft Craze… beginning again with an Inquisition and Malleus Maleficarum, and coming to full fruition when it was no longer popular to blame the Jews anymore (Jesus did not come back in 1000 AD, Black Death, dead or missing kids, etc) – because Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor) decreed safety and protection for the Jews – now we will blame midwives – child mortality was terrible, parents figured the midwives put curses on their children, old women (widows or single) because they lived as hermits and produced herbal remedies, beggars, because when you did not give them money and then a piano fell on your head they must have cursed you, or the all too convienent young (poor) woman, who being gorgeous (and a witch) entered your dreams as a Succubus, and “made” you “spill your seed,” thus sin, and bring down a curse one you – these women (and sometimes men) became favorite targets. Not just Catholic mind you, and not just in Europe, just read about Salem, MA. This all, including the atrocities upon the Jews, all in the name of God. All with the blessing of priests and bishops, Reformation leaders, Church councils, and even the Papacy. Do not forget, Joan of Arc… wait, St. Joan of Arc, was tried, condemned, and burned at the stake for witchcraft… the “savior” of Catholicism in France. The only reason why the Witchcraft Craze ended was because of the Enlightenment… ironic, Reason caused people, and the Church, to stop hunting down “witches.”
These are only two groups of people… how bout the faithful. Well… Indulgences ran rampant, with even Catholic scholars, such as Savonarola (burned at the stake) and Erasmus coming out against those. Others, who dared challenge the Papacy, i.e. Jan Hus, ordered to death at the Council of Constance (they were also figuring out their three popes at one time problem – because John XXIII actually wanted reform, yet he is an anti-pope, enabling the more recent John XXIII – the big guy in the picture – to reclaim the name for a true pope). Luther, if not protected by German nobles, would have met the same fate as Savonarola, and Jan Hus. All the while the Roman Church grew fat off of people’s sin and fear… oh yeah, and completed St. Peter’s, paid Michelangelo (who did not even want to do it), Caravaggio (a murderer, womanizer and a drunk), and Bernini, to rebuild Rome (thank you Alexander VI, Nicholas 5, Leo X, etc).
Next, war. The Crusades, or as my high school education would call it, “The Just Wars,” yet, it ended in “Christian” defeat… so maybe there was justice, since Christians raped and pillaged Constantinople, desecrating Hagia Sopia… but wait, its all good, the Eastern Church is anathema… 🙂 Lets all smile 🙂 Again, the killing of Jews and Arabs for Christ… oh, and also the Pope and the Church, let us not leave them out. Thank you Council of Clermont.
It does not stop there… there is the “Glorious Revolution,” you know, Cromwell and his hatred for Catholics and even Anglicans (and kings) in England. The war in France between Christians..err… Catholics and Huguenots (Reformed Protestants). Of course… it continues today… Ireland, Eastern Europe, all in the name of God.
Keeping with the Church of England… Henry VIII, his quest for a male heir, and because he was king, many bishops supported him – in divorce (Cardinal Woolsey) and in his decision to leave Rome… fantastic. Let us leave Rome so our king can marry another woman, wonderful decision, and we sit back, as non Anglicans and wonder why ECUSA, I mean TEC, and the whole CoE has the problems she does.
Now we come to the meat. I am not a “liberal,” nor am I a “conservative.” As one girl pointed out in a political science class one day, I am a Theocratic Socialist… to which I proudly reponded “amen.” I am against abortion and Gay Marriage (I support civil unions, after all we are a free country founded by Unitarians who did not even believe Jesus Christ to be divine… Thomas Jefferson even wrote his own version of the Gospels taking all of the divinity references out, John Adams, Unitarian, George Washington a devout Mason, etc etc). However, I found myself agreeing with Bill Maher (yes I know, scary), with both his movie Religulous and some of his other assertions, mainly of why he is afraid of organized religion, and therefore God. The Church’s mission to take care of the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the lonely, the desolate, the prisoner, the slave… the Church’s mission is to serve, to be a slave to humanity, not just to each other, but to all. The Church is supposed to take care of Her own, not just itself. The Gospel – God loves you, He is not mad at you, He forgives you, and He will never leave you nor forsake you – it might be preached, but it is not followed. Wait you say.. that is God… wait I say, we are the Body of Christ, and Christ is our head, and we sit at the right hand of the Father… wait… do you see it… though not God ourselves, we are to act in his capacity, through His Grace and Mercy. Yet, we forsake each other every day, we judge, we do not forgive, we do not love. We do not only forsake the world, we forsake our own. Yeah, we will “pray” for you, and sometimes we do, often we just try to forget. When everything is great, we love ya, we smile, hug, etc, yet once tragedy strikes, we search for a way out. We will make rules and regulations, and force them upon people, yet when the Church is to be bound… sorry, it just cannot work… you know, know money, not enough people, not enough time. When the wind and the waves of the Sea of Galilee (I think that was the sea, could be wrong, it was one of them 🙂 we insist on waking Jesus up instead of using the faith He has imparted in us, however, for some reason, we assume Jesus will not wake up, so we say… well… this is a “Christian” blog, cannot use that four letter word hear. Christian… no, for we do not show it in our actions. Yes, we will put on a pretty face, tell the world how great, yet humble we are… yeah, we give out food, or I gave a buck to some homeless guy, or I have a PhD from some place like Oxford, Emory, or Trinity, yet, I am not willing to give all of myself, all the while judging others, and yet ignoring… no, not the plank, but the Redwood shoved… wait again… in my eye. We say we love, we say we trust God, hell, we say we follow the Will of God, but we do not. We have not given up everything, sold everything and laid the money at the apostles feet, for our brethen. We still wear our Armani suits, drive out nice cars, have our fancy buildings, take our sweet vacations, go out to Ruth’s Cris Steak House, or some other 4 or 5 star joint. We talk a good talk, but we do not walk a good walk. It is not Sola Fide, works matter, for it is works that Christ commanded and it is works in which the apostles walked in. Will works save us, no, but I will get back to that. We cry out against abortion and “fags.” We cry out against liberals, or in some cases conservatives. We are very willing to talk about politics, or how evil President Obama is. We cry out about Rwanda, China, Venezuela. We were eager to spill the evils of Communism and Socialism (yet Peter and John were very much Socialist). We are so eager to condemn and judge, just like the Church has always been. We are so eager to rebel against “social injustice”… i.e. American “Revolution.” Yet, we cannot even see our own past, though we claim to have learned from it. We cannot even take care of our own, even when we swear and promise… make law… Canon Law to do so, claiming one excuse for another, then daring to blame the one needing to be taken care of for not being able to take care of him or her. Hypocrisy I say. Am I a Christian, no, as I have said before, I dare not say I am, for I do not walk in that path. Am I a believer, yes, and I know God’s Love, Mercy and Grace. Am I a Christian, no, and looking at those, not all, but some, who claim to be, I am proud to say I am not. As Dr. Peter J. Leithart said, (against Christianity, Canon Press 2003) – and keep in mind, he is a Presbyterian Theology Professor and ordained minister… “Christianity is the heresy of heresies”… think about it. Going back to works… Evil exists in the world to prove ones faith, but it also exists to keep other’s faith – those who should stand with you, etc. – alive… for Faith without works is dead. Works will not save us… works is what gives us a reason to live, for without works, without full and ultimate sacrifice, the willingness to give all, even in the threat of losing all, for our brothers and sisters, we all are dead. Faith without works is dead, Christianity without good and righteous works – full surrender, full sacrifice, no excuses… for no money, nor resources, no time is no excuse, for if it was, there would be no sacrifice – is not Christianity, but a joke.