[private] I get a lot of criticism of my articles on religion and very little of it is constructive criticism. There are people who jump at the chance to criticize other people for their views on religion, yet they lack the knowledge necessary to explain or defend their own beliefs. It must be understood that most people get their religion from their parents and as kids they are already well indoctrinated. Yes, most of us are forced to accept our parent’s religion.
My mother never bothered to check my homework from school, but if I missed a church meeting I was chastised for a week. No Christian I have ever met has taken the time to find out the reason why he or she is a Christian. Most of the Protestant denominations which abound in these islands were all invented in the United States of America some time in the middle of the nineteenth century. Yet almost none of the bible spouting crowd know the history of their own denomination, much less that of any other. We Island Christians have a poor regard for other denominations and especially for other religions. Yet none of the Christians I know have ever found it strangely remarkable that within the writings considered sacred by Christians, there can be found the complete scriptures of another religion, Judaism. They don’t seem to know that Judaism is the undiluted religion of Jehovah and it’s from there that Christianity and Islam both sprang.
Most Christians have never given a thought as to why the Christian movement was never based in Judea where it was supposedly born, or why it remained a Mediterranean religion for centuries.
The propagation of the early Christian religion was mostly due to the efforts of a person who never even met Jesus–Paul. Paul was a Jew born in Tarsus, which at the time was a part of the Roman Empire. His real name was Saul, and in order to be accepted more readily into the Latin world in which he lived he changed his name to Paul. He was a politician and his job was the persecution of Christians and their nascent church.
On the road to Damascus he had a change of heart after having a vision of Jesus Christ. This incident in the life of Paul is not mentioned by Paul himself in any of his many writings. Paul was a devout Jew and he never admitted to converting from one religion to another.
Paul’s lifelong work was trying to unite the gentile churches he had founded with the church of the Jesus Jews of Jerusalem. As part of his missionary work Paul wrote letters to his churches in and around the Mediterranean, some of these letters later became books of the New Testament. As a matter of fact about half of the books in the New Testament (thirteen of twenty-seven) are letters supposedly written by Paul.
Paul was arrested in Jerusalem by the Jewish authorities on the charge of blasphemy and would have been executed there were he not a citizen of the Roman Empire. Paul was then escorted by soldiers and carried by ship to Rome. Paul must have been acquitted, or was never tried on the blasphemy charges, because he continued to travel freely through the Roman Empire and it was not until two years later that Paul was beheaded.
The churches founded by Paul were taken over by another missionary, one of the original disciples–Peter. Paul, on at least one occasion, had confronted Peter in regards to Peter’s contradictory influence in the gentile churches. The Jesus Jews of Jerusalem insisted that the gentiles would have to submit themselves to the legal and ritual precepts of the Jews in order to become part of the church of Jerusalem. Peter disagreed with the Jesus Jews and these churches were never reconciled. The gentile church established its headquarters in Rome and with time it became the Roman Catholic Church.
The word catholic is an adaptation of the Greek word katholikos and it means universal. The Catholic Church still lays claim to the fact that it was the original and for fifteen hundred years the only Christian church.
Our local denominations hold no reverence for the Catholic Church even though there can be no doubt that it is the Mother Church of all Christians. I attribute this lack of consideration to our ignorance of the fact that the event which brought about the reformation of the church was not a protest against the Christian doctrine of the Catholic Church, but against the political and economical power wielded by the Catholics. At one time the Catholic Church crowned and deposed of kings in all European nations and the church owned at least one third of all the lands of Europe. Protestantism was born out of the need for social and political rather than religious reform. [/private]