Institutional Faith

In the timeframe in which Jesus is accounted for in the New Testament there was no word for an institutional-type place of worship. The closest approximation to that idea was the Greek word ekklesie, Latinized as ecclesia, meaning assembly or gathering–from which we give respect to the word ecclesiastical, now used to pertain to church or clerical things. From ekklesie there also evolved the Ecclesiastiucus, a book of the Apocrypha that is also known as “Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach.” And we should not forget the word ecclesiology was coined to mean the study of the Christian Church as an institution. Nor can we ignore the word eccelesiolatry which is a reference to worship of the church, especially extreme devotion to its principles or traditions.

The point of this is that nothing was ever suggested in NT presentation (or OT) that instructed the establishment of an institutional complex where faith could be utilized as a business venture to be presided over by a dogma-mesmerized and material-minded hierarchy. The Christian “fathers,” based in Rome and inspired by the Roman Empire manner of governing, contrived to choose church personnel in a manner that paralleled the “chosen people” of the Old Testament.

Christianity was then presented and marketed by the “founding fathers” as a new revelation of truth, and those men in supposed attendance of Jesus have been characterized as enlightened men and saints by generations of faithful. That the average Christian does not pay any attention to their claimed “holy word” is disclosed by passages in the NT that spoke of the disciples as “unlearned and ignorant men.” The faithful also refuse to note that the disciples brought before Jewish judges were judged to be idioti–idiots. And various cultures within the Roman Empire spoke of the early Christian movement as a “vulgar faith.” Celsus, the second century Platonic philosopher, spoke of the Christians as, “The rude and menial masses, who had hitherto been almost beneath the notice of Greek and Roman culture…”

Many, many men who influenced the early church did not have any particular respect for those whom they attracted. Jerome, for example, called a “saint,” spoke of the fierceness of the followers’ ardor which so frightened those who came to join that they fled in fear saying “…it is better to live among wild beasts than with such Christians.” And Julian (331-363), the Roman Emperor, renounced Christianity comparing them with “…the deadliest wild beasts (that) are hardly so savage against human beings as most Christians are against each other.” Julian also noted, “There is no wild beast like an angry theologian.”

The fanatical Christians, believing in literal mythology, went on to smother rationality, and Europe was plunged into centuries of darkness as the church institution, never dreamed of by Jesus, reigned supreme. Is it any wonder that Jesus chose not to return?

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