Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

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posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 10:35 PM
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This is the research paper that I have put together and said I would post. It is rather lengthy so please refrain from commenting until everything is posted.

Ancient and modern Christians label those who question the doctrines perpetuated as truth by the mainstream, organized facets of the religion as enemies of the faith, such as the likes of Porphyry, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, Robert Green Ingersoll and other factions of the Abrahamic religion. The greatest enemies of Christianity are the self-titled members whose precarious actions taint the simple faith, not different religions or secular culture as the hypocritical Christians have a history to demonize. Although the distortion of Christ's message, cause, and teachings roots from his followers during his time, e.g., Jesus Christ rebuking Peter Simon for not wanting the inevitable, prophesied sacrifice that Jesus Christ willingly took before the creation of man, the onset of heavy manipulation of beliefs stems from the nationalization of Christianity by the Roman Empire. This political move during the reign of Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus enables the blossoming of the Council of Nicaea, whose purpose was to dictate universal and obligatory creeds for all Christians to abide by, subsequently rejecting those who did not declare the creeds verbatim. The fruits of the blossomed Council of Nicaea are bittersweet; the "orthodox" and "heterodox" sects, such as the Chalcedonians and Miaphysites, disagree on authoritative creeds set forth by the Council of Nicaea in a violent manner that is in direct opposition to the essence of true Christianity, which Jesus Christ exemplified as loving your neighbors, enemies included, doing good, and acknowledging the personal relationship with Father.

The Roman Empire's relationship with Christianity is a tumultuous one. Although Rome is credited to being the first to nation to spread the religion on a global scale, the foundation of the religion is built on the ruins of ashes and blood of early Christians. As the Roman Historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus accounts in his works The Annals, an urban fire, which historians label as the Great Fire of Rome, starts on 19 July AD 64 and ends up destroying ten out of fourteen districts of the empire during the reign of Nero (15.40). Tacitus also observes that the citizens came to a general consensus that Emperor Nero, although he helped in the reconstruction and relief efforts, was the cause of the fire due to rumors, spreading faster than the fire, that the emperor appeared on a private stage and sang romantically of the fire, comparing it to the destruction of Troy, but the basis of these rumors were nonexistent as Nero was confirmed to be in Antium and rushed back to Rome upon hearing the news (15.39). To diffuse these rumors, Nero deflects the blame to the Christians and brutally persecutes them due to their lowly statures as explained in the following:

...But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed. (15.44)


This loathing attitude towards the faith completely changes when Christianity helps in the return of prestige to the empire with Constantine following the precedent set forth by Nero in regard to achieving nationalistic interests under the pretense of religion.

The nationalization of Christianity by the Roman Empire under Constantine begins in a time of war and inner conflict within the empire as Constantine and Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius Augustus, Constantine’s brother-in-law through the marriage of Maxentius’s sister Fausta, fought each other at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on the date of October 28, 312 in order to ascertain who would be the rightful heir to the title of Emperor for the western part of the nation. This establishment and assertion of power occur through the victory of Constantine when he was informed, whether it be through a dream or a vision in the sky as the accounts of Lactantius and Eusebius respectively differ, that he would conquer Rome through the sign of the Chi Rho, a monogram consisting of the first two letters of Greek word "ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ," for Christ as the Britannica Encyclopedia Online states ("Constantine"). After this decisive victory, a website with an English translation of a document called the Edict of Milan in 313 shows Constantine's steps in developing a proclamation of tolerance for Christianity in the Roman Empire:

...And thus by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our hearts, may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence. Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion. ("Edict")


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posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 10:40 PM
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One may argue that Constantine is the greatest and most influential evangelist of the faith due to his proclamation of tolerance, such as John Meyendorf states in his book Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, "No single human being in history has contributed…to the conversion of so many to the Christian faith" (7), and John Julius Norwich reiterates this proposition in his book, Byzantium: The Early Centuries, with, "“No ruler in all of history…has ever more fully merited his title of ‘the Great’….[Constantine has] serious claim to be considered…the most influential man in all of history" (32). However, one must ask this poignant, but absolutely necessary question: Did the nationalization of Christianity influence the faith in a positive manner? This question is thoroughly answerable after a close examination of Christianity in consideration to the infrastructural roads it created connecting to modern society.

After toleration of the religion is established under the reign of Constantine, the emperor declares for a convention of bishops in Nicaea, modern day Iznik, Turkey, on A.D. 325 after heavy recommendations by Hosius of Corduba, a Spanish bishop and one of Constantine's closest Christian advisors, to constitute a consensus of doctrine and theology in order to facilitate what is deemed the Arian struggle, as the website with the Catholic Encyclopedia states ("Hosius"). Adolf M. Ritter also states in Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to A.D. 600 of the intentions to formulate a standard of orthodoxy in the following:

The council of the '318 Fathers of Nicaea' in 325, convened to overcome doctrinal disputes, took an existing 'declaratory' creed of Syro-Palestinian provenance and inserted a number of qualifying phrases, e.g.: 'that is, from the substance of Father'; 'true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father'... To all intents and purposes, this revised formulary was intended to be used henceforth as a test of orthodoxy. In this respect, the Council of Nicaea does represent a turning-point or 'great revolution'… (97-98)


The main agenda of the First Council of Nicaea, as the Britannica Encyclopedia Online states, is to debate whether Jesus Christ co-existed with Father, which was the Nicene's fathers point of view, or if Jesus Christ came into existence after Father had created him, as Arius's theology had observed ("Arianism"). As Arius continued to expand upon his beliefs, Nicholas of Myra walked across the room and slapped Arius across the face, as many sources confirm as Ted Olsen states ("Real"). The great Edward Gibbon states in the fifth volume of his work, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of the failures of the council regarding the means in which it conducted itself with the following:


The incomprehensible mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, instead of commanding their silent submission, were agitated in vehement and subtile controversies, which enlarged their faith at the expense, perhaps, of their charity and reason. From the council of Nice to the end of the seventh century, the peace and unity of the church was invaded by these spiritual wars… (Gibbon)


Although the argument that the First Council of Nicaea's purpose was to help in distinguishing the truth for believers is present and to be acknowledged, the questioning of the nobility of the motives and purpose behind the ecumenical council is to be acknowledged as well, especially if history further details the outcomes of the event in regards to the means in which these ecumenical councils ascertain whose group’s view is orthodox and the precedent set forth for future conventions.

Perhaps the most violent, gruesome, and contradictory event within the Christian churches' history occurs in Ephesus during 449 when expert theologians and bishops convened in order to discuss the nature of Jesus Christ. The story of this ecumenical council makes the questionable actions Nicholas of Myra towards Arius an itch in comparison to the gangrenous event that happened in Ephesus. Philip Jenkins explicates on the violence his book, The Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years with the following:


In 449, the leading Fathers of the Christian church met in Ephesus, in Asia Minor, to debate pressing theological issues. At a critical moment, a band of monks and soldiers took control of the meeting hall, forcing bishops to sign a blank paper on which the winning side later filled in its own favored statement. The document targeted the patriarch of Constantinople, Flavian, one of the three or four greatest clerics in the Christian world. Yelling "Slaughter him!" a mob of monks attacked Flavian, beating him so badly that he died a few days later. So outrageous was the..


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posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 10:48 PM
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intimidation the the ultimate winners in the conflict invalidated this whole council. They repudiated it as a Latrocinium-loosely, a Gangster Synod. (1)


Jenkins further details the violence in his book by quoting Gibbon and his writing:


Jerusalem was occupied by an army of Monophysite monks; in the name of the one incarnate Nature, they pillaged, they burnt, they murdered; the sepulchre of Christ was defiled with blood. . . .on the third day before the festival of Easter, the Alexandrian patriarch was besieged in the cathedral, and murdered in the baptistery. The remains of his mangled corpse were delivered to the flames, and his ashes to the wind; and the deed was inspired by the vision of a pretended angel. . . . This deadly superstition was inflamed, on either side, by the principle and the practice of retaliation: in the pursuit of metaphysical quarrel, many thousands were slain. (XII)


Jenkins goes on to explicate on the impact of the marred Chalcedonian victory and the political hierarchy that was going behind the scenes of the church with the following:


We cannot speak of Christ without declaring his full human nature, which was not even slightly diluted or abolished by the presence of divinity. That Chalcedonian definition today stands as the official formula for the vast majority of Christians, whether they are Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox-although how many of those believers could explain the definition clearly is open to debate. But as we are told, Chalcedon settled any controversy about the identity of Christ, so that henceforward any troublesome passages in the Bible or early tradition had to be read in the spirit of those powerful words. For over 1,500 years now, Chalcedon has provided the answer to Jesus' great question. But Chalcedon was not the only possible solution, nor was it an obvious or, perhaps, a logical one. Only the political victory of Chalcedon's supports allowed that council's ideas to become the inevitable lens through which later generations interpret the Christian message. It remains quite possible to read the New Testament and find very different Christologies, which by definition arose from churches very close to Jesus' time, and to his thought world. (XI)


Elain Pagels touches upon the political networking behind the religion in her book, The Gnostic Gospels:


If the New Testament accounts could support a range of interpretations, why did orthodox Christians in the second century insist on a literal view of resurrection and reject all others as heretical? I suggest that we cannot answer this question adequately as long as we consider the doctrine only in terms of its religious content. But when we examine its practical effect on the Christian movement, we can see, paradoxically, that the doctrine of bodily resurrection also serves an essential political function: it legitimizes the authority of certain men who claim to exercise exclusive leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter. From the second century, the doctrine has served to validate the apostolic succession of bishops, the basis of papal authority to this day. (6)


As any unbiased intellectual would do, Jenkins defends the ancient Christians' passion by writing the following:


The violence was unforgivable, and so were all the acts of persecution and forced conformity. But in one sense, ancient Christians were exactly right to be so passionate about their causes, if not the means by which they pursued them. Far from being philosophical niceties, the central themes in the religious debates really were critical to the definition of Christianity and to the ways in which the faith would develop over the coming centuries. The Christ controversies did, and do, have immense consequences, for culture and politics as much as for the religion. (2-3)


However, although Jenkins tries to defend the passion of the ancient Christians, he is forgetting the higher standard in which Christians are supposed to conduct themselves in, especially if the group is to proclaim the truth. Instead, the ancient Christians fall to conventional means of asserting authority by force and other violent means, instead of reasoning together and setting a noble, peaceful, loving precedent for others to follow just as Jesus Christ exemplified. These implications, like Jenkins stated, have immense consequences for culture, politics, and the religion, but the cons outweigh the pros as one can see in the tumultuous times of polarized opinions and failure to negotiate through a peaceful, logical manner in today's society with regard to how religious views affect modern society.

As modern Christianity is constantly being mocked for its nonsensical doctrines and zealous, ignorant followers for imposing their views on those that do not share the same indoctrinated, illogical perspectives that have been set forth by the actions during the foundation
edit on 22-11-2012 by DelayedChristmas because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 22 2012 @ 10:49 PM
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of the organized religion, it is of no surprise for the religion to reap this sort of reward; the religion of Christianity, not the faith, is sleeping in the bed it has made through the politically natured victories achieved through violence. The relationship and status between organized Christianity and the world can be described as poisonous fruit bearing tree on top of a hill. The tree on the hill ravishes and boasts its aesthetically alluring, venomous fruits, causing those who consume the fruit to be mad with pain. The fruit fall down and fertilize the soil that the tree soaks the nutrients from. The master farmer will come and cut the non-fruit bearing tree from the roots in order to make extra room to plant the seeds of sweet fruits. Christians, when dealing with any circumstance in life, should stop consuming the poisonous fruits and ask themselves a simple question that Charles Sheldon brings to surface in his novel In His Steps: What would Jesus do (Sheldon)? Jesus Christ is also quoted to warn his brothers and sisters of people that claim to know him:


Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruits, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (New International Version, Matt. 7:15-20)


Works Cited
"The Annals by Publius Cornelius Tacitus." mcadams.posc.mu.edu.... Ed. Bruce J. Butterfield. Bruce J. Butterfield, 1997. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. .
"Arianism (Christian Heresy)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .
"Constantine I (Roman Emperor)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .
"The Edict of Milan." gbgm-umc.org.... United Methodist Women. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. .
Frend, W. H. C. "8. Creeds." Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to AD 600 : In Honour of W.H.C. Frend. Ed. Ian Hazlett. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991. 97-98. Print.
Gibbon, Edward, Esq. "Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.―Part I." The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 5. 1845. Www.gutenberg.org. David Reed, Dale R. Fredrickson, David Widger, 7 June 2008. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. .
"Hosius of Cordova." www.newadvent.org.... Ed. Kevin Knight. Immaculate Heart of Mary, 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2012..
Jenkins, Philip. Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years. New York: HarperOne, 2010. Print.
Matthew. New International Version Holy Bible. Biblica, 2011. Bible Gateway. Christian Persecution, Church Fundraising, Medi-Share, Gospel for Asia, Book Self Publishing. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .
Meyendorff, John. Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: The Church, 450-680 AD. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1989. 7. Print.
Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Early Centuries. New York: Knopf, 1989. 32. Print.
Olsen, Ted. "The Real Saint Nicholas: Christian History." Www.christianitytoday.com. Christianity Today, 8 Aug. 2008. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .
Sheldon, Charles Monroe. In His Steps "What Would Jesus Do?". Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1898. Print.
edit on 22-11-2012 by DelayedChristmas because: (no reason given)





 
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