Chapter Thirty Six


2Cor 11: 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we
           have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which
           ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have
           not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Gal   1: 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called
           you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

       Originally I had intended to name this chapter THE GENTILE
FOLLOWERS OF JESUS THE NAZARENE when it occured to me that indeed
Christians have elected to follow "another Jesus" who is NOT the
historical Galilean that lived and died under the governorship of
Pontius Pilate. It was this decision, initially under the discipleship
of Paul, that took the gentile Christians on another path, leading away
from the Jewish fellwoship of the original Nazarene.

       In time, THEIR path became the orthodoxy of belief in Jesus
Christ. To them went the the historical triumph of the spread of a new
religion, founded on the base of the religion of Israel. That this is
clearly so is seen by the obvious facts that Christians revere the
scriptures of Israel, that they use the religious language and symbolism
of Israel, and that they worship the G-d of Israel, albeit in their own
unique non-Jewish way.

       The development from Jewish Nazarenism to gentile Christianity is
well known to the world at large and acknowledged by Christians
themselves. What is perhaps less well known is the historical religious
substructure leading to the aforesaid development.

       In truth, the road to the Christian Church of Christ had been
plotted out and paved long before either Jesus the Nazarene or Paul the
Apostate were born, and the paving of this road made the spread of that
Church both facile and inevitible. For the origins of the work lay in
the long dual traditions of proselytization and messianism among the
people of Israel, both traditions inextricably bound up with each other.
For indeed, when the Jewish people became aware of the messianic
expectation, and tied this expectation with the belief that there was
only one true G-d, He of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it became the moral
imperative of the descendants of the Patriarchs to share the "good news"
with the rest of humanity. Only then, did the Bible's prophecy, that
through Abraham's family would all the nations be blessed, take on any
significant meaning. If there were to be a final cosmic cataclysmic
conflict between the elect of G-d and the powers of Evil, the impetus
arose in Israel to draw as many of humanity as possible to the side of
G-d as possible before the coming of that conflict. If G-d were really
King of the world, and if the coming messianic age were really going to
be the Kingdom of G-d on earth, then Israel saw its solemn duty to draw
all those created in the image of G-d, who were willing, to the King. Of
necessaity, the natural children of the Kingdom would be first, but
their primacy would be as priests and holy teachers to the gentiles upon
whom they would bring the shinnig light of Torah. Then the adopted
children would be brought in and made part of the family of Abraham.

       There arose in Israel, as we have seen, two schools of thought
represented by two schools or parties, each with its own idea of how the
mission of Israel to the gentiles was to be actualized. The Sadducees,
who tended to view all of history in terms of a religious real-politik,
felt that the nations of the gentiles were tightly in the grip of the
side of the anti-G-d and must therefore be brought in by force. When
they came into political power, they acted upon this belief in urging
the kings of Israel to bring the Torah of G-d to the gentiles by means
of the sword. The Pharisees, keepers of the Oral Revelation, were much
more optimistic in their view of human nature, and wisely felt that the
mission ought be to individuals, not nations. Their attitiude prevails
to this day in the classical attitude of Judaism that while Christians
and Moslems convert nations, Jews convert individuals. It was the
rabbinic rabbis who first encouraged the gentiles of both Erets Yisrael
and of the diaspora to draw close to the community of Israel. This
missionary effort took the form of invitations to the local synagogues
where the non-Jews of the Greek and Roman world could hear the word of
G-d and observe the ceremonials of of the G-d of the Jews. By the time
that Israel come under the hegemony of the Romans, and the Sadducees
were stripped of their temporal power, the great masses of Jewish people
had already selected the prophetic Pharisees over the priestly Sadducees
as their leaders and relgious guides. And the Pharisees admonished the
people to:

     "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace,
      loving humanity and drawing them near to the Torah."
                             Pirke Avot 1:12

       Many Jews, both rabbis and common people, took these words to
heart and set out to seek converts among the nations. Using the Book of
Ruth as their paradigm, they sought to bring the world "under the wings
of the SHECHINAH (Divine Presence). Their task was made easier by the
translation of the Hebrew scriptures into the lingua franca of the Roman
world, Greek. By the time the first Hellene Nazarenes set out to preach
the good news of the immanence of the Kingdom of G-d in the Resurrection
of Jesus the messiah, every literate gentile was already long acquainted
with the Bible of the Jews in the Greek langauge. These early Nazarene
apostles followed the set path of the Jewish people in encouraging the
gentiles to join with Israel, the only difference being that while Jews
taught the messiah and the time of redemption was close, these Nazarenes
taught that the world already was in the time of messiah and redemption.
They did not approach the gentile world at large but went to the
so-called G-d Fearers who clustered about the synagogues of the
diaspora, and there they found an audience ready and eager to hear that
G-d would soon free men from political tyranny and establish His Kingdom
of peace as the true Kingdom for all men of good will. They had only to
join the Covenant of Abraham and acknowledge Jesus the Nazarene as their
sovereign as G-d's viceroy on earth. By the time that Paul arrived on
the scene, the task of his own peculiar mission was made easy by those
missionary Jews who had gone before him.

       It was Paul who introduced something new into this scenario. He
alone of all "missionaries" to the gentiles formulated the idea that
"salvation" could come to non-Jews through the acceptance of Jesus the
Nazarene as messiah of Israel and of the world. It is not our purpose to
analyze the inner-psychic workings of his mind to discover why and how
this world view came to his mind. Such has already been done by others
more qualified than I. Suffice it to say that the idea, at first, met
with anger from the Jews and puzzlement from the gentiles. The rabbis
had already said that the righteous gentiles would be saved in the
coming cataclysm but it would be their righteousnes that would save
them. Paul now insisted in the very un-Jewish belief that righteousness
is not the path to salvation but belief (despite the fact that Jesus
himself had cautioned his disciples that unless their righteousness
superceeded (equaled) the righteousness of the Pharisees, they would not
enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

       Although, after a time, the Jerusalem apostles accepted Paul's
"converts" to the community of believers, this acceptance was
half-hearted and preconditioned on the gentile believers acceptance of a
minimum ritual requirements. Paul acquiesed to that agreement but it was
more honored in the breech. Nevertheless, even had Paul stuck to his
word on the agreements reached at the Council of Jerusalem, the
situation that he had created would ultimately not have been acceptable
to the "pillars of the church". For even Paul hinself is forced to admit
that "certain men came down from Jerusalem" to "re-educate" the
disciples that he had made, and to bring them closer to teh Torah than
Paul had ever intended they come, and that these men of Judea were being
quite successful in Judaizing his converts.

       Yet there was a much graver issue to hand than Torah observance
for non-Jewish brethren. That was Paul's own definition of a messiah and
his re-definition of the person, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
For Paul dispensed with Jesus the Nazarene, and created Jesus the
Christ. This "annointed" of Paul's was more than messiah, in effect,
more than human. He was a part of the G-d-hood, practically equal to
G-d. Thus Paul stated that even if he were to have known the Jewish
Jesus of history, he knew that Jesus no more, but only the Jesus who had
spoken to him from out of heaven on the way to Damascus.

       This was completely anathema to Jews, both Pharisaic and Nazarene
and it led to Paul's undoing, as we have seen. After his death, the
Jerusalem apostles moved into his communities and attempted to bring his
disciples in line with their own Jewish understanding of Jesus. In this
they might have been successful but we shall never know. History
intervened, and the Mother Church got caught up in the cause of its
people against Rome, the same Rome that had crucified its master. The
defeat of the Jews by the Romans caused, not only the diminution of the
proselytzing efforts of the Jewish church but the re-strengthening of
the followers of Paul, who saw in the destruction of Jerusalem and the
Temple, the hand of G-d striking His unbelieving people. Thus, to them,
Paul's word that THEY were now the "new Israel of G-d" was confirmed.
Watching the Jewish nation lose its special position and prestige in the
Roman Empire, there was a need for redefinition of what the church stood
for. The gospels and the Book of Hebrews came into being to explain that
the true people of G-d never were a part of ethnos or geopgraphy but
were the saints and prophets descended from Adam and Noah more than from
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Invested with a stronger sense of their own
identity as a new faith community that G-d had created, along with a new
covenant, the post-bellum gentile church no longer felt the need to
approach only those G-d fearing gentiles who congregated at the
synaogues; now they were free to bring the words of Paul to the gentiles
at large, and to rewrite the other (original apostles) in the image of
Paul, THEIR own particular Apostle of Christ, indeed a man who
understood them far better than any other Jew and who had identified
with them as one of them, counting his own Jewishness as defiled matter
for the sake of the "knowledge of Christ":

     "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe
      of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a
      Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the
      righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were
      gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I
      count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
      Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all
      things, AND DO COUNT THEM BUT AS DUNG that I may win Christ.
                       Philippians 3:5-9

       As the fortunes of the Jewish nation continued to deteriorate
under the dominance of Rome, the gentile Church, now free of the
influence of the "leading apostles" of the Mother Church, began a
process of accomodation with the Empire. The Pauline re-interpretation
of the idea of the Christ easily allowed for the process of the
pacification of Christ. It was important to Christians that Rome realize
it had nothing to fear from their faith in terms of political unrest.
Christ was not the messiah that the Jews said he was. He was no rebel
desiring Caesar's throne for his kingdom was not of this world, and he
had even admonished his followers to render to Caesar the allegience
that was is due as the one so obviously chosen by G-d to be the prince
of this world. Christ would therefore not compete with Caesar. Yet
Caesar could not expect to compete with Christ for the loyalty of the
latter's followers' reverential worship. Despite the fact that Emperor
after Emperor refused to recognize the subtle difference in ideology
between Jewish Nazarenes and gentile Christians, and despite the fact
that many of the gentile followers of Christ had to suffer martyrdom
along with Jewish Nazarenes for latter's continuing political messianic
activism and subversive teachings, Christ's believers continued
steadfast in their slow but gradual missionizing of the very Empire that
sought to eliminate them.

       At first, Rome found it easy to persecute the small Church but as
its members grew in numbers, and began to include, no longer only simple
people, but now increasing numbers of the educated and influential, it
became more difficult for Rome to check and contain the growth of the
new faith, no matter how hard it tried, no matter how many numbers it
killed. Soon, Christians counted in the number, not only members of the
Imperial family, but eloquent philosophers, all of whom were able to
state the cause of Christ plainly in a manner, not only antithetical to
the Jews' warrior messiah, but plainly loyal and sympathetic to the
maintenance of the Empire. For Paul himself had admonished his followers
to be loyal and submissive subjects to Caesar.

       To be sure, during the first three Christian centuries, although
there were many who wished to remain loyal to the old religion of
Olympus, there were many that were beginning to find the worship of the
old gods spiritually and emotionally unsatisfying. The Roman world was
filled with individuals whose circumstances in this world comprised a
living hell that their desire was for the surety of salvation in the
next world outweighed their interests in circuses in this one. To these
people, the Christian Church reached out, and spoke to their needs. The
missionary message was the Christ had died for the salvation of all men
and women, and he would gather them into his kingdom as the new people
of G-d. The promises of the G-d of Israel were now given over to them in
the brotherhood of the body of Christ which was the earthly reflection
of the Kingdom of Heaven. There were no requirements that involved major
changes in the style of everyday living. To special dietary laws, no
restrictive observance of days and times, no distastefull circumcisions;
only acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, and baptism in his name.

       So while the Jewish followers of Jesus the Nazarene sank into
oblivion, the inheritors of the Church which had begun at Jerusalem,
grew to strength at Rome. Jesus had been believed by his followers to me
the messiah, the heavenly Son of Man. In time, both his Jewish and
gentile followers had come to believe that he was the son of G-d, though
each group would define that expression quite dissimilarly. Eventually,
under the logical development of Paul's teaching, the Councils of the
gentile Church elevated him from being the son of G-d to being G-d the
Son. For Paul had said that Jesus had humbled himself to become a
servant and chose not to be the equal of G-d while he performed his
mission. The inverse logic plainly intimated that he had the power then
to make himself the equal of G-d, and the equal of G-d is G-d. And he
was a G-d who had turned from the people of Israel to the people of the
New Covenant, and now all the promises that had been Israel would adhere
to the people of the New Covenant.

       When the Church of Christ became wedded to the temporal power of
the Prince of this world, it became a sign that the Chruch was confirmed
in its rightness, and all other faiths became of the Evil One, for the
gospel itself reported Jesus saying that "whoever is not with us is
against us." The Roman Empire was now G-d's own kingdom on earth. The
irony was that, in the end, the followers of Jesus DID conquer the
Empire, not in the way that his immediate disciples had imagined but in
another more powerfull way. They did not wage war against Caesar; they
assimilated him. The Emperor's very titles were abrogated by the new
faith. His title, SOTER MUNDI, Savior of the World, was now borne by
Christ himself, and his title, PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, Great Bridgebuilder,
was given to the man who sat upon Peter's Chair as the temporal viceroy
of his lord and Christ.

       Ultimately, by the early fifth century C.E., the Church in the
West crystalized as the Roman Catholic Church, and the Vishop of Rome
became the Supreme Father (Papa) of that Church. In the East, the
Byzantines succeeded from Rome and established what was to become the
Greek Orthodox Church. In the West, the Catholic Church itself assumed
the responsibility that early Christianity had given to Christ. It
became the instrument of salvation, saying, "Outside the Church, there
is no salvation."

       The Roman Church now used the power and military might of the
Empire to spread the faith, by the sword when all else failed. Much of
Europe was converted, tribe by tribe, with death as the only alternative
to baptism. Thus was paganism nearly eradicated in Europe. I say
"nearly" because the old relgions continued on in subterranean
expressions, often under the mantle of Catholicism itself. Many of the
old pagan temples were taken over by the Church and turned into
churches. Many of the old gods were baptized as "saints". Catholicism
made accomodations where it could in order to facilitate the
Christianizing of Europe, and later, of America.

       By the time of the beginning of the second Christian millenium,
Catholicism was an elaborate relgious structure that controled the
education and thinking of the entire civilized Western world. When the
common people no longer understood Latin, that language became the new
sacred language of the Church, replacing the Hebrew of Judaism, as Rome
long ago had become the new Holy City of the Church, replacing
Jerusalem. All universities came under the control of the Church. All
thinking not in line with Catholic dogma was considered heresy, and
heretics suffered at the stake for their differences of opinions. The
common man could neither read nor write, since the Church did not deem
it important to universalize education as opposed to the insistance of
the rabbis that all Jewish children be taught reading and writing at the
age of five. Any knowledge, therefore, on the part of the ordinary
person, which was considered "superfluous", was considered suspect. Many
were killed as witches for no other reason than that they had inherited
folk knowledge of healing from their ancestors, the knowledge from the
time of the old relgions, that enabled them to heal, or to more
effectively grow crops. In those places where the old gods were actually
still being worshipped in secret, they became the devils and demons of
Catholic thinking. The Church itself had built up many cults of saints
and of Marianism, each with its patrons and devotees. The hand of the
Church touched literally everything, art, music, literature, langauge,
all of education. Any of these pursuits which were religionless were
considered profane or secular. In time, both of these words took on
perjorative meanings. None of the above is meant to be an indictment of
the Roman Catholic Church; it is well-known history. On the other hand,
Catholicism was "Universalism" in many important ways. As the Druid
religion before it, the Catholic Church unified all of Europe in one
faith community. Like all religions before it, Catholicism had its
faults as well as its positive aspects, the major difference with
religons that had preceeded it was that it had many more adherents, many
more possessions, many more armies, much more power, a power which was
bound to corrupt. Yet such as it was, the Church of Christ maintained
civilization and the sciences in an age when dark barbarism ruled the
minds of people, and it offered hope and comfort to millions of its
adherents, if not to those it considered infidels.

       In spite of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had much to
recommend it as a faith community, its more blatant short-commings were
a stimulus to growing wide-spread protest. By the sixteenth century,
long smoldering resentments on the part of kings and commoners broke out
as the Protestant Revolt and Reformation. As an expression of antagonism
against the highly organized structure of Catholicism, the ornate three
and two dimensional art that adorned cathedrals and churches, the many
sects of the saints, the "hidden" language and liturgy of Latin, the
supra-scriptural Oral Apostolic Traditon, Protestantism was a study in
simplicity of faith and worship. For the first tiem in many centuries,
the Reformation made the scriptures of Christianity available in the
language they could best understand, often the translations were done in
a magnificently poetic and dramatic style, and the translations were
from the Original Hebrew and Greek rather than from the already
translated Latin Vulgate. The office of clergy was thrown open to the
average, ordinary man, much in the manner of the deacons and preachers
of the early Jewish Church. And despite the early persecutions and
inquisitions of the Roman Church, Protestantism blossomed and grew into
many different expressions, mostly in the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon

       Although the external shape of Protestantism differed from that
of Catholism, its internal faith persuasions remained essentially
unchanged from those of the Church from which it had sprung. The belief
in the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the salvic effects of the Passion and
Resurrection of Jesus, and of course, the essential wrongness of the
Jewish religious expression, remained, as did the holiday structure of
Christmas, Easter, and Lord's Day (Sunday). What did change in the
Protestant environment was what has come to be known as the "Protestant
Ethic." It this environment, both education and enterprise were
encouraged. With the exception of several extreme cases, where
predestination and determinism were a major motif, the Protestant
environment allowed for free expression of free will as the hallmark of
mankind having been created in G-d's image. Man was given the
intelligence and freedom to expand in the world and to subdue it, and
each man and woman was worthy of living life to the fullest in this
world, while relying solely on the grace of G-d through Jesus Christ for
salvation in the next. Man might enjoy the world and he was to be
righteous, but he was not to believe that this righteousness accounted
for anything in his achieving his own salvation. Only through Jesus
might he gain the future bliss, but his own attempts to persuade G-d
that he was worthy of that bliss by his own initiative was considered
hubris since it detracted from G-d's glory as Savior of mankind.

       For the past twenty centuries, Christians have lived in
anticipation of salvation through Christ on two levels, personal
continuance in G-d's presence after death, and the final salvation of
the faithfull upon the Second Coming of Christ as the Son of Man in the
clouds of glory. This latter expectation has lost some of its emotional
power, as both Catholic and Protestant followers of Jesus the Christ
have tended to draw their minds away from escatological thinking and
have gotten on with the business of living Christian lives here on
earth. In this, they have been grounded in and guided by the absolutes
of Biblical ethical and moral philosophical thinking and action.

       In as much as they have involved themselves in the religious
symbolism and language of Biblical Israel, they have been co-workers in
G-d's plan, along with the Jewish people from whom they derived the
foundations of their faith. Unfortunately, for much of Christian
history, the on-going Christian antagonism, New Testament based, towards
Judaism and Jewish world-view, has prevented any really meaningfull
co-work between the two faith communities. This antagonistic attitude,
on the part of Christians, regarding the "carnal and legalistic
Pharisaism" of Judaism, has led to such sorrow, pain, and consequential
xenophobia on the part of Jews as to make meaningful relgious
communications between Jews and Christians virtually impossible. Each
community goes along its separate way, sometimes making platitudinous
polyanna statements about the other, when it is politically or socially
expedient to do so, but with no real inner conviction. In the end,
despite the seeming similarities of the two religions, the over-riding
and serious weltanschaung of each is antithetical to the other. The Jews
see the world as basically unredeemed, and they call upon their own sad
history as proof of this stance. Christians see redemption as having
begun two thousand years ago on the cross when their lord said, with his
dying breath, "It is finished", and ending when all peoples are gathered
to the fellowship of the Crucified one. Above and beyond the politeness
with which each faith community faces the other in our modern, liberal
generation, is that which was given expression several years ago by a
Roman Catholic nun, "When ever a Christian explicitly says that the
messiah has come, he IMPLICITLY says, 'and the Jews be damned'." For
their part, the meaning of the salvic message of Jesus Christ is lost on
the Jews, who see salvation as the coming of One who will bring peace,
remove want, rebuild the Temple, gather in the exiles to Jerusalem, and
make the lion and lamb dwell togather. Only when such a One is made
manifest, will they accept that salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven have
truly come. But the greatest proof to Jews that he has come will be that
the people of Israel will no longer be subject to harm by the gentile
nations. For since the Nazarene appeared, Israel has suffered far more
than before his appearence. In the past, the gentile followers of Jesus
have caused his Jewish brethren much pain for this attitude of refusing
to accept Christian salvation and redemption. How they will address this
on-going refusal in the future remains to be seen.

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