Twenty Thousand Different Christian Denominations Can't Be All Wrong! (OR Can They?)

"Ed, your research reveals a disturbing trend throughout the centuries. I have to wonder what the point of all this mayhem was, which was done "in the name of god."

Taking the long view, mayhem is mayhem whether done in God's name or not. I'm afraid that once religion was defanged after the religious wars of Europe, politics and nationalism became the new religion, and caused more wars. Mankind just doesn't seem to be able to get it. Today we have a resurgence of fundamentalism in religions like Xnty and Islam, Judaism, and even militant Hindus and militant Buddhists (the later live on the isle of Sri Lanka). Each individual is attracted to the prospect of becoming a part of something larger and more long lasting than their one short life. That's why people join groups in the first place (the less secure the person the more absolutist the group they join, or, they are secure people but feel even MORE secure when joined to an absolutist group).

The horror of Christianity is dual in that it has convinced bold bad people that they are good, the chosen, the elect of God; and it has also convinced sensitive and compassionate people that they are egregious sinners who have to spend their whole lives in penance and fear.

And history reveals of course that Christianty and Christians fall time and again into the same dirty ditches as every other dogmatic absolutist group in history, regardless of the fact that Christians boast a perfect book to guide them perfectly and a perfect holy spirit to lead them into all perfect truth.

And they also believe that regardless of a couple thousand years of evidence to the contrary, only THEY are right in THEIR beliefs and only THEY are "forgiven" when they fall into the same dirty ditches as every other absolutist group on earth. Today there are over 20,000 different Chrisitan groups and denominations and missionary organizations. And the diversity of views among them are amazing.

From silent Trappist monks and quiet Quakers - to hell raisers and snake handlers;

From those who "hear the Lord" telling them to run for president, seek diamonds in Uganda, or sell Lake of Galilee beauty products - to those who have visions of Mary, the saints, or experience bleeding stigmata;

From those who believe the communion bread and wine remain just that - to those who believe the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into "invisible" flesh and blood (and can vouch for it with tales of communion wafers turning into human flesh and wine curdling into blood cells during Mass);

From those who argue that they are predestined to argue in favor of predestination - to those who argue for free will of their own free will;

From those who believe everyone will eventually be saved - to those who believe most everyone will be damned;

From Christian monks and priests who have gained insights into their own faith after dialoging with Buddhist monks and Hindu priests - to Christians who view Eastern religious ideas and practices as "Satanic;"

From castrati (boys in Catholic choirs who underwent castration to keep their voices high) - to Protestant choirs (who sing Luther's hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," based on the melody of a drinking song) - all the way to "Christian rap;"

From Christians who reject any behavior that even mimics "what homosexuals do" (including a rejection of fellatio and cunnilingus between husband and wife) - to Christians who accept committed, loving, homosexual relationships (including gay evangelical Church groups);

From Catholic nuns and Amish women who dress to cover their bodies - to Christian nudists, and born-again strippers;

From those who believe in sex between married couples for pleasure - to those who believe in sex primarily for procreation - to those who believe celibacy is superior to marriage (Catholic priests, monks and nuns & the Shakers) - all the way to those who believe in cutting off one's genitals for the kingdom of God (the Skoptze, a Russian Christian sect);

From those who believe sending out missionaries to persuade others to become Christians is essential - to the Anti-Mission Baptists who believe that sending out missionaries and trying to persuade others constitutes a lack of faith and the sin of pride, and that the founding of "extra-congregational missionary organizations" is not Biblical;

From those who believe Easter should be celebrated on one date (Roman Catholics) - to those who believe Easter should be celebrated on another date (Eastern Orthodox), which resulted in the Roman Catholics excommunicating all the Christians of the Eastern Roman Empire;

From those who worship on Sunday - to those who worship on Saturday (the Hebrew "sabbath" that God said to "keep holy" according to one of the Ten Commandments) - all the way to those who believe their daily walk with God and love of their fellow man is more important than church attendance;

From those who stress "God's commands" - to those who stress "God's love;"

From those who teach that being "baptized with water as an adult believer" is an essential sign of salvation - to those who deny it is;

From those who teach that "baptism in the Holy Spirit" along with "speaking in tongues" are important signs of salvation - to those who deny they are (some of whom see mental and Satanic delusions in modern day "Spirit baptism" and "tongue-speaking");

From those who believe that avoiding alcohol, smoking, gambling, dancing, contemporary Christian music, movies, television, long hair (on men), etc., are all important signs of being saved - to those who believe you need only trust in Jesus as your personal savior to be saved;

From pro-slavery Christians - to anti-slavery Christians;

From Christians who defend the biblical idea of "kingships" and oppose "democracy" as "the meanest and worst of all forms of government" (John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and today's Reconstructionist Christians) - to Christians who oppose "kingships" and support democracies;

From "social Gospel" Christians - to "uncompromised Gospel" Christians;

From Christians who do not believe in sticking their noses in politics - to coup d'etat Christians;

From "stop the bomb" Christians - to "drop the bomb" Christians?

All in all, Christianity gives Hinduism with its infinite variety of sects and practices a run for its money.
- Skip Church



So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all the sad world needs.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

1 comment:

  1. The reason for 2,700 to 38,000 denominations of Chrstianity from what was originally a simple message is that Man though he could improve upon it and make it be a better "fit" to Man's changing lifestyle and offering more "value" than the church down the block competing for the same believers.

    Along with the proliferation of denominations, came the proliferation of interpretations of the Bible claimed to be most like the "original" when there never was one original. Certainly, not with a group of disciples seeing the same events but having a slightly different take on them.

    In the case of Matthew, however, he let his personal bias against Jews morph the events into a reason to get rid of the Jews - a reason which continue today in Islam and also in some "mainstream" Christian denominations.

    A good litmus test for any Christian is to ask him or her about their beliefs and personal feelings about the State of Israel and about Jews, both living in Israel Jew and in the Diaspora.

    You can also learn a lot by asking them about Islam, in general, and radical Islam, in particular.

    Jesus was a Jew who told his disciples to "Preach to the Lost Sheep of Israel." He certainly did not want to start a new religion, let alone have thousands of variants.

    For that, we have to start with the writings and theology of Paul.

    Now, if Christians can properly articulate both the true source and true meaning of "Jesus died for our sins,"