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Christianity: An Alternate Perspective! (Part II): Varghese Pamplanil

March 25, 2020

Chritianity part 2 bannerThe message of Jesus was preserved by James (The Just) and the Ebionites. With the martyrdom of James in CE 62 and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans in CE 70, the Ebionites escaped to Pella in the modern day Jordan just below the lake of Galilee (which the Christian hyperbole calls the “Sea of Galilee”) and dissipated in course of time.

Incidentally there are conjectures that Jesus had belonged to a sub-sect of Judaism viz., Nazarenes. A few of them, pepper traders, could have taken refuge in Malabar Coast when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans in CE 70 to escape the Roman prosecution. Further exodus of Jewish followers of Jesus, in small numbers, could have happened after the last Revolt of Jews against the Romans, the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-136 CE). A significant number of Jews would have been slaughtered,enslaved or deported. Many would escaped some how.Jews became homeless wanderers for centuries afterwards.It may be borne in mind that the Romans did not distinguish the followers of Jesus from the Jews; they were treated on par with Jews for prosecution.

pamplanyTill the take over the Church of Malabar at the end of the 16th century by the Portuguese, the indigenous Christians were known as Nazaranees. One surmise can be that the Nazaranees of Malabar could belong to the sect of NAZARENES, the sect to which Jesus belonged.

In order to curry favour with the Romans the Christians,put the entire blame for the hanging of Jesus, squarely on the Jews calling them “Jesus Killers” which resulted in Jews being treated as pariahs, being hunted throughout the the length and breadth western world of Christianity: The Nazi program of extermination of Jew was the culmination of hatred towards the Jews.

Pontus Pilot, if at all he was present at the Jesus trial, would have gone for washing his hands after defecting. Hanging one who was perceived as an enemy of Rome, was no big deal. Even a centurion could have ordered Jesus to be hanged from a tree. About 2000 hangings used to take place in the Roman controlled Israel.It was for the Romans, no more than swating an annoying common house fly. The Jewish priesthood was afraid of disturbances in Jerusalem during Passover. With thousands ofvolatile Jews from different parts of Middle-East, with deep rooted hatred against Roman occupation,congregating in Jerusalem for the annual festival riots, commotions and violence were around the cornerif some thing went wrong. For instance there was a riot when a Roman soldier bared his private parts in public.Jesus created a mighty ruckus by uprooting money changer’s tables, beating sellers of animals and birds meant for sacrifice at the temple. The Sadducees whose survival depended on keeping the Romans in good humour could have got alarmed.They could have initiated a kangaroo trail and handed over Jesus to the Romans to put away with, alleging that he had claimed to be the “king of Jews”.They would have thought, let one die so that others live.

Paul being a Roman citizen and a business man (he was engaged in making tents out of cured animal skins for the Roman army) and having extensive trade related contacts through out the Roman Empire,could travel freely and propagate his brand of religion, the facility the true followers of Jesus lacked. From the late 40s to the early 60s of the Common Era, he travelled through the Diaspora, Greece, Turkey and other parts of Asia Minor and Italy (except Rome) and organised congregations, taught and issued letters expounding his view points and ironing out problems that arose among his followers. Paul’s Christian religion does not seem to have spread out side the Roman Empire. The claim that Thomas, the apostle(Didymos, Judas Thomas, the Twin) came to the Malabar coast in CE 52 and converted the gentile Nambootheeris is bunkum as these people came from Andhra only in the 8th century CE.

Paul’s Christianity or PAULINITY was the most prominent outfit at the timeof adoption of the religion by Emperor Constantine as a political expediency,Pauline ConstantIanity is as different as chalk from cheese to the original Jesus movement.Constantine continued to be a pagan calling himself Pontifex Maximus. He was a devotee of Sun God, the “Sol Invictus” or the “Unconquerable Sun “ That is why the Christian Church was compelled to opt Sunday, devoted to Sun, as the Sabbath Day, in the place of Jew Jesus’ traditional Sabbath day Saturday. Constantine was baptised in his death-bed. In the meantime, he killed his wife by boiling her alive. He murdered his son also.

Emperor Constantine bestowed immense wealth and other privileges on the Church that attracted the senatorial and others of rank to Christianity. The soldiers became Christians to avoid excruciating drills at least for one day of the week, Sunday. The Emperor busy in military campaigns, entrusted civic administration and collection of taxes and rents to the bishops. Bishops of Millan and other places grew immensely rich and powerful. Those who joined the new dispensation in the hope universal,salvation were pushed aside.

The jockeying for positions of power and pelf led to all sorts of skulduggery, bloodshed, corruption, sycophancy, nepotism and other ills. Bishop John Chrysostom condemned the corrosion of integrity in the church due to the crazy pursuit of the Ecclesiastes for excessive wealth and enormous power. He pertinently pointed out that clerics were infected with the decease of “ lust for authority “ and fighting for candidates for positions in the church on the basis of family prominence, wealth or partisanship. The mad scramble for money and wealth by the clerics may have arisen out of the “Original Sin“ of GREED.

Emperor Theodosius, the “butcher” from Spain, by a series of edicts from CE 380, banned all other religions from the Empire,destroyed pagan temples or converted them to Christian Churches. But within a hundred years, Christians reverted to the practices and ways of worship of the pagans with vengeance. The numerous pagan gods and their shrines were “baptised” to Christian gods and their chapels.After all, old habits die hard. The ruthless murdering Emperor had also turned against other Christian groups such as Gnostics, Arians etc.as well.

For the dirty work done for the Church by this monster, he was elevated by it to sainthood and was conferred the title “Great”. This is not surprising: the Church had also elevated Helena, one of the early Christians and the influential mother of Constantine. This former bar girl had seduced Constantine’s father, a common soldier then , became his wife to be sidelined later by her disillusioned husband.Generally who ever does the henchman’s job for the Church are rewarded by it by conferring of “sainthood” and chevalier status (when alive) . The prime example is the elevation of the crony of a bishop, otherwise a person with no merit,to the chevalier status recently.

At the time Christianity was born and established itself,people lived in a threatening universe. Along side the real world, was another, parallel but unseen oneof spirits, good and bad. The bad spirits predominated and from them one needed protection. The security of a religious belief which projected itself as having the ability to lay hold of the God’s favour was an enormous attraction. The claim that Christian magic was much superior to that of non-Christians attracted many to it. The Christians told the credulous that the Eucharist also has magical properties. (cf.Michael Walsh – Roots of Christianity )

Even after studious and diligent study of the Bible, one cannot locate a theologian Jesus.There is not even a strand of any worthwhile theology in the Bible. Jesus was a freedom fighter and a social activist, not any one born to save the human kind from the sin, one mythical character Adam,supposed to have committed . The Christian theology has been solely built upon Greek thought. Edwin Hatch points out the telltale difference between the Sermon of the Mount and the Nicene Creed; the former “belongs to the world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers”.

Hatch has suggested that “Christianity, from its pure and simple origins in the New Testament world deteriorated into complexity on contact with Hellenistic thought. The change in the centre of gravity from conduct to belief is coincident with the transference of Christianity from Semitic to Greek soil”. This move from ethics to doctrine is seen as a move from “original simplicity to later complexity and from individual spontaneity to group association and assimilation to existing structures”.

Christianity was allegedly made into the complicated doctrinal structure from the 2nd century onwards by the Church Fathers. They were “great admirers of Plato and accordingly while showing outward profession to Christ — in heart they did not put off Plato”(John Biddle). From the high-flown language of the Councils of the Church to the language needed to transmit Jesus’ message intelligibly to the third world peasants (the so called buffalo theology), has travelled a long way. “Jesus proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God but what came out was the Church “(Alfred Loisy- French modernist theologian).”

God, for the western man is the God of Israel. The CHRISTIAN metaphysicians for the first two millennia after Christ drew heavily on non-Jewish traditions- mostly on Plato and Aristotle while talking about God. What relationship does an intrinsically hierarchical and bureaucratic organisation bear to a Galilean preacher and a handful of his followers? The Christian Churches have tended to hold on determinedly to their structural organisation, while shedding much of their vitality.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in CE 496, the Popes assumed the role of rulers of Rome. In the subsequent period known as the “Dark Ages”stretching from the 5th to 11th centuries, papacy spent its energies and resources to reinforce its temporal power vis-à-vis the rulers of Europe especially that of Germany. German antagonism towards the Italian dominated Church of Rome, still persists. By the 11th century the temporal power of Rome was on the decline. The struggle for supremacy between the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople resulted in a vertical split of the Church between Western and Eastern wings in 1054 CE, the Great Schism.

Era of Reason

After a period of unrest (1500-1650), emerged the era of Reason, Revival and Revolution (1650-1789). The unification of Italy in 1870 resulted in the seizing of the vast papal estates which deprived the Church of its extensive land holdings and the popes became “prisoners of Vatican “. The Church did not suffer any prick of conscience in making the Lateran treaty in 1929 with the Fascist Mussolini in terms of which the Italian State recognised the suzerainty of the Pope over the Vatican City in addition to 750,000,000 lire in cash plus consolidated bearer bonds with a coupon rate of 5% and nominal value of 1,000,000,000 lire as compensation for the loss of the papal estates in 1870.

Over the years the promise of universal salvation was turned on its head by the Church. It has been ruling in a milieu of exploitation of the inherent fear of humans over death and life afterwards.

In the Syro-Malabar Church,the clerics have become predators; their focus is money grabbing and pushing the believers into the whirlpool of superstition and meaningless rituals. In the power game,bishops call themselves as princes and lords of the Church.An army of Monsignors, chancellors, vicars and others are required to be fed and kept in comfort, if not in luxury. by the believers at the base level. The deprived proletariat, the Cattle Class, is beholden towork hard like draughts animals and to forced to forgo even the simplest pleasures, to sustain an institution which does not seem to give any worthwhile return of intrinsic value. For most of the common folk, sex is cost free recreation which incidentally is good for the body and the mind.But sexual intercourse as such is taboo in the eyes of the church, it is denigrated and demeaned by the ecclesiastical class.The church is for joyless coupling solely for procreation. Enjoyment of sex for its own sake even between husband and wife is frowned upon by the church.

Roman Catholicism as of today, is western religion totally shorn of its Asiatic moorings. The Syro-Malabar Church is a hydra of indeterminate character. It is neither Western or Eastern. It’s way of worship and rituals, is trivia of disparate things, full of repetitive prayers. The Kerala Church behaves like an eel, snake in the water and fish overground.

The people who opt for priesthood now, belong generally to socially economically bottom class.They may have chosen this profession in the absence of viable job opportunities and uncertain of their relevance in the society.

Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University in her book Christianity: A Very Short Introduction’ observes: “Looking to the future, we are likely to see a continuing decline in support of Christianity in the West, so long as a majority continue to embrace the turn to subjective-life. For those who do not, particularly those value ‘traditional’ forms of community and family life, Christianity may continue to serve as a cultural alternative. In less affluent parts of the world, by contrast, Christianity is likely to enjoy continuing success – unless such countries begin to develop their own versions of turn to subjective- life.”

Concluded


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