Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth

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Paul in 1 Corinthians is even clearer; he states, "The time is short. Some evangelicals counter these clear words by quoting 2 Peter as saying that, for God, one day is like 1, years. Two problems: That does nothing to counter what either Jesus or Paul said. And even in ancient times, many Christian leaders proclaimed 2 Peter to be a forgery, an opinion almost universally shared by biblical scholars today. None of this is meant to demean the Bible, but all of it is fact.

Christians angered by these facts should be angry with the Bible, not the messenger. The next time someone tells you the biblical story of Creation is true, ask that person, "Which one? Few of the Christian faithful seem to know the Bible contains multiple creation stories. The first appears on Page 1, Genesis 1, so that is the version most people tend to embrace.

However, it isn't hard to find the second version: It's Genesis 2, which usually starts on the same page. Genesis 1 begins with the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"; Genesis 2 starts with "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. Careful readers have long known that the two stories contradict each other. Genesis 1 begins with expanses of water that God separates, creating the earth between them. Genesis 2 describes a world without enough water, which is then introduced.

Vegetation exists before the sun and the stars in Genesis 1; it's the other way around in Genesis 2. In Genesis 1, man is created after plants and animals; in Genesis 2, plants and animals come after man. This is nothing unusual for the Old Testament. In fact, even though many evangelical Christians insist that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament including Deuteronomy, which talks about Moses having died and been buried , biblical scholars have concluded that two Jewish sects wrote many of the books.

Each prepared its version of Old Testament, and the two were joined together without any attempt to reconcile the many contradictions. These duplications are known as "doublets. The doublets make reading the Old Testament the literary equivalent of a hall of mirrors.

Take the Genesis story of Noah and the flood. In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to build an ark and load it with animals, and "Noah did everything just as God commanded him. But the directions changed the second time, with Noah told to bring seven of every kind of clean animal and two of every kind of unclean animal. It gets stranger. In Genesis , Noah and his family board the ark, and the flood begins. Then, in the very next verse, Genesis , Noah and his family board the ark again, and the flood begins a second time. The water flooded the earth for 40 days Genesis , or days Genesis But Noah and his family stayed on the ark for a year Genesis Even well-known stories have contradictory versions.

As every child knows, David killed Goliath; it's right there in 1 Samuel But don't tell those children to read 2 Samuel unless you want them to get really confused. There, it says in many versions of the Bible that Elhanan killed Goliath. Other Bibles, though, fixed that to make it coincide with the words in 1 Chronicles, were Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath. These conflicting accounts are only serious matters because evangelicals insist the Old Testament is a valid means of debunking science.

But as these example show, the Bible can't stop debunking itself. In fact, the Bible has three creation models, and some experts maintain there are four. In this version, the world is created in the aftermath of a great battle between God and what theologians say is a dragon in the waters called Rahab.

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And Rahab is not the only mythical creature that either coexisted with God or was created by him. God plays with a sea monster named Leviathan. Unicorns appear in the King James Bible although that wasn't the correct translation of the mythical creature's Hebrew name. There are fiery serpents and flying serpents and cockatrices—a two-legged dragon with a rooster's head that word was later changed to "viper" in some English-language Bibles. And in Exodus, magicians who work for the Pharaoh of Egypt are able to change staffs into snakes and water into blood.

In Genesis, the "Sons of God" marry the "daughters of man" and have children; the "sons of God" are angels, as is made clear in the Books of Job and Psalms. Evangelicals cite Genesis to challenge the science taught in classrooms, but don't like to talk about those Old Testament books with monsters and magic. But the translation there is odd, in part because the word homosexual didn't even exist until more than 1, years after when 1 Timothy was supposed to have been written.

So how did it get into the New Testament? Simple: The editors of these modern Bibles just made it up. Like so many translators and scribes before them, they had a religious conviction, something they wanted to say that wasn't stated clearly enough in the original for their tastes. And so they manipulated sentences to reinforce their convictions. The King James Version translated that as "them that defile themselves with mankind. The next thing to check here is whether 1 Timothy was based on a forgery.

And the answer to that is a resounding yes. In , a German scholar named Friedrich Schleiermacher published a letter observing that 1 Timothy used arguments that clashed with other letters written by Paul. Moreover, 1 Timothy attacks false teachings, but they are not the types of teachings prevalent when Paul was writing—instead, they are more akin to the beliefs of the Gnostics, a sect that did not exist until long after Paul's death.

And at times, whoever wrote this letter uses the same words as Paul but means something completely different by them. Most biblical scholars agree that Paul did not write 1 Timothy. But suppose for a moment that 1 Timothy was written by Paul, and that "defile themselves" does refer to homosexuality.

In that case, evangelical Christians and biblical literalists still have a lot of trouble on their hands. Contrary to what so many fundamentalists believe, outside of the emphasis on the Ten Commandments, sins aren't ranked. The New Testament doesn't proclaim homosexuality the most heinous of all sins. No, every sin is equal in its significance to God. In 1 Timothy, Paul, or whoever wrote it, condemns the disobedient, liars and drunks. In other words, for evangelicals who want to use this book of the Bible to condemn homosexuality, most frat boys in America are committing sins on par with being gay.

But you rarely hear about parents banishing their kids for getting trashed on Saturday night. Now let's talk about how 1 Timothy deals with women. Representative Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican, slammed gay people as bullies last March for opposing legislation that would have allowed Arizona businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Well, according to the Bible, Bachmann should shut up and sit down. In fact, every female politician who insists the New Testament is the inerrant word of God needs to resign immediately or admit that she is a hypocrite. That's because 1 Timothy is one of the most virulently anti-woman books of the New Testament, something else that sets it apart from other letters by Paul. In the King James Version, it says women must dress modestly, can't embroider their hair, can't wear pearls or gold and have to stay silent. Moreover, they can't hold any position of authority over men and aren't even allowed to be teachers—meaning, if they truly believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, women like Bachmann can't be in politics.

In fact, while 1 Timothy has just one parenthetical clause that can be interpreted as being about homosexuality, it contains six verses on the shortcomings of women and the limitations on what they are allowed to do. Many Christians point to other parts of the New Testament when denouncing homosexuality. Romans, another letter attributed to Paul, is a popular choice.

In the King James Bible, it condemns men who lust in their hearts for each other, a translation that holds up pretty well when compared with the earliest Greek versions. And scholars agree that Romans is a real letter written by Paul. In other words, Romans is real Gospel, and what it has to say can't be questioned by those who call themselves biblical literalists. Which means televangelist Pat Robertson should prepare himself for an eternity in hell. On his television show The Club , Robertson recently went on a tirade about Barack Obama and, as he is wont to do, prayed for help.

We need your help! And with that, Pat Robertson sinned. Because in Romans—so often used to condemn homosexuality—there is a much longer series of verses about how the righteous are supposed to behave toward people in government authority. It shows up in Romans , which in the International Standard Bible says, "The existing authorities have been established by God, so that whoever resists the authorities opposes what God has established, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

So yes, there is one verse in Romans about homosexuality…and there are eight verses condemning those who criticize the government. In other words, all fundamentalist Christians who decry Obama have sinned as much as they believe gay people have. It doesn't end there. In the same section of Romans that is arguably addressing homosexuality, Paul also condemns debating all of Congress is damned? There is no bold print or underlining for the section dealing with homosexuality—Paul treats it as something as sinful as pride or debate.

Christianity | Description, History, Doctrines, & Traditions |

The story is the same in the last New Testament verse cited by fundamentalists who scorn homosexuals. Again, it is a letter from Paul, called 1 Corinthians. The translation is good, and the experts believe it was written by him. But fundamentalists who rely on this better stay out of court—Paul condemns bringing lawsuits, at least against other Christians. Adultery, being greedy, lying—all of these are declared as sins on par with homosexuality. Of course, there are plenty of fundamentalist Christians who have no idea where references to homosexuality are in the New Testament, much less what the surrounding verses say.

And so they always fall back on Leviticus, the Old Testament book loaded with dos and don'ts. They seem to have the words memorized about it being an abomination for a man to lie with a man as he does with a woman. And every time they make that argument, they demonstrate that they know next to nothing about the New Testament. A fundamental conflict in the New Testament—arguably the most important one in the Bible—centers on whether the Laws of Moses were supplanted by the crucifixion of Christ. The basic tension there was that Paul led a church in Antioch where he attempted to bring gentiles into Christianity by espousing a liberal interpretation of the requirements to follow the Laws of Moses—circumcision, eating kosher food and other rules spelled out in the Old Testament.

Hundreds of miles away, disciples of Jesus and his brother James headed a church in Jerusalem. When they heard about the goings-on in Antioch, a debate ensued: Did gentiles have to become Jews first like Jesus and follow Mosaic Law before they could be accepted as Christians? Some of the original disciples said yes, an opinion that seems to find support in words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets But Paul, particularly in Galatians and Romans, says a person's salvation is won by his or her faith in Christ's death and resurrection—nothing more.

Those who try to follow Mosaic Law, Paul believed, risked losing salvation. In other words, Orthodox Jews who follow Mosaic Law can use Leviticus to condemn homosexuality without being hypocrites. But fundamentalist Christians must choose: They can either follow Mosaic Law by keeping kosher, being circumcised, never wearing clothes made of two types of thread and the like. Or they can accept that finding salvation in the Resurrection of Christ means that Leviticus is off the table. Which raises one final problem for fundamentalists eager to condemn homosexuals or anyone else: If they accept the writings of Paul and believe all people are sinners, then salvation is found in belief in Christ and the Resurrection.

For everyone. There are no exceptions in the Bible for sins that evangelicals really don't like. So apparently, God doesn't need the help of fundamentalists in determining what should be done in the afterlife with the prideful, the greedy, the debaters or even those homosexuals. Which could well be why Jesus cautioned his followers against judging others while ignoring their own sins. In fact, he had a specific word for people obsessed with the sins of others.

He called them hypocrites. In August , Texas Governor Rick Perry hosted a massive prayer rally in Houston at what was then known as Reliant Stadium, where the city's pro-football team plays. Joined by 30, fellow Christians, Perry stepped to a podium, his face projected on a giant screen behind him.

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He closed his eyes, bowed his head and boomed out a long prayer asking God to make America a better place. His fellow believers stood, kneeled, cried and yelled, "Amen. Recently, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced he would be holding his massive prayer rally at a sports arena in Baton Rouge.

More than , evangelical pastors have been invited. It is one of the most incomprehensible contradictions between the behavior of evangelicals and the explicit words of the Bible. On January 3, Parham and a dozen other students also spoke in tongues. In Seymour preached that God would "send a new Pentecost" if people prayed for one, and was rewarded when he and his congregation began speaking in tongues.

This event, greatly helped by apocalyptic thoughts prompted by the San Francisco Earthquake which happened soon after, sparked a powerful religious revival driven by the three doctrines of salvation, sanctification and baptism in the Spirit, and in which the gifts of the Spirit were seen on a large scale. Over 13, people are said to have spoken in tongues in the first year. At first the Pentecostal ideas flourished in individual church groups across North America, and it was not until that the first Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ, was founded.

It became the headquarters of a network of Pentecostal churches which became known as the Apostolic Faith Church. Pentecostal worship is less formal and more emotionally expressive than that of other Christian traditions. Participants worship with body, heart and soul, as well as with their minds. Much Pentecostal worship is designed to bring about an experience of God's presence, and to this end the atmosphere, worship-leading and music encourage openness to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The gifts of the spirit are often demonstrated during church services, sometimes quite dramatically. In Pentecostal churches there is a great deal of active congregational involvement: the worshippers may dance and clap. Personal testimonies may be given. Preaching may rely more on stories and less on textual analysis.

The congregation is likely to respond actively to the sermon, with applause, or, in some churches, shouts of amen and hallelujah. The result may well be that participants feel that the service is actually led by the Spirit. Consequently Pentecostals are able to see the church as a community of God's people working to create the context for a direct experience of God. Some Pentecostals also use 'worship' to refer to their everyday life which they dedicate as a gift to God.

Pentecostalism offers attractive spiritual certainties in a world where religious truths are under attack, because a direct experience of God is unarguable to those who receive it: "if it happens to you, you know it's true". Pentecostalism began among the poor and disadvantaged in North America. This tradition of being both of the poor and for the poor has given the movement particular appeal among the poor in South America and Africa, where its growth is partly rooted in continuing anger at widespread poverty and inequality.

Pentecostalism adapts easily to local traditions and incorporates local music and other cultural elements in worship, enabling people to retain elements of their own spirituality when they move to a Pentecostal church. This adaptability has made it easy for non-Pentecostal churches to include Pentecostal elements. Walter Hollenweger has pointed out that Pentecostalism offers 'oral' people the same chance to take part in the life of faith as it does to 'literary' people. Pentecostalism is revolutionary because it offers alternatives to 'literary' theology and defrosts the 'frozen thinking' within literary forms of worship and committee-debate.

It gives the same chance to all, including the 'oral' people. Pentecostalism is particularly strong in South America, Africa, and Asia. It has a unique character on each continent - which is one reason why it's so successful. Developing-world Pentecostalism has been particularly successful among the poor like its success in the USA which has also mostly been among the less well off.

Pentecostal denominations have been particularly successful in Latin America among largely unchurched and nominal Roman Catholics, particularly those at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy. In this sense Pentecostalism is a Christianity for the underclasses of the world. Pentecostalism's success in the developing world is partly due to energetic missionary work by Pentecostal churches and partly due to history, politics, flexibility and empowerment. Historically Pentecostalism grew out of African-American churches which retained many stylistic elements that still resonate with the developing world and with the contemporary West too.

These were things such as an emphasis on the interconnection of body, mind and spirit, which it displayed in its highly physical worship, and in healing, speaking in tongues, and the acceptance of dreams and visions as valuable tools of spiritual insight. Politically and socially, Pentecostalism originated in churches filled with people who were poor and oppressed and it has never forgotten those roots.

Its early leaders were working class Christians with a very similar life experience to the people they led. These factors give Pentecostalism great appeal in parts of the world where people continue to suffer from poverty and injustice. Pentecostalism approaches the predicaments of the poor very practically; churches work as 'mutual aid communities' to deal with poverty and sickness, and provide alternative solutions to problems that might otherwise be 'solved' with witchcraft or other superstitious practices.

Pentecostalism, more than any other form of Christianity, is willing to fit in with local cultures and use local music and other cultural elements in worship, and sees the value of teaching the Christian message through religious ways of thinking and talking that are already familiar to local people. Because Pentecostal worship is spontaneous and oral, rather than anchored in a liturgical text, it allows all members of the congregation to play their part without any fear of doing the wrong thing, and enables each one to share their particular experience of God and have it valued by the whole community.

The result is that Pentecostalism can take on a completely local costume:. It may be appropriate to consider Korean Pentecostalism as a culturally indigenous form of Korean Christianity interacting with shamanism, just as African Pentecostalism is in constant interaction with the African spirit world, and as Latin American Pentecostalism encounters folk Catholicism and Brazilian spiritism. But flexibility is valuable to a church in other ways too: since developing countries are now changing far faster than Europe or America ever did, Pentecostalism's ability to change, and its devolution of power to individual church communities allow it to adapt to the needs and desires of the people better than more rigidly hierarchical churches.

Pentecostal churches have flat power structures, and allow a very great amount of participation by the laity, both in worship and in the organisation of their institutions. This has an obvious appeal to groups of people who are largely deprived of any power or influence in their working or political lives. It is a great contrast to the early missionary churches which had come to bring a Western version of Christianity, or to the hierarchical established churches which in some countries were seen as too closely allied to government or to employers.

For the first 60 years of the 20th century, Pentecostalism was largely confined to specifically Pentecostal denominations, but in the s Pentecostal ideas became a source of renewal in other Protestant churches, and this extended to some Roman Catholic churches shortly afterwards. The emphasis given to experience of the divine distinguishes Pentecostals from other Evangelical Christians who would say that the Bible is the only foundation of their faith.

Some people feel that because Pentecostalism is based on a direct experience of God it is in some way purer and more like the faith of the early Christians. Pentecostal churches are not very influential in the Christian establishment , despite having very large numbers of very active members. In fact it's almost unthinkable that a person could be a passive Pentecostal. This may be because many of these churches have a minority racial profile, and their members are mostly poor and not in positions of secular power.

However given the energy and growth of the movement it's likely that their influence will grow significantly in future. In recent years, Pentecostals have engaged in creative and supportive discussions in the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue. Some Pentecostal churches have moved away from the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

They believe that there is only one person in the Godhead - Jesus Christ. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names of separate persons, but titles of positions held by God. The apostles understood that Jesus was the name to use at baptism, and from the day that the church of God was established the Day of Pentecost until the end of their ministry, they baptized all nations.

This idea developed from a sermon by R. McAlister who had founded the first Canadian Pentecostal church. McAlister showed that in the book of Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles baptism was always carried out only in the name of Jesus Christ and not using the Trinitarian formula given in Matthew Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Others joined McAllister, and after close study of the Bible they came to the conclusion that Christ contained the totality of the Godhead and that baptism in the name only of Jesus Christ was fully effective.

They noted that when Jesus used the Trinitarian formula in Matthew he used the singular word name rather than the plural names. In the four records of administering the rite of Christian baptism in the Book of Acts, we have the name Jesus mentioned in every one of them, but the words, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are conspicuous by their absence.

Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. The Oneness movement is sometimes referred to as the "Jesus Only" churches, but this is a somewhat derogatory name and should be avoided.

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Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. Pentecostalism Last updated On this page Introduction Pentecost in scripture Beliefs and baptisms 'Gifts' and 'ordinances' History Worship Appeal in the developing world Other denominations Oneness movement Find out more Page options Print this page. Denominations and a movement Pentecostalism is not a church in itself, but a movement that includes many different churches.

Chapter 12: Christian Ethics and Culture

Bible-based Although Pentecostalism is often said to be rooted in experience rather than theology, Pentecostals base their theology on the text of the Bible which they believe to be the word of God and totally without error. The day of Pentecost Pentecostalism gets its name from the day of Pentecost, when, according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus' disciples, leading them to speak in many languages as evidence that they had been baptised in the Spirit. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Acts The Reconquista of Spain, or the unification of Spain under Christian rule, was not formally completed until the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, when Granada was captured from the Moors on January 2, Pope Urban II, in one of history's most powerful speeches, launched years of the Crusades at the Council of Clermont, France on November 27, with this impassioned plea. In a rare public session in an open field, he urged the knights and noblemen to win back the Holy Land, to face their sins, and called upon those present to save their souls and become Soldiers of Christ.

Those who took the vow for the pilgrimage were to wear the sign of the cross croix in French : and so evolved the word croisade or Crusade. By the time his speech ended, the captivated audience began shouting Deus le volt! The expression became the battle-cry of the crusades. Three reasons are primarily given for the beginning of the Crusades: 1 to free Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; 2 to defend the Christian East, hopefully healing the rift between Roman and Orthodox Christianity; and 3 to marshal the energy of the constantly warring feudal lords and knights into the one cause of penitential warfare.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was once again in Christian hands and restored. The Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted 88 years, until Saladin recaptured the city October 2, The four Crusader states eventually collapsed; the surrender of Acre in ended years of formal Christian rule in the Holy Land. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were the peak of the Medieval Age. It was the flowering of Christendom, a time of extraordinary intellectual activity, with the rise of the University and the introduction of Arabian, Hebrew, and Greek works into Christian schools. A new form of order arose whose aim was to pursue the monastic ideals of poverty, renunciation, and self-sacrifice, but also to maintain a presence and convert the world by example and preaching.

They were known as friars and called the Mendicant Orders Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Augustinians, and the Servites , because of begging alms to support themselves. Francis of Assisi was born to wealth. He loved adventure, but experienced conversion after joining the military. He returned home, and heard a voice saying to him, "Francis, go and rebuild my house; it is falling down. Francis loved creation and considered it good, for Christ himself took on flesh in the Incarnation.

He loved all living creatures. Francis originated the Christmas manger scene. He founded the Franciscan order, and received approval from Rome in The Poor Clare Nuns began when St. Clare joined the Franciscans in in Assisi. In St. Francis risked his life in the Fifth Crusade by calling directly upon the Sultan of Egypt in an effort to convert him and bring peace. He received the stigmata of Christ in , 2 years before his death in Dominic de Guzman was born in Calaruega, Spain. On a journey through France he was confronted by the Albigensian heresy like Manichaeism and the Cathari.

As he came with a Bishop in richly dressed clothes on horses, he realized the people would not be impressed with his message. This led him to a life of poverty. He spent several years preaching in France in an attempt to convert the Albigensians. In in Prouille, France, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and began to spread devotion to the Rosary. Dominic was a man of peace and converted many through prayer, preaching, and his example of poverty. He founded the Order of Preachers in known as the Dominican Friars.

The universities in Europe began as guilds of scholars, which first attracted members of the clergy and were supported financially by the Church. The first universities in Europe were founded in Bologna and Paris; Oxford and Cambridge soon followed. Theology, law, and medicine were fields of advanced study. The age was the time of Scholasticism - of the schools, a method of learning that placed emphasis on reasoning. Important writers at the time were Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus, and his student Thomas Aquinas, who became the greatest theologian and philosopher of the age.

Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican priest who lived from to Born in Roccasecca, Italy to the Aquino family, he joined the Dominicans at the age of He received his doctorate in theology and taught at the University of Paris during the height of Christendom. One of the greatest contributions by Thomas was his incorporation of the philosophy of Aristotle into the theology of the Catholic Church. Thomas saw reason and faith as one and mutually supportive, and combined the Bible and Church Fathers and the reasoning of Aristotle into one unified system of understanding Christian revelation through faith enlightened by reason.

His most noted work was the Summa Theologica , a five-volume masterpiece. Thomas Aquinas presented the classical approach to Biblical Exegesis. Recalling the words of Gregory that Scripture transcends every science, " for in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery. His exposition on the Seven Sacraments remains a standard to our present day. The Renaissance , which means rebirth, was the period of phenomenal growth in Western culture in art, architecture, literature, and sculpture. Christian humanism, a rejoicing in man's achievements and capabilities reflecting the greater glory of God, had its beginning with the Divine Comedy , published in by Dante Alighieri in Italy.

The Renaissance continued through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries until William Shakespeare. Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli led the way in art. Brunelleschi revived the ancient Roman style of architecture and introduced linear perspective. The great sculptors were Donatello and Michelangelo. Thomas More and Erasmus were leading Christian humanists in literature. The Protestant Reformation resulted from the failure of the Catholic Church to reform itself in time. The dark side of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries witnessed the errant Fourth Crusade to Constantinople in , the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathari in , and the beginning of the Inquisition which became severely punitive.

The Papacy suffered a great loss of respect during the Avignon Papacy and especially during the Papal Schism , when two and at one point three men declared themselves Pope and opposed each other. However, the Council also condemned John Hus , the Prague reformer who believed in the priesthood of all believers and the reception of Communion through bread and wine; he was burned at the stake on July 6, Another victim of the Inquisition was St.

She was burned at the stake on May 30, in Rouen, France. The Spanish Inquisition in the fifteenth century was particularly ruthless. The lack of Church funds led to even further corruption, including simony and the selling of indulgences. For example, Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz had to pay Rome ten thousand ducats for the right to hold three dioceses at once, and agreed to a three-way split with the Roman Curia and the Fugger Banking firm from the proceeds of the selling of indulgences.

These events led many to question the compassion and integrity of the Church. The unity of Tradition and Scripture went unchallenged through the Patristic Age and thirteenth century scholasticists such as St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas. But the unity of Scripture and Tradition began to be questioned with the decline of the Church.

The Belgian Henry of Ghent believed that one should first have the duty to follow Scripture rather than a Church that became one in name only. The English Franciscan William of Ockham or Occam was known for the principle of Occam's Razor , that one needs to reduce everything to its simplest cause. Ockham theorized on three possibilities of the relation of Scripture and the Church.

First there was Sola Scriptura , that one could obtain salvation by following Scripture alone; second, that God does reveal truths to the universal Church, an ecclesiastical revelation supplemental to apostolic revelation; and third, the concept of orally transmitted apostolic revelation parallel to written Scripture.

Ockham believed that one could reach God only through faith and not by reason. He wrote that universals, such as truth, beauty, and goodness, were concepts of the mind and did not exist, a philosophy known as Nominalism. Thus began the division of the realm of faith from the secular world of reason.

The rise of Nationalism led to the end of Christendom, for countries resented any effort to support Rome, especially in its dismal state. Dissemination of new ideas followed the invention of the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany; his very first printing was the Latin Vulgate Bible in The stage was set for the reform-minded Martin Luther , the Augustinian monk of Wittenberg, Germany.

He received his doctorate in theology in , and then taught biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. His study of Scripture, particularly St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, led him to believe that salvation was obtained through justification by faith alone. At first, his only interest was one of reform when he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church October 31, But the intransigence of the Church and poor handling of the situation by the Pope and Curia only worsened matters, such that a break was inevitable.

In a July debate with the Catholic theologian Johann Eck, Luther stated that Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone - was the supreme authority in religion. He could no longer accept the authority of the Pope or the Councils, such as Constance. In Luther published three documents which laid down the fundamental principles of the Reformation. In Address To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation , Luther attacked the corruptions of the Church and the abuses of its authority, and asserted the right of the layman to spiritual independence.

In the Babylonian Captivity of the Church , he defended the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Penance, but criticized the sacramental system of Rome, and set up the Scriptures as the supreme authority in religion. In The Freedom of the Christian Man , he expounded the doctrine of salvation through justification by faith alone. The Augsburg Confession of , written by Philip Melanchthon and approved by Martin Luther, was the most widely accepted Lutheran confession of faith. Once Sola Scriptura became the norm, it became a matter of personal interpretation.

Huldrich Zwingli of Zurich, Switzerland was next, and he broke with Luther over the Eucharist, but his sect died out. The Anabaptists separated from Zwingli as they denied the validity of infant baptism; they survived as the Mennonites. While he agreed with Luther on the basic Protestant tenets of sola scriptura, salvation by faith alone, and the priesthood of all believers, he went even further on such issues as predestination and the sacraments. George Fox, the son of Puritan parents, founded the Quakers in England in Thomas More refused to attend the wedding, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later beheaded in Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Two major sects that split off from the Anglicans were the Baptists , founded by John Smyth in , and later the Methodists , founded by John Wesley and his brother Charles.

There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. On December 12, , Juan Diego was obedient to the Blessed Virgin Mary's instruction to gather beautiful roses in his tilma and take them to the Franciscan Bishop Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga on his third visit to appeal for the building of a Church as requested by Our Lady.

Then he put up both hands and untied the corners of crude cloth behind his neck. The looped-up fold of the tilma fell; the flowers he thought were the precious sign tumbled out on the floor. The Bishop fell on his knees in adoration, for on the tilma was the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just as described by Juan Diego, and is still preserved today in original condition in Tepeyac on the outskirts of Mexico City. Spanish conquistadors may have conquered the Aztecs in , but their ruthless behavior antagonized the people and conversions were few.

Our Lady of Guadalupe conveyed the beautiful message of Christianity: the true God sacrificed himself for mankind, instead of the horrendous life indians had endured sacrificing thousands of humans to appease the frightful gods! It is no wonder that over the next seven years, from to , eight million natives of Mexico converted to Catholicism. Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary entered the very soul of Central America and became a central figure to the history of Mexico itself. A harbinger of things to come, Christianity would thrive in the Americas. Her appearance in the center of the American continents has contributed to the Virgin of Guadalupe being given the title "Mother of America.

The Catholic Church reformed itself both through the positive work of renewal and through the impetus of the Protestant Reformation. Efforts at reform had already begun with the Oratory of Divine Love in Genoa in The strict order of the Theatines was founded in and made significant efforts at the reform of the parish clergy. The Capuchins were founded in Italy in to restore the Franciscan Order to its original ideals.

Ignatius of Loyola began the Jesuit Order in Spiritual enrichment was kindled through the Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St.

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  • John of the Cross. The Council of Trent marked an important turning point for the Catholic Church, for it provided clarity on the beliefs of the Church, and ecclesiastical discipline was restored. The doctrines established at Trent persist to this day. The Council addressed three areas: doctrine, discipline, and devotion. Seven major areas were included in doctrine: that our justification was not just by faith alone, but also by hope and charity expressed in good works in cooperation with God's grace.

    Both Tradition and Scripture were essential to the faith. The Latin Vulgate Bible was promoted as the only canonical Scripture. There was a clear definition of the seven sacraments. The Mass, known as the Tridentine Mass, was given strict form and was celebrated only in Latin. The Latin Tridentine Mass provided unity for the universal Church, for it was the same Mass in every place and time. Discipline involved strict reform and the establishment of the seminary system for the proper and uniform training of priests. The office of indulgence seller was abolished, and doctrine on indulgences was clarified.

    A Bishop was allowed only one diocese and residence was required, begun by the reformer St. Charles Borromeo of Milan. Catholic Missionaries accompanied the explorers on their journeys, such as Christopher Columbus in , the Portuguese Vasco da Gama to Goa, India in , and Ferdinand Magellan to the Philippines in Francis Xavier exemplified the missionary movement, and has been recognized as second only to the Apostle Paul in his evangelical efforts.

    The patron saint of missionaries, Francis Xavier sailed from Lisbon, Portugal and landed in Goa in His humble way had great impact on the local people, and he trained the young in the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. He was soon reported to have baptized 10, a month. He then headed to Cape Comorin, the southern tip of India, where he made many conversions of the fishermen there. Andres de Urdaneta and the Augustinian monks sailed to Cebu, Philippines in He was a self-sacrificing man dedicated to protecting the natives, and received the name Motolinia for his life of poverty.

    He recorded in his book History of the Indians of New Spain the dramatic conversions following the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Dominican Bartholomew de Las Casas first went to the West Indies in as a soldier, but on viewing the horrendous enslavement of the native Indians through the Spanish encomienda system, was ordained as a Dominican priest in , the first ordination in America. In his role as human rights advocate for the Indians, he is considered an early pioneer of social justice. Missionary efforts would continue to the New World for years to come.

    The history of the English Bible is intimately intertwined with the history of the Reformation. He served until his death in , when he was succeeded by his son, Charles I. It was a time when the English language reached its greatest expression in the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible. King James as head of the Church of England commissioned a group of bishops and scholars to establish an authoritative translation of the Bible from the original languages into English in There were several English versions available, either as translations of the Latin Vulgate or from the Greek-Latin parallel New Testament of Erasmus; the ones that follow influenced the King James scholars.

    John Wycliffe produced a hand-written English translation of the Latin Vulgate in His colleague, Miles Coverdale, completed Tyndale's work, which formed the basis for the Great Bible , the first authorized Bible in English, which was placed in every church in England.

    When the Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne in , further work had to be done on the European continent, and the Geneva Bible, the first to have numbered verses, was published in The King James Bible originally included the Apocrypha but in a separate section. A literary masterpiece of the English language, the King James Bible is still in use today. Christopher Columbus reached America in the Bahamas on October 12, Following the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon in , St. Augustine, Florida became the first permanent European settlement in North America in , from which missionaries spread Catholicism to the Native American Indians.

    Augustine, Florida. Spanish explorations extended as far as Santa Fe, New Mexico, established in A wave of explorations to the New World continued. Samuel de Champlain explored the St. Christianity continued to thrive in the New World as our young Nation developed. Four of the original 13 English colonies were specifically chartered for religious freedom, as a refuge from religious persecution in England at the time.

    The settlers soon enacted the Toleration Act of Maryland and founded St. Mary's Chapel in St. Mary's City, Maryland. William Penn and the Quakers settled in in Pennsylvania. The Mennonites also moved to Pennsylvania in at the invitation of William Penn. The universal toleration offered in Pennsylvania continued to attract groups such as the Amish, Moravian Pietists, and Presbyterians. The period from through the eighteenth century was known as the Age of Enlightenment in Europe.

    The time had come when men would set aside religious views and look to reason and social experience to guide society. It was the loss of Christian unity that led to the secularization of Western culture. Whereas Christendom provided one message to European society, the pluralism of religions provided different answers to questions about life and led to skepticism and conflict rather than unanimous thought. Discoveries in science had much to do with the Age of Enlightenment.

    Copernicus proposed the sun is the center of the solar system and the earth revolved around the sun.

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    Galileo Galilei , the first to use a telescope, confirmed that Copernicus was right and was condemned by the Catholic Church. Scientists such as Isaac Newton in physics and Robert Boyle in chemistry were pioneers and gave birth to technology, the application of science to practical problems, which led to the Industrial Revolution. Progress based on science and technology became a major goal of Western Society. Mankind was left without its mooring, and philosophers set out in different directions to provide meaning for humanity.

    The critical Rationalism of Rene Descartes applied to philosophy the mathematical method so effective in science, that everything was questionable until it could be proved beyond all doubt. Blaise Pascal took a different stance and presented Pascal's Wager: it is better to live a good life, for if there is a God, you will end up with Him in Heaven; but if you have lived a bad life and there is a God, you are doomed!

    John Locke applied reason to confirm revelation. The political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu of France proposed that the best form of government would incorporate a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches and would be based on the natural law. David Hume proposed a science of man, and is considered a pioneer in the social sciences.

    But Jean-Jacques Rousseau , considered the father of Romanticism, took an opposite approach and spoke of the noble savage, that man was happy only in his original native state, before government, laws, and politics chained mankind. It was the German philosopher Immanuel Kant that defined the era: "Have courage to use your own reason - that is the motto of Enlightenment. Unfortunately, the Age of Enlightenment ignored love, emotion, spirituality and concern for one's fellow man.

    It forgot that man is wounded by original and personal sin, and his reason is colored by desire and selfishness. In fact, the Age of Enlightenment brought the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror , Naziism, Communism, and the twentieth century, with its two World Wars, the bloodiest century in history. Intellectual dryness and doctrinal religions prevalent during the Enlightenment Era led to a spiritual revival throughout Western Christian civilization, as seen with Pietism in Germany, Methodism in England and America, and the Great Awakening in the United States.

    Philipp Jakob Spener of Germany wrote Pia Desideria in and spoke of a theology of the heart , placing emphasis on inner devotion and Christian living, and inspired the Pietist movement. Pietism especially influenced Nikolaus von Zinzendorf and the Moravian Church. John Wesley and his brother Charles provided light for Christianity during the Enlightenment. John Wesley, noted for his moving sermons, and his brother Charles, a poetic genius and hymn writer, began the Methodist movement in England, and set forth an evangelical revival throughout the British Isles, North America, and the world.

    The two brothers were raised in the Anglican Church. Because of their strict method of living, they were soon called the Methodists. John Wesley experienced a heartwarming conversion experience at Aldersgate Street in London in He preached in the English countryside to the poor, and sparked a religious revival throughout England. He assured the people that all could be saved by experiencing God and opening their hearts to his grace.

    George Whitefield made seven trips to America beginning in and was one of the most powerful evangelists ever. He, along with others, kindled a spiritual revival throughout the thirteen colonies known as the Great Awakening. The Great Awakening was the first national experience in America and did much to unite the American colonies. Revival during the Enlightenment Era fulfilled the human need for spiritual experience through Jesus Christ.

    The independence movement in the American colonies sparked an outcry for freedom of religion, such that Christianity flourished in the newly-formed United States of America. Every taxable resident was required to support the state established Church, no matter what their faith! This caused dissension in the Colonies such as in Maryland and Virginia, where Catholics in Maryland and Presbyterians and Baptists in Virginia objected to the unfair Anglican clergy tax.

    Of those states with established Churches, Maryland became the first state to disestablish church and state following the Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights allowed the free exercise of religion and proliferation of Christian denominations during rapid westward expansion in America. Constitution and cousin of Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, became the first Catholic Bishop of Baltimore, a diocese which served the entire United States. Two days after Thomas Jefferson wrote his highly quoted but out-of-context expression "wall of separation between Church and State" to the Danbury Baptists, he appeared on January 3, in the House of Representatives to hear the Baptist preacher John Leland lead an evangelical service on public property.

    Separation of Church and State did not preclude a vibrant public square. Recognizing the need to instill morals and values in our children, Bible reading and prayer continued in our public schools for years! Conversions by Evangelical Protestants and other Christian faiths provided the moral fabric for the new American nation after the Revolutionary War. The Methodist movement proved most successful in North America. Methodist circuit-riders were effective missionaries in spreading the Christian faith from the South to settlers in the mid-West. It was left to the unlikely figure of President Abraham Lincoln to recognize the Christian culture of our Nation.

    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth
    Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth Christianity According to the Bible: Separating Cultural Religion from Biblical Truth

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