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Kohls writes: "Jesus of the Gospels was an outspoken, nonviolent leftist who tried to reform his authoritarian conservative, dogmatic church but also refused to shut up with his call for justice for the down-trodden - even when his superiors threatened him with serious consequences if he didn't."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum's bellicose rants against Iran and the 'Marxist cancer' he sees in the Americas have made him a fan-favorite among Evangelicals, 05/19/11. (photo: AP)
Former Sen. Rick Santorum's bellicose rants against Iran and the 'Marxist cancer' he sees in the Americas have made him a fan-favorite among Evangelicals, 05/19/11. (photo: AP)



What Kind of Christianity Is This?

By Gary G. Kohls, Consortium News

28 January 12

 

rom time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn.

Altogether too many religions sects of both major and minor religions, despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence).

Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant and thus they can find passages in their holy books that justify homicidal violence against their perceived or fingered enemies, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous contradictory passages that forbid violence and homicide and instead prescribe love, hospitality, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Behind the scenes, of course, there are hidden elites - amoral, politically and financially motivated operatives who are embedded in these religious organizations - who, through the strength of their political power, can easily manipulate the followers into clamoring for war, not against their enemies, but rather against the enemies of the ruling elites: the politicians, the financiers and the other exploiters of natural resources.

And so nonviolent portions of the various religions - and they are there, albeit often hidden and censored - can be erroneously painted with the same brush that justifiably condemns the hypocrisy and the violence.

It is certainly true that the Catholic Church endorsed and/or orchestrated the genocide of the Crusades, the Inquisition and many wars of colonization and exploitation - with the origins of these atrocities in fundamentalist interpretations of "holy" scripture.

But I do have to take exception to the blanket condemnation of the entirety of the religion by pointing out one reality - that the original form of Christianity, the church of the first generation after Jesus and even most of the first three centuries was a religion of pacifists, oppressed women, orphans, those forced into prostitution, despised people of all stripes and others of those called "the least."

Though this history has long since been forgotten or ignored, the earliest followers of Jesus rejected violence, tried to return good for evil, fed the hungry, did acts of mercy and unconditional love and tried to make friends out of their enemies (by caring for them, feeding them, praying for them and certainly refusing to kill them or pay for somebody else to kill them).

Practicality of Nonviolence

It was a hugely successful ethical stance to take. It could be described as an act of divine genius. And it made tremendous practical sense. One bit of evidence of the practicality of gospel nonviolence is the fact that in the first couple of centuries, no early Christian male ever acquired combat-induced PTSD or the soul-destruction that always accompanies that reality.

And no early Christian ever felt depressed, ashamed, guilty or suicidal about killing, plundering or raping innocent unarmed women and children in wartime. The earliest Christians took seriously Jesus’s clear command to love and befriend their enemies, and - despite brutal Roman persecutions - the religion survived; indeed, it thrived.

In fact, by 300 CE, it had grown into one of the largest religions in the empire, at which point the emperor Constantine (who was a worshipper of the Sun god until his deathbed baptism into the "faith") co-opted the church by stopping the persecutions and granting it power, property and prestige, thus seducing it into becoming the obedient and increasingly dependent state church whose master was the brutal, often satanic Roman Empire and its army generals.

Eventually - and logically - church leaders who were now dependent on the largesse and protection of the empire felt obliged to support it and its troops, pay homage to the emperor and send its young Christian men to violently defend the empire’s borders against the fingered enemy. Or homicidally enlarge the empire if it was profitable for Rome or the Papal State to do so.

Just War Theory

St. Augustine wrote the first Christian Just War Theory (CJWT) in the late Fourth Century, making legitimate, in certain rare circumstances, killing by Christians in wartime, which had been long forbidden to the followers of Jesus.

Soon thereafter, Christianity became a religion of justified violence, contrary to the teachings and modeling of Jesus, and it remains that way until this very hour. However, it is generally agreed among Just War scholars that no war in the past 1,700 years has been conducted according to the principles of the Christian Just War Theory; that if the actual principles were applied to an impending war, they would lead Christians back to its original pacifist stance. And so the principles of the CJWT are not taught to the vast majority of Christians.

So, the blanket condemnation of homicidal religions, especially Christianity, is justified up to the point of acknowledging that the bulk of the Christian church, over the past 17 centuries, has ignored - or become apathetic to - the nonviolent teachings of Jesus (forgiveness 70 X 7, unending mercy, ministering to "the least of these" and the unconditional love of friend and enemy).

Among the realities that keep the churches silent, of course, are the fear of losing the largesse of state-granted tax-exempt status and the threat that their pro-war, dues-paying members might object or leave if church leaders were to speak out prophetically about the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and the incompatibility of nationalistic militarism with the life and teachings of Jesus.

But the Christianity of the first few centuries, when Christians refused to take up the sword, should not be condemned. Rather, critics of Christianity should start challenging the churches to go back to their roots where evil was not allowed to run rampant, but rather was aggressively and courageously resisted using the nonviolent methods of Jesus and his inspired disciples like Tolstoy, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, A. J. Muste, Martin Luther King, the Berrigan brothers, John Dear, Kathy Kelly and a multitude of other courageous prophetic voices.

The major motivation for the legendary civil disobedience of those modern-day prophets was their commitment to Jesus and the way he lived his life as pacifist (not passive) active resistor to evil.

The followers of that very real Jesus should be courageously "going to the streets" and saying "NO" wherever and whenever fear and hatred raise their ugly heads and try to provoke violence - no matter if it is coming from the US Congress or the Parliament in London, the Oval Office or # 10 Downing Street, in the Knesset or in the headquarters of Hamas, whether in Tehran or in Baghdad or in the Vatican or in Colorado Springs or in the bowels of the 700 Club - or from within the local parish.

Jesus, a Nonviolent Leftist

Jesus of the Gospels was an outspoken, nonviolent leftist who tried to reform his authoritarian conservative, dogmatic church but also refused to shut up with his call for justice for the down-trodden - even when his superiors threatened him with serious consequences if he didn’t.

The economic model of Jesus’s early church was socialist, where the resources of the group were shared with the widow and orphans and others who didn’t have enough. He would have stood, like the prophet he was, in solidarity with pacifists, socialists, antiwar activists and feminists and surely would have marched in nonviolent antiwar rallies.

Jesus was definitely NOT a punitive, pro-death penalty, pro-militarism conservative. His power came not from the sword but from the power of love.

Jesus would surely have condemned his church’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the enslavement of black Africans and the segregationist, apartheid policies that were designed by various ruling elites to destroy ethnic or religious minorities.

And if the leadership of his church had been found guilty of or just complicit with such acts, especially genocide, Jesus would surely have insisted on the formation of an independent truth and reconciliation commission to respectfully hear the testimony of the victims, the survivors and the families of the survivors and allow those victims to face their victimizers. And then Jesus would have insisted upon his church repenting of the sins, whether committed by them or their forefathers.

The power that Jesus utilized was epitomized by the willingness to do the right thing in the crisis situations even if it involved risks to life or liberty. Fear had no power over him or the martyrs of the early church. His power came out of the holy spirit of love, goodness, mercy and forgiveness and his certainty that, by refusing to do acts of violence, he was doing the will of God.

The practicality of that radical stance resulted in the healing power that Jesus’ disciples and apostles exhibited when they started implementing what Jesus had taught and modeled for them.

War and violence emanates from an entirely different spirit than the spirit shown by the early church. That spirit is the spirit of the unholy, the spirit of the satanic, the spirit of Cain. The willingness to kill was the spirit that was strongly present in such historic figures as Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Eichmann, Stalin, Mussolini (all baptized into pro-war, Constantinian Christian churches).

That evil spirit was also present in many saber-rattling militarists throughout history - the most ruthless presidents, Secretaries of Defense, generals, dictators, legislators, gun-running businessmen and trained assassins that have ever lived - from the ancient low-tech, PTSD-afflicted Achilles, who killed up close and personal, looking into the eyes of his victims, to the ultra-modern, high-tech Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines that orchestrate, usually from safe distances, such atrocities as were perpetrated by Christian soldiers against innocent unarmed civilians at Nagasaki, Dresden, My Lai, Baghdad and Fallujah, to name just a few.

A Challenge to the Church

It seems to me that the Christian church must start teaching what Jesus taught about violence - that it is forbidden for those who wish to follow him - or our so-called "Christian" nation won’t be able to stop the deadly suicidal/homicidal cycle of war that has been bankrupting America, both financially and morally, for decades.

Jesus was absolutely right about the satanic nature of killing. The Golden Rule and his warning about the consequences of living by the sword speaks profound truth. According to just those two teachings, we can say that theologically and spiritually, the high-profile pro-war "Christians" that dominate the news are dead wrong.

That brand of Christianity definitely deserves condemnation. What has been criticized by Christianity’s detractors as the norm for Christianity is not the Sermon-on-the-Mount Christianity of Jesus but rather the aberrant "Constantinian Christianity," a religion that espouses an anti-Christic, punitive theology that justifies killing fellow children of God in the name of the one who forbade it 2,000 years ago.

Church leaders need to repent of their support for (or their silence about) their nation’s state-sponsored terrorism and start acting ethically, as if the Sermon on the Mount mattered.

The Christian church in America MUST take the lead in this or it is doomed - as doomed as was Germany’s dominant Constantinian Christianity of the first half of the 20th century, whose pro-military, nationalist, racist, xenophobic, domination theology permitted torture, genocide and two brutal world wars that ultimately resulted in the suicide of German Christianity, not to mention the complete destruction of the nation by its provoked enemies.

One wonders what would have happened if every German and Russian and American church had been a real peace church, as the founder envisioned? The real question is, will we learn the lessons of history, or is it already too late?

Gary G. Kohls, MD, is a founding member of Every Church A Peace Church (www.ecapc.org) and is a member of a local non-denominational affiliate of ECAPC, the Community of the Third Way.

 

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+78 # RMDC 2012-01-28 17:44
Thanks. This is good. Books like Hitchen's Good is Not Good try to say that all the bad things in the world can be blamed on religions and god. You show that religions do a lot of good. It is the misuse of religion that leads to war, genocide, hatred, and the rest.

There's a special place in hell for religious hypocrites like Santorum, Bush, Palin, and all the rest who keep saying that God is telling them to start a war or destroy the lives of human beings. That place is right underneath Satan's tail. It is getting kind of crowded but Satan will make room.
 
 
+28 # pbbrodie 2012-01-29 06:18
Hitchen's point is that 99% of religion, especially, as pointed out in this article, Christianity post 300 AD, has not "done a lot of good," and to the contrary, has done an inordinate amount of horrendously bad.

You say, "It is the misuse of religion that leads to war, genocide, hatred, and the rest" and, unfortunately, nearly all current religions of all ilks are definitely misused.
 
 
+12 # mhog jones 2012-01-29 13:57
The amount of time that had elapsed before the Papacy dictated what we think of today as the fundamental tenets of Christianity is astounding! 325 years after the death of Jesus it was decided that a trinity of deity would define the Lord’s nature. The legend of G. Washington with all its folklore and mythos is by comparison only 235 years old. Imagine if we had waited 350 years after the revolution of 1776 to write our constitution. What kind of constitution would the people of 2131 write? What would they have in common with the founders of the nation? Who knows. Sadly, no matter who or what the historical Jesus was, modern Christianity is an Ad Hoc religion established to maintain the affluence of the wealthy and to control the populace.
 
 
+6 # goodsensecynic 2012-01-29 14:01
On the other hand, some guys have tried. The Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops in 1983 wrote a treatise on the economic crisis (similar, but not as bad as the one today).

If you left out the "god-bits," it could have been passed at the most recent meeting of the Socialist International, or even Marx's original First International.

The rest was all there: especially some remarkable prose in support of workers' rights and against the alienation of labour under capitalism. Of course, it sank like a stone, but (as I said) some guys tried to redeem the redeemer.
 
 
-3 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-01-31 17:31
Yes indeed, RMDC.

Deliver u.s. from evil -

VILLAINAIRES, GO TO HELL!!!
 
 
+19 # Richard1908 2012-01-28 23:29
If we had no religions at all we would minimise wars and enhance the prospects for peace. Peace demands no more than rational human beings. The myths of religion mischievously bedevil the clarity and humanity innate within humankind.
 
 
+10 # Holmes 2012-01-29 06:24
I would suggest the concept that religions cause wars is a myth of similar proportions to the concept of the "noble savage". I would suggest that religious garb has been used as an invisibility cloak for those who are wanting to gain from others that to which they do not have any legitimate claim too.

Better tell our physics researchers not to bother to try and develop an invisibility cloak as it has already been invented.
 
 
+15 # Texas Aggie 2012-01-29 13:24
It's correct that religions don't cause wars to the extent that some people have blamed them. What happens is that the people who actually provoke the wars use religion as a cover in order to get normal people, who never would consider killing someone they never met before, to become killing machines. The warlike mentality came first and then religion was used as a justification.

As this article points out, religions have to put on their big boy pants and stop letting themselves be used as a cover. Then they have to actively pursue making peace. There are groups doing that, the Christian Peacekeeper Teams are a good example, but not nearly enough.
 
 
+5 # X Dane 2012-01-29 18:46
Aggie. The inquisition was srarted by intolerance, not war, and killed thousands of innocent people, maybe most were women?

The crusaders were NOT provoked. They professed to go to the "Holy Land" to LIBERATE the Christians. They sure forgot that, once they were there. They killed Christians with the same fervor as they killed Muslims, in addition to many unfortunate people as they were traveling to Palestine and back.

If you have not seen the movie "The Mission", you should. The Spanish church eradicated peaceful Indians in one of the South American countries, I don't remember which. It was terrible and horrific to see slaughter like that, in the name of God.

It was simple unadulterated GREED, and so was the Crusades. For they didn't just KILL when they entered Jerusalem.
They also plundered with abandon.

I have faith in a higher beeing. But I avoid religion. It is totally man made.
 
 
+1 # SOF 2012-01-30 11:09
XDane. Every example that you cited were intended and resulted in treasure and power for the perpetrator -in the guise of religion as the author asserts. Not intolerance, but Greed as you say. Spirituality is different than organized Religion -which is like the USA; founded by high principles, ruined by convenient manipulation and downright evil intentions of the power hungry - while the believers of those ideals continue to protest the actions of government. It is, of course, easier to leave a church than it is to leave the country. The offensive actions of fundamentalists , like those of the U.S. government must be outed as contrary to founding principles as the author says. Otherwise, you seem to agree with Aggie and author.
 
 
+5 # X Dane 2012-01-30 16:25
SOF, I am not sure I understand you entirely. The inquisition, was not greed, but religious fanaticism. I think.

I avoid organized religion, because although there are wonderful caring religious people, I have seen way too many hypocrites, who wrap themselves in religiosity and still do all kinds of despicable things.

I am not a saint, but I really try to be a responsible loving person. When I started my business, I treated all my employees really well, from the principle: Treat others as you want to be treated.

My customers got my very best effort, same principle. which is why my business grew and became very successful.
I think that is Christian principles.

In the early 1940es the POPE helped the Germans and betrayed the Jewish citizens.
He certainly was not a good Christian, and he was THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH??

And after all the molestation cases, a bishop SOLD a small New England churh to cover payments to victims. The parisheners were devastated, for they had done a lot to make their church a lovely place to worship. They begged him not to sell their beloved church...to no avail. They LOST their church.

These are some of the reasons,... there are many more.... why RELIGION turns me OFF. Too many are so vocal about their Christianity, and don't think twice about doing all kinds of bad deeds.

I appreciate our discussion. I wonder if you agree with what I "said".
 
 
+16 # Riley1 2012-01-28 23:31
The stink that emanates from the Santorums and Palins of this world who exploit the religious base they entrench themselves in with the help of thier corporate sponsors is plain to see to those that want to and understand the political ethos of the evil they spout and are nauseated by it.Yet we endure this process which our forefathers decided was in our interests. Ask where are the Michelle Bachmans the Cains and the Ron Pauls and the other early GOP pack rats all gone now to wander the wilderness and be forgotten till the next time. Ask when a certain Mr Ginrich will implode with his hypocritical nonsense still being fed to a poor suffering mass of dimwits given a vote. Will the American republican base be left with the candidate that tries to be all things to all men a certain Mr Romney fully supported by a blinded GOP be there at the end to challenge Obama.If he is the American people are left with the arch compromiser vs the corporate raider and pretender to the throne. Not a great choice . However the lesser of two evils hopefully will triumph.My guess is it will be Obama for another term. The so called fundementalists of all hues will remain in thier lair till the next time to challenge the political status quo folks. That is the one certainty.Roll on the next American revolution when the 99% regain thier freedom and political rights stolen from them while they slept.
 
 
+28 # Ralph Averill 2012-01-29 02:02
Superb essay. I hope it gets around to people who should read it.
I've always wondered how military chaplains, Father Mulcahy in M*A*S*H, were able to live with themselves. How they could ask for, and expect, God's love and protection for people going out to burn innocent women and children alive. How they could scurry around on the beaches of Anzio, Normandy, and Iwo Jima muttering the last rites over the blasted bodies of dying soldiers in order to sanctify the brutality, to open the gates of heaven for those poor bastards, as if the creator of the universe picks sides.
 
 
+27 # ericlane 2012-01-29 02:45
An excellent and insightfull essay. Thank you.
 
 
+28 # rhgreen 2012-01-29 05:39
Yeah, I'm an environmental guy professionally but history of religion has been my sideline for the last 25 years. This article is pretty much correct. It's a good one.
 
 
+15 # Holmes 2012-01-29 05:49
Amen
 
 
+21 # futhark 2012-01-29 05:54
Since when is "Shock and Awe" an ethical, Christian method of dealing with opposition?

"For somewhat lamely the conception runs
Of a brass-buttoned Jesus firing guns."

from "Arma Virumque" by Ambrose Bierce
 
 
+10 # mhog jones 2012-01-29 13:48
Find the real christian: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” fox news via coulter
“Christ’s teaching, which came to be known to men, not by means of violence and the sword,” they say, “but by means of non-resistance to evil, gentleness, meekness, and peaceableness, can only be diffused through the world by the example of peace, harmony, and love among its followers….” Tolstoy
 
 
+47 # RJB 2012-01-29 05:57
So what do Americans do since we've off-shored our industrial base. According to Steve Marinot of San Francisco State College, 50% of our economy is directly or indirectly dependent on military spending. Thousands upon thousands of private companies with military-relate d contracts are the military in civilian clothing.

Who is actually responsible for blowing up little Afghan children in their sleep? Is it the technician who builds the drone, the soldier or contractor behind the joy stick, the secretary in the office of the contractor, the preacher who does a lot of compromisin' of the road to his/her horizon? Or is it the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker? Or is it the rest of us who have not stood up like any real follower of Chirist would be expected to do out of compassion and empathy with those we kill for the hollowest of excuses.

It's Sunday morning, and many of us will attend our Christian churches to pray for peace. I might suggest that there is more of Christ's work going on at Occupy than in most of America's churches. Hey, but what do I know. Maybe it's changed since I stopped attending ten years ago after the child abuse scandal.
 
 
+25 # Midwestgeezer 2012-01-29 06:32
For more on Hypocrisy, Google Mark Twain's War Prayer. Unfortunatey, hypocrisy is not painful..
 
 
+3 # mhog jones 2012-01-29 14:03
Mark Twain said it; I believe it! Period; end of discussion!
 
 
+23 # Caballero69 2012-01-29 07:36
I am not a monotheist and therefore, am neither Christian, Muslim or Jew. I am not sure if Jesus is any more an actual historic figure than Lao Tzu. Nonetheless, this is an excellent discussion of religion and religiosity. In the Christian scripture there are words attributed to Jesus that merit consideration and conformance. For example, "In as much as you have done it to the least of these my brethren."

What amazes me is how relentlessly people who trumpet their piety fail to follow the precepts of their own book. Can anyone recall the story of the Publican and the Pharisee?

One conclusion I have reached is that any religious text or interpretation that urges or condones cruelty and hatred comes from no deity worthy of worship. If one's god is not a loving god, then one should look elsewhere for spiritual inspiration.
 
 
+18 # humanmancalvin 2012-01-29 07:49
"I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant" : Formal education can have a devastating effect on a person's belief in inerrancy. 46% of persons with high school education or less believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally. This dropped to 22% for persons with some college education, and to 15% among college graduates.
Hardly a surprise, most of the drool as they speak crowd who claim Jesus as their personal savior are the same that support the most oppressive regimes. Bush and his evangelical followers who were more than happy to invade Iraq;after all Iraq was a Muslin country and Jesus knows those non-believers all deserved to die.
The hypocrisy triggers my gag reflex.
 
 
+3 # goodsensecynic 2012-01-29 13:56
Just one question: how did 15% of the people graduating from college miss the stuff in Biology 101 and Geology 101?
 
 
+6 # edwin_ 2012-01-30 08:13
The christians that are home schooled are taught voodoo science. I was peering my niece's home school "science" book
-1st sentence in Chapter on "Electricity".. "God created Electricity"
-1st sentence in Chapter on "Magnetism".."G od created Magnetism"

they are also taught not to believe in carbon dating

Then the home schoolers go to a dumbed-down "christian" college
 
 
+1 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-30 09:39
goodsensecynic: Please pontificate on this. I'd like to know more about Biology and Geology 101. I did not take Geology so I'm not sure what you are talking about.
 
 
+4 # mhog jones 2012-01-29 14:39
Teandrethals and fox pissant devotees need to learn a little history, no?:

"Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in ANY sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Muslims; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mohammed-ian nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.chara cter of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Muslims; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mohammed-ian nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
Treaty of Tripoli [1796] presented and endorsed by JOHN ADAMS, American patriot, founding father, signer of the Dec of Independence, president of the USA (1796-1801) and ARCH-CONSERVATI VE (authored alien and seditions act)! (international treaty supercedes all laws passed by the states...us gov't 101, people!)
 
 
+5 # Obwon 2012-01-29 08:30
I see some have missed the point about how Christianity came to be corrupted. Then how that corruption came to be the "norm".

Rulers and governments are known for squandering the resources they gather from the people, and are supposed to be used for the betterment of society. Without checks and balances, all governments are prey to the squanderlust of their leadership. War and warfare has been a potent fix for these problems.
Allowing the foolish/nefario us to remain in power, while the public's attention is focused elsewhere.
 
 
+10 # tswhiskers 2012-01-29 08:39
Thank you for speaking out on the often destructive behavior of organized religion. The Catholic Church was definitely not fundamentalist but for more than 1500 years held western Europe in its thrall. As the church grew, women leaders were thrown out, a priesthood (entirely of men) was founded and once the Church allied itself with Constantine it was well on its way to becoming the corrupt, wealthy and politically powerful organization that it became in the Middle Ages. The prince of peace soon gave way to the princes of the Church. Much of that militancy exists today in both Catholicism and Protestantism. Politics and religion are a poisonous mixture. We are relearning that lesson today thru militant Islam. The Founding Fathers of this country were very wise in their insistence on the separation of Church and State. Islam, altho they might find it more difficult, would do well to consider the wisdom of separating mosque and state.
 
 
+7 # lilpat126 2012-01-29 09:18
Bravo! This is my thinking exactly and why I cannot attend church anymore. I seethe at the hypocrisy of churches. I so agree with going into a closet to pray. I got hooked into a "prayer meeting" one time. They did not even know who they were praying for. It was "My neighbor told me about a person who needs our prayers" and what does that mean? Your prayers are supposed to be your conversation with God and not to only ask for things. Just holding a conversation with God in your mind can be a very valuable way to settle your problems.
 
 
+2 # spiritcallsus 2012-01-29 10:39
ALL SO TRUE ... THE PROBLEM IS THE DUALITY (+/-) PROPOSED BY AUGUSTINE ... JESUS WAS ALL ABOUT TRINITY (+=-) WHERE THE (=) EQUATED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT UNITED AND RECONCILED DIFFERENCES !

THE BASIC EQUATION OF TRUTH, THE BET (+=-) IS THE UNIVERSAL TRUTH, THE TRUTH THAT SETS YOU FREE OF DUALITY.

http://www.spiritcalls.us/GPUB03327-00001_formatterfinal_000.swf?POPUP_ENABLED=true

ALL EXPLAINED IN THE ABOVE.
 
 
+12 # Dvoraks8th 2012-01-29 10:43
This is a phenomenal statement of exactly the way I have grown to feel about Christianity. I was raised in a somewhat fundamentalist church and I got to a point where the inconsistencies and contradictions just grew too much for me to handle. I have reason to hope, however, that the situation might improve. Upon moving to a new city I was fortunate enough to try and shortly thereafter dive in to a new church, a mainstream major Christian denomination that fully embraces the attitude expressed here (The Episcopal Church, in case you were wondering.) I hope that the rest of Christianity will follow on this path of rationality and dedication to the true meaning behind the faith. After leaving my old church, I became something of a Universalist, and that hasn't changed. I don't believe any one religion is perfect or has a monopoly on the path to God. I went back to Christianity because I love the true message of Jesus - it offers so much inspiration for living a better life and contributing to a better world. I was lucky enough to find a church where that is the focus, and I find it tragic that so many people who see themselves as Christians are so misguided and miss the actual fundamental message.
 
 
+9 # jwb110 2012-01-29 11:16
I find that the Fundamentalist Christians in this country are more apt to quote the Old Testament and its violence toward 'the other' than to quote Jesus Christ and his Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount.
 
 
+2 # goodsensecynic 2012-01-29 13:53
Barbara Thiering has a nice "take" on all of this ... including the notion that some of Jesus' better speeches were Essene in origin and constituted the main dogma of what sound like some pretty kindly people (though with some unusual attitudes toward sex). Her books, including "Jesus of the Apocalypse," "Jesus the Man: A New Interpetation of the Dead Sea Scrolls" and "The Book that Jesus Wrote: John's Gospel" are great fun to read, make a heck of a lot more sense than the bulk of The Holy Bible and may even come close to being accurate. (If you like your Jesus without the miracles and with plenty of local politics, she might be the theologican for you.
 
 
+7 # DIAMONDMARGE 2012-01-29 12:08
I wholeheatedly thank Dr. Kohls for this superb piece; what I intend to do is hand a copy to the minister I often listen to, w/ the request that he think seriously about preaching a sermon from its meaning. Also,I am going to send a copy to all on my email list, w/the request that they take similar actions. In this way I hope to amplify Kohls message. Will any of you on this forum take similar actions? Please.
 
 
+10 # Texas Aggie 2012-01-29 13:38
There still is a ray of hope for the Christian Church. Some of the denominations have a tradition of pacifism and are working so that everyone is treated like a human being. The UCC is an example. The various anabaptist churches such as the Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren are dedicated to peace, not just against war, but actively working for peace. A Church of the Brethren program was the model on which JFK developed the Peace Corps. The Mennonites run aid programs worldwide and are one of the very few organizations that are organized well enough that they don't need permission to enter disaster zones. The CPT (Christian Peacekeepers Teams) are still active on the West Bank and in Columbia doing what they can to protect people from violence and government persecution. The Quakers have long been active as pacifists and have been running aid programs in the most depressed parts of the world. They were in Cambodia almost as soon as the Khmer Rouge were driven out.
 
 
+5 # goodsensecynic 2012-01-29 13:46
Christianity is a religion based on a mythic figure and historically encumbered with a theology that makes claims to things like the legitimacy of his birth, his "divinity" and his alleged resurrection non-starters for cheerful atheists like me.

Christianity is also divided a hundred ways from Sunday about arcane matters of doctrine and ritual. Orthodox, Catholic, and the Heinz 57 variety of Protestants are only the start.

So, it's plain that the historical Jesus can never be known, never mind what he'd have thought about this and that. Instead we can choose among the many variations on the theme.

Personally, I admire Kohl's Jesus and I would like to think that he has pretty much nailed (so to speak) the finest qualities of the man. I am also aware of the hideous, vengeful character that others see and worship in the "fundamentalist " Christ. It's all inherently confusing and confused.

What might be helpful is to have some of Christians (humane and inhumane) debate the actual "virtues" they claim to live by. As a start, I'd like to get Rick Sanitarium, the Newtster and Mittens to consider Acts 4: 34-35 (you can look it up), and compare it to Marx's slogan in the Critique of the Gotha Program (1875): "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

Chew on that, Ms. Bachmann! And Sarah bin-Palin too? You betcha!
 
 
+5 # mhog jones 2012-01-29 13:58
"And how was the controversy about Christ’s two natures settled? The winning side at the Council of Chalcecon in 451 A.D. declared that Christ was ‘one substance with us as regarded his manhood; like us in all respects except sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the father before the ages…recognized in two natures without confusion, without change, without separation, the difference of the natures being in no wise taken away by reason of the union, but rather with the properties of each being preserved and coming together into one person and one hypostasis-not parted into two persons, but are one and the same Son and only begotten, the divine Logos [Word], the Lord Jesus Christ.’
Holy Smokes (and mirrors!)! The words ‘without confusion’ were probably included because everyone was so confused! If you, dear reader, can’t fully comprehend the meaning (don’t forget that I have presented a fairly clear summary), imagine what the host of relatively uneducated early Christians must have felt. In fact, a major reason why Islam was accepted so readily by the populace of the Middle East, tired of the incessant debates over the Trinity and Christ’s nature, was its simplicity: Allah is G_D, Muhammad is his prophet, and that’s all there is to it.”
PsychoBible, Favazza, Armando, 2004
 
 
+4 # Coleen Rowley 2012-01-29 14:20
In a similar vein, read this: "Republicans Worship a Nazi Jesus" (by Loren Adams, 18 December 2011, http://tpjmagazine.us/20111218adams )

"How you view God is how you see man. An individual’s concept of “God” determines how one treats others. The same principle applies for a culture, nation or movement. If one envisions a vengeful, wrathful superior being, wrath and retribution are levied against “others” outside the “chosen.” The religion justifies prejudice with all its ugly manifestations: verbal abuse, theft, deceit, injustice, violence, and the ultimate – “final solution.” Religion was the foundation for Nazism which gave birth to Holocaust."
 
 
+1 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-31 18:19
Coleen: Would you please pontificate or explain more about your last line. Thanks
 
 
+2 # John Lewis 2012-01-29 14:28
Someone once said;"The existence of God is the most probable thing. All the rest is Hypothetical and strict speculation" I do believe in God, nothing else.
 
 
+4 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-30 09:45
John Lewis: Actually, Einstein, toward the end of his life said something similar to that.
 
 
+10 # Oneoneone 2012-01-29 14:40
Who remembers "4-23-05" .. Justice Sunday? That day..that Sunday..when the 'mega churches' of this country open their videos screens and airwaves to the Busche Administration to sell, to promote, to justify their personal war efforts. Well I was infuriated and wrote Letters to the Editors around the Heartland Bible region I live .. one paper printed it. Here's part of what I wrote:
How Dare They?
How dare the church leaders allow a government message to be viewed by their congregation, knowing Jesus fought hard to avoid all government and polical connections? How dare these church leaders use God's house for their own personal/politi cal gain?
They are no better than the false prophets Isaiah spoke of or the Pharisees Jesus spoke of when he said,"You Pharisees clean the outsides of cups and dishes, but inside you are full of greed and evil, you fools".
People, we need to open our eyes .. or are we to blind to see? We need to open our ears .. or are we to deaf too hear? Do Isaiah's prophecies still hold true today ..? "these people worship me with their mouths and honor me with their lips. But their Hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is pointless because their teachings are rules made by humans."

How Dare They .. then and now.
 
 
+8 # reiverpacific 2012-01-29 14:57
My main problem with "organized" religion, even those that "Do good" as in feeding the poor, all too often make conversion or at least imposing prayer on the hungry as a kind of blackmail on the desperately hungry.
Or the arrogant disruption even unto attempted genocide and denial of rights, child robbing hair-cutting and brainwashing imposed on indigenous peoples by the "Black-Robes" or missionaries of most kinds; just ask the natives of this country and Hawaii (I still think of Hawaii, at least culturally- as an independent Pacific state or as part of S.E. Asia, but that's just me and how I chose to spend my time there). The bloody Mormons are trying hard to dump their phony values on the natives there and Samoa.
The one group -I'm not sure what to call them but just let's say, "religion" for now- that does NOT try to convert those they help but very much advocates for peace sincerely at their root, are the Quakers (a.k.a., American Friends Service Committee) with whom I did a project in Mexico, and was very impressed by their ethics, meditation and personal-spirit uality based, respect shown for the planet and our inter-connected ness, very much like the indigenous peoples of this and other countries.
Maybe the various conquerors and oppressors actually envied the true and palpable nature of these people's spirituality which embraced all things, and had to stamp them out to justify destruction rape and extraction "For God and Monarchs" (now Croporations).
 
 
0 # X Dane 2012-01-30 16:47
I agree reiverpacific, that the quakers seem to be truly caring people, so it blows your mind that Nixon was a quaker! At least his parents were.
 
 
+5 # teineitalia 2012-01-29 16:45
This is so beautiful, and so urgently needed to be heard that it very nearly brought tears to my eyes. I am thoroughly convinced that the Jesus of the New Testament would be appalled at the violence that has been perpetrated in his name down through the centuries.

The fundamentalist fixation on violent retribution, an eye for an eye, and all the other Old Testament insanity needs to be called out and seen for what it is: a complete ignorance of the message of the Sermon on the Mount- once of the greatest calls to service and compassion ever given.

Fundamentalism from any religion is a threat to humanity at the deepest levels. Fundamentalist Christianity creeping into the U.S. government, fundamentalist Islam taking over middle eastern nations-- they are the same, and equally abhorrent, giving rise to militarism in society and promising nothing but endless war.

The Founding Fathers of the United States and those who wrote the Constitution understood the dangers of state sponsored or state sanctioned religion, and surely we are now seeing what they hoped to protect us from.... right here in the neo-Fascist Republican party.
 
 
+2 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-30 10:43
Teineitalia: I have taught OT & NT & I agree with much of what you say here. The "Sermon on the Mount" is one of "the greatest calls to service and compassion ever given." "State sponsored or state sanctioned religion" what we are seeing in "the neo-Fascist Republican party" is unethical, illegal, unconstitutiona l & a present a real danger to our freedom. Santorium, Palin, Newt, et al, are the worst kind of hypocrites & they are very ignorant about the Bible (OT &PT)& the constitution. We need to get them out of our government, for good.
Regarding a second subject comment on, the OT may be less inspiring for you than the NT but there would be no NT without the OT. The OT begins with the Myth of Adam & Eve but after a book or two it becomes history. Despite all the violence, betrayal, polygamy, eye for an eye, etc, which I also don't like, there are excellent books in the OT (ie), the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (which is an Existential rendering of the meaning of life), Song of Songs (very romantic; often read at weddings) Jeremiah (very soothing) & Isaiah which some Christians believe belongs with or is part of the NT. I have studied, researched and been involved with all the major religions. The one that makes the most sense to me at this time in my life is Buddhism. I have yet to find a neo-fascist or fundamentalist Buddhist, which cannot be said about Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism or Moslems. Thanks for your comment, Teineitalia.
 
 
+3 # sophietitan47 2012-01-30 00:09
Many people make blanket statements about religion with little personal knowledge of the history of religion or religion's contribution to the history of ideas. While religions have done many bad things, many were simply the result of the historical and evolutionary context of the time. It has taken centuries for our brains to embrace the higher values in Maslov's hierarchy and many are still operating out of the lymbic brain -- instinctual, fight/flight. Witness the Tea Party in the US, religiously fundamentalist but definitely espousing political not religious beliefs. Despite a history of inflicting suffering on others in the name of "truth", Christianity has also produced education and hospital services for the poor (mostly Catholic). Christians have always used their church buildings as sanctuaries for those running from abuse or injustice.Funda mentalist Islam today is exactly where Christianity was during the Inquisition, condemning non-believers and killing protestors. Yet Islam, too, has a strong social justice tradition which includes not charging interest on loans (not enough room here to qualify that). It is hard to judge religion fairly for the same reason it is hard to judge political parties and their philosophies: there is so much that is good and that people want and agree with as well as the bad which others want and agree with. Suffice to say that religion like politics involves complex thought systems that can't be painted with a single brush.
 
 
0 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-30 11:15
Sophietitan47: The reason you have no plus's other than mine is because either posters do not understand your highly academic comments on religion, history, politics & the "complex thought systems" involved in both; or because your comment is at the bottom of the post. You comments on "the higher values in Maslov's hierarchy" and how "many are still operating out of the limbic brain--instinct ual, fight/flight" response" and "where Christianity was during the Inquisition" & how they gave "education and services for the poor", which is nothing short of brilliant. Then,when you said "Witness the Tea Party in the US, religiously fundamentalist but definitely espousing political not religious beliefs", I knew you had hit on the greatest flaw/lie in the Tea Party candidates and that this needs to be published because you have summed up what needs to be said better than any journalist I've read.
 
 
+1 # X Dane 2012-01-30 17:34
OK, dorianb. obviously, you are very well educated, but many others here are intelligent people too. Please do not look down your nose at others with fewer degrees.

No deep philosophical explanation or reasoning will change the incredible hypocrisy regarding Christianity in this country.

You HAVE to profess your Christian Faith if you want to have a chance of making it in politics, for example. That is crazy, since we supposedly have a separation of church and state?? NO president have EVER been an atheist.

We have had some leaders with horrible morals and bad behavior....... but they were Christians, so...... I believe in keeping religion, or lack of it ...private. Period.
I wrote some comments about religion here earlier.
 
 
0 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-31 17:21
X Dane: I am in absolute agreement that the Church and Religion has no part in government and that Church and State must be separate. I've stated this before. I agree with you that Christian faith seems to be essential to making it in politics, which I have strong reservations about My comment to Sophie-titian47 was in response to her excellent comments on the "limbic brain" fight or flight response, her historical rendering of the NT, and her wonderful summation of the inherent flaws in the Fundamentalist Tea Party ideology in light of the danger Santorium poses to our liberty and american way of life as a candidate for POTUS! Hopefully, he will drop out soon. Because I'm an educator and researcher I do like to pontificate with additional facts, when someone writes a post as deeply thought out as Sophie-titian's . We are here, not only on this Post but on this earth to help one another & share important information when the opportunity arises.

X Dane, Why do you suppose the other Posters pay little attention to an academic comment like Sophie's (she knows psychology, history & theology better than most) & her comment is highly relevant to the article & she has 2 plus's. Why do some of the Posters become so defensive &/or angry when I post a comment?

X-Dane: I appreciate your writing me, Your Post shows you have good observation skills, character & higher intelligence.
 
 
0 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-31 17:51
X Dane: one more thing. I do not look down my nose at anyone but there is a lack of open mindedness & an element of meanness on this Post, I find quite disturbing. Posters who use obscenites, insults, name calling, & sadistic metaphors are behaving like bullies. if they are committed as "liberals" & as Democrats, they need to think about the impression they are making & how they may be harming the Democratic Party.
 
 
+4 # Byronator 2012-01-30 08:04
I'm getting so weary of the "What would Jesus REALLY do?" debate. Jesus was a myth, basically -- no one who wrote about him had personally met the man. The need of humanity for humanitarian guidance from an enlightened living leader is greater than Jesus' fading relevance.
 
 
-1 # mechaman 2012-01-30 20:35
I think it interesting that no one suggested finding whether there is a religion today that lives up to Jesus' original model, and is conducted without hypocritically ignoring that faiths' principles.
 
 
-2 # Brielle 2012-01-31 02:28
Quoting mechaman:
I think it interesting that no one suggested finding whether there is a religion today that lives up to Jesus' original model, and is conducted without hypocritically ignoring that faiths' principles.


Oh, but there is, mechaman. Isaac Newton foresaw a day when there would be such a reformation that it would be a religion that none of us would recognise. He's right and the time is ripe for this to occur.
However the changes are so great, that few will 'drop the peanuts in the jar, to get their hand out' or let go of their beliefs to test everything!
I can tell you truthfully, that you can make personal contact with the Almighty yourself, if you so choose.
It's simple - observe the Sabbath as a holy day of godly rest and ask for the remission of your sins in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.
You will find yourself living that religion you're speaking about.
I've written articles about it all, as Pearl Nabi at Helium, Brielle at my blogspot 'Pure Prophecy' and published a booklet 'Suckered by Satan' on Amazon.
I am only too happy to pass on these amazing revelations and to answer any questions.
 
 
-1 # Brielle 2012-01-31 02:36
This is a brilliant article by Mr Gary Kohls. It clearly defines the history of Christianity and if you read through it carefully, you will realise it also dramatically defines the fruits of Christianity as we know it.
And by their 'fruits' will you know them!
Also the Son said, 'a kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand/last' and this is true of marriages, relationships, businesses, churches, etc.
Count how many denominations there are in the Christian Church and ask yourself if it can last, or is even meant to last, the distance?
We've come to accept far less than what the Son of God lived and died for.
 
 
+1 # dorianb@fuse.net 2012-01-31 18:21
Brielle: Are you talking about "Jews for Jesus"? "Church of God?" Or "Jehovah's Witnesses?" Or some other church?
 
 
-2 # vasumurti 2012-01-31 21:48
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

“Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful.”

Jesus and his disciples lived lives of voluntary poverty among “the poor” (perhaps a community living in voluntary poverty).

When asked why he ate with sinners, Jesus replied:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’

"For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32)

"Mercy and not sacrifice" defines Jesus' entire ministry.

In the 1986 (updated) edition of A Vegetarian Sourcebook, Keith Akers notes that there was a link in Judaism between meat-eating and animal sacrifices, that the prophetic tradition to which Jesus belonged attacked animal sacrifices, and that Jesus attacked the practice of animal sacrifice by driving the money-changers and their animals out of the Temple.

He concludes:

“The evidence indicates that for those who first heard the message of Jesus... the rejection of animal sacrifices had directly vegetarian implications.”
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-02-01 12:11
Press camera's were outside of Children's Hospital in Philadelphia for Santorum to come out from being with his sick daughter, to return to his election schedule but they weren't there. Now he claims it was in an unnamed hospital in Virginia that Bella according to Santorum made a miraculous recovery. I want to say more about Santorum and how he relates to his family. But since so many doing so put their foot in their mouths I won't add anything further.
http://nbcpolitics.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/28/10261476-santorum-cancels-events-to-be-with-sick-daughter
www.ksdk.com/news/article/300703/18/Santorum-daughter-hospitalized-in-Va-not-Philly
www.philly.com/philly/news/local/138454499.html
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-02-01 12:12
Over 2000 years ago Jesus or Jesus Christ said and did things that made a real difference. For starters infanticide was legal everywhere now it isn't. The Anabaptist (Mennonites and Quakers) went back to Christianity's original love and pacifism, but during the Revolutionary War the Free Quakers broke away and began participating in the Revolution.

Some strange things happened in the beginning. To me the strangest was that for the first hundreds of years people argued over who he or He was rather than whether or not Jesus performed miracles.

Aristides would be considered an more than average honest politician if as a priest he didn't need to superscribe to higher standards. If any priest had threatened to kill a child if he talked, it would to the major story. But only a small story that a non-priest made such threats.

More info at,
http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/9245-ron-paul-santorum-and-bin-laden-personal-morality-their-followers-admire

What is happening to Christianity with the help of Sanatorium has been repeating itself for 2000 years.
 
 
0 # SenorN 2012-02-01 21:08
Wow! or should I say, "God!"

Sincere thanks, Dr. Kohls! Your lucid, wonderfully-org anized essay shows this is not the first time you've addressed this issue, but it's the first time I've read what you have to say, and I'm very glad I did!
Could be paradigm shifting, which seems ironic because I understood most of this in Sunday school, over fifty years ago!
I see why your organization is called the "Third Way" . . .
 
 
0 # vasumurti 2012-02-02 13:28
In a 1989 interview with the Animals' Agenda, Reverend Andrew Linzey, the foremost theologian in the field of animal-human relations, said:

"We treat animals today precisely as we treated slaves, and the theological arguments are often entirely the same or have the same root.

"I believe the movement for animal rights is the most significant movement in Christianity, morally, since the emancipation of the slaves. And it provides just as many difficulties for the institutional church..."

Since 1987, numerous books have been written on animals and theology, including:

Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions; Christianity and the Rights of Animals; The Souls of Animals; Replenish the Earth; Of God and Pelicans; Is God A Vegetarian?; God's Covenant with Animals; They Shall not Hurt or Destroy; The Lost Religion of Jesus; Good News for All Creation; Vegetarian Christian Saints; The Dominion of Love; Good Eating; Of God and Dogs; Every Creature a Word of God; School of Compassion, etc.

All of this biblical scholarship by Christian vegetarians and vegans (and their friends in the non-Abrahamic faiths), trying to reconcile biblical tradition with animal rights, would be completely unnecessary...

...if the pro-life side would treat animal rights as a secular civil rights issue applicable to everyone -- including atheists and agnostics -- as they view their own (sectarian?) opposition to abortion.
 

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