Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white. – William Blake
The more I study the scriptures the more I am convinced that religion, especially Western Christianity, has it all wrong.
I’ve started to write this post a few times but I always abandon it because as I read it back I get too emotional. I tend to get angry but then usually end up just sad and tired when I think about how religion has distorted the plain and simple teachings of Jesus Christ.
I find myself getting drawn into arguments with my fellow Christians over doctrine and politics that when examined in the light of scripture are either irrelevant or plain as day. I also get drawn into arguments with non-Christians that centre on the sins of church history when my response should be one of compassion for the pain my predecessors have caused.
Somewhere in the two millennia since Jesus death his message has been terribly distorted for the political gain of an elite few and the masses have swallowed it hook line and sinker. Sadly the true message is still there in black and white, if we’d just look it up.
Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? – Jesus (Luke 6:46)
Many people have tried to explain away some of Jesus more difficult and politically incorrect teachings with arguments about translations and first century context. While it is important to understand what was going on in Israel at the time of Jesus and it is equally important to understand a bit of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew languages the Bible was originally written in we also need to recognize that all English translations of the Bible ever published are remarkably similar and the message remains consistent whether you prefer the King James, New International, Revised Standard or any other of the hundreds of translations that are available to us today.
And what is that core message? Jesus was asked that same question;
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)
Love, plain and simple, love God first and love your neighbour. Elsewhere Jesus further explained that neighbours also include our enemies and those who persecute us.
The saddest fact of all is that Christianity as a religion has been one of violence, oppression and segregation, yet Jesus, whose intention was to tear down the religious system not build a new one, was a teacher of peace, love and inclusion. There are no caveats in His teaching that allow us to condemn, persecute or oppress those who do not agree with us as Constantine and his brethren would have us believe. There is no wiggle room that can be used to justify witch hunts, crusades or inquisitions like the medieval Catholics invented. And there is no such thing as the redemptive violence or just war that most western evangelicals promote today. Those who would use scripture to justify such things are quite simply stretching the translation beyond all reasonable linguistics and misunderstanding historical context.
I could go on for days but I try to keep my postings as close to 500 words as possible. I will expand upon and back up my position in the coming weeks. For now I just leave you with this parting thought. If Jesus is your Lord re-read his longest sermon found in Matthew 5-7, submit to his authority and do as he says. I promise you, your life will never be the same.