I’ve tried to be objective and clinical, and provide this generic background information. Possibly it is relevant. For the record, I will state:
- I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but qualify as a heretic to many. According to dictionary.com, The Roman Catholic Church defines heresy as : “the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.” Like every other Christian, I lack the authority to speak for God.
We all have within us, an observer who occasionally clamors for our attention, and shouts out about atrocity, Telling us that something is not right, justice has been violated. This voice tells us that something should be done, and sometimes the voice tells us that someone should pay. Not that behavior should be modified or that change be effected, but simply that a wrong is particularly evil and that punishment is due. Someone should be made to suffer for what they have done. We hear this inner voice as we gaze upon our world. Occasionally this voice tells us something about ourselves, at least most of us. We live in stressful, often disheartening cicumstances. Many feelings of guilt and shame are false, rooted in dysfunction and faulty perception, but not all of them. The Followers of the God of Abraham… Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim that sometimes this voice is the Spirit of God, telling the truth.
Christianity teaches that we will be accountable after our death, for the failings of our human nature. Mainstream doctrine teaches this as justice, with some convincing arguments. Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, claimed to be God’s son though many people had a little trouble with this. Christianity generally teaches that Jesus was extremely cool, wise, and utterly innocent of any imperfection or wrongdoing. He has paid the price for our failings, large and small, by allowing his own torture and execution. This violation of perfect innocence was so profound, it outweighed the sins of all humanity, and allows us to escape the ultimate consequences of our various actions and inactions. Though this is hard to believe, Jesus opened up a huge can of credibility whup-ass by rising from the dead after taking care of some other business for 36 hrs or so (From Friday evening to Sunday morning, this 36 hours is usually refferred to as 3 days, possibly because of all the Abrahamic faiths, the Christian is usually the most ignorant about his own 'religion'. Sadly, a quick survey will reveal that most of them have not even completed a reading of their own Scriptures.
At this point denominational differences become apparent. Most agree, however that Jesus’ story should be relayed to all of humanity, hence the missionary phenomenon. The generally accepted motives for Christian proselytizing are to save the unconverted from hell, and simple obedience to Jesus, because he said so. The gravity the church gives this task is because eyewitnesses- over 500 place him in settings, and interacting with people, after his death. This directive received from Christ to spread his teachings, is called the Great Commission. Evangelical Christianity today maintains that the surest way to prevent people from suffering punishment or consequences after death is to inform them of their danger and urge them to “Accept Jesus”. This is the biggie, the backdrop as far as I know, behind every denomination, of which there are thousands. We pull the Great Commission from the Gospel of Mathew, the first book of the New Testament. The New Testament is in the Bible. The Bible is comprised of 66 Books written over a millennium and a half by over 40 authors from Kings to fishermen, with different personalities, from different cultures. If we had no scientific evidence of it’s validity it would be incredibly difficult to fabricate but Its archeological credentials are more reliable than any other texts of antiquity. We have in our possession more copies, chronologically closer to the originals, with fewer discrepancies than any of the more widely accepted ancient manuscripts. It was written in three languages on three continents, and it covers thousands of subjects both controversial and mundane. It fits together into one cohesive story with an appropriate beginning, a logical ending, a central character, and a consistent theme. There are two big inconveniences with the Bible.
· It can be confusing- those that love it the most sometimes disagree about its place and meaning
· It contains Miracles.
Because of its sacred nature the Bible shapes many Christian values. It has had an enormous cultural and political impact on the United States. The Christian powers that be will interpret the bible, consider tradition, and pray. They will then make pronouncements about what is okay, and what is not. Historically, this policy has given rise to The Crusades, the Inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials, Discrimination against women, and eighteen centuries of support for slavery.