What About The Bible… ? (Chapter 6)
This is the final post on my series about the Bible. It has been an enlightening time for me. This final post is about the history of Christianity and how it seems to stop with the establishment of the biblical text. But before I get into that I must mention that I have found that to really understand the Gospel text you must also understand the basic history of that region of the world during that period of time. To do that means seeking out historical records of the Roman Empire particularly in the Middle East.
There is virtually nothing about the person of Jesus found outside the gospel accounts. He just didn’t show up on the Roman radar screen. Historical text shows that there were many different people who took on the mantel of “son of God” during those years. Several names were found in Roman text with that claim but Jesus of Nazareth was not one of them.
To understand the part the Roman authorities played in the Crucifixion you must realize that Pontius Pilate routinely condemned Jews to death for a myriad of reasons. He had little regard for that population. You must also understand that the religious leaders of the times were very much in bed with Roman authorities. These sort of historical accounts help us to understand the gospel stories.
The Bible contains almost all of the accounted history of the early Christian church. As such it is a very powerful document. Shamefully any counter views of being a Christian were systematically destroyed when the Biblical version was adopted. As a result we don’t have the pieces necessary to see any different views or to maybe fill in some of the holes in the gospel accounts.
One of my biggest disappointments is that we haven’t put as much enthusiasm in to documenting Christian history since 300AD. Why haven’t we documented how well we are doing in living the messages of Jesus? Progress means monitoring where we are and focusing on where we are going. If as much enthusiasm were put into this task as is it in our reverence to the Bible think how much better the world would be today.
To know where the church stands today is to know how we got here. I think part of the problem with this is that Christianity has a very messy history since the Bible’s invention. We started out as a small group of followers of Jesus’ words and commands to being a State mandated religion that gain immense power in the world. We regularly killed those who might disagree with the established dogma of the times. The Inquisition was a sorry time in church history but it was not the only time.
In order to know where we are we must know where we came from. If the theologians of the church had spent as much energy helping us know how we are doing as they did trying to parse out a particular text in the Gospel to show us their version of God we would be a stronger and more diligent followers of Jesus. Sadly that has simply not been the case.
Most versions of the church today have a very pre-defined dogma and particularly beliefs that they demand compliance to if you want to be part of their group. The trouble is much of that dogma simply has never been justified by the words of Jesus.