Monthly Archives: July 2013

Is Extortion Still Alive in Today’s Churches?

extortionWhile this story is from the third century, it mirrors very well, many of today’s churches and their leaders. Extortion was taking place in churches then, just as it is today. Not only this, but please notice the attitudes and behaviors that were taking place in Paul’s churches. “The history of Paul of Samosata is so illustrative of ecclesiastical life in the third century that it must not be passed over. Paul was elected bishop of Antioch in 260. He was of a speculative turn of mind, and attempting to blend the philosophy of Plato with the doctrines of the New Testament, he conceived very false opinions regarding the nature of Christ. He seems also to have been a man of a worldly character, fond of power and display (Backhouse).” Much like many of today’s clergy, Paul of Samosata shows how far men will go in order to attain for themselves, power, prestige and money. There are countless clergy the world over whose behaviors mirror Paul’s of Samosata. Thankfully, during the third century, there were still some Bishops that still believed in the purity of the faith enough to see Paul for what he was – a self-seeking individual puffed up with pride with a desire for control, power and prestige. He was removed from his position after a synod met and discussed his behaviors. Here is a portion of that letter that was disbursed to all the churches regarding his deposition. The elaboration in brackets is mine.

“We need not,” such is the language of the circular, “say anything of such matters as this; that whereas he was formerly poor and beggarly, and has neither inherited from his parents any means, nor acquired such by any art or trade, he was come to have excessive wealth by his deeds of iniquity and sacrilege, and by the extortion he has practised on the brethren. [He was taking money from his congregants. Much like today’s clergy, he built for himself financial wealth off the backs of the poor. This same thing is happening in churches across the world that are using “fear” to force tithing and/or giving. Paul was doing just this and the other bishops at the Synod  called it like they saw it – EXTORTION.]  Nor need we say anything about his his pride and assumption of worldly dignities, and his preferring to be styled a Ducenarius [Similar to today’s titles of Doctor, Reverend, Ph.d., or Apostle] rather than a bishop, strutting through the market places and reading letters and reciting them as he walked in public, attended by multitudes of people. [Notice all the self-aggrandizement] Nor need we say anything of the affectation he practises in our ecclesiastical assemblies, making a great parade and courting popularity, and confounding by his arts the minds of the more simple [He was an exceptional public speaker who could easily sway people to his way of thinking]; nor of his setting up for himself a lofty tribunal and throne, so unlike a disciple of Christ; nor of his having, like the rulers of this world, a Secretum? [He set himself up as head of the ecclesiastical fellowship. A Secretum was a private seal much like a King or ruler would have to seal their letters.] and calling it by the same name; nor of his striking his thigh with his hand, and stamping on the tribunal with his feet,  and reproving and insulting those, both men and women, who did not applaud him or shake their handkerchiefs, as in the theatres, or shout and leap about, but chose to hear reverently and modestly as in the house of God. Besides this he put a stop to the psalms which were sung in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ as being new compositions of modern men, [Some of today’s churches do exactly the same thing; especially the fundamentalist sect that I came out of….Paul was trying to control the type and style of music in his churches much like the Independent Fundamental Baptist churches I attended.] and prepared instead, at the great Paschal festival, women to sing psalms in the midst of the church in honour of himself, such as one would shudder to hear; and he suborned the bishops and presbyters of his party in the neighbouring districts and cities to promote the same kind of things. [He put together multi-church functions where he could be elevated amongst his peers and he and his constituents given honor and prestige. This also allowed them to take up “love” offerings from the people to be given to each speaker.] And then again there are the adopted women [priest’s housekeepers], as the people of Antioch call them, kept by him and by his presbyters and deacons. We are not ignorant that many have fallen through the adoption of such women into their houses, whilst many others have come under suspicion; so that, even though it should be admitted that nothing really disgraceful had been done by him, yet he was in duty bound to have avoided the suspicion arising out of such conduct.” — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, pgs 231-232.

From this excerpt we can see, once again, that not much has changed. Although there are many church leaders that do not fall into this type of behavior, one cannot ignore the multitude of clergy that do. The sect I came out of exhibits these same behaviors of Paul of Samosata in amazing detail. What should this tell us? That it is wrong. Plain and simple. This letter went to all the churches telling congregants WHY he was being removed as bishop. It should stand as a testament to us of how clergy should NOT act. We should also bare in mind what the early church leaders believed regarding false prophets or religious leaders like Paul of Samosata:

As regards the prophets and apostles moreover, according to the doctrine of the gospel, so do ye. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord: he will not remain with you [more than] one day; or if need be, the second day also; if he remain three days he is a false prophet. When the apostle departs, let him take nothing but bread enough to last till he reach his night quarters; if he ask for money he is a false prophet. And any prophet who speaks in the Spirit, ye shall not try nor test; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, unless he have the behaviour of the Lord. From their behaviour therefore shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. No prophet who in the Spirit orders a table shall eat of it, otherwise he is a false prophet. Every prophet, though he teaches the truth, is a false prophet if he does not do what he teaches. Every approved true prophet who holds Church meetings for a worldly mystery, but does not teach [others] to do what he does, shall not be judged by you; for his judgment is with God; for the ancient prophets also did likewise. And whosoever shall say in the Spirit: Give me money, or anything else, ye shall not hearken to him; but if he tell you to give for others who are in need, let no man judge him. — The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, chapter XI.

Instead of overseers (or bishops) and deacons, the corresponding passage in the Apostolical Constitutions has “bishops, presbyters, and deacons,” the offices having by this time become separated. The Gospel was preached by the traveling ministers, on the simple principle that the workman is worthy of his meat. “If,” says the Teaching, “the apostle should ask for money he is a false prophet.” — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, p. 119

The Quest for Power and Control

outofcontrolSadly, as corruptions entered the early church and the church hierarchy began to develop, the struggle for power and control of the churches (sees) among bishops proliferated.  Bishops, (other terms we use today are ‘Priest’ or ‘Pastor’) were fighting for preeminence and control. From the following tidbit of church history, we can see some of the doctrinal corruptions as well as this struggle. The fight was so bad amongst the clergy, and the power they wielded so strong, that secular leaders lived in fear of them! In many parts of the world today, secular authorities are still living in fear of religious leaders. The times have changed, but not the church or the fear it instills. Anywhere religion is intertwined with secular powers, you will find all manner of abuses and atrocities hidden. The number one race of people that are affected by this marriage of religion and state?  Women and children.

But Cyprian’s language on this subject is thrown into the shade by that of the Apostolical Constitutions, which savours of the servility and prostration before rulers, common in the far East. “The bishop is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the mediator between God and you. After God he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit; your ruler and governor; your king and potentate; your earthly god. . . . Let not the laity on all occasions trouble their governor; but let them signify their desires to him through the deacons, with whom they may be more free. For as we may not address ourselves to Almighty God, but only by Christ, so let the laity make known all their desires to the bishop by the deacon, and let them act as he shall direct them. . . . How dare any speak against their bishop, by whom the Lord gave you the Holy Spirit through the laying on of his hands; by whom ye were sealed with the oil of gladness and the unction of understanding; by whom the Lord illumined you and sent his sacred voice upon you, saying, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee!”

[Notice how man has now placed himself as the ‘mediator’ between God and man AND given himself honor and reverence of position? There is only one mediator between God and man and, only one person that deserves honor and reverence.]

This passage belongs indeed with more probability to the fifth century than to our present period. But when ideas such as these were becoming current, it is no wonder that the more worldly minded among the bishops began to assume to themselves great outward importance. Many who occupied the sees (leaders of the churches) in the large cities were addressed and waited upon as though they were persons of rank in the State.

It was now also that the bishop of Rome began to put forward a claim for pre-eminence over his fellow bishops. Even before the end of the second century, Victor, a haughty and ambitious prelate, had attempted to assert such a superiority. The attempt was premature; the Roman bishop was still only one amongst many equals, and when his decrees clashed with the judgment of others, superior in experience and character to himself, he was forced to give way. Thus in 254, in the dispute upon the validity of baptism administered by heretics, when the Roman Bishop Stephen found Cyprian of Carthage, Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and other eminent prelates opposed to him, he attempted to brandish the spiritual weapons of the Church against all the host of his adversaries. He excommunicated the bishop of Carthage, denouncing him as an Antichrist, and threatening with spiritual censures any members of the Roman Church who should dare to entertain his delegates. He proceeded to cut off Firmilian and the Asian bishops. But the thunderbolts which were to be launched with such tremendous effect by his successors were not yet forged, and the prelates treated his “audacity and insolence” with contempt, Firmilian declaring that he who boasted of being the successor of Peter was “the real schismatic, who by his excommunication of others had made himself an apostate from the communion of the Church.”

[Notice how religious leaders use the term “anti-Christ” as a label for anyone that disagrees with them and THEIR beliefs or, to gain the preeminence over someone else?]

But spiritual Rome was nevertheless advancing by sure steps towards the same pinnacle in the ecclesiastical world which the capital of the Empire had occupied in the political. Notwithstanding his dispute with Stephen, Cyprian calls the Roman bishopric “the throne of Peter, and the chief Church whence priestly unity takes its source.” The Emperor Decius, after the martyrdom of Fabian in the year 250, was so conscious of the growing power of the Roman see that he declared he would rather hear of a rival to his throne than of a new bishop.” — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine.

Throughout church history, we see the development of a system of power and control designed to manipulate people and bring them into submission to men. “Spiritual Weapons” (murder, torture, shaming, public humiliation, gossip, slander, labeling, etc.) are used against those that fight either within the system for preeminence, OR, used against those that fight the system because of the corruption they see. Really, it’s a lose lose situation for anyone desiring to see the filth purged and the purity and love brought back. What existed back in 200 A.D., exists today. Nothing has changed, it has only gotten bigger, broader and more powerful.

The church systems of the world influence billions. That’s a lot of power and control! The corruptions that existed back then, have grown exponentially and encompass every religion worldwide.  How do you remove the POISON from a serpent this big that has been growing out of control for centuries? Think about it?

Fruit of Religion – The Spanish Inquisition

spanish inquisition“The Spanish Inquisition was a perverse attempt to save people’s souls by torturing their bodies. Since only Christians of pure faith could go to heaven, the Inquisitors reasoned, and all others would be sentenced to the eternal torments of hell, it made sense to temporarily torture people of impure faith until they accepted Jesus, and thereby save their souls from the never-ending tortures of the next world.

Contrary to a popular misconception, the Inquisition was not directed against Jews, but against all supposed heretics, particularly former Jews who had converted to Christianity. Since these Jews had generally converted under duress, either to save their lives or their livelihoods, the Church had good reason to mistrust their sincerity. Inquisition officials, aided by informers, continually and carefully scrutinized these new Christians. If any of their actions indicated that they might be secretly practicing Judaism–perhaps they were observed never to eat pork or cook on the Sabbath–these “new Christians” were summoned before the Inquisition. The Inquisitors, all of whom were priests, asked the accused if they were secret Jews. If they confessed immediately, and supplied the Inquisitors with names of other secret Jews, they got off lightly: a religious ceremony at which they made public confession, and suffered various humiliations. If they were convicted of being secret Jews and only then confessed, they were guaranteed a less painful execution: They were strangled before being burned at the stake.

Those people who refused to confess even after being convicted, or who were courageous enough to acknowledge that they were still Jews, were repeatedly tortured to force them to concede the truth of Christianity. During the centuries in which the Inquisition had power, thousands of secret Jews were put on the rack, had water forced down their throats after their noses were pinched shut, or subjected to other tortures. All these actions carried out by priests who claimed to be motivated only by love of the people they were torturing.

Those Jews whom the Inquisitors couldn’t win back to Christianity were burned at a public ceremony known as an auto-da-fe. . .” – – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, pgs 194-195.

The fruit of some religions has always been forced conversion of others. The bigger the religion, the more secular power it has. The more secular power it can yield, the greater the atrocities it produces toward those that act or believe differently. Hatred between some religious sects is as strong today as it was centuries ago. The crimes against humanity have never disappeared because the hatred proliferates and spreads. Hatred toward those that espouse variant beliefs is taught at the youngest possible age in order for religion’s followers to grow to a place where they are willing to kill for their religious beliefs; or, die for them. Religious indoctrination has been at the root of millions of tortures and murders throughout history and, even today. Not only this, but religious indoctrination is also at the root of the suppression, control and abuse of women and children worldwide. Religion is responsible for centuries of teachings against women’s autonomy, authority and equality. As a result, women have become the most abused race of people in human history. For a brief list of the fruit of these atrocities, see my article: The FRUIT of Male Leadership – A Shocking Reality.

Is the picture becoming clear yet? After all the many articles on this blog that have exposed the truth of history, can one see the bigger picture? The corruption that hides under the righteous mantles of religions the world over have caused religious followers to be ready, at any time, to bear arms and attack those that disagree or believe differently. Bloodshed, war, torture, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse are the biggest fruits of religion. History shows that clearly. The articles on this blog show this clearly! Religion’s weapons are Bibles, religious doctrines and rules, labeling (of those who disagree), slander, public humiliation and shaming, shunning and, damnation in hell. It’s time to remove the power and control of religion and give it back to the only one that deserves it; one who is merciful, gentle, loving, kind, compassionate, long-suffering, all powerful — God. God loves those that religion hates!! Why can’t people understand that? He blesses the just and unjust because he loves mankind as a whole.  Men have taken too much upon themselves in the “name of God.”  The fruit of this religious take over by men, is heavy laden on the annals of world history. Let’s get men out of God’s shoes and put God back in them. Let’s undo the damage that has been done through corruption of the religious system. Women need to be given their equality, honor and dignity back. Those who believe differently need to be freed from antisemitism and hatred and turned over to God’s hand to do the work in their lives. Forcing religion is wrong; especially when it’s done in the “name of God.” God doesn’t need religion or men to force-feed people their corruptions, man-made doctrines and rules, or hatred toward others. God is bigger than that and more loving than that. He can do what man cannot do in the hearts and minds of his creation. Let’s get religion out of God’s way so HE can work in people’s hearts and lives; so HE can control the hearts of men and women; so HE can have the preeminence. . . instead of religion and its leaders. Religion’s fruit is abhorrent to God and, a crime upon humanity. Sure, religion looks good on the outside, but on the inside, it’s rotten to the core and has a lot of innocent blood on its hands.

English Bible Translations: Are they REALLY the INSPIRED Words of GOD?

Gen. 25:21 reads: “Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebecca conceived.” Rashi (1040-1105) first notes that the meaning of vaye’tar (pleaded) is “to pray much and earnestly. Many biblical quotations support this meaning of the word.” He then seizes on a peculiar expression in the Hebrew text, noting that le-nokhach ishto, although commonly translated as “[pleaded] for his wife,’ literally means ‘opposite his wife,’ which is the basis for the Talmudic suggestion that ‘Isaac prayed in one corner and Rebecca in another.’ ” Not only has Rashi explained to the reader the literal meaning of the Torah’s words, he also has conveyed a visual representation of the room in which Isaac and Rebecca prayed. We can well imagine that later on many Jewish couples, plagued by infertility, took up praying positions in opposite corners of the room, in line with Rashi’s explanation.” — Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, p. 183.

kjv bibleThroughout my time in a fundamentalist religious sect, the men were given the preeminence over women. I was taught that the man’s prayers had the preeminence over that of the woman. Women were second class human beings because they were women. I was taught that a man had to have the control over the women in every instance of her life. By implication, I was also taught that God would not hear the prayers of the woman unless their was a man standing over her as head. Systematically, throughout scripture, God has debunked these lies of the religious system and its leaders! Every time I delve into one of Telushkin’s books, I discover true meanings of passages that Chrisitian leaders twist in order to subjugate and control women and point them into positions of servitude. The above passage is one such passage.

In the passage above, I also see two people that are EQUAL before God; both praying earnestly for a situation that they would like God’s intervention with. The interpretation in my English KJV Bible is “And Issac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” Please notice that this translation points the women to inequality and a position that implies that only Isaac’s prayers to God will make the difference. It implies that Rebekah had no autonomy or authority with God, or, in her own life! Please note the drastic difference between the passage in my English Bible compared to the Hebrew translation!  Consistently, through the many articles on this blog, I have exposed how men, through TRANSLATION, have pointed women into this direction of servitude and inequality and, have placed men in a position of dominance. This is just another instance of the purposeful corruptions of man in order to control women.

The FRUIT of Male Leadership – A Shocking Reality

“In former chapters, we reviewed the worship and government of the Church, from the days of the apostles to the end of the second century. Enough has already been said to show that in the period now under consideration (from A.D. 200 to 337), there was no check to the growth of ritualistic observances, but the substitution of external forms in place of the primitive simplicity was still going on, and with constantly increasing force.

The worship of the Apostolic age was without altars, without temples, without images; but as sacerdotal ideas entered and prevailed, ancient simplicity disappeared. The common meal, in which the early Christians united to commemorate their Saviour’s love, became a sacrifice; the table at which they sat to partake of it became an altar; the community which Christ signed to be one body was divided into clergy and laity. When the liberty of prophesying was lost, and the spiritual gifts promised to the congregation were exercised by a restricted order of ministers alone, those ministers became priests; whilst the simple effusions of Gospel love, prompted by the Holy Spirit, and therefore powerful to break in pieces the stony heart and bind up the broken heart, were replaced by learned and eloquent discourses, which were even at times received with plaudits as in a theatre.

Lastly, the room or simple meeting house was exchanged for a stately temple, richly furnished with gold and silver vessels. Even the wise Dionysius of Alexandria so completely loses sight of the New Covenant idea, as to call the table at which the bread and wine were partaken of, the “Holy of Holies.” — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine

male dominance picWhat we have learned from church history is that the corruptions that entered into the system of worship were many. Repeatedly on this blog and my Religion’s Cell facebook page, I have pointed out the corruptions; many of which, were aimed at keeping women in bondage to men.  Not only did man corrupt they simplicity of worship, but later, he corrupted the manuscripts from which the Bible is derived. Throughout history, one can clearly see a theme that shrouds the Gospel and the Lord’s people. This theme is Power, Control and Money. It is so very obvious.

As a result of this desire to be in control, men have written women out of places of honor, dignity and authority in scripture, thus pointing them into a position of servitude and abuse. Sadly, it has always been religious MEN that have brought the corruptions, not women. Think about this. What better way to control the world than to make sure the competition is confined by chains called “God said,” “the scriptures say” and “it is written.” Scripture, no matter the religious sect, is used to control women and children so that men can have their desires satiated. These chains of bondage and abuse were penned by the very hands of warm blooded men whose only desire is SEXUAL dominance and control. Under the guise of religion, millions of women are confined to situations of bondage and abuse that God never intended!

It doesn’t take rocket science to see the signs of this sexual dominance and control throughout the world today. Please notice the following:

  • Sexually enhancing drugs for men to help prolong the sexual act.
  • Pornography
  • Incest
  • Sex Trafficking
  • The rape of women worldwide without prosecution of the rapist.
  • The rape of women worldwide with the VICTIMS being prosecuted instead of the rapist.
  • The rape of children worldwide without the rapist being prosecuted.
  • Sexual mutilation of women and children.
  • Sexual abuse of women and children.
  • Torture of women and children.
  • Emotional and spiritual abuse of women and children.
  • Domestic abuse
  • Honor Killings
  • Child pornography
  • Child marriage
  • Physical abuse of women and children.
  • Polygamy
  • The removal of women from leadership positions in society.
  • The development of Date Rape drugs to enable men to rape women without the women having any recollection of what happened.
  • Secular Laws that allow for the killing of women and children without punishment to the murderer.
  • Higher wages for men even though women can do the same job, and even better.
  • The fight for the control of women’s bodies by men: i.e. no birth control and no abortion
  • The fight to keep women uneducated and dependent on men.
  • The ability of men to rape women, impregnate them and then leave them with the responsibility while they go off on their merry ways.

(Through various articles on my blog, you will find examples of all of these. Also see my Religion’s Cell Facebook page for news articles that encompass almost all of these areas of abuse.)

All of this wrapped up in the religious shroud of the chains of bondage listed above used to beat women and children into servitude to men’s desires and demands. It is time for the corruptions of the RELIGIOUS system to be exposed. It is time for men to be prosecuted for their crimes against women and children. It is time for women to be given their honor, dignity, equality and authority back. It is time for laws to be enacted to free women from the bondage and protect them from the abuses. It is time to put women in leadership to help in the protection of their children from these abuses.

History shows us the real fruit of men and their leadership. It is fraught with rape, murder, torture, incest, sexual mutilation, physical abuse and on and on. More women need to be in positions of power to help in bringing about change. Most women will not tolerate any of these atrocities and, will work diligently to stop them and wipe them out. Women will work to enact laws to protect women and children!  Leaving men in control has only proliferated the atrocities, allowing for these things to be the biggest plague on humanity the world has ever known.

Links to Related News Articles that prove the above points:

Norwegian Woman: I was raped in Dubai, now I face prison sentence.

Mom, Dad planned child sex abuse before kids were born

Scores arrested in child prostitution case

More rape in India as Delhi reports 4 year old assaulted

Newlywed Afghan beheaded for her refusal to become prostitute

Afghan women imprisoned for ‘moral’ crimes

Ohio: Muslim doctor who drugged, killed pregnant woman accosted others

Saudi preacher gets fine and short jail term for raping and killing 5 year old daughter

Honor Killing Index – new stories attached to each killing

Saudi cleric says ‘baby burkas’ would prevent child molestation

Female genital mutilation on the rise in the United States

Police Say Pastor Spanked Girl Who Claimed Abuse by Relative

Orphans ‘left to die’: state parliamentary inquiry into child abuse told

Egypt women angry after president’s advisor says harassment “exaggerated”

Hundreds arrested in US-led operation against sex predators

Ex-mega church pastor gets 12 years in sex scandal

Muslim gang-rapes across Europe under reported by Press

Teen Ends Life After Photo of Her Alleged Gang Rape Goes Viral

Eastbourne priest trial: Children as young as seven were assaulted in home, court hears

Ex-Liberty Lake pastor starts prison term for child porn

St Pius X Priest Facing Child Sex Abuse Allegations in California

Child abuse lawsuit filed against church

Taliban-style edict for women spreads alarm in Afghan district

$3 Billion Jehovah’s Witnesses Class Action Over Child Abuse

Sacrificing Our Daughters: On the Psychology of Islamic Rape-Gangs

Catholic Church Defends Pedophile Priests, Crusades Against New Sex Abuse Victims Protections

Local Missionary admitted to molestation, making child porn, officials say

Southern Baptists, like Catholic Church are protecting Pedophiles

‘Ex-Gay’ Pastor Ryan Muehlhauser Sentenced For Sexually Molesting Men

Carter Center Conference Mobilizes Faith Groups to Advance Women’s Rights

Documents show Milwaukee archdiocese shielded pedophile priests

Papua New Guinea woman burned alive for sorcery

Serial sex offender priest told 7-year-old victim he could get dead grandfather into heaven

Former president Jimmy Carter says religion is to blame for abuse of women globally

The True (and False) Persecution of the Church

Scots police smash two ‘large’ pedophile rings

Sir Patrick Steward calls on ‘1 million men’ to end violence against women

LaPorte Co. minister arrested for sex offender violation

Las Vegas Police: Dina and Markiece Palmer Beat 7 year old son to death for not reading Bible

Former Pastor gets 10 years

Southern Baptist Pastor, Matt Baker, Convicted of Murder

Pastor of the ROC accused of Sexual Misconduct

Toronto: Sharia swim times prevent Dad from watching own daughter’s swim class

Rape is Rape: How the Culture of Shaming, Stigma, and Victim-Blaming is Hurting Us

Baptist Churches More Vulnerable to Clergy Sex Abuse, Experts Say

Catholic Church in UK faces child sex abuse quiz

Christian School Teacher with Panty Fetish & Supervision of Kids Loses Lewd Acts Appeal

Former Church Employee Arrest for Child Molestation

Should Religion be Defended by Bloodshed, Torture and Crime?

christian persecution

Mass Murder of Christians

Two of the biggest issues that plague all religions is 1) the defense of the followers of their particular religious beliefs  and doctrines and, 2) the fight to keep the corruption and crime within the sect, hidden. Throughout history, whether Christian or Pagan, bloodshed, torture and crimes have followed every religion that has gained preeminence in society. Not only this, but the corruption ensued proportionately to the growth of the religion. The bigger the religion, the bigger the corruptions and abuses you will find underneath its mantle of righteousness that it shrouds itself in.

History shows us that different religions of the world have encouraged their followers to torture, maime, rape and kill those who did not believe as they believed. The countless millions of people that have died over the centuries due to religious persecution and wars, and the corruption, is beyond comprehension. The numbers are too staggering for the mind to comprehend. Even today, religion persecutes, tortures and kills those who do not conform to their rules or believe as they do. Control of the masses is the goal of the biggest religions. Religion wants to be BIG, it wants to be WEALTHY, it wants all POWER, and it wants to CONTROL the multitudes, bringing them into submission to its every whim.  Even today, the corruption hidden under the guise of religion is vast.  Religion divides people and race and leaves no room for compromise.  Sadly, all this in the name of “God.”

Not much has changed from the early days of the church when the defense of beliefs led to bloodshed, torture, maiming and confiscation of wealth. In the early third century, after Constantine had died and, after all the bloodshed and torture that took place before and during Constantine’s reign, thus speaks Lactantius:

Lactantius held the sound opinion that the profession of Christianity is not to be defended by violence. “To defend religion,” he says, “by bloodshed, torture and crime, is not to defend, but to pollute and profane it. For nothing is so much a matter of free-will as religion, in which, if the mind of the worshipper is disinclined, the very thing itself is taken away and ceases to exist. The right way to defend religion is by patient endurance unto death, through which the keeping of the faith is pleasing to God, and adds authority to the truth.”

Lactantius’s words revealed how polluted religious leaders and their followers had become toward non-believers and those who believed different Christological views. The very righteous life they espoused in Christ was reduced to criminal and base attitudes and behaviors toward those that espoused different views. Imagine that? Religion will not allow people to think independently regarding what they believe to be best and true for themselves and their families?  Independent thought and varying belief was the cause of much dissention in the early eras of Christianity; not just Christianity, but other religious sects as well. The division, strife, wars and murders that took place in the “name of God” were numerous and long standing. Some of the persecutions lasted for hundreds of years and, multi-millions died as a result.

When you have a religion that does not allow for autonomy of the individual to decide for themselves and their family what is best for them, you do not have “pure religion and undefiled.” You have a religious system that demands complete submission to IT instead of the God it claims the name of. Those within the abusive system (leaders) will stop at nothing to silence, shame and discredit those that speak out about abuses hidden under its mantle.  Today, many Christians are quick to judge others, quick to attack with words and, quick to condemn all those who speak out about the criminal behaviors they have experienced and seen in their respective religious institutions – in the name of God. There is no “peace” with religion. It will always attack those that oppose it and/or have differing doctrines. It will fight using whatever means it has at its disposal to keep the corruptions and abuses hidden. Even if it means further victimizing the abused? Yes.

As pointed out repeatedly on this blog, the corruption that is intertwined with religion has a trail of abuse and blood that encompasses all cultures worldwide. The majority that bear the brunt of the corruptions are women and children. May God help those that have the courage to speak out about the abuses and corruption and, protect them from those that are carrying his name and using it a a weapon to control and abuse others. God is much bigger than differences in doctrine and beliefs! He doesn’t need man to interfere and force-feed others. He’s big enough to change a person’s attitude and belief without the interference and, without making Him look bad. God doesn’t need people to attack and wage war against those who believe differently. Religion does not understand that; nor does it care. We are all human. We were all created by God. We are all God’s children by that very creation. God can take care of each and every one of us without man’s interference. Is Religion being Defended by Bloodshed, Torture and Crime? Yes. Should it be? Emphatically, NO.

The Council of Nicaea A.D. 325

council of nicaeaDuring the early years of Christianity, there were many belief systems that existed. The majority belief across the known world was not what it is today; nor, what it was when Constantine came into power.  Many sincere people were handed down their beliefs from their ancestors orally; some even had writings from early church leaders.  Under persecution at various times during the first two centuries, many of these old manuscripts were confiscated and burned by certain heathen kings in an effort to eradicate Christianity. But, though many of their writings were destroyed, the beliefs were carried forward by those who survived the persecution.

Before Constantine came into power, the schisms in the church were already becoming evident between various Christian leaders. Upon taking office as Emperor, Constantine gave Christians and their leaders not only freedom to practice their beliefs, but endowed the clergy with authority, perks and privileges and, the ability to amass wealth. When the fight began between bishops and presbyters who disagreed on doctrine, it became necessary to enlist the aid of Constantine. What they did not realize is that Constantine had the ability to force submission to whatever decision he made. Under penalty of confiscation of property, loss of position as clergy, loss of their church and, banishment, these leaders really had no choice but to concede to whatever decision he made. Many went along with the decision because they had no choice. They were not willing to give up their power, prestige and money along with the perks and privileges afforded them as clergy.

The schisms were beginning to widen amongst believers.  Not all churches held to the same beliefs regarding who Jesus was. This difference of beliefs about Jesus sparked debates and contentions that became heated and embarrassing. Those that espoused the name of Christian were acting in the most hateful manner toward their brethren in Christ, using words as swords to wound and humiliate one another. The result of Constantine’s inquiry regarding the dispute was that he realized that the wound was too deep to be healed. “In every city,” writes one historian, “bishop was opposed to bishop, and the people contended with one another, like a swarm of gnats fighting in the air.” “Those,” writes another “were indeed melancholy times, well deserving of our tears. It was not then, as it had been in former ages, when the Church was attacked by strangers and enemies; now those who were natives of the same country, who dwelt under one roof, and sat down at one table, fought together with their tongues as if with spears.” The ridicule of the heathen was excited, the disputes of the Christians were rehearsed on the stage, and so much contempt was awakened for their Christian Emperor, that his statues were treated with indignity. (Backhouse)” It was at this point that Constantine realized that he had to act on the situation before it became a thorn in his side, as it did with the Donatists, and called for an assembly in Nicaea in July of 325 A.D.

“Many ecclesiastics seem to have resorted to the council in the hope of obtaining redress for private or party grievances, and on the day before, many petitions had been presented to the
Emperor with this object. These he now took, and caused them to be burnt before him, telling the memorialists that all their mutual accusations would be produced again at the last day, and be judged by the great Judge of all.

But neither this act nor his admonitory speech produced much effect on the excited spirits by whom he was surrounded. “As soon,” writes Eusebius, “as their tongues were loosed, some
began to accuse those who sat nearest to them, and others to defend themselves, and lay the blame on their adversaries.” “It was,” as the historian Socrates styles it, “a battle in the night, in which neither party appeared distinctly to understand the grounds on which they calumniated one another.” “Many questions were propounded on either side, and the disputes grew hot and turbulent; but the Emperor patiently attended to all their disagreements, praising some, pacifying others, reasoning impartially and arguing courteously, and delivering his own opinion in the Greek language, in which he was not unskilful. (Backhouse)”

“The Arian controversy brought to a focus the desire which had begun to manifest itself ever since the priestly element gained the ascendancy, namely, that of possessing a declaration of faith which should be binding on the universal Church. It had not then, it has scarcely even now, been discovered that this object, however desirable it may seem, is unattainable, and that the paths by which men attempt to reach it, must inevitably lead into lack of charity, intolerance and persecution. [What a profound statement here! In other words, any time man tries to put his doctrines and beliefs in writing for the populous to follow, it will inevitably lead to a lack of love, intolerance toward those who believe differently and, the persecution of the same.]  Various succinct forms of belief seem to have existed in some of the Churches from an early period. The most ancient which has come down to us is to be found in Irenaeus, A.D. 182-188. The writings of Tertullian also contain two or three forms, one of which nearly resembles the Apostles Creed in its more ancient shape, as it was used in the fourth century (Backhouse).”

The creed which was first presented to the council originated in one of the Eastern Churches, and was not exactly identical with any of the above-mentioned. It was brought forward by Eusebius of Caesarea, as “that which had been held from the first by the bishops of his church.” It was mostly couched in scripture language. Christ’s divinity was distinctly stated, but in such terms that, although according to their full import they stood in contradiction to the Arian tenets, they might be so construed as to be accepted by the dissentients. According to one authority the document was received with universal disapprobation, and immediately torn to pieces. [Give them proof of your position and they dig their heels in and dismiss facts for their own opinion of what something means.] According to others, the party of Bishop Alexander was satisfied with the articles, but declared that as the creed was capable of a double interpretation, it was necessary to add such other words or propositions, as should effectually exclude the “blasphemous doctrine of Arius.” [Based on the document given, who is to say what is blasphemous since it supports both views? It will come down to a matter of who has the most supporters of their opinion of what it means.] To this view, the Emperor, under the influence of Hosius and his associates, lent the weight of his authority; and the anti-Arian party, in defining the Divine nature of the Son of God, introduced the famous epithet, Homoousion (that is of the same being, substance or essence with the Father), a term which they are said to have chosen as being especially obnoxious to their opponents. Not satisfied with this, they added other antithetic clauses having in view the same object, namely, to put Arius and his adherents completely out of the orthodox pale; and they wound up with pronouncing the anathema of the Church on every one who should hold the heretical opinions. (Backhouse).  [Now, church leaders had the authority to punish those who believed differently however they wished and had the government backing them! Wow! This doesn’t sound like Christianity, this sounds like a fight for power and control over others. I do not see love, gentleness, meekness, kindness nor grace in this meeting or its outcome.]

“Thus ended the famous Council of Nicaea. Loving pens represent it as a venerable assembly, full of wisdom and heavenly grace, successfully disposing of the grave and difficult questions which agitated the Church. This is its picture as it should have been, rather than as it was. The rulers of the Church, who claimed to be the successors of the Apostles, had here an opportunity of showing to the world how men anointed with the Holy Spirit are able to handle and resolve the Lord’s business. . . But instead of the dignity, patience and charity, which ought to have been the very life-breath of such an assembly, strife and envy too often prevailed. . . Could any stronger proof of the declension of the Church in the fourth century be afforded, than the conduct of the bishops on this occasion? Could any spectacle be more humiliating than that this, the first Ecumenical Council, should be so agitated by interest and passion, so forgetful of the very primer of the Gospel, as to be indebted for lessons of forbearance, courtesy and charity to the half-heathen sovereign who presided over it (Backhouse)?”

What transpired out of this assembly of church leaders and laymen was a change to the Nicene Creed that gave the Emperor the ability to banish and persecute anyone that did not believe the doctrine of the Church now adopted. It also gave church leaders the ability to do the same! What power these bishops and presbyters now had!

What many do not realize is that those who fought the hardest and had the most influence over others, were the ones whose beliefs were selected as true. This council set the stage for future councils and, more changes in doctrine in order to stamp out all differing opinions on faith and practice. Basically, the doctrines and dogmas of the church system were being developed in such a way as to prevent other beliefs under penalty of death, confiscation of property, torture, banishment and/or excommunication.

The dispute that caused the schisms and animosity was over whether or not Jesus and God were one and the same (Arianism). Many of today’s clergy are the same as these early clerics. They force their doctrines down the throats of congregants under penalty of shaming, shunning and  public humiliation. Instead of allowing open questioning of doctrine, they suppress and silence such. Some church leaders even take to the internet and spew words that cut as swords to wound their opponents. They use word acrobatics and twist meaning in order to beat their opponents over the head, wounding them. They have left off love, gentleness, kindness and grace toward their opponents who believe differently; not realizing that God is bigger than someone’s belief, whether right or wrong. God doesn’t need religious police to force people into believing right. God is BIG enough to bring whatever he desires to pass in someone’s heart and life.

“The Church was supposed to have come out of the sea of storms into a smooth haven of repose and liberty. But this was only in name. The objects and the actors were changed, but the attempt to coerce men’s consciences still survived. Constantine was persuaded to promulgate a penal law against several communities of the dissenters, a measure by so much the more infamous than the edicts of Diocletian, as it was enacted professedly in the cause of Christ. The former coercive acts against the Donatists might possibly find an excuse in the appeal which had been made by that party to the arbitrament of the Emperor, or in the danger with which the public peace was threatened. The new measure could shelter itself under no such pleas; it was the first of its kind, and opened the way to a long succession of intolerant laws, enacted by self-styled Christian rulers, which has not even yet come to an end. (Backhouse)”

“What might have happened if the Nicene Creed had not been adopted no one can say. But let us not ignore the incalculable mischief of enforced uniformity, nor overlook the fact that the conclusion arrived at by the council was very far from settling the question at issue. “The manner in which the controversy was left,” observes Neander, “could only contain the seed of new disputes. Here was no cordial union, springing freely by a natural course of development out of inward conviction, but a forced and artificial conjunction of men, still widely separated by their different modes of thinking, in relation to a creed which had been imposed on them, and which was variously expounded according to the doctrinal proclivities of the various parties (Backhouse).”

Source: Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, Edward Backhouse, 1906

Constantine’s Corruptions that Changed Christianity Forever

ConstantineThe laws of Constantine, which were the outcome of the triumph of Christianity, mark the greatest era in the history of the world. Christianity was not a state religion at the time, and the persecution of Christians had already been going on sporadically throughout the empire.  But after Constantine defeated his brother-in-law, Licinius, who was his rival, Constantine “openly avowed himself the patron of the new religion (Backhouse).” However, he was not a member of the Church until his baptism just before he died. He identified himself with Christianity in order “to bring all nations to agree in one opinion concerning matters of religion and to restore the sick world to health (Backhouse).”

When “He discountenanced the heathen worship, exhorted his subjects to embrace the Gospel, and selected the members of the Church as the objects of his patronage,  thus began a church system that, to this day, exists throughout the world in every sect of human society. He elevated men to positions of honor, prestige and power that brought about the biggest corruptions the world has ever known. . . corruptions that, even today, exist, and, control the masses in individual religious institutions.

“But when Constantine began to distinguish the Christians from the rest of the community by State gifts and Imperial favours, and even set himself up as their head, he went beyond his province as a magistrate, and invaded the prerogative of Christ. Amongst his acts of this kind may be specified:

  • The endowment of churches with revenues derived from the confiscation of heathen temples, and from the common funds of the cities; [Later this mutated into confiscation of the property of Christians who refused to submit to the Church of Rome.]
  • the appropriation to the Church and clergy of a portion of the corn and other produce which was received in kind by the officers of the revenue, and also of the tribute exacted from conquered nations; [This mutated into forced tithes and offerings in today’s churches.]
  • the exemption of the clergy from all civil offices.
  • He even proposed to free the Church lands from taxation, but this law was afterwards repealed. [This mutated into tax exempt status for clergy.]

No less revolutionary, or less fruitful in results, were two other measures; by one of which litigants, instead of taking their suits to the civil courts, were permitted to carry them before the bishops, whose decisions were to be enforced by all governors and military officers; by the other (measure) the clergy were empowered to receive bequests and to hold lands, a gift which would scarcely have been exceeded if the Emperor had granted them two provinces of the Empire. It became thenceforth almost a sin to die without some bequest to pious uses; and before a century had elapsed the mass of property which had passed over to the Church was so enormous, that the prodigality of the devout had to be restrained by law. “The evil effects of this policy were such as might have been expected. Many rich men procured for themselves “ordination” as ecclesiastics, in order to enjoy the immunities and privileges attached to the clerical office. The Emperor became alarmed, and saw that measures must be taken to secure the interests of the State; he therefore prohibited all such as were by their property qualified to fill municipal and other public offices, from entering the priesthood, and (a new exercise of authority) deprived of their ecclesiastical rank all such as were in this way evading their civil duties (Backhouse).

The first interference by Constantine in the affairs of the church was in 313 A.D. However, this was not by force that this happened. It was by sheer coincidence that Constantine was pulled into the position by the Donatists who, “committed the great error of invoking Imperial aid.”

Before Constantine’s interference, a synod had already been held amongst bishops and presbyters in 305 A.D. What was realized during the debates was that “it became apparent that scarcely one present (church leaders) was entirely clean-handed.” The conclusion of this synod was that all of the dirty laundry of these leaders would be suppressed and forgotten! In other words, shoved under the rug. [Doesn’t this sound familiar?’]

“The “pious fraud” already mentioned as practised by Mensurius, Bishop of Carthage, in passing off some heretical writings in place of the Holy Scriptures, drew upon him the censure of some of the Puritans. [When the Christians were being persecuted, all scriptures were sought out and burned. Some bishops refused to give up their copies and turned over instead heretical writings to be burned instead. This is what Menssurius did and the Puritans used his decision against him to discredit him.]  But it was his prudent conduct in checking the inordinate reverence for martyrdom that brought out the ill-humour of the disaffected. He saw that there were too many would-be martyrs, whose characters would not bear scrutiny, — insolvent debtors, for example, fanatics and idlers who were fed by injudicious devotees; and with his archdeacon, Caecilian, he did his best to discountenance the mistaken reverence with which good Christians regarded these undeserving men (Backhouse).”

What Mensurius realized was that the would-be martyrs (leadership) were frauds! But, they had follow-ship and their follow-ship revered them as holy and righteous, when if fact, they were not. He saw what was being swept under the rug and did his best to expose the truth! In turn, these leaders did their best to discredit Mensurius. [This same thing is happening in today’s churches when church leadership is exposed. The victims of clergy abuse are attacked by the congregants and discredited if they speak out about the abuse.]

“During the lifetime of Mensurius the storm was brewing; it burst when Caecilian succeeded him, A.D. 311.” It was at this time that the bishops began their fight to remove Caecilian as bishop and thus began the schism that set the churches as naught. In consequence of this proceeding, the whole Church of North Africa was divided into two hostile camps, the supporters of Caecilian, and the adherents of Majorinus, or rather of Donatus, Bishop of Casae Nigrae. . . (Backhouse)”

This is when the appeal was made to Constantine for his help in deciding who should be bishop. This was the first instance in “which the Church asked aid of the State for the settlement of her internal affairs. It was a fatal precedent, the commencement of an unholy alliance by which the Church was a sore loser.”

“Constantine at first showed some displeasure, but soon accepted the position to which the schismatics invited him, and made him self judge between the contending parties. . . Swayed doubtless by his counsels, Constantine at length came to consider that the duty of settling disputes in the Church belonged to him, not only as Emperor, but as Pontifex Maximus.” (The Pontifex Maximus, or chief of the Pontiffs, was the highest sacerdotal functionary of ancient Rome. He was the supreme judge in all religious matters. When the Republic was merged in the Empire, the new rulers assumed to themselves this dignity, as they did the other high offices of State. Even the Christian Emperors for awhile retained the title.)” Thus began the control of the masses through religion, by the new Pontif! Thus began the corrupt system by which this Pontif controlled the empire. However, “Constantine had not counted the cost; and in constituting him self arbiter of the Christian differences, he did not find himself upon a bed of roses. The interminable quarrels amongst the bishops, and disputes as to heretical doctrine, gave him no rest during the remainder of his days (Backhouse).” [The same disputations about doctrine are STILL taking place today between various religious sects!]

Constantine, was irritated at the obstinacy of the bishops after confirming Caecilian. But, he did not stop there. “He proceeded to enforce his decision by the aid of the secular power. The losing party were proscribed as enemies to the State. Decrees were issued depriving them of their Churches, confiscating their ecclesiastical property, and exiling their bishops. They defied the authority of the Emperor, who sent an armed force under Ursacius, a Count of the Empire, to reduce them to submission. The “Catholic” party were only too ready to assist in this crusade. A sanguinary contest ensued; and now for the first time the world beheld the followers of the Prince of Peace engaged in slaughtering one another. The Imperial attempt at coercion stirred to its depth the fanaticism of this hot-blooded province. Bands of furious desperadoes, known under the name of Circumcelliones, who held their own lives cheap, and deemed no death too cruel for those who differed from them, swept over the country, carrying fire, torture, and slaughter wherever they came. Their war cry was Deo laudes (Praises to God), and because Christ had forbidden the use of the sword to Peter, they took for their weapon a huge and massive club, which they named The Israelite. The Catholics, according to their own admission, were not far behind them in violence; they appealed to the Old Testament to justify, by the examples of Moses, Phineas and Elijah, the Christian duty of slaying by thousands the renegades or unbelievers. It must be acknowledged that the first-fruits of the alliance between the Church and the State were bitter enough (Backhouse).”

“The political events of the reign of Constantine from the death of Maximinus Daza in 313 may here be briefly noticed. Licinius, after his defeat in 314, fell back upon Paganism, and became its champion. The struggle between himself and Constantine for the dominion of the world was renewed in 323, when Licinius was defeated in two great battles, and was shortly afterwards put to death by order of the conqueror. Constantine, thus become sole ruler, resolved to remove the seat of Empire to Byzantium, which he called after his own name, Constantinople. The new city was solemnly dedicated in 330 (Backhouse).”

Constantine’s laws gave clergy money, power and prestige. Later, they were given tax exempt status as well. Under Constantine, the face of Christianity changed dramatically. Using secular strength, Constantine was able to force his brand of “Christianity” onto the populous under penalty of death. When the church realized the great error they had made and the unprecedented persecutions that it invoked, it was too late. As a result of this un-holy alliance, millions lost their lives over the successive centuries if they did not submit to the control and wishes of the Pontifex Maximus. The Church of Rome’s administrative prowess and power was impossible to fight against. Thus:

The pagan church of Rome merged with Christianity to produce a “system” of worship that has mutated, birthed new corruptions, and proliferated. The fruit of the corruptions are still money, prestige and power for clergy and church leaders. However, one of the mutations that has reaped havoc the world over has been the twisting of scripture to relegate women to servitude to men. Thus, the sexual exploitation of women was rampant then and, is rampant throughout the world today. Not only this, the sexual exploitation of children ensued then, and is also rampant today as a result. Religious institutions have hidden their atrocities under the mantle of “righteousness” called the church just as bishops of the early centuries hid their sins under the same mantle. Millions have been duped into following un-holy men that are well hidden under a “cloak” called, pastor, priest, or some other religious title. It is time for this cloak to be removed and the truth to be revealed.

As a result of Constantine’s leadership, the church system turned into a “Beast,” and during a period of several hundred years, [We had the Crusades, the Reformation, the Inquisition; all of which entailed murder and mutilation of believers as well as the confiscation of property.] millions lost their lives as a result (the majority of which were women, by the way).  Today, clergy still have the same power, control and prestige. Base men rule over congregations earning lavish salaries off the backs of those within their congregations. Tax exempt status and perks and privileges of ecclesiastical positions are still an enticement for “less-than-desirables” to enter the ranks of church leadership.  Sex offenders and Pedophiles have made their homes within the system. Sex trafficking is rampant. The “Beast” that was then, still exists today but has become more subtil, more enticing, more educated in the ways it can manipulate and control and extract money. Scripture translations were corrupted and women lost their autonomy, equality, dignity and honor as a result.. Every area of religion that man has touched, he has corrupted. Millions have been affected. The victims are innumerable.

The clarion call was sounded ages ago and, it has not been heeded. Rev. 18:4: “Come forth out of her, My people, that ye may not partake with her sins, and that ye may not receive of her plagues (YLT). Judgment will begin at the house of God and soon, if God’s people do not wake up, sound the alarm, and purge what is hidden from their midst and, undo what has been corrupted.

Christianity before Constantine

church historyEarly church history is full of examples of Christianity that parallel today’s Christianity and its leaders. Sometimes there is no need to elaborate because the truth speaks for itself. The following excerpt by Eusebius in the latter second century speaks volumes of what complacency and prosperity does to Christians. This, sadly, is what we see today as well. Nothing has changed.

Eusebius has left a description of the Church on the eve of the persecution, by which it may be seen how ill-prepared were the professors of Christianity to withstand so tremendous a shock. After telling us that many places of trust, and even governments of Provinces, were in the hands of Christians, who enjoyed entire freedom of speech and action on the subject of their religion, and almost boasted of this liberty; and after dilating “the multitudes who in every city crowded together for worship, not in the old buildings, but in new and spacious churches,”  he confesses that “the unwonted ease and honour they had enjoyed had robbed them of faith and love.” “We envied and reviled one another: we assailed one another with words as if with actual darts and spears, which indeed we were almost ready to take up. Rulers inveighed against rulers, and people rose up against people; hypocrisy and dissimulation abounded. The divine judgment, which usually proceeds with a lenient hand, began by little and little to afflict us; but, as if destitute of all sensibility, we were not prompt to propitiate God, some even acting as though they thought He took no account of their conduct. Some who ought to have been our shepherds, abandoning the law of piety, were only anxious to acquire lordship over the rest.”

Handling Opposing Beliefs

oppositionOne of the most important lessons one can learn in life is how to handle a person with an opposing view or belief.  Church history is fraught with opposing belief systems and examples of how they were handled. Usually, they ended with one side castigating, shaming and shunning the opposition, or, the murder of the opponent.  Sadly, not much has changed today. When it comes to opposition of beliefs, there seems to be no room for logic or reasoning. Religious dogmas and doctrines aren’t open for logical and rational discussion. Even outside religion, people will not give those they disagree with the “benefit of the doubt” and reason with them respectfully and with grace. They do not know how to “agree to disagree.”  Instead, they attack in anger that eventually leads to name calling and vitriol, and, public slandering.  Why is that? One would think that with all the advancements in technology, the advent of the internet and, access to information, that people today would be better educated and better able to reason with others. Sadly, this is not the case across all religious denominations. No matter the culture, religious beliefs trump sound reasoning and logic and lead to war. What we see today is not only religious wars, but, we also see individuals pitted against each other! They take to the internet and use their words to defame and discredit and shame those who disagree. They have left off sound reasoning coupled with respect and grace and love toward those who disagree with them.  So, is there a way to handle an opposing belief without going to the place of anger and attack? Yes! Let’s look at an example from around 232 A.D. of how any and all opposition SHOULD be handled. I have, thus far, found no other example like this and was simply impressed by this man’s love and grace. When faced with the opportunity to attack this man, he extended nothing but good words about him. THAT is unheard of in today’s culture.

Dionysius was born about 200 A.D. He was one of two of the most brilliant pupils of Origen and became Bishop of Alexandria in due time. He lived during a time when Christians were being persecuted off and on. Not only this, but the bishops and presbyters were also fighting amongst themselves to gain pre-eminence and control within the Christian communities. Dionysius exemplifies true Christ-like conduct toward opposition. This is something that I have not witnessed with today’s Christianity yet. Nothing would thrill my soul more than to see this attitude extended to all. The root of this type of behavior is evidently LOVE toward his fellow man. Let’s look at this amazing example:

An Egyptian bishop, named Nepos, taught that a millennium of sensual indulgence on the earth was to be looked for. His error survived him, and Dionysius undertook to write a refutation of it. In his treatise, however, instead of denouncing its author, he speaks of him with reverence and affection. “Not only do I in many things agree with Nepos; I loved him, both for his faith and industry, his knowledge of the Scriptures, and his careful attention to psalmody by which many are still delighted. I reverence him also, because he is gone to his rest. But the truth is to be loved and honoured above all.”

Besides undertaking to answer in writing the erroneous opinions of Nepos, he held an oral disputation with Coracion, the chief leader in the heresy, and his adherents. In his conduct on this occasion he has left a remarkable example of the manner in which Christian disputants ought to behave towards one another. “When I was at Arsinoe,” he writes, “I called together the presbyters and teachers, with those of the brethren who desired to be present, and proposed we should examine the doctrine together. They entrenched themselves in Nepo’s book as in an impregnable fortress. I sat with them three whole days from morning till evening, endeavouring to refute his arguments. I was greatly pleased to observe the constancy, sincerity, teachableness and intelligence of the brethren, the moderation of the questions and doubts that were advanced, and the mutual concessions which were made. We studiously avoided insisting upon our own preconceived opinions, however correct they might appear to be. We did not attempt to evade objections, but endeavoured as far as possible to keep to the point. When reason required it, we were not ashamed to change our opinions, but received sincerely, and with a good conscience, opening our hearts towards God, whatever was established by the Holy Scriptures. In the end, Coracion, in the hearing of all the brethren, confessed himself convinced by the arguments advanced, and declared he would no longer promulgate the erroneous doctrine.”

What a testimony this is! No arguing and screaming. No imposition of dogmas and beliefs! Just respectful, logically sound reasoning ensued, allowing for Coracion to save face and retain his integrity!  Dionysius made sure that his opponent’s character, honor and integrity remained intact. He did not defame and slander. He did not publicly humiliate and castigate. If only people would love others THIS MUCH to do the same in areas of dispute! We certainly can apply this example to not just religious disputes, but all disputes. What a marvelous example God has left us of one of his children. Thousands of years later, Dionysius’s example still shines through with the light of Christ. My hope is that through his testimony, others will endeavor to emulate his behavior in handling those that disagree with us. Don’t take to being offended by opposition. Use it to show love and respect toward your fellow man. How you act in times of opposition speaks loudly of your TRUE Christian character. Let’s not give place to division and learn to genuinely love others enough to respect them and love them, even when we disagree with them.