Allow me to tell a short synopses of Gautama Buddha
to set the stage for some point that needs to be
Gautama Buddha lived some four hundred years prior
to the birth of Jesus Christ. He was dying. Some of his
devotees came to Buddha and asked how they should
perpetuate his memory. "How should we share with the
world the remembrance of you? How shall we memorialize
you?" Buddha responded, "Don't bother! It is not me that
matters, it is my teaching that should be propagated and
adhered to throughout the world."
Does that seem self-effacing – a noble ideal to avoid
ego-centricity? "Don't focus on me, just remember my
If Jesus Christ had said something like that, it would
certainly legitimize what we see all around us in so-called
"Christian religion" today. "Christian religion" has become
the propagation of various understandings of Jesus'
teaching as determined by various interpretations of the
Bible. From what we observe in "Christian religion" today,
it would appear that most who call themselves "Christians"
must think that Jesus advocated the same thing that Buddha
is alleged to have uttered.
Jesus Christ did not say anything like that! In fact, what
Buddha said is contrary to everything Jesus taught, and
everything recorded in the New Testament Scriptures. Jesus
did not say, "Just remember My teaching." Jesus said, "I
AM the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) "I AM the
resurrection and the life." (John 11:25). Jesus Himself, the
very Person and Life of Jesus Christ, is the essence of
everything He came to bring to this world.
Christianity is not just another religion propagating an
ideology. Christianity is not just another religion
remembering the teaching of its founder. Christianity is not
just another religion reiterating the propositional tenets of
its founder's teaching, and calling such "truth."
Christianity is not just another religion demanding conformity
to a particular "belief-system" or data-base of doctrine.
The essence of Christianity is Jesus Christ. All of
Christianity is inherent in Jesus, His Person and His
continuing activity. Christianity functions only by the
dynamic of the risen and living Lord Jesus. Christianity is
the function of the Spirit of Christ as He continues to live in
It is a sad state of affairs in what is passed off as
"Christian religion" today. There is almost total failure to
discern that the essence of Christianity is Jesus Christ
Himself. The essence of Christianity is not a standardized
belief-system. The essence of Christianity is not a
consensus of doctrine. The essence of Christianity is not
commonality of creeds. Jesus Christ is the essence of
Where did "Christian religion" go off track into
thinking that consenting to, confessing and conforming to
doctrinal data was what Christianity was all about? When
did this "Christian religion" develop the idea that
Christianity is the acceptance of a correct and orthodox
Christians today seem to be abysmally ignorant of
church history. A quick review of church history will assist
in answering the questions just asked:
Jesus did not come to bring new information about
God, about salvation, about love, about eternal life. Christ
came to be Life to all mankind. He came as God, as
salvation, as love. He came to restore mankind to what God
intended in creation, and that by functioning as God in
man, the spiritual dynamic of life.
The redemptive mission to make His life available took
place, historically, in a world that was dominated by Jewish
and Greek thinking. The Jews wanted to put everything into
the context of an organized religion with rules and
regulations. The Greeks were influenced by Plato and
Aristotle with their abstract philosophical mind-set of
metaphysics and logical patterns of thought.
So despite the clarity of Jesus' teaching, and the clear
and simple record of the gospel dynamic of the life of Jesus
Christ in the writings of Scripture by Paul, Peter, John, etc.,
these soon began to be interpreted in the contexts of
religion and logical compartmentalization of human
thought. The so-called "church fathers" of the first few
centuries of Christianity had already reduced Christianity
into moralistic and ethical religious rules and into
creedalistic concepts of correct content of thought. They so
quickly let go of the dynamic life of Jesus Christ as the
essence of Christianity, and allowed it to become merely a
The Roman Emperor, Constantine, solidified this static
concept of Christianity even more in the early part of the
fourth century. Constantine wanted to unify everything –
government, economics, religion, "Christian thought", etc.
He organized the Nicene Council in 325 A.D., bringing
together these philosophically-based thinkers, theologians,
to develop a rigid expression of "Christian belief." They
compressed "Christian thought" into logical propositions of
truth and orthodoxy and called it the "Nicene Creed," to
which everyone who was called "Christian" was to give
mental assent, or be regarded as a heretic.
By 325 A.D. Christianity had been perverted into a
formulated and fixated belief system, demanding devotion
to its doctrine. This process was progressively developed in
the institutionalized Roman or Latin Church. This
refers to a epistemologically based rationalism as "the
Augustine lived and wrote in the century following the
Nicene Council. His Augustinian theology, on which
Calvin later based much of his theology, was extremely
rationalistic, full of logical determinism with such ideas as
strict divine predestination. Another writer referred to
Augustinian theology as "sweet poison;" "sweet" because
it emphasized the sovereignty of God; "poison" because it
was a system of logical and theological determinism.
The Roman empire disintegrated in about 500 A.D. The
seven hundred year period from 200 B.C. to 500 A.D. is
known as the "Classical Period" of Greek and Roman
thought patterns. The following five hundred years, 500
A.D. to 1000 A.D. are known as the Dark Ages or Middle
Ages. All thinking was related back statically to the
Classical Period. No new thinking was encouraged or
allowed – Dark Ages indeed!
Another writer appeared as the Renaissance Period
was picking up steam, but his theology just
placed "Christian thought" in a tight scholastic stronghold
of the Roman Church. The Church was regarded as the
mediator of God's thought. "Believe as the Pope and the
Church advocates, or face the consequences!" Many did!
During the Renaissance Period the thinking of
"Christian religion" just followed along like a lap-dog to
the philosophers and scientists of that day (as it has
throughout most of its history.) Another writer introduced
Cartesian doubt, "I think, therefore I am." Rationalistic
belief was the foremost criteria for being. Sir Isaac Newton
developed ideas of deterministic causalism, and these were
adapted into theology also.
In the sixteenth century the Reformation exploded with
Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and others. It
is called the "Reformation" because it re-formed the
religious structures that existed in "Christian religion" at
that time. But the birth of Protestantism did not restore the
centrality of the spiritual dynamic of Jesus Christ.
"Christian religion" was still regarded as essentially a
"belief-system," but instead of a singular formulated and
fixated belief-system in the Roman Church, it became
multiple factious and fractious belief-systems competing
with one another and beating on one another (both verbally
and physically.) Disagreeing on every minute point of
theology conceivable, they began to divide and sub-divide
into denominationalized belief-system organizations, each
believing that they had formulated and fixated their belief
system in accord with God's thinking. There were
Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists and many others, all
claiming to have the orthodox belief-system; all claiming
to have figured-out what God, the "Great Theologue,"
believes and supposedly demands that all His adherents
Obviously there was not any recovery of the dynamic
understanding of Christianity in the Protestant
Reformation. Another writer concludes, "The Reformation
was neither revival nor restoration. The Reformation
was an intellectual brawl."
In the next century, in 1611 A.D., King James of
England authorized what became known as the Authorized
Version, better known as the King James Version, of an
English translation of the Bible. The "Christian religion" of
that day was still engaged in competing belief-systems.
King James had translators to translate the Bible into
English. The translators were given room and board and no
salary for their service. The word for "teaching" in the English
language of King James' time was "doctrine." The King James
Version refers to the word "doctrine" 51 different times.
The words in King James version NT greek “doctrine”
translates to the Greek word didache and didaskalia
(Strong’s 1322), and is consistently translated "teaching".
In the Old Testament Hebrew translation the word “doctrine”
translates “Leqach”, (Strongs H3948),when referring to the
prophecy of God.
The King James Version has been revised many times over
time and vastly improved to be very accurate and true to the
original tongue's used in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic from the
original text inspired by the Holy Spirit. The New King James
translation came along without the old English text phrases
for easier reading, with the same accuracy and faithfulness to
the original text carried over from the King James Version.
Languages evolve, and the meanings of words change.
So it is with the word "doctrine." Strong’s concordance is
a handy tool which cross references to the Hebrew and Greek
root words originally used.
Looking at a contemporary English dictionary you will discover
That although "doctrine" used to mean "teaching" or "instruction,
" that definition is now regarded as "archaic" Or "obsolete."
What does the word "doctrine" mean in contemporary English?
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary reads: "Doctrine – a principle
accepted by a body of believers or adherents to a philosophy
or school; principles of knowledge or a system of belief."
"Doctrinaire –dictatorial or dogmatic." "Indoctrinate – to imbue
with a partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view or principle."
Synonyms used for "indoctrinate" include "propagandize,
program, brainwash, infect, instill, inculcate, etc." Is it any
wonder that newer English translations tend to avoid the
word "doctrine"? The New American Standard Bible, for
example, uses the word "doctrine" only fourteen times, and
even those are probably a carry-over of the traditionalism
of ecclesiastical terminology. The Greek words, "didache"
and "didaskalia", should be consistently translated
"teaching," except when reference is being made to
"man made doctrines" (Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:22; etc.)
In contemporary English language "doctrine" has come
to mean "a traditional belief-system as interpreted and
accepted by a particular group of people." "Doctrinaire"
means "to dogmatically assert a traditional belief-system as
interpreted and accepted by a particular group of people."
"Indoctrinate" implies "to propagandize or brainwash
others with this traditional belief-system as interpreted and
accepted by a particular group of people."
Such a definition was most certainly not what the
hearers intended when they listened to Jesus and "were
astonished at His doctrine" (Luke 4:32 - KJV). They were
not "astonished at His traditional belief-system," rather they
were "amazed at His teaching" (NASB)(NKJV). The teaching
of Jesus was the extending, the offering, the demonstration
of Himself – His Life. His teaching was Life-teaching. The
etymological root for the Greek word "teaching" had to do
with "extending the hand" or "offering oneself." To
demonstrate what is being taught; that is the way to teach
The fundamentalism and evangelicalism that
predominate in popular "Christian religion" in America
today tend to key in on "doctrine" as belief-system. That
may be the reason they often prefer to retain the King
James Version, and interpret the use of the word "doctrine"
in a contemporary English language meaning throughout
the New Testament as their particular brand of
formulated and fixated belief-system. These religious
doctrinarians continue to indoctrinate others and perpetuate
the factious and fractious denominationalism of differing
belief-systems. Americans, with their fierce individualism
and concepts of personal freedom, have elevated
denominationalism to an all-time high, a real "religious
science", with thousands of religious denominations,
divided by disputed doctrinal belief-systems. Those
involved in "Christian religion" today still think that
Christianity is essentially consent to a particular doctrinal
This is, in fact, the definition of "fundamentalism," a
grouping of people who has rigidly determined the
"fundamentals" of their acceptable doctrinal belief-system.
"Fundamentalism" is a word much used today. The
newspapers and news reports are full of references to
"Muslim fundamentalists" in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt,
etc.; "Hindu fundamentalists" in Sri Lanka; "Christian
fundamentalists" barging at and bombing abortion clinics in
the United States. Have you ever noticed that
fundamentalists always fight? Why is that? They feel they
have an obligation to defend the particular way they have
stacked all of their doctrinal blocks in their belief-system.
The fundamentalist – "Christian religion" in general –
has allowed doctrine, their belief-system, to become the
supreme issue. "Doctrine" becomes their basis of
fellowship, acceptance, security, bonding, etc. It is a tragic
misrepresentation of the Church when the basis of our
commonality is calculated by doctrinal agreement, rather
than the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ; when uniformity of
doctrine is the primary issue instead of unity in Christ.
How sad when much of what is called "Christian preaching"
Is but tirades against so-called "heretics" who do not stack
The doctrinal fundamentals of their belief-system just
like we do!
Doctrine has been deified in "Christian religion" today.
Doctrine has become their "god." It is a gross form of
idolatry when one's properly-aligned stack of doctrinal
ideas is elevated and revered to the extent that it must be
defended at all costs, even to the point of terrorism, even to
the point of dying for it.
God alone is absolute and immutable. His attributes are
exclusive to Himself. What God is, only God is. To
attribute God's attributes to our doctrine and determine
that our doctrine is absolute and unchangeable is to deify
doctrine, and to engage in the absolutism that is
indicative of fundamentalistic religion around the world.
Those who have succeeded in defining
doctrine most closely, have lost Christ most completely.
Doctrines, belief-systems, will always be the focus of
religion, but not of Christianity. Christianity is Christ!
Jesus' teaching was about Himself. He is the essence of
Christian teaching, contrary to what Buddha said about his
In Christianity, TRUTH is a Person, Jesus Christ.
"Truth" is not just propositional truth statements within a
belief-system of doctrinal theology by which orthodoxy is
rationalistically determined. Jesus Christ is Truth ! Jesus
Christ is our Life ! He is so exclusively; there is no other
Way ! John 14:6 - "I AM the way, the truth and the life."
"I AM the resurrection and the life". John 11:25
Christianity is not a belief-system. Christianity is