The Way 2 Life
  Christianity is not a denominationalized belief-system.
 

 Allow me to tell a short synopses of Gautama Buddha

 to set the stage for some point that needs to be

 made here.

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

teaching."

 

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

Christians.

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

Christianity.

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

belief-system?

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

belief-system.

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

Latin heresy.

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

likewise believe.

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

Life!

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

belief-system.

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

religion.

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

Christ!

 
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