The Family Tree of the Christianities

Posted: February 19, 2012 by Ty in Musings, Spirituality
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English: Cross

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Good Shepherd

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English: Labarum of Constantine I. English: Ve...

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Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Recently I read an article in Unity Magazine, that spoke a more accurate way to reflect on the story of Christianity, is not in the singular, but in the plural for we live within a world of Christianities.

We need to reflect on this, the only time we ever had a “unified” faith was when Jesus was actually walking the earth with his first followers, before Good Friday. Once he died, this seed of God sprung up a trunk that the resurrection then caused to bud…but it was not a continuous trunk, for branches emerged as was seen in the New Testament.  At least 13 apostles (named in the NT), but probably some strong women that were mentioned in the Gospels that worked for the money, and were there at the resurrection. So bear minimum post resurrection/ascenscion we are looking at 20 branches upon this family tree.

Then the 300’s role around and there’s a chap named Constantine. This chap was one of the minor warlords who entered into one of the seasonal civil wars that were apt to crop up more than periodically within the Roman Empire, because well heck they could do the Emperor‘s job better. It was during one of these campaigns when Constantine had a vision saying he would conquer under the banner of the cross (the beginning of militant Christianity, and pacifism-a core teaching of Christ, almost lost forever).

Once Constantine ascended the throne he began the process of using Christianity to tighten the grip on his subjects. How? Simple, by moving the Empire’s faith, from pantheistic and divisive, to monotheistic was a brillaint political and tactical move.

What did this mean to the Christian family? The first major pruning of the family tree.  A inside faith genocide, and nights of bloodshed and ostracization for those who did not sign on.

This led to a decision needing to be made, and scholars being forced to councils of ecunemical types called for them to craft creeds and a clear canon for the Bible.

Things went along less bumpy for a while, a “heresy” here or there popping up and an assasination here or there as the church became the empire, and then the empire fell, and the church still wanted to act like it was the empire.

1025 CE The Pope (of the West) and the Patriarch (of the East) have a soap opera level spat and excommunicated each other splitting the church.

Then there was this little thing called the black death that wiped out a 1/3 of the people on the known world. The clerics said it was punishment from God for the sin of the world, yet a 1/3 of the holy men died too…why would God punish them?

The Church built there new Empire by selling get out of hell free cards.

Theologians like Luther, Zwingli, & Calvin balked.

Princes and Earls and Kings noted they could finally seize full power.

A bloody reign of terror and wars unleashed as the bible moved from Latin to the language of the people.

As the Protestant church moved forward more splits would occur as some feel led by the Spirit or personal wealth. Rome has its own stumbles.

In the 1960’s Vatican Council II, the windows of the Roamn Catholic hurch are thrown open for the Spirit to blow through…and they have been trying to hunker it down every since.

The church balances on a precipice…

Conservative…Liberal…Liberation…Social Gospel…Orthodox…Baptist…Neo-Ortodox … Catholic. . . Pentescostal. . .  Missional . . . Anglican. . . Presbyterian. . . United. . . Unitarian. . .Universalist. . . Unity. . .Christian Science. . . Jehovah Witness. . . Mormon. . . Coptic. . . Moravian. . . Brethren. . . Lutheran. . . Emergent. . . Post-Christian. . .

New branches emerge daily… as others slowly burn away…  but wasn’t changed is the trunk…the birth, life, teachings, miracles, death, and new life of Jesus of Nazareth…the trunk is what matters in the gardening journey… yet we get stuck on what our branch believes.


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