The message of Christ to humanity must be distinguished from religious dogma
September 3, 2001
I refer to a letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] Lutchman Gossai captioned "Every religion has had historical episodes of violence" (28.8.200l).
After reading Gossai's letter, I recalled John Locke writing in an essay that "... artificial methods of reasoning (are) more adapted to catch and entangle the mind, than to instruct and inform the understanding".
I got the distinct impression that, in an effort to dispel the value of Christ's teachings to humanity, this gentleman, maybe unwittingly, employed "artificial methods of reasoning".
Christ's message to humanity was of forgiveness, brotherly and divine love, compassion and kindness. Those values have shaped the moral and ethical behaviour of contemporary humanity. Science has not contributed a moral or ethical code to human society. The international debates about cloning, euthanasia, genetic tampering, stem cell research, and so on, are a direct confrontation between ethicists/moralists, and scientists/researchers. The "gradual enlightenment of human understanding" grew from a conscience that science adopted. Where did the conscience come from? History has shown that this social conscience grew from Christ's teachings about love, kindness and compassion.
I do agree entirely with Gossai that "were we to adhere to religious thought we would still believe the earth to be flat".
How come my "christian thought" became his "religious thought"? I refuse to equate the message of Christ to humanity with anything religious.
I definitely believe religious dogma is, as Lenin put it, "the opium of the masses". I agree that religious dogma is bad for society. I agree that religious zeal and fanaticism are unhealthy social behaviour.
In fact, I believe the religion of organised Christianity is caught in a time warp of 2000 years ago, where the Bible is interpreted and upheld as dogma and indoctrinated as truth into congregational masses.
When the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine employed Christ's teachings as a political tool, a new religion was born because those teachings got injected with a significant dosage of eastern paganism.
This new religion was shrewdly called "Christianity". This religion was used to eventually initiate all sorts of social engineering methods into society.
This political strategy - to integrate the Roman followers of Christ into mainstream society - saved the Roman Empire from collapse under Constantine, by introducing new systems of accountability and government - all more humane to the masses. These gentler social behaviours all stemmed from Christ's teachings, which became submerged by the dogma and religious laws of church leaders. The strategy also served as a unifying force for the divided empire. A religion was born out of pure political expediency.
This religious tree that spread around the earth bore some terrible fruits, such as the Inquisition, the Copernicus episode, and all the others mentioned by Gossai. By the way, the Copernicus idea is just that - a theory. Like Galileo's, it could be knocked over one day in the future. Science is still based on a lot of theory. The structure of the atom itself is merely a theory - that has changed form rather drastically in recent times.
But although the religious tree called christianity came to bear some bad fruits for humanity as a powerful politico-religious movement, the seed that Christ brought to earth remains valuable and good.
Christ's message and ministry to humanity, is not even faintly related to anything like religious dogma.
Christ's message of brotherly love, kindness and compassion has been used to shape a better world; a world that is more caring, loving, kind and gentle than it would have been without Christ.
Christ never preached religious dogma. He preached the simple message of brotherly love and kindness.
It is this message that has changed countless individuals over the past two thousand years, a la Paul.
Paul was not changed by religious dogma, but by the very simplicity and truth of the message of Jesus Christ. This is what revolutionised his character.
The common observations of people who live not a religious life, but one faithful to the teachings of Christ, changed Paul. And these same common observations of people today who shed the religiosity of christianity and faithfully follow Christ's teachings continue to change individuals, as radically as Paul was changed.
For more on this theme, please read my upcoming novel "Nightmares of Knowledge", being published in Canada.
Shaun Michael Samaroo