Tag Archives: Christianity

Why Catholicism is NOT Christianity

Christianity
krɪstɪˈanɪti/
noun
  1. the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, or its beliefs and practices.

If we look at the life of the figure called “Jesus Christ” as he is documented almost exclusively in the canon of the Bible, we can clearly see that Catholicism is a far cry from the life and teachings the man.  The evidence for my claims is largely “non-evidence”, meaning the Catholic church preaches things that are quite simply not in the Bible.  They may mention Jesus, the Holy Spirit or “God” (presumably Yahweh) in their incantations and ceremonies, but that’s about the extent of it.  Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Sainthood is not a thing.

In Catholicism there are strict guidelines to what makes a person a “Saint”.  According to orthodox canonization, you must go through several steps and meet several qualifications in order to attain sainthood.  What does the Bible say about being a saint?  Nothing.  Here is a list of all the verses in the King James Version of the Bible that even mention the word: Bible Verses About Saints.  We clearly see that the word “saint” was used exclusively by Paul and John to address Christians.  We are very clearly all saints if we are children of God or Christians or whatever you want to call a follower of the teachings and life of Jesus Christ.

Mary isn’t special.

This is a no-brainer.  You can read the story in Luke 11.  Basically someone was like, “blessed is the Mother of the Son of God!” to which the actual Son of God replied, “no way, man!  Blessed be the one who listens to what I say and practises what I preach!”.  As if that isn’t enough evidence, in Matthew 12 Jesus was teaching somewhere and someone came up to him and was like, “yo Jesus, your mother and brothers are here to see you.  Don’t you want to see them?” to which He replied, “no man, these people, my disciples, are my mother and my brothers and my sisters.  Anyone who follows me is my family.”

So when the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts Mary on such a high pedestal (and many people in a half-shell on their front lawn), it just raises red flags for me.  It very clearly goes against what Jesus Christ taught!

You shouldn’t pray to St. Anthony when you lost your keys.

Yes, you understood me correctly.  Catholics pray to a demi-god saint for help with lost items.  There’s even an official prayer that goes along with it.  If this doesn’t scream “remnants of ancient polytheistic religion re-packaged for a modern era”, then I don’t know what does.  Oh, and Jesus actually had a lot so say about prayer:

Matthew 6:5-8 – you shouldn’t pray long, illustrious prayers in public just so people can hear you, but, rather, you should pray to your father in private.  Some of his disciples were confused on what prayer actually should be, so he gave them kind of a template in the well-known Lord’s Prayer.  “Our father…”.  It mentions nothing about praying to saints or squirrels or Mary or Joseph.  Actually, it only says to pray to the father (some forms of Christianity practise praying to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but that’s not entirely Biblical, although one could argue that the Trinity is three parts and one at the same time, but that’s another story for another day).

The church is the collective term of Christ-followers, NOT an international political organisation.

The first time Jesus used the word “church” is when he declares that Peter has been divinely inspired to acknowledge that Jesus is the messiah and the Son of God, and therefore has an all-access pass to the Kingdom of Heaven and on “this” will he build his church.  It’s a bit unclear if He meant that his church would be built on this exact spot, or in the person of Peter, or maybe it was just a metaphor.  I mean, Christ used the word “synagogue” very often, and chose here to use the word “church” (actually, you’d have to look to the Aramaic he spoke to find truly what he said, but we won’t go there in this blog post).

The second (and last) time Jesus mentioned “the church”, he was giving some instructions on how to deal with sinners.  It was pretty clear: if someone sins, go to them and tell them so that they may confess and be forgiven.  If they don’t repent after a while, bring it up with “the church” so that he might be embarrassed into repenting (PS why do very few churches practise this these days?)

There’s nothing wrong in organisation and having some structure to facilitate the assembly of many like-minded individuals, but to claim your interpretation of sacred texts are the ONLY correct ones and you’re not allowed into heaven unless you follow them is plain crazy.  It almost sounds like a government in many ways: “if you don’t pay taxes and adhere to our laws, you get deported or you go to jail or we even kill you”.

Of course Paul took some time in the wake of Jesus’s alleged resurrection to write to a few groups of Christ-followers and encourage them to keep the faith, and to discuss how best to practise being a Christian.  Many modern Christians put Paul’s words right up there with Jesus’s, which might not be the absolute best thing in the world to do, as they are not Christ’s words, but, rather inspired by Christ. In any event, there is nothing that Paul said ever about reciting prayers in unison or waving smoke around or silly hand-motions.  Honestly, the firt time I attended a Catholic “mass”, I thought I had been transported to some ancient cult ritual.  Everyone is standing, sitting, kneeling in unison, then chanting some shit with question/response phrasing then doing gang-signs and eating cookies and drinking wine then they just leave.  It is really very weird.  It is so much different than the Christian church services I attended where we heard someone speak about what Christ said and how we can apply it to our modern lives.  Sure the singing thing exists in Christianity as well, but I won’t address that in this post.  But if anyone can show me where in the Bible any Christian performed an actual ritual, I’ll give them five denarii.

Conclusions

So, I hope you now agree with me that Catholicism is just paganism with a face-lift after some emperor decided Zeus was outdated and Jesus was the hip, new thing.  If not, leave a comment or write your own blog post.  For the record, though, even Christianity isn’t all that special if you really think about it.

Confessions of a Former Christian

So, I read this article: Gay Couples in Church: A Third Option? and started writing a reply in the comments, but it ended up turning into something else.  It’s worth the read – especially if you’re a self-professed Christian.  Enjoy!

I grew up in a conservative, Pentecostal mega church, and then in college attended a more lax “being a Christian is between you and God, and the church body is here to help you on your journey through relationships.” I have since rejected the idea of God’s plan laid out in the Bible to be 100% absolute truth and am no longer a self-proclaimed “Christian”.  I think this issue re-assures me that I made the right decision.  People these days are trying to decide what is right or wrong based on an English (or whatever language you speak) translation of an old-German translation of a Latin translation of what was decided at the Council of Nicea to be “the inspired Word of God” based on holy Jewish texts and collections of early Christian letters and diaries. The chance for error or something important to have been omitted or mis-translated is rather large.  So, I think the real question you should be asking yourself is “do I want to live my life to the letter of the NIV/KJV/whatever translation Bible, or do I want to allow the Spirit of God to speak directly to me through the Bible, friends, intuition and experience?”

At the Pentecostal mega-church it was pretty simple: do not lay with a man or animal as one does with a woman – don’t eat too much unclean food – don’t have sex when on your period – don’t rape – don’t kill – don’t covet – etc. etc.

Now…. It’s pretty hard to do all these things, which is why God allowed the Jews to make animal sacrifices for the atonement of sins.  Later, he sent his son to Earth to be the ultimate sacrifice – we would no longer have to sacrifice animals when we sin, but rather remember that Jesus was sacrificed for our sins: past, present and future.  So… technically…. we can just sin all the time and Jesus takes the fall, right?  Well, that’s where the New Testament comes into play.  Paul was the main author of the New Testament, and in his letters he urged the early church to not use Christ’s sacrifice as a “get out of jail free card” (his words, not mine), but rather strive to be the best we can and know that God’s grace through Jesus’s sacrifice is there for when we mess up.

That being said, let’s look at a few sins.  You murdered someone?  Shame on you.  Jesus died for that.  Repent and don’t do it again.  You did it again?  Repent again and don’t do it a third time.  You coveted your neighbour’s donkey?  Shame on you.  But Jesus died for that so repent and don’t do it again.  You had homosexual sex?  Shame on you.  But Jesus died for that so repent and do it again.  What’s that?  You WANT to do it again and again and again?  You can’t help it?  Oh! Maybe you have a demon or a stronghold that can be exorcised.  No?  Well then, what shall we do?

This is where logically following the current translation of the Bible to the letter falls apart.  What do we do if we disagree with one of the laws of the Old Testament, like the fact that we can’t do any work on the Sabbath?  Can we keep doing it and keep asking for forgiveness?  Well, maybe the laws set up are more just guidelines for a healthy life.  Taking a day off is good for ones mental, physical and spiritual health, so why not make it a law that everyone has to take at least one day off a week?  OK.  Don’t eat too much fatty food or shellfish?  Also healthy.  Don’t have gay sex?  Well, it certainly won’t make any babies, so if I want kids, I should have straight sex.  OK, that sounds reasonable. But if I want to eat fatty foods because it makes me feel good or work this weekend so I can get some extra cash for my upcoming vacation or I just really like having sex with the same gender and the planet isn’t really in danger of under-population, then I don’t have to follow the suggestion, right?.

This is basically where the idea of being a Christian broke down for me.  If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and I don’t agree with it and I change it in some places to fit my needs, then what is stopping me from changing the basic tenants of Christianity?  What are the basic tenants of modern Christianity?  Do I really need to confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead?  I know it says that, but I could also say that Paul wrote it as a suggestion to the Romans so they could keep their faith alive.  Maybe I don’t have to even go to church or meet with other Christians to keep my faith alive – I know Paul said we shouldn’t “forsake the gathering”, but again, they didn’t have internet back then and now I can just read a bunch of articles and it’s all good.  Right?

I know my views would seem black and white – either full Christian or no Christian – but what is the real purpose of being a Christian?  Is it just to get into heaven?  If so, I’d suggest following the Bible to the letter as best as you can.  Eternity in hell is unfathomably terrible and quite literally the worst thing ever.  What’s 60 years of half-way enjoying yourself compared to an ETERNITY in constant torture?

But what if being a Christian is about being the kind of person God made you to be?  Redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to help you on your quest for the perfect life?

But what if these are all just metaphors?  What if every religion, self-help group and cult had all these factors in common?  We are born unable to even fathom reality, eternity, or even morality.  We slowly learn as we grow older, and at a certain age we take responsibility for our own actions.  We quickly learn that in order to cope in this social world we need to be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect and kindness and take care of ourselves and our loved ones and even the poor and helpless.  We learn that just doing good things means nothing unless we really want to do them (at least to us – the recipient of our good will usually won’t complain if we did it grudgingly).  Then we start to think about what this life truly is.  Does there exist other dimensions or a life before/after death?  Philosophers, religious leaders and even tyrants wanting to exploit the human race for their own gains have thought about these questions and written down sometimes elaborate stories to explain possible answers to these questions.  Let’s first take a look at Christianity.

God, the Father: created the whole universe, set up the laws of nature, time, life and death.  We can’t really see him, and technically we cannot even feel him or talk to him.  We have always needed a mediator to do so.  This was a priest back in the Old Testament, and it is now the Holy Spirit.

Christ, the Son: came to Earth to show us first-hand what this life is all about.  He is the example that the ancients believed would come to prove the existence of the Father and to show us how to truly live.  He, too, was 100% human, so he needed the Holy Spirit to communicate with the Father.  But he is also a part of the Trinity, so he technically is the Holy Spirit as well.

The Holy Ghost: is basically the same spirit that created all things and was in Jesus and is now in us.  He tells us what to do and what not to do – he is at one with everything – he exists outside of time – he exists simultaneously within all of us (at least those who let him in).

OK, sounds great.  Let’s look at some rudimentary new-age thoughts.  Reality (or existence) exists because it just does – it has always existed and will always exist, even when nothing exists to experience the existence.  Existence can also take infinite forms.  This could be “God” – Yahweh – “I am”.

Well then, what is Jesus?  You know how as an infant you cannot come to grips with reality, which is why you can’t remember anything?  Well, this is life before Christ.  Then Christ comes (the realization of the basic nature of reality, the laws of nature, our place in it, etc.) and we suddenly know that an apple is an apple and up is up and right is right and wrong is subjective and nothing is absolute (or is it?)

The Holy Spirit – the same one that was in Jesus and IS Jesus and IS God – is now in us.  This relates to the fact that we now have a mind and intuition and the ability to experience this life and to try to make our way in it and be the best we can.  Our intuition, mind, experience helps guide us.  “Don’t touch hot things!”  “Exercise to have a health body!”  “Don’t be mean to others and they most likely won’t be mean to me!”  Because this intuition/Holy-Spirit is also God and Jesus – that means our mind is one with our body, and those are both one with the universe/reality.  It may sound like a stretch, but read it again with an open mind.  There are DEFINITELY parallels.

I could move on to other cultures – religions where there were one or many gods who sent visitors to the earth to show us how to live, and those cultures worshiped both the gods and the messengers.  Some today might even say these are aliens who came to give us teach us about the nature of reality and the universe, or may have even created us.

What started out as my two cents about gay marriage turned into my confession and argument for why I no longer believe what I used to.  If you got this far, then you found this either super interesting or you just skipped to the end.  Well, I hope you enjoyed it and it made you think about your own life.  Feel free to discuss, but before you do, know this:  I, too, learned about “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”  I’m not trying to argue anything here, I’m just telling my experience and the thoughts that brought me there.  I could also tell you about the experience I had on LSD and MDMA where everyone’s head turned into balloons and floated away, and you could try to convince me that it never happened and was just all “in my head” – but I experienced it.  Sorry, experiential reality is another topic for another time…