Thursday, November 18, 2010
New Testament Christianity Stands in Stark Contrast with Both Christendom & Islam
The year was 312 a.d. Civil war raged across the Roman Empire. In a history changing conflict, Constantine defeated his enemies at the battle of Milvian Bridge, winning the crown of the western empire. Though “exposed” to Christianity as a child by his mother, Helena, he was a pagan for most of his life. By biblical standards his “conversion” remains to this day as suspect.
According to legend the day before the battle Constantine looked towards the sun and saw written above these words; in hoc signo vinces – “in this sign, win!” The legend says that the symbol he saw was what is now called the labarum. The labarum is a combination of the first two letters in the name of Christ in Greek, chi (X) and rho (P). Constantine, for whatever reason, had his soldiers paint the labarum on their shields they then carried into battle. Historically, of course, we know that Constantine prevailed in the next days conflict. His imagined vision changed history.
The following year, Constantine and his co-emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan which made the empire officially neutral religiously. Neither Christianity nor paganism was recognized as the state religion. Each person was free to worship whomever he/she wished. For the very first time, the empire no longer legally embraced paganism. These changes led to the return of confiscated Christian property and laid the foundation of what we now know as Christendom, the total union of church and state in full totalitarian mode. “Christianity” (i.e. Nicene Catholicism) became the state religion on 27 February 380 with the issue of the Edict of Thessalonica. Though Jesus Christ Himself clearly stated that “my kingdom is not of this world otherwise my servants would fight,” Christendom ushered in nothing but armed conflict, bloodshed and mayhem for over a thousand years. Wars sponsored by “Christian” nation states began with Charlemagne and lasted until Napoleon! Everywhere the labarum went, death and destruction followed. Slaughter in the name of the pope would take place from Europe to Asia Minor to Asia to the South China Seas to the Americas and back again before the power of the pope was finally neutralized during the Napoleonic Wars by the rise of Great Britain as the first modern age super power.
By the time of Pope Urban II in 1095 “Christendom” was solidified to the point of being a singular and monolithic church-state dictatorship. Rome possessed absolute power over the lives, fortunes and minds of the various European nation-states and their inhabitants. There was no middle class, only a few very wealthy land lords with the rest of the population held in virtual slavery. The economy was what we would best characterize today as fascist - church owned, taxed and controlled. Any opposition was quickly suppressed with extreme violence to the poor and the threat of excommunication by the pope to the rich. So called “canon law” reined supreme over local, state and national laws. Even kings and queens served at the pope’s pleasure. Anyone who opposed Rome either theologically or politically was immediately branded as a heretic bringing death, destruction and confiscation of property upon both themselves and their families. Urban decided that the time was ripe for murder, rape and pillage under the banner of the Constantinian labarum against the Islamic armies pouring in from the east. The bottom line: Christendom is NOT a religion per se, it is a military, political and economic weapon for power and domination of other peoples cloaked with a thin skin of religion.
Two hundred and thirty years after Edict of Thessalonica, a man in Arabia by the name of Muhammad, like Constantine, began to imagine visions from God. The year was 610. By the time of his death in 632, Muhammad had amassed a massive following and controlled all of the Arabian peninsula. Islam means “submission to Allah” and a Muslim is “one who submits or surrenders” to the teachings of Muhammad. It is very likely that Muhammad could neither read nor write for his “visions” were written down in the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, not by him but by his “companions” via memory after his relatively early death at age 62. A “companion” was someone who saw Muhammad while he still lived, believed his teachings and remained a Muslim until death. It is generally agreed that the number of “companions” that wrote the Qur’an number between 50 and 60 persons. Islamic theology is not based solely upon the Qur’an. Like the writings of the so-called “church fathers” in Christendom, the traditions of Islam are taught and supported by the Hadith. The Hadith was written long after the demise of Muhammad, some two hundred years plus in fact. The Hadith is the passed down generation to generation of the “companions” recollections of the thoughts, practices and interpretations of Muhammad. Should one study Islam by studying ONLY the Qur’an, one will miss much of what drives the Muslim to believe the way he or she does. Thirty or so years after the death of Muhammad a power struggle split Islam into two bitterly opposed denominations; the minority Shia and the majority Sunni’s. As Islam rose to battle Christendom, a pope like figure called the Caliph arose to exert total power and authority. The Caliph imposed strict observance of so-called Sharia Law, a medieval and barbarous set of ruthless laws that enslaved the masses just like the so-called Canon Law of Rome. The Caliph’s imposed a brutal dictatorship supported by war, piracy, extortion, plunder and the slave trade. Before retreating in the fifteenth century, Islam would threaten Rome from the French border in the west to eastern Austria in the east. In 1095, however, the two world powers were poised for a death struggle that would take four hundred years to come to an end. Not until the Islamic Moors were forced out of Spain in 1492 would the religious wars between Christendom and Islam begin to subside. The bottom line: Islam is NOT a religion per se, it is a military, political and economic weapon for power and domination of other peoples cloaked with a thin skin of religion.
It is the thesis of this paper that “Christendom” and “Islam” are two side of the same coin. They came to blows, not because of their differences but because of their similarities! It is also our thesis that New Testament Christianity stands in stark contrast to both “Christendom” and “Islam.” In fact biblical Christianity is 180 degrees opposite to both. The greatest challenge of our age is for New Testament Christians to reach out to both Roman Catholics and Muslims with the good news of the gospel, a message of peace, love, joy, faith, hope, forgiveness and salvation – a message NEVER shared by the Pope’s crusaders or the Caliph’s soldiers! They never shared it for they never had it to share.
The chart below validates our thesis – Christendom and Islam are IDENTICAL except for their theologies. Keep in mind however theology is but a thin skinned covering to mask the real thing in both cases. Underneath their two different theological skins, Christendom and Islam are twin brothers, as it were.
Mosque & State Are One Church & State Are One
Feast of Ramadan Feast of Christ-Mass
Hadith Tradition Patrisic Tradition
Sharia Law Canon Law
Execution for Internal Opposition Execution for Internal Opposition
Free Salvation for Dying in Battle Free Salvation for Dying in Battle
Holy City of Mecca Holy City of Rome
Ends Justify the Means Ends Justify the Means
No Salvation for Outsiders No Salvation for Outsiders
Submit or Die Convert or Die
At the end of the day, both Islam and Christendom gave up any and all pretense to being “people of the book” and paid any price for power, glory, wealth, domination and total destruction of their mortal enemies. What they once abhorred in their enemies they both embraced for themselves.
Political reality shows that Christendom is no more. Western nations no longer embrace faith in the God of Heaven and for the most part have become secular if not agnostic, even atheist. In fact, since the demise of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, western nations no longer act monolithically, they have fought each other in two world wars, neither of which had a single religious component. Most significantly, the pope no longer has any political and military sway. In that sense, Islam triumphed over Christendom. For some reason, though, the message of this defeat has yet to reach the Islamic world! To them, nothing has changed. Most importantly to this very hour in time, they see Christianity as “Christendom!” No notion could be more false.
New Testament Christianity is found in the heart not on the tip of the sword. New Testament Christianity has absolutely nothing in common with either Islam or Christendom! The Kingdom of God is one of spirit not of flesh. It is the Body of Christ not the bodies of slain enemies. The church of Christ is not a building, it is not a government, it is not an army, it is not a city or stronghold to be taken by force of arms and is not temporal. Her headquarters are not in Rome or Mecca but in Heaven above! The Christian loves his enemies, renders good for evil and prays for those who abuse him or her. Our warfare is not with Islam (or Christendom for that matter!) but with the “power of the prince of the air,” Satan and his wiles. Islam and Christendom persuaded men with violence and the sword, Christians persuade men by the proclamation of the gospel for “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Should men reject the message, so be it. No force, be it physical, be it psychological or be it otherwise will be employed by the Christian against any man or woman who turns away. Our example is Christ who, while being murdered, prayed for God’s forgiveness of those who were literally killing him. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!” was His plea. The Father answered that prayer 50 days later on the Day of Pentecost when those same murderers cried out, “Men and brethren, what must we do!?” Peter, along with the eleven, rose up and said; “Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit!” Christians, towards one another, “turn their swords into plowshares” and “learn the ways of war no more!”
For more information on the church of the New Testament, the singular and eternal church of Christ, go to: http://gospelcall.blogspot.com/2010/11/reasoning-together-introduction-to.html. May God bless all those, both the current adherents of both Christendom and Islam, as they turn to God through Jesus Christ, “THE way, THE truth and THE life” through whom all who would seek after God must come!