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Christ's Role, As He Might Have Meant It: a Discussion

Author: Crystal Kernan

It seems that organized religion has assumed the role of Christ in the
dispensation of Truth, be it relating to the church itself or in the very Word of
God. The Pope, when speaking in his official capacity, is considered to be the
mouthpiece of God." Many churches actually dissuade their congregations from the
exploration of scripture. Many churches frown on alternative, esoteric thought.
But wasn't Christ all these things? A student? A teacher? A mystic? Yes. He
was all these things, and much more.

Why should the Church's authoritative stance and forced positioning be troubling to
us as a global society? There are several reasons. First, Christ himself, if we
believe the "red words" in the Bible (those that purportedly were spoken by the Son
of God himself), was never too pleased with the goings on of an organized,
hierarchical regime/religion. (In his time "church" would have been the temple, or
orthodox Judaism.) An obvious example of this would be, of course, Jesus'
destruction of the temple, preceded by his discovery that the "holy men" and their
establishment were actually marketing and selling wares in the temple of God. If we
look at his angry explosion, we are safe to conclude a few things:

Christ did not approve of the selling of items within the temple (or church).

Christ did not approve of equating temple with market.

Christ did not approve of the temple deviating in any fashion from it's true intent,
that being to love God and to lead others to that love. Assuming it is safe to accept
the above, let's translate Christ's experience in the temple to the present day. What
do you think Christ would make of present day churches? (i.e., WWJD?)

If we were using the selling of wares as the only barometer, well, then Christ
would be displeased with just about every church in the West. Let's call the point
moot that the selling of goods is anti-scripture, be they t-shirts, cds or costly
"seminars," regardless of our personal feelings about same. But what was Christ
really communicating vis-à-vis his display in the temple?

If we look at the sayings of Christ closely, we see that he never really endorsed
organized religion as a vehicle. In fact, more times than not Christ upbraided the
church and its teachers, and many times its lazy membership. The only "vehicle" he
ever advocated as a pathway to God was, in fact, himself. "For I am the Way, the
Truth and the Life, no man comes unto the father but through me."

When Christ said that he was the way, was he truly saying that it was his way or
the highway? Or was he saying it more in an emblematic sense, such as, "follow my
example and you will see the Father"? It seems more in keeping with the general
spirit of Christ's teachings to assume he meant those words in an emblematic
capacity. Yes, Christ came as a sword, but he also came to unite the people, and
to point them in the direction of the loving Creator. How could he unite the
people by excluding 99.9% of them? That's what he'd be doing, wouldn't he, if he
only granted entrance (into paradise) to those who believed HIS WAY? What about the
Hindus? The Muslims? The Buddhists? What about all other cultures and manner of
thought? Is it really reasonable and in keeping with Christ's example that he'd
keep most of the global populous from eternal life, and this from the time of his
ministry down through all the ages?

Which leads us to the next question: what is "his way"? The church has ordered
throughout the years as well as vis-à-vis their various and sundry councils (see
The Aryan Controversy) precisely what that Way is, and has never hesitated to tell
us all how to proceed so as to adhere to the true path of Christ. There are and
have been the frequent interactions with the rosary, confessional booths,
exclusionary communion, penances and indulgences, to cite a few examples.

But does a church rich with a history of violence, political motivation and out-and-
out cruelty really possess intimate knowledge of one singular and ambiguously-
attainable roadway? And would Christ really have wanted us to rest our hopes of
salvation with the very institution and archetype he railed against daily, and for
most of his ministry? Some may say that the church(/temple) of Jesus' day was a
different sort of institution, and that the church as a whole has since progressed
and changed with the times. Yet is that truly the case? What progression has their
been, truly, besides the necessary socio-scientific changes the church had to make
in order to retain their followers? Let's not forget the Crusades, which occurred
hundreds of years after the death of Christ, in which thousands of earnest and
esoteric believers were tortured and destroyed because their views and practices did
not conform with the edicts of church and pope. Nor should we quickly dismiss the
Inquisition, where others were killed for the very same reason, only in a different
time and place. (And let's all remember that Galileo Galilei was imprisoned by the
pope, his friend at the time, because of Galileo's correct assertions concerning our
heliocentric galaxy, assertions which he was subsequently forced to revoke. Galileo
Galilei!) Further, what are we to make of this recent edict by the current pope that
the only true way to reach God is through the holy Catholic church? (All those
Baptists and Mormons and Methodists are good, absolutely, they're just not right.)
And what about the church's current position that only priests may receive salaries,
but not nuns (though the sisters are the primary fund raisers)---and that, in
addition, women should never be priests! (Thereby destroying a woman's opportunity
for paid service.)

Are these examples of any real progression?

True enough, the church continues to faithfully proclaim "the good parts" of the
gospel, that being love and charity and good will. But some of the other extraneous
rubbish included in typical church dogma and tradition is both inflammatory and
degrading, as well as wholly unrepresentative of the teachings of Christ. (See Saint
Augustine's Doctrine of Original Sin; The Doctrine of Mary the Ever-Virgin; and The
Immaculate Conception.)

Much of the discussion on organized religion is easily navigable and plain common
sense. Neither you nor I can pick and choose scripture to suit our cause, nor can
we discount the coherence of a thing (such as the style and/or general spirit of
Christ's presentation). You cannot say, Yes, Christ is forgiving of each and
everyone of us, he absolved the horrible sin of the prostitute Mary Magdalene and
dined with the scorned debt collectors...but still! He only accepts and welcomes
the chosen few who follow his specific rules as handed down by his church.

One part of that thought does not reconcile with the other, am I right? Therefore
there is incoherence and inconsistency (neither of which is identifiable with the
example of Christ), and as such, according to many academic and theological
scholars, one part of the thought must necessarily negate and dismiss the other.
They cannot both be right. Either Christ has accepted us all, and provided a way for
us all (and that way just may look different for each one), or he has hand-picked a
few "elect" individuals willing to "walk the walk" to dwell with him in heaven.

Put on your thinking cap. Which part of the sentence followed with Christ's style of
love and manner of acceptance? Therefore, which part necessarily becomes
inapplicable? Again, this is all common sense.

We receive our rules from the church. As to Christ himself, he did not concern
himself overmuch with the arbitrary dispersion of rules. (Though he taught daily
through his love and example, to be sure.) He said, fundamentally, that the
greatest commandment of all was to love the Father, and that the second greatest
commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. Everything before this statement
as well as everything following simply builds on this cornerstone idea.

How do we love the father? By seeking first his kingdom. By thoughtful and
consistent prayer. How do we love our neighbors? By feeding the hungry. By
clothing the poor. By loving our husbands, wives and children, as well as our
parents, our neighbors and our friends.

What I've provided are examples which find their genesis in the true principles of
Christ (that of love for God and others). These types of examples abound throughout
the New Testament, as well as the Old. These principles are the gospel. They are
plain and that simple. What's more, they are available and "do-able" for and by all
of us, therefore none of us are excluded, ever. All the other superfluous nonsense
that followed the life of Christ, inclusive of many of Saint Paul's writings and the
pages ad infinitum that flowed from the early church councils, are of little to no
consequence to our daily faith life. Much of these extraneous teachings do no more
than facilitate a type of behavior to which the church would have us conform.

Yet Christ's behavior was never conformist. He preached on the Sabbath, reviled the
priests of his day and was for all intents and purposes the Rebel's Rebel. So why
do we as a nation and global society feel the need to constantly conform to the
dogma and self-serving proclamations of the church? Here's why:

We've been beaten into submission via a terrible church history of violence and
bigotry. It's familiar. But are those reasons good enough?

The Church would have us follow their rules and regulations so that they can
maintain our membership and our tithes. No doubt for many within the
infrastructure of organized religion, such as the laity and helpers, the purpose
and intent of the efforts toward conversion are sincere. But as for the mechanism
of the church itself, it is antiquated and falsely conceived, and, in my opinion,
the antithesis of Christ's true sentiments and teachings.

Christ was not only the Son of God, he provided the manner (and/or emblem) by which
we could (and now can) commune in a complete and whole way with our Creator. It is
your choice whether to see "God" as an anthropomorphic archetype or an all knowing
cosmic energy, but in my estimation, neither is wrong. Once true communion with God
the Creator is achieved, you can name him any way you see fit. If your worship is
true and sincere, then it is like incense unto him, and acceptable. Let no
organization or keeper of a hallowed hall tell you differently. In God there is
liberation, and a type of faith life that is both liquid and rock solid---ever-
present, always secure, all-encompassing. In other words, it's all good.

So, is the Church good for anything? Perhaps by my tone you think I would say that
it is not. Wrong. The Church is good for much. A panacea can be as good as it is
bad. A lullabye is always sweet, and helps us secure rest and comfort. This means
much for many. But for a select few, there must be more, and when this is the case,
religion necessarily will always fail, with common sense and experiential truth the

As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.

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