Is Christianity unique?
February 20, 2011 by Bill
Question: Is Christianity unique among the world’s religions? My answer: YES, it is. And NO it is not. YES, it is unique in that no other religion in the history of our human species has been so fragmented, splintered, indefinable as Christianism. (I use “ism” because Christianism is only one other “ism,” with Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism and so forth.)
No phrase, or cliché, is more absurd, ludicrous and nonsensical than “a Bible Christian.” I would illustrate this point in my class at the University of Puget Sound by doing the following: I would invite representatives from ten different “Christian” groups to speak to my class about their beliefs. This was always the last 10 class periods of the semester. Each group had the entire hour. The students could ask anything they wanted. They had only one rule: to remain courteous. I would start with a Christian Science practitioner (who was always the best prepared). The next class would be with a group of Jehovah Witnesses, who always came in threes; then, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Pentecostals, a Greek Orthodox, Unitarians, a Roman Catholic priest, a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Unity minister, and a Presbyterian/Methodist. The students soon realized that what they were hearing was 20 totally different religions, all quoting from the Bible to affirm and justify their positions. And all claiming to be “real” Christians.
Protestantism alone has disintegrated into more than 400 different denominations, all quoting from their idol, the Bible, to “prove” or validate their positions. And in addition to the over 400 Protestant denominations are the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, as well as others. There is also in Christianism the pathetic and comical spectacle of many of these denominations telling other organizations such as Unitarians, Unity, Christian Science, Mormons and others that they are “not really Christians at all…not true and Seal-of-Approval Christians.” Added to this comic scenario is the practice of some Protestant denominations that refuse to allow any of the other 400 Christian groups to enter their church and share communion (the Lord’s Supper) with them. Catholics and Protestants have been killing each other off as fast as they could in the blood bath that was Ireland. How well Thomas Jefferson said it: “Christian creeds, doctrines and dogmas, the clergies’ own fatal and lethal inventions, will someday make of Christendom a slaughter house, dividing it into castes, with intolerable hatred one for the other.”
YES, of all the 150,000 years of the world’s religious traditions, Christianism is unique, in that through the superstitious worship of an archaic idol called the Bible, it has become the most fragmented and indefinable religion in the history of the human species. That giant philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, said it well: “The dogmas of the Christian Church have become the greatest disaster of human history.”
And my next response to the question: NO, Christianism is not unique in any historical sense due to the following fact: Almost every theme and every mythological motif in the New Testament was borrowed, stolen, or plagiarized from other religious traditions of the East that were hundreds, even thousands of years older than Christianism. As the comparative mythology scholar Joseph Campbell put it, “There are mythological themes, or motifs, that have been universal. They are found everywhere, such as virgin births, a god being buried in a tomb, and rising again. These themes became a part of the mythological Christ formulas attached to Jesus by the early church.” From Religions in Four Dimensions by Walter Kaufman of Princeton University: “Christianity is saturated with Zoroastrianism.” (Zoroaster, by the way, lived 800 years before Jesus was born.) “Where did Christian ideas about hell, Satan, angels, paradise and heaven come from: In one word – from Zoroaster. The way the New Testament authors put the ‘truth’ into the mouth of Jesus is entirely Zoroastrian.”
You might remember this formula: myth, acted out in ritual, equals religion. Myth + Ritual = Religion. Every ritual practiced today in the churches of Christianism had origins in primal religions hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born. Example: ritualistic cannibalism, or the “sacred meal,” has been a common theme in world religions. The communicant eats and drinks, either literally or symbolically, the flesh and the blood of the divine “leader.” Derivatives and vestiges of these are obviously found today in the Protestant and Catholic communion. The roots and origins of every other ritual being practiced in the Christianism of the modern day could be equally illustrated, if space allowed. Nothing in Christianism is unique except the chaotic disintegration into hundreds of conflicting and contradictory cults.