Christianity is about love, not authoritarianism

Christian practice is drastically declining in the Western world, largely due to the impact of science on Western consciousness. The conflict between the two disciplines has reached the stage where popular science writers such as Richard Dawkins argue that science can and should replace religion.

Their arguments are based primarily on criticism of what they perceive to be the irrationality of religion and the rationality and practical accomplishments of science.

Contemporary public discourse is now increasingly influenced by scientism, a view that, due to its reliance on experimentation and empirical evidence, science is the highest form of knowledge and perhaps even the only valid. Atheist scientists also criticize what they call irrational violence and wars between and within religions.

Dr. Niamh Middleton is an author and former lecturer in theology and philosophy at DCU

Religious intolerance of course operates both within and between religious groups. Too often, religious dogma is used as a weapon to attack and marginalize those who are considered non-conformists within religious communities.

As a theologian and author of a recent book focusing on Christology, I am frequently challenged by atheists who claim that there is no evidence for the miracles described in the Gospel texts or for the divinity of Jesus.

The scientific mindset now tends to define the Gospel accounts as forms of mythology. As a result, the theological disagreements that caused church schisms were reduced to an insignificant level.

The only non-negotiable doctrine is the divinity of Jesus which is the definitive doctrine of all mainstream Christian denominations.

Interestingly and ironically, the science of evolution has expanded our knowledge of human nature in ways that can emphasize the divinity of Jesus.

Social justice

Evolutionary biologists have explained how religion and politics have evolved in tandem to support male patriarchal power structures and also how religion has historically been used as a force of social control.

An important distinction must therefore be made between religion as a phenomenon and the defining characteristics of individual religions when under the control of their founders. Christianity was unique under the control of Jesus, who was the ultimate example of social justice for all.

Regarding the relationship between religion and violence, Jesus, who clearly had the potential to be the political messiah that the Jews expected him to take up arms and free them from the Roman Empire, refused to do it. As a result, he left himself vulnerable to execution by an unholy alliance of church and state.

Jesus refused to abide by the many petty and overly burdensome rules of the religious establishment of his day

When it comes to religious dogmas and norms that are used as weapons to attack and marginalize those considered “other” within religious communities, the ministry of Jesus has also been notable in challenging these aspects of religion. evolved.

Jesus himself refused to abide by the many petty and overly burdensome rules of the religious establishment of his time and took enormous social risks in defending those who were considered sinners and outsiders.

Legalism vs Love

For Jesus, the worst religious leaders are those who favor legalism over love. The early church community strongly reflected the teachings of its founder through St. Paul’s appreciation of them. The above trends began to emerge however when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The Creed, a seminal book on the Nicene Creed by Franciscan priest and leading theologian Berard L Marthaler, contrasts the early Pauline church with modern-day Christianity. He explains how the “one” Church confessed in the third article of the creed implies both unity and diversity.

This is exemplified by St. Paul’s use of the metaphor of a body and its members to emphasize how his church community is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds and endowed with diverse gifts.

Church unity should be unity of love, not unity of dogma

Their unity and harmony are realized in their confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and as their Saviour. Marthaler then refers to the modern church’s reliance on authority to maintain unity as well as its equation of unity with uniformity and adherence to church rules.

As Jesus himself said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. The unity of his church should be a unity of love, not a unity of dogma. Another of Jesus’ most famous statements is “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Those who follow Jesus’ path of love will therefore gain a knowledge of how to behave that transcends them and frees them from formal moral systems.

A decrease in authoritarianism and an increase in love will not only increase unity within denominations, but will also facilitate the restoration of unity among all Christians. A unified church of love would not only be truly Catholic, but would also provide powerful proof of the divinity of Jesus.

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