by Morley Evans
Why are people who think they are Christians so far off the bag from what Jesus taught? Christians have been hearing the message more-or-less unchanged every Sunday for almost 2,000 years. Here's a clue: The Christians were fairly confused for about 300 years after Jesus was crucified. The people running the Jewish religion booted the Christians out of the Synagogues. The Romans began to scapegoat the Christians and feed them to lions. Christians were doing strange things themselves — like flagellation and castrating themselves. I'm not making this up. Then one day, Constantine, a Roman general, was on his way to fight a battle to decide if he would become the next emperor. Looking up, the story goes, he saw a cross on the sun and these words in the sky, "By this sign, you will conquer." (I was always told not to look at the sun.) So Constantine had his legionnaires paint crosses on their shields. They defeated their opponents who may have been wondering, "What the ding dong is this?" and Constantine became the Emperor for life. I'm not making this up. Constantine was so happy about becoming emperor, he made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. The Romans were not very fussy about anybody's religion. People could do whatever they wanted. The Romans only got upset with people who challenged the State. The Christians, however, were extremely concerned about what religion people practiced. They made sure they would never lose the power they now enjoyed. They decided which Books of the Bible were in the canon and which books were out. They created exactly what Jesus condemned — an established hierarchical church. Constantine founded Constantinople on the site of the ancient Greek city, Byzantium. The Emperor was the head of the Christian Church. The headquarters of the Orthodox Christian Church is still in Constantinople — which has been called Istanbul since the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslims, took over in 1453.
This was a rocky start for Christianity, I'm sure you will agree. I won't relate the travails of Christianity for the next 1,700 years, but rest assured Christianity travelled a blood soaked road. Christians mostly killed other Christians or converted Saxons and Vikings by the sword. Christians burned recalcitrant heathens at the stake. They boiled them in oil. They gouged out their eyes. By contrast, Muslims have always been pretty darned good Christians — as are the Dalai Lama and Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss and the Neturei Karta today.
St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa were excellent Christians. I agree with Mohandas Gandhi who said, "Christianity is a wonderful religion. We should have some of it."