Have you ever wondered why there are probably over a hundred thousand different, even opposing Christian religious groups, all claiming to base their beliefs on the Gospel of Christ? How can one book generate so much difference in interpretation?
In the Philippines alone, there are more than a thousand different Christian sects who do not agree on a single interpretation of the Gospel of Christ.
Even among members of the monolithic Catholic Church, there are differences in exactly how the words of Christ should be interpreted.
Why is this so? Maybe one reason is that the Gospels can be interpreted literally, metaphorically, historically, and even emotionally.
Even among Christ’s followers from the very early beginnings of the Christian faith, there were already many differences in interpretation that the Vatican found it necessary to define once and for all what every Christian should believe in to be a full-fledged member of the Church.
In the year 325, Emperor Constantine called a council at Nicea to lay down the Church’s fundamental beliefs which became known as the Nicene Creed. It later declared the Pope to be infallible when he spoke about faith and morals.
That, of course, stifled all dissent and contrary opinions for a certain period of time, until a Catholic monk named Martin Luther protested and questioned such a doctrine.
Later, more contrary views began to be aired. Now, the whole Christendom is rocked with many interpretations of what Christ really taught that no one can no longer impose one’s interpretation or belief on another.
But Christ himself has said so many times that there are different meanings to his words, depending on who hears them. The disciples, he said, are given the secrets to the Kingdom of God, but for the multitude “who have eyes but cannot see and have ears but cannot hear,” he spoke in parables.
The Russian mathematician and mystic P.D. Ouspensky, in his long discourse on Christianity and the New Testament (from the book “A New Model of the Universe”), pointed out: “The four gospels are written for the few, for the very few, for the pupils of the esoteric schools. However, intelligent and educated in the ordinary sense a man may be, he will not understand the gospels without special indications and without special esoteric knowledge.”
Ouspensky pointed out that from the very beginning, Church Christianity differed from the very teachings of Christ, and even in some ways contradicted them.
“Later,” he said, “the divergence became still wider. It is by no means a new idea that Christ, if born on earth later, not only could not be the head of the Christian Church, but probably would not be able to even belong to it, and in the most brilliant periods of the might and power of the Church would most certainly have been declared a heretic and burned at the stake.”
During the darkest history of the Christian Church, whole cultures and civilizations were mercilessly destroyed in the name of Christ.
Those whose beliefs or practices differed from the officially accepted Church beliefs were arrested, tortured and burned at the stakes by the Holy Inquisition.
Today, those who differed from the teachings are no longer burned at the stakes; their reputations are merely destroyed and they are declared as heretics.
But it must be pointed out very clearly that the word “heretical” does not mean it is wrong or false. It only means it does not conform to the officially accepted beliefs.
For example, Galileo’s belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun was not wrong, but it was against the official Church doctrine at the time and was, therefore, declared to be heretical.
The official Church teaching then was that the Earth was the center of the universe and the Sun revolved around the Earth.
So, the Inquisition had Galileo arrested and forced him to retract his heretical statement lest he be burned at the stake.
The Gospels tell us in no certain terms (Matthew 13:10-13) that there existed hidden and several meanings of Christ’s words. He himself has repeated this fact several times.
No matter how many times he told them that “only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear” can understand what he is talking about, they still couldn’t get it. Neither could the modern Christian Church. But maybe this is how it is supposed to be.
Ouspensky pointed out, “Every phrase, every word (in the Gospels) contains hidden ideas, and it is only when one begins to bring these hidden ideas to light, that the power of this book and its influence on people, which has lasted from two thousand years, becomes clear.”
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