Guide New Identities: Pagan and Christian Narratives from the Roman Empire

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Read more. The Survival of the Pagan Gods. Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. Encyclopedia Of The Roman Empire. Crises and the Roman Empire Impact of Empire. The Fall of the Roman Empire. The Rise of the Roman Empire. The Religions of the Roman Empire. Ruling the Later Roman Empire. Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire. Apologetics In The Roman Empire. Travel and Geography in the Roman Empire. Money and Government in the Roman Empire. Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire. Roman Vampire Empire. Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative within Christianity against violence, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount , which taught nonviolence and love of enemies.

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Weaver says that Jesus' pacifism was "preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism ". Historically, prohibitions on fighting by monastics and clerics have often been discarded; the notion of military monasticism emerged in the 12th century, in large part because of the advocacy of St.

Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard - and, once the papacy gave sanction to the idea, the entire Catholic Church - believed that existing Christian methods of serving the Church's ends in war were inadequate, and that a group of dedicated warrior monks could achieve spiritual merit by waging war, rather than despite it. In this view, war against heretics justified means of waging war that fell outside the bounds of just war ; for example, the Teutonic Order , which received papal sanction, made frequent use of massacres and violence to compel conversion during the Baltic Crusades.

During the 19th century an interpretive model of the relationship between religion and science known today as the conflict theory developed, according to which interaction between religion and science almost inevitably leads to hostility and conflict. A popular example was the misconception that people from the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat , and that only science, freed from religious dogma, had shown that it was spherical.

This thesis was a popular historiographical approach during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but most contemporary historians of science now reject it. The notion of a war between science and religion remained common in the historiography of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The astronomer Carl Sagan , mentioned the dispute between the astronomical systems of Ptolemy who thought that the sun and planets revolved around the earth and Copernicus who thought the earth and planets revolved around the sun.

He states in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage that Ptolemy 's belief was "supported by the church through the Dark Ages… [It] effectively prevented the advance of astronomy for 1, years. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a notable critic of the ethics of Christianity. See Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche Christianity and morality.

The ethics of the Bible have been criticized with some calling it immoral in some of its teachings. Slavery , genocide , supersessionism , the death penalty , violence , patriarchy , sexual intolerance, colonialism , and the problem of evil and a good God, are examples of criticisms of ethics in the Bible. The ethics in the Bible have been criticized, such as the commands in the Old Testament by God to commit genocide , and to spare no one among enemy peoples.

However, a counter argument by Stephen Maitzen suggests that the ethical inconsistency in the bible that is not followed by most Christians or Jews today, such as the execution of homosexuals, blasphemers, disobedient children, or the punishment for mixing linen and cloth, ultimately undermines the skeptical theism argument.

Criticism has also been aimed at the core of Christian ethics, the threat of Hell. Some leftists and libertarians , including Christians who disavow the Religious Right , use the term Christian fascism or Christofascism to describe what some see as an emerging neoconservative proto-fascism or Evangelical nationalism and possible theocratic sentiment in the United States. It is a form of Christianity that is the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied. Conservative Christians are often accused of being intolerant by secular humanists and liberal Christians , claiming that they oppose science that seems to contradict scripture Creationism , use of birth control , abortion , research into embryonic stem cells , etc.

Gallup polling shows that within the US, trust in organized religion has declined since the s. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute , and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of to year-old Americans towards Christianity. There are three major viewpoints within modern Christianity over the role of women. They are known respectively as Christian feminism , Christian egalitarianism and complementarianism. Some Christians argue that the idea of God as a man is based less on gender but rather on the dominant Patriarchal society of the time in which men acted as leaders and caretakers of the Family.

Most mainline Christians claim that the doctrine of the Trinity implies that God should be called Father and not called Mother, in the same way that Jesus was a man and was not a woman. He has saved us through Christ and sanctified us in the Spirit.

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Brumley claims this is clearly more than a metaphor; the analogy with earthly fatherhood is obvious. Among Christians who hold to this idea, there is a distinct sense that Jesus' treatment of women should imply equality in leadership and marital roles every bit as strongly as the definite male gender of Jesus should imply a name of Father for God. Rather than as antifeminist, they characterize alternative naming as unnecessary and unsupported by the words found in the Bible. While this decision is not binding and would not prevent women from serving as pastors, the revision itself has been criticized by some from within the convention.

In the same document, the Southern Baptist Convention took a strong position of the subordinating view of woman in marriage: "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband. She has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not allow female clergy. The Chaldean Catholic Church on the other hand continues to maintain a large number of deaconesses serving alongside male deacons during mass. In some evangelical churches, it is forbidden for women to become pastors, deacons or church elders. Philosopher David Hume argued against the plausibility of miracles: []. Gregory Palamas, who postulated that Reason alone was not sufficient to understand God's energies activities such as miracles and essence, but faith was.

Miraculous healings through prayers, often involving the " laying on of hands ", have been reported.

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However, reliance on faith healing alone can indirectly contribute to serious harm and even death. Lewis , Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig have argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible. Celsus found it hard to reconcile Christian human God who was born and matured with his Jewish God who was supposed to be one and unchanging. He asked "if God wanted to reform humanity, why did he choose to descend and live on earth? How his brief presence in Jerusalem could benefit all the millions of people who lived elsewhere in the world or who had lived and died before his incarnation?

One classical response is Lewis's trilemma , a syllogism popularised by C. Lewis that intended to demonstrate the logical inconsistency of both holding Jesus of Nazareth to be a "great moral teacher" while also denying his divinity. The logical soundness of this trilemma has been widely questioned. Christianity has been criticized as seeking to persuade people into accepting its authority through simple fear of punishment or, conversely, through hope of reward after death, rather than through rational argumentation or empirical evidence. Critics regard the eternal punishment of those who fail to adopt Christian faith as morally objectionable, and consider it an abhorrent picture of the nature of the world.

On a similar theme objections are made against the perceived injustice of punishing a person for all eternity for a temporal crime. Some Christians agree see Annihilationism and Trinitarian Universalism. These beliefs have been considered especially repugnant [] when the claimed omnipotent God makes, or allows a person to come into existence, with a nature that desires that which God finds objectionable. In the Abrahamic religions, Hell has traditionally been regarded as a punishment for wrongdoing or sin in this life, as a manifestation of divine justice.

As in the problem of evil , some apologists argue that the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will. Although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies. This view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be.

Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce , saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done. Hell is not seen as strictly a matter of retributive justice even by the more traditionalist churches. For example, the Eastern Orthodox see it as a condition brought about by, and the natural consequence of, free rejection of God's love. Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell such as Marilyn McCord Adams claim that, even if Hell is seen as a choice rather than as punishment, it would be unreasonable for God to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as humans the awesome responsibility of their eternal destinies.

For instance, one should not always honor the choices of human beings, even when they are full adults, if, for instance, the choice is made while depressed or careless.

On Kvanvig's view, God will abandon no person until they have made a settled, final decision, under favorable circumstances, to reject God, but God will respect a choice made under the right circumstances. Once a person finally and competently chooses to reject God, out of respect for the person's autonomy, God allows them to be annihilated. Christian have sometimes been accused of idolatry, especially in regards in the iconoclastic controversy. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism is a necessity.

In the 5th century, St. Augustine concluded that infants who die without baptism were consigned to hell. The concept of limbo is not accepted by the Orthodox Church or by Protestants. The idea of atonement for sin is criticized by Richard Dawkins on the grounds that the image of God as requiring the suffering and death of Jesus to effect reconciliation with humankind is immoral.

The view is summarized by Dawkins: "if God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them? Who is God trying to impress? He goes on to say that the atonement was necessary because of our flawed human nature, which made it impossible for us to save ourselves, and that it expresses God's love for us by removing the sin that stands in the way of our reconciliation with God. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christian theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject.

Robert Green Ingersoll suggests that the concept of the atonement is simply an extension of the Mosaic tradition of blood sacrifice and "is the enemy of morality". Several verses in the New Testament contain Jesus ' predictions that the Second Coming would take place within a century following his death. This is seen as an essential failure in the teachings of Christ by many critics such as Bertrand Russell. However, Preterists argue that Jesus did not mean his second coming [Matt. Most Christian traditions teach belief in life after death as a central and indispensable tenet of their faith.

Critics argue that the Christian conception of the afterlife is inconsistent with that described in the Old Testament. George E.


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Mendenhall believes there is no concept of immortality or life after death in the Old Testament. There the dead have no experience of either joy or pain, perceiving no light, feeling no movement. Before Christianity began in the 1st century, the belief in an afterlife was already prevalent in Jewish thinking [] among the Pharisees [] [] and Essenes. Gaudium et spes claims that the example of Christians may be a contributory factor to atheism , writing, "…believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism.

To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion. Secular and religious critics have accused many Christians of being hypocritical. There was a great and violent controversy at one time among different Christian sects over a certain diphthong. One party said that the word Homo-ousion should be used in a prayer; the other wanted Homoi-ousion-this difference had reference to the divinity of Jesus.

Over this diphthong fierce war was raged and large numbers of people were slaughtered. I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time. Some have argued that Christianity is undermined by the inability of Christians to agree on matters of faith and church governance, and the tendency for the content of their faith to be determined by regional or political factors.

Schopenhauer sarcastically suggested:.

Christians respond that Ecumenism has helped bring together such communities, where in the past mistranslations of Christological Greek terms may have resulted in seemingly different views. Non-denominational Christianity represents another approach towards reducing the divisions within Christianity, although many Christian groups claiming to be non-denominational wind up with similar problems.

Individuals and groups throughout history have been persecuted by certain Christians and Christian groups based upon sex, sexual orientation, race, and religion even within the bounds of Christianity itself. Many of the persecutors attempted to justify their actions with particular scriptural interpretations. During Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages , important Christian theologians advocated religious persecution to varying degrees. Nowadays all significant Christian denominations embrace religious toleration , and "look back on centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension".

Early Christianity was a minority religion in the Roman Empire and the early Christians were themselves persecuted during that time. Already under the reign of Constantine I, Christian heretics had been persecuted; beginning in the late 4th century AD also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed. In the view of many historians, the Constantinian shift turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion.

After the decline of the Roman Empire , the further Christianization of Europe was to a large extent peaceful. In the late Middle Ages, the appearance of the Cathars and Bogomils in Europe laid the stage for the later witch-hunts. These probably gnostic -influenced sects were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church , and the Inquisition was established to counter them. In the case of the Cathars, the Albigensian Crusade violently suppressed them.

In the Baltic countries, pagans were killed, subjugated or forcibly baptized. From the start of Christian rule in Europe, Jews were increasingly discriminated against, at times rising to outright persecution. This sometimes took the form of events like the Rhineland massacres , and the Blood libel was often the source falsely claiming Jews ritually murdered Christian children.

Jews were also expelled from a number of countries, including from England and later Spain. In the latter case, if converted they could remain. However, as most did so only under duress, Judaism continued to be practiced in secret by many. As a result, the Spanish Inquisition was formed to root them out, along with the secret Muslims there. After the Protestant Reformation , the devastation caused by the partly religiously motivated wars Thirty Years' War , English Civil War , French Wars of Religion in Europe in the 17th century gave rise to the ideas of religious toleration , freedom of religion and religious pluralism.

Christians will sometimes point out that in their points of view, the wrongdoings of other Christians are not the fault of their religious scriptures but of those who have wrongly interpreted it. They posit that the mistakes of Christians do not refute the validity of their teachings, but merely proves their weakness and sinful nature, of which they then turn to Christ.

Thus, according to them, the "Word of God" can still be true and valid without it having been accurately followed. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There's supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit 2 Cor , 1 Cor The disconnect between our biblical beliefs and our practice is just, I think, heart-rending.


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  • Similar arguments are held by Roman Catholics against critics of the Catholic Church, or by other Christians defending their respective Churches. Such examples can be seen in Dante 's Divine Comedy , where Roman Catholic Clergy who had practiced simony find themselves in the lower circles of hell. Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party Platform promoted Positive Christianity —which mixed ideas of racial purity and Nazi ideology with elements of Christianity and removed "Jewish" elements.

    Nazism aimed to transform the subjective consciousness of the German people—their attitudes, values and mentalities—into a single-minded, obedient "national community". The Nazis believed they would therefore have to replace class, religious and regional allegiances.

    The plan failed, and was resisted by the Confessing Church. Persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany followed the Nazi takeover. Hitler moved quickly to eliminate political catholicism. Amid harassment of the Church, the Reich concordat treaty with the Vatican was signed in , and promised to respect Church autonomy. Hitler routinely disregarded the Concordat, closing all Catholic institutions whose functions were not strictly religious.

    Clergy, nuns, and lay leaders were targeted, with thousands of arrests over the ensuing years. Hitler was supportive of Christianity in public, yet hostile to it in private. Anti-clericalists like Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann saw the conflict with the Churches as a priority concern, and anti-church and anti-clerical sentiments were strong among grassroots party activists.

    According to biographer Alan Bullock, Hitler retained some regard for the organisational power of Catholicism but held private contempt for its central teachings, which he said, if taken to their conclusion, "would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda , used his position to widely publicise trials of clergy and nuns in his propaganda campaigns, showing the cases in the worst possible light.

    In , soon after his election to the Reichstag, Goebbels wrote in his diary that National Socialism was a "religion" that needed a genius to uproot "outmoded religious practices" and put new ones in their place: "One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans.

    My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel. There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".

    The Deception of Constantine

    Hitler's chosen deputy and private secretary, Martin Bormann , was a rigid guardian of National Socialist orthodoxy and saw Christianity and Nazism as "incompatible" mainly because of its Jewish origins , [] [] as did the official Nazi philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg. According to Bullock , Hitler considered the Protestant clergy to be "insignificant" and "submissive" and lacking in a religion to be taken seriously. His bid to create a unified Reich Church ultimately failed, and Hitler became disinterested in supporting the so-called " German Christians " Nazi aligned movement.

    Hitler initially lent support to Ludwig Muller , a Nazi and former naval chaplain, to serve as Reich Bishop, but his heretical views against Paul the Apostle and the Semitic origins of Christ and the Bible see Positive Christianity quickly alienated sections of the Protestant church. Christian persecution complex is the notion that Christian values and Christians are being oppressed by social groups and governments.

    Others like professor Candida Moss and lecturer Paul Cavill point out that this mentality of being persecuted roots back to the earliest times. Ram Mohan Roy criticized Christian doctrines, and asserted that how "unreasonable" and "self-contradictory" they are. Vivekananda regarded Christianity as "collection of little bits of Indian thought.

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    Ours is the religion of which Buddhism with all its greatness is a rebel child, and of which Christianity is a very patchy imitation. Philosopher Dayanand Saraswati , regarded Christianity as "barbarous religion, and a 'false religion' religion believed only by fools and by the people in a state of barbarism," [] he included that Bible contains many stories and precepts that are immoral, praising cruelty, deceit and encouraging sin. This influential report on controversial missionary activities in India recommended that suitable controls on conversions brought about through illegal means should be implemented.

    Panikkar 's work "Asia and Western Dominance" was published and was one of the first post-Independence Indian critiques of Christian missions. It argued that the attempt to convert Asia has definitely failed, and that this failure was due to the missionaries' claim of a monopoly of truth which was alien to the Asian mind; their association with imperialism and the attitude of moral and racial superiority of the Christian West.

    The Indian writer and philosopher Ram Swarup was "most responsible for reviving and re-popularizing" the Hindu critique of Christian missionary practices in the s. Indian philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan , wrote:. When Europe accepted the Christian religion, in spite of its own broad humanism, it accepted the fierce intolerance which is the natural result of belief in 'the truth once for all delivered to the saints.

    Shlomo ben Aderet criticized Christianity, adding that it has lesser form of monotheism, and lacks a unified deity compared to Judaism. He also highlighted the "failure of christianity to convert the Jewish people to the new message" as "precisely the reason for the strong anti-jewish trend in christianity. Professor Moshe Halbertal , regards Christianity to be "idolatrous religion" and he further adds that the idolatry by Christians "opened the door to the easing of many other restrictive prohibitions.

    Stephen Samuel Wise in his own words was critical towards the Christian community for their failure to rescue Jews from Europe during Nazi rule. He wrote that:. A Christian world that will permit millions of Jews to be slain without moving heaven by prayer and earth in every human way to save its Jews has lost its capacity for moral and spiritual survival. They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. Muslim scholars have criticized Christianity, usually for its Trinity concept.

    They argue that this doctrine is an invention, distortion of the idea about God, and presentation of the idea that there are three gods. Some have argued that Christianity is not founded on a historical Jesus, but rather on a mythical creation. Scholars and historians such as James H. Charlesworth caution against using parallels with life-death-rebirth gods in the widespread mystery religions prevalent in the Hellenistic culture to conclude that Jesus is a purely legendary figure. Charlesworth argues that "it would be foolish to continue to foster the illusion that the Gospels are merely fictional stories like the legends of Hercules and Asclepius.

    The theologies in the New Testament are grounded on interpretations of real historical events…" []. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Criticism of the doctrines and practices of Christianity. Jesus Christ. Jesus in Christianity Virgin birth Crucifixion Resurrection appearances. Bible Foundations. History Tradition. Denominations Groups. Related topics. By religion. By religious figure. By text. Religious violence.

    See also: Criticism of the Bible. See also: Biblical criticism. See also: Textual criticism. See also: Unfulfilled Christian religious predictions. See also: Almah , Virgin birth of Jesus , and Isaiah Main article: Christian views on the Old Covenant. See also: Cafeteria Christianity. See also: Bible errata , Bible translations , and English translations of the Bible.

    Main article: Christianity and colonialism. Main article: Christianity and slavery. See also: Women in Christianity and Women in the Bible. Main article: Christianity and violence. See also: Relationship between religion and science. The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. March Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Ethics in the Bible. Main article: Christianity and politics. See also: Christian left , Christian right , and Religion and politics.

    Further information: Miracle , Faith healing , and Exorcism. Main article: Incarnation Christianity. See also: Problem of Hell and Hell in Christianity. Main article: Second Coming. See also: Anti-Christian sentiment. Main articles: Sectarianism and Christian denomination.

    Main articles: Christian debate on persecution and toleration and Christianity and violence. Main articles: Anti-clericalism and Religion in Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler failed in establishing a unified Protestant Reich Church and suppressed the dissenting church umbrella, i. Joseph Goebbels , as the Reich Minister of Propaganda , worked to implement Kirchenkampf church struggle , limiting the power of independent churches. He wrote that there was "an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".

    See also: Christianity and Judaism. I, Washington D. Critique of Pure Reason , pp. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Web: 8 Apr Retrieved 2 August The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. New York: Oxford U. International Society of Christian Apologetics. PDF download. Retrieved 31 July Whose Word Is It? Continuum International Publishing Group. Aland and B. Ingersoll 's article Inspiration Of Bible. A Clear and Present Word. New Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove: Apollos.

    Geisler; William E. Systematic Theology. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. Internet Infidels. Retrieved Bellinger; William Reuben Farmer, eds. Trinity Press. Did Jesus of Nazareth live and die without the teaching about the righteous Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53 having exerted any significant influence on his ministry? Is it probable that this text exerted no significant influence upon Jesus' understanding of the plan of God to save the nations that the prophet Isaiah sets forth?

    Understanding the Bible 6 ed. McGraw-Hill College. Archived from the original on Translator W. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Thomas Nelson. Archived from the original PDF on Page, Penny M. Sonnenburg Colonialism: an international, social, cultural, and political encyclopedia, Volume 1. Of all religions, Christianity has been most associated with colonialism because several of its forms Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions of the European powers engaged in colonial enterprise on a global scale.