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Understanding Scriptures

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 Blooming Stars

Growth of Religions

             The major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) base their theologies on their scriptures or sacred books. All the early Christians come from the Jewish religion. Christ had a Jewish background. The Jews must have been furious that Christ used the despised, denigrated, no-good outcastes such as the Good Samaritan, the Syrophoenician woman, the Centurian, the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s well as models of humanity and paragons of faith, neighborliness, brotherhood/sisterhood in his parables and stories to teach and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom. While Christ makes references to the Jewish Scriptures, the only time he is reported to have used Jewish Scriptures is to announce his mission before the Galilean ministry/preaching by reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (Chapter 61: 1-2) in the synagogue as reported in Luke (Chapter 4: 15-22).

            Chist in many ways repudiated the Jewish religion of the time, thoroughly rotten within while looking attractive outside, a religion at that time characterized by blatant hypocrisy, show, and pomp, a religion preoccupied by the letter of the law rather than the spirit, a religion immersed in empty rites and rituals. Frequently the leaders and lawyers of the religion tried to seemingly benignly engage him in controversial topics with the intention of tripping him or discrediting him. One might ask: Is the present Christian religion any different from the Jewish religion of the time in which Jesus was born. If Christ were to come to the world today, would he recognize the Christian Church comprising all the Christian denominations as preaching his good news? I am not here to indict any religion, but I in the Glorious Liberty of God’s children dare to make my heart-felt observation. I am not seeing any other religion doing any better than the Christian religion either. But I am consoled by eminent Jewish persons of Christ’s time such as the bold Gamaliel, a model for all at all times, or timid Nathaniel or Joseph of Arimathea. Of course the one fervent Jew born as Soul of Tarsus who became Paul was instrumental more than anyone else in spreading Christianity. I must also mention in passing that there are eminent Christians doing God’s work whether they are officially recognized and applauded or not.

            I cannot understand that a story in the Jewish Scripture related to the fall of Adam and Eve, should seal the fate of humanity for all time drowning humanity itself in the sea of original sin. Is this what God really wanted for humanity? I seriously doubt. We definitely need a radical new theology. This theology inherited from the Old Testament and further evolved as Christian shamelessly arrested the scientist Galileo and pressured him to recant his finding that the earth is round under the threat of death. Galileo saved his head and stayed under house arrest until his death by saying that the earth is flat even though he knew it to be round. This theology produced or defended the divine right of kings, the all- time humiliating slavery, the apartheid made illegal only recently, racial superiority. This theology paved the way to killing countless innocent scholars and theologians branding them as heretics or schismatics. This theology also hunted mentally sick persons and burnt them as witches or persons possessed by demons. This theology was bed-fellows with colonialism and endless wars.

            This theology debated not long ago whether the blacks (now African-Americans) had souls. This theology also was supervised by some of the most corrupt and immoral leaders at the helm of the church. Needless to say that in spite of this theology there were countless holy men and women who stand out as luminaries and hope of humanity. In my mind this theology stands out as indicted. It needs thorough revision not just cosmetic face-lifting and tummy-tucking. This theology also shaped the pessimistic humanity that frequently beats its breast saying: “I am a sinner, I am a wretch, I am nothing, and I am unworthy” It created a guilt-ridden humanity that cannot celebrate and enjoy life.

            It presents God as a merciful but a strict score-keeper of one’s good and bad deeds with a view to punishing and dispensing justice. It holds that the road to heaven is pretty narrow, but the road to hell is very broad. The God of the Old Testament woos his so-called chosen people, the Jews. He shows favoritism that is unthinkable for the status of God. The fate of humanity hangs in one wrong decision that Eve and Adam, the first parents, would make. God knows that they will make that inevitable decision at some point given the human freedom. There are no parents, I think, in the world who have not told their children that fire or a hot stove will burn them;yet there are also no children, I think, who have not tested and learned by actual experience the truth of being burned. God does not give Adam and Eve a a fair second chance. The jealous, petty God of the Old Testament becomes the loving Father of Jesus Christ in the New Testament who made the whole of humanity friends, brothers, and sisters. This God also is the father of the prodigal son, who celebrates rather than punishes at the return of his wayward son. In the theology for the modern world we have to have a new understanding of original sin.


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