The “Face of Pure Christianity.”
What does it look
like to you?
Roman Catholic cathedrals and shrines?
From the Pope in the Vatican, Italy, to the lowest ranking monks and nuns in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and all of Asia, in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, and all of Africa, in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and all of Europe, in Mexico and South America, indeed, in all planet Earth, the Roman Catholic clergy emphatically teaches that their church is absolutely the only true church of Christianity. That theirs is the only “True Christianity” in the whole world. That they are the only legitimate “FACE of Pure Christianity.”
Above. Basilica Saint Thomas, Chennai, India. It was built in 1523 by Portuguese explorers over the tomb of the apostle Thomas and rebuilt in 1896 by the British.
Paraphrasing, they categorically affirm: “If you want to know what ‘True Christianity’ is, look at us. Only at us. Our cathedrals, our clergy, our organization, our liturgy, our works, our schools, our hospitals, our influence with secular governments, the huge multitudes of members we have. We are the only true representatives of Christianity. We are the true standard for Christianity. You should not look at all the
Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Megachurches, Community churches, and independent churches because they are all apostate. We Roman Catholics are the ones; the only pure representation on Earth of Jesus Christ and his church.”
So, from whatever city and country may be your vantage point, you look at one or more of those magnificent Roman Catholic cathedrals, with their imposing architecture and costly furnishings. Eight of them in seven different countries pictured in this article. And from at least a material, earthly point of view, you are probably genuinely impressed, as am I.
Indeed, they are the most immediate, visible, ubiquitous manifestation of Roman Catholicism in the countries of the world, constantly projecting, 24/7/365, year after year, a powerful presence and influence that can mesmerize and draw into their cavernous, ornate naves souls especially subject to the spells of the materially grandiose, beautiful, and richly furnished, all bathed in an aura of mistic religiousness.
Above. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lagos, Nigeria.
Above. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lagos, Nigeria.
Now, if you know anything much about Christianity then you will know that its great sacred book is the Bible. In somewhat the same way the “Holy Vedas” are sacred to Hindus and Buddhists, the “Koran” is sacred to Muslims, and the “Pentateuch” is sacred to the Jews.
Above, the Roman Catholic cathedral
in Jakarta, Indonesia.
While, materially, the cathedral is the “face,” pretty or otherwise, of Roman Catholicism, logically, to properly judge that face and what is behind it, reading relevant portions of its “sacred book” would be vital.
Having a smartphone or computer, you can access a Catholic version of the Bible, or any other version recognized by scholars as reliable, Googling “Roman Catholic Church,” “cathedral,” and “temple.” You will see that only “temple” is a valid Bible word and that may raise a little flag. Curious. So the “Roman Catholic Church” is not mentioned by name in the Bible!!!
Some basic research on “temple” in the Bible quickly reveals that in 957 BCE (Before the Common Era in which we live) the Israelite King Solomon completed a splendid temple in Jerusalem for YAHWEH (from the
name in Hebrew), the God of Israel, but did not place an image of him in the temple for YAHWEH had strictly forbidden the worship of images.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” Exodus 20:2-5
Hmmm! Another flag, and a really BIG, red one!
That first temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 before the birth of Jesus Christ.
In 515 BCE, the Israelites, returning from 70 years of captivity in Babylon, built another, less splendid temple.
Around 20 BCE, King Herod the Great began the reconstruction of that temple, adding spacious plazas and large, elegant porticos. The whole complex on such a grand scale that a part of the construction was still in progress when the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem in 67 CE. So phenomenal was that Jewish Temple and its surrounding structures that it was considered one of the marvels of the Roman Empire world of the 1st century. A true rival to any Hindu or Buddhist great temple.
It was completely destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans. The Roman General Titus tried to save it, but his enraged troops leveled it. YAHWEH could have saved it, but did not because, through Jesus Christ and his apostles, he had already made it very clear to Israelites
Above, the great Temple of the Israelites in Jerusalem as reconstructed by King Herod the Great. About 15 floors high with the exterior in white marble. The interior of costly woods and tapestries. The huge entry door of bronze. Surrounded by spacious courts and elegant large porticos. The diminutive figures to the right represent people.
and any Gentiles who would listen that he no longer wished to be viewed as manifesting his presence in an earthly temple. Flags, flags, FLAGS, and more FLAGS!!!!
For “temple” in the New Testament of the Bible, you will get about 120 verses where the word is used. While in the 4 gospels and Acts reference is mostly to the earthly, material Jewish temple in Jerusalem, attentive reading of other texts will reveal to you a totally different “temple” in and through which YAHWEH and his Son Jesus Christ choose to make themselves known to the whole world since the ascension of Jesus to Heaven in the 1st century and to the end of time. A spiritual temple of live saved souls on planet Earth! Here are some key Bible texts for your consideration.
Writing to Gentiles converted to Christ in the first century, the apostle Paul explains:
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord. And in him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22. Obviously, this striking metaphorical language is in reference to people converted to Christ and not to any material structure. And what a glorious statement it is to all Gentiles of the world!
Above. The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, or Redemptorist Church, in Baclaran, Parañaque, Philippines. There are an estimated 84 million Catholics in the Philippines, 82.9% of the population.
“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16.
That is, “we” who follow God and Christ according to their “new covenant” are the true and real “temple of the living God.” This is the evident sense of Paul’s simple declaration, and not a reference at all to that great material temple in Jerusalem, nor any other of the same kind. Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 3:6-17; Hebrews 8:6-13
When the deacon Stephen addressed the Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, referring to the God of Israel he said: “It was Solomon who built a house for him. However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?” Acts 7:47-49
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything." In Athens, Greece, standing near the magnificent temple of the goddess Athena, this is what the apostle Paul said to “all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there,” spending “their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” Acts 17:16-34
A HUGE FLAG!!!! “GOD… DOES NOT LIVE IN TEMPLES BUILT BY HUMAN HANDS.”
Above. A Roman Catholic cathedral in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. With its flying buttresses and high towers, it is perhaps overwhelming to the common person.
“God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
What then? He cannot be kept in a box in a cathedral or any other material temple?
You are intelligent. You decide. You have the basic information and facts. If you dig deeper into the Bible, especially the New Testament, you may be pleased to find that the light shining from the texts we have copied grows ever more brighter.
Analyzing further this question of “religious temples,” especially in the context of “Pure Christianity,” you may observe, as great numbers of us Christians have, that the huge “temples” of Christendom, and smaller ones too, held as they are to be “sacred places where God dwells,” are, effectively a
“resurrection” of the great temple in Jerusalem that YAHWEH allowed to be destroyed because his plan for it and Israel had been fulfilled and his plan for a spiritual temple open to all peoples had been set in motion through Jesus Christ and his apostles of the first century.
That is not really surprising to serious students of the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity for they see throughout history that from the Judaizers in the first century new, successive generations of Judaizers have arisen all along the timeline of this Common Era, who have, just like their forefathers, tried to force on Christians those laws, rituals, institutions, and worship ordinances, including the concept of a “sacred place to worship.” All belonging to the “old covenant” given on Mt. Sinai, a covenant abolished on the cross. 2 Corinthians 3:6-17; Hebrews 8:8-13; 9:1-10; Galatians 4:21-31; 5:1-12; Colossians 2:14-17 and a host of similar texts.
As for me, personally, understanding that “God… does not live in temples built by human hands” convinces me that the “great cathedrals of Roman Catholicism” are definitely not the “Face of Pure Christianity.”
If they are not, then what is the material, earthly “Face” of Christians who do not worship in Roman Catholic
cathedrals, shrines, and chapels?
That is, if they do not have “sacred
temples or places” in which to worship, where do they worship? Where do they meet?
The Roman Catholic cathedral Notre Dame,
in Paris, France.
Again, we seek light on this matter in the only authoritative source for Christians, which is the Bible. According to the first seven chapters of the book of Acts, up to 50,000 Jews and Gentile proselytes (Gentiles who had embraced Judaism) were converted to Christ during the approximately 3 years beginning 10 days after the ascension of Jesus Christ to Heaven. They met in the expansive courts of the Jewish temple, perhaps also using some of the porticos. They did not begin to build their own “sacred temple” in some area of Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of them and they had a lot of material resources, money, and all, but did not go buy a lot in the center of Jerusalem and start building a “temple for the church.” Many had houses and other properties they sold, bringing the proceeds to the apostles, not to build a “cathedral, temple, or sacred place of some kind,” but to provide for the needy. Read it in Acts, chapters 2 - 6!
When the apostles of Jesus and evangelists constituted by them began to spread the gospel of Christ in earnest throughout Palestine, then to Syria, Cyprus, Pisidia, Macedonia, Acaya, and many other provinces of the Roman Empire, large numbers of both Jews and Gentiles were converted. Some congregations of believers were formed in private homes. Romans 16:3-5; Colossians 4:15. With their inner courtyards, houses of that time could accommodate, depending on their size, perhaps up to 100 people or more.
No details are provided in the New Testament on other places of meeting. No other temples or sacred places are mentioned. This very fact highlights the lack of importance given by the apostles, teachers, prophets, elders (bishops), deacons, and general membership of that time to the “place of meeting.” No obsession with a “church meeting place.” With a “temple for the church.” With a “sacred place to meet.”
Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic cathedral in the Vatican, Rome, Italy.
No commandment from God to build one, neither a central one nor one for each congregation. So much as to say: “The Face of Pure Christianity will not be a material building of any kind. In Pure Christianity, God does not look on the building or place where Christians meet. Rather his eyes are on the Christians themselves for they are his spiritual temple, his spiritual house. They can meet in a house, in a cave, in a
catacomb, in the shade of a tree, in an open, public square, in a synagogue that permits it, in a school building, in a park, in a rented place, in a utilitarian facility they obtain for themselves, or wherever. The ‘place’ is not the priority, does not make the congregants more holy or less, does not make them Christians or not. It is who they are spiritually, how sincere and committed they are, how they live morally, if they worship ‘in the spirit and the truth’ and other similar spiritual parameters that count.”
In synthesis, people who identify themselves as “Christians” should not be judged by the place where they meet! A cathedral does not make them more Christian. A tree arbor or humble shed does not signify they are “inferior Christians” to be dismissed and despised as “heretics.” The crucial criteria is: Wherever they meet, are they faithful to the “doctrine of Christ?” Do they measure up to his standard for right living and doing good works?
Men, women, young people, and children taught to do so or brought up to do so, glory in temples, cathedrals, sacred places, and elegant meeting places designed to satisfy vain, worldly pride. Dear reader, in light of the information and facts revealed, would you agree that Mature Christians definitely do not?
CATEGORY. Light for the Mind and Spirit. Open for a list of all subjects in this category.