This question is not posed to attack Biblical faith or the claims of Yeshua the Messiah. I ask this question about the institution of Christianity. Modern Christianity is so fractured today that it is almost impossible to reconcile it to any kind of a Biblical standard. There are over 38,000 denominations of Christianity, not including the outright cults. That being said, why is there such a schism in the Christian church? What happened in the last 2,000 years to cause such a great divide among those who are supposed to be brothers and sisters in the same faith?
John 17:11 "I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
There are 24 autonomous sects of Catholicism alone comprised of the the Latin Church and the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, made up of the Alexandrian rite, the Armenian rite, and the Byzantine rite. They are all in communion with the Pope as Bishop of Rome and acknowledge his claim of universal jurisdiction and authority. They have some minor distinct theological emphases and expressions. Then to make matters worse, there are 49 independent Catholic Church denominations that are not affiliated with or recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. There are 69 different sects of Lutheranism and hundreds of Baptist groups. Is this what the Lord planned the body of believers to look like?
2,000 years ago when Yeshua walked the earth, all of the first believers were Jewish. They lived in Israel; they spoke Hebrew and read the same Scriptures. After Yeshua was raised from the dead, it was still the same scenario. It wasn’t until after the household of Cornelius in Acts 10 do we see any Gentiles coming into the faith. Then in Acts 15 we see the Apostles trying to articulate the role of the Gentiles in the Gospel. The Apostles conclude that it was always the prophetic call of the Jews to be a light to the Gentiles as stated in Isaiah 42.
Isa 42:6 “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations…”
The Gospel was prophesied to the Children of Israel in passages like Isaiah 9:6-7 and 53, Psalm 22, Micah 5:2. The entire history of the Scriptures centers on the Jews and Israel. Yeshua was a Torah observant Jew who lived in Israel. He came to the Jews first (Rom 1:16). All of His 12 disciples were Torah observant Jews. The end-time theology revolves around Israel and the Jews (Zech 14, Isaiah 66). Yeshua will rule from the New Jerusalem during the millennial reign (Rev 21). The Gospel started as a Biblically Jewish message and it ends in the same manner. So why does it looks anything but Jewish? Does the Lord endorse the 21st century western interpretation of the Gospel?
The simple answer is that the Gospel has been intermingled with so many other pagan practices, that trying to find the root is almost impossible. Just like a plant that has been taken over with an invading foreign vine. The only way to find the root of the original plant is to carefully cut away the intruding vines and search for the original plant.
Very simply we can see through a brief historical summary how the Biblical faith has become polluted as more and more breaks from the original root grew. As I said above, everything originated with the first Jewish Messianic believers to whom it was promised. From there it was brought to the Gentile world, as it was supposed to Eph 2. It was not hard for the first Jewish believers to be outnumbered by the new Gentile believers. Even today, there are only approx 15 million Jews in the world. From thereon–after the first century–the pollution started as leadership among Gentile believers not only started to bring paganism into the faith, but they also started to develop a very anti-Semitic sentiment.
From the website of the International Christian Embassy
“One of the most well-known detractors of Jews was the Church Father, John Chrysostom (354-430), who accused the Jews of–among other things–idolatry and housing the Devil himself in their synagogues.”
“In his First Homily Against the Jews, Chrysostom insisted that, “Jews are dogs, stiff-necked, gluttonous, drunkards. They are beasts unfit for work… The Jews had fallen into a condition lower than the vilest animals… The synagogue is worse than a brothel and a drinking shop; it is a den of scoundrels, a temple of demons, the cavern of devils, and a criminal assembly of the assassins of Christ…. I hate the Jews, because they violate the Law… It is the duty of all Christians to hate the Jews.””
This was not what I would call a great testimony to the Jews about their own Messiah. The Gentile believers were tasked with the job of provoking the Jews to Jealousy without boasting against them.
Rom 11:1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I, too, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Rom 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
Rom 11:11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
Please read all of Romans 11 to get the full context.
For the first thousand years of Christianity, there were no denominations as there are today–there was Catholicism. Various offshoot groups certainly existed, but most were small and quickly snuffed out as "heresies."
The first major division within Christendom came in 1054, with the Great Schism between the Western Church and the Eastern Church. From that point forward, there were two large branches of Christianity, which came to be known as the Catholic Church (in the West) and the Orthodox Church (in the East).
The next major division was the Protestant Reformation, sparked in 1517 by Martin Luther's publication of 95 Theses against certain Catholic practices. By 1529, German princes were demanding the right to choose between Lutheranism and Catholicism in their territories.
"Reformed" Christianity developed in Switzerland based on the teachings of Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. When it spread to Scotland under John Knox, the Reformed faith became Presbyterianism. Switzerland was also the birthplace of the Anabaptists, spiritual ancestors of today's Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and Baptists.
Anglicanism was established in 1534 when England's King Henry VIII broke from the authority of the Pope. Anglicanism is often regarded as "Middle Way" between Catholicism and Protestantism, while others categorize it as Protestant. Anglicanism became Episcopalianism in the United States. Methodism, based on the teachings of John Wesley, also has its roots in Anglicanism.
From there the cat was out of the bag, and denominations and their distinctions grew like wild fire. With every one of them believing that they were the group that the Lord chose to reveal His truth to the earth. Yet none of them acknowledged the Biblical Jewish roots of their faith. As a matter of fact many of them were also anti-Semitic, claiming to love the King of the Jews but despising His people.
Martin Luther was a raging anti-Semite and wrote a booklet entitled, On the Jews and Their Lies. This booklet was a treatise against the Jews that was only rivaled by the Koran. When asked, “What shall we do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?” Luther responded:
“First, their synagogues should be set on fire… Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed… Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught… Fifthly, travelling privileges must be absolutely forbidden to Jews… If however we are afraid that they might harm us personally… then let us settle with them for that which they have extorted usuriously from us, and after having divided it up fairly, let us drive them out of the country for all time.”
This was but a small sample of his diatribe. Luther’s writings were used by Hitler in the book, Mein Kampf, to justify the killing of the Jews.
As I said above, the early church fathers did all they could to "de-judify" the Gospel.
Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) – Epistle to the Magnesians
“For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.”
"Epistle of Barnabas" Chapter 4 vs. 6-7 (between 130A.D. and 138 A.D.)
“Take heed to yourselves and be not like some piling up your sins and saying that the covenant is theirs as well as ours. It is ours, but they lost it completely just after Moses received it.”
Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – Ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.
“We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.”
A Response To Questions and Objections of a Certain Jew
“Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiff neckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.”
Justin Martyr wrote an apologetic in which he was having a dialogue with a Jew named Trypho. Using Bible proof texts, Justin Martyr claimed that the Jews were originally selected by God because they were such an unspiritual group; they needed added laws. He blasted the Jews for rejecting Jesus, for killing Jesus, for leading people away from salvation. He gloated over the destruction of the Temple as being just punishment for Jewish perfidy. Justin Martyr's writings became incorporated into early Christian thought, and were a major part in the origins of Christian anti-Semitism.
As late as the 4th century Church Father, John Chrysostom, complained that some Christians were still attending Jewish synagogues. Augustine argued that the Jews should be left alive and suffering as a perpetual reminder of their murder of Christ. Jerome identified Jews with Judas Iscariot and the immoral use of money.
So I ask you, how did the “Church” and all of its divisions come to look like it does today? I think it is pretty obvious that the early “Church Fathers” might have had just a bit of the responsibility in that happening, you think?
Was this the will of the father for the “Church” to be this divided? Was this His plan to despise the very people He created for His glory? Does the “Church” with all of its hatred and anti-Semitism fulfill the Lord’s will? You may say, but today it is not so, I say, Oh Yeah?! There are more denominations in the world today than ever before in history, and not only does anti-Semitism run rampant in the “Church”, there is an entire movement against Israel and for Islam in many major denominations.
The World Council of Churches is a collective of “347 churches, denominations, and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories.” For years, the WCC has played a leading role in harsh political warfare.” The organization’s top officials participated in the virulently anti-Semitic NGO Forum of the 2001 U.N. Durban Conference, at which Israel was labeled as an apartheid state.
Today, among some churches, there is a movement called Chrislam, where a church will have a Bible and Koran in the same pew, as if to say they are equal revelations. Major denominations all over the world endorse the BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) movement against Israel. These denominations not only boycott Israel, they advocate for the “Palestinians”, claiming that Israel is an apartheid state who oppress the “indigenous Palestinian people”. Denominations like the Episcopals, Anglicans, Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), United Church of Christ, Reform Church of America, and some Baptist groups are included in their ranks.
Have these pastors ever read the Word of the Lord, or is the main text of their devotion MADD Magazine? The Word of the Lord is very clear in the promises made to Israel by the Lord. Any 6th grader who can read should be able to understand these passages. Here are but few:
Jer 31:35-37 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares the LORD.
Amos 9:13-15 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them," says the LORD your God.
Joel 3:1-2 "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.
2 Samuel 7:22-24 "For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods? For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God.”
Now I ain’t 2 smaht myself. But even a dummi lyke me can figure dees verces owt.
The problem is that people aren’t reading the Word their listening to misguided preaches who studied the “Church” fathers who were mostly anti Semitic. So I ask you again, what is wrong with Christianity? This is what is wrong.
Rom 11:17-24 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
So if you want to correct this in your life, remember where you came from. You are the grafted-in branch, not the original. You are the adopted child, not the natural born. This does not make you second class in the Kingdom; quite the contrary. The Lord created Israel so that you might be saved. You are precious in the eyes of the Lord. But what needs to happen for the body of believers to be healthy again is to come back to the roots of their faith and leave behind all of the pagan foolishness. The Christian needs to realize that when they were adopted into the family, it was not to replace the natural children; it was to come alongside of them receiving a complete adoption with full familial rights. They just need to be careful to be grateful for their adoption and not feel the need to come into the family with an attitude that says, thanks for the adoption but we don’t like the way the place looks so we’re going to rearrange the furniture. We don’t like this family dynamic; let’s take over, throw out the natural born and remake the family after our own image.
You may quote me.
Shalom uvracha b’Yeshua (Peace and blessings in Yeshua)