April 22, 2012

Catholics are not true Christians? Thoughts on division within the Christian Community

Lord of the Miracles Proccession (Lima, Peru)
Largest Catholic gathering in South America (1 million)
Having grown up in Peru until the age of 13, I thought that the Catholic Church was the only form of Christianity that existed.  When I was younger I recognized certain terms such as Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah ’s Witness, Evangelical, etc, but these types of Christians were only a myth, or rather a really elusive endangered species which you knew it existed but had never actually seen one. Occasionally you would hear stories of a friend of a friend who once talked to one, but generally, unlike the rest of the world, other Christian sects have not achieved success south of the United States as the Catholic Church. It wasn’t until I moved to the states and later got interested in religious studies (secularly) that I learned about the plethora of beliefs out there. 

From my endeavors and intellectual discussions regarding Christianity , one of the most surprising acts done by certain Christians are their rejection, opposition, disapproval, superiority,  and rarely (but existent) borderline hate against the Catholic  religion,  labeling their followers not true Christians. The truth is that this is very much a common belief in the non-Catholic Christian community, and while their expression of it might not be as direct or loud, from conversations over the years with plenty of individuals, it has become evident to me that such belief is alive.  I’m currently an agnostic atheist, and so I do not find any criticism towards Catholicism offensive (in fact, I encourage it), but from an analytic perspective, it’s extremely amusing to see the amount of misunderstanding of why the catholic church is what it is now. 

So why isn’t Catholicism true Christianity? Well, apparently because they teach salvation is achievable by church fellowship and acts rather than belief in Christ alone; because the Catholic Church acts as a divine entity being able to forgive sins; because Christ cannot be personified as the Pope; because catholic priests perform transubstantiation - transforming bread into the body of Christ; Because of the worshiping of saints, and statues, and many more – all of which go against biblical teachings. In fact, there are many Christian out there who declare the Catholic Church to be nothing but a pagan-inspired, devil-driven fake religion.  They’re half right. Many of the Catholic rituals do in fact come from pagan origins, such as baptism by water, prayer beads, prayer candles, altars, statues, etc; for example, the act of transubstantiation mentioned earlier is in taken straight out of Babylonian sun worshiping rituals. 

It seems to me that the majority of Christians who criticize Catholicism do not have a very accurate depiction of Christianity’s own history.  Many of today’s self-claimed “true” Christian religions (ex: Anglicanism, Methodist, Baptists. Presbyterians, Lutheranism, Pentecostalism) came out of 16th century as part of the reformation movement; historically speaking, “true Christianity” is a fairly recent concept with the oldest “true” Christian religion being less than 600 years old (Pentecostalism is only 100). Yes, many of the reasons for the reformation were because of corruption within the Catholic Church, but my comments are strictly regarding the current spiritual objections.  The Catholic Church was the result of the transition from Pagan Europe to Christianity  and because of that, many of the pagan traditions had to be borrowed in order actually get the population to accept this new religion.  For the 15 centuries after the alleged birth of Jesus , the Catholic Church was the only form of Christianity that existed, and it is actually the reason why the spread of this religion became so prevalent in Europe (and the world); many non- catholic Christians seems to overlook this fact. Thus it would seem funny to me for a non-Catholic Christian to criticize Catholicism, when in fact that “Pagan Church” is the reason why they practice their “true” Christianity in the first place. Had the Catholic Church not been the pagan-inspired Church that it was then, Christianity wouldn't had made it past the 4th century.  

1 comment:

Krayorik said...

Religion is one of those fascinating subjects that really acts like a Rorschach test more than anything else that people do. The things people buy aren't always accurate, because many purchases are necessary for survival, or they buy something on accident and regret it later, but people's religion really does show their general attitude I think. Most of the people I've met who just sort of say that they're in a religion but don't follow any of its teachings tend to not really be critical thinkers and don't really have academic curiosity (not to say that they're necessarily "stupid", but there's definitely a difference between being skeptical and being intelligent). People that evangelize tend to be very community oriented and opinionated. The atheists that I've met tend to dislike authority more than have any sort of special skepticism power, which fits nicely with the stereotype of the liberal atheist. Of course, all of this is my own personal biases and observations, but I do think there's something there.