The Way

Christianity isn’t what it used to be, and that’s not all bad. Many things not of God, accepted, endorsed and enforced by the church have come and gone. Many things which contradict Jesus teachings have entered the church and never left. The first followers of Jesus Christ were never called Christians at all, and by the time it was a common term, much of his teachings were already being abandoned, distorted and mischaracterized.

The early church had no name. Sometimes referred to as The Way among other things, it was a new way of living and understanding the world. Questions about Jesus having been a real person who was really crucified hadn’t begun. His ministry and death was common knowledge and if he didn’t rise from death, the people of his time would have cried foul and that would have been the end of his following, as happened with many who had come before or since claiming or thought to be the Christ. The term Christian was eventually coined to give distinction to Jesus Christ’s followers who were by all accounts, different. Family heritage, social class and other divisions accepted by virtually everyone meant nothing among this group of outspoken people. Christ’s followers adopted the name given them, and have kept it throughout history, even when their ways strayed far from The Way.

Though a few notable academics are attempting something of a new reformation of some major church doctrine, they don’t go nearly far enough. People have used Paul’s letters to form religion around what was intended to be a new way for society to function and watered down or misinterpreted Christ’s message to suit their agendas for nearly 2000 years. I understand and sympathize with the resistance to shake the boat too hard, but it must be done. While I don’t know if the slow turn is because of genuine slow changes in understanding or careful protection of position, the common ways of following The Way have wandered far from the narrow path. Though the doctrine and structures of the church carried The Word (emphasizing what they wanted and making up a lot of extras) through the ages among a gradually enlightening society, modern understanding of earth’s history and practical science demand a recanting of much of what the church has held to for millennia.

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