12 Heresies of Christianity
Deviations from the mainstream of religious thought come in many forms. Pictured above are observant Jews, still awaiting their messiah - along with the occasional Christian who believe theirs has already come. As in the time of Christ, there's the discontinuity of religious expression versus military presence. And followers from across the globe walking the path of the Via Dolorosa.
Heretics move counter to the orthodoxy of the moment. Twenty centuries ago, Jesus challenged the mainstream of Judaism and the governing authority of the Roman Empire. At the dawn of the 21st century, Jesus continues to challenge and sometimes offend. This is the Jesus who says that he comes not to bring not peace, "but rather division."
This is the tale of 12 advocates of a gospel who dared to challenge the orthodoxy of their times – from the apostle Matthew to reformation leader Martin Luther and then back to Jesus the Christ. Rediscover their views of a god-man who even today rattles our bones:
- Matthew - Prophecy Fulfilled: The writer of the first gospel focused on demonstrating to a primarily Jewish audience that Jesus was not a blasphemer but a fulfillment of the "law and the prophets." But, did Matthew overreach - twisting scripture on the way?
- Mark's Dim-Witted Disciples: Jesus' chosen 12 disciples are repeatedly characterized by this writer as repeatedly characterized by ineptitude, thoughtlessness, and avarice. Is the message to avoid reliance on even those nearest and dearest to the Savior?
- Luke - Social Conscience: Billed as the most beautiful book ever written, Luke is unique in presenting Jesus as a man of social conscience and action. Luke's Jesus says "Blessed are the poor." Matthew's says "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Who is correct?
- John - Personal Divinity: The Jesus of the beloved apostle is the timeless "I am", reaching out to interact personally with all genders, from all walks of life. Why does John speak endlessly of judgment but not of a place for never-ending torment called hell?
- Paul - Salvation thru Faith: We now reach beyond the original circle of 12 to the outsider who would rest control of the Christian movement away from heir apparents. Reaching the souls of an empire, did Paul unnecessarily sever Jesus from his Jewish roots?
- James - Salvation via Works: While getting less shelf space, Jesus' brother James represents the counterpoint to Paul, arguing that "faith without works is dead." Does James offer reconciliation between Jew and Aryan, between a social and personal gospel?
- Peter - Compromised Christianity: A true enigma, a unique combination of cowardice and bluster, how is it that Peter is the one always caught in the middle - the whipping boy for Jesus, then James and Paul? How was he shoved aside from church leadership?
- Thomas - Mystery & Wisdom: Ever the skeptic, counter-cultural, a man of mystery and wisdom - what does Thomas mean when he writes: "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find ... When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will rule over all."
- Mary - Life & Resurrection. How did the Magdalene - who shared some of the most intimate moments with the Savior - serve as the bridge between the dead and resurrected Christ, keeping the flame of Christianity lit even during its earliest and darkest hour?
- Constantine - Monolithic Christianity: During his reign, the status of Christianity changed from enemy to religion of the state. How is it that he foisted the Nicene formulation on Western civilization by executive order went on to murder his oldest son and wife?
- Martin Luther - Reformation Undone: 500 years ago, an Augustinian monk sparked a religious revolt, the end of feudalism and rise of capitalism? By going only half-way to throw off the shackles of Nicaea, did Luther fail to complete the reformation he started?
- Jesus Christ - Conflicted Christianity: Living in and through conflict, Jesus is asking as much of those who follow behind. Like the pagan Canaanite woman rebuked by Jesus, we are to persist until the master relents, saying: "Let it be done for you as you wish."
Click on the underlined person of interest above for a short 5-7 page synopsis of the person, the heresy, and the aftermath. Click on 12 Heresies of Christianity for the full 370+ page manuscript (in pdf file format). Or go to the Academy page to check out this and other publications available at no charge as electronic pdf files.