Is the concept of "Mother Church" as restrictive as Islam?
Is the concept of "Mother Church" as restrictive as Islam?
This concept is no more or less restrictive than Christianity as a whole. Its origin can be traced back to the early-historical institution of the ´Sacred Marriage´. This rite was performed on occasion of the enthronement of kings, with the king acting as a shepherd god and the high priestess acting as a heaven goddess. The rite was initially practised by sexual intercourse in a temple and later by symbolic enactment.
In Judaism, since it had abolished all goddesses, the concept of sacred marriage was transformed into the ´love´ of Jahwe to his people Israel. In early Christianity this concept was again transformed into the marriage of Christ and the ´New Jerusalem´, see the last chapters of John´s Revelation. The ´New Jerusalem´ stands for people which have been chosen by ´God´ to live in the ´Kingdom of God´, while the so-called sinners are delivered to eternal pains in hell.
Now, the church, the ecclesia, is seen to be the earthly manifestation of the New Jerusalem and thereby fullfils the role of the bride of Christ. As a mother it gives metaphorically birth to the people of ´God´. In this aspect, the concept of ´mother Church´ deviates from the concept of the Sacred Marriage but the analogy is clear: the latter legitimates the king for kingship, the first legitimates the believer for membership of the kingdom of ´God´. Furthermore, the mother-Church-concept goes back to the ancient idea of an all-embracing mother goddess, an idea to which on its part the Sacred Marriage can be traced back.
Judaism has endeavored to abolish the idea of a mother goddess but integrated it unconsciously into its concept of Jahwe who has some maternal features. In Christianity, the mother goddess was ´reborn´ (1) in the concept of ´mother Church´ and, later, (2) in the idea of the divine mother Mary.
As to baptism, this rite symbolizes the insemination of the ´Holy Spirit´ into the soul of the believer. This spirit is said to come from ´God´. Thus baptism is sort of spiritual seminal fertilization by which the believer becomes procreated as a member of ´God´s´ kingdom. For example, see John´s gospel 3,5 "born from water and spirit". Thus the circle is closed: ´God´ procreates his people by insemination and the church gives birth to them.
Last edited by Tammuz; 01-14-2017 at 08:53 AM.
So I would say that Christianity is restrictive to a degree that can be equated with Islamic intolerance. I mean of course not the down-watered Christianity of our days but the Christianity before the age of Enlightenment. Like Islam, Christianity threatens nonbelievers and heretics with eternal pains in hell. Since this dogma is already imposed on children who grow up in the respective culture the psychological effect is highly precarious. As to the fundament of Christianity, the Jesus figure as an (allegedly historical) individual represents the ultimate truth and the only way to get entrance into the kingdom of ´God´. When closely looking on that figure in the gospels, the impression is inevitable that Jesus is highly narcissistic. He demands absolute submission to his person and to his teachings, and threatens everyone who refutes submission with curses of eternal pains in hell (more than 30 times in the gospels). He lacks any respect for family bindings and despises everyone who loves his or her father or mother etc. more than him. He accepts only people whose love and veneration are centered on him. In Mt 15 he refutes to heal the daughter of a non-Jewish woman, even not answering a word. Only when she confirms his narcissism by kneeling before him, he gives help:
The "dogs" are of course the non-Jews. Apologists say that Jesus´ reaction is not cruel but full of wisdom since he testes the faith of the woman. Unfortunately, they don´t perceive the excessive narcissism of Jesus´ attitude due to their premise that Jesus is really the son of ´God´ and therefore has every right to be loved by everyone. Without that premise Jesus´claim for submission to him is merely narcissistic.21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
27 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
His reaction as cited above matches perfectly his general approach at people who don´t show absolute submission to him.
Furthermore, his self-imposed mission aims exclusively at Jews, not at pagans (see quote above: "I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel"). It´s a complete misunderstanding of the gospels to relate Jesus´ ambitions to the whole mankind. It was Paulus, the true inventor of Christianity (Nietzsche), who extended the Christian mission to pagans.
Last edited by Tammuz; 01-14-2017 at 09:02 AM.
Thank you for your interesting response, especially attributing the characteristic of “narcissism” to the historical figure of Jesus. I have never heard that view before. Mind you I’m not sure if that is the correct word; “intolerant” perhaps, or even “arrogant” springs to mind. Personally, I’ve always been attracted to what one might describe as the desensitized, human side of Jesus i.e the appreciation of alcohol, displays of temper, mixing with the money lenders etc.
This is so at odds with how the Church over the centuries has tried to put a spin on the entire character; like presenting Jesus as non-Jewish in paintings and art. The Church has done such an effective job in this that many Jewish people today have to be reminded that Jesus is their Messiah, a Jew, (the Church has adopted a “replacement” attitude toward the Jews which has not been a healthy or the correct approach).
My next point is that by correctly focusing on Matthew 15: 21 – 27 you have presented the actual turning point in the approval of the extension of original Christian values to non-Jews i.e. prior to St Paul.
Let me outline it as follows;
In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew we begin to see signs of the tide turning against Jesus by the leaders of the country, and accordingly Jesus turning more to the Gentiles. In chapter fourteen John the Baptist was beheaded, a clear sign of the opposition to the movement. In chapter fifteen Jesus challenged the teachings of the elders because those teachings had been elevated to the status of Scripture. Then, following that confrontation, Jesus went out of the country to the region of Tyre and Sidon and met the Canaanite woman.
In withdrawing far up the coast to the region of Tyre and Sidon one might argue He was not simply trying to get away from difficult events in Israel. This was not a chance meeting. The Lord was going to this Canaanite area, to this Canaanite woman. You may, or may not accept this.
He withdrew from the conflict with the Pharisees and elders about thirty to fifty miles north into Gentile country. I think Jesus was trying to control the timing of things. He did not want people to make Him king, and He did not want the confrontation with His enemies to come to a head too soon. So frequently He withdrew, or told people not to say anything about a miracle. It appears that Jesus withdrew for a time, both to let the conflict settle a bit, and to turn attention to Gentiles in this act. The timing is most significant--the Jewish leaders were rejecting Him, and a Gentile woman who hardly knows Him was seeking mercy.
In Israel Jesus was trying to convince people He was the Messiah, and was being challenged to prove it with a sign. But here in Gentile territory he met a woman who was convinced He was the Messiah and He could not discourage her efforts.
The account is also found in Mark 7: 24 – 30.
Matthew’s Jewish audience would have been interested to know that Jesus did a miracle for a Canaanite woman, in Gentile land. Mark was writing to a different audience than Matthew; a Gentile audience, and that statement would need a lot of explanation to them. Jesus had healed Gentiles before, but always in Jewish territory.
The way that Jesus deals with this woman has been given some very strange interpretations. One interpretation is that what Jesus is doing is typical of the way He dealt with people.He would put obstacles, as it were, in their way to see if they had faith to overcome them.
His answer to the woman in Matthew, focuses on His primary mission in the world. He was the promised Jewish Messiah who came to His own, but when His own rejected Him, He turned to the Gentiles. The “lost sheep of the house of Israel” does not mean there were lost sheep in Israel, but that all Israel was lost.
Jesus wanted the disciples and the woman to understand fully that His ministry in the brief time He had on earth was very focused. He was the Son of David, the Messiah. That fact did not admit this Canaanite woman to the benefits of the covenant made with the Jews. The kingdom had to be fully offered to them first, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom.
You correctly note the short saying that the Jews are the “children” and the Gentiles are the “dogs.” The children get fed first.
But the woman’s answer is nothing short of brilliant considering she was addressing the Son of Man: even the “dogs” eat the crumbs that the children drop. She acquiesces to the role of a “dog” in relation to Israel; she may not be able to sit down at the Messiah’s table and eat with the “children,” but she should be allowed to pick up some of the crumbs they drop. She wants some of the uncovenanted mercy of God, His general saving grace to all people.
She will take what the Jews do not want. And that attitude played out again and again in Paul’s missionary journey when he turned to Gentiles because the Jews did not want their Messiah, but the Gentiles did.
Jesus honors the faith that seeks mercy. She had no resentment, no anger about her situation; she only knew that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah who came to heal people, and for some reason He was in her town. She sought mercy from Him. And this time Jesus responded with emotion (“O woman” has emotional force). Her faith was rewarded. And she became one of the early Gentiles to enter the kingdom.
It is I think important to capture fully what Jesus is doing here. He is not playing games with the woman--He did not go all the way to her region to avoid her. But the crisis between Jesus and the Jews was soon to intensify, and Jesus is making it clear that the grace of God will be given to all who believe, even though His mission called for Him to present Himself to Israel as the Son of David.
Jesus’ ministry may have focused on Israel first (as Paul’s did, “to the Jew first”), but He extended mercy to all who would believe in Him.
Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 01-16-2017 at 12:34 AM.
There is a considerable difference between our approaches to the involved issues: you are arguing from a Christian point of view while my atheistic perspective is analytical by way of getting sort of an X-ray plate of religious phenomena, in this case, of the Jesus figure and of Christianity in general, as basically indicated in my first answer regarding the historical background of the ´Mother Church´ subject. In case of Christianity, X-raying is all the more complicated as not only a lot of external influences from foreign religions on Christian ideas have to be considered but also a number of imponderabilities with regard to the Christian sources: How historically reliable are the reports and quotes in the gospels? When were they written? Which parts are original and which are redactionally inserted?
As to the first question, the main issue is of course the historicity of Jesus, namely the question, if historical, how much Christ is in Jesus, and if non-historical, what was the original idea behind such a fiction? Some of the Mythicist movement say that Christ was originally a heavenly figure in Gnosticism which later became historicised by a sect, namely the Catholics, for the purpose of legitimizing papal authority, which was thought to be passed on through a line of apostolic successors of the earthly Christ. According to this theory, the gospels were not written in the 1st century or around 100 CE, but around 150 CE. As to the quotes, many exegetes hold that only a few represent authentic sayings of Jesus, including those which are thought to belong to the hypothetical source ´Q´. Some say that only the ´I am´-sayings are authentic, others say that these very sayings are altogether non-authentic and formally (not regarding contend) derived from the ´I am´-sayings of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the most popular mediterranean deity in those days. Since Freud had approached religion and especially Judaism psychoanalytically and was followed on this road by Otto Rank, Theodor Reik, and Erich Fromm, the X-ray method which had started in the late 19th century with the Protestant´History of Religions School´ in Germany, has by this gained an important new analytical dimension (Freud, Reik, and Fromm were atheistic Jews), especially by introducing the Oedipus complex into the analytical study of monotheism.
As I wrote before, that, what in an atheistic view can be called the narcissism of Jesus, is of quite another nature when regarded with Christian eyes. That makes it not easy for us to debate over Jesus´ self-centered (or god-centered, what here is the same) attitude towards other people. The narcissism issue concerns not only his ´human´ or ´emotional´ aspects you are mentioning but the whole construction of being the living incarnation or representation of the only god, his ´father´, whose ´son´ he pretends to be according to the gospels. However it can be doubted that Jesus, if historical, emphasized his divinity exactly the way as reported in the gospels. It is one thing to pretend to be the long-attended Jewish messiah and another to pretend not only to be the son of Yahweh but his earthly incarnation, in other words, to be the living center of the universe. It is another thing the more as Jesus, if historical, like his followers seems to have begged for alms during his complete ministry. It is most questionable that such an extremely self-centered attitude would have encountered sympathy and veneration to the extent as reported in the gospels. Most probably, he would have been dismissed as mad and far from being the son of Yahweh, if there would not have been his alleged but unbelievable displaying of miraculous capacity in line with similar miracle makers of his day. So, the career of Jesus seems to have been founded primarily on the success of his, naturally purely fictitious, miracle activities and only secondarily on his teachings, what in turn would render questionable the historicity of the whole career.
The excessively self-centered self-image of Jesus is, for the reasons mentioned above, probably not the attitude of a historical Jesus but the effect of posthumous Christology, influenced by several Hellenistic ideas, such as the Logos concept of the Jew Philo of Alexandria which most likely served as blueprint for the Logos idea in John´s gospel.
By the way:
Regarding the death of the Baptist as described in Mark and Matthew, one should doubt the historicity of the narrative. According to Josephus (Antiquities), Antipas had John decapitated because he felt unsure about the political ambitions of the Baptist and his influence on the masses. However, Mark shows Antipas´ wife Herodias to be the driving force behind the execution. This seems to be purely fabricated, as the whole scene is, including the dance and Antipas´ crazy promise to the dancer who is a ´korasion´, that is, she is no more than 10-12 years old. Since she is aristocratic her dance at a banquet is historically extremely improbable, since such dances used to be performed only by female slaves. Furthermore, the promise of Antipas is a literal plagiary from the book of Esther, and its contend is absurd - the tetrarch of Galilee had no right to divide or otherwise modify his territory without permission of the Roman emperor. Moreover, some ancient scripts say ´his (=Herod Antipas) daughter, Herodias´, instead of ´the daughter of Herodias´. So it is unclear whether the dancer is said to be the daughter of Antipas with name ´Herodias´ or the daughter of Herodias.
Last edited by Tammuz; 01-19-2017 at 08:43 AM.
We are indeed at opposite sides of the spectrum, and I'm not just referring to the subject matter.
As I sit in a wine bar in Hanoi having imbibed too much, I have in mind taking a Vietnamese spouse, whilst you are going through the formalities of separating from yours.
I will respond later if you will bear with me.