Of the Essence

Years ago, there was a mighty schism in the Christian Church. Actually there was not one church at that time but many differing sects called Christianity. There was a Council at the city of Nicea to try and resolve the matter. From this conclave was born the “universal” church, the Catholic Church.

The main sticking point between the various branches of Christianity was whether Jesus was a man or God. There was a line that caused the problem: “Jesus was of the essence of God”. The Catholic-minded among the bishops wanted the first “of” removed, to change it to “Jesus was the essence of God”. This seems such a minor difference but it meant everything at the core of the matter.

Jesus either was created by God or He was God in the flesh. Essentially, the Catholic view was that God fathered Himself, but in the flesh.

Although the Council of Nicea took a vote (though there is much written about the vote, the legality thereof, and such but it was 1700 years ago – water under the bridge) and decided in favor of the Catholic view, most of the other bishops would not bow to that formula and continued to preach what the Catholics now termed “heresy”.

Yes, these were Christian, worshiping God and His son, Jesus, but they were declared blasphemers and put to the sword. An awful scene that was to be repeated time and again for the next dozen centuries.

Though it was outlawed, this heresy kept raising its ugly head for centuries. Pelagianism, Catharists, and many more groups were attacked by the Catholics and murdered in the name of the Prince of Peace. All this because of one word and the meaning behind it.

It seems to me that the real essence of this stupidity was the one thing Jesus was teaching us to avoid: ego, and its attendant pride. As well as quite a bit of greed.

If Martin Luther, and he wasn’t any saint, had not posted his complaints on the door at the Council of Worms, we would probably still be under the fearful heel of the “Universal” Church and being hunted by their Inquisitors and Torquemada-like zealots keeping the population growth at manageable levels.

Fortunately, the world was ready for a change. Luther led to Zwengli, Calvin, Huss, and their like until today we have plenty of choice.

It is not to say that the Catholic Church is bad or evil (see my early entry about the number of the beast, “Conundrum III”), it is just that the old saying is probably true: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Church has done wonderful work over the centuries – and keeping alive during the Roman purges was not an easy task – but their absolute rule over Europe for centuries perverted their ruling hierarchy. The local parish priest, for the most part, were doing God’s work as best they could and tending to the needs of their flock.

It matters not to the message of Jesus whether he was “the essence” or “of the essence”. The Church leaders seem to have forgotten that it was His message that held the most importance and not the status of the messenger. Perhaps being God gives more forcefulness to the message…

But the manner of delivery by the Catholic Church was one of the greatest sins doled out to humanity for many years.

Thank God that theocracy is over.

Let’s keep it that way.

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