Editor’s Note: A core contradiction of the Christian faith is how a religion, based on the teachings of a martyred advocate for peace and the poor, could be transformed into an institution that justifies war and rationalizes extraordinary wealth.
In the United States, some politicians who brandish their Christianity as something of a campaign weapon would have you believe that Jesus favored invading other countries and wanted tax cuts for the super-rich. However, in this guest essay, the Rev. Howard Bess traces this contradiction to an ancient dispute:
By the Rev. Howard Bess December 6, 2010
The great religious divide in the world today is not a divide between Christianity and other religions, but rather within Christendom.
“The corrupting of Jesus’s message began soon after his death. His greatness became tied to King David, the most powerful king in the history of Israel. This conquering king became the image of the ideal Jesus, making Jesus a ruler of all rather than servant of all.
It is startling to realize how fast Jesus, the practitioner of the small tradition, was transformed into Jesus, head of the great tradition. Over the ensuing centuries, the vast majority of Christian church leaders has unwittingly embraced this switch, buying into the great tradition and selling out the small tradition”.