The failure of Christianity and the triumph of the Christ
The 2000-year history of Christianity, though professing salvation to the world, is stained by many failures. Even what has recently been called the Messianic movement is still marked by divisions and conflicting theologies. The long history of the church has been one of endless schisms into conflicting institutions, each and all claiming Heaven’s approval of their particular doctrines, and their own interpretation of the Bible. This has led to many hostilities, doctrinal wars, inquisitions, excommunications, and no few burnings of heretics, witches, and Jews at the stake. It is no wonder that many are put off by this history, and find it hard to locate the Christ in the history of Christianity*.
Among the many and varied flavors of Christianity is the contemporary Charismatic movement, claiming inspiration directly from the Holy Spirit. Many have arisen from within this movement with what are proclaimed as prophetic utterances, often conceived in the midst of amplified music and great enthusiasm. Though often far-fetched, fanciful or false, they are believed as issued from Heaven, sometimes unable to differentiate between their own God-given imagination and the ‘still small voice’ of the Creator. A shortage of personal discernment and self-examination and control has led to no shortage of ‘prophecies’ that have not come to pass, of ‘healings’ that have ended in death, and ‘demons’ that turned out to be hypoglycemia, among others. These perversions of truth in God’s name have led to others even more toxic. We have witnessed no lack of ‘spirit-filled’ Christians unfortunately discovered in the arms of adultery with like-minded Christians leading to many divorces, betrayals of friends, slander and backbiting, and the whole range of behaviors that the Messiah came to delete, and corruptions within the churches. Of course that holds for not only Charismatics, but others as well. This phenomenon has helped produce believers who believe almost anything, whether hearsay or rumor, unexamined if only said by someone professing faith in their form of Christianity.
These facts in themselves are sad enough, but greater is the overall effect upon those hopeful believers that must witness them, especially the young and tender. It is tragic. Many have seen and heard declarations that have proven untrue, even some parents of a sick child prayed-for in faith who then died, who leave the faith entirely in their disappointment and disillusion, such events leading then to droves of the young leaving the churches in what has been prophesied as ‘the great falling away’ (2 Thess. 2:3). Some have gone so far as to declare themselves endowed with the authority of God, verging on the border of that original sin, suggested by a serpent, that “you shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5). This loosening of the fabric of sound biblical understanding has led to a slow erosion of foundational truths at the very roots of what is called Christianity- the Messiah who is the very fruit arising from the olive tree of Israel, the Torah made flesh in a Jewish man.
The dissolving of that foundation has led to a new breed of Christianity that preaches against the Torah of God, to then become lawless themselves. The Messiah called many who performed acts in his name anomia– lawless ones, and those whom he never knew (Matthew 7:22-23). Those works of lawlessness now appear in many forms, including some churches not only condoning homosexuality but ordaining homosexuals to high positions in their churches, all forbidden in the Old and New Testaments. This same Greek term anomia is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 to describe the antichrist- “the man of lawlessness” (anomia). Thus we are seeing the birth of the church of the antichrist.
Many well-meaning American Christians yearn for a supposed former time when the USA was more Christian. Unfortunately, the period when most Americans decidedly would define themselves as Christians of one form or another was in the midst of the 19th century and before. And yet, even with the devout Bible Belt in the South and churches found on most corners of the North, the belief in Jesus was not sufficient to prevent a war of massive carnage where Christians slew Christians to settle an issue between them of moral and political significance. Even the American Revolution was settled only by blood shed between two Christian nations. Peace on a large scale and good will towards men has not yet been achieved upon the Earth.
But has the Messiah failed in his mission upon the Earth? The positive impact and influence the life and teaching of Yeshua of Nazareth has had upon both personal and national histories is undeniable, including the founding of many universities, hospitals, charities and orphanages. The imperfect state of the human condition is far from new, and has been wrestled with by philosophers and religious thinkers for ages. The rise and fall of cultures and civilizations has been often accompanied by wars and brutality forming their beginning, and ushering in their demise. But despite the inherent frailty of the human individual with its appetites and passions, along with the instability of his changing political strictures, the words and deeds of the Messiah have penetrated the sea of human consciousness and, whether accepted or rejected as Messiah, have lifted human ideals to elevated goals.
Even many well-meaning agnostics and atheists have absorbed his teachings and incorporated them into their philosophies, politics and behavior. His person and teachings of love have had the remarkable ability to break through the fog and vast disappointments of history to enter the darkened and hopeless hearts of many individuals, to heal broken lives and relationships, and to rekindle light in the eye, and hope in the heart. The Messiah is said to one day return to correct all wrongs, which is something that remains yet to be seen. Until then may we all be endowed with discernment, and honesty.
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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.