Christendom Has Betrayed God and the Bible
1, 2. Why do some people lack respect for the Bible, but what does the Bible say?
1 People in many lands have avoided the Bible and have lacked respect for it because of the bad conduct of those who claim to follow it. In certain lands it has been said that the Bible is a book that leads to war, that it is a white man’s book, and that it is a book that supports colonialism. But those are mistaken views.
2 The Bible, written in the Middle East, does not support the colonial wars and greedy exploitation that have been carried on in the name of Christianity for such a long time. On the contrary, by reading the Bible and learning the teachings of true Christianity taught by Jesus, you will see that the Bible strongly condemns warring, immorality, and the exploiting of others. The fault lies with greedy people, not with the Bible. (1 Corinthians 13:1-6; James 4:1-3; 5:1-6; 1 John 4:7, 8) So do not let the misconduct of selfish people who live contrary to the Bible’s good counsel prevent your benefiting from its treasures.
3. What do the facts of history show about Christendom?
3 Included among those who do not live by the Bible are the peoples and nations of Christendom. “Christendom” is defined as that part of the world where Christianity prevails. It is largely the Western world with its church systems, which from about the fourth century C.E. became prominent. Christendom has had the Bible for centuries, and its clergy claim to teach it and to be God’s representatives. But do the clergy and missionaries of Christendom teach the truth? Do their actions really represent God and the Bible? Does Christianity really prevail in Christendom? No. Since its religion came to the forefront in the fourth century, Christendom has proved to be an enemy of God and of the Bible. Yes, the facts of history show that Christendom has betrayed God and the Bible.
4, 5. What unbiblical doctrines are taught by the churches?
4 The fundamental doctrines of Christendom are based not on the Bible but on ancient myths—those of Greece, Egypt, Babylon, and others. Teachings such as the inherent immortality of the human soul, eternal torment in hellfire, purgatory, and the Trinity (three persons in one Godhead) are not found in the Bible.
5 For example, consider the teaching that bad people will be tortured forever in a fiery hell. How do you feel about this idea? Many find it repugnant. They find it unreasonable that God would forever torture humans, keeping them in excruciating pain. Such a fiendish idea is contrary to the God of the Bible, for “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The Bible is clear that such a teaching ‘had not come into the heart’ of Almighty God.—Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35.
6. How does the Bible refute the immortal-soul teaching?
6 Today many religions, including the churches of Christendom, teach that humans have an immortal soul, which at death goes to heaven or hell. This is not a Bible teaching. Instead, the Bible clearly states: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, . . . for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [the grave], the place to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) And the psalmist states that at death man “goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:4.
7. What was the punishment of Adam and Eve for breaking God’s law?
7 Recall, too, that when Adam and Eve broke God’s law, the punishment was not immortality. That would have been a reward, not a punishment! Instead, they were told that they would “return to the ground, for out of it [they] were taken.” God emphasized to Adam: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) Thus, the teaching of inherent immortality of the soul is not in the Bible but was borrowed by Christendom from non-Christian peoples who lived before them.
8. How does the Bible refute Christendom’s Trinity doctrine?
8 Also, Christendom’s Trinity doctrine portrays God as some mysterious three-in-one God. But that teaching is not found in the Bible either. For instance, at Isaiah 40:25, God clearly states: “To whom can you people liken me so that I should be made his equal?” The answer is obvious: No one can be his equal. Also, Psalm 83:18 simply states: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—See also Isaiah 45:5; 46:9; John 5:19; 6:38; 7:16.
9. What can we say about the Bible’s teachings and about the teachings of Christendom’s churches?
9 The teachings of the Bible about God and his purposes are clear, easy to understand, and reasonable. But the teachings of Christendom’s churches are not. Worse, they contradict the Bible.
10, 11. In what ways are the Bible’s teachings the opposite of those of Christendom’s churches?
10 In addition to teaching false doctrines, Christendom has betrayed God and the Bible by her actions. What the clergy and churches have done in past centuries, and have continued to do in our time, is the opposite of what the God of the Bible requires and the opposite of what the Founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, taught and did.
11 For instance, Jesus taught his followers not to meddle in this world’s political affairs nor to get involved in its wars. He also taught them to be peace-loving, to be law-abiding, to have love for their fellow humans free from any prejudice, even being willing to sacrifice their own lives rather than take the lives of others.—John 15:13; Acts 10:34, 35; 1 John 4:20, 21.
12. What did Jesus say would identify true Christians?
12 Indeed, Jesus taught that love for other humans would be the mark that would identify true Christians from false Christians, pretenders. He said to those who would follow him: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” —John 13:34, 35; 15:12.
13, 14. What shows that the churches of Christendom do not represent God?
13 Yet, century after century, the clergy of Christendom have meddled in politics and have supported the wars of their nations. They have even supported the opposing sides in wars within Christendom, such as the two world wars of this century. In those conflicts the clergy on each side prayed for victory, and members of one religion from one country were killing members of that same religion from another country. But that is how the Bible says Satan’s children, not God’s, act. (1 John 3:10-12, 15) Thus, while the clergy and their followers have claimed to be Christian, they have contradicted the teachings of Jesus Christ, who told his followers to ‘put away the sword.’—Matthew 26:51, 52.
14 For centuries the churches collaborated with the political powers of Christendom when those nations conquered, enslaved, and humiliated other peoples during the age of imperialism. That was the case for centuries in Africa. China too experienced this, when Western nations carved out spheres of influence by force, as during the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion.
15. What evils have been perpetrated by Christendom?
15 The religions of Christendom have also been in the forefront of the persecuting, torturing, and even killing of those who disagreed with them during those centuries of history called the Dark Ages. During the Inquisition, which lasted for hundreds of years, fiendish practices, such as torture and murder, were authorized and carried out against decent, innocent people. The perpetrators were the clergy and their followers, all of whom claimed to be Christian. They even tried to stamp out the Bible so that the common people could not read it.
16, 17. Why can we say that the churches are not Christian?
16 No, the nations and churches of Christendom were not, and are not, Christian. They are not God’s servants. His inspired Word says of them: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.”—Titus 1:16.
17 Jesus said that false religion could be identified by what it produced, its fruitage. He said: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them. . . . Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those [false prophets].”—Matthew 7:15-20.
18. What has resulted from Christendom’s teachings and actions?
18 Thus, by what they have taught and what they have done, the religions of Christendom have demonstrated that their claim of believing in the Bible and of being God-fearing and Christian is a lie. They have betrayed God and the Bible. In doing so, they have disgusted millions of people and caused them to turn away from belief in a Supreme Being.
19. Does Christendom’s failure mean that God and the Bible have failed?
19 However, the failure of the clergy and churches of Christendom, as well as the failure of other religions outside Christendom, does not mean the failure of the Bible. Nor does it mean that God has failed. Rather, the Bible tells us about a Supreme Being who does exist and who does care about us and our future. It shows how he will reward honesthearted people who want to do what is right, who want to see justice and peace prevail throughout the earth. It also shows why God has allowed wickedness and suffering to exist and how he will rid the earth of those who harm their fellowman, as well as those who claim to serve him but do not.
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Doré’s illustration of Barrators—Giampolo for Dante’s Divine Comedy
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Courtesy of The British Museum
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Museo Egizio, Turin
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Contrary to the teachings of Jesus, the clergy on both sides have backed wars
U.S. Army photo