“The world is like a board with holes in it,
and the square men have got into the round holes,
and the round into the square.”
— George Berkeley
After Chuck and I were married and our children were born, we continued to be active in our “home church” – a gathering place for multiple generations of families who enjoyed watching each other’s children grow up and have children of their own. There were only a couple hundred members, and occasionally concerned folks got a bee in their bonnet about one thing or another.
This time it was the nursery. “Why,” someone asked, “must mothers take turns caring for other people’s babies during church service on Sunday morning? They should be in listening to the sermon, taking a break from child care. Shouldn’t we get a babysitter for that?” But who would that person be? Common sense told us that we should not hire a non-believer or someone who should be proselytized and invited to worship with us.
Then somebody came up with a brilliant idea: Why not ask someone from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, since they held their services on Saturday (instead of the “correct day,” which was of course Sunday). That solution worked great. Except, every time I went in the nursery to drop off or pick up my babies, I felt a surge of guilt and wondered, why do these ladies worship on a different day of the week than we do? Why don’t they realize that they’re wrong?
Once again, decades later, I’ve learned that the answer lies in the fourth century A.D. and the beginnings of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam’s book, Petrus Romanus, after disassociating the date for Easter from Passover, the Church leaders went a step further, and during the Council of Antioch in 341, it was decided that Christians should no longer be allowed to celebrate any Passover with their Jewish neighbors. Later, at the Council of Laodecia, in the mid-fifth century, Christians were officially banned from keeping the Jewish Sabbath (from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday).
For the Jews, things went downhill from there. In 438, Roman Emperor Theodosius banned Jews from holding public office, and Jews were forbidden to work in many occupations. Instead they were encouraged to be moneylenders and pawn brokers, which led to usury – the lending of money at excessive interest rates. Catholics were not allowed to charge interest. So, deceptive church leaders used Jews as their front men to collect money without “sinning.” (And the ordinary folk wouldn’t notice that their righteously gleaming armor was actually a bit tarnished!) Ever wonder where the obscure idea came from that “Jews control all the money”? Look no further!
Skimming over the surface of history: In the seventh century, Jews were ordered to leave their territories in northern Italy. In the ninth century, Judaism was outlawed in Spain and multitudes of Jews were killed when Muslims invaded that country. Evangelism morphed into a choice between conversion to Catholicism or death. And all that led to the infamous Crusades, when the Church decided it was their Christian duty to protect people who were required by Catholic mandates to visit Jerusalem – in order to gain special favor with God.
In 1099 Jerusalem was conquered “in the name of Christ,” and the crusaders rounded up every Jew they could find, herded them into a synagogue and set fire to the building. By the late 1100’s, Jews dreaded the annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection (a.k.a. Easter) because it often led to violent riots against the “Christ killers.”
Pope Sixtus IV was responsible for the Inquisition (the “first holocaust”), and Pope Paul IV decreed in 1555 that all Jews must live in walled ghettos, away from Christians. Martin Luther came along in the early 1500’s and urged the Catholics to “deal gently with the Jews.” But two decades later, when his idea had not resulted in mass conversion of Jews to Christianity, he encouraged the burning of synagogues, expelling Jews from their homes, and seizing their assets.
We would have to cover hundreds of years to catch up to the atrocities of World War II, an event that current generations might be more familiar with. But you get the idea. Since the time when Catholicism’s rules were challenged by the Protestant Reformation, hundreds (if not thousands) of denominations, doctrines and dogmas have been created – mostly by well-meaning folks who simply disagreed with one another over this or that.
“The Lord says:
These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
A RUST REMOVER …
Be honest. Are you harboring any hate in your heart toward anyone who might be trapped in a particular religious denomination or someone of a different ethnic culture? Spend some quiet time with God and ask His Spirit to reveal areas within your thinking that need to be washed clean by the blood of the Jewish Lamb.