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Agnostic Testimony 13
Dan’s Religious Manifesto (Appendix I)

by Daniel Hendricks

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Appendix I

Denominations

As previously mentioned, the sheer number of Christian denominations seems to indicate that not a one of them is on the correct path.  I have not studied the below in length, so there are probably several flaws.  It is meant to be a general guideline, and I would welcome any information I don’t have.  At any rate, here is my half-remembered Judeo-Christian-Islam timeline, with following commentary:

Way Back When – 34AD    

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

34AD – 400AD                     

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

Catholic Orthodox* – Believe Jesus was the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT, NT and Apocrypha – the Apocrypha are a series of books that are claimed to have been partially divinely inspired, but partially completely made up. 

400AD – 600AD                   

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

Catholics – Believe Jesus was the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT, NT and Apocrypha

Orthodox -The Orthodox Catholic Church is very close to the Roman Catholic Church, but was lot more friendly to public interaction (i.e. local languages used instead of Latin) and without a single Pope, but rather a conclave of five.  I believe, but am not certain, they use the same holy book as Catholics.

600AD – 1500AD                 

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

Catholics – Believe Jesus was the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT, NT and Apocrypha

Orthodox -The Orthodox Catholic Church is very close to the Roman Catholic Church, but was lot more friendly to public interaction (i.e. local languages used instead of Latin) and without a single Pope, but rather a conclave of five.  I believe, but am not certain, they use the same holy book as Catholics.

Islam – Believed Jesus was the first prophet, and that the second, Mohammed, set forth Islam.  Their holy book is the OT, Psalms, a gospel of Jesus, and the Quran (the book by Mohammed)

1500AD – 1800’s

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

Catholics – Believe Jesus was the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT, NT and Apocrypha

Orthodox -The Orthodox Catholic Church is very close to the Roman Catholic Church, but was lot more friendly to public interaction (i.e. local languages used instead of Latin) and without a single Pope, but rather a conclave of five.  I believe, but am not certain, they use the same holy book as Catholics.

Islam – Believed Jesus was the first prophet, and that the second Mohammed set forth Islam.  Their holy book is the first 5 books of the OT, Psalms, a gospel of Jesus, and the Quran (the book by Mohammed).

Protestant – Led by Calvin and Luther, a vast number of Protestant denominations split away from Catholicism.  These denominations have various similarities and differences to Catholics, Orthodox, and their own ideas.  Their Holy Books are generally the OT and NT, but not the Apocrypha, which is the source of most of their theological differences with Catholics.  I’m not listing them all as they run the gamut from Lutherans (blink in the wrong spot and they’re Catholics) to those snake handling guys out in Texas .

1800’s-present

Jews – awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT

Catholics – Believe Jesus was the Messiah.  Holy book is the OT, NT and Apocrypha

Orthodox -The Orthodox Catholic Church is very close to the Roman Catholic Church, but was lot more friendly to public interaction (i.e. local languages used instead of Latin) and without a single Pope, but rather a conclave of five.  I believe, but am not certain, they use the same holy book as Catholics.

Islam – Believed Jesus was the first prophet, and that the second Mohammed set forth Islam.  Their holy book is the first 5 books of the OT, Psalms, a gospel of Jesus, and the Quran (the book by Mohammed).

Protestant – Led by Calvin and Luther, a vast number of Protestant denominations split away from Catholicism.  These denominations have various similarities and differences to Catholics, Orthodox, and their own ideas.  Their Holy Books are generally the OT and NT, but not the Apocrypha, which is the source of most of their theological differences with Catholics.  I’m not listing them all as they run the gamut from Lutherans (blink in the wrong spot and they’re Catholics) to those snake handling guys out in Texas .

Mormons – Mormons believe that a holy book was created and hidden in North America , which was found by settlers during the Westward Expansion of America.  Their holy book is the OT, the NT, the Apocrypha and these new books of the bible, collectively called the Book of Mormon. 

*Catholics and Orthodox both claim to be directly founded by Jesus.  They broke because Orthodox believe the Church hierarchy was supposed to be divided among five main dioceses, with the Bishop of Rome one major player among four others (among them the Bishop of Byzantine).  Catholics believe the Bishop of Rome (aka the Pope) was the primary player because Jesus told Peter the Roman that he was the rock upon which he was building his church, and that the other four dioceses were advisors.  They officially split in the 400s, and the later Islamic invasion of Turkey made contact between them nearly impossible – so Orthodox went East and the Catholics went West.

Okay, so basically, you can see Christianity evolve in a series of steps.  First the Jews, and then some of them believe Jesus is the Messiah and begin Christianity.  This Christianity gets adopted by the Romans, who spread it all over Western Europe, and by the Byzantines, who spread it all over Eastern Europe .  Meanwhile, the Muslims have another prophet that sets them on their way, and their lands physically divides Catholic and Orthodox.  Then everything settles down for over a thousand years.  Granted, however, a lot of this “settling down” is at the sword.  Roman expansions, then the Crusades, then the Inquisition all tend to push the borders of what religion is big where all over the place my means of the sword and killing anyone who argues too much.  In the late 1400s, they stop killing people as often for religious differences, (though never stop) and with the freedom to do so, Protestant denominations start springing up all over, though the most famous are probably Calvin, Martin Luther, and King Henry VIII’s breaks with Catholicism.  Once they are in power, Protestant reigns also spread by the sword and murder.  Most of these denominations do the trick of focusing on some things more than others, and the majority of them decide to leave the Apocrypha (a collection of several books of the Catholic Bible) out of their new Protestant Bibles.  This creates most of the major differences with Catholicism and Protestantism.  (Such as intervention of saints, purgatory, etc.)  Current estimates put the number of Protestant Denominations at somewhere upward of 30,000, though many of these may only have a few dozen or hundred adherents.  (Such as the snake handling denominations)  Mormons, or the Church of Latter Day Saints , then believe that the angel Maroni descended from Heaven to give mankind a few more books of the bible.  (Whereas Protestants have less books in their Bible than Catholics, Mormons have more

There are generally raging theological battles between the various denominations, as well as often inside them (see the various Synods of the Lutheran church or polygamy sects of Mormonism).  However, they are generally willing to consolidate to oppose non-Christian churches, so an uneasy true exists.  Some assert that a person’s denomination is not critical to getting into heaven, others assert that it is.  Additionally, generally Protestant churches are hold that faith and not acts will get one into heaven.  Islam holds that acts, not faith are the key, and Catholics hold that both are necessary.  (No idea on Judea and Mormons)

All of these are descendants of Judaism, and thus, the same God is the central figure in all of these religions and denominations, which taken together equal somewhere between one third and on half of the population.  So the question must arise, why couldn’t this God keep his followers from misunderstanding him, and either inventing new holy books on their own, or not acknowledging his new holy books as he gave them to his worshippers?  All groups claim miracles, but also insist that at least some of the other groups are heathens/infidels and going to Hell.  Yet, none of the groups seem to have any particular powers or quantifiable blessings (i.e. Catholic priests don’t live to the age of 200, Presbyterian ministers can’t cure dandruff with a touch, Muslims aren’t immune to cancer, and bullets do not bounce off of Jews).  God simply isn’t willing to make a clear sign indicating which method of worship is most pleasing.

So God does not care enough to tell his followers which religion is correct.  In a numbers game, it’s either Catholics or Muslims, but there is no guarantee that just because one group has a majority of members, that they are correct.  From this, one can draw several possible conclusions:  Maybe God does not wish to be worshipped, and didn’t create any of these holy books.  Maybe he has very loose standards of what is an acceptable form of worship, and all of these fall within it.  Maybe Satan has been wildly successful in confusing the issue, so that at most, only 1 in 6 people on Earth are actually doing what God wants (Muslims and Catholics each have about one billion members).  Or, maybe there is no God.  If there is a god, he/she/it certainly doesn’t seem to care enough about

According to most Christians, God created mankind asked that they worship him and do his bidding, and if they do, when they die, they go to heaven, where they bask in God’s presence and praise him for all eternity.  Thus, God created worshippers.  One has to ask why.  Surely if he is all-powerful, he doesn’t need people reminding him of this all the time.  Unless he is all-powerful and incredibly insecure.  If the neighbors down the way raised their kids to do nothing other than sit around and tell them what great parents they were, punishing their children heavily if they refused, you’d question their sanity (and possibly call Child Protective Services).  We all appreciate being praised for our efforts, but demanding praise, and insisting on it is not a positive attribute.  It reeks of insecurity, a lack of faith in one’s own works, and a desire for servility from those around you.  And so we have a paradox.  God claims to be perfect, yet his insistence on being worshipped is a flaw.

The Mormon church’s main draw is that they have upped the reward factor for worshipping God.  Instead of merely going to Heaven to praise God, you then go on to being a God yourself.  Presumably trying to make a better go of it that the God of the planet you came from.  The other religions listed above generally give you an afterlife where you live quietly and nothing bad happens to you.  This is a huge reward to your average peasant/serf/citizen of almost all of recorded history (what with plague, famine, invading hordes, etc.).  However, by the 1800s, and certainly today, these aren’t really concerns.  Your average American does not so much worry that severely bad things will happen to them, as hope that good things do happen.  So a lack of bad things is not much of a reward.  But becoming a God is about as big a reward as you can get.  Tangentially, I assume that this means Mormons believe the universe is infinite.  (as otherwise, the exponential growth of planets producing new gods for other worlds would quickly fill a finite universe)

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