The Christian Church is not Christian
There, I’ve said it.
And it needs to be said.
Religions and churches are distinguished from each other primarily by their beliefs, and by the way their adherents live as guided by those beliefs. Most religions get their beliefs from their sacred literature, and from their great spiritual leaders and teachers.
Hinduism follows the Vedas, particularly the Upanishads.
Buddhism follows the teachings of Gautama Buddha.
Judaism follows the teachings of the books of Moses and the rest of the Hebrew Bible, as interpreted and expanded by many rabbinic teachers over the centuries.
Islam follows the teachings in the Qur’an, as delivered by its great prophet, Muhammad.
And Christianity follows the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, and of the Bible as a whole.
Only it doesn’t.
None of the key teachings of the vast bulk of Christian churches are taught anywhere in the Bible. Jesus Christ himself did not teach any of the beliefs that these churches have set up as their primary, distinguishing doctrines.
Are some of their members Christians? Certainly, if they live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But the churches themselves are not Christian. They have long since abandoned the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible in favor of doctrines that human theologians and councils have invented over the centuries.
Let’s look at some of the major non-Christian teachings that are at the center of these “Christian” churches.
The Trinity of Persons is Not a Christian Teaching
The Trinity of Persons is not a Christian teaching.
The Trinity of Persons is taught by the vast bulk of churches that call themselves Christian, including the Orthodox churches in the Eastern tradition, and the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches in the Western tradition. In that loose sense, it could be called a “Christian” doctrine. But the Trinity of Persons is not taught by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, and it is not taught anywhere else in the Bible.
The Trinity of Persons did not come from the Bible. It came from various human theologians and councils, probably starting in the late second or early third century. It became official church doctrine at the First Council of Nicaea in the year 325 AD. This council was called by the Roman emperor Constantine, who personally presided over it.
Historians commonly say that Constantine, who was born and raised as a pagan polytheist, was the first Christian emperor, and converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. It would be more accurate to say that under Constantine, Christianity converted to pagan polytheism. Ever since, Christianity has worshiped three gods, called God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, while giving lip service to the idea that there is one God.
That’s why the Christian Church is not Christian. All of its other non-Christian beliefs are based on this fundamental belief in three gods.
For more on this please see:
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Polytheistic?
- What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity?
The Idea that Jesus’ Death Satisfied God the Father is Not Christian
Not long after the Great Schism that divorced Eastern and Western Christianity from each other in the year 1054, a new idea originated within the Western branch of Christianity. It was first presented in a book called Cur Deus Homo (“Why God was a Man”), whose author was a Catholic monk named Anselm. At the time he wrote the book, Anselm was serving as the archbishop of Canterbury in England.
Anselm was not happy with the theory of atonement that had reigned in Christianity for the first thousand years of its existence. That theory, sometimes called Christus Victor (“Christ the Victor”), held that Jesus saved us by defeating the Devil and thereby freeing us from slavery to the power of evil and sin.
In Cur Deus Homo, Anselm makes an elaborate rational argument in support of an entirely new theory, which became known as the satisfaction theory of atonement. God, Anselm argued, was offended by human sin, and required restitution for it. But fallen and sinful humans, he said, are not capable of providing that restitution. Therefore God’s Son, Jesus Christ, made the required restitution through his death on the cross. This death satisfied God’s need for restitution, thus redeeming sinful humans.
In Western Christianity, this new theory of atonement replaced the original Christian belief based on the Bible’s portrayal of Christ’s victory over the Devil. After Anselm originated satisfaction theory, it was further developed by theologians such as Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas into the present-day Catholic doctrine of atonement.
After the second great schism in Christianity, in which Protestantism divorced itself from the Roman Catholic Church, theologians such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Hodge developed a distinctly Protestant form of satisfaction theory known as penal substitution. This is the idea that by his death on the cross Jesus Christ paid the penalty for human sins, thus satisfying God’s wrath at human beings for their sinfulness, and redeeming people who accept this “vicarious atonement” by having faith in Jesus.
There’s only one problem with satisfaction theory and its penal substitution variant: Jesus Christ does not teach it in the Gospels, nor does the Bible teach it anywhere else. That’s why Anselm used rational, not biblical, arguments to propose it in the first place.
The Bible never says that Christ’s death on the cross satisfied God’s justice, nor does it ever say that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. In fact, the Bible flatly rejects the whole idea that the suffering or punishment of an innocent person (in this case, Jesus Christ) could make up for the sins of a guilty person.
For more on this, please see:
- Did Jesus Really Die to Pay the Penalty for our Sins?
- The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 5: Jesus Paid the Penalty For Our Sins?
- What about 2 Corinthians 5:21? Didn’t God make Christ to be sin for us?
In short, the Catholic and Protestant teaching that by his death on the cross God the Son satisfied the justice, or the wrath, of God the Father is not a Christian teaching.
That’s another reason why the Catholic and Protestant churches are not Christian, even if some of their members are.
The Belief that Only Christians are Saved is Not Christian
What could be more Christian than believing that you have to be a Christian and believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved? Almost all of the “Christian” churches have taught this for hundreds or even thousands of years.
But this belief is not Christian
It is not Christian because it is not taught by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, nor is it taught anywhere else in the Bible. In fact, the two most prominent teachers in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ himself, both give very clear teachings about how non-Christians are saved.
Traditional Christians point to a number of verses in the Bible to support their idea that only Christians are saved. But even though some of these verses sort of sound like they say that, if you read them carefully and in context, you will find that they don’t actually say that only Christians are saved.
How could they, when in Matthew 25:31–46 Jesus teaches very clearly that people of all nations (not just the Christian nations) will go to eternal life if they do deeds of kindness for their fellow human beings in need? How could they, when in Romans 2:1–16 Paul teaches very clearly how Jews, “Greeks” (pagan polytheists) and Gentiles—none of whom are Christians—are saved through Jesus Christ if they do good deeds according to their own conscience?
As strange as it may sound, the fact that many churches teach that only Christians are saved is yet another reason why those churches are not Christian. They have rejected the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles about who is saved, and have substituted their own human ideas.
For more on this, please see:
- Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
- Did Jesus ever actually say, “If you don’t believe in me you will go to hell”?
- Does John 3:18 Mean that All Non-Christians Go to Hell?
Faith Alone is Not Christian
Four or five centuries after Anselm originated the non-Christian satisfaction theory of atonement, another Catholic monk, Martin Luther, originated his own non-Christian theory: justification by faith alone. Ever since then, Protestants of every denomination have viewed salvation by faith alone as the most important teaching of the Bible.
Except the Bible doesn’t teach it.
In fact, the term “faith alone” appears only once in the Bible, and in that one place it is specifically rejected:
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
That’s why Martin Luther made an effort to remove the book of James from the Bible, along with three other New Testament books. Fortunately, he didn’t succeed. However, his Protestant followers have written thousands of sermons and articles crammed full of ingenious arguments as to why James didn’t really mean what he said.
If somewhere else the Bible did say that we are justified by faith alone, there might be some basis for their arguments. But it doesn’t. Neither Jesus nor Paul nor any other teacher in the New Testament says that we are saved by faith alone. Paul could have said it. He had the vocabulary and the writing skill to say it. But he never did say it. That’s because Paul believed no such thing.
And that’s why no Christian for the first 1,500 years of Christian history believed that we are saved by faith alone. It wasn’t until Luther invented this idea as the doctrinal cornerstone of his break from the Roman Catholic Church that an entire branch of Christianity came to believe this unbiblical and non-Christian doctrine.
The simple fact of the matter is that not only do Jesus and the Bible as a whole not teach this doctrine, but the Bible specifically rejects it. That’s why churches that teach this doctrine are not Christian.
For more on this, please see:
- Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
- Faith Alone Is Not Faith
- Doesn’t Ephesians 2:8–9 Teach Faith Alone?
Christians Follow the Teachings of Jesus Christ
There are many more doctrines taught by traditional Christian churches that Jesus never taught, and that are not taught anywhere else in the Bible. But this should be enough to establish that the churches that claim to be Christian are Christian in name only. The reality is that these churches are not Christian at all. Over the centuries they have abandoned the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and have replaced them with human ideas and traditions
Many Protestants even have the audacity to argue that there is no need to listen to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels because, they claim, they are part of the Old Covenant, and do not apply to people living under the New Covenant. By openly rejecting Jesus’ teachings, they are passing judgment upon themselves that they are not Christians. Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Christian Church is not Christian. It has stepped right into the shoes of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, of whom Christ himself said in Matthew 15:6–9:
So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.
For further reading:
- Christianity is Dead. Long Live Christianity!
- Today’s Christianity: Vastly Void of Truth
- “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach
- Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach
- Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?
- Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
- The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus