THE FORMATION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
(previous title – the Two Branches Of Christianity)
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© June 2022, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
This article is about the early history and formation of the Christian religion. Most of the information in this article is not well known. We hope it does not offend anyone. That is certainly not the intention. The intent is only to set the record straight.
We realize that most people live busy lives and do not have the time to delve into these matters. We will give our sources and you can explore it more, if you wish.
WHO WAS YESHUA?
Dates. Yeshua, the true name of Jesus in his language of Aramaic, lived from about the year 1 AD to the year 34 AD. His ministry of teaching lasted only about 3.5 years. Then he was murdered by the Romans who controlled the area now called Israel.
Some think the Hebrews put Yeshua to death. The Romans may have wanted it to look that way, but the Hebrew people of that time did not have the power to kill anyone. The Romans ruled the territory and made the decision that Yeshua could be a threat and it was better to eliminate him.
Most people do not understand the sheer horror of the Roman Empire. After the crucifixion, the Romans hunted down and killed all the followers of Yeshua that they could find. They felt that his teachings were a threat to their power.
Bands of Roman soldiers on large horses literally roamed the streets of Jerusalem and the rest of Canaan murdering anyone whom they thought had any connection with him. They left a trail of dead bodies in their wake.
Socialism. Today, the Roman governmental system would be called socialism. The word means total government control and government ownership of land and other resources. It is the most dangerous type of government in the world because there are no checks on its power.
THE TEACHINGS OF YESHUA
A few people survived, however, and formed several groups to keep Yeshua’s ideas alive.
Yeshua thought of himself as a Hebrew prophet or teacher. Some called him a master. He had worked with a number of spiritual teachers starting in childhood.
As a result, he had unusual abilities, particularly in the area of healing. He also could see the future, to a degree.
I am told that the main teaching of Yeshua was a set of small books. These were designed to restore the Hebrew religion to its origins as a simple, straightforward religion about what this website calls development.
Development is an ancient teaching that has been revived a number of times on earth in an attempt to help the people of our planet. For details, read Introduction To Development.
We believe that copies of these books will be found some day.
THE MAIN GROUP OF FOLLOWERS
The biggest group of the followers of Yeshua remained living in hiding in Jerusalem. Its first leader was the brother of Yeshua, whose name was Ya’akov or James. He was another wise man.
James is mentioned in The Gospel of Mark, 6:1-3:
Jesus … came to his hometown … On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded.
They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!
Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?
The Roman group. A few of the original friends or disciples of Yeshua were in prison in Rome. This is the group everyone knows about. They are described in detail in the New Testament Of The Bible. The early leader was Paul, who had changed his name from Saul of Tarsus. The Romans murdered him around 43 AD.
MORE ABOUT THE JERUSALEM GROUP OF FRIENDS OF YESHUA
Briefly, Ya’akov or James, stepped down from leadership around 62 AD. Symeon, a cousin of Yeshua, took over as leader of the Jerusalem group.
In 70 AD, the Romans decided to end the “Hebrew problem”. By this time, the Roman Empire was becoming more and more brutal and murderous.
They marched a large army into Jerusalem, totally destroyed the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem, and murdered as many of the people of the city as they could find.
This included some members of the Jerusalem group of followers. Fortunately, many were warned and escaped.
The escape of the Hebrew people from Jerusalem and surrounding areas is famous and known in history books as the diaspora. You can read about it on the internet.
As a result, the true messages and books by Yeshua became scattered throughout Europe.
EVIDENCE OF THE ABOVE
The literature of the time amply documents the existence of the Jerusalem followers of Yeshua. In some texts, they are called the Naasenes, Nazoreans or Nazarenes. This has nothing to do with the present-day Church Of The Nazarenes.
A fairly recent book presents the evidence for the importance of Ya’akov, the brother of Yeshua. The book’s title is The Brother Of Jesus And The Lost Teachings Of Christianity by Jeffrey J. Butz, Inner Traditions, Vermont, USA 2005.
The book mentions that the Jerusalem group, unlike the Pauline group, believed that non-Hebrew people who wanted to become followers of Yeshua needed to follow the basic Hebrew laws and covenant. This mainly included circumcision of all male children and the laws governing food and diet.
DETAILS ABOUT THE FOUNDING OF CHRISTIANITY
Yeshua was a teacher. He did not think of himself as God. That came much later. Briefly, here is what occurred.
By the year 300 AD, the Roman Empire was in decline. It had splintered into two pieces.
A man named Constantine had been declared the Emperor in York, located today in England. However, another man, Maxentius, still ruled in Rome.
Constantine wanted to reunite the Roman Empire. In October of 312 AD, he marched his army toward Rome.
Around October 27, 312 AD, Constantine had the famous vision of the cross. He saw a vision of the sun, a symbol he worshipped, with a cross overlaid on it. Underneath were the words “In this sign, prevail.” This vision is quite famous and you can read about it on the internet.
Constantine decided the vision was a sign to attack. The next day he had his men paint crosses on their shields. Then they attacked the forces of Maxentius.
That day he won an amazing victory in the Battle Of Milvian Bridge. You can read about it.
The following day, he took back complete control of the entire Roman Empire.
The new religion. The vision of the cross haunted Constantine from that day forward. When he grew old he decided to convert the entire Roman Empire to a new religion that he designed.
THE COUNCIL OF NICEA
What we call the Christian religion, and the teachings that are today the New Testament of the Bible, are not the only stories about Yeshua. They were the ones picked by Emperor Constantine and formalized into the New Testament of the Bible at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. You can read about it on the internet.
He named the new religion the Roman Catholic Church. The word Catholic means universal. He also declared that from that day forward, all people living in the Roman Empire, which included most of the known world at that time, were to become Roman Catholics.
Emperor Constantine told the attendees of the Council of Nicea that to make the new religion easy for the Roman people to adopt, they had to change some of the original teachings of Yeshua.
He announced over 100 changes to the original documents regarding the life and teachings of Yeshua. All copies of the original documents were to be changed or destroyed.
THE ATTENDEES AT NICEA
Those who attended this meeting were almost all from Rome and most were stooges of the Emperor.
Saint Nickolas. Only one man who knew the original teachings of Yeshua was invited to the meeting.
This was a young rabbi named Nickolaos of Myra. He was raised by his grandfather, who possessed some of the original books written by Yeshua. Nickolaos loved the teachings and he incorporated them into his sermons and other activities of his Hebrew synagogue located in Eastern Europe.
At the meeting, Emperor Constantine ordered Nickolaos to change to the new religion, which he did on penalty of death. He was later made one of the first saints of the Catholic Church and is known today as Saint Nickolas.
We know his name today as Santa Claus – a German translation of his name. Incidentally, he loved to give people gifts – often secretly.
He is important because he risked his life to attend the meeting at Nicea. At the meeting, he objected to many of the changes that Constantine made to the original teachings of Yeshua. At one point, he had to hide for months to escape assassination by the Romans. For details about this interesting man, read Nickolaos of Myra and The Legend Of Santa Claus.
THE WORDS ‘CHRIST’ AND ‘CHRISTIAN’
These words came from Emperor Constantine. Christ was an old Greek word that meant the anointed one.
They decided that Christ sounded better than his real name – Yeshua (emphasis on the first syllable – YESH-ua). During his lifetime, people called him Yesh for short. The name means love in the Ebre language, an ancient language related to Hebrew and Aramaic.
The English word, yes, has the same first three letters and comes directly from this name. Each time you say the word YES you are speaking his real name!
Emperor Constantine also needed a common name with which to refer to the man he decided would be the leader of the new religion. They used a common Roman name of the time – Jesus or Jesu.
The historical documents tell a somewhat different story about the apostles. They say there were more of them, about 100. Also, most were women.
Women played a very important role. Often, they understood the teachings better than the men. Two sisters of Yeshua were among them.
Emperor Constantine did not like this so he ordered the gospels changed. The Roman Empire was very male-dominated! Women were treated as slaves, raped if the men wanted it, and women were thoroughly degraded. It was one of the worst features of the Roman Empire!
MIRIAM OF MAGDALENE
Another fact revealed in one of the historical documents is that Mary of Magdalene, whose real name was Miriam, was not a prostitute. Once again, the story was changed to satisfy Emperor Constantine. He wanted women degraded.
DYING FOR OUR SINS
According to the Jerusalem followers, Yeshua did not die to atone for our sins. He died to demonstrate that a man could overcome the slings and arrows of the physical world and could survive.
We mention this because it is difficult for some to accept Emperor Constantine’s new doctrine that Yeshua died to atone for our sins. By understanding that there was another teaching on the subject of the crucifixion, it may help some people accept other important Bible teachings.
We know that for many Christians, the Pauline doctrine is central. However, for others it is a stumbling block and perhaps this need not be so.
The original doctrine of Yeshua was that love is the key to the Kingdom Of Heaven. This includes loving God, loving what is good and true and beautiful, and loving others.
Yeshua explained that loving others has nothing to do with having sex with someone. It is about having good will toward everyone at all times, even your enemies whom you must defeat and kill.
Emperor Constantine did not emphasize love nearly as much. The Romans were not that loving. His version of the Christian religion emphasized rituals more than love.
Yeshua taught that each person can and does have a personal relationship with God. He criticized the Pharisees and some of the Hebrew practices in which the Hebrew “high priests” controlled the people.
However, Emperor Constantine did not like this. He did not want the common people to have any power.
He favored a hierarchy with priests and a pope at the top of the hierarchy. So this teaching was changed when the Roman Church was founded in 325 AD.
THE ONLY SON
Yeshua did not teach that he was the only son of God. He called himself a prophet or messenger of God. Emperor Constantine, however, did not like this. He wanted a simple, hierarchical religion so he changed the teaching and made Yeshua the only son of God.
Some of the gospels contradict this idea when they quote Yeshua as saying “Greater things than I shall you do”.
Most priests and pastors skip over this verse in the Bible because they don’t understand it. However, it makes perfect sense if you understand that Yeshua was not the only son of God. He was just one prophet and messenger and there had been and will be many others. In fact, we are all the children of God.