Christianity, however, [strikeout illegible] survived because it appeared to be the result of a trend in the social order or in the historical cycle of the human race. Forces have been known to delay trends but very few have stopped them. The staggering question that now arises is, what will be the next stage of man’s religious progress? Is Christianity the crowning achievement in the development of religious thought or will there be another religion more advanced? Martin Luther King, Jr.,
The above quote was from Dr. King’s paper, “The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity” that he wrote in 1949-50 at Crozer Theological Seminary. I read the paper (online) and found it fascinating-as well as true-regarding the mystery religions’ influence on Christianity.
As history points out, Christianity was not even “Christian” at first start. Jesus, during his ministry, was trying to reform Judaism and teach that we and God were closer than what was erroneously taught by the religious teachers of his day. It was later, we started hearing the term “Christian” bandied about. It was also when we started to see the pre-Christian mystery religions’ influence on the faith: blood sacrifice, dying/rising godman, December 25th birth…to name a few. Coupled with an endorsement by the Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th Century CE, Christianity became a hip and very storied religion that was to be believed without question.
Christianity had a very big influence in the following centuries-both good and bad. I won’t go into detail, save one little episode in the 15th Century called the Reformation. It was here that an ex-monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg (Germany), and sparked the movement that birth Protestantism.
Over the next five centuries, we saw changes coming about in Christianity. Some were by external forces such as Humanism, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and Evolution. Others were from the inside as theologians wrestled with long-cherished Biblical doctrine, which ultimately produced Higher Criticism, Process Theology, and Liberation Theology-to name a few.
Now as we are in the 21st Century, I see what could be the next step in Christianity; a step heralded by Rudolf Bultmann, Don Cupitt and Rev. Michael Dowd: a shift from the supernatural to the natural. From God to “Life“‘, or to “Reality Personified“.
Yes I said it. Thanks to science smacking down long cherished doctrine such as Creationism and the “unnaturalness” of homosexuality; and archaeology re-writing what really happened in history regarding the Bible, we’re seeing a shift to the natural, to Reality. There is a slow, but growing movement that will come out of “traditional” Christianity just as Protestantism grew out of the Catholic Church centuries earlier. People-especially the young-who see the Church as an anti-science, anti-Gay, anachronism will begin to embrace this next step.
Remember, as I said in a previous post I’m a photographer, not a prognosticator. I take a picture of what is and allow others to draw their conclusion. That being said, what I see is a Christianity that will be Reality/Life based. That “God” will be the personification of reality and of nature. We will see see the Bible (as well as other holy books) as an ancient people’s interpretation and personification of the Universe in their primeval terms. We see Christians who see this life as the most important existence there is and downplaying any “afterlife”. We’ll see people looking at facts and empirical knowledge; looking at scriptures as lore that’s part of our collective history. Also people will shed the supernatural tales of angels, demons, talking snakes, six-day creations, virgin births and end times “visions”.
Me? I have my own beliefs as you’ve known from past posts. Plus I could be wrong, so please don’t bet your paycheck on my words. There are many roads that Christianity could take in its future if we don’t destroy ourselves. Many will still embrace Christianity in its current state out of security. However the words of Dr. King which opened this post still ring out and bear listening to:
Is Christianity the crowning achievement in the development of religious thought or will there be another religion more advanced?
Time will tell. Peace.