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Pagan and Christian Creeds

16. The Exodus Of Christianity
We have dealt with the Genesis of Christianity; we now come to the Exodus. For
that Christianity can CONTINUE to hold the field of Religion in the Western World
is neither probable nor desirable. It is true, as I have remarked already, that there
is a certain trouble about defining what we mean by "Christianity" similar to that
about the word "Civilization." If we select out of the great mass of doctrines and
rites favored by the various Christian Churches just those which commend
themselves to the most modern and humane and rational human mind and
choose to call that resulting (but rather small) body of belief and practice
'Christianity' we are, of course, entitled to do so, and to hope (as we do hope)
that this residuum will survive and go forward into the future. But this sort of
proceeding is hardly fair and certainly not logical. It enables Christianity to pose
as an angel of light while at the same time keeping discreetly out of sight all its
own abominations and deeds of darkness. The Church--which began its career
by destroying, distorting and denying the pagan sources from which it sprang;
whose bishops and other ecclesiastics assassinated each other in their
theological rancour "of wild beasts," which encouraged the wicked folly of the
Crusades--especially the Children's Crusades--and the shameful murders of the
Manicheans, the Albigenses, and the Huguenots; which burned at the stake
thousands and thousands of poor 'witches' and 'heretics'; which has hardly ever
spoken a generous word in favor or defence of the animals; which in modern
times has supported vivisection as against the latter, Capitalism and
Commercialism as against the poorer classes of mankind; and whose priests in
the forms of its various sects, Greek or Catholic, Lutheran or Protestant, have in
these last days rushed forth to urge the nations to slaughter each other with
every diabolical device of Science, and to glorify the war-cry of Patriotism in
defiance of the principle of universal Brotherhood--such a Church can hardly
claim to have established the angelic character of its mission among mankind!
And if it be said--as it often IS SAID: "Oh! but you must go back to the genuine
article, and the Church's real origin and one foundation in the person and
teaching of Jesus Christ," then indeed you come back to the point which this
book, as above, enforces: namely, that as to the person of Jesus, there is no
CERTAINTY at all that he ever existed; and as to the teaching credited to him, it
is certain that that comes down from a period long anterior to 'Christianity' and is
part of what may justly be called a very ancient World-religion. So, as in the case
of 'Civilization,' we are compelled to see that it is useless to apply the word to
some ideal state of affairs or doctrine (an ideal by no means the same in all
people's minds, or in all localities and times), but that the only reasonable thing to
do is to apply it in each case to a HISTORICAL PERIOD. In the case of
Christianity the historical period has lasted nearly 2,000 years, and, as I say, we
can hardly expect or wish that it should last much longer.
 
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