Innovators World, Overview

Moral Innovator perspectives on Christianity #2

This is the second of three essays on Christianity that cover the three Christian breakthroughs from a Moral Innovator perspective:
1. The formation that started 2,000 years ago
2. The split between Orthodox and Catholics 1,000 years ago
3. The split between Catholics and Protestants 500 years ago

In Christianity #1 dated September 11th, 2016, the focus was on formation of Christianity 2,000 years ago. Pre-Christian communities like Essenes and Therapeutae focused on the soul or spirit. Several centuries after the death of Jesus, the writers of the Bible’s New Testament wanted believers to yield their souls to the consubstantial Jesus Christ, leaving all Christian believers only with their personalities. By adopting the Greek philosophers’ “Logos” (instead of Ethos or Pathos) approach to present compelling arguments for the soul and spirit, pre-Christian communities like Essenes and Therapeutae (and later Gnostics) had to become heretics. This story has not ended, as we may be able to find out more through the Dead Sea Scrolls which have been attributed to writings mostly of the Essenes.

In Christianity #2, we focus on the split between Orthodox and Catholics which was formalized in the year 1054, about 1,000 years ago. Why was there a divergence within Christianity?
The answer lies in the adoption of Logos which use arguments to justify a new concept (such as a religion) based on logic, not credibility (Ethos) or emotions (Pathos). The Roman Empire played a critical role in Europe that helped Christianity grow without consensus. Catholicism was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380ce. This action obfuscated the concept of “Separation of Church and State” that is a fundamental concept in the USA today. The Roman Emperor Constantine (272-337ce) reigned between 306-337ce. In February 313ce, he declared in the Edict of Milan that Christians could follow Christianity without oppression. In 325ce, he summoned the first ecumenical church in Nicaea where the trinity (or consubstantial Jesus) was established. Anything that disagreed such as Arianism and Nestorianism (which led Christianity into Asia and is the Church of the East today) were rejected and later declared heretical, just like the Essenes.

The Orthodox Church did not adopt the Latin (Roman) influence in various practices, an example of which is the use of leavened (i.e. bread made with yeast) or unleavened (i.e. tortilla or Indian Naan) bread during the Catholic Eucharist (or Protestant Communion). In 1053, the Latin (i.e. Roman) Catholics forced the closure of all orthodox churches in southern Italy. By 1054, all Latin churches in Constantinople were closed by the leader of The Orthodox Church, or Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Michael I. Cerularius (1000-1059ce).

It should not be a surprise that when Pope Leo IX (1002-1054ce) sent a team (or legates) to Constantinople in 1054 to claim supremacy over all Christians, including Orthodox, the leader of The Orthodox Church rejected the claim. Pope Leo IX then excommunicated the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople who, in turn, excommunicated the legates who carried the excommunication message.

What were the underlying moral values behind this Great Schism? Probably not a matter of whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used during a ritual that is considered a sacrament in most churches (started by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper). After all, the differences between the King James Bible interpretation of the New Testament (e.g. more lenient views on adultery) seems more significant than what type of bread should be used in a sacrament.

The moral values that drove the 1054 schism reflect a splintered religion based on more fundamental issues such as whether Jesus is God, and whether the trinity can have all the soul and spirit of all humans (not just the Christian followers). From a Moral Innovator perspective, both Orthodox and Catholic Christians agree that Jesus preached a moral message. Jesus did not explicitly proclaim he himself was God. Backed by the Roman Empire, Roman Catholics used Logos to present Jesus as part of the trinity. We know that Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476ce, but Eastern Roman Empire continued through 1453 in the form of the Byzantine Empire, through this 1054 schism. We can decide for ourselves whether Jesus is part of the trinity listening to Logos, Ethos, or Pathos approaches, or we can invent another approach that humans can accept over time.

Today, we know that The Orthodox Church has 200-300 million followers, most of them in Russia and Eastern Europe. Like Protestants, Orthodox has no central leader like the Pope in Catholicism. We also cannot ignore the influence of 20th century Communism on Orthodoxy when Stalin industrialized (with the associated Gulag atrocity) Russia, followed by oil and gas money especially after 1973.

An effective way to address the differences between Orthodox and Catholics is to return to the original message Jesus himself preached during his three years of actual preaching: Love thy neighbor. It is still a moral message.

We could not adopt “Ethos” instead of “Logos” to present Christianity because we do not know enough about historical Jesus. Christianity started to present “Pathos” or emotions which cannot be sustained. Since we have not returned to Jesus’ original message, we have continued to splinter in the last 1,000 years. The next major schism was the emergence of Protestants about 500 years ago when Martin Luther and others challenged Catholicism. That will be the topic of Christianity #3.

Similar essays on Islam will be posted after Christianity, followed by Indians and Chinese civilizations. After we look at Christianity, Islam, Indians and Chinese, we will have addressed over 90% of the 7+ billion humans, and begin to address how Moral Innovations can facilitate a peaceful, homologous world. It will not be Utopia, but we can still thrive with knowledge of your places in the world, so we can do the right things and make it better.