Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stages of Christianity

Appearance of the Word of God in human form, the God-Man Jesus Christ; this event is now called the Incarnation.
On the authority of the prophet John the baptizer, some of his disciples leave him and become disciples of Jesus.
By his personal call, Jesus attracts more disciples to himself.
Jesus preaches the Word to the people, some of whom become interested in him for various reasons, but his following remains very small, the group we know as the disciples.
Jesus sends these disciples out from him, in twos, to preach the same message in the local area to the Jewish people.
Knowledge of Jesus and his message grows throughout the region of Palestine and even a little outside of it; his audience, but not his disciples, increases in number.
Still having a small number of disciples, and a slightly larger number of followers, Jesus Christ comes into sufficient conflict with the religious establishment, for them to take action against him; they bring him to the civil authorities and request his execution.
Jesus Christ is judged in a series of irregular legal proceedings and is condemned to death; he dies, crucified, as a common criminal, abandoned by all but one disciple, his mother, and a few women followers.
Some of his sympathizers among the local notables request and are granted possession of his corpse from the civil authorities; they temporarily place it in a newly excavated tomb.
The civil authorities station guards at the tomb to prevent his followers from retrieving and hiding the corpse; this is done at the request of the religious authorities, who fear that the disciples will steal the corpse and pretend that Jesus is resurrected from the dead.
Despite the guards, the corpse disappears within two or three days; at first, some women begin to testify that Jesus is alive and has spoken to them.
For a period of forty days, Jesus appears alive, first to his disciples, later to his followers as well, teaching them the rest of his message, especially explaining the significance of his death; this event is now called the Resurrection.
Jesus Christ, in the presence of at least his disciples, but probably also of some of his relatives and followers, disappears in an event now called the Ascension.
Ten days after the disappearance of Jesus, a mixture of his original disciples and followers experience a prophetic anointing during a prayer vigil and begin to publicly preach the message of Jesus Christ.
The distinction between disciple and follower disappears, as the group of believers in the message rapidly grows, combining latent followers with new hearers.
The community of disciples becomes organized, and those who preach the message emerge as apostles; there is no break with the established religion, only a revision of its content, among the disciples.
The established religion excludes the brotherhood of disciples, who assemble separately outside it; the apostles are succeeded by their personal disciples who emerge as elders and bishops.
The disciple community with its elders and bishops is recognized by the state as an entity, which institutionalizes it; the distinction between disciples and believers appears, the former becoming ascetics and monastics.
The institutionalized community of disciples and believers becomes the established religion, taking on many characteristics of the state, as the state erodes; non-conforming elements in the community are suppressed.
The state revives, localizes and divides the community, and makes citizenship and membership in its own established religion compulsory; discipleship is contained in special structures and marginalized.
Discipleship revives both within and outside the established religions; the state withdraws its support from them except as cultural constructs; divided communities of disciples and believers emerge.
Discipleship to the God-Man Jesus Christ supersedes the established religions and institutional forms of Christianity; the distinction between disciples, followers and believers disappears, and Jesus reappears in the same way he disappeared in an event called the Parousia.

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