Religion the History of Religion Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

Without an understanding of the Arian crisis, it is difficult to understand why later theological debates ensued and tore apart people who essentially believe in the same basic religion. Some Christians might take for granted that Christ is divine, whereas others view Jesus more as a human messenger of God. The Romans were debating this very issue several thousand years ago.

Second, the story of Arius and Athanasius shows that Christianity was not founded by Jesus Christ. Christianity was founded by those who came after Jesus. Christianity was also formed over time, and as the result of crises as bloody and violent as the one that Rubenstein describes in When Jesus Became God. Jesus set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the formation of a new religion, even though Jesus himself might only have been trying to
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reform Judaism. Jesus may have preached of a new faith and covenant with God, but probably did not anticipate or desire the ugly clashes that emerged when followers disagreed about who Jesus was and what he represented for the human race.

Rubenstein's book shows that Jesus left considerable strife in his wake. Followers who believed in Jesus did not necessarily interpret the gospels the same way. The gospels were interpreted differently by different people, and their meanings change over time. In fact, Christians today do not agree about what Jesus meant or how to define Christianity. The Catholic Church codifies Christianity for Catholics, and Protestants have their own diverse set of opinions and theologies. Therefore, Rubenstein's book illustrates the essential diversity of Christianity, and the story of the Arian crisis illuminates some of the problems that modern Christians face today.

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