Confusion Is Indigenous To Christianity.

Whenever I read accounts of the first few hundred years, CE, or read/hear a religious scholar explain the Bible, I see people trying to bring order where there is none.

One attempt to bring order to the confusion is to yield to authorities.  In the faith it is often said,  “Officially appointed authorities tells us what the truth is.  We need to accept that.”

This pattern goes back to the 325 and the Council of Nicea.  All kinds of controversies were alive.  Which god of many gods was the real one? Was a “spirit” different from a god or the same thing?

There was so much confusion, Emperor Constantine called for a Council to bring order.  Today, many churches recite the Nicene Creed which tells us in effect, “Stop the confusion, worship only this one god.”  When this oath is repeated, it seems fair to say we are bowing to the Emperor Constantine.

Watching a debate on the web I was struck at how often a Christian professor referred to the credentials of those who thought like he did.  Referring to those “authorities” allowed him to avoid dealing with conflicting messages of the Bible.

Officialdom is interested in eliminating confusion and disarray.  Yet, confusion and disarray continue because such is indigenous to Christianity.  Eyewitnesses and facts are missing.  Accounts of what happened are conflicting.  Authorities can paint over all this.

Perhaps one day the faith will give up trying to make sense of it all and sing, “Let Chaos Reign.”

P. S.  My friend and occassional poster here, Father Oliver Herbel of the Orthodox Church, has just published his second book.  I hope many will consider buying it.


30 Responses

  1. entech

    Good question, was it either? Didn’t Constantine simply convene and leave them to it, taking no actual part in the discussions. Apart from opening the proceedings was he actually “AT” the council in terms of being a participant.

    Perhaps Jon, is mixing it up with the Council at Alexandria convened by St. Alexander the bishop of Alexandria only a few years earlier.

    Bishops and Popes often confuse themselves with being empowers anyway. And nothing appears to have been settled ” Sub specie aeternitatis “, otherwise all the thousands of denominations that we have now.

  2. eric haugen

    I have attended quite a few scientific conferences. On many occasions they will have a seminar in which experts in the field give a point/counterpoint argument as to the state of the art. Quite often no consensus is gained. Quite often the arguments are quite vigorous. In no way does it make the issue being discussed irrelevant. In no way does it make a mockery of the profession. I imagine the same types of debates occur when experts in about any field get together to discuss their area of interest. How come you hold Christians accountable to a different standard?

    1. entech

      If you mean something like the standard model of particle physics and whether string theory is an extension or something different I think this is totally different. If you listen to some of the proponents of one theory against another you will find a certain amount of mockery, unless you think you should think about someone saying I wish hSoandSo would just shut up and go back to school is only robust.
      Not only that in physics, astrophysics and so on everyone in the field will concede that it is mostly speculation. (some may need to be pushed s little harder than others). The main difference is, and this is why a different and higher standard is required, Christians are making definitive and absolute statements: to quote Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” If you say this “IS” the way it all began and what it is all about does need more to back it up that saying, “the best evidence I can find would indicate … “. Without some higher standard you are left with Sagan’s “dragon in my garage”

      1. eric haugen

        Roger Penrose (I believe he was an atheist) calculates the probability of a universe with our particular set of physical properties being formed as 10 to the (10th) to the (123). Our fossil data is completely lacking. We do not have the last common ancestor. The chimpanzee, our closest relative has the following genetic differences: 53 complete or partial gene deletions; 5 million insertion/deletion events; 35 million single nucleotide changes and 4% difference in non-coding DNA segments (I say this to ask where are all the other genotype and phenotype differences in the fossil data). I could go on. It was also interesting in a previous post that it was claimed that it is “impossible” for the dead to come to life. However, it is entirely necessary in evolution for that to occur. At some point, something that was not previously living had to develop cellular respiration. Something had to go from dead to non-dead in the process.

        Do these facts count as “extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence”?

        1. eric 3:34 “Roger Penrose….”

          Penrose is a mathematical physicist, a field which has nothing to do with evolution. Biologists say he doesn’t understand biology.

        2. entech

          It was also interesting in a previous post that it was claimed that it is “impossible” for the dead to come to life. However, it is entirely necessary in evolution for that to occur
          How does dead coming back to life have anything to do with the ideas of evolution? I always thought that was to do with passing on genetic material from living creatures to create more living creatures, possibly changing in small increments over the generations.

        3. entech

          Incidentally I don’t know where you get your ideas about probability, the probability of this specific universe is exactly 1, just look out of the window 💡
          Now if you want to say that there is a creator of the universe and he really loves to populate it with life and I look out of the window and see the people walking by I have to admit that you are of to a good start on your hypothesis, but you still have a long way to go. ➡

          1. eric haugen

            How did I link Penrose to evolution? I simply made a statement about the probability of the universe. If you believe that “In the beginning God” then the probability of this world happening by chance is 0. If you believe that this did all happen by chance and since we are here then probability of it happening is 1. Both presuppositions are biased. No one “wins” this argument. Bias is bias. In regards to coming back to life, think about it. At some point in the process something dead had to become something alive. At the center of the big bang nothing was living. It absolutely has everything to do with evolution because otherwise you and I would not be here. It would seem that you do not understand evolution very well.

          2. eric 12:33 Penrose and using exclusively random choices and probability have been discussed here before. On another occasion or two, I’ve invited my scientist friend, Jerry Faust, to come on here to explain evolution and probabiltiy. I’ll take a crack at explaining it, though it’s not my field.

            It turns out evolution is not based completely on random selection, this changes the probabilities. For example, let’s say there was a point in time when a prehuman but human like creature was here. Mostly, it walked on all fours. About 5% of them could walk upright. The 5% who walked upright could run/walk faster. They could thus outrun preditors better and find more food. Thus, they were stronger and supported more surviving children.

            But, even more important, they traveled further, learned more, bred with a wider variety of others who also traveled more and this led to a more intelligent creature. Here, the upright walking changed the probability of intelligence–it was no longer completely random.

            That’s why the probabilities Penrose came up with do not apply in an absolute sense. They are based on an assumption of random selection only.

          3. entech

            Evolutionary theory requires an entity capable of reproduction for it to begin working.

            Parthenogenesis, the origin of life is a different subject, one which no one has any knowledge about, lots of ideas and hypotheses but know knowledge. The answer could just as well be your creator, that is certainly not ruled out by any means.

            It is simply that Penrose was in the same paragraph and gave the appearance of being part of the same argument, the argument being that “this universe is so improbable, life is so improbable” all of which is true, it is truly amazing , the probability that some divine being created it on a whim one Wednesday afternoon is just as improbable.

            For a good perspective try watching the fertile universe by Father George Coyne, University of Arizona and formerly director of the Vatican observatory.

        4. Wolfy32

          The process of inanimate becomeing animate is the part where no one can explain as Entec has indicated. Evolution becomes easy enough to understand once you have a natural selection of living to choose from..

          However, the very moment where some primordial ooze went from just a bunch of sludge to living bacteria… well, begs the question how, why? where did it come from. Everything in our minds has to have an origin. Was the planet seeded by design? Much like the Titan Ship in Titan A.e. (a well done cartoon of all things)… Something full of various strains of bacteria and DNA just crashed into the earth and seeded all vegetation and all life?

          Where’s the remnants of that device? Or was it masked by an asteroid or comet or debris?
          Is there a “recipe” that if you take a bunch of compounds, throw them in an oven and pull them out, you have “cooked” bacteria into existence?

          Maybe that’s the fundamental arguement Christians have with Evolution. It’s not so much the process of evolution, but that they see it as a threat to how the first life on earth came to be…

          For all we know it was a satellite sent by a civilization to explore the universe and it crashed here with some of their own strains of bacteria and over time, it got vaporized by lava, and the development processes still going on the earth, but some of the initial bacteria survived.

          Maybe we’re all accidents /ancestors of some now long time gone civilization.. If that’s the case, then how did that civilization come to be… 🙂

    2. eric 3:17 “How come you hold Christian accountable to a different standard?”

      I don’t think we are. There is the same standard for everyone. Entech provided a good explanation. I’ll try another.

      In my field, the social sciences, the rules are one must separate variables established or observed from those not. For those variables that are not established or observed, an explicite assumption has to be made, “I assume this variable exists and affects or does not affect the outcome.” Then, an explanation is required for why this variable and not some other has been assumed to be influencing events.

      So, in the case of creationism, the Christian does not say (at least in discussions I have had), “I have not seen an invisible all-powerful being, but I’m assuming it is present.” Instead, the Christian says, “I know there is an invisible all-powerful being….”

      This “knowing” way of approaching the question has to be used because if the debator uses the phrase, “..I assume there is an invisible all-powerful being..” there is a requirement to justify the assumption. The rules of science do not allow someone to pick any assumption out of the blue. For example, if one person says, “I assume there is an all-powerful being but I have no defendable evidence such a being exists..” the next person could say, “I assume there are invisible faries everywhere, but I have no defendable evidence they exist..”

      Thus, Christians are not being singled out for special rules. The same rules apply to person putting forward the fairy variable.

  3. Catholic Dad

    It was 325 church was growing – and there was confusion in the ranks – there were schisms as well. 200+ bishops convened to all get on the same page, from the council at Nicene – the Nicene creed was born – the establishment of Easter time, and those two things still stand today. I’m not ready to sing “Let chaos reign”, but will fully admit there is still confusion in the Church – see Eric H. post above.

  4. Michael Ross

    Confusion, controversies, conflicting messages, chaos. That is all you see in Christianity. If that were all there was to Christian faith it would not have survived 2000 years. Remember the public didn’t have access to the Bible until the 17th century and America was the first biblically literate society. Just by chance it was the most ordered and at the same time the freest and most prosperous history had ever seen.

    “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

    1. entech

      And America (USA) has just dropped out of the top 20, down from 12. Probably God’s punishment for Gay Marriage 🙄

      1. entech 11:47 “Probably God’s punishment for Gay Marriage.”

        And then there was the tornado that just leveled some of Illinois. Illinois just legalized gay marriage. No tornado here in ND where it is still illegal. 🙂

        1. Wolfy32

          This million year old concept that whoever gets hit by a natural disaster deserved it… I just don’t get it? How Christian is that?? I saw there was a statement that a church or two in one town was spared while all the houses were leveled. So, I’m sure that’s going to be played on to say, God spared the church.

          However, all the church goers deserved to have their houses leveled? Sometimes…. Strange as it may be, there is no meaning in things. A friend once told me.. Sometimes a rose is just a rose!

  5. H.P. Drifter


    Machiavelli pointed out that factionalism as an historical weak point in the church. This weak point lead to the reformation, this is why all protestants and catholics are among us here on the blog, along with the free thinkers. The Church is at another historical weak position because of the factionalism we have in today’s churches.

    Now on a personal note more than ten years ago I wrote a paper for large company that wanted to know what the churches wanted and needed (as far as their services were concerned) I could only find 900 or so denominations to evaluate.

    Today on the internet after consulting several websites of various church organizations the number rose to 6,000 plus in the US and more than 20,000 worldwide.

    Are we on the verge of another reformation? And if we are where will this lead?

    Machiavelli pointed out the best army was one made up of the citizens themselves that fought because they believed in was in their best interest. This is the type of Army we had during World War ll.

    The Army we have now is made up of two types, people who want to do their best for their country by serving and others primarily for a career and monetary reasons.

    Machiavelli pointed out the military we have now is not the best option for a military, but the former is. Could this be the reason we have the number PTSD cases we have in the military? Remember we are not just defending our country and our ideals but we are defending our faith, whatever that happens to be as well.

    Machiavelli pointed out the finances of the church has a lot to do with conflict in the church.

    This makes me think about the cushy jobs out there held by the clergy in many instances. Would this be an incentive for that particular Clergy in their particular fiefdom to keep their denomination on tract so to speak?

    I highly recommend reading Machiavelli, even if you just read the summaries of his writings on the internet. Everybody from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson read his stuff as well as every politician of importance since then. The history of western politics is heavily influenced by his thoughts.

    I keep his works close by, incase I want to know what is going on, the things he wrote about are as important now, as they were 500 years ago.

    H.P Drifter

    1. H. P. 3:21 Thank you. Much wisdom in all of that.

      Even though few people make lots of money in religion, I agree with Machiavelli that money drives what goes on there. The preacher has to say things folks in the pews agree with or they put no money in the plate. No money, no preacher. The people in the pews write the sermons. The proliferation of denominations is a slow motion change in what the Christian faith has to say.

      I’m working on a blog for tonight which lays out the case for the church dropping the super natural myths for something people can identify with.

    2. Michael Ross

      “The Church is at another historical weak position because of the factionalism we have in today’s churches. ”

      “Are we on the verge of another reformation? And if we are where will this lead”?

      Some good points HPD. Yes the church is at a weak point and a crisis point and it will lead to another “Reformation”, the final one, I believe. My theory is that we are on the verge of the greatest turning point in human history since THEE turning point in human history, the Resurrection of Christ. It is the final fall of Babylon the Great (Revelation 18) or the destruction of Gog of the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38& 39). Remember the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar?

      The statue that represented the great world empires? The Rock that struck the statue in the feet which were made of clay and Iron. Iron being remnants of the Babylonian world order that dominated the ancient world and the clay being God’s Kingdom on earth, the church and geopolitical (not ethnic) Israel. The two have been at odds since the fall of Rome. That is where the confusion of which Jon speaks comes from. Babylon means confusion. The Rock is Christ and after the statue is struck and destroyed the Kingdom of God will grow and fill all the earth.

  6. Jon,
    Thanks for the book plug. It only fits loosely in that it’s historical theolodid gy in a post about historical theology of a much earlier era. On that note, keep in mind that Constantine did call the council but didn’t make the decision. At issue primarily was whether Jesus could be understood to be both divine and human and, if so, how. Arianism was the debate at the time. As another commenter noted above, there were also discussions concerning the date of Easter and other lesser items. Even after the council, it took some time for the decisions to sway the church.

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