True Religion Hidden for a Time
In an illustration about wheat and weeds, Jesus foretold that true religion would be virtually obscured for a time. Read the account for yourself at Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.Â Jesus sowed a field with wheat, â€œthe fine seed,â€ which pictured his faithful disciples who would make up the original Christian congregation. He warned that â€œan enemy,â€ Satan the Devil, would in time oversow the wheat field with â€œweedsâ€â€”people who professed to follow Jesus Christ but who in fact rejected his teachings.
Very soon after the death of Jesusâ€™ apostles, individuals appeared who proved to be â€œweeds,â€ favoring twisted human teachings over â€œthe very word of Jehovah.â€ (Jeremiah 8:8,Â 9; Acts 20:29,Â 30) As a consequence, a perverted, counterfeit Christianity appeared on the world stage. It was dominated by what the Bible calls â€œthe lawless oneâ€â€”a corrupt clergy class that was itself steeped in â€œevery unrighteous deception.â€ (2Â Thessalonians 2:6-10) Jesus foretold that this situation would change â€œin the conclusion of the system of things.â€ The wheatlike Christians would be collected together in unity and â€œthe weedsâ€ would eventually be destroyed.
It is this counterfeit Christianity that bears responsibility for the â€œcenturies of unredeemed barbarismâ€ and spiritual darkness that enveloped Christendom in the centuries that followed. Foreseeing this and all the other depraved and violent acts done since then in the name of religion, the apostle Peter rightly predicted that â€œon account of these [professed Christians] the way of the truth [would] be spoken of abusively.â€â€”2Â Peter 2:1,Â 2.â€œ
A Theology of Rage and Hatredâ€
It certainly is not just Christendom that has given religion a poor reputation. Think of the fundamentalist versions of â€œmilitant piety,â€ for example, that former nun Karen Armstrong says have been spawned by â€œevery major religious tradition.â€ According to Armstrong, one crucial test of any religion is that it should lead to â€œpractical compassion.â€ What has been the record of fundamentalist religions in this regard? â€œFundamentalist faith,â€ she writes, â€œbe it Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, fails this crucial test if it becomes a theology of rage and hatred.â€ (The Battle for Godâ€”Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam) But is it only the â€œfundamentalistâ€ brand of religion that has failed this test and become â€œa theology of rage and hatredâ€? History shows otherwise.
Satan has, in fact, built up a world empire of false religion, identified by rage, hatred, and almost endless bloodshed.