Christianity in Bergonia
see: Neo-Christian Sects, heretical worship of Christ developed by atrei cults.
also Miradi Attacks against Christianity, "The Christian God is a Fascist God."
As native Bergonian civilization collapsed in the late 1500s & 1600s, the demoralized survivors became susceptible to new messages. The missionaries did their work reasonably well, so that a significant minority of the natives who survived the epidemics became Catholics.
Conversion for native Bergonians meant breaking with a whole social system and culture:
Converts were called upon to renounce the clan system.
They also shook off the ancient prohibition against burial of the dead.
European colonists settled along the Bergonian coast and built churches. Of course French and Spanish colonists brought Catholicism with them, but plenty of Protestants came as well.
French Protestants-- Jansenists and Huguenots-- settled Pasiana to escape persecution at home. In southern Bergonia, which England controlled, Anglicans, Dissenters and Protestants of all stripes settled, always in their own separate communities. Anabaptists from Germany settled in also found their way to the south. Also Hutterites.
As in the French and English possession in North America, Protestants in Bergonia had far less interest in converting the natives than in vanquishing them and taking their land. Catholic missions thus obtained many more conversions than Protestant congregational preachers, and Catholics have constituted a huge majority of Bergonian Christians.
The Jesuits and Franciscans were everywhere, learning the Bergonian languages, building churches and missions, and attempting to make converts. The surviving Miradi priests came out and debated the missionaries. The missionaries appreciated the traditional Bergonian love of the dramatic presentation of myth, and so held great passion plays to convey the essence of the faith to the atrei. The Jesuits built four universities which survive to the present day as important institutions. The militant Jesuits welded great influence in Comleta, and even sponsored private armies in the interior to suppress Miradi natives and limit the advances of the English from the south.
The Archbishop in Comleta, the big port city on the north coast, sat together with the French Governor to dominate most French colonial policy, even though the French had three other colonial governors and the Church established important bishoprics. A huge magnificent Baroque Cathedral was built in 1630. To this day Comleta is regarded as the center of Bergonian Catholicism.
Native Christian Churches: Some atrei, after hearing the Christian gospel, recast it to conform to the Bergonian worldview. In the late 1600's and 1700's, when atrei culture reasserted itself, a number of native Christian churches sprang up in defiance of the Catholic, Anglican and other Protestant churches. Some of these inventers applied Miradi minimalism to Christianity, which seemed incredibly complicated to many Bergonians. It was, for Europe, the Baroque age, and one Bergonian chronicler wrote, "Their religion is as messy as their architecture."
The most successful re-distillation of Christianity was "Gospelism," which found so much contradiction within the Bible that it felt compelled to jettison all scripture but the Four Gospel plus the Book of Acts and concentrate only on Jesus's quoted words, and his actions, as the only legitimate source for all dogma. Since Jesus did not explicitly preach the Trinity, the Gospelists did not accept the Trinity. Since Jesus did not specifically identify the Holy Spirit, they did not bother with the Holy Spirit. Likewise they rejected many other standard Christian doctrines, e.g. transubstantiation, the dual nature of Christ, hell or purgatory. This had the effect of scrubbing away the thick Pauline veneer, plus all the dust of the medieval and modern churh. Of course all orthodox Christians denounce this neo-Arianist heresy. A Benedictine friar name Timothy wandered off from the monastery in the province of Zilsia and became an itinerant preacher. He devised this minimalist version of Christianity in 1620, when the plagues were at their worst, writing The Words of Christand then founded the . In 1694 the Gospelists formed a political organization that won control of the independent state of Letlari and fought off a Jesuit-sponsored army in 1712. The Gospelists survive to this day.
After Bergonian Independence in 1780, the Catholic Church saw itself in a precarious position. Although most of the new leaders were Catholics, Christians comprised at most 20% of the population of the republic. In very few other places in the world at the time were Catholics a minority in a predominantly non-Christian nation. The Church realized that democracy might someday expose it to a non-Christian majority.
So the Church has played an ambiguous, careful, yet substantial role. The Church was defensive, guarding its considerable assets and its freedom to operate. It had the advantage of considerable sway over provincial and local government. There were always Catholic delegates to Congress, and there have been Catholic ministers in just about every National Government since independence.
In the first 50 years after independence the elites in Northern & Eastern Bergonia were predominantly Catholic, including most Atrei. But as the country continued to grow, many non-Catholic Atrei rose up and became industrialists and politicians as well, and Catholics inevitably became a minority of the nation's oligarchy.
The Catholic missionaries had successfully converted many (but not most) peasants throughout the northern two-thirds of Bergonia, and the Church became very attached to this peasant base. With industrialization in the 1800s much of this peasant base moved into the cities for factory jobs. With the rise of urban proletariat, the Church built new parishes in the cities. The up-shot of all this: The Bergonian Catholic Church was not as invested in the status quo, as it was in Europe and Latin America.
When the Revolution came in the 1930s and the capitalist state collapsed, the Church's loyalty had nowhere to go. But when first the Kilitan movement and then the Radical Regime attacked all the religions, the Catholics had no choice but to get behind the moderate faction. Fortunately the moderate faction had enough sense to see the Catholic Church as ally. Thus the paradox that in the 1930s the Catholic Church accommodated itself to a revolution in Bergonia and opposed a revolution in Spain.
Are You a Christian?
If you aren't you'll never be elected President of the United States.
Do you agree with all the following:
"I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the holy spirit, born unto the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and buried, descended into hell, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended to the heavens, sits at the right hand of God, thence will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic ("universal") church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh and eternal life. -- the Apostle's Creed. (damn near every Christian Church has a version of this)
Well, the Protestants & Evangelicals don't (necessarily) believe in the virgin birth, the descent into hell, and the communion of saints. Many people in the US who want to say they are Christians actually cannot agree with all of the Creed. The Creed and all Christian teaching, indeed Scripture itself, imply the exclusiveness of the Christian remedy for the ubiquitous plague of sin. So we can simplify the test of faith:
Do you agree with this?
Only through faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God can you get into heaven.
Many people with modern sensibilities gag at the Christian idea that some tribesmen in a desolate place & time who never hears of Jesus Christ in his entire lifetime is iron-clad destined to go to hell. Likewise so did many Bergonians in colonial times-- the whole idea of Christian exclusiveness did not sit well with them.
Missionary: "Dear Friend, to gain eternal life, you must accept baptism in the name of Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Atrei: "No matter what else, if I fail to wash in your water, my soul is condemned to eternal suffering?
Missionary: "Yes, but God's mercy provides you a way into Heaven."
Atrei: "What of my ancestors? I'm sure neither of my grandfathers had ever heard of Jesus Christ before the plague took them. Did they both go to Hell? Because if they did, then damn your God as a killer tyrant, and if they didn't then what use is your water?"
Christianity warped / transformed by exposure to Miradi influence
The Bergonian solution was to evolve unorthodox versions of the Christian premise, in essence becoming heretics. The Bergonian Neo-Christians took up beliefs consistent with Socianism, the believe that Jesus was just a very extraordinary man, a belief similar to Jehovah's Witnesses & Unitarians, and Pelagianism, holding that people could be saved wholly by their own works without grace. A few sect sought to live fully in Christ, Donatistic-type sects, emphasizing devotional prayer and ascetic practice.
One Jesuit commentator lamented the susceptibility of Bergonian Catholics to heretical beliefs, saying it represented a deep current within the Bergonian mind back toward its native faith. On another level, Miradi quite simply incited heresy within other religions; its very reasonableness induced others to critical examination of their own beliefs.
Here is the basic version of Bergonian Neo-Christianity:
Humankind suffers from original sin, which is to say that sin is innate to the nature of the body, and that sin, having reduced us to our animal nature kills us in death so that we are deprived of eternal life. But we know from the lives of the prophets and saints that men and women can ascend to heaven by their own merit in seeking the divine. As a matter of grace God manifested himself as Christ in the person of a man, Jesus. In the person of Jesus he proclaimed a great clarification for everyone's sake of the basic law of salvation for all humankind-- to love God and to love one another. In the person of Jesus, God experienced the pain and terror of animal death for himself, and thus as an act of compassion gave to humankind an extra option for getting into heaven, by calling upon him by name. In the person of Jesus, he offered to humankind an example to follow.
At every stage of the plague-induced collapse of native civilization, at every stage of the importation of Christianity, Miradi fought back. Miradi priests became preachers, going into colonized areas to preach against the error of Christianity. While the colonial masters tolerated the survival of most Miradi temples, they would not tolerate open street proselytizing and so they prosecuted these preachers. Other preachers wrote pamphlets, and as atrei obtained their own printing presses these were widely circulated everywhere. This anti-Christian
Here was the most typical argument:
The Christian claims that his is the god of love, and that God gave his only son as an act of compassion. Dare we say that an all-powerful god permits everything that exists? This is the same god who created man and women with original sin, and damned every man and woman to an eternal pit of fire for an innate, inescapable condition. Mankind in the Christian universe suffers under the weight of original sin in this life, and then is inevitably doomed to eternal suffering. Such a universe of suffering could be created only by an evil, insane God.
The Christian God came to earth as Jesus Christ, suffered a man's death, and yet even having experienced the pain and terror of death subjectively this God still subjects his creations to it, a willfully cruel act.
God offers salvation from the eternal fire, but only as a matter of his own arbitrary grace and then on the bizarre condition that a man or woman confesses not just submission to himself (Islam effectively would satisfy this condition), but to a very particular myth of himself, with the correct alchemy of three-in-one godhead and the precise chemistry between God and Human in constituting the mythological hero.
This god sits as sovereign and judge, with absolutely arbitrary power, thus setting a pattern for absolutism and cruelty for humans to follow in their institutions and their own lives. The Christian God is a Fascist who sends all his subjects to the gas chambers and vainly values obedience to his name above all other considerations. His judgment is life and death, yes or no, with no gradation or equity.
In light of all this craziness, it is clear that the human concept of justice & equity constitutes a subversive heresy, and a law far more respectful and loving towards its subjects than is God's cruel judgment.
Christians talk about the passion of Christ, a great mystery whereby God became Man and suffered a man's death on the cross. The tragic grandness of the passion overpowers Bergonians in both its horror and its operatic climax, but to many of them think that the justification given for it by the Christina churches actually trivializes and obscures its visceral grandeur.
If there ever was salvation for humankind before Christ's Ascension, the salvation God arranged for mankind afterwards imposed very stringent and mysterious conditions for salvation. In fact the very issue of "what is required for salvation" is at the heart of the divide between Catholicism & Protestantism. Miradi-inspired anthropologists & historians have written thousands of books on the "Eurasian Mega-Cult of the Dying & Re-Born God," the "Similarities Between Meso-American Blood-Religion and the Christian Blood-Drinking Sacrament," "Christ and other Avatars in Eurasian Mythology," "Jesus Christ as Auto-Sacrifice; Culmination of the Process of Blood-Sacrifice in Early Agricultural Religion," and the like, all concluding that the central tenants of Christianity merely reflect a long history of mythology about tension between the dualistic sacred and profane.
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