what would Christians do if someone came along and said he was sent by Jesus, that things had changed and that he would be the new chosen one?
Let’s say for the sake of argument that a man is born in Rome, grows up in the shadow of the center of the Christian world, the Vatican. We’ll call him Manuel. Manuel knows from a young age that he is different. He is devout in his faith, attends mass every day. He volunteers his time with the poor and gives charity. He is known by many of the local priests as someone to whom they can always turn when they need help. With his photographic memory, he has studied and can recall much of the Christian books and writings available. Even the priests turn to him for help recalling scriptures.
Through intense study Manuel determines that there is something missing within the teachings of the church. After all, didn’t Jesus say that his generation would not pass before his return? Mankind must have done something wrong. He should have returned by now. And so, Manuel decides that something must be done. He goes to his priest to discuss his findings.
Manuel is a master of persuasion. He asks the priest how since Jesus’ generation has long since passed away, why has he not returned? The priest cannot give him a satisfactory answer. “It’s the great commission,” Manuel tells him. “We didn’t do what we were supposed to do. Jesus said just before he left, to go to the entire world and preach the gospel. It didn’t happen before that generation passed away. That’s the problem,” Manuel explains. “We must do something,” he adds.
Manuel is able to convince several other priests of this and together they devise a plan to rectify the situation. They will have to bring this new information to the entire church. No simple task, I assure you. Manuel gets more and more followers until he cannot be brushed aside by the leaders of all of the churches.
Manuel teaches that he knows the truth. In fact, he determines that Jesus has given him this mission in order to complete the great commission and usher in the messianic age. He sends his students all over the world to teach this new way. If you want Jesus to return, you must follow Manuel. He was sent by Jesus. He knows things that no one else could know unless they were sent by Jesus.
Within a few short years, Manuel has followers all over the world teaching his new gospel. Manuel is accepted with great honor wherever he goes. People bring their children to him so that he can pray over them. The people begin to cry out to Manuel. So much so that they begin to neglect their beliefs in Jesus altogether.
Meanwhile, back in Rome, the Pope is furious. He knows Manuel is nothing more than a fake. But, what can he do? He was slowly losing control of his church. The leaders of the Protestant churches are equally perplexed. They try to discredit Manuel, but he can’t be stopped. The people believe in him. Anyone who tries to speak against him is met with violent retribution. The church had their chance to bring Jesus back and they failed. He gave them one job to do and they failed. Now it is up to Manuel. He has all the answers.
Manuel decides that it is the church leaders who are hindering Jesus’ return. They will have to be converted to the ways of Manuel. It must be done. In time, the followers of Manuel become radicalized. They begin burning down the churches and beating priests and pastors alike. The world is in chaos. Those who want to remain in the church are forced into hiding. Manuel sends out more of his followers to search these people out and force them to convert, even by means of the threat of death. Manuel must be followed.
Many good Christian people are slaughtered because they refuse to convert to Manuel’s new religion. But the Manuelians are ruthless in their pursuit. Many of them are elected to public office. World leaders turn to Manuel. His writings are taught in the schools and discussed by intellectuals in every public forum. Eventually, Manuel is the head of the largest religion in the world. The Christians who are left are mocked. Many lose their jobs and homes and are forced to live on the streets. The lucky ones manage to huddle together in small communities, teaching their children what they call the true Christianity. The once great church has been reduced to near extinction by one who grew up in its very shadows.
This little parody I wrote tonight may seem foolish to many of you. But if you look closely, you will find this is the same thing that the church has done to the Jewish people. They hijacked their scriptures. They twisted them into an almost unrecognizable conundrum. They have perverted the truth, given new meanings to things they cannot possibly understand. Just like Manuel, Jesus cannot do anything. It is his followers who have done these horrible things to HaShem’s chosen people.
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