History of religion

A wise advice of the Bible

(Published in GralsWelt 85/2014)

In almost all religious groups there are fanatics who - with dogmatic intolerance - discriminate, defame and even threaten with death those who deviate from their doctrine or those of different faiths. This narrow-minded thinking has forced suffering, violence, oppression, displacement and wars for centuries. Christianity, too, often did not follow the teaching of Jesus connected with charity and forgiveness and overlooked a wise advice in the Bible on the subject of "religious tolerance". The slogans of intolerance, which can also be found in the Bible, were not infrequently used for this[1] stressed.

Old Judaism, which is not always particularly tolerant, can at least appeal to a patriarch who called for religious tolerance at a crucial hour. Christianity owes a lot to this:

Gamaliel, called "the old one"

Around 20 to 50 AD, Gamaliel I, known as "the old man", taught in Jerusalem. In the Acts of the Apostles he is mentioned as Paul's teacher (Acts 22: 3). Gamaliel was a senior member of the Sanhedrin High Council. He played a pivotal role when Jesus tried apostles in this court. These apostles had preached in the name of Jesus and thus bypassed a strict prohibition - with the argument: "... you have to obey God more than people " (Acts 5:29).

As the accused, those of the high priest and especially the Sadducees[2] The death penalty was threatened, a respected lawyer, the Pharisee Gamaliel, spoke up:
“Israelites, think carefully about what you want to do with these people. For some time ago Theudas appeared and claimed that he was something special. About four hundred men joined him. But he was killed, and all his followers were scattered and wiped out. After him, in the days of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared; he brought a lot of people behind him and led them to revolt. He too perished, and all his followers were scattered. That is why I advise you now: Leave these men behind and set them free; for if this project and this work is of man, it will be destroyed; but if it comes from God, you cannot destroy them; otherwise you will still stand there as a fighter against God ”. (Acts 5: 35-39).

Here we encounter perhaps the most significant argument on the subject of “religious tolerance and dealing with 'heretical' or other divergent opinions”, not only in religion, but also in politics, science, society:

What is in accordance with the laws of nature or creation should not be forcibly suppressed by impudent people. As a rule, it will prevail last against all odds. Errors, on the other hand, cannot persist even if they are supported by state violence.

The better prevails

Whoever wants can observe a confirmation of the assertiveness of the better in the work of natural evolution (cf. "Darwin Series" 1 - 7 under "Science"). On the basis of observations one can assume that corresponding laws are also effective in the development of human societies, which promote the right and inhibit the wrong.

Every progress in civilization requires a variety of views, arguments, drafts, constructions and attempts so that the relatively best solution can prove itself. Errors and setbacks can never be completely avoided this way. For the time being, there will be as few ideal forms of society on earth as the only correct denomination. But we can move in many small steps towards upward development - spiritually and earthly.

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[1] Z: B: Ezra 10, 1-18; 2nd kings 10, 19-20.
[2] At the time of Jesus there were essentially two Jewish sects represented in the Sanhedrin: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Essenes (with whom John the Baptist and Jesus are associated) are not mentioned in the New Testament.