This from Timesonline today. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jeruselum is in serious need of repair, but there are too many cooks in God’s kitchen:
The church has been vigilantly managed by six competing and often fractious Christian denominations — Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian — since an agreement reached under Ottoman law in 1757.
Rival denominations often battle for access or space and the congregation at the annual Easter service sometimes resembles the terraces of a boisterous football match. The keys to the main entrance of the church have been held by a Muslim family since the 12th century because the Christians do not trust one another.
The dispute over the Deir al-Sultan monastery is a more recent phenomenon dating back to Easter 1970. When the Coptic monks, who had controlled the area, went to pray in the main church and left the rooftop unattended, Ethiopian monks seized the opportunity to change the locks at the entrances before the Copts returned.
Mediations have most recently failed between the two groups. Israel is prepared to pay for a portion of the repairs to the Church, but only if the Christians quit fighting over it.
I’m trying to think of something pithy to write about this. I do find it somewhat fascinating how many versions of Christianity exist and how much they seem to be opposed to one another. Why is that? They’re all branches on the same tree, after all. I don’t think any one of them has a monopoly on right answers or God’s true love or highest number of souls destined to heaven or anything actually quantifiable save for numbers of butts in pews or dollar value of tithes. So why is there so much competition?
Just remembered a joke I’d read as a kid.
Little Johnny’s walking home from Church with his dad and has a couple questions. “What’s it called when people leave our church for another church?”
Dad growls, “They’re called backsliders, son. Despicable backsliders!”
Johnny’s quiet for a moment and then asks, “So what do you call people from another church that join ours?”
Dad gets a big smile on his face and replies, “Why son! They’re converts!”
I have a theory on the competition question. Since Christian churches are “managed” by people, and since people are inherently self-centered, these people tend to want to put their personal “stamp” on the church. They want to customize it and make it into their image of what a Christian church should be like. So what has resulted is a lot of customized “Christian” churches, some very different from others, with most of them not being very “Christian” in how they operate. For a particular customized church to prove that their version of Christianity is the right one, they need to have more butts in the pews than anyone else (their pride and ego will have it no other way). And hence you have the competition.
It’s all about ego, with little or no focus on where it should be – on Jesus Christ. And they call themselves Christian. Yet with all the customized flaws that have infiltrated Christianity, by way of high egos, the religion still exists. I find that amazing.