Christianity in Faeland

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Saint Sophis, credited with bringing the Jesus cult to the islands.

Christianity in Faeland (collectively called the "Resurrection Cults" (atli vhogodhid) or "Roman Sickness" (Geinemor salc lit. victim worship (way)") in Faelish) was first established in the Latin Coast in the early 200s AD. During the high middles ages, the French kingdom supported crusades on the island to spread the religion. Relative to the increasing influence of the papacy on the continent, the church in Faeland had little power until the 13th century. From this time the prime Christian force was the Monastic State of the Saxon Knights. From the 15th century to the 19th century, under the supremacy of the Archbishop of Servon, Christianity was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church more directly. Beginning in the 1890's, a radical shift in theology at the University of Ezinge gave birth to Christism, the dominant form of Christianity on the island today.

A Pew Research Center demographic study from 2003 put the percentage of professed Christians in Faeland at 39.9%. The Faelish government gives the percentages of Christian denominations as 68% Christist (Christism), 25% Roman Catholic, 6% Huguenot and 1% other denominations. Most of the Catholics are in Valaduria and The Dhíall (72% and 21%, respectively), and nearly all of the Huguenot population (98.7%) resides in and around Argenteau.

History

In the wake of imperial Roman collapse, Christianity within Faeland first diverged into two main varieties. There was the original congregation which can broadly be identified as Roman and more or less affiliated to the Catholic Church under the authority of the pope, but beyond the Aemili Mountains, a unique Pelagic Christianity developed. From about the 5th to 6th centuries until roughly the 18th, it is proper to speak of these as twin pillars within the isles. The religion, however, always remained dominant in the Pentapolis and had dramatically fewer numbers outside that region. Despite scholars suggestions that a figure as high as 90% accounts for the preponderance of Roman-style Christians, the differences in practice and custom from the Pelagic Fáels of the rest of the island warrants a dual taxonomy for research purposes.

First Christian Mission

Christians in Faeland.

The first Christians to arrive in Faeland were Marcionites. Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system (labeled a heresy) that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144. While they eventually faded from mainstream Christian theology, their legacy was lasting in the Faelish Isles. Marcion believed Jesus Christ was the savior sent by God, and Paul of Tarsus was his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel.

Conflicts with the bishops of Rome arose and he was eventually excommunicated (at this point in time, however, excommunication was not as binding as it would be later when the papacy had consolidated power unto itself). After his excommunication, he dispatched his followers to the remote Gallia Maritima province (Faeland) and himself returned to Asia Minor where he continued to lead his many church congregations as bishop of Sinope; teaching the Christian gospel according to his understanding.

Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. Marcionism, similar to Gnosticism, depicted the Hebrew God of the Old Testament as a tyrant or demiurge. The Marcionite canon consisted of eleven books: A gospel consisting of ten sections from an edited Gospel of Luke; and ten of Paul's epistles. All other epistles and gospels of the 27 book New Testament canon were rejected. Paul's epistles enjoy a prominent position in the Marcionite canon, since Paul is credited with correctly transmitting the universality of Jesus' message. Other authors' epistles were rejected since they seemed to suggest that Jesus had simply come to found a new sect within broader Judaism. Religious tribalism of this sort seemed to echo Yahwism, and was thus regarded as a corruption of the "Heavenly Father's" teaching.

Throughout the Roman period, the Marcionite rite would predominate in the province, developing into a distinct local form of Christianity quite at peace with the local and Imperial cults.

Vallo-Roman Christianity

By the end of the second century CE (approximately the reign of emperor Caracalla: 198-217), Christianity in Faeland was divided into various opinions with various leaders; all of which were descended, however, from the first Marcion mission. Despite the factious nature of Christianity, chief among the sects was that founded by a certain Acilianus, which came to predominate.

Acilianus' Teachings

The basic precepts of Christianity that Acilianus shared with orthodox Marcionism were:

  • The teachings of Christ are incompatible with the actions of the God of the Old Testament
  • Any association with the Old Testament religion was opposed to, and a backsliding from, the truth
  • The arguments of Paul regarding law and gospel, wrath and grace, works and faith, flesh and spirit, sin and righteousness, death and life, are the essence of religious truth
  • These aspects reflect two principles, the righteous and wrathful God of the Old Testament, who is at the same time identical with the creator of the world, and a second, higher God of the Gospel, quite unknown before Christ, who is only love and mercy

Acilianites also held that the God of the Hebrew Bible was inconsistent, jealous, wrathful and genocidal, and that the material world he created was defective, a place of suffering; the God who made such a world is a bungling or malicious demiurge.

Christ was not a Jewish Messiah, but a spiritual entity that was sent by the god-head to reveal the truth about existence, and thus allows humanity to escape the earthly trap of the demiurge (Old Testament god). The new deity had not had any previous interactions with the world, and was wholly unknown, comparable to the Unknown God of Hellenism.

The creator of the material world is not the true deity, rejection of materialism and affirmation of a transcendent, purely good spiritual realm in opposition to the evil physical realm, the belief Jesus was sent by the "True" god to save humanity, the central role of Jesus in revealing the requirements of salvation, the belief Paul had a special place in the transmission of this "wisdom", and its docetism.

The pure gospel is found to be everywhere more or less corrupted and mutilated in the Christian circles of the time. Christendom was to be delivered from false Jewish doctrines by restoring the Pauline conception of the gospel, Paul being, according to Marcion, the only apostle who had rightly understood the new message of salvation as delivered by Christ. In Marcion's own view, therefore, the founding of his church—to which he was first driven by opposition—amounts to a reformation of Christendom through a return to the gospel of Christ and to Paul; nothing was to be accepted beyond that.

In contrast to Marcionites on the mainland, Acilianites forced no severe, imposed morality on its followers. In fact, those who recanted their faith under Roman persecution were welcomed back to the fold. The argument Acilianus gave for this was that Jesus had instructed that one must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. In this case, Earthly respect. And at any event a loving and merciful God did not care about the form of words but the truth of heart.

Pelagic Christianity

Main article: Pelagic Christianity

Pelagic Christianity refers broadly to certain forms of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the medieval Faelish-speaking (i.e. un-Romanized) world. Pelagic Christianity has been understood with differing levels of specificity: some writers have described a distinct Faelish Church uniting Christian Fáels and distinguishing them from the "Roman" Christians of the Pentapolis, while others classify it as simply a set of distinctive practices which developed outside the purview of mainstream Christianity. Varying scholars reject the former notion as a suggestion of a High Church featuring hierarchies and catechism, but agree that there were certain universal traditions and practices present in the Faelish community that were not seen in the wider Christian world.

As related eariler, authoritative figures are hard to find but it is known that while there was a distinct "native" form of Christianity throughout the middle period, the numbers of adherents appears to have been quite low and concentrated broadly in the northeast of the island, near to the former Roman province. By the 18th century the distinct flavor of the Pelagic churches had largely been subsumed into various Protestant denominations or absorbed into Catholic practice as communications and travel became more widespread over time.

Origins

Pelagic Christianity has its origins in early ascetics from the Vallo-Roman peoples. These people, seeking solace in forests and retrat into mountains away from their homelands found a largely tolerant hinterland in the North Face area. It was from these recluses and hermits that Christanity was introduced to the wider Faelish world.

Modern Christianity

Disaffectation

In the late 18th century, the spread of Enlightenment ideas touched off a number of anti-Christian activities throughout Faeland. The activities of dechristianization were directed primarily against Catholicism, but eventually against all forms of Christianity. These acts included:

  • confiscation of church lands, which were often converted for market use
  • removal of statues, plates and other iconography from places of worship
  • destruction of crosses, bells and other external signs of worship
  • the enactment of a law on October 21, 1793 making all nonjuring priests and all persons who harbored them liable to death on sight.

Christism

A typical church in Faeland is only permitted a single cross as identification on the building's exterior. Bell towers are permitted but may not support a crucifix.

Main article: Christism

Academic Dr. Martin von Gruyter touched off the Christist movement with the following words written at the turn of the 20th century: “The death of Christ is widely understood as the death of the god-man [a divinity incarnate on earth] and also as part of the continuing Jewish (now Christian) historical narrative. The former is mythology, and as non-Jews, the latter is irrelevant to the world at large. However, the death of the abstract god [a "god in heaven"] whose transcendence radically separates human existence from its divine essence can be seized upon to invigorate the entire human race."

Scholarship

Faelish scholarship about Christianity has its foundation in the initial indigenous perceptions of the religion as it was carried to the islands by the Romans and their priests. (It should be noted here that as a people the Faels are notoriously skeptical to being with.) Having a separate spiritual evolution the Faels had no context to view the import other than as a feature of Roman culture: at first illegal, and then somehow central. Thus it was always seen as having a life of its own within Latin society which came to dominate the same to the latter's detriment. In the early middle ages during the breakdown of imperial authority, Faels across the Aemili Mts saw the rise of conflict between princes and priests/bishops, and viewed this as the "Roman sickness". In time, as the power of Rome faded, this view came to be transferred to the church itself. Left behind as the only visible and remaining power structure that permeated all polities of the Pentapolis and beyond to the semi-pagan Rumanha.

Generally speaking, Faelish scholars view Christianity as an outpouring of religion (best described as a sense of a centralized "belief-state within the culture") in an otherwise default spiritual world. Historians and religious scholars alike have noted that the Romans were often called 'wood-men' by the Faels below the FAULT LINE. The name applied to those who worshipped the "wood god" (identified as crucified Jesus). This stems from an early misconception that the particular god worshipped by the Romans -always attached to a piece of wood- had something to do with dead trees or wood specifically and not living trees. For similar reasons Christianity was regarded as "death worship" by Faels. The Roman habit of building and expanding ("civilization" in the Spenglerian sense of the word— such as was brought to the islands) was seen as a natural product of this devotion to materials (derivatives of existing world objects) and not appreciation of existence per se (how Faels typically describe their native Vianism).

Throughout Faelish literature on the subject the Christian faith is earmarked as having slavish devotion to itself and its propagation and only a secondary consideration for the ideals it proposes. Notwithstanding the good faith of the so-called lay believers. The dedication to inscription and dogma is often named as evidence of this tendency. Whereas within native religion, the tradition is to perceive belief and ideas about the spiritual as fluid—unable to be grasped fully and explained let alone dictated. Among Faelish scholars of Christianity, the religion itself appears of utmost importance to itself, and its ancillary preaching which promotes life seems a convenient feature of the faith by design at best. An entire branch of study is devoted to the theory that Christianity is a pleasant fiction grafted onto Hellenistic thought (a hypothesis common also among other scholarly traditions outside Faeland).

On the other hand Faels view their own spirituality as existing in the context of living, and as a part of the fabric of existence, not requiring proselytization for its own sake. To Faels this seems ludicrous, unproductive and wasteful self-indulgence.

For more on this topic, see