The History of the Catholic Church, the origins of Christianity (part I)

Ad portas of the arrival of Pope Francisco to Chile, and taking advantage of the occasion that give us the “Christmas festivities”, we propose in this series of three articles reflect on the historical and political role of the oldest organization on the planet than in its 2000 years, surviving more than three forms of economic production, continues to play a leading role in the course of events, the question is: In whose service?

Every religion has its deep roots in the psychology that characterizes a certain historical epoch, determined by the material conditions that originate it, from which the myths with which humanity evolved, seek to explain the reasons for its impotence to understand and transform the world That surrounds them. The Christian religion is not the exception.

The Soviet historian Sergei Kovailov fixes the origins of Christianity between the first and second centuries of our era. It is a difficult task for the scientific elaboration to deal with precisely how much historical truth and myth exists when working with sources that are mostly adulterated by the ideological propaganda of Catholicism, and often sustained for political ends by bourgeois historians, discarding of course, those studies that seek from time to time to attribute scientific causes to miracles, to the appearance of the star of Bethlehem or to the possibility that Jesus has risen. These elaborations are only possible, thanks to the leisure time available to the bourgeois intelligentsia to focus on the study of “the rationality of fantasies”.

Christianity has its historical origins in the failure of the slave revolts that preceded the centralization and consolidation of the Roman Empire , after overcoming an era of deep social and political convulsions as a result of its expansion. In a historical era where material conditions did not exist to propose a society that completely surpasses the exploitation of man by man, emancipating humanity from the chains of private property.

According to Kovaliov, this is how an “atmosphere of deep dissatisfaction towards the surrounding world was generated , of distrust in the strength of man and in his ability to change his living conditions. It is the ardent faith of a supernatural force as the only element capable of helping humanity ” (1)

Christianity arises and expands into the plebeian and slave masses impoverished and oppressed by the empire, reflecting the contradictions of the time. In his early days, he had a strong discourse of an egalitarian nature, and rejection of imperial institutions, influenced by discontent with the situation of oppression of the time, but unable to resolve them territorially.

This egalitarian character, however, was due to responding to a “social psychology” of a deep social discontent with the empire, but in no case did it express a revolutionary movement, despite the fact that Christianity had social tensions in its midst, capable of expressing politically to the plebeian and slave masses and propose the overcoming of their misery. Its program was still the furthest and it constituted a charity network, a kind of mutual aid society in its early days, which helped its members to endure the hardships of this world, but not transform it, such was not its historical role, although if I advance a new form of social relations that would be the basis of the feudal system.

As the crisis of the empire became more acute, Christianity spread to more social strata, beginning to include more affluent strata such as merchants, craftsmen and even imperial bureaucratic officials, to whom the network of Christian communities scattered throughout the Roman territory favored their interests. economic, from which it became necessary to acquire a hierarchy, assimilating to the characteristics of the society of the time.

Christianity had the historic opportunity to advance a new conception of the world, which sheltered it from persecution, many of which were exaggerated by the Catholic Church, which for propaganda purposes raised bloody orgies of emperors of dubious psychological stability. Their ends, more than satiating a lascivious thirst for blood of demonic origin, obeyed a more pragmatic need to maintain stability in a time of political and social upheavals and to confiscate property and wealth for the benefit of the empire.

This new conception of the world, that of the servant of the glebe, allowed him to emerge triumphant in his disputes with the pagan religions, representatives of the production system and therefore of the slowly agonizing world. And also of the divisions within the church, product of the displacement of the most plebeian sectors that found in the heresies, mainly the Gnostic and pagan, the ideological foundation to carry forward the disputes of power within the church.

Finally the Emperor Constantine, before the need to regenerate the social bases of the empire in the fourth century elevates Christianity to the rank of official religion, finishing laying the foundations of the current apostolic and Roman Catholic church, putting an end to the divisions that existed in church

The religion that knew how to channel the plebeian discontent originated in the crushing of the aspirations of emancipation of the social revolts in imperial Rome, which was transformed to the official church status, happened as Engels points out: ” Christianity, as it fatally had to occur given the historical conditions, I did not want to make social transformation in this world, but in the afterlife, in heaven, in eternal life after death, in the imminent millennium ” (2)