What was the point to the Protestant Reformation? Some people think it was all about Henry the VIII being a skirt chaser. He couldn't get the pope to agree to an annulment of his first marriage, let alone a divorce. His first wife, poor beleaguered champion of the faith, Catherine of Aragon was past child bearing years. What's a randy king to do? He had at least one bastard he acknowledged. I would argue that Henry Fitzroy was his ONLY out of wedlock child because a man that eager to have a son doesn't seem likely to ignore any possible male offspring.
Having fallen head over heels in love with the mysteriously beautiful, well educated and flirtatious Anne Boleyn â€“ read his love letters to get an idea of how besotted he was, Henry the VIII eventually declared England as not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church. While he lived and died a Catholic man, a "defender of the faith," he chose to believe his matrimonial status was one of English law, not Church law. Was this a "reform"? Divorce for the average person, under the Church of England is no easier than it is under Catholicism. There is no such thing as a "no-fault" divorce.
One of the main reformations the Protestants fought for was the translation of the Bible into other languages. Thinkers and biblical scholars of the day believed that if the average person could read the bible there would be less misunderstanding. A trained clergy was standing in between a believer and God. Yikes. The best of intentions seem to have gone awry. Translation after translation seems to cause more disenfranchisement. There are more Christian religions on Earth now than there were then, with new ones popping up every day. Some, such as the Church of the Latter Day Saints, take on the bible and even add an additional book. Some create their own doctrine based around their own translation. Some encourage their followers to learn Greek and / or Hebrew and read the original work in its original language. So we've come full circle. Some Protestant religions seem willing to concede at this point that translating the Bible isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Take for example the issue of 'hell.' Some fundamentalists use it as their main focus of coercion in getting others to convert to their faith. They don't want to see you, bless their hearts, go to hell. The problem is a non-Christian person may not even share that belief in hell. If a person doesn't believe in hell, that person won't be sufficiently afraid. And is hell even real? Why isn't it mentioned in the old Testament if it were something Jesus knew about? Some Christians believe the concept of hell was a mistranslation starting with the King James Version of the Bible.
If the bible is divine, the word of God and not the work of men, perhaps the only perfect version is the original. Anything else might have been corrupted by a typo, or misspelling or mistranslation. A fundamentalist might argue that isn't possible to which I hold out this challenge. Try writing the bible yourself, long hand, without white out without a copy machine, in the same spirit of the early scribes and tell me if you can do the whole thing without mistake. And if you did make a mistake, can you say with certainty that the mistake was "God's Will." Wouldn't a mistake just be your own mistake? If you can make a mistake, why isn't it possible that the early transcriptionists of the Bible might not have made a mistake.
I have read the difference between the original word for "camel" as in the camel going through the eye of a needle, was only one brush stroke different from the word for a thick rope. It does seem like a more likely metaphor to say something was as difficult as putting a thick rope through the eye of a needle. However the camel thing has come down through the ages, and now it seems almost poetic it's such a silly image. I've also heard that the "Eye of a Needle" was a name for an underpass entrance into the city. The underpass was narrow and small making it difficult, yet not impossible for a camel to pass through. This casts a slightly different light on the teachings. Now we are faced with making a decision, was Jesus saying it is IMPOSSIBLE to be rich and go to heaven, or merely difficult?
What about heaven anyway, there is as little discourse on heaven in the old testament as there is of hell. When Adam and Eve make the original sin God's punishment is that they will die. God doesn't mention what happens after Adam and Eve die. If they are going to die and go to heaven he doesn't say so. If their death marks the beginning of worse punishment in Hell it isn't mentioned. Purgatory isn't mentioned even once in the bible either. God is oddly silent in Genesis on the afterlife. It isn't only Adam and Eve, think about the first murder. That was a pretty shocking crime. God makes it clear he isn't happy about the situation. Consequences are outlined, however heaven and hell aren't mentioned. You would think that heaven would be a great "carrot on a stick" to get people to tow the line. That's how people use it now, why not use it before the flood? All those people drowned, and went where? The bible doesn't say.
One of the strangest mysteries of the bible is that we don't HAVE an original. The best we have are copies of copies of copies. Those stone tablets with the ten commandments written on them have somehow gone the same place as the golden tablets of Joseph Smith. The ark of the covenant, surely the most important relic of the Jewish faith had disappeared in antiquity. Of course if we believe Hollywood, it's still out there somewhere resting in the Turkish mountains, inaccessible to scholars or believers. If it is, I hope it's glowing or vibrating or somehow attempting to make itself known. We could use the word of God, especially if it were really divine.