#1 How A Misunderstanding Becomes Mainstream Christian Theology
The Father of the RC Church was Saint Augustine, a very influential bishop of the Fourth Century. Augustine spoke Latin and didn’t like the Greek language. He, Jerome, and others were able to translate the Greek New Testament into Latin and then ban the reading of the Bible in Greek. For the next 1000 plus years, no one in the West was allowed to read the Bible in any other language. So, the primary readers of the scriptures were people trained in the legal system of Rome and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church.
By the Fourth Century, the early Church was struggling as a result of a flood of heresies. The Council of Nicaea was a bold last ditch effort by Church Fathers to codify the message of the Gospel because there was so much confusion about what the scriptures really meant. The Church Fathers felt it necessary to spell it out in the Nicene Creed. It wasn’t enough. Within 200 years, the world had fallen into the dark ages.
Near the end of the Fourth Century, as the scriptures were being translated into the far less gracious language of Latin, it is easy to understand how the translators’ backgrounds could give them a different understanding of God’s Word. These scholars had been trained to see God’s message from a far more legalistic point of view. Latin was a legal and warlike language so it is not hard to understand why the translators interpreted many Greek words with different meanings, which came from the Roman perspective of how a society should work. Since translating is always a matter of interpretation, because exact translations seldom make sense, these scholars were simply trying to make sense of texts written with grace while all they had was a foundation of law and a language that couldn’t convey the grace and depth of Koine Greek. The New Testament concept of grace all but disappeared from the Western Church because Latin was not conducive to an accurate translation.
Thus, it is easy to understand how the First Century perspective of a God Who is love, and kind to all that call upon Him, could change to perceive God as always angry and indignant. Through the Roman/Latin perspective, the Kingdom of God became a court of justice rather than the Kingdom of a loving Father seeking to save His children from terrible mistakes they had made.