The Early Christians, and the Division
Even though the leadership of the early Christian Church was divided into factions because of differing and conflicting doctrines, they all accepted Jesus as a spiritually anointed messenger of God.
As the impartial Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote, when Jesus was alive and teaching, multitudes of Jews and Greeks accepted him as such. Jewish and Greek Christians then accepted other Gentile converts, some of whom were evidently Buddhists and Hindus who recognized that Jesus was not merely a Jewish Mashiach (Messiah), but an inclusive teacher who could also be called a Buddhist Bodhistava and a Hindu Avatar. They understood the true nature of an enlightened one, upon whom Christhood, Buddhahood and Avatarhood is endowed by God.
The conflicts and divisions were over differences of opinion about how the words of Jesus should be interpreted, how the Christian religion should be organized, what books should be included in Christian canon, and how those scriptures should be interpreted. And, while the differences of opinion, conflicts and divisions have grown since early in the first century AD, they are even sharper now at the end of the age, just as Jesus foresaw and foretold.
Early on, the doctrine of preeminence and supremacy and drove a wedge between some Christians and Jews. As Paul’s epistles became more popular and Christian churches began to spread and grow, many Jews grew resentful of the Christians. Consequently, many Jews not only rejected the teachings of Jesus. They also ignored the teachings of the peaceful House of Hillel and were instead influenced by the antagonistic House of Shammai. And the tragic result was the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 CE-AD), which brought a crushing defeat of the Jews and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Thus it was no coincidence that the Christian book known as the gospel of Mark was produced in 73 CE-AD, and it was followed during the next 27 years by the other writings that became official church canon. And by then the story had become much more authoritative and commanding than it was when Jesus was alive and teaching.
Now we should realize why what we find in the New Testament was written so long after Jesus died, after being developed and told by word of mouth for many decades. For witnesses and story tellers, after all, are inclined to differ in their description of the same events, and that is why the gospels contain different and contradictory testimony.
Students of theology will notice that the book of the apostle James contains nothing about the birth, life or death of Jesus, and it does not attempt to magnify Jesus into something he was not. In fact, James states very clearly that he was a servant of the Lord God, and a servant of the Lord Jesus. He distinguished between the two, knowing that Jesus was a lord and a host, not the Lord of lords and Lord of hosts. And James did not call Jesus the Savior, knowing that Isaiah wrote that besides God there is no Savior, and that a Messiah is not the Savior.
That is why the Gospel of Thomas (12) states that: “The disciples said to Jesus, ‘We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?’ Jesus said to them, ‘No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just ...’"
That was said in a Jewish-Christian context where James, Jesus' brother (also written about by an impartial historian, Flavius Josephus), was regarded as the natural leader of Jesus's disciples after the death of Jesus. And James was actually the leader of the Jerusalem church until about 50 CE (AD) when Paul, who somehow believed he was the “chosen vessel,” began to distribute his epistles and caused a rift, and gradually elevated Paul and Peter as the main evangelical missionaries that built the church that we know.
During that time, the group following James, along with a good number of Jewish Essenes who had become Christians, were denounced as "Judaizers" by Paul, because Paul felt his version of Christianity superseded Judaism.
Paul was mistaken because did not understand that Jesus' mission was to begin the process of reforming and expanding Judaism to make it more inclusive, per Isaiah 49:6, which says the Messiah will be a light for all the Gentiles and all nations. Jesus understood that Isaiah's messianic prophecies referred not to himself, but to a son of man of man to come at the end of the age, but Jesus also understood that being a son of man his mission was to do what he could to clarify and further the revelations of Isaiah.
Paul did not understand that because he had his own ideas. And that was when the differences in belief and doctrine really pronounced the conflict, schism and division between Christians, and between Christians and Jews.
Paul was convinced that he was right, though, and he made a sharp distinction between his idea of Christianity and what he called the "Jew's religion." And when Paul spread his ideas in letters to cities far and wide, to Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and beyond, his ideas began to be accepted as gospel truth.
Now, however, it is important to understand how and why Paul's ideas regarding the Hebrew Bible were not accurate in certain instances, and Paul assumed some things that were not true. He was also driven by the erroneous idea that there would be an "end of the world," and that it was imminent, and he thought he had to prepare people for it. He even claimed that Jesus "appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."
That reveals gross misunderstanding of the prophecies of prophets like Isaiah that were not about Jesus, and a lack of understanding of the actual teachings of Jesus. Paul was ignorant of the fact that Jesus was a servant of God, and that Jesus spoke of the end of the age he ushered in, not the end of the ages (and certainly not the end of the world, as the article on The Future explains).
The groups led by James and Paul were certainly not the only Christian factions, but they were the two most influential players for a good while, and unfortunately the conflict and division grew even worse over time.
In 180 AD (CE) an influential Christian leader, Bishop Irenaeus, wrote a book lauding the epistles of Paul and the gospels of Mark, Luke, John and Matthew, along with a few other compatible works. But Irenaeus wanted the organized church to condemn the rest of the Christian writings and gospels as "heresies.”
That opinion grew to the point that in the fourth century, after Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, Pauline Christian Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria labeled and condemned the Gnostic Gospels as “heretical.” And Athanasius was instrumental in influencing the decision made during the Council of Laodicea in 364 A.D. when certain church leaders officially selected which texts would be included in the official church canon (bible).
That's probably why copies of the “Gnostic Gospels” were hidden in jars and buried, because the Gnostic Christians and the Essene Christians could foresee what might happen --- and did happen a bit later in 391 when the Pauline Christians who ruled began burning all “pagan” texts like those written by the Greek philosophers and all “heretical” texts like the Gnostic Gospels. That’s why 52 Gnostic Gospels were not discovered until 1945 in twelve leather-bound papyrus codices or manuscripts which had been buried in a sealed jar along with three Hermetic Greek works. They are now known as The Nag Hammadi Library.
Part of the reason for their rejection a suppression was probably that some of the Gnostic gospels suggest that Jesus had a special and intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip, for example, says that Jesus kissed Mary, and loved her more than the apostles. Another text states that Jesus said Mary was the "apostle of apostles." And some of them reveal how and why early Christians were divided into different factions, critical of each other.
One of the texts of the Gnostic Christians states: "Some who do not understand mystery speak of things which they do not understand, but they will boast that the mystery of truth is theirs alone." He was speaking of imposters who established "empty" churches across the Roman Empire, led by influential and powerful leaders such as the infamous Bishop Irenaeus, who accused the Gnostic Christians of being heretics.
Some of the Gnostic Christians understood why Jesus of Nazareth had said that the true Christians would be persecuted. And they understood that it would be not only by the Romans and Jewish Chief Priests, but also by those claiming to be Christians. One of the Gnostics wrote: "We were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant, but also by those who think they are advancing the name of Christ, but were unknowingly empty [of the Holy Spirit], not knowing who they are."
"When your eye is single your whole body is filled with Light."
The Gnostic Gospel of Mary reveals that some of what Jesus said was related to Lao Tzu’s Book of Tao. For example, in the Gospel of Mary Jesus is quoted as saying that "All natures, all formed things, all creatures exist in and with one another and will again be resolved into their own roots, because the nature of matter is dissolved into the roots of its nature alone." And that is very similar to the Taoist concept of Oneness which states that "All things derive their life from it [Tao], All things return to it, and it contains them."In spite of that, the patriarchal, theocratic Bishops of the early Pauline Christian Churches rejected such ideas as "heresy," even though they were and are true. But by the fourth century the Romans under Emperor Constantine had accepted the Pauline (Paul's and his group's) version of Christianity. The influence of James and his followers and the Jewish Essene Christians and "Gnostic" Christians had been overshadowed by those influenced by the Pauline concept of Christianity as we know it today as summarized by the Nicene Creed. And that version was even more antagonistic to Rabbinic and Talmudic Judaism, due to Paul's influence.
That’s one of the reasons why Christians have been divided and Christianity and Judaism have been at odds since not long after Jesus died, and ever since. And even though fundamentalist Christians, like Jews, believe that the Mosaic or Sinai Covenant made Jews God's "chosen people," fundamentalist Christians still believe that Jews of the nation of Israel can only get to heaven by professing that Jesus was and is the Lord God and Savior "Himself" -- a concept which is actually not compatible with what the Torah and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) indicates.
Paul's Idea of Christianity Gains Military Imperial Power
When the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Paul's idea of Christianity in the fourth century, he wanted to consolidate "Christian" power and authority under one official church with one monarchical patriarch.
The first step was his Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Then Constantine and a later successor Theodosius did what they could to consolidate political Christian power. Both Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity were based on Paul's idea of Christianity, but Roman Emperors Constantine and Theodosius managed to establish a very powerful and dominant Roman church.
When Christianity was established as the official religion of the Roman military empire, it established its own official canon and doctrines, as expressed in the Nicene Creed and in the approved texts chosen to be the official canon of the imperial church.
This happened gradually, however, in three steps. The first was the First Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., which came up with the Nicene Creed, settling a raging conflict about whether or not Jesus was the sole and actual incarnation of God (and of course the Nicene Creed claims he was).
The second step was the Council of Laodicea in 364 A.D., during which members decided which of the Christian gospels were to be accepted as official church canon and scriptures to be included in the Bible, and which were not -- working with copies and translations many times removed from the originals, along with the few fragments of the originals that remained by then.
After the Council of Laodicea, Roman Emperor Theodocius decreed that all "pagan" temples were to be destroyed, and that possession of any literature that was not approved by the Church was a criminal offense. Consequently, book burning started, and in 391 CE at the Great Library of Alexandria about 400,000 scrolls went up in flames -- (which is why the Jewish Essene-Christians hid their scrolls in large jars in caves near the Dead Sea).
When imperialist Christians ransacked the library at Alexandria they burned precious scrolls, which included the writings of great Greek scholars, philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, and other scientists, because misguided, spiritually blind Christians condemned the scrolls as "pagan" and "ungodly."
Backed by Emperor Theodocius, Christian Archbishop Cyril led the Christian mobs. He even labeled a wonderful Greek woman leader, Hypatia, an amazingly brilliant philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, of being a "pagan witch." So Christians killed her, along with many Jews, Greeks and others who would not kneel to the writings of Paul and others authors of official canon and accept them as "the Word of God."
Now the modern son of man flatly says the Imperialist Christians were wrong then, and wrong now. He repeats the good words of Jesus, who said you will know Christians by their humble good works, not by their claim that they serve the Lord by judging, condemning, being destructive, and ruling living by the sword.
Tragically, that theocratic history has repeated itself many times since then. Even after the Protestant Reformation, Pauline Christians tended toward Theocracy, first in Europe and then in New England in America, because groups like the Puritans were theocratic and they hated the pluralistic and neutral views of the Founding Fathers regarding religion.
In that respect the Theocrats followed the European model of Christianity, first created by the Roman Church and then even after the Protestant reformation in nations like England, where the king was the head of the Anglican Church of England. And that is a model in which theocratic imperialists fight to rule in the name of "divine right."
In fact, even tyrants and despots and fascists have used the theocratic model. For instance, in the 1930s and 1940s even Adolf Hitler claimed he was a Christian "doing God's will," and the Nazis burned books that didn’t agree with their political ideology. They even murdered Jews and others who wouldn’t accept Hitler as a divinely inspired servant of the Lord Jesus.
Today there are Dictators who are also "religious" Theocrats, such as certain "Muslim" heads of hierarchies of sects (and nations). And the sad fact is that many extreme right-wing "Christian fundamentalists" in America lean toward that kind of tyrannical theocratic model. And that’s what happens when demagogues and zealots claim the mantle of "doing God’s will" as they judge and condemn those who won’t go along with their beliefs and agenda. And they justify themselves with the doctrine summarized by the Nicene Creed.
Thomas Jefferson Sees the Errors in the Bible
Thomas Jefferson, the great American Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. President, said this:
"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Jesus by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being." -- Thomas Jefferson
"But a short time elapsed after the death of [Jesus] the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants ..." --- Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, like many other men of faith during the "Enlightenment," agreed about the errors and exaggerated claims made in the Christian New Testament. And in 1823 he wrote: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. '
Even so, people like Jefferson loved the actual teachings of Jesus. In fact, Jefferson wrote: "Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus."
But Jefferson was against the "corruptions" in the Bible, and against the religious bigotry and hypocrisy of arrogantly proud, self-important and self-righteous people who claimed to be Christian authorities. He even edited the New Testament to remove the errors and exaggerations and leave the "gold" of the essential universal teachings of Jesus, and his work is called The Jefferson Bible.
The Truth Comes Out
Many modern Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars have agreed with Jefferson, including the modern son of man, because some of what is in the Christian gospels as we know them did not come from Jesus, but from followers who probably meant well and thought it would be good to establish the "one and only" religion founded by "God Incarnate," and establish a firm threat of hell and eternal damnation for disobedience to God (as represented by the church) and a reward of eternal heaven for obedience to God (as represented by the church).
That basic idea was not new. There were then and still are many religious traditions that attempt to explain the nature of life and death and the nature of the earth and its changes as if there is a Creator responsible for everything. For example, fundamentalist Hindus believe God (Brahman) is the Causal Source and, through its many aspects or lesser “gods,” is both Creator and Destroyer.
A more well known example is in the scriptures of Judaism, which Christians and Muslims are supposed to accept as the foundation of their religions. The idea that God punishes people, cities and nations for disobedience, as well as the idea to threaten punishment from God for disobedience, came from certain statements and stories told by ancient Jewish figures like Moses, Isaiah and Amos, who wrote as if God were an unseen but almighty Superman-Magician who creates all that is and causes all events. And even though there is ample evidence in their writings to indicate that much of what they wrote was allegory, metaphor and symbolism, and even though Talmudic Judaism confirms or reinforces that conclusion, some people take everything written in scriptures as literal.
For example, Moses wrote that God parted or divided the water of the sea, and, even though in modern times science and history tells us that in that instance the sea was altered temporarily by a huge natural geological event nearby, many Christians take it literally.
Fundamentalist Christians especially insist that their Bible is inherent and absolutely literal. They believe in a Superman God, and they believe Jesus was actually the “only begotten” sole human incarnation of that God. Moreover, one of the doctrines they believe in claims that Jesus will come again, next time as an Almighty God King to rule the world, and that it could happen at any time.
In a way that was an insurance policy designed to make Christianity the only genuine religion founded by God “Himself,” because Paul, Luke and others stated that anyone who thinks Jesus delays his "second coming" has no faith and deserves punishment. That is why fundamentalist Christians today insist that you simply need to have faith that "Jesus Christ is the Lord and your personal Savior," and that he came to provide your salvation and “rid the world of sin.”
Even though that’s obviously not true and the world is more plagued by sin than ever, those who wrote what we now read in the Christian Bible thought they had it all covered and they thought it was a great plan. And, admittedly, it was effective, because Christianity is now by far the largest religion in the world.
But, what they did was establish erroneous, patriarchal doctrines and dictates of men, which were perpetuated and are now still pushed by the leaders of "Christian Right," who commit much sin in "the name of the Lord," as Jesus knew they would.
That is why Jesus said the day would come when the hypocrites are rebuked, and they will cry out, saying: "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? Have we not cast out devils in your name? And in your name have we not done many wonderful works?"
But, as Jesus said then, and as the Ancient One now says through the modern son of man, the fact is that they are hypocrites who "work iniquity" (do wrong) in the name of Jesus.
Jesus said: "When you pray, you should not do as the hypocrites do, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues [and churches and mosques] and on street corners, so they may be seen and heard by men. But I say to you that when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to our God which is in secret." (Matthew 6:5-6)
Like Jefferson, Jesus felt our relationship with our God is a private matter, between each person and God, and all truly humble, wise and faithful people know that.
The wise know that the God of Abraham, David, Jesus and Muhammad, the God known as Jehovah or Yahweh or Allah, and also known as "our Father in heaven," Brahman, The Absolute Tao, The Supreme Consciousness, Wakan-Tanka, Ahura Mazda, the Creator, and many other names — is the same Great Spirit-Parent of all.
Like all other Master Spiritual Teachers, Avatars, Siddhas and Buddhas, the Christ Jesus said that the greatest commandment is: Love one another, love your neighbor as yourself, and treat others as you would want to be treated if you were them.
Jesus knew that, and he expanded the Judaic tradition becaise he said that you should pray to "our God" in heaven; that you should love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; that you hear and know that the Lord OUR God is One Lord. (Matthew 7:12; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31; John 13:34 -- because even in the official canonized version of Christianity there is much truth, and that's part of it.)
Amazingly, the official church canon even included things that contradict the Nicene Creed. For instance, Jesus said to his disciples, "You have not heard the voice of God or seen God’s shape at any time." For even though Jesus realized his oneness with God, as we all can, he knew he was not "God Himself." He knew that the Lord our God is the eternal, infinite, omnipresent Holy ONE.
Now we know that God has many names because there are many different languages and religions. But it can now be said that God is the unseen but eternal, omnipresent Divine Light-Energy-Source of our existence, the very Essence of all life and form-- the Supreme Consciousness realized by the Buddha, the Christ, the Avatar and all other enlightened sages who realized the that the unspeakable, primordial vibration or "Word" of God is made flesh in all of us.
Only God is the Holy One, and besides God there is no Savior, as Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah and others wrote. And a son of man or Messiah is not the Savior, but a servant of God the Savior. Jesus knew that, and he knew that God was not made in our image. We are made in God’s image, as Children of the Divine Light.
That’s why Jesus also said, "God is greater than I." (John 14:28), "The servant is not above or greater than his Lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him." (Matthew 10:24-25 and John 13:16) For even as the Christian gospels are, they still contain much truth, and make it clear that Jesus said the Lord our God is One, the true God. (Mark 12:29; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 5:44, 7:28, 8:26, 17:3, etc.)
Part of the reason the Christian Bible and canon is wrong is in using language that has created myths about a "virgin" birth, bodily resurrection, and second coming, but those myths were fabricated to create the doctrine of preeminence and superiority. But our Lord God is the eternal Holy One, and the primordial "Word" of God is made flesh in all of us.
John realized that when he was an old man in exile on the Greek Isle of Patmos when he was carried away in spirit to the spiritual realm. There he saw a vision of the future victory of God's angels over the "Beast of Babylon" and the future fall of "Babylon the Great," and afterward he wrote the following:
"I saw the angels who sang the song of God’s servant Moses, and the song of the Lamb of God, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, you Lord of Lords and Saints. Let all glorify your name, Oh Lord God. For you only are Holy. For all nations shall worship you Lord God, for your judgments are made manifest.’" – Revelation 15:3-4
Notice that the "song of the Lamb" praises God. The Lamb does not praise himself. He praises God. Both Moses and the Lamb Jesus praise the Lord God, who is the Holy One and Lord of lords.
John also makes it clear that the sacrificial Lamb and Christ Jesus was not God by writing: "The Lord God Almighty and ‘His’ Christ are the temple" of prophecy. (Revelation 21:22)
That distinguishes between God and "His Christ," which are different. Of course, Jesus, like all avatars, realized that God was within him and he was within God, and like many avatars who spoke as if he were the Holy One, speaking as but for the Holy One within us.
Revelation 21:22 also makes it clear the "Temple" of prophecy is not a building -- some some physical "third Jewish temple " -- but a spiritual temple for which we all can be pillars, and in that sense the whole body of humanity is or can be the temple of God. For Judaism is but one religion, and while the Sinai Covenant does say Israel can be "holy nation," it will be but one among many when prophecy is fulfilled.
Of course John wrote his book of Revelation as a very old and much wiser man, wiser than he was earlier in his life when he was influenced by Paul and some of the other apostles. For in the gospel of John (1:18) it is written: “No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, has told us about him.”
That statement is very contradictory. After all, if no one has ever seen God, then Jesus was not God, and Jesus himself spoke of our God in heaven as "greater than I.” Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was not God "Himself" or "Incarnate," and not the "Lord and Savior," as the gospels and the Nicene Creed assert. For Isaiah got it right when he wrote that "God cannot be compared to any man, and besides God there is no Savior."
The truth is that we can see God within, but God is not a person. God is the eternal, infinite, omnipresent Great Spirit-Parent of us all -- as as Jesus said the Spirit of truth is within us, and the kingdom of heaven comes not with observation in the world, but from within.
Furthermore, John 1:18 is in error in speaking of Jesus as the "only son of God," as all other references to Jesus as "the only begotten son of God" are in error. All men who realize God and the Spirit of truth within recognize they are sons of God, and the story of the "virgin birth" of Jesus is a myth (as is explained in the article on The Virgin Birth Story.)
Even according to Matthew 5:16 Jesus said: "Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven." And clearly Jesus did not say praise me, and never did. He said praise the Lord our God in heaven, which he called "our Father" (mistakenly assigning only one gender to it). And Jesus even told people not to call him good, because only God is good.
Therefore we should not worship any man as an idol, but rather worship God. And we should take the advice of James: "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans, widows and the poor."
The False Doctrine of Preeminence and Superiority
The false doctrine of preeminence and superiority is contrary to that, but it is very convenient for those who want to rule. That is why the Christian Bible and the Nicene Creed perfectly suited militaristic, imperialistic patriarchs and monarchs. Consequently, what followed was many centuries of theocratic tyranny, oppression and persecution, now called the "Dark Ages" and then the cruel Inquisition and the bloody and murderous Crusades against Islam.
The false doctrines eventually led to a "Doctrine of Discovery" in the 15th century, enabling Christians to invade and occupy the lands of Native indigenous peoples all over the world. It dehumanized indigenous peoples as "heathens and uncivilized savages" with no rights to land, giving Christians the "divine right" of lordship or dominance over them, and the right to take and own foreign lands, territories and resources without permission of the Native peoples whose ancestors had been living there for countless generations.
That doctrine was kept even after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. Even in America that doctrine justified slavery and enabled white European Christian immigrants to hold slaves. Then it was officially incorporated into U.S. Indian policies in 1823, declaring that Native Americans (Indians) had no rights, and it opened the door to unconscionable, murderous Westward expansion by European American immigrants.
Unfortunately, even though many Protestant Christians today believe that the Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century cured and totally reformed Christianity, and that the Protestant version of the Christian Bible was true to the original teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, that is not true.
Granted, the Protestant Reformation did stop some of the theocratic tyranny, oppression and superstition that the early Roman Catholic Church had spread, and it did put an end to the Dark Ages. And certainly the Protestant Christian denominations that most countries in Europe adopted were generally an improvement over the medieval Roman Church.
Even the Roman Catholic Church was considerably reformed, because the works of liberal and progressive Roman Catholics like St. Francis and St. Thomas Aquinas helped to finally bring back some of the real Christianity into their church, and get rid of some of the misguided, oppressive, exploitative and even tyrannical practices.
In the freer religious climate brought about by the first Reformation of Christianity, the work of good Catholics and Protestants helped bring about the "Renaissance" (rebirth) of Greek literature, philosophy, architecture, art, and ideals that had been labeled as pagan by the Roman Church when it was first established. Historians even call that era "The Enlightenment," because it created so much positive change and improvement.
However, the first Reformation did not truly reform Christianity as it needs to be reformed, as Jesus foresaw and intended.