One of the things that has always amazed me is that once the priests updated God and turned Him into a dim shadow of His former self, they assumed His mantle of disciplinarian.
The true God, He of the Old Testament, had no qualms about meting out drastic and violent punishments to those who decided to refuse to obey Him or who threatened His chosen people but the wimp of the New Tetament neither punishes nor prescribes any punishment.
The Bible itself is not exactly strong on what is considered to be a punishment. The best we get is in Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death and the free gift of God is eternel life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are several other references to the wages of sin (and variations on the theme) but there does not appear to be any biblical reference to a punishment that would be applied here on Earth. They are all threats against our eventual, promised immortality.
Moses went up to the mountains in Sinai and came down with two tablets of stone engraved in God’s own hand with the ten commandments by which He decided we should live our lives. Nowhere is there mention of a train of donkeys following on behind with all the accepted or mandated punishments for each transgression – so where did they come from?
Once again we see the sticky fingers and greed that personifies so much of the priesthood. It was not enough that they received huge measures of wealth by selling salvation from damnation and Hell-fire, they saw the profits to be made by selling forgiveness of all sins through a ritualised process that could be adapted for daily use. They created the idea that God required us to confess our sins and to make a penance in accordance with rules that only the piesthood could administer. The sale of Indulgences was the pinacle of this “tradition” but even the simple request for donations at each mass or service produces a tremendous level of wealth in even the poorest regions.
I have found no reference in the Bible to any power being invested in the priesthood to decide punishment in this life, indeed, even the priesthood is not a biblical creation.
Jesus sent His disciples out into the world so that they could bear witness to the teachings of Jesus and to bring His message to all mankind. Although He did not proscribe the building of churches, Jesus made it quite clear that all that was required to seek his presence was the “gathering together of two or more of you”.
Great wealth creates its own momentum for accretion and, of course,nothing impresses more than a huge edifice with which to attract victims like flies to a spider’s web.