Religion must be understood as philosophy but read like literature. That is, we track characters through decisions and time, and see where everyone ends up. Some endings are literal; good decisions lead to good results, and bad to bad.
Other characters become symbolic, meaning that independent of what happens to them, their actions represent an idea. Possibly their fates do as well, although we know that the tendency in literature is to note that conformity wins in the end, in most cases.
When we hear about Christianity these days, we are hearing about its public form, or Christianity the business that attempts to attract lots of people to it. History tells us that as soon as Christianity became interested in popularity, Christianity fragmented resulting in a simpler, more convenient form for the rising middle class:
More harmful in the relationship between the two churches are various events which give good cause for affront. Rome is grievously offended by the Byzantine emperor Leo III, who in 726 introduces the policy of iconoclasm and in 733 transfers southern Italy, Greece and much of the Balkans from papal jurisdiction to that of Constantinople.
Both sides clash in the 10th century in their rival efforts to convert the Slavs. In 1054 the Greeks are outraged when Rome decides to excommunicate the patriarch of Constantinople. In 1204 the Greeks are again given profound cause for resentment when the fleet of the fourth crusade, launched by Rome, is diverted to capture and sack Constantinople.
Long before the Protestants came on the scene, Christianity was already splintering over a need to attract new audiences. Salespeople know that to bring in new audiences, you must ingratiate yourself to them, and this means soft-pedaling the hard parts of your product.
For Christianity, the hard parts included the fact that it was not designed for everyone to be accepted; in other words, it was fundamentally esoteric, or for those who understood it as a system of spiritual truths more than allegiance to an existing power.
Reading it as literature, witness the most famous story contrasting loyalties in the Christian canon:
1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
As one always does in literature, the first step is to summarize:
As with the Greek texts, we can expect a theme here: obedience to law or procedure versus having an inner desire to do good by following a religious faith.
In many ways, this theme dominates the New Testament, which was written not as a rejection of the Old, but a re-affirmation of it through a removal of misunderstanding.
Through the metaphor of the foreign versus the Pharisees, Jesus is saying that being from the Jewish tribe alone — he considered himself a Jew, although baptized by John — is insufficient; one must also understand the religion in the heart.
The foreign serve as a contrast to the Jewish ideal of the day, which held that to be a Jew, one must be ethnically and culturally Jewish; in what must have seemed a blasphemy, Jesus said that it was more important to understand his form of Judaism and that being ethnically Jewish alone was not sufficient.
This breaks with some modern formulations, like the Catholic works+faith, because Jesus never claimed these people as Jews. They were followers of his ideas, more like those who would pursue a philosopher.
This gives us a final formulation for Christianity: faith + ethnicity + works.
Much of this is moot, since Christianity has put itself into terminal decline by joining the Leftist horde. Western Europe has already abandoned it, and most in the rest of the European sphere are Christian mostly in name.
In part this came about because Christianity, as a symbolic religion, invites people to read it as dogma and not literature, which misses the nuance inherent in its texts. In part, its foreign nature cannot be ignored, and people are shying away from the international.
As a civilizationist who wants to restore Western Civilization, I find it somewhat immaterial. Christianity describes the world from a mostly-Western view, and those who understand it, will understand us.
It does not matter whether someone prays to God, gods, nature, or remains agnostic; if they can understand the drive toward excellence and order at the heart of Western Civilization, and are from the Western European ethnic groups, they are an ally.