For the longest time, the Catholic Church taught that the Earth was flat, then Galileo came along & turned the world on its edge, so to speak! Now, thanks to Science & Technology, it's widely accepted that the earth is a globe, moving in a rotation around a central Sun. It was also accepted as fact that the Earth was at the center of the universe & that everything revolved around it.
Where did these crazy ideas come from & why would the Church ( Catholic ) teach them as dogma? Strangely enough, even today, some people read the Bible & perceive these outlandish notions as well! As to why this was taught so dogmatically for centuries, my readers may judge for themselves, but one might wonder if it had to do with controlling the masses. If the Earth is flat, as was largely thought in Columbus' day, fear of falling off the edge of the Earth might keep explorers from going too far. If everything revolved around us, or the Earth, then that might, again, instill fear of outside influence, fear that we might not be as important in the grand scheme of things as we'd like to think!
The very idea that the universal destruction language of Scripture, especially from the Revelation, might not be speaking of the destruction of the universe is ridiculous to many, but to some others, it is beyond clear that those Scriptures were speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple in AD70. The end of the reign of terror, or, 'ministry of death', as the apostle Paul called it ( II Corinthians 3:7 ), was, according to a relatively 'new' paradigm, what is in view in the Scriptures. If the Scriptures were written merely about the Beginning & End of an era, then what have we to fear? Falling into the hands of an Angry God doesn't quite have the same effect, now does it?!
The Plan of Salvation, as laid out most notably in the apostle's Letter to the Romans, is another doctrine that has been weakened by this paradigm-shift! Since 'preterism' ( the belief that all prophecy in Scripture was fulfilled in the 1st century ) has been gaining in popularity over the past few decades, many adherents have noted that this 'Plan' also referred to the redemption of that certain priesthood, not to humanity as a whole. Paradigm-shifts like this have been going on for centuries , but disturbing the well-established 'Plan of Salvation', veering off 'the Romans Road', so to to speak, may be the most severe!
The Salvation of individuals has been the most active mission of the Church ( Catholic ) for centuries. It has spurred world-wide evangelism & has been much of the impetus behind denominationalism, because, well, 'those guys just don't have it right!' The idea that people are headed for either 'Heaven' or 'Hell' has influenced many, out of fear instilled by sermons such as Jonathan Edwards' 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God', to join the Church & fill their coffers so they could go to the right 'place' when their physical bodies ceased to function.
The Gnostics, who taught that, put simply, we are spirit beings having a physical experience, were condemned as heretics & their teachings were largely down-played by the Catholic Church.One example that I noted in the Wikipedia article ( see 'Historical Jesus' ) on Gnosticism was that the Gnostic Gospels tended to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven, here & now, while the canonical Gospels focused on the end times. What better way to instill fear & assert control than by telling the ignorant masses that the world was going to end soon & they had better join the Catholic Church or end up in fiery torments for Eternity?
Much unnecessary pain & suffering has been caused over the past number of centuries, even millenia, because of dogma like this! Fear is a great instigator & through it, the huddled masses were kept under control for many years, although, as we have noted previously, in the past few decades, this chain of iron has begun to unravel, allowing its former captives to break free, further exploring the Creation & most importantly, the Relationship between Creator & Creation. Fear of what may happen has caused many to go to war over differences of doctrine, or belief. The Inquisition & the Crusades may be the most famous ( or is that 'infamous'? ) examples of what may result from the propagation of this fear.
In much of the Church today, we may note that this impetus is in full force, though, thank God, it is ever weakening! The latest exodus from the Church is an indication of this. With the fear of going to 'Hell' when you die taken out of the way, one is freed to focus on living in the Kingdom ( here & now ), rather than preparing souls for the after-life. In like manner, with no fear of falling off the edge of the world, Columbus opened the channel for us to inhabit the land where we now live. Although Galileo was persecuted for his daring explorations, it is now a matter of fact that he was right. All these advances saw their greatest manifestation in the natural world, but they began, as all paradigm shifts must, with a sort of spiritual detoxification, wherein one begins to see that all is not as was previously thought, but that much, if not all that the Catholic Church dogmatically taught, can & must be re-examined, if not completely discarded!
As we continue this spiritual detoxification process today, it is manifestly clear that, due largely to the fact that we have been so indoctrinated, much pain & suffering is to come. This pain & suffering,. though, is necessary. As it is written, 'No pain, no gain'!
Charles Haddon Shank