In the previous chapter we shed already a light on some other teachings which entered already in the first century in the different groups which claimed to follow Jesus.
The apostles warned already for the false teaching which were introduced by people who loved to be the leader of a group they started to call “church”. Several found it more interesting to have as many people as possible in their group and therefore did not mind to ad popular thoughts and general traditions in their “church”.
To the believers at Thessalonica the apostle Paul wrote,
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
These references lay emphasis upon the fact that the scriptures are able and sufficient to teach the truth about God necessary for salvation and uphold the right and duty of ordinary people to read the scriptures for themselves.
It is perfectly true that the Apostle Peter warned the believers against those who twist the scriptures and make them mean something which is not intended. But he never warned them against reading the scriptures, for he exhorts them
“as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:1,2).
Their spiritual growth and increased knowledge of God depended upon a careful reading of the Word of Truth. There is not the slightest suggestion that by doing this they would be exposed to danger or would be led away from the faith. On the contrary the essential and central feature of these passages is that the scriptures are able to teach men the truth about salvation and that truth is comprehensible by ordinary people. According to the Bible, then, the Reformers theory was right, but something went wrong.
In the assembled Word of God, which we call the Bible, mankind is told that there are many gods but Only One True God Who is One. By the influence of Hellenistic and Roman philosophy several religious teachers started adding some of those common thoughts to their teaching by which they became more popular than the apostles and their followers who kept to the strict teachings of Jesus Christ. More and more people started claiming they were there with Christ and as such would be apostles spreading his teachings, though they went far away from it. These false apostles got the support of false prophets who wanted to frighten and win the people with all sorts of announcements of coming times. To get more power over their followers they introduced several human doctrines and teachings of torture places and frightening situations if people would not follow their teaching. They tried to befriend people and do as if they would be close brothers and sisters going for the same goal. How further we go in time away from the time Jesus and his apostles lived, how more people came to demand the sole right in preaching or presenting the Word of God. For those false preachers only clergy could do the work of God. Human attentional control is unrivalled.
In the days of the apostles many did not believe they were telling the truth and many thought they wanted to get people away from the true Judaic faith. For others the way of life promoted by the apostles seemed to be too limiting and therefore was something to fight against, certainly when it brought divisions in households.
An other factor in history is that all the time we can find people who tried to have a god they could fully understand and whom they could associate with.
The trouble has been that so many people have come to look at the religious writings with preconceived ideas, seeking in its pages support for doctrines already formulated from other sources.
There has been a marked tendency for people to make God after their own image — to fashion their ideas about Him out of their own desires, so that they invent a God in accordance with what they wish Him to be, rather than as He is revealed in the Bible. They come to the Bible seeking support for a self-invented god and very often they are satisfied that the Bible supports them.
This satisfaction is secured by a superficial reading of certain passages of scripture, a capricious selection of parts of the Bible which appear to be favourable, and a rejection of those parts which are not. Furthermore, doctrines are formed or supported on isolated texts without reference to the general teaching of scripture. Very often doctrines tend to be isolated from each other, like parcels tied up separately, and the final and logical outcome of their teaching is not looked at penetratingly. So the discrepancies and contradictions are not brought to light.
Secondly, certain churches have been dominated by particular doctrines upon which more than usual emphasis has been laid, which has resulted in the neglect of other important teaching. The outcome of this has been a dislocated and unbalanced view of Bible truth leading to false conclusions and a disordered conception of salvation.
In the religious world today, therefore, it would be impossible to get a clear and unanimous explanation of the Kingdom of God, the Authority and Inspiration of the Bible, the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, the importance of Baptism, the nature of the Church, the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the nature of Man, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Life after Death.
Churches which for years have been teaching their people a theology based on the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, now find that some of their leading theologians and writers are saying that this doctrine is not Biblical but pagan; that survival of the individual will not come about by flight of the soul to heaven at death, but by the resurrection of the body at the second advent of Jesus Christ.
This is the Biblical view of the nature of man, but only a few believe it. The Bible says that man is mortal. It says it categorically and emphatically, and yet in the religious world there is uncertainty, doubt and deliberate contradiction. This one thing alone is representative of the confusion and multiplicity of ideas which confront the seeker after religious truth and which so often fill him with dismay and despair, or which breed an indifference leading to apathy and agnosticism. Sometimes that indifference is expressed in the belief that it does not matter which church you attend or what you believe — with so many to choose from, one is as good as another.
Many followers of the Nazarene master teacher became confronted by others who brought the different human teachings into the religion and as such went to form different groups leaving Christianity for what it is and joining the different groups in Christendom with its many divisions.
It is not because we may find today as largest groups the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the Protestant churches, that all those churches would be following the Biblical truth. Even the Oriental Orthodox churches which constitute as one of the oldest branches of the tradition, but had been out of contact with Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy from the middle of the 5th century until the late 20th century because of a dispute over Christology (the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s nature and significance) do not have to be totally in line with the Holy Scriptures.
One of the most difficult points or the most controversial point seems to be that nature of Christ. This has mainly come because so many people have become blinded by the human doctrines of the Trinity. From the early church communities a twofold trail developed where the largest group took the turn to a path influenced by Hellenistic thinking that would grow into the present Christendom that would look down on those of Christianity who continued to adhere to the teachings of just One God and His sent Jesus Christ.
Mankind got tampered by tradition, Christianity and Christendom being more than some systems of religious belief. Both have generated a culture, presenting different sets of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since the Nazarene rebbe Jeshua (better known as Jesus Christ).
“Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear, and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . . Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services. . . . For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture capable of making life in Greco-Roman cities more tolerable.” Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, Princeton University Press, 1996, page 161.
The essence of Christianity revolves around the life, death and Christian beliefs on the resurrection of Jesus. True Christians believe God sent his son Jesus, the messiah, to save the world. They believe Jesus was killed at a stake (crucified on a cross) to offer the forgiveness of sins and was resurrected three days after his death before ascending to heaven. The ones of the Trinitarian churches take Jesus as a reincarnation of God. By doing so they nullify the act of the Nazarene man, (because man can do God nothing and God as an eternal Being can not die). Making Jesus into their god they also had to create a mother of god (Mary/Maria/Miryam). From one teaching deviating from Scripture came a next deviation or which had to be taken as true or to be accepted as a dogma.
The Christians made it very clear that people had to abstain from any heathen festival and some of them were not respectful toward ancestral pagan customs, and their preaching of a new king sounded like revolution. The opposition of the Jews to them led to breaches of the peace. Thus, the Christians could very well be unpopular, and they often were. Paul’s success at Ephesus provoked a riot to defend the cult of the goddess Artemis. In 64 C.E. a fire destroyed much of Rome, and, in order to escape blame, the emperor Nero killed a “vast multitude” of Christians as scapegoats. For the first time, Rome was conscious that Christians were distinct from Jews. But there probably was no formal senatorial enactment proscribing Christianity at this time.
Under Emperor Domitian, Christianity was illegal. If a person confessed to being a Christian, he or she was executed. Starting in 303 C.E. Christians faced the most severe persecutions to date under the founder of the late empire Diocletian and co-emperor Galerius. This became known as the Great Persecution. some found it best to come to an agreement with the Roman rulers and when Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, religious tolerance shifted in the Roman Empire but also brought the heavy discussions about the nature of Christ.
By the 4th century there were several groups of Christians with different ideas about how to interpret scripture and the role of the church. In February 313 a proclamation that permanently established religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire was the outcome of a political agreement concluded in the Edict of Milan between the Roman emperors Constantine I and Licinius.
Give a little, take a little, Constantine wanted to have the Christians to agree to accept a similarity between the Roman gods and made mots of the leaders of several churches warm to agree with a three-headed god, the Trinity. Establishing the Nicene Creed he wanted to resolve issues that divided the church. But from then onwards division only became more acute or creating more hatred between the different groups. Certainly when in 380 C.E., Emperor Theodosius I (byname Theodosius the Great,in full Flavius Theodosius) declared Catholicism the state religion of the Roman Empire. From then onwards the head of that church was the Pope, or Bishop of Rome, operating as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Catholics expressed a deep devotion for the Virgin Mary, recognized seven sacraments, and honoured relics and sacred sites. When the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 C.E., differences emerged among Eastern and Western Christians. In 1054 C.E., the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church split into two groups.
By military expeditions, beginning in the late 11th century, terror and wars or so called crusades, the Roman Catholic Church until the advent of the Protestant Reformation and the decline of papal authority, did everything to enlarge their power.
Wanting to go back to the Word of God, recognising that several requirements from the Roman Catholic church were not according the bible teaching, Martin Luther published 95 Theses — a text that criticized certain acts of the Pope and protested some of the practices and priorities of the Catholic church. Luther’s ideas triggered the Reformation — a movement that aimed to reform the Catholic church. As a result, Protestantism was created, and different denominations of Christianity or Christendom eventually began to form. In Christianity there always had been groups which had kept to the teachings of Jesus, concerning the Only One True God of Israel and the Plan of God. Having book-print enabling much more people to come to read the Bible and coming to see how their churches had mislead them, several students of the Bible saw the light and started Bible Student groups, which found their way to become a large group in the 19th century in the New World.
Some of the older groups of Christianity started to transfer from Christianity to Christendom, under the influences of groups from the Trinitarian site and as such Baptists from the old non-trinitarian movement became a large trinitarian group.
There developed numerous denominations within Protestantism, many of which differ in their interpretation of the Bible and understanding of the church.
The world of the church came to see next to Lutheranism Calvinism, and got next to the Evangelical church some movements which developed strongly near the end of last century, Evangelicalism (best represented by the ministry of Billy Graham and journals like Christianity Today), Pentecostalism, and Charismatic Christendom.
Next: Bible Teaching and Vital Doctrines to be Discovered
- People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
- Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience
- Texts, writers, accessibility and willingness
- Human & Biblical teachings
- How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
- Spiritual growth expansion of self-awareness
- Approachers of ideas around gods, philosophers and theologians
- When you stay in your lane, there’s no traffic.
- Jewish and Christian traditions of elders
- Believing what Jesus says
- Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
- The Trinity matter
- The Trinity – the Truth
- How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop
- Altered to fit a Trinity
- The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
- The Trinity – true or false?
- Behind a False doctrine – the Trinity
- Trinity – History
- Christ Versus the Trinity
- Faith, doubt and difficult questions
- Architecture of Religious Manipulation
- Those Who Are False Will Usually Sound Good
- Religious Counterfeits
- The new Reformation
- Urban tribes and the church
- Urban tribes and the church (part2)
- How a deep and growing divide is killing Protestant christianity – or maybe renewing it!
- Revelation in Space and Time – How it was understood in the 3rd and 4th centuries
- Tradition vs. History
- 9 Reasons Every Christian Should Study Church History
- How much will it cost to Follow after Christ? A Martyrs Story Part B
- Review: Christianity in the Twentieth Century
- Rome’s Pantheon, a place of Christian worship for the past 1,400 years
- Muller on the Scope of Reformation
- Anglo-Catholic of the Week: The Reverend Canon Colin Stephenson
- Episode 35. The Trisagion Revolution
- We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ (ed. McGuckin)
- Fire (The Great Awakenings #2)
- ChurchFathers.org asks: What did the Fathers say about it?
- The History of Christian Theology
- Review: Christianity in the Roman Empire
- Review: Augustine on the Trinity
- On the Differing Christological Views of Antioch & AlexandriaChristianity & World War I
- The Decline of Confessional Orthodoxy & Rationalism
- The Purpose Driven Church