How did the Early Church turn so bad so early?

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I would like to think that there is a line of solid theology from Christ to now and that the Early Church was the faithful guardian of that truth....at least right up until just prior to the Reformation and then the Reformers recovered the apostolic faith of the NT and the Church Fathers.....



BUT....

From the first 2 centuries it seems like (1) baptismal regeneration and (2) chiliasm became the norm in many places. And the Church Fathers are very untrustworthy on so many issues.



How can we quote the church Fathers and use them as support for the historicity of our beliefs when they were so wrong on so many things?

How can we talk about the historicity of our faith or about historical development, and especially about historical preservation of doctrine from the NT times on when even in the early church so much was wrong about Christianity?


....especially regarding baptismal regeneration and chiliasm which almost appear to be majority positions of the early church.


Any insights to console my troubled mind or restore my confidence in the Church Fathers?
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
I've done a little bit of reading on the early church history, as I'm in the middle of doing a church history class. Here's what I've seen.

1.) When false teachings came into the church, you'd see the early church combat these teachings, and get rid of 99% of the false teaching. But the remaining 1% of the substance stuck in some cases, creeped back in, and began to influence the church. This happens today: I see churches, for example, that are not charismatic/pentecostal who are letting fringe elements of the charismatic/pentecostal movment (praise teams, music more akin to a dance club or a concert than a true worship service) starting to influence their services. Likewise, false doctrines such as the prayers to saints found in the Catholic church began by simply looking to the saints as examples, and it degenerated from there as more distortion came through this initially innocent exercise.

2.) Some of it came about as a result of the church trying to adapt to the world. An easy example of this is Halloween, which was the Catholic church attempting to integrate All Saints Day with Samhein.

3.) A loss of crucial doctrine, and the gospel in particular. Luther and the reformers were right: when you get the gospel right, you see a LOT of the other areas of the church aright themselves. When you get back to the meat and potatoes of the Christian faith, you'll see change.

4.) Remember: the church is made up of fallible, sinful beings. We struggle with sin, not just in our actions, but in our thoughts, motives, and sometimes in our beliefs. People will sin, and that means leaders and theologians will make errors. That certainly doesn't excuse it, but it does prepare us to expect it.

This, by the way, is something we need to be fiercely aware of: a great many bad things in the church came about as an emphasis on good works or "spiritual experience" (read: emotionalism) over doctrine. Good intentions can be dangerous things when not tempered with good theology.
 

Believer1993

Puritan Board Freshman
I think there tends to be a tendency to exaggerate the importance of the Church Fathers. Now, I do believe they were godly men and that we can profit from reading their writings. However, as John Frame has put it, they were more like the Church Babies. They didn't have time to sort out all of the issues, they were like infants just learning to walk. It is only natural that they got some things wrong (even today many people are in error).
Quotes from the Church Fathers shouldn't be the standard of truth. We should only support their ideas as long as they comport with Scripture.
Another thing to remember is that God always keeps a remnant for Himself. While this doesn't mean that individuals have a perfect faith, I think we can be confident that within the early church the truth did exist (if it didn't how did it make its way into the creedal formulations).
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
You could look at it as the Kingdom being the smallest herb of the garden, but growing into the greatest bush, so big that birds come to rest in it. So, it's the most natural thing in the world for the early church to get it simplistic, or even wrong on many issues, and for those issues to be better fleshed out as time goes by.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So there is historical progression and development of doctrine? The Church improves with age?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
the systematizing of doctrine never occurred in the early in and of itself, but only as responses to incorrect teaching at level of the local church, and usually with one man espousing certain teachings. Even Paul's letters are occasional pieces addressing practical church matters (for the most part) with doctrine as a reason why things should be done in a certain way. What the ECFs said as individuals are many and varied, but the conclusions they came up with as a church are VERY important and deserve our respect and consideration.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Even when the church was at its worst, there has always been, at the very least, a faithful remnant. I have a friend who has said to me many times, "If it were not for the work of the Spirit of God, and His faithfulness, the church would die out in one generation."
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Perg,

Is it your position that premillennialism is unorthodox? Is it heretical?

I wouldn't call it heretical, but I am amillennial. Baptismal regeneration, Marcionism, Montanism, Arianism all are heretical, however, and occurred early.

Historical premil (without the Dispensational trappings) is not heretical. Sorry to lump them all together as if there were no distinctions.

---------- Post added at 04:46 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:46 AM ----------

Can there be any question?????

Yes, I agree TimV.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Then, there was the tendency, on the part of many in the early church, to be in love with allegorical interpretation of the Bible. Many of those very early Bible commentaries are worthless as actual expositions of the text.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Can there be any question?????

Is there a tension in believing that there is historical advance and development of doctrine through the ages even while holding to past ancient creeds and reformation-era confessions and being suspicious of new trends in theology?

Or is every advance forward merely going "back to the Bible"? Are any "new" doctrines truly ever formed or merely formulated and systematized better? If there is historcial advance, how is it that we are also to hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints?

---------- Post added at 05:34 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:34 AM ----------

What exactly does historical theological advance look like?
 

bug

Puritan Board Freshman
I often wonder if we expect to much of the eraly church and think too little of them!

We are also very anachronistic in our assesment of the period of history. The bible was not readily available in a small book like it is now, and many who had access to a portion of it where unable to read it. Reading many of early fathers is is apparent that they did not have the whole NT, does Justin Martyr ever quote from Paul fro example? These are christians fighting for their lives, through centuries of persecution, isolated in ways we cannot comprehend, most unable to get their hands on the full scriptures - and we wonder that there were errors! When today we see people propogating the same errors despite the fact they have been repeatedly and decisively refuted!

We also have to remember that they were (largely speaking)expecting the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, early church chilianism does not laways equate to any of the premil views we see today. They were not planning for the future church in 2000 years, if they were perhaps they would have codified doctrine etc differently. Many of then were looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in their life time. That is something else to note, much of what we have is the disagreements, we have little information about those who happily went on in the faith, unaware of the theological disputes around them. A lot like today, we don't see them because they are faithfully practising their commison in the place God put them, but they do not push themselves forward onto the global arena of debate.

Personally I think we need to expect less of the early church and give them more credit then often we do. Were they a mixed buch - sure! But then so are we! Where they perfect? Are we? Perhaps we aught to take note of them, that is they, so close to the apsotsles and their teaching, were liable to error, how much more so are we liable to error! Let's learn from them and be on our guard, but lets also remember they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and love demands we think the best of them, I cor 13.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
I deny the premise. I don't think that the early church got so bad so quickly. Even if we can pick out weaknesses in it (when is that not true?), they did pretty well for themselves and had some moments when they really shined. Read Irenaeus' responses to Gnosticism. Read the Epistle to Diognetus' description of Christianity. Read Tertullian's critique of Sabellianism.

Once you get to the 4th century, things really get good. The Cappadocian Fathers are a font of devotion. Gregory of Nazianzus' Orations on Baptism are great. Gregory of Nyssa's meditations on God's love are breathtaking. Augustine's Confessions! Chrysostom's Divine Liturgy! The Nicene Creed!

I have no interest in making infallible titans of people who bear the somewhat arbitrary title church father, but I have equally no interest in dismissing an incredibly rich, fertile period of Christian theology. The Reformers were not anti-Fathers; neither should we be.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXV
Of the Church
....

IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.[8] And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.[9]

V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error;[10] and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.[11] Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.[12]

It is true that God has always had a people and His revealed will (doctrine, His Word) has been preserved.

It is also true that God's people have never been perfect. No wonder our Lord compares us to sheep.

While the apostolic era and early church were times of great unity and contending for the truth, they were also times of heresy and slander, misrepresentation both intentional and unintentional. Just look at the gnostics, the Judaizers, those who preached from false motives, encountered regularly in the apostolic era and early church.

(That's why the great Creeds, e.g. Nicea came about)

Consider Revelation 3 for the churches that existed then (in the first century) and yet are types of churches that exist today (and in between times).

Human beings, even regenerated ones have a remnant of the fall (every one of us) and are blinded by sin.

It amazes me, that we have to contend that the fourth commandment even applies to God's creatures. That God wrote it in the middle of His Commands, with more detail than any other, but God's people would argue that somehow only nine of ten commandments apply, or that it applies but argue it has no practical effect.

As if, logically, mankind suddenly lost his need for rest. Or his tendency toward idolatry. Or need to regulate his life by the worship of God. Or that work has become unceasing in this life. Or that there is no rest from pursuit of entertaining oneself in this life.

It doesn't make sense.

But not really.

Not when I consider Scripture and my own sin, how sin blinds us. That's why if we don't renew ourselves in the "ordinary means of grace" God has provided (e.g. the Word) as a regular part of life, we will go "backwards." Not doing that (and the Lord's Day is a particular means of ensuring that happens regularly in the life of every believer) will lead to hardening, blindness and misery. Then, it might not be taught to the next generation of sinners.

Look at that pattern with Israel in the wilderness. An entire generation that could broadly be described as complaining, and disbelieving died in the wilderness without seeing the promised land. (cf Exodus)

These cycles go on toward an end of redemption, where things really do get better.

A time where God's people won't focus on trying to deny the applicability of God's commandments to them, etc. but will focus on, in the circumstances they are in now, by God's grace being obedient.

Let that begin right now.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Charlie, I have to agree with you. The question is not how they got so much wrong, but how they got so much right. In the last two years, I've had the chance to read a fair amount of the Church Fathers and I am always floored by how much I discover.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
While agreeing with Charlie that there is incredibly good stuff in the early church, I also think you can look on the history of problems as encouraging.

Here we are, with men in our own circles affirming that Adam came from the womb of some unsmiling hominid, and similarly repugnant ideas; and yet in Corinth there were those who called the resurrection into question; or you had Simeon chaining himself to the top of his pillar; or an orderly and decent monk, inoffensive apart from being Welsh, teaching that the Fall had minimal impact on the nature of man. We are part of this tangle: the problems in our day do not spell defeat for the church and truth of God, anymore than the problems of those.

As for baptismal regeneration, I'm not denying that it is present, of course, but remember that without a developed language of sacramentology more statements might sound like an affirmation of it than would necessarily have to be taken that way.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Charlie:

Sure, you can cherry-pick many good writings on select topics from the early Church Fathers, but hardly any would be able to teach at our reformed seminaries in our own day, right? Due to sacerdotalism, baptismal regeneration, false views of justification, etc.

“Gregory Nazianzen sees in baptism all blessings of Christianity combined, especially the forgiveness of sins, the new birth, and the restoration of the divine image… According to Gregory of Nyssa, the child by baptism is instated in the paradise from which Adam was thrust out. The Greek fathers had no clear conception of original sin. According to the Pelagian Julian of Eclanum, Chrysostom taught: We baptize children, though they are not stained with sin, in order that holiness, righteousness, sonship, inheritance, and brotherhood may be imparted to them through Christ…Augustine brought the operation of baptism into connection with his more complete doctrine of original sin. Baptism delivers from the guilt of original sin, and takes away the sinful character of the concupiscence of the flesh…”

-Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, ch.7, part 92

“And so they say, “Baptism is not necessary for them to whom faith is sufficient; for withal, Abraham pleased God by a sacrament of no water, but of faith.” But in all cases it is the later things which have a conclusive force, and the subsequent which prevail over the antecedent. Grant that, in days gone by, there was salvation by means of bare faith, before the passion and resurrection of the Lord. But now that faith has been enlarged, and is become a faith which believes in His nativity, passion, and resurrection, there has been an amplification added w the sacrament, viz., the sealing act of baptism; the clothing, in some sense, of the faith which before was bare, and which cannot exist now without its proper law.”

-Tertullian, On Baptism 13


Though I love to read Augustine, here is a list of his very Catholic teachings:

The canon of Scripture includes the Septuagint OT canon (deuterocanonicals, Apocrypha)
Authoritative Tradition
Baptismal regeneration and grace
Necessity of baptism for salvation
Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Lord's Supper)
The Mass is a sacrifice
Necessity of the Lord's Supper for salvation
Purgatory and praying for the departed
The communion of saints and saintly intercession
Authority of the Catholic Church
Apostolic Succession
Possibility of falling from grace
The sacrament of penance
Mary was ever virgin

From: Was Augustine a Protestant?



It appears that within the first 100 years after the disciples of Jesus, the early Church writings show a widespread belief in baptismal regeneration and a growing trend towards a belief in the real presence of Christ in the Supper and that the Supper is a sacrifice.

When Catholics appeal to tradition, they do, indeed, seem to have the weight of tradition on their side from the year 200 or so onward.

This has troubled me because I would much rather have a vision of a much purer Church up until the Middle Ages when the whole Papal hierarchy developed, at last culminating in the restorative work of the Reformation once things got too bad.

But, in many cases, the Reformers were not restoring the traditions of the early church which had gradually become polluted over many centuries, but they were going all the way back to NT times because, right out of the gate, the early church seemed infected with several large-scale errors.

This dismays me to some measure. But, if we view history as being a slow march forward and believe in the historical development of the Church through the ages and a slow refining of doctrine, then I guess I need not be troubled.
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
How did the Early Church turn so bad so early?

I've thought about this a lot as well...

May God grant the church to pray as the Psalmist did!:

Psalm 90
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Sure, you can cherry-pick many good writings on select topics from the early Church Fathers, but hardly any would be able to teach at our reformed seminaries in our own day, right?

Yes, but remembered that all these issues are still being hammmered out. Even theological heroes like Athanasius said things that were taken by some of his followers to imply things about Jesus that were later deemed heretical.

It appears that within the first 100 years after the disciples of Jesus, the early Church writings show a widespread belief in baptismal regeneration and a growing trend towards a belief in the real presence of Christ in the Supper and that the Supper is a sacrifice.

I wouldn't take "real presence" (properly understood) to be an issue, necessarily, given the teaching of Calvin and others on the subject.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Philip,

The "real presence" I am referring too lead quickly into believing in actual blood and flesh being offered as a sacrifice. This evolution of doctrine was not slow it seems.

Why would these issues need to be hammered out if the 12 had left a solid body of doctrine to be preserved by the Church (once delivered to the saints)? Good doctrine, after all, is never truly "new" even if we must recover it or reformulate it from accumulated errors. But, yes, I agree, there seems to have been a historical movement forward by the Church as a whole and a hammering out of many issues....but so many things were hammered out wrong as well that it hurts my trust in appealing to the Historic Church for answers.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'd like to say this little bit about the allegorizing of the fathers.

First, it looks excessive to us; and it surely was excessive, especially in particular significant men such as Origen or Augustin (not contemporaries, of either time or location).

Second, as I've pondered the puzzle of ancient Christian hermeneutics--in particular why did two rival schools of interpretation develop and flourish? and why did allegorization win-out, even to the point of official condemnation of "literalism"?--I have come to the conclusion that the answer is NOT simple (there are multiple lines of causation); and that because of simplistic explanations in the past, we have failed to understand or credit the church for what they got right, despite their obstacles and limitations.

A key factor for our understanding of the early church is to recognize that they are the YOUNG church. Youth has vigor, but not always discernment. Youth will latch onto one thought, without taking more into consideration (why you don't often want senior leaders who are little more than kids).

And then, we need to appreciate the difficulty of passing along to a new generation of pastors (while persecution rages, and church leaders are targeted) a well-rounded, apostolic hermeneutic. That is to say: reading the whole Bible (as much as you have)--including the OT--as a Christian text.

Oh, and living then, you don't have much access to the Hebrew OT, relations to the Jewish community is strained, the rabbis who remain committed to Phariseeism are not anxious to preserve a common method of reading the OT that consistently (pervasively) points to a coming Messiah, and factors like those. So, after the first century, there is very little cross-fertilization between the Gentile-dominated church and the ethnic-Jewish religion. Jerome is a partial help, but it isn't for another thousand years that Renaissance humanist learning comes along and gives a real boost to OT studies.

The real "fight" in the early church, concerning hermeneutics, has to do with an argument over which "school" is the true heir of the apostolic interpretation. Both "sides" are in danger of running off (like overeager adolescents) into excess, instead of maintaining the balance. The fear that ends up dominating the church, and leading to condemnation of the "literalists," is that it seems to the "allegorizers" that the trend on the "literalist" side is reductionism, hyper-rationalism, and ultimately a reading of Christ right out of the OT.

Interestingly, Origen (allegorizer par-excellence) was also condemned, and probably because unrestrained allegory leads inevitably to speculative theology, and he was condemned because of his speculations (not his method). If a text can mean just about anything, then its just a matter of time before the interpreter's own ideas about God (a form of idolatry) get read-back into the text of Scripture, and "my thoughts" are transmuted into "God's thoughts" (instead of the other way around). Then, the allegorizer teaches his own ideas as revelation, and the church is led astray.

Were the allegorizers right to view the literalists with suspicion? Well, they surely over-reacted and condemned a whole school of thought that (centered in Syria, and close to the Aramaic Scriptures) were more "in tune" with the tenor and texture of OT revelation. However, the modern period of biblical interpretation has proven that the "literalist" school (left unconstrained, and even turned over to atheists and unbelievers) has made a complete hash of Christian interpretation of the OT, and has even tried to pit the parts of the NT against itself, to turn it also (if possible) into a collection of irreconcilable, contradictory, anachronistic, anthropological, sociological reflections on religious behavior of an earlier generation.


So, in my opinion, neither "school" was correct in its assessment of the other. But, BOTH schools represent an attempt to be faithful to the apostolic hermeneutic. Both sides had its strength and its weakness. Outside of the Bible (OT/NT), they no longer had much in the way of living, Jewish "fathers," once the Apostles and their immediate successors died. Thus, the question of accurate relation to the OT, and its ethnic-exclusive character in an age of ethnic-inclusion, and numerous other factors, contributed to a kind of "spiritualization" of the text. But at least they understood that the OT was a "Christian" book, as much as the NT was. Its when the OT becomes little more than a repository of history/myth (in the eyes of its interpreters), and a series of moral-lessons, and a record of the long waiting-game for the NT to arrive and really show us the way, that the church has, in fact, lost the OT. Allegorization ultimately loses its grip on the Bible too.

What I've tried to argue here is that rightly apprehending what the allegorizers' school was trying to accomplish/preserve allows us a fresh appreciation for their work, while maintaining the critical-distance necessary to properly situate their efforts. In other words, we don't want to lose the Reformation-rehabilitation of the best of the "literalist" school. We don't want to re-allegorize our hermeneutic. However, we need to recover from the heritage the Christocentric reading of the whole Bible.

It's possible to wrongly reverse our orientation. I've seen an ostensibly Reformed interpretation of a text that could have been written (I think) by Origen, so blatant was the allegory. There was no attempt to hide the "superimposition" of category-assignments to elements of the story (and this was a NT text!). Another interpreter, by the same rubric, could have assigned alternative categories to the same elements, and declared his meaning to be God's intention with the same authority as the first man. That's allegory; and it's a blessing to be delivered from the tyranny of it. May we never again come under its domination.

We need to maintain the Reformation's orientation toward the highest appreciation for the fundamental-meaning of the text. Thence we cannot, in the nature of the case, "ascend" to a Christological-allegory, or any other allegory. But we can progress, in-depth-of-understanding, on the basis of the inter-textuality of Scripture, to an awareness of how all of Scripture inevitably turns our focus to Christ the center. That is what the old allegorizers, in their best moments, wanted to keep for the church.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Perg,
Why shouldn't it be a part of our patrimony, that we see Christ preserving his church in the midst of what should have been tragedy and failure? This is what we see: that if it was up to man, and his inveterate idolatry, and his penchant for crafting his own notions for presentation as divine-notions, the church should have failed within the era of the Fathers. That it does not, and that God proceeds to gain ground and advance his cause in spite of human error, rampant confusion, and evil-ascendancy, is testament to Christ's strength in weakness.

It is an error of many sects to believe, assert, and dogmatize that God would only preserve his church where is was pure, excellent, and untainted. So, the "Trail of Blood" myth, and others like it. "The true church existed, always, only outside of Rome, or Constantinople, etc."

WRONG. The story of church-history is that Christ is victorious in the midst of the death of his saints, in weakness not only of flesh but of doctrine as well. The church progresses in its understanding by painful steps. Athanasius is exiled at least five times for his defense of the truth.

So, if the church struggles mightily, and maintains the deity and humanity of Christ--while fumbling on the sacraments--in the early days; if it wrestles a mighty contest with its corrupt mother in the 16th century to recover and preserve Justification by faith--while dropping the ball on eschatological interpretation; how does this weakness diminish Christ, except in the eyes of those who crave glory in earthly terms?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thanks Rev. Bruce...good thoughts.

Why shouldn't it be a part of our patrimony, that we see Christ preserving his church in the midst of what should have been tragedy and failure?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It was God's decretive will, being prophesied by the Apostles in various places.

If you look at the early OT Church in the Book of Judges, it also went bad early.

Strength and maturity come over a period of time.


Pergy
and chiliasm

I wouldn't call this a major error, because it doesn't strike at the heart of the faith.


So there is historical progression and development of doctrine? The Church improves with age?

The Church is slowly growing from a tender plant to a big strong tree that will fill the Earth.

Realised eshatology isn't static eschatology.

This applies to individuals as well as the Church in general. We look for growth, maturity and strengthening in Christian individuals. Just because they have all they need in Christ at conversion, doesn't mean there is no progress.

The fact that there is progress in individual Christianity and in the Church in its extent and in its doctrine, is a, less central, confirmation to me of postmil rather than amil.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Richard,

Yes I agree about chiliasm. Many of my friends are premil (non-Dispensational) and are very sound in the faith.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Why would these issues need to be hammered out if the 12 had left a solid body of doctrine to be preserved by the Church (once delivered to the saints)? Good doctrine, after all, is never truly "new" even if we must recover it or reformulate it from accumulated errors. But, yes, I agree, there seems to have been a historical movement forward by the Church as a whole and a hammering out of many issues....but so many things were hammered out wrong as well that it hurts my trust in appealing to the Historic Church for answers.

The perfection of the object of theology (the Scriptures) doesn't result in perfect interpreters of theology. And that is why there is room for growth by continually returning to the source. The truth is perfectly deposited; our apprehension of it is gradual and impartial. That's why immediately after the most perfect theologians you have some very imperfect ones.

That being said, though, it is also true that there was a great deal of theological genius, and if you don't find many as reliably sane as Calvin, the picture is not so bleak as some (e.g., the link where you got your Augustine list) would paint it.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
So there is historical progression and development of doctrine? The Church improves with age?

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)

Robert
However, as John Frame has put it, they were more like the Church Babies.

VG.:D
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Since Rome officially anathematized the bible and the Gospel at Trent, I don't consider her part of the Catholic Church.

Nearly all in the Roman Catholic Church accept that doctrine comes from the Living Magisterium which is basically a combination of the portions of the Bible and its own traditions that the leadership has decided is important. Officially according to Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church bases its teachings on what has been called:
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum #9, Vatican Council II. As quoted in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing Co, 1996; p.5).

One of the reasons I am no longer a Roman catholic and why I am now a Reformed Protestant and a Presbyterian is the elevation of tradition to the level of authority with the scriptures. In Roman Catholicism, tradition is to be obeyed as equally as the Bible, and sometimes rather than the Bible.

Rome was in a vast political vacuum by the end of the fifth century, with many small, barbarian kingdoms competing for the ruling power of the once great empire. Two barbarian groups, the Ostogoths, displaced from the north of the Black Sea, and the Lombards, championed by the Byzantines to replace them, were mingled within the Roman culture. The once barbaric Visigoth Monarchy was known as the "defenders of the church" for their abandonment of the heresy of Arianism, and flourished in Spain. The Frank's, with King Clovis' leadership aimed to assimilate with old Roman culture rather than replace it with the new Merovingian dynasty, powers waxed and waned at the sporadic warfare as power changed hands. It was in this crucial time of turbulent and chaotic power exchanges between barbarian tribes that eventually led to the Papacy rising up and establishing power centered in Rome in the 6th to 9th centuries.

The papacy eventually tried to appease the pagan barbarians. While Roman Catholic Christianity gave order to the faithful, it might have been at great cost to believers. It has been suggested that its corrupt system of falsehood and idolatry identifies it as a masterpiece of Satan, rather than the kingdom of the Son of God. In fact, Cardinal Manning speaks of the secretive union of Christianity and Pagan religion that the Roman Empire made with the "barbarian hordes", which incorporated the pagan rites with Christianity in a truce; the barbarians kept their pagan religious practices in exchange for relinquishing their power to the Pope.


It was during this time the 6th to the 9th centuries that the popes and the Roman curia started to make laws which were not biblically based and it continued at an accelerated rate until the Protestant Reformation nearly a thousand years. The corruption thus I believe began in the 6th to 9th centuries but by the time of the Reformation the church was so badly corrupted and the Gospel so distorted by pagan and papist traditions that the RC church was no longer the church Christ and the apostles founded. She had become the “Whore of Babylon” and a Synagogue for Satan.

4.7.23-4.7.30
Arraignment of the Later Papacy from the Calvin institutes.
Calvin claims that the Romanists must agree with this logical statement: "what is not a church cannot be the mother of churches; he who is not a bishop cannot be the prince of bishops." A church is recognized by these two marks - the preaching of the Word and right administration of the sacraments. Calvin details the tasks of the bishop: "The first task of the bishop's office is to teach people from God's Word. The second and next is to administer the sacraments. The third is to admonish and exhort, also to correct those who sin and to keep the people under holy discipline." The pontiffs no longer performed these tasks, therefore they were not fulfilling their duties for the office of bishop. If they were not acting like a bishop, the question becomes can someone who is not performing the duties of a bishop be the prince of bishops? And, can a church headed by a bishop who is not fulfilling his duties still be a church and the head of all churches?

Confession of Faith
CHAPTER XXV.
Of the Church.
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.
 
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