The Church AND History – In a Nutshell
J. N. Runner
None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see. - Matthew Henry
One of the tales in the collection of stories written by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron in the 14th century is about two friends, a Catholic and a Jew that lived in Paris. The Catholic never ceased in his effort to try to convert his Jewish friend. Then finally one day the Jew, being weary of the incessant attempt to proselyte him made his friend a promise: "I have occasion to travel to Rome for business, and will be there for a few months. While I am there, I will observe the leaders of your church, and if I observe pious living beyond what I see in my own faith, I will convert."
This worried his Catholic friend, because it was well known that Rome was the center of corruption, but what could he do? By and by his friend left for Rome, and to the Catholic's surprise, returned months later, converted to Catholicism. He was surprised, to say the least - and finally managed to ask how this 'conversion' came about. The (former) Jewish friend said, "I came to observe the piousness of your faith and found quite the opposite. I finally deducted that any organization that was as corrupt in its morals as the Roman church and can still remain intact - must be of God - so I converted."
These two fictional characters of the 14th century are not alone. There are millions of people throughout the ages that have hid their eyes at the fables, complexities and excesses of Roman Catholicism, and even still, others who deduce that it is so big and powerful that it's easier to join them than to refute it. "It must be of God."
The Simplicity of the Gospel
And the common people heard him gladly.
There is just nothing complicated about the Gospel, the message John the Baptist, Jesus and his chosen apostles preached. The prophecy was that ‘the poor have the gospel preached unto them’. They never did have any quarrel with the common man; it was the religious elite; the political powers of the day whose eyes were blinded and in their blindness became the very conduit in which the prophecies of old would be fulfilled, that Jesus would be crucified by his own people for the sins of the whole world.
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Perhaps the sheer simplicity of the gospel message is the reason it remains a mystery so many; they cannot see the forest for the trees. Theologians are forever disposed to making something complicated out of something that should be left simple.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
The apostles were not educated men. When they were confronted by the religious elite, they spoke boldly, but obviously not eloquently:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
What does it matter if person has been to university (ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 3:7), but more important, that they have been with Jesus!
These unlearned and ignorant men were the ones that were the chosen ones of this Jesus of Nazareth, himself, not a man of letters, but a carpenter.
Mark_6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Not only was the gospel message simple, there are multiple warnings in the New Testament to beware of complicating it!
2 Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Yes! What a plot! Make something complicated out of something simple! Bring in philosophy, philosophers, and renowned learned men from the four corners of the earth and let’s muddle this thing so that everyone is squabbling about what the truth really is! Human nature is disposed to do just that.
Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
All the counsel of God! Anyone who believes they know more than any writers of the New Testament are treading on very dangerous ground. How does one justify teaching that doctrine (or tradition!) apart and aside from the teaching contained in scripture is acceptable or necessary?
20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Note the warning. It was no mystery what was going to happen to the early church.
2 Corinthians 11:12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Probably no deceit is worse than that which comes in clerical robes of piety. Recently Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the head of Roman Catholicism and sovereign of the Vatican State. So humble he seems to be, taking public transportation, settling his own hotel bill and caring for the poor. That is so commendable… one can almost overlook his first act as pope (not quite) … and that was to pray to the mother of God that she would watch over the city of Rome… when there is clearly only one mediator between God and man:
1Ti_2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
The warnings are clear:
Collisions 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
The identity of Christ became one greatest issues of contention.
Paul’s teaching to the church in Galatia:
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
And even today there are those who claim an angel from heaven has given them ‘another’ gospel!
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Forbidding to marry (celibacy!) 1 Timothy 3:2 claims that ‘A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach’;
And commanding to abstain from meats - hello! Is anyone listening? None are so blind as they that will not see!
4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Would anyone dare dispute that ‘good minister’ is one who warns others of the dangers of false doctrine, and is diligent to follow the apostle’s doctrine?
2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
A final warning to Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Fables and superstitions! A landslide of fables are so astounding it would be laughable if so many people weren’t so deceived. What comes to mind is ‘The Big Lie’ – a lie so big, as Adolph Hitler wrote in his infamous book ‘Mein Kamph’ about the use of a lie so "colossal", that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." Let’s just see how infamously the simple truth of Jesus can be distorted.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
The sale of indulgences…. As if the devil himself is laughing at how big the lie has become!
And finally, a warning from Jude – to earnestly contend for the faith (doctrine) that was once delivered unto the saints. In other words, leave it alone!
Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, one cannot be faulted for ‘earnestly contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints’.
Besides the persecution and the landslide of false doctrines the early church had to withstand, one can only imagine the challenges involving simple logistics; being able to effectively cover the vast regions with sound doctrine:
Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Act 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Act 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.
Here were ‘certain disciples’. Believers, if you will, that had never been baptized in the name of Jesus or heard about the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. It is obvious that Paul puts a priority upon the knowledge of these two events. How knowledgeable are people today of these two important tenants of the original faith of Christianity? Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? Unto what were you baptized?
Also, while we’re here in this chapter of Acts, it’s worth noting another event that took place in Ephesus. There was a great stir caused because of the idolatry of the goddess Diana. An event would happen here in Ephesus (431 AD) about 350 years from the time of this historic event in Acts that would cause the religious world under the guise of Christianity to descend into an abyss that no doubt Paul or any of his contemporaries would never think possible as Roman Catholicism would reach a compromise with these worshipers of the goddess Diana- and the silversmiths whose occupation revolves around it. Instead of abolishing the worship of the goddess Diana, they would simply change her name and ‘elevate’ her status’; not simply the goddess of fertility, but ‘the mother of God’. And her name would be…. Mary.
Act 19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.
19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
19:30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
Was it simply coincidence that about 350 years from this date that the state sponsored Roman Catholicism would convene the Council of Ephesus, making official the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, Mary the mother of God?
The Post Apostolic Period
History only records the birth and death dates of the apostles Peter (1 BC – 64 AD), Paul (5 AD – 67 AD), James (died 34 AD), and John (6 AD – 100 AD). History also records that all but one apostle (John) died a martyr’s death. It is likely that in 70 AD John was the only apostle still alive when the Roman Emperor Vespasian’s son Titus and his soldiers razed Jerusalem to the ground. This event would have far reaching consequences to not only the Jews but for the church of Jesus Christ:
Contemporary writers at the time record a total annihilation of the City of David:
“Josephus had acted as a mediator for the Romans and, when negotiations failed, witnessed the siege and aftermath. He wrote:
“Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as they were of the greatest eminence; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.
And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it.”
Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish, and that 97,000 were captured and enslaved, including Simon bar Giora and John of Giscala.”
"The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination."
Thus began what is known as the 2nd diaspora of the Jews throughout the world, which included those who were Christians. At the time, world view of Christianity was that it was simply an offshoot or sect of Judism.
Another thirty years would pass and the Church – the “called out ones” - those who have been ‘called out of darkness into his marvelous light’ would see her first century without an actual eye witness.
These first years, from the time of the crucifixion of Jesus and the martyrdom of most of the apostles was a time of almost nonstop persecution up until Constantine granted a semblance of religious tolerance in 313 AD throughout the Roman Empire. There were times when the persecution was more severe than in other times, like during the time of Nero’s 9 year reign (13 October 54 – 9 June 68) and Diocletian (nearing the end of this 300 year period).
Also during these 250 years the Roman Empire was rife with civil war. Few leaders ruled for a long period of time (44 in all in 300 years’ time) and were more involved with trying to keep power and stay alive than bother with religious factions, even though those factions often times fomented the populace and had to be watched carefully. Persecution was not always tied directly to the sympathies or lack thereof of the particular ruler, as popular opinion had its own way of making life hard for people who embraced Christianity, and that varied according to where a person lived, just like intolerance, prejudices and bigotry has always existed among the populace.
The date is now 100 AD. All eyewitnesses to the events of the ministry of Jesus have passed on. With over 12 centuries of domination and forced conformity to the state approved doctrines of Roman Catholicism and supression of any writings that would contridict the 'accepted dogma', one must be careful in studying any of the 'church fathers'. It is difficult to accept with 100% accuracy the authenticity of much of the writings of these post apostolic 'fathers'. Listed are the generally 'accepted' church fathers:
Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna (69 AD - 155 AD)
Ignatius of Antioch (35 AD - 108 AD) Bishop of Antioch
Wikipedia: "He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning "universal", "complete" and "whole" to describe the church, writing:
Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans
It is important to put this in context - Jude wrote of the 'common salvation' - and certainly, in the beginning, there was only one single 'universal' or 'kathoikos' church. That church leaders sold out to political pressures and thus the 'universal' or 'kathoikos' church took on another form no longer resembling the original, is something to take note.
Irenaeus of Lyon (130 AD - 202 AD). He wrote several books, one in particular, 'Against Heresies' is well known. It doesn't take much examination of this book to realize that the simplicity of the gospel was getting muddled in philosophy which questions whether or not Irenaeus was in truth an asset or liability to the early church.
One of the first doctrines to be attacked, not surprisingly, was the Godhead, or the identity of Christ.
225 AD: The first to coin the phrase ‘Trinity’ was Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD). History records that:
"His trinity formulation was considered heresy by the Church during his lifetime, however, it was later accepted as doctrine at the council of Nicaea."
Tertullian seems to suggest that the majority of believers at that time favoured the Sabellian view of the oneness of God.
Sabellius' opposition to the emerging idea of the Trinity led to his excommunication as a heretic by Pope Calixtus I (Callistus) in AD 220. Wace and Bunsen have both suggested that Calixtus' action was motivated more by a desire for unity rather than by conviction.
Sabellius (fl. ca. 215) was a third century priest and theologian who most likely taught in Rome, but may have been an African from Libya. Basil and others call him a Libyan from Pentapolis, but this seems to rest on the fact that Pentapolis was a place where the teachings of Sabellius thrived, according to Dionysius of Alexandria, c. 260. What is known of Sabellius is drawn mostly from the polemical writings of his opponents.
AD 300 From various writings, we can see that from the years of the last severe persecution under Diocletian to the rise of Constantine, a number of people who had succumbed to the political pressures of the day and had denounced Christianity in order to save their necks were being bought back into the ‘fold’.
Little is known of his earlier life because of the complete loss of his correspondence and written works [I wonder why little is known. Destroyed in fires maybe?] . He first appears in Church records as Donatus of Casae Nigrae in October 313 when Pope Miltiades found him guilty of re-baptizing clergy who had lapsed and of forming a schism within the Church.
These events may have taken place before Donatus arrived in Carthage, probably before 311.
Donatus was consecrated in 313 AD as Bishop of Carthage and Primate of North Africa, the leader of the Christian sect which came to be known as the Donatist sect, even though Donatus was not the founding leader, but rather followed the founding leader Majorinus.
The background to the controversy was the wave of persecutions of Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. At that time some Church leaders - unwilling to endure torture or death and become martyrs - had been ready to take such acts as worshipping the gods of the old pantheon, considered idols by Christians, or surrendering church books and property to the imperial authorities. Such people became known as “traditors” ("surrenderers"). One of these "traditors", named Caecilian, had returned to the fold of the Church once the persecutions ended, and was consecrated Bishop of Carthage and Primate of North Africa. Those of the faithful who refused to accept the authority of such a spiritual leader raised Majorinus as a rival bishop; however, Majorinus died shortly after being consecrated, and it fell to Donatus to take his place and continue the struggle.
The primary disagreement between Donatists and the rest of the early Christian Church was over the treatment of those who renounced their faith during the persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian (303–305), a disagreement that had implications both for the Church's understanding of the Sacrament of Penance and of the other sacraments in general.
The rest of the Church was far more forgiving of these people than the Donatists. The Donatists refused to accept the sacraments and spiritual authority of the priests and bishops who had fallen away from the faith during the persecution. During the persecution some Church leaders had gone so far as to turn Christians over to Roman authorities and had handed over religious texts to authorities to be publicly burned. These people were called traditores ("people who had handed over"). These traditors had returned to positions of authority under Constantine I, and the Donatists proclaimed that any sacraments celebrated by these priests and bishops were invalid.
Eventually, in 314 AD there was the first instance of an appeal of a ‘Christian’ party to the secular powers. This would be the ‘forerunner’ to the Council of Nicaea that would take place eleven years later (325 AD)
Council of Arles in 314 AD
The first council of Arles formally condemned the heresy of Donatism. It began as an appeal by the Donatists to Constantine the Great against the decision of the Council of Rome in 313 at the Lateran under Pope Miltiades. This is the first instance of an appeal of a Christian party to the secular power, and it turned out unfavorably to the Donatists who afterwards became enemies of the Roman authorities. The Council of Arles was the first called by Constantine and is the forerunner of the First Council of Nicaea. Augustine of Hippo called it an Ecumenical Council.
It excommunicated Donatus and passed twenty-two canons concerning Easter (which should be held on the same day throughout the world, rather than being set by each local church), against the non-residence of clergy, against participation in races and gladiatorial fights (to be punished by excommunication), against the rebaptism of heretics, and on other matters of discipline. Clergymen who could be proven to have delivered sacred books in persecution (the traditores) should be deposed, but their official acts were to be held valid. The assistance of at least three bishops was required at ordination.
By reading about these ‘traditores’, it is easy to see that by the time the Council of Nicaea convened in 325 AD the simplicity of the gospel had been thrown under the bus and most of the prophecies from the apostles had already taken place or were in full swing.
According to Wikipedia:
“The accession of Constantine was a turning point for early Christianity, generally considered the beginning of Christendom. After his victory, Constantine took over the role of the patron for the Christian faith. He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g. exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices, returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian, and endowed the church with land and other wealth.”
It was a turning point all right, but not for Christianity. Any modern day Christian needs only to read the warnings by Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Peter, Jude and others to see it was no coincidence, nor was Constantine an ancient day Lone Ranger or John Wayne who rode into town (Rome) to save the day for these weary Christians. Come on now - you need not be a rocket scientist or a DDD to know this recipe was like a jet seriously veering off course. It's as if the devil himself said, 'if I can't whip ‘em, I'll join 'em.
If your headed from Miami to New York City on a commercial jet and a couple of shady looking characters in captain uniforms elbow their way into the cockpit and the plane goes off course across the Atlantic to land on some Tarmac where you see the Cuban flag, are you still going to believe you just landed at J.F.K International? You’ve been hijacked! But then, perhaps people do not see the Cuban flags... either because their eyes are closed...
... or maybe they choose not to see.
Is it so difficult to see powerful politically minded church leaders selling out principles? Just imagine what kind of state sponsored religion would come out of Washington D. C. If politically minded religious leaders met with President Obama and Eric Holder (Attorney General) to hammer out a standard doctrine for all the people?
A thousand years from this date, just a few years from the time that Giovanni Boccaccio wrote the “Decameron”, William Langland wrote in his famous book ,”Piers Plowman” (written between 1,360 and 1,387):
“When the kindness of Constantine gave Holy Church endowments
In lands and leases, lordships and servants,
The Romans beard a angel cry on high above them,
“This day dos Ecclesiae has drunk venom
And all who have Peter’s power are poisoned forever.”
The proverb or quote that ‘history is written by the victors’ may initially be true, but eventually truth triumphs no matter to what extent the facts were suppressed. Many facts, realities and details of history are forever lost in the dust that has settled over distant battlefields and bonfires and so often like a mystery the evidence has grown cold. The ‘victors’ initially write the history. Roman Catholic leaders have had plenty of time to suppress evidence contrary to doctrines contrary to theirs; 1,200 years of book burning and putting to the stake anyone who disagrees with the doctrines that ‘officially’ came out of the Council of Nicaea and subsequent councils and edicts. Therefore, are they to be believed? I’d rather take their works and their doctrines and see if it passes the test of scripture.
At the time Constantine and his army crossed the Milvian Bridge on 28 October 312 AD, the Roman Empire was fragmented into dozens of political camps. Constantine was a shrewd political and military leader who had patronized Apollo, Diana, and Hercules. He gambled that by sympathizing with these Christians weary of three centuries of persecution, which represented approximately 10% of the population of Rome at the time, that he could form a political base strong enough to seize power. He turned the table, so to speak, upon destiny; the Prince of Peace became the ‘God of War’. Constantine conquered Rome with, of all things, the ‘Chi Rho’, an early symbol that some Christians used (not all) as his moniker.
Four months later, in February of the following year in Milan Italy, Constantine granted some concessions granting benevolence toward Christians known as the Edict of Milan. It is debatable whether or not there was actually an ‘edict’, but at any rate, it appeared to be a respite for the Christians from persecution, and returned to them previously confiscated property.
During the next twelve years under the rule of Constantine and the Edict of Milan easing the pressure from persecution, as the apostles would warn about, church doctrines were in dispute. The foremost subject under dispute was the godhead, the identity of Christ. Constantine called for a council of church leaders. In 325 AD they convened what is known as the Council of Nicaea. Out of it would come (among other doctrines) a doctrine so noxious and contrary to monotheism - the very foundation of Judaism - that would make it impossible for any self-respecting Jew to embrace this hijacked state sponsored religion. Of all things; a triune godhead - the Trinity, not unlike the three headed god of ancient Babylon. This would have far reaching consequences for Jews even to this day - culminating (we can only hope things never get worse) in the death camps of Nazi Germany.
Constantine died twelve years later at the age of 65 years old on May 22, 337. The following years up to the year 380 were the rules of three of Constantine’s sons, and then the reign of Justin ‘the apostate’, as he was the last Roman Emperor to not embrace this newly emerging state sponsored form of ‘Christianity’.
Fifty five years after the Council of Nicaea came the end of religious tolerance in the form of the Edict of Thessalonica.
The Edict of Thessalonica was jointly issued by Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II on 27 February 380 making this politically manipulated form of Christianity the state sponsored religion of the Roman Empire. Thus it was ‘universal’ or, ‘Catholic’.
“The edict was issued under the influence of Acholius, and thus of Pope Damasus I, who had appointed him. It re-affirmed one expression of the Apostolic Faith as legitimate in the Roman Empire, "catholic" (that is, universal) and "orthodox" (that is, correct). After the edict, Theodosius spent a great deal of energy suppressing all non-Nicene forms of Christianity, especially Arianism, and in establishing Nicene orthodoxy throughout his realm.
The edict was followed in 381 by the First Council of Constantinople, which affirmed the Nicene Symbolum and gave final form to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. In 383, the Emperor ordered the various non-Nicene sects (Arians, Anomoeans, Macedonians, and Novatians) to submit written creeds to him, which he prayerfully reviewed and then burned, save for that of the Novatians. The other sects lost the right to meet, ordain priests, or spread their beliefs. Theodosius prohibited the residence of heretics within Constantinople, and in 392 and 394 confiscated their places of worship.”
If there had been any season of true religious tolerance during the 67 years between the Edict of Milan in 313 to the Council of Thessalonica in 380, it was officially over. Any form of Christianity that differed with the leaders in power would be branded heretics. Western civilization would now be in a vice grip of suppression; Roman Catholicism would rule the minds of the masses for the next 1,200 years, in the period we know of as the Dark Ages.
In the cloak of Christianity came brutality; worldly power and domination. The persecuted became the persecutors. Again, any clear thinker of the 21st century can only say, is this the true Christianity of the Prince of Peace? Was it the intent of the lowly carpenter from Nazareth to coerce people against their will, to enslave them to believe? For the next 12 centuries governments and kings would be beholden to the Pontiff Maximus – a title formerly given to the emperor who was high priest of pagan rituals. This pontiff – under the guise of the ‘successor of Peter’ with his ‘princes’ – bishops and cardinals would become more powerful than the emperor.
Even Charles Dickens, writing of life in France in the late 18th Century, weighed in on the excesses of Roman Catholicism.
“France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness downhill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards.”
- Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities
Partial list of Roman Catholic Fables, Traditions and Atrocities
225 Tertullian coins the term 'Trinity'
310 Prayers for the dead and the sign of the Cross
320 Wax Candles introduced in church
325 Council of Nicaea
375 Veneration of angels and dead saints
394 The Mass, as a daily celebration, adopted
431 The worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the use of the term, "Mother of God", as applied to her, originated in the Council of Ephesus
500 Priests began to dress differently from the laity
526 Extreme Unction
593 The doctrine of Purgatory was first established by Gregory the Great
600 The Latin language, as the language of prayer and worship in churches, was also imposed by Pope Gregory I
600 Prayer to Mary
610 The Papacy
709 The kissing of the Pope's feet
750 The Temporal power of the Popes
788 Worship of the cross, images and relics was authorized
850 Holy Water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by the priest, was authorized
890 The veneration of St. Joseph began
965 The baptism of bells was instituted by Pope John XIV
995 Canonization of dead saints, first by Pope John XV
998 Fish on Friday
1079 The celibacy of the priesthood was decreed by Pope Hildebrand, Boniface VII
1090 The Rosary, or prayer beads was introduced by Peter the Hermit, in the year 1090. Copied from Hindus and Mohammedans
1184 The Inquisition of heretics was instituted by the Council of Verona in the year 1184. Jesus never taught the use of force to spread His religion
1190 The sale of Indulgences, commonly regarded as a purchase of forgiveness and a permit to indulge in sin.
1215 The dogma of Transubstantiation was decreed by Pope Innocent III, in the year
1215 Confession of sin to the priest at least once a year was instituted by Pope Innocent III., in the Lateran Council
1220 The adoration of the wafer (Host), was decreed by Pope Honorius
1229 The Bible forbidden to laymen and placed in the Index of forbidden books by the Council of Valencia
1287 The Scapular was invented by Simon Stock, and English monk
1414 The Roman Church forbade the cup to the laity, by instituting the communion of one kind in the Council of Constance
1415 The execution of Jan Huss http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Hus
1415 The Council of Constance declared John Wycliffe (on 4 May 1415) a heretic and under the ban of the Church. It was decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed. The exhumation was carried out in 1428 when, at the command of Pope Martin V, his remains were dug up, burned, and the ashes cast into the River Swift, which flows through Lutterworth. This is the most final of all posthumous attacks on John Wycliffe, but previous attempts had been made before the Council of Constance. The Anti-Wycliffite Statute of 1401 extended persecution to Wycliffe's remaining followers. The "Constitutions of Oxford" of 1408 aimed to reclaim authority in all ecclesiastical matters, specifically naming John Wycliffe in a ban on certain writings, and noting that translation of Scripture into English by unlicensed laity is a crime punishable by charges of heresy.
1439 The doctrine of Purgatory was proclaimed as a dogma of faith by Council of Florence
1439 The doctrine of 7 Sacraments affirmed
1481 Spanish Inquision
1492 Edict of Expulsion: Jews were banished from Spain
1545 The Council of Trent, held in the year 1545, declared that Tradition is of equal authority with the Bible
1546 The apocryphal books were added to the Bible also by the Council of Trent
1560 The Creed of Pope Pius IV was imposed as the official creed 1560 years after Christ and the apostles
1834 The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX
1840 The discovery of the 'Dogmatic Sarcophagus', found during the rebuilding of the basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura, this sarcophagus supposedly dates back to the 4th century - 'confirming the dogma of the Council of Nicea', specificly, the doctrine of the Trinity. A relief of 'God the Father', God the Son' God the Holy Ghost', three separate and distinct beings. This is so far from the truth it would be laughable ... if people were not so deceived.
1870 In the year 1870 after Christ, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of Papal Infallibility
1907 Pope Plus X, in the year 1907, condemned together with "Modernism", all the discoveries of modern science which are not approved by the Church
1930 In the year 1930 Pius XI, condemned the Public Schools
1931 In the year 1931 the same pope Pius XI, reaffirmed the doctrine that Mary is "the Mother of God"
1950 In the year 1950 the last dogma was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
As already stated:
None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see. - Matthew Henry