From Apostolic to Apostasy
From Apostolic to Apostasy
This is a work in progress.
update: January 7, 2015
The birth of the New Testament church with the outpouring of the baptism of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover when Jesus was crucified was nothing less than miraculous. But to many, its simplicity belies its completeness, yet complete it was. After his resurrection, Jesus spent forty crucial days with his hand chosen apostles (Acts 1:4), witnesses to his resurrection, so they'd get it right, and right they got it.
Jesus did not leave the New Testament church as some 'primitive' underdeveloped 'embryo' or seedling that needed maturity or volumes of dogmas added for generations of philosophers to justify their titles and degrees. Complete it was, even if it was led by 'unlearned and ignorant men', as they were dubbed by the leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
The Apostle Paul, himself a learned scholar in his own right, gave this warning:
"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". 2 Corinthians 11:3
Albert Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler".
The summation of the gospel is, Peter used the keys, or authority given to him by Jesus to unlock the door of salvation to the world; first to the Jews in the 2nd Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. After they heard his sermon,
"....they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:37-39
And that was it. What could be simpler than that? A message for the whole world for all times; a pattern to follow. Just like God gave Noah a pattern for the ark (Genesis 6:15), and Moses a pattern for the tabernacle (exodus 25:9, Hebrews 8:5), Jesus gave us a pattern to follow then and today: "Repent, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". There you have the sum of the gospel in its most simplistic form: the death (repentance), burial (water baptism), and resurrection (Holy Ghost baptism) in the life of the believer. That wraps up the plan of salvation.
And besides the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke which is a history of the early church and the Book of Revelation, commonly called the Apocalypse, are the epistles or letters written TO the church to help them live a life pleasing to Jesus and to warn them of the impending challenges they would face. The scripture - would be sufficient. A simple way to look at it is, the four gospels bring us to the door; the Book of Acts IS the door; the epistles teach us how to live once we are through the door.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
When times got rough (which they would) all anyone would have to do - if they wanted truth - would be to go back to the pattern. Regardless of how the devil would wrangle and misrepresent it. But the plain simple word of God stands clear. As God limited Satan's power in afflicting Job, Satan's power would be limited in his power of deception. The simple word of God would be left intact. Just like Jesus was preserved from the murderous hands of Herod as a child in Egypt, the manuscripts from that first century of church fathers would miraculously remain intact. Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. The place of the gates of the city was a gathering place where people met to greet travelers from afar in order to learn what was happening beyond the walls of their city. The ones that were present to hear the news were the first ones to hear what 'new' things were invented, and happening. So Jesus was saying that no new invention or idea, no matter how hard it presses upon the church will prevail.
I heard a Catholic apologist say that the 'church' came before the bible. What he was saying made it sound like he believed Roman Catholicism 'invented' the bible in the 4th century; and that no one possessed any scripture, and if they did, they wouldn't have been able to read it because they were illiterate. I beg to differ with him on ALL accounts. There are nearly 5,200 manuscripts that are from the 1st century. God only knows how many manuscripts there actually were back then. Also the illiteracy rate wasn't quite as bad as people say. Historians say 1 in five could read - that's 20% - what's wrong with that? Historians also said, that in any given time through the time that people lived under the yoke of Roman Catholicism, an estimated 10% of the population never submitted. Of course many lost their lives - but I believe enough survived to pass on their faith to the next generation! The gates of hell NEVER did, and never will prevail against the church!!!!!
63 AD is the approximate year that the apostles Peter and Paul were martyred. Thirty years from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and inception of the church on that day that Peter stood up and unlocked the door of salvation with his message of Acts 2:38.
250 years ago the United States was still 13 colonies belonging to King George III of England. So a lot can happen in 250 years. Leading up to the year 313 AD from the time of 63AD, the next 250 years, was a time of great upheaval of the western world. Several major events faced the church.
1) The Roman Empire was crumbling as foreign invaders pressed in. During this time, no less than 66 emperors ruled. Besides fighting off invaders from outside, there was civil war from within. With war came hyperinflation. The 'Pax Romanus' - Peace of Romans - was fast becoming history, like Tacitus's Annals.
2) This era of calamity brought a resurgence of paganism, as the Romans, grasping for stability, implored their gods to help them in battle. When there was a defeat, to them, it was because the gods were angry. And the reason they were angry, in the minds of the Roman leaders and many of its citizens, was because not all constituents of the empire (meaning the Christians) were participating with them to implore their gods for victory in battle. It wasn't that the Romans hated Christianity, it was the fact that they were not united in imploring their pagan gods. This fomented persecution which came sporadically in waves, depending upon who the leaders were, as well as local sentiment. Most of the time the Romans had other things more important to do than worry about what the Christians believed or didn't believe. Only a few times there was all out persecution against Christianity decreed throughout the empire. The most severe persecution of this 250 year period was at the very end, during the reign of Diocletian. In 305 AD, a decree went forth to terminate Christianity. As in other times through this period of severe persecution, Christians were compelled to hide in underground caves and tunnels - catacombs. When caught they were forced to recant their Christian faith and publically give honor to the pagan gods, or face death. Many of them chose to renounce their faith to save their necks. We will see what affect this had upon events later.
3)The third factor facing Christianity was the barrage of philosophy and false doctrine that spread like wildfire even before the apostles had died. Perhaps viewing it from the outside, their simple message was a lost cause. Doctrinal differences would forever divide those who called themselves Christian. Yet this was no surprise for those who had knowledge of the prophecies that had been written by the apostolic fathers, the manuscripts of which were carefully hidden and committed to memory among the faithful. One such warning from the Apostle Paul was:
" Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" Hebrews 2:1-4
Paul had great reason for concern as in the example we see in the 19th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles when Paul came to Ephesus where he found "certain disciples". He asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost "since they believed" and found out that although they had received teaching compelling them to be disciples (followers and believers in Jesus), whoever taught them what they believed had left out two of the basic precepts of what Peter had declared on the day of Pentecost! They "had not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost", and neither had they been baptized in the name of Jesus!
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.
Also Acts the 10th and 11th chapters shows the clear confirmation of the apostolic message, when the ‘man with the keys’ was sent to the household of Cornelius. At the end of the 10th chapter, not only were Peter and the other Jews who accompanied him surprised that the Holy Ghost had fallen on the gentiles as it did on them in the beginning (referring to the Day of Pentecost), but in the 11th chapter, Peter, subject to the council that called him in question for going to the gentiles, after rehearsing what happened (in the entire prior chapter 10 of Acts), they held their peace, knowing that on God had granted ‘to the gentiles also repentance unto life’, Acts 11:18. Again, death, burial, resurrection.
With these examples, not only do we see additional confirmation of what Jesus wants for all that call themselves disciples, but how easy it is to "let things slip" if earnest heed is not given to the word of God. During this 250 years of upheaval, we will see just how much and how far Apostolic teaching did slip.
Apostolic, of course, is that pertaining to the apostles, apostasy is… falling back. No organization is apostolic that has no resemblance to apostolic teaching. My mother used to say, ‘pretty is as pretty does’. Jesus said, ‘ye shall know them by their fruits’.
We do not look for some 'golden chain' of believers that reaches back to the Apostolic fathers, it simply doesn't exist, and for good reason. In the next chapter we will clearly see the reason why no 'golden chain' exists, and why it is not even necessary. At any rate, it is clear that sometime during this 250 year period of upheaval that the true church of Jesus Christ, upon which the gates of hell would never prevail, abandoned the mainstream of those who would fight each other over the title of Christian orthodoxy, in other words, public opinion. Whether they abandoned or were abandoned, who can say? Those who demand a written record will have to sift through the ashes of the bonfires to find the manuscripts and testimonies of those who by holding fast to the pure simple truths of the Apostles gave their lives.
In this period of philosophy the issue of the identity of the godhead was the central issue, an obvious target of Satan. Sometime around 212-219 AD (date uncertain), Tertullian of Alexandria wrote a treatise called 'Against Praxeas'. The position of Praxeas that he was refuting was that if the Father and the Son were one, that if the Son died, so did the Father. Indeed this doctrine was typical error of its time, not making the correct distinction between the fleshly nature and the nature of deity of Jesus. But in refuting it, Tertullian explained a union of God in an old Babylonian pagan triune form. For the first time in any writing, some 150 years after the last of the Apostles, the word 'Trinity' was introduced. This was totally foreign to the original writings of either the Old or New Testaments. The apostles had no confusion or controversy knowing the identity of Jesus; they all knew He was the Lord. And they knew there was only one Lord. The God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wrapped himself in the rags of humanity and dwelt among them (John 1:14). He was in the world and the world was made by him and the world knew him not (John 1:10). He was crucified but resurrected HIMSELF from the dead the third day just like he said he would do (John 2:19). Then, not to leave them comfortless, HE came - yes, Jesus came - in Spirit - (as in ghost - the spirit of a departed one - the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Jesus!), again, as He said he would do (John 14:18) - to dwell in HIS believers beginning in that upper room on the Day of Pentecost! How many Gods do we count? Just one. How many Lords? Just one. And how many..... persons? Just one. And how many names? Just one. Jesus. True monotheism. There are indeed many manifestations and titles, but only one name! Not just Jesus only... Jesus everything. Not denying the Father, as the Father IS Jesus - "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). No Babylonian triune godhead here. For in HIM dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:9-10).
Emmanuel, God with us
God was manifest in the flesh!
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end
It's all in Him!
The mighty God is Jesus
The Prince of Peace is He
The Everlasting Father
The King Eternally
The Wonderful in wisdom
By whom all things were made
The fullness of the Godhead
in Jesus is displayed
Emmanuel God with us
Jehovah Lord of hosts
The omnipresent Spirit
Who fills the universe
The Advocate The High Priest
The Lamb for sinners slain
The Author of redemption
Oh glory to His name
The Alpha and Omega
Beginning and the End
The Living Word incarnate
The helpless sinner's friend
Our wisdom and perfection
Our righteousness and power
Yea all we need in Jesus
We find this very hour
Our God for whom we've waited
Will be the glad refrain
Of Israel recreated
When Jesus comes again
Lo He will come and save us
Our King and Priest to be
For in Him dwells all fullness
And Lord of All is He
It's all in Him
It's all in Him
The fullness of the Godhead is all in Him
It's all in Him
It's all in Him
The Mighty God is Jesus and
It's all in Him
And we would do well not to make the error of using 'persons'!
"O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him? He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons."
Tertullian admits in his treatise that the contemporary viewpoint in his day was as indicated above - a simple, pure oneness of the godhead.
"The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned, ) who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world's plurality of gods to the one only true God;" - Tertullian
But with this treatise, his concept of a triune godhead - God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost would gain popularity and in nearly 100 years from its first mention, found popularity in a land steeped in pagan traditions.
Without question the Old Testament is a bloody book, filled with violence. For those who deplore the whole idea of Judeo-Christianity because of that, the short answer to this fact is, the context of the Old Testament is a book of the history of the old covenant and Israel who fought physical battles with physical enemies, in a physical sense foreshadowing a future spiritual warfare. The New Testament is that new covenant and the fulfillment of the Old Testament. The violence and bloodshed in the New Testament is what was directed at Jesus and his followers. But they in turn offered no retaliation. Jesus clearly was not a man of a physical warfare. He indeed is the Prince of peace - peace within and without.
"His name shall be called Wonderful, councilor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace. " Isaiah 9:6
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers", not those who wage war. He said there shall be wars and rumors of wars. But never was it his intent to be the cause or aggressor or even a participator of those wars
When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus,
"....one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Matthew 26:51-52
Also, Jesus clearly told Pilate during his trial,
"... My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:36
Jesus never even participated in the political arena. Besides telling his disciples to ‘render unto Caesar the thing that are Caesars, he offered not a word to King Herod. Years from now, more powerful figures that Herod ever had will make the false claim to be the power of Christ upon this earth.
Luk 23:8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
Luk 23:9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
No, in this New Testament age, the Church would not wage a bloody war to set up an earthly kingdom. The Apostles would not take up arms. This new warfare would not be fought with 'carnal' weapons.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)" 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
But that is exactly what happened at the end of the 250 years of Roman persecution. It's almost as if Satan said, 'if I can't whip them (through persecution), I'll join them'.
On the surface, it appears to have been a good thing that Constantine conquered his opponent, Maxentius on the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312AD with a symbol of Christianity, the first two letters of Christ (CR) in Latin as his banner. And what happened less than four months later in February 313AD seemed like a dream come true -- Constantine made an agreement with his eastern rival Licinius known as the Edict of Milan granting religious tolerance to all subjects, pagan, Jew & Christian alike throughout the realm of the Roman Empire.
"We have long considered that freedom of worship should not be denied. Rather, each man's thoughts and desire should be granted him, thus enabling him to have regard for spiritual things as he himself may choose. This is why we have given orders that everyone should be allowed to have his own beliefs and worship as he wishes."
It was an exemplary expression of the religious rights of all people without distinction. The tolerance it showed enabled Christians to come out of the catacombs into the full rights of citizenship. It is ironic that no document in history is as tolerant, generous or wise as the Edict of Milan, composed by two bloodthirsty warriors.
But it didn’t take long to see it wasn't a dream come true. In just 13 years, in 325 AD, a council of church leaders would convene. Known as the Council of Nicaea, the first nail in the coffin of religious totalitarianism, under the guise of Christianity, would be hammered in place. Each year ticking towards this fateful day, that what was called the 'church' got further and further away from the pure and simple church of the New Testament.
With this edict of tolerance the threat of persecution lifted. While all were able to crawl out of the caves and catacombs,
1. Those who had recanted their faith to save their skin returned to the 'faith' and were reinstated in 'church' leadership. This was understandably deplored by a vast number of those who had remained faithful at a great price.
2. Constantine not only restored land and possessions to the formerly persecuted Christians, but he installed church leaders in civil positions merging church & state. Fertile ground for corruption. Many of these leaders who became entrenched in the new politi-religious landscape were those who during the severe persecution under Diocletian, were 'tratores' or traitors. The word actually means 'handed over'. When the Roman authorities searched house to house for all to proclaim their allegiance to the pagan gods, they would ask the church leaders if they had manuscripts (copies of the apostolic writings). Lord Acton, a writer and spokesman of the 19th century said, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". As Jesus denied the making a deal with the devil, leaders of a now corrupted 'brand' of Christianity made a deal with the devil. The powers of darkness merged worldly and religious leadership. With the new religious freedom it became fashionable to be a Christian - yet the populace was still widely pagan. Constantine had been a master in duplicity and plied both camps.
“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.”
- William Langland, author of “ Piers Plowman” (1330-1387)
Not only did Constantine give ‘Holy Church endowments’, in turn, he was the power of this church – appointing bishops whenever there was a vacancy.
3. Major doctrinal contentions continued to divide factions. The godhead became 'the great controversy' but by this time, the true oneness of the godhead was not even part of the discussion. The two factions under consideration were championed by Athanasius of Alexandria who espoused the doctrine of the triune godhead, and Arius of Libya. It is important to know it's not possible to know exactly what Arius taught as virtually all positive writings on Arius' theology have been suppressed or destroyed.
"In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment....." — Edict by Emperor Constantine against the Arians.
Arius's critics claim that he taught
"that although the Son was divine, he was a created being and therefore not co-essential with the Father, and "there was when he was not,". This made Jesus less than the Father, which posed soteriological challenges for the nascent doctrine of the Trinity. Arius's teaching provoked a serious crisis." - Wikipedia
Finally the controversies came to a head.. The leaders of this now corrupted brand of Christianity appealed to Constantine to preside at a council to help settle this issue and others. The concept of a triune godhead first espoused by Tertullian won the day.
Here, clear as mud, is the original creed adopted at the Council of Nicaea, 325AD:
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον) with the Father; by whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.
But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.”
Each council after this one would have another version, each one becoming more and more triune. How would a Jew embrace a triune godhead foisted on them by gentile politico-religious leaders? It just wasn’t going to happen. This would have far, far reaching consequences to the Jews, among other people.
In all fairness to Constantine, it is my opinion that he was not an ‘antichrist’ with an agenda to merge paganism with Christianity. The drama that unfolded was totally Shakespearian to put it in our modern phraseology. Constantine was a ‘man of his times’ that rose through the ranks and through shrewd maneuvering managed to become sole ruler of the Roman Empire. As Jesus never spoke a word to Herod, The true church of Jesus Christ was never destined to become universally dominant as what occurred by Constantine embracing Christianity. What came out of this union was everything that Catholicism personifies – a religious system interpreting Christianity in a pagan form that indeed dominated the world the next 1,200 years and beyond, even to today. Like a Hollywood producer making a blockbuster movie…. from a book. Catholicism is indeed in God’s plan, as all power comes from God, just like Satan is used to ‘sift’ the hearts of man. But for those who study the scriptures, to them it is plain – the movie is no resemblance to the book.
The freedom of worship granted to the constituents of the empire by the edict of Milan in 313 was just 13 years old. With the Council of Nicaea, and the decree for 'universal' state sponsored doctrines, Paganism and Christianity were now officially 'married'. But one thing was certain - Jesus didn't attend the wedding.
55 years later February 27, 380 AD Edict of Thessalonica was the final nail on the coffin of religious totalitarianism.
EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS—Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2
This totalitarianism would engulf western civilization for 1,137 years, when on October 31, 1517, In Wittenberg Germany, a priest, fed up with the excesses of Roman Catholicism would nail his famous 95 Thesis upon the door of the church, and that even after that there was a sea of bloodshed to wrestle religious freedom from the clutches of Roman Catholicism.
Quoted from NPR review of the book ‘The Story of the Jews’ by Historian Simon Schama:
“Judaism, has always been a faith of the people, rather than say, Christianity, which quickly became embroiled with the hierarchical structures of an imperial religion as its followers grew in numbers. The two religions weren't that distinct at first; during the second and third centuries, both groups lived cheek by jowl. There were even those who called themselves Jewish Christians.
But that brief harmony didn't last — the final schism came when Christianity became the state religion of imperial Rome in 380 A.D., and the myth of the beastly, Christ-killing Jew began to solidify. It was Saint Jerome who famously declared: "He that is not of Christ is anti-Christ." And so Jews continued to be a wandering tribe.”
We can only conjecture how society would be today if Constantine's original edict of Milan, declared 67 years prior, had endured. The thought and consideration of freedom of religion in no way should be interpreted that the bible teaches ecumenicism. The teachings of Jesus indeed speak of a pure gospel with absolute truths but in no means did Jesus intend forced conversions.
"Far from being the model of the Christian prince, Constantine never ceased to be a hard-nosed politician with, according to Jacob Burckhardt, ‘a cold and terrible lust for power'. He sponsored Christianity because it had proved itself useful in winning him a decisive battle. The church bowed to him, not too sensitive about his matrimonial entanglements, because he was useful to its cause.
The tragedy was, this principle [of religious toleration] was never accepted by [Roman Catholicism]. Truth, she insisted, can never be compromised. Hence whenever she was in control, she denied freedom of religion to others. When the Peace of Westphalia declared in 1648, ‘Citizens whose religion differs from that of their sovereign are to have equal rights with his other citizens,' it was condemned by Innocent X. Similar statements of religious freedom were anathematized century after century [Roman Catholicism] as un-Christian, pernicious, insane, no different from atheism." - The Vicar of Christ - Peter De Rosa
Roman Catholicism has indeed played an undeniably dominant role in western civilization, in architecture, art, culture, colorful images of the Middle Ages, with its monks, monasteries, basilicas, cathedrals, popes, wealth, materialism, pageantry, traditions, centers for secular learning and more. But colorful as it has been, it had no resemblance to the New Testament church. By definition, the church is the 'called out ones'. Catholicism is fully entrenched in the mammon of this world' synonymous with wars, world domination, political involvement, bloodshed, and the infamous inquisition.
"If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyolas. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum. -- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816
"No political event or circumstance can be evaluated without the knowledge of the Vatican's part in it. And no significant political world situation in which the Vatican does not play an important part, implicit or explicit" - Guy Emory Shipler
This is probably an understatement. The Vatican has not just been involved in world affairs, it has controlled world affairs.
Is this Jesus?
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
It is unfathomable for him to add the words 'convert/recant or die' - but that was the mantra of this state sponsored 'universal' religion with the guise of Christianity.
(to be continued in Chapter 3)