The Truth Endureth to All Generations
Although the word "orthodox" actually means 'up right' it has also grown to mean 'generally accepted'. Orthodox, then, is like the stock market's moving average, not of equities, but of consensus, majority rule. The word did not even exist until the 6th century when consensus was, well, captive.
During apostolic times, Jude wrote not of the consensus, but of a never changing benchmark when he referred to 'the common salvation' and the 'faith once delivered to the saints': Jude 1:3
But regardless of warnings, and as prophesied, even before the death of the last Apostle (100 AD), the 'moving average' began to shift away from Apostolic doctrines.
It was a gradual falling away as consensus embraced philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, and rudiments of the world.
Colossians 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.
"When the kindness of Constantine gave Holy Church endowments:
In lands and leases, lordships and servants,
The Romans heard a angel cry on high above them,
“This day dos Ecclesiae has drunk venom
And all who have Peter’s power are poisoned forever.”
- 'Piers Plowman' -William Langland
Over the next few decades, with the waning of the western Roman Empire, this politico-religious entity would rise to fill the power vacuum of the Roman Emperor, and to eventually surpass it in power:
"Take thou the tiara adorned with the triple crown, and know that thou art the father of princes and kings, and art the governor of the world.”
- The words spoken over the pope as he assumes his powerful office.
No, the church was not destined to abandon the teaching of Jesus to be a worldly militant power wielding life and death upon millions of people, forced conversions, being the persecutor instead of the persecuted. It would remain faithful to its founder and If need be, would remain in the catacombs
Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36:
"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."
And "not from hence" (here, on this earth) it would remain. In the world but not of the world. In obscurity, never to win the masses of the world.
What would become the religious behemoth of the world though, would be the system or the skeleton upon which western society would exist. There would be enough good in it to retain its religiosity. But like Niccolo Machiavelli instructed in his book 'The Prince', it would do evil also - whatever serves the purpose of the 'state'.
If this does not quite resonate, let it be ascertained that 'The Prince' was dedicated to Lorenzo 'The Magnificent' Medici, whose son would become Pope Leo X, the pope that was denounced by Martin Luther for excesses in his '95 Theses'. Lorenzo was also the uncle of the later Clement VII who was pope during the early reformation. (Which by the way had the unfortunate duty to deal with King Henry VIII in his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, and the creation of the 'Church' of England.)
In 'The Prince', the perfect 'model' of the book was none other than Cesare Borgia - the brother of Lucretia Borgia, the infamous illegitimate offspring of Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI.
Does any of this resemble the church of Jesus Christ? The fact is, it is purely grapes of thorns and figs of thistles.
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Defenders of conventional thought that Catholicism is the legitimate body of the church will argue how any religious entity can exist without central authority. Did Jesus really design the church to be of private ownership, proprietary, the exclusive domain of a 'magisterium' subject to corruption, or did he design the church to be led by by the Holy Ghost and revelation to each generation 'severally', as He wills? I will be adding links here to address the fallacies of apostolic succession, papal authority and tradition.
History bears out that during the formation of this State sponsored politi-religious behemoth, up to 50% of the populous resisted it ('The Jesus Wars', Phillip Jenkins), and later during the Middle Ages, at any given time over 10% of the populous, under threat of death, resisted Rome ('Civilizations of the Middle Ages', Norman Cantor). Through these pockets of resistance, in obscurity, the church existed through the centuries. Of course not all of these pockets of resistance held the truth - here were many who, according to Romans 1:18, 'held the truth in unrighteousness'. But there were those, the majority of whom are known only to God, who held it in righteousness.
The argument that Catholicism is the entity that canonized scripture so therefore it must be the legitimate representative holds no water. Moses was raised by his own mother in the Pharaoh's house. In ancient times, there were no doubt thousands of manuscripts. I have no proof that not all of them were handed over, as required, as Catholic leaders forbid the populace to possess the bible, but there is no proof that they were all turned in. My gut feeling tells me the ones who remained underground during the persecutions did not hand over their manuscripts.
I have in my lifetime witnessed the excruciating death of a man made organization, once strong and vibrant, yet even at its zenith there were pockets of weakness, and then political entities would coerce consensus away from apostolic truths, and there would be the inevitable, painful separation. I have come to the realization that truth endures - not because of organizations run by man, but because of revelation from God.... to the hungry... believers.... from generation to generation.
Psalms 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
More..... from my view.
I do not wish to be a polemicist or apologist although I suppose those titles come with the territory when one begins to stand for his or her beliefs in any way. At any rate I've gotten over having an ax to grind; there's not a single person I'm mad at. So I'm not attacking anyone. I do feel an obligation to give voice to those who were denied a voice. And in doing so my agenda is to explain as articulately and thoroughly as I can what I believe, and why.
I believe first of all that the Bible is complete and clear enough for anyone who wishes to know the truth. We are 'thoroughly' furnished.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Wait - did you really think the masses were going to adhere to the teachings of Jesus?
I cannot tell you when the church of Jesus reached its apex of true believers. To find that out we would have to sift through the ashes of the "Damnatio memoriae" of the imperial-religious system that dominated western civilization for over twelve centuries. But I can tell you of a truth it wasn't in those who damned the memory of the faithful who resisted state mandated religion to ashes- who in the high Middle Ages emanating from the learned scholars of Cluny or Rome, or at the dedication of the cathedral of Chartres or Notre Dame de Paris either. I too am bowled over by the magnificence of these edifices and the pageantry. The visions in my mind of the kings, queens, popes, cardinals and bishops and their retinue - the wars, the wealth and power, the pomp - I have stood in the great cathedrals of Seville, Granada, Santiago de Compostola, the Mizquita of Cordoba: Notre Dame de Paris, Reims, St. Denis, St. Peter's Basilica is Rome - and seen the jaw dropping splendor - surely this is the glory of God! The court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the 'Catholic Monarchs'; or King Louis XIV and Cardinal Richelieu; Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey (pre- Catherine) - or seeing the magistrates witnessing the auto da fe of an inquisition - the defenders of the faith following Richard the Lion Heart on his crusade - or the Te Deum being sung on the shores of a new continent - the volumes of writings of religious philosophy from Saint (yes, a saint!) Augustine and Ambrose that is so lofty I cannot penetrate - (oh how I need a priesthood that can interpret for me!)
I too have found myself feeling like a mere mortal needing
to succumb to the massive iron fists listening to the chords of Mozart’s
Requiem – do I dare resist the power of Rome? With their demonstration of power and wealth, surely they have the monopoly - the very corner of the market of God the Father!
Do I have the audacity to say they followed fables and falsehoods and I, wiser than they, am right?
I - a high school dropout - never went to college (the fact is I lasted two weeks but that is another story) - mentored by ones without degrees or titles - sons of share croppers from West Texas or Louisiana who preached to me that I could get the Holy Ghost like they did in the Bible if I'd repent of my sins -
Yes, I have the audacity to say I am right.
It's actually quite clear.
1Co 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:
1Co 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;
1Co 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:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
In other words, the playing field is level - for all of us. No pedigree or degree behind a person's name can give them any advantage.
Also, in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul referred to Satan as the god of this world. Jesus spoke twice of the 'prince' of this world (John 14:30' 16:11), Paul called him 'the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). The worldly system is both secular and religious, Paul said 'no marvel' - in other words, don't be baffled or blown away - that Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
A massive 'ship of mammon' upon which we would all be passengers. The church of the New Testament would be 'in the world but not of the world'. Jesus said to make 'friends' of the mammon of unrighteousness; in other words, his believers have to 'ride along' on this ship of mammon but not be a part of it - a unique 'symbiosis' of such.
I have viewed the Crusades as a very colorful and deeply human
experience. As God allowed the events in Joseph's life, being sold into slavery by his own brothers, but in fact working the overall plan of destiny, the Crusades
beyond a doubt thwarted the very real threat of Islamic conquest of the
remaining one third of Europe and the Middle East of nations indeed
affecting our destiny. However these events in no way legitimizes or validates the dogmas of
Catholicism. Its errors still stand, in fact, the audacity of the very
definition of 'crusade': "any war to which the Pope granted an
indulgence: that is, spiritual merit which would remove the penalty of
sin and bestow grace on the participant." I see it might be easy or almost automatic to make an assumption that if
the Crusades were divinely inspired that those who implemented them
must be also, making the grave mistake of not separating the errors of
Catholicism from the romanticism of the human experience. I am also quite aware of the many other contributions Catholicism has
made to the secular world in architecture, the arts, even in preserving
ancient literature in monasteries and in universities that were under
the sponsorship of the Vatican. Even so this record of 'good' has a flip
side to it. There are legions of historic luminaries that would
question the balance of positive contributions of Catholicism, as it
also suppressed democracy, free speech, freedom of religious thought and
This unique symbiosis of good and evil is what pervades my thoughts and quite frankly, gives a reason for the things I see happening around me.
The mission of Jesus was not 'world domination' as has been the goal of Catholicism - the very definition of 'church' is 'the called out ones'. Jesus came not to set up a worldly kingdom but to 'take out of this world a people for his name's sake'.
The story of Roman Catholicism is the story of the church in Pergamos in the 2nd chapter of Book of Revelation, that embraced the doctrine of Balaam. Christianity, Paganism, politics and world power becoming bedfellows. The result is a sordid history of religiosity that is the antithesis of what Jesus or his apostles taught. The issue of that union became the world's 'Frankenstein' monster.
Indeed one of the greatest challenges facing each generation of the true Christian is how to be IN the world but not OF the world. Although I believe the true church had already departed from the world stage somewhere before the middle of the 3rd century, those that claimed 'orthodox' teaching that succumbed to the political opportunities availed to them under the reign of Constantine took a left turn from which there was no return.
Whenever I hear the claim to 'orthodoxy' I think of Colossians 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".
So let the the world own that title of orthodoxy. The church of Jesus will not compete. It is simply the true church's challenge to live in this world but not be 'of' this world.
None of us can escape the trappings of this world
completely. From the days of the week (Monday
through 'Sun'Day) and the months of the year - they are all of pagan
origin. The symbols on our currency, holidays ('holy' days), we're all forced
to dance with the devil in some way or the other. But never fear, Jesus said to
'make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness' but not hop into bed with it,
or become a proponent or leader of this mammon of unrighteousness. 'Render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's, the things that are God's".
No one knows human nature more than our Creator. As He watched the progeny of the first man and woman that he created fall headlong into sin, I will not for one second entertain the idea that he did not know what His church would face. Jude wrote that Enoch prophesied about The Lord coming "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Just like the first few generations of the story of humanity, the church began to fragment immediately. All Asia forsook Paul even as he awaited his execution. This is not to say that the 'gates of hell prevailed against the church'. As long as there was one single person holding onto apostolic truth, the church continued from one generation to another, as it did in the amazing story of the bloodline of the coming redeemer. As the bloodline could not be destroyed, neither can the church of Jesus Christ be destroyed even in the face of gross apostasy and doctrines of every imagination of man's perspective. Like the story of the three blind men describing the elephant, each one came back with their own view based upon their limited perspective. The end result was, they were all right to a degree, but wrong as a whole. What we can deduce from this is, God, open our eyes so we can see.
The emperor of the Roman Empire had the pagan priesthood's title of 'Pontifex Maximus'. Constantine became leader of the western Roman Empire in 311 Ad with the defeat of Maxentius. In 324 AD he defeated the emperor of the eastern empire, Licentius making Constantine the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. He decided at the Bosphorus strait, virtually the center of east and west would be the ideal place to build a Capitol. With that in mind he built Constantinople. With the vacuum of power or leadership in Rome, the bishopric located there began to take the place of the once splendorous presence of the emperor. Slowly, with the disintegration of the empire in 476 AD the papacy assumed this title. Its goal has been world dominance - and has never recanted that position.
The teaching of biblical Christianity indeed contains absolute truths relevant to salvation, as does the teaching of most denominations including Catholicism. The bible is not ecumenical in any way shape or form. In other words, if a group holds a doctrine they deem to be essential, but turn around and join hands with others who hold opposing views, they have contradicted themselves and their doctrine is not 'absolute'. The underlying message in ecumenicism is 'doctrines really don't matter'. The fact is, to a person who believes absolute truths, doctrine does matter.
Not long ago I was listening to a Trinity/Oneness debate - which was actually labeled as "orthodox" Christianity vs a cult. Oneness was deemed a cult because it's tenants exclude all other beliefs. The trinitarian in the debate kept pushing - pushing - pushing for the proponent of oneness doctrine to declare him (the trinitarian) a 'saved brother' or going to hell - which one was he? The oneness proponent declined to out & out make that statement, I suppose being only too aware of the outcry so he defaulted to the "let God be the final judge" answer. The trinitarian was relentless to make his point that if indeed the oneness proponent does not accept the trinitarian as a saved brother, that in doing so he (oneness) is excluding the vast populace of "Christian" believers, sending them to 'hell' - and therefore is a cult! How much I wanted to jump into that debate! I wanted to shout, "ok, so you're saying that majority rules, here, eh? So the "strait gate" that Jesus referred to includes the masses of Christians who swallowed this Nicene nonsense and has become the rudimentary order of orthodoxy? Paul said in Colossians 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. Trinitarianism is indeed the rudimentary doctrine of "universal (Katholica - hello? Anyone home? Get the connection!) jump on the bandwagon belief. And yes, we, oneness, reject it." Quite frankly, my standard answer when backed up in that "so you're saying that orthodox Trinitarians are going to hell" corner is, "this is what we believe the scripture says. We cannot bend it for anyone. If God chooses to bend His own word, that's his prerogative.
Honestly I don't know what makes people tick. Irony that two people can see things completely opposite of each other. I have to let God sort that out, even though I am forever thinking of a better way to articulate my views.
I don't get it. I came across a website the other day about protestant viewpoint on mariology. It actually had this disclaimer:
"Note: The purpose of this webpage is not to present information "against" any Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox who are fellow believers in Christ, but rather to inform those who are Protestants of their heritage, their distinctive beliefs, and why these are held. If you are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox and are offended by hearing about beliefs differing from your own, you are welcome to skip this page."
That is 'grand' of them to not want to cross anyone's theology. But I suppose, if someone can do this, they really don't believe fat meat is greasy.
In our open society, we have the freedom of choice to embrace what doctrines we wish to embrace. There is really only one limitation, and that is, our freedom of choice must not encroach upon someone else' freedom of choice. Put plainly, 'your freedom ends where my nose begins'. This is the essence of tolerance. Tolerance is not embracing something that is false, it is allowing others to have views that opposes yours. How much we wish radical Islam to understand that. Without this principle, they cannot 'play' in our international global society.
After realizing persecuting Christianity didn't work, Constantine and Licinius, his rival in the east, if they didn't understand the value of tolerance were at least willing to give it a shot by issuing what is 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."
But this does not throw out absolute truths. For a group to keep their beliefs pure, they must exclude from their fellowship those who do not embrace their doctrines. This is not done through force, this is done through choice.
I believe in 'just wars' - in other words, there are times when war is a just cause, and a Christian can fight in that war. But it is NOT the place of the church to lead that war or play an active role in it. It has never been the role of the church to entangle itself with those political affairs of the world. This is an indisputable fact:
"No political event or circumstance can be evaluated without the knowledge of the Vatican's part in it. And no significant world political situation exists in which the Vatican does not play an important explicit or implicit part." ---------Guy Emery Shipler
It is the church's part to pray for them in authority that they will make good decisions.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
And if they don't make good decisions, the church just needs to pray harder.
Actually, who are we to say what the right and wrong decision are, as really, the church just rides along.... as Jesus said there would be wars, rumors of wars, catastrophes of every sort. Remember - we're in the world, but not of the world.....
Jesus taught that we wouldn't live by the sword.
Luk 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
Luk 9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
Luk 9:56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
There is no place in Christian religion for forced conversions. We all deplore what is happening to innocent people because of ISIS, but just a few hundred years ago this and worse was done in the name of Catholicism.
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.1 Peter 5:1-3
"Not by constraint". Cannot and should not force anyone to believe anything.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;1 Timothy 3:1-3
Oh how much Jesus was a gentleman. The total antithesis of Catholicism.