We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 6

Excursus:  Icons and Iconoclasm

From the earliest beginnings of the church, artwork of various biblical scenes began to adorn meeting places.  During the fourth century, when Christian architecture became possible, buildings were adorned with paintings and mosaics of Jesus, the apostles, and biblical scenes.  However, there was concern by some bishops that many people would slip into idolatry by looking at these images.

During the sixth century in the Eastern empire, the church and imperial government encouraged the making of icons.  Where once the art most likely was used to remind Christians of their faith and its origins, the practice of not just appreciating the art but of actual venerating these icons spread. “Most ordinary Christians failed to distinguish between the holy object or holy person and the spiritual reality it stood for. They fell into idolatry.”  (Shelly, p. 147)  Justinian erected a huge statue of Jesus over the main gate of the imperial palace. “By the end of the sixth century, icons of Christ or Mary replaced the imperial icon in many situations. Eventually the icon of Christ appeared on the reverse side of coins. Early in the eighth century, however, Emperor Leo III (717-41) launched an attack on the use of icons.” (Shelly, p.148)

“After an apparently successful attempt to enforce the baptism of all Jews and Montanists in the empire (722), he issued a series of edicts against the worship of images (726–729). This prohibition…seems to have been inspired by a genuine desire to improve public morality, and received the support of the official aristocracy and a section of the clergy. A majority of the theologians and all the monks opposed these measures with uncompromising hostility, and in the western parts of the empire the people refused to obey the edict. A revolt which broke out in Greece, mainly on religious grounds, was crushed by the imperial fleet in 727. In 730, Patriarch Germanos I of Constantinople resigned rather than subscribe to an iconoclastic decree. Leo had him replaced by Anastasios, who willingly sided with the emperor on the question of icons. Thus Leo suppressed the overt opposition of the capital. In the Italian Peninsula the defiant attitude of Popes Gregory II and Gregory III on behalf of image-veneration led to a fierce quarrel with the emperor. The former summoned councils in Rome to anathematize and excommunicate the iconoclasts (730, 732); In AD 740 Leo retaliated by transferring Southern Italy and Illyricum from the papal diocese to that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. …The emperor died of dropsy in June 741.”  (Wikipedia  article, Leo III the Isaurian)

The supporters of icons were mostly monks and ascetics, as well as the uneducated and superstitious from the general populations who followed them. In fact, some monasteries made and sold icons for a living. (Shelly, p.148)

When Emperor Leo IV died in 780, Empress Irene of Athens became regent for her 10-year-old son, Constantine VI.  As her son grew older and challenged his mother, Irene had him blinded and took on the title of Emperor. She was a strong advocate for icons so in 787 she arranged for a council of bishops from both Roman and Byzantine empires to meet in what is now known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council, or the Second Council of Nicea. (She was also a patron of monasteries and for these two reasons is considered a saint in the Orthodox Church.).

The outcome of this council was the restoration of the use of icons for worship and veneration:  "As the sacred and life-giving cross is everywhere set up as a symbol, so also should the images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the holy angels, as well as those of the saints and other pious and holy men be embodied in the manufacture of sacred vessels, tapestries, vestments, etc., and exhibited on the walls of churches, in the homes, and in all conspicuous places, by the roadside and everywhere, to be revered by all who might see them. For the more they are contemplated, the more they move to fervent memory of their prototypes. Therefore, it is proper to accord to them a fervent and reverent adoration, not, however, the veritable worship which, according to our faith, belongs to the Divine Being alone — for the honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever adores the image adores in it the reality of what is there represented. …

“The Orthodox Church came to believe that, in the iconoclasm controversy, the very essence of the Christian faith was at stake - not because of the images as such but because of the underlying principle of the Incarnation, the doctrine that the Son of God had actually become a visible man.  The defeat of the iconoclasts came to be known, then, as ‘The Triumph of Orthodoxy’ and gave the Orthodox Church that certain enthusiastic confidence, even ebullience, that leaves it vulnerable, at times, to the charge of ‘triumphalism.’ It is an historical fact that the defeat of iconoclasm led almost immediately to a massive expansion of the Orthodox Church, especially in the great missions of 863 and 988...”  (Patrick Henry Reardon, The History of Orthodox Christianity, p. 18)

Next time we will meet the invasion of Islam.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:
A very interesting discussion with a Roman Catholic. The author knocks it out of the park against the Papists.

Interesting article about the arrangement and history of the books of the Bible.

Should Christians observe the Torah? Absolutely not, and I’ve previously warned about the false teachings of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

A Parent’s guide to the 5 skeptics who want to shame your kids for being Christian.

Jesus is NOT a Democrat. I’ve been saying for years that Jesus would never be a liberal, because liberal ideology is in direct opposition to everything the Bible teaches.

9 Bible verses which teach that sex before marriage is sin — contrary to what modern culture says.

The historic St. Patrick. I’ve previously linked to articles which demonstrate that the Irish Catholics totally misrepresent Patrick’s teachings (here and here).

The Bad and/or Ugly
This is what happens when wolves forget that God calls us to obey the laws of the land that don’t conflict with God’s laws.  If your “pastor” teaches this, run from that church.

Ask Google, “Is Beth Moore a false teacher?”

With cults, always make sure you define your terms.  A perfect example is the Mormon teaching about Adam and Eve, who certainly aren’t the Adam and Eve of the bible.

I saw a video this past week (to which I can’t link - it was posted on Facebook) with Billy Graham saying he believes in abortion for those who have been raped or if there are diseases that might affect the unborn child.  How sad for a man with such a following to be teaching it is good to murder the unborn!

Sweeping the devil out of the church — more charismatic foolishness.

If this is the type of VBS at your church, you really need to find another church.

Don’t be a “woke” Christian — the ideology is apostate.

Really “ugly” is Hillsong and Christine Caine, as exposed by Pulpit & Pen.

Another excellent examination of false teacher Christine Caine.  Avoid her like the plague. As the author of the article says at his conclusion:  
While Christine Caine’s A21 Campaign is most definitely a good work, it cannot be overstated how important it is for fellow believers to mark and avoid her (Romans 16:17). She is a false teacher and heretic who preaches herself, twists Scripture, unashamedly engages in unbiblical practices and flagrantly disobeys God’s Word with her teaching of men. May she repent of her wickedness before it is too late.

The historic St. Patrick.  I’ve previously linked to articles which demonstrate that the Irish Catholics totally misrepresent Patrick’s teachings (here and here).

Meanwhile the United Methodist Church continues its spiral to totally apostate oblivion.

The humorous
I don’t think this will every happen.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 5

In June 452, Attila the Hun was destroying everything in his wake and the weakened Roman army avoided him as the population of Rome fled. Since the Roman emperor was doing nothing to save Rome, Bishop Leo — on the emperor’s authority — met Attila at the Po River with a peace delegation. Attila granted Leo’s request to save the city and even promised to withdraw from Italy. The Bishop of Rome had now taken on a new role as the emissary of the emperor.

Three years later the Vandals approached Rome with a huge army, creating a panic in the city. The Roman army mutinied and Emperor Maximus was killed by his bodyguards as he tried to escape the city. With disorganized troops and no general taking leadership, the Vandals invaded the city unopposed on June 2nd. Leo met the Vandal King, Gaiseric, at the city gate leading priests with him. Leo begged for mercy, asking Gaiseric to restrain his troops and not burn the city, even offering money. Gaiseric agreed to let his troops have 14 days looting.

The Vandals thoroughly looted the city for 14 days and then left. Although every house had been looted, the city was not burned and no one was killed. Rome was thankful for their bishop’s actions and he told them is was because of God’s grace. He had now assumed a heathen title of Pontifex Maximus, high priest of religion for the empire (which was also Constantine’s title). Leo had saved Rome a second time as an emperor did nothing.

Leo died in 461, but the bishop of Rome held more power over the people than the emperor did, and after a succession of emperors the western Christian empire fell to the barbarians from the north in 476, leaving numerous kingdoms with people who had allegiance to the Christian leadership, the bishop of Rome. As noted by Shelly, “When the barbarians destroyed the Roman Empire in the West, it was the Christian church that put together a new order called Europe. The church took the lead in rule by law, the pursuit of knowledge, and the expressions of culture. The underlying concept was Christendom, which united empire and church. It began under Charlemagne in the eighth century, but the popes slowly assumed  more and more power until Innocent III (1198-1216) taught Europe to think of the popes as world rulers.”  (p.161)
Meanwhile, after the fall of the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire  became more and more of a theocracy, with the emperor performing priestly functions, “and the Orthodox Church constituting a department of State in charge of spiritual affairs.” (Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, p.126)  “Constantinople relied more and more on its political position and was drawn into the orbit of eastern imperial politics. The more religion and politics became intertwined in the East, the less independent became the patriarch of the church.”  (Shelly, p.136)

An example of this merging of church and state would be Justinian, who ascended the throne of the Eastern empire in 527 and rebuilt the Church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, consecrating it in 538. With this he claimed he outdid Solomon. Justinian considered himself not only a Roman emperor, but also a Christian emperor, his theory being that the empire and Christianity were to be unified. “He defined his mission of the pious emperor as ‘the maintenance of the Christian faith in its purity and the protection of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from any disturbance.’” (Shelly, p.146)

An important thing that happened doctrinally, which was part of the reason for the eventual separation of the Eastern from the Western church, was Rome’s addition of what is known as the “filioque clause” to the Nicene Creed.  In its original Greek in the fourth century, the Nicene Creed said that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father,” but in 589 Rome added “filioque” to the statement so that it read, “from the Father and the Son.” This change was not accepted by the Eastern Church, which caused conflict between them and the Western church.  (John 14:26 specifically states the Spirit proceeds from the Father.  Rome says the John 15:26 supports the Spirit proceeding from the Son, but that just says that the Son will send what proceeded from the Father.  They also use Acts 2:33 for their justification, but that again just says Jesus sends what He receives from the Father.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 4

After Constantine’s conversion he convened general councils to settle major troubling issues. In 314 he convened a general council of the west at Arles, and in 325 he convened the first General Council of the whole church at Nicea. It was at the Nicene council that a policy of patriarchates was established, where the administration of the church affairs would be by bishops from three or four major cities. Alexandria, Rome and Antioch were preeminent in their areas, while Jerusalem was granted an honorary primacy.

In AD 330, Constantine moved his capital east from Rome to the town of Byzantium, and renamed it Constantinople, but it was also known as “New Rome“. This shifted the political center of the empire to the east, and in turn the bishop of Constantinople became the focus of spiritual and doctrinal leadership.
While the favoring of the Christian faith brought advantages, it also brought about great disadvantages.  “Constantine ruled Christian bishops as he did his civil servants and demanded unconditional obedience to official pronouncements, even when they interfered with purely church matters. There were also the masses who now streamed into the officially favored church. Prior to Constantine’s conversion, the church consisted of convinced believers. Now many came who were politically ambitious, religiously disinterested, and still half-rooted in paganism. This threatened to produce not only shallowness and permeation by pagan superstitions but also the secularization and misuse of religion for political purposes.”  (Shelly, p.96)  “…the result was a decline in Christian commitment. The stalwart believers whom Diocletian killed were replaced by a mixed multitude of half-converted pagans. Once Christians laid down their lives for the truth; now they slaughtered each other to secure the prizes of the church.”  (p.118)

There was an underlying cultural problem which helped cause divergence between the two halves of the empire: while the Western church was linguistically Latin, the Eastern church was Greek. When Constantine died in 337 and left his empire divided between his two sons, the divergence grew.

In 380 Emperor Theodosius made belief in Christianity mandatory, under the name of “Catholic Christians.” His imperial command said, “The rest, however, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative, which We shall assume in accordance with divine judgment.”  As Shelly points out, “Theodosius takes for granted the close link between his own will and God’s. It was a connection implicit in the Christian empire.” (p.97)

In 381 Theodosius called a council in which he said that the bishop of Constantinople was to take precedence immediately after the Roman bishop, because Constantinople was the New Rome. This didn’t set well with Rome, and the following year the Roman bishop Damasus declared for the first time that Rome was of primacy because, as he claimed, Jesus said he built His church on Peter, and Peter founded the Roman church.

Under Theodosius church structure began centering on powerful positions. The bishops of leading cities and imperial provinces became known as archbishops, and the center of his jurisdiction became known as the see. Shelly tells us, “Those bishops in the premier cities of the empire - Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch - were considered highest of all and were called patriarchs. Throughout the fourth and fifth centuries these four powerful patriarchs were attempting to extend the prestige and power of their spiritual offices.”  (p.111).  Rome was now influential in the western empire while Constantinople was influential in the east.

The bishop of Constantinople came to rely on the church’s political position, and religion and politics became so entwined that the bishop began losing his independence from the emperor. Meanwhile, Damasus in Rome was subjected to weakened political control and began asserting the primacy claimed by Damasus’ appeal to Peter’s position.

When Theodosius died in 395, the Eastern part of the empire was ruled by his son Flavius Arcadius until he died in 408, while the Western part of the empire was ruled by his son Flavius Honorius until he died in 423. The leadership of the empire continued changing over the next few decades, and church leadership continued to be more and more focused at the two capitals.

In Rome the church leadership passed through seven bishops after Damasus until Leo 1, who became bishop in 440. Leo immediately preached on the issue of the authority of the church resting in the bishop of Rome by virtue of the authority of Peter’s position as the rock on which Christ said his church would be built (which was a gross misapplication of Scripture).  This erroneously assumed any authority given to Peter thereby became the authority of the bishop of Rome.

The claim by Leo was made into an official imperial claim when, in 445, Emperor Valentinian III “issued a decree instructing Aetius, the Roman commander in Gaul, to compel the attendance at the papal court of any bishop who refused to come voluntarily. … The imperial document ran: ‘As the primacy of the Apostolic See is based on the title of the blessed Peter, prince of the episcopal dignity, on the dignity of the city of Rome, and on the decision of the Holy Synod, no illicit steps may be taken against this See to usurp its authority. For the only way to safeguard peace among the churches everywhere is to acknowledge its leadership universally.’” (Shelly, p.138)

At the council of Chalcedon in October 451, although Leo was the dominant figure, the council ended up giving the bishop of Constantinople the same authority as Leo’s, so that now there were indeed two sole and independent leaders - the bishop of Rome in the West and the bishop of Constantinople in the East. Leo’s representative protested but the 350 bishops meeting at the council did not alter their decision. 

Next time: Attila the Hun and the Vandals change the political and religious status of Rome.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 3

The church in Rome received honor from all Christians for several reasons.  First, Rome was the capital of the empire, and known as the “Eternal City.” Secondly, it was the largest and wealthiest church in the western part of the empire, and it was known for its orthodoxy and charity. Thirdly, even in persecution the Roman congregation grew quickly in numbers so that by the middle of the third century it numbered about 30,000.  This size gave it great influence. Fourth, early Christian writers, beginning in the second century, referred to Peter and Paul as the founders of the Roman church and that the bishops there were their successors, which was important in combating the Gnostic heresies.

Even though Rome had honor among the church, it had no more authority than any other church, and if the Roman bishop was in error, other bishops felt no compunction about disagreeing with him. Before Constantine, there is no evidence that the bishop of Rome exercised any authority outside of Rome, even though his position was accorded honor.

Rome’s influence grew as “part of the increasingly complex church structure emerging in the third and fourth centuries. … Councils arose when churches in various areas began sending their pastors (or bishops) to meetings to discuss common problems.  These were at first irregular, but during the third century these provincial councils began to meet annually. In theory, the bishops from the churches were all equal, but in practice this was seldom the case. The pastors of the churches established by the apostles possessed an informal spiritual prestige, and the bishops from the larger cities exercised authority in certain matters over the pastors from smaller towns. As the church grew it adopted…the structure of the empire. This meant that the provincial town of the empire became the episcopal town of the church. Above the provinces in the empire was the metropolis, so bishops in these larger cities soon supervised the bishops in the provinces in that area. Finally, the empire was divided into several major regions, so within the church, people came to think of the church at Rome exercising authority in Italy, Carthage in North Africa, Alexandria in Egypt, Antioch in Syria, and so on. As the churches within the province thrust out into the countryside, usually through a preaching tour of the bishop, other churches were established to meet the needs of the converts. At first these churches were cared for by clergy sent out from the city. Ministers who served them, however, were not bishops. They were called “priests” from presbyter, the Greek word for “elder.” These priests in the country parishes were consecrated and controlled by the city bishop…. Thus, as the fourth century began [AD 300], the catholic churches were establishing general policies by regular regional councils of bishops and handling day-to-day affairs under the oversight of bishops in each area.”  (Shelly, pp.134-135)

Notice during this time, the change as to how church leadership was defined. Remember, in the New Testament the office of presbyter (Greek for elder), was also known as an overseer (Greek episkopos - English “bishop”), as well as “pastor” (Latin for “shepherd“). But now that there is a hierarchy being established, presbyter has become “priest” and the head of a city is now a bishop - an “overseer” of the lower level, local pastors.

In the next episode, we will look at what happened to the Church after Constantine converted to Christianity.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 2

In AD 250 Emperor Decius (249-251) started the worst persecution Christians had yet faced. Decius commanded all citizens of the empire to sacrifice to the Roman gods, or face death. Those who sacrificed were given a certificate as evidence they obeyed, while some were able to obtain false certificates without actually sacrificing. Many Christians who could not obtain false certificates sacrificed to save their lives. It was during this time the term “martyr” (witness) became prevalent, used of those who died because of their refusal to participate in the sacrifices. Those who endured the persecution without denying Christ were called “confessors.”  The martyrs and confessors were held in awe, and the names of martyrs were recorded in the churches.  The anniversaries of these “saints‘” deaths were celebrated annually at their tombs.

After Decius was killed in battle, persecution relaxed and the question of readmission to the church was raised in regards to those who were not spiritually prepared to hold fast their faith under torture. Bishop Cyprian of Carthage stated, “Outside the church there is no salvation.”  This led to demands for readmission, but the question was whether or not this was a sin which could be forgiven. Cyprian was then confronted with many who believed that the unusual courage of the confessors led to their being granted special power from God, and that the Holy Spirit ordained them to absolve people of their sins.  Supposedly they could cover with their “merits” the “demerits” of those who apostatized, and they wanted Cyprian to issue a blanket pardon on that basis. Cyprian instead favored a system of readmission based on the degrees of seriousness of sins. He decided that leniency was to be granted to those who had sacrificed to the pagan gods only after extreme torture, while those who went willingly would receive harsher punishments. Cyprian’s argument won, and the church at large created a graded system of penance to allow the lapsed to return. (The North African idea of merits didn’t die - it reappeared later in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Treasury of Merit and indulgences.) Penance became the second sacrament, behind baptism.

When Diocletian came to the throne of the Roman empire in 284, he determined the empire was unmanageable and so divided it up into four parts under himself and three other men; he and Maximian were “Augusti“ and under them were two “Caesars.”  At first he paid no attention to the growing power of the Christian faith, but in 303, two years before the end of his reign, he purged all Christians from his army, destroyed church buildings, burned the Scriptures and prohibited Christian worship.  He issued edicts which led to the most savage persecution of Christians in history.

Diocletian abdicated in 305 and forced Maximian to also abdicate. The new eastern Augustus, Galerius, took the persecution to more intense levels (it is possible he encouraged Diocletian to begin the persecutions). The other replacement Augustus, Constantius Chlorus, who was in Britain, had never pushed the persecution in his district of Gaul, and now he ended persecution and even showed Christians favor.

Galerius, on his deathbed in 311, realized his efforts to eradicate Christianity had failed, so his last official act was to issue an edict of toleration, which effectively brought the worst Roman persecution to an end.

Galerius’ death brought about a struggle for imperial power. Constantius’ son, Constantine, led his forces to solidify the Roman empire under his control.  When he came upon a militarily superior enemy in October 312, he prayed to the Christian God, and supposedly received a vision of a cross in the sky, with the words, “In this sign conquer.”  This convinced him to attack, and his forces won the battle.  Constantine saw this as proof of the superiority of the Christian religion with it’s powerful Christ.
Constantine’s conversion to the Christian faith is debated by historians and scholars, and is beyond the scope of this study.  But, according to Bruce Shelly, “He allowed Christian ministers to enjoy the same exemption from taxes as pagan priests; he abolished executions by crucifixion; he called a halt to the battles of gladiators as a punishment for crimes; and in 321 he made Sunday a public holiday.  Thanks to his generosity, magnificent church building arose as evidence of his support of Christianity.  This public Christianity was matched by changes in Constantine’s private life.  Making no secret of his Christian convictions, he had his sons and daughters brought up as Christians and led a Christian family life.”  (Church History in Plain Language, pp.94-95) 

Next time we will look at how the Roman church rose to prominence prior to Constantine’s conversion.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 1

Over the past decade I’ve posted my own articles, and links to other articles, which are critical of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox teachings, as well as examining doctrinal differences between them. In order to understand the positions of these churches today, we have to learn the history of them up to where they parted company.  This history will be lengthy and therefore posted in parts, but will put all the puzzle pieces together which show how Rome claimed supremacy for itself and how the division between the Eastern and Western Churches came about. 

Bear in mind that the word “catholic” merely means “universal,” as in the “universal Christian church.” For purposes of discussion, the modern academic term “Byzantine empire” will be used of the Eastern half of the empire to differentiate it from the Holy Roman Empire — as the Western empire came to be called in the ninth century.  However, it must be understood that those in the Eastern half saw themselves as a continuation of the Roman Empire, and the leader was still called “Caesar.” The Byzantine emperor was referred to as the Roman emperor, and the citizens spoke of themselves as Romans.

The first local congregations were under the care of the apostles, but as the Christian faith spread across the world the apostles appointed elders, or presbyters (from the Greek for “elders”) to be the local authorities. These men were also called “bishops” (“overseers”) or “pastors” (“shepherds”). Assisting these men in their duties were “deacons.”  As time went by, these local congregations would place themselves under a local leader, known as the bishop of the city.

After the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, the center of Christianity moved north and then west. The first “headquarters”  after Jerusalem was Antioch of Syria. The third bishop of Antioch was Ignatius, who was martyred during the reign of terror under emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). After the turn of the 2nd century, Ignatius wrote a series of letters to several churches in which he speaks of a single bishop in each church, under which is a body of presbyters and supported by deacons. Apparently the “bishop” was seen as the head presbyter/elder/overseer/pastor. It wasn’t until the end of the 2nd century that this system became common. (Many churches have this system today, with the pastor as the teaching elder supported by a board of elders, with deacons providing service to the congregation.)

At the end of the 2nd century the Christian church had to deal with Gnostic groups who claimed their secret teachings were passed down directly from Jesus. However, a mid-second century historian, Hegesippus, had traveled from Palestine to Rome hearing Christian teachings from the various churches, and discovered that Christian teachings were public and available to all, and the same in every location. He then drew up succession lists of at least the bishops of Corinth and Rome, showing how their teachings came directly from the apostles, who themselves had been taught by Christ.  Later that century, Irenaeus in Gaul and Tertullian in North Africa followed this leading and pointed out direct succession for their teachings for all the bishops, proving that the Gnostics were the ones in the wrong.

During the 2nd century, and even moreso in the 3ed century, many changes were made in the understanding of essential Christian beliefs, including ideas as to the meaning of the Lord’s supper, and the development of the idea of “original” sin, for which infant baptism later became necessary.  Part of this was caused by melding some pagan beliefs with those of Christianity.  

One of the ideas that changed during the first two centuries was the idea of forgiveness for sin. Bruce L. Shelley, in his excellent book, Church History in Plain Language, gives us a good synopsis of this issue and how it related to Rome claiming a special position in the church:

During the first two centuries most Christians believed that baptism cancelled all sins committed up to that moment in the believer’s life.  Serious postbaptismal lapses called for special treatment.  Three sins in particular - sexual immorality, murder, and the denial of the faith (apostasy) - were considered forgivable by God, but never by the church.  The penalty for any one of these was exclusion from the fellowship of the church and deprivation of the Lord’s Supper.  Since the Communion, most believed, was a special channel of divine grace, withholding it placed a person’s salvation in peril.  Ignatius called it “the medicine of immortality and the antidote of death.”

The first half of the third century was a long period of calm for the church; few were called before Roman officials to renounce their faith.  Spiritual warfare seemed like a thing of the past, so many called for a relaxation of church discipline.

The first to accept repentant sinners as a matter of policy was the bishop of Rome.  Callistus (217-222) readmitted penitent members who had committed adultery.  He argued that the church is like Noah’s ark.  In it unclean as well as clean beasts can be found.  Then he defended his actions by insisting that the church of Rome was the heir of Peter and the Lord had given keys to Peter to bind and loose the sins of men.  This marks the first time a bishop of Rome claimed this special authority.  (p.74)

My next post will pick up the tale in 250 AD.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Book offer!!!!

I think someone asked for the book, "Why Wait" by Josh McDowell and I lost the request.  If you requested it, email me at jude3.gctwm@yahoo.com.

Also, I am still trying to give away many books, as noted previously.   Here are the ones still looking for homes:

The Stranger on the Road To Emmaus, by John R. Cross (4 copies). Goodseed International publications. A really good book for teaching the Gospel and the reason for it.  The premise is that the information in the book, the scripture passages examined, are most likely what Jesus was teaching the apostles on the road to Emmaus; teachings about Creation, the Fall, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, etc, all through the highlights of the Old Testament which point to Jesus. 285 pages, including appendices and endnotes.

Unveiling Islam, by Ergun and Emir Caner (5 copies). Kregel Publications, 256 pages including index and appendices. This is an excellent primer on the history, beliefs, and dangers of Islam.

My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. Classic daily devotional.

The Calvary Road, by Roy Hession. 131 pages, devotional on Christian living. Classic.

The Case Against Pornography, by Donald E. Wildmon. 204 pages.  I picked this one up in 1995 so it is a wee bit dated when discussing how the advances in technology help the spread of pornography.  Good examination of the philosophy driving porn as well as the harmful effects. Suggestions on how to counter porn and protect against it.

As with previous books I’ve given away, this offer is only for those in the U.S.A. — due to postage costs elsewhere!  You can comment on this post requesting it with your address (comments are moderated and your address will not be posted) or you can email me your address at jude3.gctwm@yahoo.com.  As always, I determine the “winner” by what comes in my inbox first, and I will notify you either by return email or by a comment on the post. (Be patient for a response; I’m not on the computer all the time.)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Good, Bad, and Ugly

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these episodes, and it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  It’s been very busy time, including a fun time playing for a high school production of “Brigadoon” three hours north on the 22nd and 23rd (and a rehearsal on the 9th).  And it’s not going to let up anytime soon, since this is now parade season.  So, there is a lot to read about on this post.

The Good:
Some good apologetic information about the “chain of custody” in regards to the Gospels.  I highly recommend J. Warner Wallace’s book, Cold Case Christianity.

Put down that devotional and pick up the actual Bible.  While this article is directed at women, there are plenty of men who need to hear the same thing.

This one is NOT up for debate, but I was quite amused with this exposure of Calvinist contradictions.

One of my readers pointed me to this non-Calvinist site.  I haven’t had a chance to do a lot of reading there yet, but I do like their statement of faith.  I do have some reservations about Mr. Flowers, in that he has been known to make some weird statements during discussions, as reported by Pulpit & Pen (a strict Calvinist group), such as saying that one can be saved without faith, even though that contradicts the statement of faith. The same with a statement defining the Gospel, which doesn’t agree with the statement of faith of the site.

What is a “faith healer”?  A fraud, a liar, a con-man/woman.

Forget religion. Forget the Bible. Forget teaching creationism. On its own terms, the romanticized, politicized, (increasingly even theologized!) microbe-to-man evolution story presented as undeniable fact in the schoolroom is simply bad science. Why should anyone insist that students be taught bad science? Read the full article.

How much more proof does one need to admit that Jennifer LeClaire is a horridly false teacher?

The Jesus of Islam is NOT the Christian Jesus.

A good, concise history of how the “catholic” (universal) church became the Roman Catholic Church.

Robert Gagnon’s response to false teacher Thabiti Anyabwile is excellent! Pulpit & Pen also speaks out against Anyabwile.

The Bad and/or Ugly
More on the horrid apostasy of the “Revoice” conference.  H/T: Doug Evans.

The Passion Translation of the Bible has previously been addressed on this blog in other “Random” posts.  This “translation” is no different than any other cult translation int that the “translators” fixed the Bible to fit their theology/ideology. Here is much more information about this dangerous publication.

David Jeremiah has turned closer and closer to the “dark side.” Endorsing Jesus Calling shows a HUGE lack of discernment. He continues to support false teaching, making him totally untrustworthy.

An excellent examination of Andy Stanley’s teaching in his “Aftermath” sermon series.

One thing certain, THIS is not a Christian assembly, rather this is a goat pen.

False teachers and the NAR, and Todd Bentley: THIS is more proof as to why they are to be avoided.

Joel Houston, “worship” pastor and co-pastor of Hillsong New York City, is an evolutionist.  Coming from Hillsong, the bastion of false teaching, so it doesn’t surprise me. Answers in Genesis has more information.

THIS is why you don’t listen to or read teachings from William Paul Young. Of course the Mormon also teach reconciliation after death.

The humorous
Coming soon to Saddleback, Willow Creek, Lakewood and other seeker-sensitive/market-driven churches.

I’m pretty sure this was happening at out previous assembly.