A Baptist Got me at a Disadvantage in the Hospital This Evening . . .

And I really wasn’t up to arguing with him in a hospital room.  However, here’s what I’d have liked to have said (I took his little tract and plan on looking up his church to email them or something).

1.  Jesus established 1 Church.  He did not establish a “Bible.”  He promised a Church, and all historical indications point to the identity of that one Church.  The Apostolic Fathers point to that one Church, and writings from before 100 AD, before the death of the last Apostle, present both the teaching of the Eucharist and the teaching that the Bishop of Rome was looked to as the leader of all bishops.
2.  While the Bible itself refers to “Scripture,” and the early Church fathers refer to “Scripture,” there was no consensus of what constituted “Scripture” until *after* 400 AD.  Prior to this, different Fathers and Synods offered their own “canons” of Scripture, but the word “canon” itself means “measuring stick,” and those books were determined as Scripture because they matched up to what the Church taught as orthodox theology, not the opposite.  Indeed, some books now considered Scripture–Esther, Hebrews, and Revelation, for example–were not included in some early lists.  Some early lists included books that we don’t consider Scripture, such as the Protoevangelium of James or the “Gospel of Marcion” (which Marcion misidentifies as Luke).  Some of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp of Smyrna, as well as the Didache, were considered prior to 400 as having equal weight to the writings of the Apostles, and they were often read interchangeably with the Pauline and Apostolic Epistles in the Divine Liturgy.  It was the Church that gave us the Bible.
3.  There were lots of people who claimed to follow Christ in the early Church who were deemed by the Church to be heretics, and therefore not Christians.  All of these people based their arguments on “Scripture”: Antinomianists (whose belief is held by some proponents of eternal security), Audianists, Circumcellions, Donatists (who constitute the other group of eternal security believers), Ebionists (modern day “Messianic Judaism”), Euchites/Messalians, Luciferians, Marcionists, Millennialists, Montanists, Pelagianists, Arians, Gnostics, Adoptionists, Apollinarists, Docetists, Macedonians, Melchisedechians, Monarchianists, Monophysites, Monothelites, Nestorians, Patripassianists, Psilanthropists, and Sabellianists, among others *ALL* said they were following “What the Scriptures teach.”  Each of these groups, now regarded as heretics, claimed to be following the Bible and could point to where their beliefs were presumably demonstrated in Scripture.  As noted in a few cases, many of the beliefs held by many of these groups can be found in Protestant denominations these days, but most of them are groups whose beliefs would be considered heretical by any Protestant, as well as by Catholics.
Again, the standard of heresy was not “What the Bible teaches,” but what the Church taught. Today, over 30,000 distinct “denominations” spreading from the tree of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Tudor have 30,000 different views of what it means to believe in “sola Scriptura.”

4.  So, prior to 400, the standard of Christian Truth was the Church, not the Bible.  There was disagreement until that point about what “the Scriptures” were, specifically.  There was one Christian Church, whose See was in Rome, and those deemed heretics could not even call themselves Christians.
The Nestorian schism after the Council of Ephesus in 431 was the first time an entire geographical church broke off en masse.
Then the Council of Chalcedon in 451 was the next one, and the first time the break off groups called themselves “Orthodox” as opposed to the “Catholic” Church (which also claimed to be “orthodox”).
Then in the 11th Century, the “Eastern Orthodox” broke off from Rome.
Yet for each of these splits, some Christians remained loyal to Rome.  The geographic Church of Rome has remained intact in the sense that, with the exception of a relatively small sect with dubious history, there is no “Roman Orthodox Church”.  Alexandria and Antioch, which broke off in the 451 schism, each have three “Patriarchs”–one in the “Oriental Orthodox”  Church (451) , one in the “Eastern Orthodox” Church (11th Century), and one in the Catholic Church.
The Maronites have never separated from Rome.  So in all the schisms, the only Church that at all reflects the Unity Christ promised the Church would have is the Catholic Church.

5.  Then, all of a sudden, in the 1500s, four guys with huge sin issues of their own decide to claim that the worldly corruption of the Church warrants their separating themselves from it.  Luther, Calvin and Zwingli all come up with their own conflicting notions of “sola Scriptura” and various new doctrines derived from it–doctrines which were either novel at the time or condemned previously as heretical.  They could not even agree among themselves.

Then came Edwards, Whitefield, Miller, the Wesleys, Mason, the Spurlings, Parham, Moody, Eddy, Russell, Adler, Campbell, Darby, Laws, Hodge, McPherson, Jones, Durham, Woodbridge, Graham, Copeland, Bakker, Roberts, and so many others. . . .

Every Protestant denomination can trace its origins to a single individual or a small group of individuals *breaking off* from some other Christian group.  The only Christian “denomination” that goes all the way back from Christ, historically, is the Catholic Church.

6.  More importantly, since doctrine is so important to Evangelicals, the Catholic Church has taught basically the same doctrine, with some development, for 2000 years and based its decisions about what to count as “the Bible” on those doctrines.  Meanwhile, the majority of “Pentecostal/Holiness” or “Evangelical/Fundamentalist” denominations teach ideas like “the Rapture” that were unheard of before the 1800s.  How can these doctrines claim to be authentic interpretations of Scripture or authentic versions of Christianity when they were totally unheard of for the first 1800 years of Christianity?????

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7 responses to “A Baptist Got me at a Disadvantage in the Hospital This Evening . . .

  1. I’m certainly not Baptist. The concept of justification by faith alone is an abomination to me. Yet, I see some falsehood is what you say that I want to clarify.

    “1. Jesus established 1 Church. He did not establish a ‘Bible.'”

    Says who? I’m not arguing that he established a Bible, but the idea that he established a church is equally faulty. I don’t see him establishing a church in the gospels. Yes, I know in Matthew–and Matthew alone out of four gospels–the word “church” is used twice. Once, when he says if someone sins against you and you can’t settle it between you personally, then “bring it to the church.” But here the church seems to be the Jewish courts, or at the very least the church seems to be little more than a court. The concept of the church as a worship society or anything else is missing. The other time is when the words “upon this rock I will build my church” are put in his mouth by Matthew in response to Peter saying “thou art the Christ” when Jesus asked “who do you say I am?” But Jesus also asks this question “who do you say I am?” in Mark, and there his response to Peter’s “thou art the Christ” is not to promise a church but rather to quickly shut Peter up and charge him “see that thou tell no man.” In Luke, similarly, we find no promise of a church. In John, no promise of a church. Did Jesus then, whose teachings always seem to be moral and point to an individual religion of repentance and living right morally, establish a church? It seems rather, despite this one interpolation in Matthew, that Jesus’ whole ministry was about getting away from corporate religion and making religion an individual matter.

    “The Apostolic Fathers point to that one Church, and writings from before 100 AD, before the death of the last Apostle, present both the teaching of the Eucharist and the teaching that the Bishop of Rome was looked to as the leader of all bishops.” These men and their particular writings were chosen by a church and preserved by it simply because they agreed with that church. All other writings, the ones that agreed with other churches, were burned along with the people that believed in them, i.e. the people of the other churches, because this one church, the Catholic church, had merged itself with the state and used the power of the state to destroy all other versions of Christianity, so that in the end, there was only one church, not because Jesus had established it, but because it has used the power of the state to eradicate all others via violence…the very sort of violence that Jesus condemns. Remember, Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…” and so the Catholic church, not Jesus’ kingdom but a kingdom of this world fought and killed the other churches, because it was of this world not of Jesus.

    the “Gospel of Marcion” (which Marcion misidentifies as Luke). “

    Marcion doesn’t identify it as Luke: it is Tertullian identifies it as a “mutilated Luke.” Marcion gives it the title simply “Gospel of the Lord.” It is only called a version of Luke or Marcion’s Gospel by those outside of Marcionism, for to the Marcionites it was “the Gospel of the Lord.”

    “3. There were lots of people who claimed to follow Christ in the early Church who were deemed by the Church to be heretics,”

    Certainly. And again, what you are calling “the church” is simply the most heretical of these groups, namely the one that dared merge itself with the Roman Empire and use the secular power to murder off the other groups. If that isn’t heresy, what is? Surely it is more offensive to Christ to murder in his name than to be a little off in your Christological understanding. Does Nestorius truly offend Christ more by refusing to call Mary “mother of God” (despite the fact that he does believe Jesus is God, just not that its right to call Mary that) or does your church offend Christ more when it kills off the Nestorians, burning them at the stake?

    • O. K. . . . .
      Sigh. . . .
      First off, I don’t see where God says it’s OK to bear false witness against someone who’s dead.

      Second, your position is that if Jesus says something in only one Gospel then it’s OK to ignore it??? And show me *one* place in *one* Gospel where Jesus says He’s giving a Bible and that the Bible is the sole source of truth. Jesus *only* ever relays His authority to the Apostles, and He does so in numerous instances. Acts and the Epistles in turn demonstrate numerous times how the Apostles delegated their authority through laying on of hands.

      As for the rest, your position is a bunch of ahistorical nonsense. It is completely illogical.

      1. If there were so-called Proto-Evangelicals or whatever who were suppressed by the Catholic Church to the extent that *NO* evidence of their existence remains, then a) how do you know, and b) why do we have so much evidence of the existence of Arians, Nestorians, etc.? If the Catholic Church was going around burning heretics as you claim,then why did those other heresies persist?

      2. If the Catholic Church under Roman persecution was so powerful that She could suppress all dissenting opinions (yet didn’t), then why did Martin Luther succeed 1500 years later?

      3. If Jesus promised Hell would never prevail against the Church (oh, that’s right, you think it’s OK to ignore that because it’s only recounted in 1 Gospel), and He promised that the Kingdom of God would be a City on a Hill, then why would over 1000 years go by in which the only visible Christians were, according to your view, heretics?

      4. The term “Church” (Ecclesia, Community) may only appear a couple times, but Jesus repeatedly refers to the Kingdom of God, which *is* the Church.

      • “And show me *one* place in *one* Gospel where Jesus says He’s giving a Bible and that the Bible is the sole source of truth.”

        Where did I make such a claim? Calm down and read my whole argument. The message of Jesus was that the rituals of the Jewish law are not necessary but the morality is. He mocks the kosher laws saying “nothing you eat can defile you” whereas OT scripture clearly says it can, for example in Daniel 1-3 “Daniel purposed not to DEFILE himself with the king’s meat” — Jesus dares contradict OT scripture. And to what purpose? To declare that God only cares about morality, not ceremony. Jesus tosses aside the kosher laws, not to mention the Sabbath. Whereas the OT has the story of God commanding that the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath be stone (Deut), Jesus heals a paralyzed man and commands him to carry his bed on the Sabbath (John 5). Jesus’ ministry was never about starting a new religion at all, nor about getting himself worshipped as God, but about enlightening the Jews to the realization that their rituals were pointless in God’s eyes and only the morality matters.

        “2. If the Catholic Church under Roman persecution was so powerful that She could suppress all dissenting opinions (yet didn’t), then why did Martin Luther succeed 1500 years later?”

        First of all, the Catholic church never was under persecution. All the stories of persecution were inherited from displaced groups. The Catholic church was started by the Roman government with an eye to created one UNIVERSAL (that’s what Catholic means) religion by absorbing whatever groups they could into one and killing the rest.

        As for Martin Luther, and why he succeeded, the answer is because he was even less Christian than the Catholics. The Catholics were able to kill off the Marcionites because the Marcionites took Jesus’ nonviolence seriously and didn’t fight back. Luther may have been a rabid Paulinist, but he was no Marcionite. He didn’t reject the God of this world and everything relating to him. He didn’t reject all the warfare of the Old Testament. He was willing to kill. That statement of Jesus’ “my kingdom is not of this world” was no more important to him than it was to the pope. “Turn to the other cheek” was heresy to Luther, because it was a work. Luther and his followers didn’t mind bathing their feet in blood. And Luther had a lot of powerful German princes to back him.

      • First, I misread your name, for one. I thought it said, “RevJacobs.”
        Secondly, since I was addressing Protestant views, I assumed you were defending Protestantism. I have no idea what viewpoint you’re arguing from, since you claim to be Orthodox, and while I know the Eastern Churches take issues with St. Augustine, and while I agree that Christianity would’ve been a lot simpler if some of the Pauline Epistles weren’t in the Canon, I’m not sure most Orthodox would even agree with your positions on Scripture.

  2. Now, reading my first comment you will probably misunderstand and think I am a Protestant. But I did already forewarn you that justification by faith alone is an abomination to me. I am no Protestant. Rather, here is my belief: the Catholic church, which is nothing more or less than the one heretical group that had the gall to murder off all other versions of Christianity, made the mistake of putting Paul’s writings in Scripture, and thus the Catholic church itself is responsible for spawning the Protestants and destroying Christianity.

    What I mean is simple. In the earliest days of Christianity, early 2nd century, 100-140, nobody on the ‘orthodox’ side used Paul as Scripture. Justin Martyr makes no reference to him. Paul is non-existent as far as they are concerned. Yet at the same time, Paul, and Paul alone, is being used as Scripture by…dun…dun..dun….MARCION.

    Okay, so the ‘orthodox’ have no Paul. Marcion has Paul. ‘Orthodox’ have only the gospels, maybe the general epistles and Revelation. But now since Marcion has been able to use Paul to jetison himself to such popularity, somebody in the Catholic church says “hey, if we put this Paul guy that Marcion uses into OUR canon, it can help us become more popular!” And so some cabal of lunatics votes Paul into the ‘orthodox’ canon. And to justify his inclusion, they of course have to write ACTS. So now, Paul and Acts are added to the canon by men who KNOW they do not belong in the canon. They are taking Paul from Marcion, for Peter’s sake! And they are FORGING the book of Acts to excuse adding Paul to the canon.

    Well, it is Paul who says “we are saved by faith, not by works.” It is Paul who says “David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works.” (Rom 4:6)

    It is Paul, who is the problem. The Prots just take Paul seriously. But Paul is the problem. And who, pray tell, put Paul into the canon?????????????? Why it was your wonderful murdermongering church.

  3. Secondly, besides being Paul who is the problem, and the Catholic church itself for adding him to the canon, it is AUGUSTINE who is the problem for pushing the idea of taking Paul seriously.

    Prior to Augustine, nobody took Paul all that seriously in the Catholic church.

    What I mean is simple:

    1.) Paul teaches PREDESTINATION but nobody believed in it on the ‘orthodox’ side, until AUGUSTINE.

    2.) Paul teaches inherited original sin, i.e. you are condemned at birth. But prior to AUGUSTINE nobody believed that on the ‘orthodox’ side; they believed that you are condemned when you personally commit your first sin, not that Adam’s sin condemned you at birth.

    ETC. ETC. Until Augustine, Paul’s writings were taken with a grain of salt…..much like the way PELAGIUS took Paul. Pelagius didn’t take Paul seriously. Pelagius used THE GOSPELS to override Paul’s craziness. When Paul got off of faith alone and predestination and damned from birth, Pelagius turned to Jesus in the gospels and ignored Paul. That’s what everyone on the ‘orthodox’ side had done, until AUGUSTINE. So, Augustine pioneered the PROTESTANT approach to Scripture, namely to take Paul seriously and ignore Jesus, whereas Pelagius defended the older approach take Jesus seriously and ignore Paul.

    And who did your wonderful murdering church murder? It wasn’t Augustine. It is Pelagius who is persecuted by your church, and who goes to Jerusalem to be tried for ‘heresy’, who is acquitted by the Eastern Orthodox Church (haha! foo on you!) and who leaves Jerusalem only to never be heard from again. I presume that on his journey back from Jerusalem to England, your guys caught him and roasted him. Whether they did or didn’t, they backed AUGUSTINE and his idiotic, dare I say PROTESTANT, way of thinking.

    The result is that Augustinians, like Luther and Calvin, took Paul seriously and ignored the rest of Scripture. They took Predestination and justification by faith alone, and damnation from birth, and whatever other idotic anti-Christian anti-Jesus ideas Paul taught, seriously. And, unlike Pelagius and all ‘orthodox’ writers and theologians who came before him, they did not allow the GOSPELS to make any dint in their thinking or to correct this Satanic notions put forth by Paul the apostle of the heretics.

  4. Pingback: People Just Don’t Trust God | The Lewis Crusade

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