For those that claim the title of “Christian,” it is very important to understand that the religious systems of the world are full of corruptions. It is my humble opinion that none are exempt. To think that there is a pure religion out there would be ludicrous. It doesn’t matter what one thinks, the historical evidences show that man corrupts everything he touches. There are countless millions following the “doctrines and commandments of men” and not God. Many of these corruptions have an agenda in mind. What is that agenda? Control of others for self-indulgence, personal gain, power, control and money. History supports this premise and shows it with glaring clarity.
In order to separate tradition from truth, in order to separate truth from the corruption, in order to genuinely understand and know the truth, we must study history and textual criticism. Studying the Bible, for many, is of no avail because the understanding of the times in which it was written is not there. One must understand the culture, the events taking place at the time of penning of scripture, and so much more in order to truly understand what the authors meant. How can one KNOW what was “meant” if you are interpreting based on the current culture and word usage? Jesus and his disciples spoke in terms that the people of their day were familiar with. Today, we are not familiar with many of the colloquialisms and terms they used. They were dealing with the real problems of the day and age in which they all lived; thus, learning history is important to correct understanding and interpretation.
We also must understand the “tares” that man has inserted through translation, that have become foundations for many. There is so much truth wrapped around a “cloak of deception” aimed at leading people to believe and act in a manner that is in direct opposition to truth and love! There were some insertions, changes and deletions through translation that have affected one particular race of people throughout history – women. As a result, women have been robbed of equality, honor and dignity. They have been treated in-humanely and, even today, still are, in some countries.
All this said, today’s history lesson will cover how the church assimilated with paganism. Throughout, I will interject my thoughts and enclose them in brackets. What will become apparent is that the church system has not changed. The corruptions then, are still around today. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn from this tidbit of early church history.
Early Church History to the Death of Constantine
Edward Backhouse, 1906
With the increase of the Church in numbers and wealth, the introduction of infant baptism and the growth of a sacerdotal religion, there came an increased assimilation to the world. The dividing line between Pagan and Christian lost its sharpness, or was drawn from a new and entirely different point.
The Christians of the earlier ages were marked out from the rest of mankind by their life and conduct: “They are in the flesh, but live not after the flesh. They dwell upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.” But now the difference turned more especially upon external and ceremonial distinctions. [Think about this for a moment. Today, one’s Christianity is based on church attendance and service, looking outwardly holy in all manner of one’s life. What is considered “holy” living? Following all the many rules, spoken and unspoken, that the clergy within the religious system tell us to follow! Salvation is based on these same factors as well as baptism. If someone does not fit into our perceptive “mold” of what a Christian should be, then we label them as “lost,” “sinners,” “not right with God,” “reprobates,” “heathen,” etc. Standing in God’s place of judgment, we treat them differently and shun them. We isolate ourselves and our families from them as if they had a plague of sin that would affect and corrupt our righteousness. By doing these things, we break the most important commandment of all – to LOVE our neighbor as ourselves. Additionally, we give off a “better than thou” attitude that leaves a stench in the nostrils of those we are trying to reach for God!]
The Christians were those who had been baptised with water, those who partook of the bread and wine, or as it was now called, the Sacrament or the mysteries [calling it such was one of the many corruptions by clergy]. Not that there were wanting other tokens of discipleship of a less formal kind; the martyrdoms, the conduct of the Church during the times of famine and pestilence, and the holy watchful life of thousands, both in and out of office, still affording a shining testimony to the world around of the vital and energetic power of the Gospel. But in proportion as more importance was attached to the ceremonial distinction, the moral difference was overlooked. [This is a very important statement here. When religious leaders put more weight on outward appearances and rules, the wicked thoughts and intents of the heart will manifest themselves in hidden abuses such as rape, domestic violence, incest, physical abuse, pedophilia, sex trafficking and other such crimes. As we have seen in overwhelming evidence on this blog, the internet is full of stories of these atrocities taking place hidden under the mantle of the church. The “church” has become a safe haven for criminals because they look and sound good on the outside!]
When a man like Gregory Thaumaturgus could adopt a pliable policy, and make the holy rule of the Gospel bend to the vicious habits of the newly baptised heathen, it is easy to account for the decline in morality. And after the edicts of Milan, when admissions into the Church took place in a still more wholesale manner, the maintenance of morals and discipline must have been extremely difficult, not to say impossible. [Throughout the early church, moral corruption was rampant – just as it is today. If we just do our homework and search the internet, we will find countless thousands of articles of such abuses and crimes as well as many victims speaking out about their abuses.]
Moreover, as the danger became more urgent, the voices of the watchmen on the walls grew fainter. [The “watchmen” were supposed to be church leaders. Their voices grew fainter because they had no desire to rid the church of the crimes, many of which, I believe, they were complicit in.] After the second century the influence of the Montanists rapidly declined, whilst the Novatians and others who pleaded more or less earnestly for a return to primitive manners and discipline, seemed never to have gained the ear of the general Church. Here and there, however, the cry of warning was still heard from individuals. [Those that are trying to expose the corruptions and deliver truth to the people, will always be ignored and/or silenced. This still takes place today. We must also add to this the use of character assassination — used against those that try to get the truth to people.]
Amongst these was Aerius. He was a native of Pontus or Armenia, and a friend of the semi-Arian Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste, by whom he was made a presbyter. Disputes arose between himself and the bishop, which widened into a rupture with the Church; and Aerius and his followers, who were numerous, openly separated from their fellow Christians. They also renounced the possession of worldly property. The teaching of Aerius on some points remarkably anticipated that of the most enlightened Protestants at the time of the Reformation, and drew upon him the hostility of the orthodox Church. Epiphanius, who attacks him in no measured language, brings forward four special counts upon which he charges him with heresy. The first is his assertion that the Holy Scriptures make no distinction between a bishop and a presbyter. Next, that prayers and offerings for the dead are not only useless but pernicious: if they avail to the benefit of the departed, no one need trouble himself to live holily, he will only have to provide by bribes or otherwise a multitude of persons to make prayers and offerings for him, and his salvation will be secure. Although a monk he condemned all set fasts: a Christian man should fast when he feels it to be for his soul’s good; appointed days of fasting are relics of Jewish bondage. Lastly, he ridiculed the observance of Easter as a Jewish superstition, insisting that Christians should keep no Passover, because Paul declares Christ, who was slain for us to be our Paschal Lamb. [Aerius was telling the truth here and the church leaders wanted him silenced! A rule of thumb is to “label” those truths as “heresy.” Then, label the truth teller as a “heretic.” By doing so, no one will believe the truth and continue to believe the lies instead. These same tactics are still being used today within religion as a whole.]
“Aerius,” says his biographer, “brought scriptural weapons to the attack of the fast growing Sacerdotalism of the age; dared to call in question the prerogatives of the Episcopate; and struggled to deliver the Church from the yoke of ceremonies which were threatening to become as deadening and more burdensome than the rites of Judaism.” The warning voice was uttered, but it fell on closed ears. “The protest,” he continues, “was premature; centuries had to elapse before it could be effectually renewed.” But alas ! the rulers of the Church not only rejected the warning; they persecuted the messengers. [This sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? Persecute and silence the messengers of truth. Persecute and silence those that expose abuse or speak out about their own abuse at the hands of the church and its leaders. Persecute, silence and discredit those that expose the corruptions in translation of scripture. Church leaders and church people can be vicious about their attacks on those that speak out or expose what’s hidden or corrupted. Look at what they did to Aerius.]
Aerius and his associates were denied admission to the churches, and even access to the towns and villages, and were compelled to sojourn in the fields or in caves and ravines, and hold their religious assemblies in the open air, exposed to the cruel severity of the Armenian winter. Aerius lived about A.D. 355.
[Make life unbearable for these “heretics.” Follow them where ever they go and persecute them. Stop them from being able to get the bare necessities of life. Slap lawsuits on them to cripple them financially. Take to blogs and websites to slander and discredit them. Show the world the “genuine, unconditional love of God you have” for your fellow man that you exude by doing such things (Being facetious here). THIS is the FRUIT of the religious system at its finest. Is there any wonder that people are fleeing the faith?
By these tactics, you will know who truly AREN’T God’s people. For they fill many of the churches of today and, instead of extending love toward others, they extend hatred and slander toward victims of abuse who speak out, hatred and slander toward those that expose corruption in the church, hatred and slander toward those that expose corruption in translation of scripture; and, they offer up murder against those that live or believe differently. “They should be stoned!” they say. It never occurs to them that the intent of their heart is MURDER. They are guilty of murder in their heart, and believe it is justified – all in the “name of God.” Instead, they should be showering their fellow man with love, letting “unconditional” LOVE do its work in the hearts of men, leading them to the “unconditional love of God” that can penetrate even the hardest heart and lead many to repentance and faith.
For those that do these things to their fellow man “in the name of God,” they are not only exuding hatred, abuse and slander, but they are breaking the Third Commandment. Since when is hatred, slander, abuse and murder justifiable? Sadly, there are some Christians that think it is if it’s done in God’s name.]