What Happened to the Church Jesus Built - Pt. 7

by Tommy Thornhill

Last issue we pointed out how men introduced the doctrines of penance (where penitents had to undergo some form of public humiliation), purgatory (a place of literal fire, where souls with temporal sins, would suffer for a time, until the guilt of their sins were absolved. They would then be allowed to leave for heaven) and auricular confession (where one confesses his sins to a priest, who then has the power to forgive the sinner). There is absolutely no scriptural authority for any of these doctrines. Rather they fall under the condemnation of God, by adding to and changing God’s word Gal.1:6-9; Rev.22:18-19; 2.Jn.9.

One cannot go beyond what is written 1.Cor.4:6. Along with these false doctrines men also changed the mode of baptism. In the NT baptism was immersion (a burial) in water Acts 8:35-39; Rom.6:3-6; Col.2:12-13. But, man, with human wisdom decided to change the form. At first it was defended as an accommodation for Novatian, who was sick, at death’s door. He wanted to be baptized, but was considered too sick. So, the church he attended agreed to sprinkle him on the condition if he got better he was to be immersed. This was ca 250 AD. We are not certain if Novation got well, but his sprinkling set a precedent. Sprinkling for baptism came into general use ca.753 by the edict of Pope Stephen III, and adopted as doctrine in 1311 AD, at the council held in Ravenna. It was decreed that sprinkling, pouring or immersion for baptism was a matter of indifference. As noted above this is contrary to what the Bible actually teaches. Baptism is a burial, sprinkling and pouring are not.  Constantine became Emperor of the Roman empire, ca.308 AD. Outwardly he became a Christian, but he had little conception of true Christianity. But he saw some advantage to Christianity, since many of them were willing to die for their faith. In 312-313 AD, at Milan, he issued the Edict of Toleration, stopping the persecution of Christians and granting them freedom of worship. He restored church property, and the apostate form of Christianity began to flourish more rapidly. In fact, Constantine, and the emperors who followed him, wanted to abolish paganism, and promote Christianity. Later, emperors, sympathetic to Christianity even used force to cause unregenerate pagans to nominally turn to Christianity. This military spirit of Imperial Rome caused the church now to became concerned about politics. So the church becomes a state religion.

To a great extent, the emperors became the rulers of the church. When decisions had to be made concerning matters of faith, worship or doctrine, the emperor would convene a council (I named several of these in issue no.43). The findings of these councils would be binding by imperial endorsement upon the church.  Constantine had convened the first church council at Nivea in 325 AD where the first human creed was written. (The failure of this creed was mentioned in an earlier issue no.43). I’ll have more to say on human creeds a little later. The next year, 326 AD, he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople, and ca.330 AD had 50 copies of the 27 books of the NT prepared. Three of these copies are supposed to be the Vaticanus, the Sinaic and the Alexandrain manuscripts which formed the basis for the KJV of the Bible. This cannot be proved, so it is an assumption. 

This combination of church and state introduced into the already corrupted Christianity, set the tone for what would inevitably lead to one man ultimately becoming the ruler or head or as he became known, the Pope (father) of all the churches on earth. But, just as with the change in eldership, it took time. Apostasy, as we have seen, developed slowly, but step by step it moved further away from the original church of the New Testament. It had started with one man being exalted above the other elders in a congregation. But as it drifted, it picked up steam, so to speak. Nowhere it the New Testament can anyone read of a Universal Bishop, or Patriarch, or Arch-Bishop, Monks, Abbots and such like. Nor can you read of the Mass, Lent, Holy Water, Purgatory, Auricular Confession, Celibacy of priests or the buying of indulgences to escape Purgatory. But with all these changes just mentioned, the corrupted church is headed for the crown jewel of their apostasy, the appointment of one man to take the place of Jesus on earth.  

By this time of Constantine, the corrupted church had divided itself into five areas of influence in the world, Rome, Antioch, Ephesus, Alexandria and, Constantinople. Each of these districts had an Archbishop or Patriarch presiding or ruling over his domain. It was human nature that one of these five men would want to dominate all the others. But none had the power, or force of arms, to overrule the rest, that is until 606 AD.  By the latter part of the 6th century AD, the contest for supremacy had narrowed itself to a contest between Constantinople and Rome. About 588 AD., John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople assumed the title of Universal Bishop. But since his power to rule depended on the Emperor in the east he failed in his attempt, because the Lombard kings of the western part of the world supported the Patriarch of Rome. This attempt cause a break between the two areas. Gregory, Patriarch of Rome, had the Lombard kings to back him, so in 606-607 AD he declared himself to be the universal ruler of all the churches on earth claiming to the successor to Peter, thus the source of all authority. He took the name, Boniface III. Thus the apostate Roman Catholic Church was born, in Rome, in 606-607 AD. As I close, let me point out, that there is no proof that Peter ever went to Rome, and he certainly was never given the title of Pope. To claim he was in a blatant falsehood of the highest order.  (conclusion next issue).