Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part 21
It has been a long road from Jerusalem in the first century to Roman Catholicism of today. No one could recognize they who claim to children of God and they who claim to be Roman Catholics were ever of the same beliefs and conviction, yet they were. The early church had no creed except the sacred writings. This continued until 325 AD, when the Nicene Creed was formulated, and an attempt was made to bind it upon Christians. Through the ages other human creeds were written, or rather the old ones were remodeled which brought about denominationalism as we know it, today. This effort saw a great increase in effort from the 5th to the 16th century when millions were tortured to death for simply believing the divinely written Word of God, only. In the hazy travel this road took, primitive Christianity was equated with the doctrines and teachings of men who were never inspired by the Holy Spirit nor claimed to be. Nothing is Christianity that the Bible does not teach but when men have been told it is a sin to read that book from our God, blasphemy and intolerance have to be expected.
At first, it was the Jewish nation which offered the most stubborn opposition to Christianity, but a generation after the establishment of the Church their capital city, Jerusalem, was taken by the Romans. Their temple was destroyed, their form of worship made impossible, and their ancestry impossible to verify. No man or woman could prove their genealogical past once the temple was taken down stone by stone by the Romans in AD 70. After this, the Jews as a religious group were an unimportant factor. There is still (the Seventh Day Adventist) some who claim to be Christians who try to bind the Law of Moses upon men. For more than a hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, there existed a Judaizing party in the Church of Christ called Ebionites.
There came to be a college of Elders of equal rank governing each congregation, and one of the first steps, in the great departure from the divine pattern, was to make one of these men more important that the rest. This began nearly a hundred after the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost in the year AD 33. These men soon began to meet together, from different congregations, at some central point, to discuss religious matters, and thus Councils began. When they met in these Councils they couldn’t help themselves, they had to improve their position among equals. Like true politicians, these brethren wanted to make a name for themselves and be greater in importance than any others among them. Whatever was decided on in these councils or synods was bound upon the people with no recognition of the teachings or support of God’s written Word, and by this time it was “once delivered to the saints”. Jude vs. 3 they then dispensed with a plurality of elders in each congregation and brought about something never taught in God’s Word, the single elder, they called a bishop.
Christianity soon became widely scattered, and, giving way to local customs and notions, church leaders began to put in local “holy days” favored in their different countries that had been a part of religion before Christianity was ever born. In those days there were three great theological schools; Alexandria, under Clement and Origin; Asia Minor, under Irenaeus; Carthage, in North Africa, under Tertullian and Cyprian. These men had different ideas, and all were very noticeable different from the New Testament. In the course of time, the preacher disappeared and evolved into a priest (Latin for elder), the Lord’s Supper gave way to the Eucharist, then the Mass; repentance became penance; and the meeting place became the building owned by the wealthiest members and those priest they favored that favored them and their pet sin. Never think these changes came about quickly, they were gradual and most people seemed not to realize they were being led off in a direction the Holy Spirit had not authorized. Greek soon ceased to be the common language; it became increasingly difficult if not impossible for those who could not read Greek to know the New Testament teachings. The door was opened for men of determined desire for power to “translate” (interpret, alter to suit themselves), the Word of God into the language of the people without any consideration for the God’s Book from heaven. The doctrine of hereditary total depravity began to be believed by the majority in the third century and the companion doctrine of Infant Baptism soon followed. And we were off to the races!!