Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part 22
In the days of persecution, there was a very perceptible slipping away from the original moorings. Almost every detail of divine order was being gradually changed to conform to human ideals. The New Testament predicted this. Please read 1 Tim 4; 11Tim 4; 2 Peter 2; Galatians 1; 2 Thessalonians 2; and Acts 20. The most outstanding thing in church history is the great apostasy. Men were not satisfied with the work of the Holy Spirit and intended to mold and change His work into something the world could accept. This increase in apostasy continued until the sixteenth century when the reformation movement started the main current of religion back toward the Bible, though by no means was this very desirable end attained in that day. It was about three hundred years later, or about two hundred years ago, that men decided to go back to the original ground, and as yet only a small minority has decided to so do. Even some of us who declare our intention to “speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent, do things in Bible ways, and call things by Bible names” have turned back toward Egypt (spiritually speaking) and desire the fellowship of “believers” instead of converted, convicted, disciples of the written Word. The greater number of those who claim to follow Christ have chosen to pitch their tents at various points on the road from Rome to Jerusalem. Most of those wearing the general title Protestant, are nearer Rome than Jerusalem in the doctrine they espouse. They are indebted to Rome for their model of church polity and most of their faith and practice.
Creeds and manuals were written by uninspired men as vain attempts at unity. When Constantine became Emperor of Rome early in the fourth century and saw the great numbers who were members of the Church of Christ while the paganistic religions were on the rapid decline, he nominally embraced Christianity; though in reality he was never a Christian. While the New Testament meaning of the word heresy is party or sect, it soon began to mean anything contrary to the majority opinion. Christianity had become the state religion. Heathens were driven from their magnificent temples with their works of art hanging on their walls of a naked breasted woman with a baby in her arms with a halo around his head, were given to the Christians. The Christians (?) covered her breast and re-naming them Mary and the baby Jesus. Christianity was now popular and millions forsook heathenism and were soon prominent in the “new” Christian (?) cause. For a while they who had been Jews and those who been worshippers of Baal relinquished many of their false beliefs but by and by they began to introduce these beliefs into Christianity. Unconverted pagans flocked into the Church by countless thousands and began clamoring for the retention of their time honored “traditions.” It only made sense to “save” the works of art which hung on the walls of the Pagan temples and after all, Mary and Jesus needed some representation, the Lord’s Supper just was not enough!! This hybrid religion needed some credibility, so they changed the structure of the Lord’s Church into a power mongering institution where all the power in heaven and on earth would now be invested in the Church instead of the words of the Holy Spirit. Becoming more like Judaism and heathenism, from which they had recently come, Christianity possessed none of the mysterious and pompous ceremonies so desirable in a state religion A new religion needed to have tribute to men, worship in a fashion to which they had been accustomed. They dressed their new “leaders of worship” in the clothing of old mother Israel to make them visibly different as the priesthood of Aaron’s tribe and family had been. They now would have value ONLY if “they were worshipped as god, in the temple of god opposing and exalting themselves above all that is called God, or is worshipped, so that as God, they could sit in the temple of God, showing themselves, that they were God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4
It was then that Constantine declared himself Pontifex Maximus, or high Priest of Christianity. He called the Nicene Council to legitimize his new position and take over the controls of this new found political power he now held as a “Christian”?). In order that he might have some power in this new found position, at this council they formulated a new “creed” called the “Nicene Creed” in which power was given him to force this down the necks of those who were humble followers of Christ. After this, force began to be applied to those who did not readily subscribe to this “new” doctrine!!