God’s forgotten Word 4 Lost Lawbook 3 Early digressions and Constantinic revolution

In the previous chapter we told that modern theologians have a strong tendency to turn away from the Bible, or at least to relativise strongly the teaching of it .

Early digressions

However, such development is not new in the history of Christendom or in Christianity. Already in the time of the apostles there was a tendency to mix the gospel with Greek philosophical ideas. The Greeks wanted to constantly adapt the gospel to their own world. Paul opposed in Acts and in his letters fiercely against these trends. But with the loss of the first generation and the death of the apostles these forces began to have free play. The apostle John did in his first letter, probably written somewhere at the end of the first century, one last attempt to refute certain ideas, but then there was nothing in the way. Especially the so-called Church Fathers (some fundamental theologians of the early church, after the time of the apostles) have in fact contributed to the dilution of the pure doctrine of the gospel with Greek ideas. And many of their thoughts reach into our time.

The Constantinicrevolution

But that‘s not all. There was the first church where at a given moment occurred a dramatic development with far-reaching consequences. In the first three centuries of our era, the early church tried to maintain themselves in the pagan Roman Empire, sometimes with patience and sometimes with severe persecution. But in the fourth century, Constantine made Christianity the state religion, not out of conviction but because he decided to bet on another horse. And the church, suddenly freed from the ever lurking danger of persecution, is stepped with open eyes into this trap. The mistake has been done by others sufficiently explained, then it would be necessary here to this again. But the acceptance of this status had eventually far reaching consequences. The ‘Free independent church community of believers‘ existing by voluntarily joined members who were only accountable to their Lord, suddenly became subordinate to the emperor and the state interest.

Michael Pacher - Altarpiece of the Church Fath...

Michael Pacher – Altarpiece of the Church Fathers – WGA16810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From that moment there was nothing more non-committal on the membership of that church. Every citizen of the Roman Empire was eventually obliged member of that church. Questions of faith were, as the bishops could not solve them, ruled by the Emperor, whether or not through a party sponsored by him in the conflict, because the emperor wished above all peace in his kingdom. And thus the church was slowly but surely modeled on the lines of the previous pagan period. In the words of one writer (Verduin, from Reformed house): the church became from a free church to a “sacred” church. With sacral (lit .: holy or sacred) Verduin indicates universal top-down church, in contrast to the “sectarian” church of dissenters who followed their own leader Christ .

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Preceding article: God’s forgotten Word 3 Lost Lawbook 2 Modern scepticism

Original Dutch text:

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Please find further reading material:

  1. The Advent of the saviour to Roman oppression
  2. A rebellious movement founded on a fake?
  3. History of the acceptance of a three-in-one God
  4. History of Christianity
  5. Hellenistic influences
  6. Politics and power first priority #1

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  • Praying to Saints and Dying to Sin, Romans 6:1-14 – Deep in Scripture (jean2010.wordpress.com)
    Marcus and Ken start by taking a listener question on the scriptural bases for to the saints and for our departed loved ones. They examine some relevant scriptures and then turn to the tradition present in the Early Church Fathers to see how the early Christians regarded such practices. They then move on to their continuing study of Romans 6:1-14, discussing Baptism and how Christians should respond to sin.
  • A Couple Quick Responses To The “Greek” Charge in Theology (derekzrishmawy.com)
    Allen then goes on to make anumber of helpful suggestions about the way theologians ought to adjust to life after the death of the Hellenization thesis, all of which are worth your time. It’s dying in academia, but in the popular theological mind it still stalks about like a ghost clinging to life among the living.Most people often don’t have the time to do the specialized studies of the Fathers and the Medievals to demonstrate this, however. So, I thought it might be helpful to note briefly a few ways of responding, or thinking about the “Greek” charge when coming across it popularly.
  • Holy Christendom Will Rise Again, And World War Three Will Happen Between Christendom And The Islamic Empire Of The Antichrist (shoebat.com)
    Allen then goes on to make anumber of helpful suggestions about the way theologians ought to adjust to life after the death of the Hellenization thesis, all of which are worth your time. It’s dying in academia, but in the popular theological mind it still stalks about like a ghost clinging to life among the living.Most people often don’t have the time to do the specialized studies of the Fathers and the Medievals to demonstrate this, however. So, I thought it might be helpful to note briefly a few ways of responding, or thinking about the “Greek” charge when coming across it popularly.
  • Christendom Is An Inevitable Part Of Christianity (shoebat.com)The ministry of Christ was not established to form a minority of Christians so that they could remain in a world dominated by darkness. The light of Christ was brought to humanity, to illuminate the whole earth, dissipate the black night of the devil. Christ commanded, “teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19) Because of the tenacious nature of expansion within Christianity, soon all of the Roman Empire would become Christian, and thus Christendom formed.
  • A Couple Quick Responses To The “Greek” Charge in Theology (derekzrishmawy.com)
    For some time now, one of the main charges made against the early Church Fathers and the Medievals has been that in translating the gospel to their Greek contemporaries, they ended up altering (or disfiguring) it. Or at least in part. This kind of thing usually comes up most with respect to the doctrine of God. The idea is that in order to make the gospel intellectually respectable, or simply because they couldn’t recognize their own presuppositions, the Fathers constructed their doctrine of God in ways that were dependent more on principles of Greek philosophy, rather than based on the picture of God given to us in the Israel’s Scriptures. On this view, speech about an “impassible” and “immutable” God has less to do with the God of Jesus, than with Aristotelian or Platonic ideas about apatheia and so forth. Typically this has been dubbed the “Hellenization thesis.”
  • Were the early Christians pacifists? (jimmyakin.com)
    There is a persistent claim that the early Christians were pacifists—in the strong sense of being opposed to all use of violence—and that it was not until the time of the Emperor Constantine that this began to change.After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the Church embraced the use of military force, with St. Augustine playing the part of the enabling villain, who came up with the idea of the just war.This story plays with well-worn tropes: the fall from original innocence into corruption, the idea that Constantine corrupted the Church, that the Christianization of the empire was a bad thing, etc.
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    Prior to the Christianization of the Roman empire, many Christians were not faced with the responsibility of defending the public and ensuring public order. As a result, some authors of this period had the luxury of entertaining pacifistic ideals without having to worry about keeping people safe.
  • Theology of Miracles in the History of the Church (holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com)
    Fathers in the early church believed that miracles were possible, and many argued that they or their church members had experienced them. Justin Martyr argued that the prophetical gift had remained with the church to his day, and that “numberless” persons plagued by demons had been healed by Christian exorcists (II Apol. 6, Tryph. 82). Origen made parallels between the miracles of the Bible and Christians of his day who “expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events” (Cels. 1.46). Similar claims were made by many other church fathers.
  • A Response To “Christendom’s Jewish Problem” (blogs.timesofisrael.com)
    many Jewish Christians who came before were directly affected by the Shoah—Eduardo Propper de Callejon, Edith Stein, Oswald Rufeisen, and Aaron “Jean-Marie” Lustiger among them.
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    Christians (i.e., Messianics, Nazarenes) weren’t the ones who cut off Nazarene/Messianic Judaism from Judaism at large, let alone by holding a Council at Yavneh to do so. The Anti Semitism began only with those (usually gentiles, though some Jews) who (if they were really Christians at all) forgot an important admonition:
  • Organic Church (eagleviews.org)
    For a long time now I’ve wondered why I felt so stifled by the structures of the traditional church, why I was so uncomfortable with  the performance/spectator based Sunday morning services.  This book looks into the origins of traditional church practices and how many of them have their origins in pagan rituals and not in the New Testament.  In fact many of the churches traditions stem from Constantine and his creation of “Christendom”.
  • Moving Through Time: Timeline of Religion (pcr.wpengine.com)
  • News: New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies (christianitytoday.com)

    New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies

    Icon of the Fathers at the First Council of Nicaea

    Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church.

    A survey released today by LifeWay Research for Ligonier Ministries “reveals a significant level of theological confusion,” said Stephen Nichols, Ligonier’s chief academic officer. Many evangelicals do not have orthodox views about either

    • Fun Facts: How Many Words are in the New Testament, and Who Wrote the Most (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
      I would have thought that Paul was the wordiest of the authors of the New Testament (especially given his importance in certain corners of Christendom and by certain British academics).  And I would have thought John would come in second.  I’m more than a little surprised that it’s actually the Lucan material.Nonetheless, John and his stuff is still the best.  Even if not the most verbose.

About Christadelphians

Free Christadelphians or Brothers and sisters in Christ, living in Belgium, European Union. - Vrijë Christadelphians of Broeders en zusters in Christus wonende in België in de Europese Unie.
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4 Responses to God’s forgotten Word 4 Lost Lawbook 3 Early digressions and Constantinic revolution

  1. Pingback: Necessity of a revelation of creation 11 Believing and obeying the gospel of the Kingdom of God – Messiah For All

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  3. Pingback: the Bible – God’s guide for life #3 Fast food or staple diet | Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven

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