THE FALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Theme #1 Learn from the mistakes of history.
Ex: grace ? legalism
Ex: doctrine ? zeal, emotion, ?life? John 4:24 in spirit and in truth?.
Hard to do both.
Ex: asceticism ? freedom be aware of natural extremes and steer
a wise course.
Two ways biblical Christianity is lost.
1. Growth of splinter, heretical groups
2. Gradual drift of ?true church? for ?good , sincere? reasons
Theme #2 Contrary to what you have been told, our ?movement? did not start in
the Gempel?s living room. What we are is more the result of the Restoration
movement than we are aware. We should know our spiritual pedigree/roots.
Acts. Apostolic period. Growth. Nascent problems with unity, problems with into
sin, evolving leadership.
Early schisms/false doctrines.
1. Judaizers (Galatians) legalism. Righteousness through law keeping.
2. Gnosticism. Jesus an emanation, only a spiritual body. (docetism) Not really
crucified. 1 John 1:1
3. Marcionites. Marcion a Gnostic. Taught God of OT was God of justice, God of NT a God
of mercy, grace. Rejected all of OT as well as
Matthew, Hebrews, Mark, Acts. Into asceticism, did not use wine in Lord?s Supper.
4. Montanists. Montanus Asceticism. AD 170 No sex, can?t be married. Christ about
to come back. Speaking in tongues, religious excitement.
Led to ascetic groups, especially in Egypt and North Africa.
5. Novatianists Novatian. AD 250 Taught that those who had compromised
during persecution of Decius must be kicked out of the church.
Q: Should those whose ?discipleship? is questionable
be kicked out of the church?
6. Arianism. Arius. Jesus not God. Jesus the first creation of God. Constantin
e supported this. Council of Nicea to oppose this. Jeh. Witness
Early drift from apostolic church:
2. evangelists and elders AD 60
3. elders and head bishop AD 120 (Ignatius of Antioch AD 110 fired up about martyrdom)
4. bishops and archbishops, regional spheres of influence Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria,
Jerusalem, Rome. AD 250
head elder = bishop, loss of evangelists. (Titus 1:5-7 1 Pet 5:1,2 pluralit
y of elders)
AD 200 began to trace bishop of Rome, etc back to apostles. Authority issue.
AD 250 Metropolitans
AD 350 Roman bishops begin to claim universal authority. Generally ignored.
AD 380 three high metropolitans: Alexandria, Constanople, Rome (became Coptic, Orthodox
and Roman Catholic church)
AD 450 Pope Leo I claims unrivaled authority over Western church
AD 588 Patriarch in Constantinople claims universal patriarch over Eastern
II delay of baptism Catachumens had to wait for up to six months to be baptized to
prove they were sincere. By about AD 150-200
? Fasting required ? anointing with oil
? delayed baptism up to six months. In some cases 3 years! ? three immersions Q: relevant
The Epistle of Barnabas, c. 70-100 A.D.
Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into
the water?We indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement. However,
we come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and the trust
in Jesus in our spirit. Barnabas (c. 70-130, E), 1.144.
? 390 A. D. ?Baptize your infants?
A Catholic publication:
?Valid reception (of baptism) does not require faith?.Therefore an unbeliever
who so desires may be validly baptized even though he has no faith.
Another Catholic source: ?Baptize any person found unconscious and in a dying condition?
By 400 A. D. baptism of infants and of the unrepentant was common. 1000-1100 A. D. Chur
ches filled in or destroyed their baptisteries.
Augustine 354-430 AD The greatest theologian of Roman Catholicism original sin,
transubstantiation, perpetual virginity of Mary, immaculate conception, natural
union of church and state.
Roman Catholicism: Salvation by works?by sacrament.
III Asceticism. Righteousness through radical self-denial. Extreme fasting,
withdrawal from human activity, voluntary refusing marriage etc.
(1 Timothy 4:1-4 Colossians 2:20-23, the main point) Montanists, Tertullian. By
Anthony AD 300 Coptic Egypt. Hermit, prayer fasting and meditation.
By AD 400 many organized communes
Benedictines after AD 500 poverty, chastity, obedience
IV Creeds. Church calendar. By AD 200 those being baptized say a fixed creed. (Didache)
325 Nicene creed.
Church councils Nicea against Arianism (Jesus created by God) 1 Cor 4:6 Do not go beyond what
Council of EphesusAD 431 Mary, ?mother of God?
All denominations have creeds. We do not have creeds, but baptism = Christian = saved?
Easter (named after Ishtar), Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Lent, Christmas etc. by AD 350-400
?Liturgy? increasingly standardized. Church calendar set up.
Veneration of saints, AD 860 images of saints (icons) ?worshipped with the same honor
as the books of the gospels?
V Sacerdotalism. Priesthood. Clergy/laity separate standards of commitment. 1 Pet
2:9 a royal priesthood. 1 Tim 2:5
The idea of priests is having someone to intercede between us and God.
By AD 250 only bishops could perform baptisms
Only elderss and priests (presbuteros) could perform the Lord?s Supper. Idea of a sacrament.
?fathers? ?reverends? Matthew 23:8,9 no special titles. A problem for us?
AD 500 most bishops and priests celibate (but not universal until after AD 1000)
The ultimate: Pope ?papa? (father)
VI Hermeneutical issues
Allegorical interpretation. Philo ? Clement of Alexandria ? Origen (neoplatonism)
The Antiochene school Diodorus, John Chrysostoam. Contextual/historical analylsis.
Summary: church history tells us to avoid
1. convenient but unscriptural organizational structure.
2. formalism/ritualism in our worship.
3. overreaction to false doctrines
5. overemphasis on physical ?sacrifice?, prayer, any sort of otherwise good
6. bad hermeneutics
Good news: There have always been those who sought to be disciples of Jesus only.
AD 650-900?s Paulicians. Asia Minor. Rejected formalism of ByzantineChurch. Bible the
only authority. Baptism of adults by immersion.
Albigenses, Cathars AD 1000?s-1200?s Southern France. Reject papacy, priests, most sacraments. Stressed
a simply, holy life. Inquisition initiated to stamp out this group.
Arnoldof Brescia AD 1100 Italy. Simple Lord?s supper. Bible as the authority, not church
leadership. Rejected papacy. Hanged.
Peter of Bruys. AD 1110 Destroyed idols. Burned crosses and cooked meat on the fires on
a day of fasting. Baptism of adults by immersion. Executed AD 1130
Waldensians. Peter Waldo AD 1175- 1500?s. Wealthy. Sold everything. Formed Bible study groups. Tra
nslated Bible into vernacular. Rejected priesthood, sacraments, icons, worship of saints,
church calendar, purgatory, etc. Influencial in beginning of the Reformation, especially
John Wyclif England1329-1384 Scripture the only authority. Translated Vulgate into
English. Opposed idols, indulgences, purgatory, priesthood.
John Hus Bohemian 1374-1415 Personal piety, Bible the only authority, only God can
forgive sin. Rejected worshiping idols, saints etc. Burned at stake.
Martin Luther. 1483-1546. Catholic priest. Not out to abolish Catholicism, but to reform
95 theses on church door in Wittenburg against indulgences, worldliness of priesthood. Excomm
unicated. Scripture the only authority for truth.
Salvation by faith only. Repentance not required. Predestination. Overreacted to legalism,
works salvation of Catholocism.
Book of James ?a book of straw? One mistake? Trying to reform Catholocism, rather than
restore biblical Christianity. Revived Augustine, not NT.
Zwingli 1484-1531 Swiss reformer. Similar to Luther, but more radical. Debated over Lord?s
Supper. Led to Anabaptists.
The Anabaptist (rebaptizer) movement. 1530?s and later. Immersion of adults
after confession of faith. Bible only authority. Separation of church and state. Burned at stake
by Catholics, drowning by Lutherans and Calvinists.
Menno ? Mennonites became legalistic and overly emphasized asceticism and
separation from the ?world.?
Calvin. 1509-1564 Geneva. Total depravity, unconditional election, limited
atonement, irresistible grace, final preservation of the saints. (TULIP)
Baptists. Introduced believer?s baptism to Calvinism. Bible the only authority. Retained predestinati
on and once saved always saved.
John Knox 1505-1572 Scotland Introduced Calvinism to Scotland and England. Founded the Presbyterian
Puritans ? Congregationalists
John 1703-1791 and Charles 1707-1788 Wesley. The holiness movement. A reform of Anglican church.
?Methodists? Introduced Adult ?confirmation?
The Restoration Movement. Restore or reform?
Thomas Campbell. 1763-1851 Born a Presbyterian. Joined Seceder Presbyterians. Moved to US 1807. Became disillu
sioned with the Presbyterianism. Attempted to form an independent, non-denominational church.
Alexander Campbell. 1788-1866 Son Very intellectual Followed dad to US 1809. Immersi
on for salvation. 1811. Kicked out of Baptist organization. Debater. Inductive method of Bible
study (Francis Bacon, John Locke) ?Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where
the Bible is silent, we are silent.?
Reformer vs Restorer
Barton W. Stone Kentucky The Christian Connection. Christians only. Cane Ridge revival. Last Will and
Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.
Formed a unified movement.
Walter Scott a very influential preacher. 1827 Hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized.
Gospel meetings and circuit preaching.
Dispute over Missionary Society begun by Alexander Campbell. What kind of para-church
organizations are acceptable
US Civil War Northern churches allowed for organization, more liberal. Became ?The
Christian Church? and ?The Disciples of Christ?
Southern churches fiercely independent, became ?Church of Christ?
Church government based on elders and ministers or evangelists. Very strong dependence
on the Bible. Doctrinally oriented. Became legalistically oriented. Restoration/sectarian/schis
matic attitude. (one cup, instruments, Sunday school, etc?) life & doctrine
1969 Chuck Lucas campus Minister at Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville
Fla. Soul talks, Strong emphasis on commitment, purity in dating, evangelism.
Converted Kip McKean, Tom Brown, Sam Laing, etc?. By late 1970?s sent out dozens
of campus ministers across Churches of Christ in US. Became
known as the Crossroads Movement. Persecuted because schismatic. Would not ?fellowship?
other campus groups.
Problem: Existing Churches of Christ almost inevitably split over commitment/discipleship.
Kip McKean Disciple-only churches.Boston, 1979. ?Where the Bible speaks, we are
silent, where the Bible is silent we speak.? Far less legalistic than CoC
Reconstruct Crossroads ministries. Rebaptise CoC?ers Extremely schismatic. Gre
at world vision. Highly authoritarian leadership style.
Church of Christ: converted people to baptism ICOC: converted people to discipleship.
.Amazing world-wide growth and impact.
Problems with leadership style and most especially with highly centralized,
autocratic leadership style.
Such strong emphasis on the basics, failed to encourage deep biblical study
by every member (like the Church of Christ)
Proposal: Convert people to Jesus Christ (without losing emphasis on Lordship
or teaching on how to be saved)
Proposal: Let us continue to be a world-wide movement, but financial and otherwise
commitment is a local decision by a leadership based on elders and evangelists. Volunt
ary para-church associations.
Move from a group vision to mixture of group and individual sense of mission. Move
away from schismatic attitude. Attitude of reformation vs restoration.