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Author Topic: Church History  (Read 1827 times)

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Church History
« on: May 14, 2015, 05:55:17 PM »

I remember listening to a Dan Carlins Hardcore History podcast.. He mentioned that one of the challenges Constantine had in regards to the Christians merging with mainstream society was how to reconcile the teachings of Christ on non violence with an army of an empire..

Forgive me, I can already tell that my comments, questions, thoughts are going to come out not as clear as I want..

I don't know if this is an accurate thought so if anyone has studied early church history and can offer input, please do.. But here's my thought,

The first followers of Christ forsook violence. The devil tried to stomp out this fire by killing them but still it spread all the more. Kings could not stop Christ's teaching with the threat of violence because 'to die is gain'. So killing them (Christians) didn't work. The devil then, through constantine or whomever, instead brought Christianity under his control by making it the state religion and creating the Just War Doctrine. He couldn't kill it (Christianity) so instead he gained control of it and corrupted it to bring the people (Christians) back into submission to the kingdoms of man.. If Christianity had spread in its pure form then no one would join the armies or obey when the king says 'kill your neighbor'. The power of kings and kingdoms is in their monopoly on the use of violence.. If I kill a man I am a murderer. But if I kill a man while wearing a funny uniform with a certain flag behind me I am not a murderer.

We are born into a world where we kill people who kill people because killing people is bad. That is the hypocrisy of this life that the truth has freed me from. Constantine brought the early church back under this hypocrisy.

I'm not asking if these thoughts are historically accurate in the physical (for example I don't know if just war doctrine was Constantine's or if it came much later) but spiritually speaking is this true?

Why was Christianity persecuted for the 1st 300 years? What threat was it to the kings? Christians are willing to be good little citizens as far as paying taxes, following the laws of the land, giving the king his due honor... The only point of contention I can think of would be that the Christians wouldn't be willing to sin by killing in the army. This would be a grave threat to any kingdom. If Christianity had spread to everyone in the kingdom then no one would fight. A kingdom can't survive if no one is willing to fight wars.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 08:24:25 PM by largeli »
I’m just what you made God.. ~Kid Cudi


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Re: Church History
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 11:44:39 PM »

Interesting topic,
I think you made some valid points.
I also think that there was more to it than just soldiering for the king.

There would have been lots of strife in ordinary society. For example if a person stopped lying about the quality of their products, if they told people that tithing was no longer a means to attain to heaven, if they taught that divorce was selfish in most cases and that they were expected to learn to LOVE their enemies who didn't believe the good news etc. etc.
Keep in mind also that the majority of affected persons would not have been part of the called.

People don't like to be told what to do! They only put up with being told what to do if they are afraid of the consequences or if they are motivated by a higher principle.
I think that this is a great topic to explore.



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Re: Church History
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2015, 01:32:28 PM »

Hi largeli,

In the beginning Christianity was a new religion rising up from Christ's teachings, but it was very misunderstood. Consider that most people of that time were not educated, they believed erroneous notions and were very superstitious. The Jews were certainly hostile to this new belief system stemming from their own Scripture and the rest of that world were steeped in paganism. Here is a section from a Wikipedia.

Anti-Christian policies in the Roman Empire--

Without agitation from the public, the Roman government had little motivation to persecute local Christians. However, because of the premise of secrecy of their rituals, Christians frequently aroused suspicion among the pagan population accustomed to religion as a public event; beliefs developed that Christians committed flagitia, scelera, and maleficia— "outrageous crimes", "wickedness", and "evil deeds", specifically, cannibalism and incest (referred to as "Thyestian banquets" and "Oedipodean intercourse")— due to their rumored practices of eating the "blood and body" of Christ and referring to each other as "brothers" and "sisters". Christians' refusal to participate in public religion was as problematic to the populace as it was to the elites, and contributed to the general hostility toward Christians. Much of the pagan populace maintained a sense that bad things would happen if the established pagan gods were not respected and worshiped properly.

Another thing is that the false church was developing in and with true believers at first, but I think the true believers were completely lost sight of early on as the church rose to join with the state. That is what we almost always see in the historical accounts, the church, a purely carnal identity.

The Constantine Shift--

Constantine I (reigned 306–37) adopted Christianity as his system of belief after the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312.
In 325 the First Council of Nicaea signalled consolidation of Christianity under an orthodoxy endorsed by Constantine
In 380 Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the Roman Empire's official religion (the Edict of Thessalonica) and did enforce the edict. In 392 Theodosius passed legislation prohibiting all pagan cultic worship.
Christianity became a religious justification for the exercise of power and a tool in the expansion and maintenance of empire, a Christian empire, also known as Christendom.

Augustine of Hippo, who originally had rejected violence in religious matters, later justified it theologically against those he considered heretics, such as the Donatists, who themselves violently harassed their opponents. Before him, Athanasius believed that violence was justified in weeding out heresies that could damn all future Christians. This continued a line of thought started by Athanasius who felt that any means was justified in repressing the Arian belief.

It's not hard to see how carnal men with political agendas and for monetary gain could justify what they did in the name of Christianity. They were no different than any other religion, and they could use the incidence of violence throughout the OT and Christ's own words "do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Mat 10:34) to justify their Holy wars. Don't think the church didn't pick and choose what Scripture they held up to steer their ignorant converts the way they wanted to. It's just the same as it has always been down through the centuries, those in authority convincing the people that their wicked acts were for the good.

Ecc 1:9 What occurred once, it shall occur again, And what was done, it shall be done again. There is nothing at all new under the sun."
v. 10 Is there anything of which one may say:See this, it is new? It has already occurred In eons that were before us?
v. 11 There is no remembrance of former generations, And also for those who shall come after us, A remembrance of them shall not continue With those who shall come afterward."
v. 12 I myself, the Assembler, came to be king over Israel in Jerusalem."
v. 13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens:it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it. (CLV)

mercy, peace and love


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Re: Church History
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 04:57:52 PM »

From the link Kat provided also there is this:

Anti-Christian policies from 64-250

Prior to Nero's accusation of arson and subsequent anti-Christian actions in 64, all animosity was apparently limited to intramural Jewish hostility. In the New Testament (Acts 18:2-3), a Jew named Aquila is introduced who, with his wife Priscilla, had recently come from Italy because emperor Claudius "had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome". It is generally agreed that from Nero's reign until Decius's widespread measures in 250, the Anti-Christian policies by Romans was limited to isolated, local incidents.[32] Although it is often claimed that Christians were persecuted for their refusal to worship the emperor, general dislike for Christians likely arose from their refusal to worship the gods or take part in sacrifice, which was expected of those living in the Roman Empire.[32] Although the Jews also refused to partake in these actions, they were tolerated because they followed their own Jewish ceremonial law, and their religion was legitimized by its ancestral nature.[33] On the other hand, they believed Christians, who were believed to take part in strange rituals and nocturnal rites, cultivated a dangerous and superstitious sect.[34]

During this period, Anti-Christian activities were accusatory and not inquisitive.[32] Governors played a larger role in the actions than did Emperors, but Christians were not sought out by governors, and instead accused and prosecuted through a process termed cognitio extra ordinem. No reliable, extant description of a Christian trial exists, but evidence shows that trials and punishments varied greatly, and sentences ranged from acquittal to death.[35]

When it comes to the church, remember the many adomnishments by the apostles and Christ about anti-Christs, false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing etc... these things would only grow worse after the departure of the apostles. Evil men would wax worse and with itching ears given to suddection and fairy tales not enduring sound doctrine.
1 Cor 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."


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Re: Church History
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2015, 08:01:10 PM »

Why was Christianity persecuted for the 1st 300 years?

I guess Jesus wasn't kidding when He said if they hate me they will hate you. 

What is ironic to me is that the world is persecuting Christians who Christ will one day say to them, I never knew you. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Its all in the plan of God.
To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.


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Re: Church History
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2015, 01:17:09 AM »

Dear Largeli,
I think another good example of the kind of persecution you’re talking about here comes from my home state of Pennsylvania, the “Quaker State.” The Quakers, or Friends, a pacifist denomination, were punished for not participating in the American Revolution with fines, imprisonment, exile, and confiscation of property; most of them (including several of my distant ancestors) eventually just chose to convert to other denominations that were more willing to conform to the ways of this world, so that today there are very few Quakers in PA, or any other state. For me, one of the strongest passages in support of our non-participation in either warfare or the politics of the world is Hebrews 11:13-16 (AKJV):

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Regarding the falling away of the early church, as Kat and Alex pointed out, it’s amazing how long before Constantine’s time it actually took place—it occurred when the original apostles (such as Paul, Peter, John, and Jude) were still alive (or just after)! As shown by these verses:

Acts 20: 28-31 (AKJV):
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

II Timothy 4:9-16 (AKJV): 
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, butespecially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

II Peter 2:1-3 (AKJV):
2 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

I John 2:18-29 (AKJV):
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out,that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

I John 4:1-3 (AKJV):
4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

II John 1:7-11 (AKJV):
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

III John 1:9-10 (AKJV):
9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Jude 1:3-4 (AKJV):
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for bringing up such an interesting and relevant subject.
Your brother in Christ,
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 08:38:15 PM by repottinger »


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Re: Church History
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 01:57:35 PM »

One of my older sisters married into a family that attended a small Friends (Quaker) Church back in the late 1950's. I would spend time with her and her family sometimes during the summer months, we grew up Southern Baptist. As far as other Churches in the world, I couldn't tell the difference in the Friends from the Baptist except for the Quakers not believing in water baptism.
As you say, a lot of them have become members of other denominations, my sister's family are now going to the Methodist Church in their home town.
Ray's paper on "What happened To The Church Jesus Built" is full of information about The Church and its history.
Jesus said the gates of hell would never prevail against his true Church, so it is here to this day. There have been no doubt little foxes trying to spoil the vine nearly from day one.
The Revelations The LORD gave to the Apostle John shows how far the Churches were missing the mark already in the first century.
The way I see it mystery Babylon, the whore and her daughters has been a gradual change for the worse until the Lord requires us to come out of that system.
Romans 12:2-And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I think there has always been a few so called conscientious objectors from all races, and religions all through history.




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Re: Church History
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2015, 04:28:47 PM »

Yeah, Joel, I agree with you that, in at least the more important things spiritually, there's probably not much of a difference between the Friends and other mainline Protestant denominations (though I've also read that their members have always had a reputation for honesty and integrity as well as pacifism, so maybe, from a worldly point of view, they're considered to be more morally upright than members of other denominations); I definitely didn't mean to imply that I think that they're anything more than one of the churches of this world, with maybe more truth in some areas and less in others, but still of Babylon--the world. I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I felt otherwise. I also agree with you that scattered "conscientious objectors" have always come from all sects.
Thank you for your comments, and the reference to Ray's paper.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 02:12:25 AM by repottinger »
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