Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Quickly Catholic Heresy Took Over the Church (Immediately) [Updated]

UPDATED: After having interacted with a few people over the original post, I have added "A.D. 110 - the necessity of bishops to the Church, and the necessity of submitting to bishops" to the list of dates and the supporting quotes from St Ignatius of Antioch, as well as 3 more paragraphs of comments, and adjusted the order of my comments. The original post is still up.

Tertullian, Against Praxeas, ch 2 (~A.D. 200):
“That this rule of faith has come down to us from the beginning of the gospel, even before any of the older heretics, much more before Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday, will be apparent both from the lateness of date which marks all heresies, and also from the absolutely novel character of our new-fangled Praxeas. In this principle also we must henceforth find a presumption of equal force against all heresies whatsoever—that whatever is first is true, whereas that is spurious which is later in date.”
Below is a list of the year of the earliest (of which I am aware) extant extra-biblical witness of various Christian doctrines.

(A.D. 33 - death and resurrection of Christ)
A.D. 90 - the Lord's Supper as a sacrifice
(A.D. 95 - death of the last apostle, John)
A.D. 95 - apostolic succession
A.D. 110 - real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
A.D. 110 - the necessity of bishops to the Church, and the necessity of submitting to bishops
A.D. 150 - baptismal regeneration and the necessity of baptism for salvation
A.D. 150 - basic structure of the Mass as Christian worship
A.D. 155 - veneration of saints and their relics
A.D. 160 - Mary as the New Eve
A.D. 170 - use of the word 'Trinity'
A.D. 180 - primacy of the bishop of Rome
A.D. 200 - 'Trinity', 'Person', 'Substance' formula
A.D. 367 - today's 27 book New Testament canon
(A.D. 1500s - Protestant Reformation)

(Note: Those that are (underlined) are relevant events to help put the other dates in perspective. Those doctrines in bold are accepted by evangelicals and Catholics and are also listed for the purpose of helping to put the other dates in perspective. Those doctrines not bolded are accepted by Catholics and are rejected by most evangelicals as corruptions of the faith. All dates listed are of course approximate. The quotes showing the witness to these doctrines in those years are at the end of this post.)

I have ten comments:

1) Since it doesn't appear as though any of the authors are proposing a new doctrine in any of the quotes, it can be assumed that all of these doctrines in the very least pre-date by some amount of time their first extant extra-biblical witness. It should be noted that in some cases, the authors were contemporaries of the apostles and most likely knew some of the apostles themselves, e.g. St Clement, who was the bishop of Rome at the end of the 1st century and is traditionally identified with the Clement referred to by Paul in Philippians 4.3. And in other cases, the authors knew disciples of the apostles, e.g. St Irenaeus was a disciple of St Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John.

2) All of the Catholic beliefs listed were maintained from the early Church onward. In other words, I’m not citing anomalies in the early Church and recommending that Catholics should revive them. Catholics have maintained these beliefs/practices since then without a break. Neither am I implying that these beliefs do not have a basis in Scripture. These quotes are merely the first extant extra-biblical witnesses of the doctrines.

3) Remember that evangelicals claim that all of those Catholic beliefs listed above were all invented and did not come from the apostles, even though the Christians immediately following the apostles, including some who knew the apostles personally, thought that those doctrines came from the apostles. In particular, regarding apostolic succession, St Clement - who, as stated above, was surely a contemporary of the apostles and may have also known them personally - explicitly states that apostolic succession was set up by the apostles.

4) Notice the large number of doctrines/practices that are rejected by most evangelicals as Catholic corruptions of the faith that are witnessed to prior to explicit development of the doctrine of the Trinity or even the first extant witness to the 27 book New Testament canon. In other words, if all of those beliefs which most evangelicals tend to view as sure markers of the obviously perverted corruption of the Catholic Church were already there, then the same Church that settled the New Testament canon and fought the Trinitarian and Christological fights of the early Church was already well immersed in corruption, superstition, and heresy.

St Athanasius, bishop of
Alexandria, who was ban-
ished five times by the gov't
for preaching the teachings
of the Council of Nicea
regarding the Trinity
5) Ironically, those issues that evangelicals claim to be obvious corruptions of the faith were accepted throughout the early Church with relatively little dissent*. And it was on issues like the New Testament canon and the doctrine of the Trinity - two issues on which evangelicals agree with the early Church - that had the most widespread disagreement and dissent. The confusion/dissent regarding these two issues was so widespread and entrenched that they were only settled for the whole Church when the bishops of the Church wielded their authority from apostolic succession - the same authority who's existence evangelicals deny. In other words, those beliefs for which apostolic authority was not needed to be well established in the Church, evangelicals reject; whereas those beliefs for which apostolic authority was needed to establish them within the Church, evangelicals accept, even though evangelicals reject apostolic authority and succession.

6) If the Catholic beliefs listed here warranted schism in the 16th century, then that means that the Church in the 2nd century already warranted schism. In other words, an evangelical who would justify the 16th century schism of the Reformers by citing these Catholic beliefs, must also hold that the Church by the end of the 2nd century - if not the end of the 1st century due to belief in apostolic succession - was already well corrupted to the point of warranting schism, and that the Church existed in that state, with little dissent on those beliefs which warranted schism, until it was saved in the 16th century.

7) If the Catholic beliefs listed here were truly innovations or corruptions of the faith, the Catholic Church therefore has not been receiving any help from the Holy Spirit in the maintenance of those beliefs. If that is the case, the Catholic Church is far and above the most successful heretic movement in the history of the Church. The Catholic Church has been so successful in promoting its heresy that, for the majority of Church history, it was the closest thing to true orthodoxy (though the little orthodoxy there was still deeply obscured). The Catholic Church, without the aid of the Holy Spirit - nay, with the Holy Spirit working against it - has maintained its corrupted beliefs with far more integrity and for far longer than any of the Protestant communities, which do claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit (for some, to the point of being able to determine, by simple illumination of the Holy Spirit, that the Bible in use for over a thousand years was wrong and that a canon that had never existed before was the correct one). Despite having such clear guidance from the Holy Spirit, the Protestant communities in their short 500 year history have splintered and changed beliefs to a virtually undocumentable degree. One need only look at evangelicals themselves: “on the matters of women’s ordination,abortion, contraception, divorce, eternal punishment, Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation, infant baptism, ecclesiology, the nature of God, and even the inerrancy of Scripture, Evangelicals have held a wide variety of views over the past fifty years, all of which are considered by many Evangelical scholars as well within the bounds of orthodoxy.” (Francis J. Beckwith, Mormonism, Catholicism, and the Romney Candidacy)

8) The evangelical must hold that all of this occurred despite the fact that Jesus himself promised to be "with [us] always, to the very end of the age," (Mt 28.20), that, since He would build His Church on the rock, "the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Mt 16.18), and that Jesus said he would send us the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14.16-17, John 15.26, John 16.13).

9) Modern evangelicals, in their rejection of those early Catholic beliefs are largely following traditions that started in the 16th century or later.

10) So, who is more likely to be closer to the original teaching of the Apostles? The Catholic Church, following the beliefs and practices of the early Christians who first received the teaching of the Apostles directly, or those who, 1500 years or more after the fact, reinterpreted the writings of the Apostles to mean things that Christians had never believed before and rule out as corruption and heresy those things that Christians had always believed/practiced from the very beginning?

The quotes themselves are below. In a few cases, if the earliest witness is not without any doubt stating the doctrine, then I've listed another early witness that is more clear.

A.D. 90
Offering the Sacrifice of the Mass
The Lord's Supper as a Sacrifice
Didache, 14:
"But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations. [Malachi 1.11,14]"
If the above is unclear:
A.D. 150
St Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 41:
"He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist"
A.D. 95
Apostolic Succession
St Clement, bishop of Rome, First Clement 42, 44 (for more, see The Early Church Was Catholic: Apostolic Succession and Authority):
"The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. [...] Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry."
A.D. 110
Necessity of Bishops to the Church
and Necessity of Submitting to Bishops
St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop of Antioch
Letter to the Ephesians, 3, 5
"For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ." 
"...[you are] joined to [the bishop] as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity! [...] He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, God resists the proud. Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God."
Letter to the Trallians, 3
"In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrim of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church."
Letter to the Philadelphians, 3
"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. [...] Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]."
A.D. 110
Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 6-7 (for more, see 1500 years of Gospel-compromising heresy and idolatry...or not):
"Let no man deceive himself. ...[I]f they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. [...] But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. [...] They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes."
If the above is unclear::
A.D. 150
St Justin the Martyr, First Apology, 66:
"And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
A.D. 150
Baptismal Regeneration (baptism is not merely symbolic)
and Baptism Necessary for Salvation
St Justin the Martyr, First Apology, 61, 66:
"Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [John 3.3]"
"And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined."
If the necessity of baptism is unclear in the quotes above:
A.D. 200
Tertullian, On Baptism, 12:
"...the prescript is laid down that without baptism, salvation is attainable by none (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, Unless one be born of water, he has not life [John 3.5])"
A.D. 150
Basic structure of the Mass
St Justin the Martyr, First Apology, 67:
"[O]n the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons."
A.D. 155
Veneration of Saints and their Relics
Martyrdom of Polycarp
Author unknown, Martyrdom of Polycarp, 17 (for more, see Relics of Saints and the Early Church):
"[After Bishop Polycarp was martyed in a Roman stadium] But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one, perceived the impressive nature of his martyrdom, and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this, and to become possessors of his holy flesh. For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, lest, said he, forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one. This he said...being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners ), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow disciples!"
A.D. 160
Mary as the New Eve
St Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 100 (for more, see Early Church Mariology: Mary as the New Eve):
"[Jesus] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to your word.'"
A.D 170
Use of the word 'Trinity'
Theophilus, patriarch of Antioch, Theophilus to Autolycus 2.15:
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man."
A.D. 180
Primacy of the Bishop of Rome
Some take the attitude and posture of St Clement, bishop of Rome, in his letter First Clement written around A.D. 95 to the church in Corinth as indicating an early understanding of the primacy of the bishop of Rome (see First Clement, 1, 58-59, 63). Some also see an indication of the primacy of the bishop of Rome in the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch circa A.D. 110 (see Letter to the Romans, 1, 3). The date listed above - A.D. 180 - is for the quote from St Irenaeus below. His is the first clearly explicit witness to the primacy of the bishop of Rome of which I am aware:

The crucifixion of St Peter
St Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.3.2:
“But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition."
A.D. 200
'Trinity', 'Person', 'Substance' Formula
Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 2:
"...especially in the case of this heresy, which supposes itself to possess the pure truth, in thinking that one cannot believe in One Only God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the very selfsame Person. As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds."
A.D. 367
27 book New Testament Canon
St Athanasius, Easter Letter of 367, 5:
"Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John."
*Except perhaps with the primacy of the bishop of Rome, but the early dissent was small compared to the confusion/dissent regarding the Trinity and the New Testament canon. Major dissent regarding the role of the bishop of Rome came much later.


  1. Great Article, I've only scanned it - but what I did read was excellent! I agree with what you've said, but (sorry) we are living in times where a good many bishops have basically lost the faith, do we need to be obedient to these bishops also? I was reading St.Louis de Montfort, who was given permission to preach where he wanted by the Pope. A Jansenist bishop ordered him to pack up and leave. He could have showed this bishop his "papal permission" and refused, but he DIDN'T, he "RESPECTED" the heretic bishop and obeyed him. Wow, I'm just not that holy, please pray for me! Bernie

  2. I had saved your blog in my "favorites" well over a year ago, but haven't checked it in quite some time. Indeed, excellent post! Though I've read many quotes from the early Church Fathers over the years, your personal "ten comments" were so logical that I see absolutely no way to refute it. Bravo!

  3. Brantly, do you know when the doctrine of communion of the Saints / intercession of the Saints became "appeared" in the Church history? When did Christians start praying to the saints?

  4. Hey RachelB,
    Just to be clear, this post was showing the earliest extant extra-biblical witness to these things. Many of these things come from the Bible and were of course practiced before these things were written.

    Regarding witness in the early Church to the communion of Saints and the intercession of saints, I recommend this website: http://www.churchfathers.org/category/mary-and-the-saints/the-intercession-of-the-saints/

  5. I completely agree that the Apostasy http://www.lds.org/study/topics/apostasy?lang=eng started immediately. Almost all of the existing epistles that are found in the incomplete collection of the writings of the Apostles known as the New Testament are the Apostles writing to the early church trying to call them back from whatever beliefs and practices they had introduced that were not in accordance with what they had been taught. The marriage of Neo-Platonism with Christian teaching seems to have been addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians, Judaism in places like Galatians, Gnosticism in many of the epistles and especially in the Gospel of St. John. According to the later epistles it appears as though the Apostles were mostly not successful in getting the members to listen to them.

    I don't find it at all surprising that worship of the mother goddess, queen of heaven, which is one of the oldest and most enduring elements of pagan religion was quickly transferred to the mother of the Son of God. Nor do I find it at all surprising that relics which was a part of paganism was quickly introduced, as was worship of saints, with explanations extraordinarily similar to closely related practices in other religions. (Polycarp certainly seems to have disapproved of the practice and he would probably be in a better position to know then those that wanted to worship his remains). It is only because of the visions of two of the Apostles that the following of the law of Moses was not continued in the early church, and even then documents from the Nag Hammadi seem to suggest that many did not accept that, apparently going so far as excommunicating Paul purportedly under the authority of James. I imagine that had it not been for the continuing revelation enjoyed by the Apostles that bacon cheeseburgers would be on all Christians list of things that they can't eat.

    Anyway, I am not sure what I was supposed to get out of being directed here you were arguing against Evangelicals, not Latter-Day Saints. Maybe we appear similar but the similarity is pretty much only skin deep and only from a catholic viewpoint.

    1. Hey John,
      Thanks for the comment.

      The problem with believing in a total apostasy ever happening is that Jesus himself promised to be "with [us] always, to the very end of the age," (Mt 28.20), that, since He would build His Church on the rock, "the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Mt 16.18), and that Jesus said he would send us the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14.16-17, John 15.26, John 16.13).

    2. You have to realize from what I said in my comment that I have been discussing religion online with Catholics. From this you should be able to deduce that the standard scriptures that all Catholics are familiar with in regards to their claims as to the infallibility of the early church in continuing to the present day have been presented to me quite a few times. This should lead you to the conclusion that I have some other explanation as to what the scripture is saying, such as explained here: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1981/04/upon-this-rock?lang=eng

      So then, skipping all the intermediate steps, unless you really want to get into it (see my blog with it's two posts and the links to other blogs in the post and comments), we come to the fact that there are two competing claims from these sets of scriptures and so the question is how to determine which interpretation is correct.

      Now, obviously I could pull out all the other scriptures in the New and Old Testament that say that Moses, Abraham, Adam, etc. had the gospel and the priesthood of Melchizedek rather then just the Law and the Aaronic priesthood and how the Second Coming can't come until there is first a falling away, and etc(I mean I already provided a link with a few of the more popular of those scriptures) but that would still not likely get us anywhere as you would likely pull out some tortuous interpretation of Jude 1:3 while ignoring everything else that is said in that chapter, I mean you have already ignored the context of Matthew 28:20 so I don't see why you wouldn't do the same to Jude, as it is so popular. So then we are back at how to determine whose interpretation of said scriptures is correct.

      Of course, you certainly think I mean something completely different by apostasy then what I actually am saying and that would cause quite a bit of confusion and misunderstanding on your part, or you could read the link on Apostasy and see what is being claimed and not read into it what you likely think it means. It isn't like the Jews were completely rejected or totally depraved, despite what some Catholic theologians of the past said, either after Christ or before when they rejected the gospel (see Galatians) and were given the law.

      At this point you would likely resort to claiming the unbroken history of the traditions of the Catholics gives the interpretation you hold the needed authority. But that, unfortunately, is appealing to exactly that part of your claim that is contested making it circular in nature (and if you really are familiar with Catholic history that you probably don't actually want to get into the history ("persecute out of love", Lateran IV, Quanta Cura and other encyclicals, etc)). I, however, would say that one should seek the living God on matters of who has authority from God and if we ask then we shall receive by the power of the Holy Spirit, which will guide us to all truth if we let Him and point you to Moroni 10:3-5 (read the Book of Mormon, ponder, pray, get answer). I know from my own experience with all scripture that if one does read and then ask God in faith to know what of it is true that God will respond.

    3. John,

      Mormons say the Great Apostasy started early, as you agree, priesthood and authority was revoked by God, and not restored until the 1820s with Joseph Smith. So Christ came, established His Church, sent the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth, promised the gates of hell would not prevail etc., and then almost immediately for 1700 years or so, Christ promises failed, were empty. I don't believe it for a second.

    4. The gates of hell, being Hades, being the realm of the dead did not prevail against Christ who was the light that shown into those that were dead and sat in darkness. Christ, while dead organized the gospel to be preached to the dead (1 Peter 4:6). The priesthood that Christ had then allowed for the baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29) so that those that died without Christ for the many thousands of years when they weren't given the chance to hear the gospel could be judged according to their works in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit. With the death and rejection of the Apostles the work for the dead continued in the Church of Christ that was organized in the spirit world but waited for the restoring of the priesthood and of the knowledge of God and of the ordinances for the dead that would come when God began to restore all things. As you can see, the promises of Christ did not fail and are anything but empty but are sure according to what God has revealed so far in this dispensation, and this is open to all if they would but ask God in the name of Christ and listen to the Holy Spirit trying to lead them into all truth, instead of quenching the Spirit and denying the power of God.

      Your interpretation of those scriptures requires you to believe that an organization that persecuted out of "love" those that believed differently, even if they were willing to live in peace, that claimed absolute authority over the kingdoms of the world, that claims tradition dating back from the beginning of the organization, and etc. is the organization set up by the one that told us to love those that hate you and persecute you, that told us His kingdom was not of this world and that the devil reigned in the kingdoms of the world, that spoke against traditions that claimed to date back from the giving of the law of Moses, and etc. This despite warnings of a falling away by His apostles, despite being told that the branches grafted in would be cut off quicker than the natural branches were if they boasted themselves against the natural branches (Romans 11, and the Roman Ghetto (wiki it)), despite the vision of one of the Apostles of the gospel being restored to the earth and much else besides. I don't believe it for a second.

    5. Hey John,
      I'm sorry it's been a while. I hadn't forgotten about your comment, I've just been busy (notice the lack of new posts on my blog).

      Mt 16.18 says that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ's *Church*, not against Christ himself.

      Regarding your second paragraph, there is much to say. Jesus did not speak out "against traditions that claimed to date back from the giving of the law of Moses", though he speak out against allowing human traditions to trump the commands of God (fyi, by 'Tradition', Catholics are referring to the Word of God as passed down orally rather in in writing, which we call the Scriptures).

      Yes, the apostles did warn against false teachers, but that doesn't mean that the false teachers were successful.

      Your position, on the other hand, requires you to hold that, even though the Apostles were Mormon in their beliefs and teachings, we have absolutely no evidence at all that anyone following them understood them that way; that the Church Christ founded was prevailed upon despite Christ's explicit teaching to the Church would not be prevailed against (Mt 16.18); and then you say that the Scriptures support Mormonism, even though the Scriptural canon was assembled by people you believe to be heretics in the 4th century, and even though no one then or for the next 1500 years understood the Scriptures in any way similar to Mormons.

    6. "Mt 16.18 says that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ's *Church*, not against Christ himself."

      Precisely, as I explained the gospel is preached to the dead and then people get baptized for the dead in Christ's Church.

      "Tradition', Catholics are referring to the Word of God as passed down orally rather in in writing"

      I take it you are not familiar with the Oral Law of the Jews and that Christ was constantly breaking commands found in the Oral Law? The Oral Law being the Word of God as passed down orally from Sinai rather then that written in the books of Moses.

      "doesn't mean that the false teachers were successful."

      Because we don't have scriptures like 2 Timothy where Paul says that all of Asia had fallen away.

      "we have absolutely no evidence at all that anyone following them understood them that way"

      We have absolutely no evidence at all that any of the Jews for most of their history understood the law as a precursor to Christ and meant to lead them to the Gospel which, as Paul and Christ both said, was had by the prophets.

      What is quite amazing to me is that people like Polycarp are obviously quoting much of the New Testament canon in their writings in the first centuries when supposedly the New Testament suddenly sprang into being in the Fourth Century. I always thought that the councils were not supposed to define new doctrine but to clarify the doctrine that always existed. If the councils really were defining anew the canon of the scriptures in the fourth century then how was that not new doctrine as opposed to just reaffirming the surviving canon that they already had?

      "no one then or for the next 1500 years understood the Scriptures in any way similar to Mormons."

      Well, considering as how Christ reinterpreted scriptures in ways that had not been understood for say 1500 years then I think we are in good company. Of course given what was said in the First vision and what is in the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians then I could certainly answer this in a different way that you would not like at all.

    7. hey John,

      Just a few comments.

      Regarding interpreting Mt 16, I'm still not sure it makes sense that the verse is talking about a practice in the 1800s and later and not relevant to the idea of the Church falling away for 1800 years.

      I'm not an expert in Judaism, so I can't spar with you on the details there, but it's certainly possible that Tradition is a means that God chose to use to pass on his definitive revelation. And Scripture itself attests to this (2 Thess 2.15).

      Yes the NT speaks of people being led astray false teachers, but it's another matter to say that the entire Church was led astray and the truth was fundamentally lost for 1800 years.

      All your comparisons with the Jews don't work since the Jews had not received God's definitive revelation. Things were incomplete. Jesus completed God's revelation. It would certainly be strange that God would give his definitive revelation of himself, only to have to lost immediately without any evidence of a single person after the Apostles, including those who knew the Apostles in the first century, having known about it, and then to have it saved by an American being led to discover gold plates with Egyptian heirglyphics that bring back what was lost.

      In addition, you seem to accept the Protestant canon of the Bible, which was arrived at during the period of apostasy.

    8. Hey John,

      I missed your point about the NT canon in my first comment (and naturgetsetz brought it below). naturgesetz is right in what he's trying to say. The Catholic Church doesn't say that Church made up a new canon in the 4th century. In fact, in this post I didn't even mention a council. I pointed out that the first extant exbiblical list of the exact 27 book NT is in a writing of St Athanasius in the 4th century. That doesn't mean that those books weren't inspired before.

    9. RE:Mt 16
      Paul states the practice was had in his day, as I pointed out and pointed out Peter as a supporting evidence.

      That is assuming that the traditions are the same as what the Apostles taught, which is assuming the conclusion.

      I still don't think you understand what is being claimed.

      RE:Jews definitive revelation
      Paul and Christ disagree with you (as does Isaiah and Moses), the spirit of prophecy is a testimony of Christ such that all the prophets since the world began testified of Christ and Abraham knew Christ. Paul in Galatians argues that the gospel which he preached was the same eternal gospel that Abraham had and that Moses knew but did not give to the children of Israel due to their wickedness. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been revealed many times in the course of the world and has been lost many times, the Priesthood of Melchizedek (see Hebrews) has been given many times to the world and general acceptance and knowledge of it lost many times. The temple ordinances of the Melchizedek priesthood were given many times and removed many times as well, though work for the dead only started after Christs resurrection.

      Re:Book of Mormon
      Revelation 14:6, Ezekiel 37, Isaiah 29:4, and to a lesser extent things such as Deuteronomy 33 (All potentially referring to the Book of Mormon).

      "you seem to accept the Protestant canon of the Bible, which was arrived at during the period of apostasy."

      Being Mormon I am actually fine with including the deuterocanonical books, with a slight caveat as to their accuracy (which is the same caveat found in such places as the online Catholic Encyclopedia). I also do not accept the Song of Solomon (or whatever one wishes to call it) as being scripture. Then there are all the books and epistles mentioned in the Bible not found in the Bible which if they were found and determined to be accurate I would also accept as scripture. Then there is the whole thing of having the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price as scripture as well. Then there are all the books that I hold to be fallen scripture, meaning at one time they were scripture but they have not been transmitted to us in their original form and thus have too many inaccuracies in them to be scriptures currently.

      I am glad that you accept that the books of scripture were in fact scripture before a group of men determined them to be scripture.

      If tradition dating back from the 4th century is the reason you hold the Bible to be true (which based on other writings of yours I know not to be the case) then why don't you hold what some claim to be scriptures dating back about 4000 years (the vedic texts of Hinduism)? Since that is not the reason why you hold the Bible to be true then why not give additional scripture from God the same chance you gave the Bible?

  6. "What is quite amazing to me is that people like Polycarp are obviously quoting much of the New Testament canon in their writings in the first centuries when supposedly the New Testament suddenly sprang into being in the Fourth Century."

    Nobody in his right mind says that the New Testament suddenly sprang into being in the 4th Century. What happened in the 4th Century is that the canon was defined in response to questions about precisely which writings were scripture. Answering questions and making clarifications is not creating new doctrine.

    1. Which undermines completely the point trying to be made about Scripture.

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