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Chapter 15

The Forth and Twentieth Centuries

 

There is a remarkable parallel between the fourth and the twentieth centuries. It was during the fourth century of the Christian era that many apostate doctrines entered the Christian church. The source of apostasy is not difficult to identify. The conversion of Emperor Constantine occurred in the fourth century. Hailed as a divine blessing by the majority of Christians, history testifies to its baleful effects. It is doubtful that Constantine truly embraced the teachings of Jesus. Without a deep sense of Scripture, he permitted the merging of Christian truth with pagan error. The rapid "conversion" of the Germanic tribes of Europe to the Christian faith, although superficially a mighty evangelistic success, simply saw the merging of two diametrically opposed faiths, Christianity and paganism. The one was ordained of God, the other by Satan. The merger caused Christianity to develop into a mere pagan religion using Christian designations for its idols and pagan practices.

Thus during the fourth century the pagan symbol of the cross became the symbol of the church, Sunday worship was decreed, idol worship developed, and pagan festivals masquerading as Christian memorials were introduced. The century culminated in the development of the Augustinian doctrines of original sin, Christ as possessing an unfallen nature upon earth, eternal damnation of the lost, purgatory, limbo, predestination, penances, the designation of sexual relations as evil even within the marriage relationship, together with the introduction of other pagan doctrines. Further, it was this century which forged the union of church and state that led to clerical degradation, intellectual darkness, and a thousand years of cruelty in the name of Christ.

At the center of this appalling demise of the Christian faith was the acceptance of a perverted Scripture: the Latin Vulgate Bible produced by Jerome in the early part of the fifth century.

Now let us turn to our own century. It commenced with Protestant Christians condemning the practice of homosexuality, abortion of embryos apart from severe danger to the life of the mother, pornography, divorce, the use of alcoholic beverages, ballroom dancing and many other evil practices inconsistent with a love for Jesus. The century ends with some of the staunchest advocates of these practices found, not only among the laity, but in the ministry of many churches. Ministers shamelessly "marry" homosexuals; bishops brazenly deny the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ; they ordain practicing homosexuals to the clergy; they ordain women to the ministry; some ministers even deny the existence of God, while others loudly support the doctrine of abortion on demand and the remarriage of guilty divorcťes.

The twentieth century opened with most Protestants prepared to declare the Papacy to be the antichrist of Scripture. They abhorred contact with Rome and loudly declared its spiritual abominations, from the practice of the Mass to the sale of priestly indulgences. Such men recalled the history of the Middle Ages and the price their spiritual ancestors had paid to bring freedom of conscience, the open Word, and the spiritual truth into the hearts of men. Most faithful Christians less than a century ago upheld the temperance cause; they eschewed disorderly conduct including the practice of glossolalia within the church. Church music was reverent as befits adoration of our high and holy God. The use of worldly music within the church was frowned upon. Nor did genuine Christians resort to trumpery such as clowning and puppetry.

The churches of the 1990s are almost unrecognizable as the descendants of those of the 1890s. Would Luther now recognize the Lutheran church, or Wesley the Methodist? Would Knox select the Presbyterian church as the one he helped to form? It is doubtful. Marked alterations of faith have been weakly accepted, in some cases without so much as a whimper of protest. These changes have been urged under the cloak of relevance, with an expressed desire to capture the allegiance of youth, in a professed effort to meet the challenges of the era. The result of this large-scale abandonment of truth and righteous practice has not been a strengthening of Christian commitment or practice, for that could never be the fruit of shameful apostasy. Never has the Protestant church been weaker. As a consequence, ecumenism has become virtually a tenet of faith, as if God would approve the violation of doctrinal purity in search for a Christian "unity" based not upon truth, but upon damnable error. Ecumenism has become the "icon" worshiped by blind Protestantism.

The prayers for Christian unity, now frequently seen as evidences of the working of the Holy Spirit in the church, are in reality simply prayers to the arch-deceiver demanding that Protestants turn their steps along the broad path that leads to Rome. For surely no thinking Protestant expects that the ecumenical movement will lead Rome into Protestantism. Shortly persecution will follow, and deeds worse than any enacted in the Dark Ages will be legitimized by men claiming service to a God of love.

As persecution followed from the perversion of Scripture and the subsequent introduction of apostasy in the fourth century, no other result can be anticipated from the adoption of an identical course sixteen centuries later, for we have now completed the full circle of:

Only persecution awaits the completion of the circle. And it will come, for Godís Word is sure. Speaking of our day, Godís infallible Word foretells just such a result:

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Revelation 13:15-17

Shall we return to the fourth century? Or shall we progress from the sixteenth, ever upholding Godís precious Word and completing the Reformation? A vital key to the outcome of this question is the preservation of the true Word of God.

 

 


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