Paul's Passing Thoughts

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 9, 2017

The following is part two of a multi-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s second session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

I’m going to continue with my case on the nature of philosophy, how it is a driving force of human action. It has impacted the evolution of Western thought in particular, and specifically it shaped National Socialist Germany. It is currently shaping the United States of America.

At the TANC Conference of 2013, I began to explain the evolution of Western thought, and I started all the way back from Thales around 600 BC. One of the biggest challenges I have is that Christians tend to believe that Christianity just sprang up out of a whole cloth, but it actually has a very specific place in the larger context of the evolution of Western thought. The roots of those ideas can be seen as far back as Plato and Pythagoreans, and many of our doctrines come from the Cynics and the Stoics.

I’m going to pick up where I left off in the timeline I began last year, around 150 AD, because this will lay a foundation. I’m going to touch briefly on Plato because the roots of current Christian doctrine can be traced from Plato to Augustine to Luther to Calvin. Actually, it is not really all that much of a dirty secret. The fact of the matter is that anyone can find this relationship with no effort at all. It is hidden in plain sight for anybody to find.

You will recall from our study of the Cynics and the Stoics that they believed the flesh, the material world was corrupt. They were responsible for the introduction of the soul-body dichotomy into Western thought.

Christianity largely picks up this soul-body dichotomy from these ancient Western thinkers. The Cynics and Stoics ultimately believe that the way man achieves knowledge and virtue was by the discipline of the flesh. Because the flesh was weak, it required kind of like an athlete’s training.

Plotinus

Around 200 AD a man by the name of Plotinus picks up on the Cynic and Stoic doctrines. Plotinus takes these concepts to the next logical progression. Not only is the material world inferior, it is in fact totally morally depraved.

Consider what Plato taught. Plato believed that this earth was a shadow variation of a perfect world. This world was not true reality. It was really the reflection, the shadow on the wall of a cave. The otherworldly realm was called the world of Forms. Plato believed that man’s grasp of reality was limited. Plato believed that man’s ethical standard was his subordination to the state. He believed that man was inferior. He believed that certain men, what he called philosopher kings, should be in charge. They should dictate good.

Plato still has a secular philosophy. In other words, he still believed that select men can get to this transcendent world, this world of Forms, by virtue of his reason. Now it wasn’t a clean blanket statement that all men had this ability. It was really reserved for a select few men who specifically practice virtues that gave them access to the forms and higher levels of knowledge, but it was still a secular version.

By contrast, Plotinus dropped all vestiges of the human element. According to Plotinus’ disciples, Plotinus had zero interest in the physical life. His entire obsession was attaining a transcendent reality. But his transcendent reality was a religious transcendence. He accepted the premise of the mystery cults, the Gnostics, where because man is specifically corrupt, there was a certain initiating practice that gave them access to the knowledge, and they were uniquely qualified to get to this knowledge by virtue of their specific denial of fleshly existence.

This means that the secular transcendent world is graspable because man is the secularizing part. But a religious transcendent world is not graspable because man has no place in that world. Here is how Plotinus described this. Listen to the echoes of what becomes Christianity.

“The One is, in truth, beyond all statement; whatever you say would limit It; the All-Transcending, transcending even the most august Mind, which alone of all things has true being, has no name. We can but try to indicate, if possible, something concerning it. If we do not grasp it by knowledge, what does that not mean that we do not seize it. How does man come to seize knowledge of a transcendent being? It is impossible for man to cease transcendent knowledge by reason.”

I want you to notice that he wanted reason to be part of man’s incompetence.

Once you understand Plotinus, it becomes very simple to understand Augustine, because this is the version of Platonism that Augustine got hold of. He did not have the original Plato. Augustine sees in his mind the one, the All-Transcendent, as the Christian God. It is from this framework within which he places Christianity, because there was a problem with early Christianity.

When Jesus showed up on the scene, He was in Israel talking to Israelites about Israel issues. He repeatedly stated that He came to the lost children of Israel. This is why, particularly in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew, you see virtually no recognition of a world beyond Palestine. You see functionally no understanding of the broader Hellenistic world.

By the time we get to the Gospel of Luke, being a Roman and having much more concern with the broader Hellenistic world, his original works are actually addressed to someone named Theophilus. While Luke’s interest is to a broader Greek world, even then Luke’s focus is only inasmuch as he wants to show the progression of the Great Commission going to the outermost parts of the earth to these people. So even by the time we get to the Book of Acts, he is still just focused on that evolution.

And herein lay the problem. As this Jewish movement, which started out in this little backwater no nothing territory of the Roman Empire, moves in to the broader Hellenistic world it is confronted with some profound intellectual problems.

The Hellenistic world has no association with the Jewish background of the things that Jesus said and did. There was no quick way to explain the nature of the Jesus movement to this broader Hellenistic world because there was no full philosophical statement. It was a collection of stories and aphorisms and parables. And so to that world and to that mind, Christianity did not have a lot of direct relevance.

By the time we get into the 2nd century, Christianity is really reeling. Christianity needed an integration into a broader philosophical statement. One of the first who tried to do this was Philo. Philo was a Jew, and he was definitely a Hellenistic Jew, and his goal was to take Platonism and merge it into Judaism.   He is one of a number who were making these attempts at philosophical integration.

This is the fundamental problem that landed on Augustine’s lap. Augustine set out to finalize the integration of these ideas, and he used the turnkey solution of Platonism to do it.   Concurrent with this, the Roman Empire was crumbling. There was a lot of chaos happening in the world, both political and social. People were looking for some means and some way to begin to explain these things, so a corrupt material world and a corrupt man in a war-torn and war-ravaged and famine-ravaged existence seems to make an enormous amount of sense.

First Council of Nicea

Then there is the political side of this equation to consider. Around 250 AD, Christianity began to emerge as a player in the social-political structure of the world. By 300, the Church was full of all sorts of political ambition. Bishops became effectively synonymous with rulers.

Constantine then capitalizes on the Christian statist ambition as he presided over the Council of Nicaea. Constantine says, “You know what, guys? I’m tired of hearing you bicker. I’m going to put an end to this.” He declared a specific orthodoxy to be upheld. He called all opposing positions to be demented and insane, and then he proceeded to persecute anyone who happened to believe otherwise.

Constantine galvanized ecumenical support for his power in the failing Roman Empire, using his civil authority to condemn. In trade, the winning bishops pledged their allegiance to Constantine. Constantine died in 337, but the Council of Nicaea lasted for almost another 25 years.   With each year that passed, the Church became increasingly more embroiled in civil governance.

Fast forward to the appointment of Flavius Theodosius to emperor in 379. Theodosius’ role in history and more importantly, Church history, has been airbrushed out of existence, as Charles Freeman notes in his book AD 381. This is a profound failing because in 381, for the first time in Greco-Roman history, religious orthodoxy became synonymous with political power. In 381, the power of the state was galvanized into Christianity forever. This forever changed the face of the world. From this point forward, the leading Christian theological concern was who had the authority, the force, to compel doctrinal outcomes. No matter the specific theological hair being split, the underlying fight was who held the force to suppress the dissenting opinion.

Here’s why this is important. Secularism gets a black eye because we tend to assume that secular means immoral. But secularism only means the division of religious orthodoxy from political orthodoxy. A secular state is effectively an agnostic state where the force of government does not care what the specific religious convictions of people are. Even though they believed in hundreds of gods, the Hellenistic world, and in particular the Classical Greek world, was effectively a secular state. Man could believe what he chose. He was not compelled by doctrine to believe anything.

The only other manifestation of a truly secular state in the history of the world is the United States of America. It is important for people to grasp this. The single greatest political achievement the world has ever seen was a secular state, meaning that man was free to believe what he wanted. I’m going to talk about this at length later on.

Theocracy on the other hand is the merging of political power with the theological orthodoxy. A theocracy means that man is compelled to a given theological standard by force of government. And this is exactly what happened with Theodosius. Augustine’s doctrine was then able to reign effectively for the next thousand years without contest. No one could muster an objection because it was considered treason to object to Augustinian doctrine.

Augustine decides he has cared for all the basic premises:

  • The soul/body or mind/body dichotomy derived from ancient Greek doctrine
  • Man is epistemologically corrupt
  • The abandonment of reason
  • A commitment the presumption that select men are morally correct to dictate intellectual content (dogmatism)
  • The primacy of the state (the church)

Central to all of these premises is asceticism. Asceticism is a philosophical commitment of the individual to destroy every facet of his physical existence. Asceticism is the practical application of the soul-body dichotomy put into practice. Christian asceticism took the apostle Paul’s determination to beat his body literally and seriously.

The Church taught that asceticism gave access to the supernatural through mortification, literally, the death of the flesh. Paul Dohse has written at length about the doctrines of mortification and vivification. Most Christians tend to assume that when we talk about mortification, we’re really talking about something they can pick and choose. But in this case is means the literal death of the flesh.   Self-destruction would earn God’s pity. Self-destruction showed that man was full of guilt.

Some examples of ascetic practices included celibacy. This was very common. Virginity was considered an ethical ideal tied to the belief that the natural world was evil. This actually hit women very hard through the Dark Ages because women were either virgins or whores. Women were seen as tempters of men. Celibacy was the means to prevent. Celibacy was also a means by which the Catholic Church could keep their property from disappearing into inheritance. Priests that don’t marry don’t have kids, won’t have wives. The Church gets the money. The Church gets taxes. The Church keeps it, because when the priests dies, he doesn’t give it away to his family.

Another ascetic practice was the renunciation of material possessions. For example, a man by the name of Alexander married poverty, which I think is hilarious considering our current preoccupations with re-defining marriage in America. Alexander would beg for his food and did not keep his excess. One commenter on Alexander’s wife said that his form of monasticism was better because it didn’t create the housekeeping problems of say, the Franciscans. In other words, he didn’t have cleric. I think that’s hilarious.

Another ascetic practice is the renunciation of food. The ideal Christian fasted for 40 days, as practiced by Jesus. It also turns out that starvation past 40 days killed you.

They reduced or prevented sleep. They turned sleep into torture. They slept on beds of nails. They were beaten if they fell asleep. Syrian monks tied ropes around their abdomens and slept standing up. Others hung themselves in awkward positions.

They condemned hygiene. They refused to cut their hair, fingernails, or toenails. They dressed in filthy rags and allowed sweat and dirt to accumulate.

They abandoned movement. It was common to lock themselves away in monasteries, but then they would take it further and lock themselves into ever-smaller and smaller cells. Truly horrific is that some ascetics would go into the desert, sit down on a pile of rocks and stay there until their legs are rotten away. They beat their bodies. Men would stare into the sun until they were blind so that they would never succumb to the lusts of the eyes. Monastic orders wore girdles around their loins so that they would not desire women. Castration and self-flagellation were very common.

Here is the point that I want to make. These practices never made it into general practice for the simple reason that it is not livable. It is by definition designed to kill. It is a commitment to death and destruction that cannot be practiced. But the point is that these kinds of practices were venerated. It was seen as an ethical ideal. The men who did practice such action were considered saints. The Church turned these people into heroes.

Because of Augustine, throughout the Dark Ages we have an entire intellectual collapse. Reason cannot grasp God, and there is no earthly reality. Imagine an entire culture built around this fundamental presumption. This is the proof-text mindset- the need to use authority to validate ideas. The proof-text mind cannot think in terms of causality. It is a mind that equates causality with authority. It is a mind that does not grasp principles.

Of course, what this really means is that we are talking about an entire culture built on rational dependence. In other words, it is a culture that gets all of its rational content from somebody who dictates. This is impossible for a scientific society, because a scientific society is built around rational independence, the ability to independently review and explore the world find commonalities and causalities.

What were the results of the Dark Ages?

Intellectual stagnation. It paralyzed all critical thinking. Authority was what governed human interaction, and the result was war, war, war, and more war. God was always in the business of smiting someone else who got it wrong through the sword of the church/state. The concept of “rights” was really a discussion of prerogatives. The “Divine Right of Kings” is really the divine prerogative of kings.

The intellectual stagnation of the Dark Ages produced infant mortality rates estimated at 50 percent, some sources suggest maybe as low as 30. A villager serf, his wife, and surviving children shared a living space of roughly 700 square feet, and they shared that space with livestock.

By age 12, a boy was considered old enough to pledge his life to his sovereign, meaning he was considered old enough to go to war. By 12, girls were considered old enough to marry. They were sold as a chattel, considered a societal burden because they were a mouth to feed. They could not endure the rigors of agricultural life. The concept of a dowry was designed to make marriageable females more attractive to male suitors. Men were basically paid to take on women.

Ninety-five percent of the population worked at agriculture with farm implements out of the Stone Age. Yields were estimated at a quarter of the seed sown. Therefore, it took roughly two acres to feed one person. By comparison, modern farming methods yield in excess of 80 percent, and it takes less than a third of an acre to feed one person. There was no concept of germs, no antibiotics, no vaccines, no anesthetic. Anesthetic was considered sinful. Your pain was necessarily the product of your sin, and God deliberately did it to you. And this all made sense because suffering was a virtue.

Death was a virtue. Pain was merely the natural state of human existence. Practically 95 percent of the populace were slaves, 2 percent did nothing, and the nobility fought wars of conquests for profit. The largest class were the people called the villani. It means villager, but it is the root of our modern word villain. They were born into generational slavery.

This is important to understand. As a class society based on determination, if you were born a serf, you would be a serf. Your grandson would be a serf. Your great grandson would be a serf. Your great grandfather would be a serf. There was effectively no escape. You were committed. You were basically born into subservience, and there was no ability to get out of it. This is the logical conclusion of Augustine’s theories of predestination carried out to their practical application.

“Justice” was meted out with brutal efficiency. A man who stole from a lord’s property, which was effectively everything in sight, could be penalized by being pilloried, drawn and quartered, cut open, or have limbs, noses, or ears cut off. Women, who were accused of crimes, say, daring to seduce a priest or lord (and when I mean by seduced, I mean they lusted after her) had their genitals impaled with hot irons, were locked in iron maidens, burned at the stake, or drowned.

The Church sanctioned all of these actions by government using Romans 13:1-2

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

This is the foundation of the “Divine Right of Kings”; the presumption that the king is appointed of God, and whatever he happens to do is exactly what God chooses. This is also a corollary of the doctrine of predestination. It is what God intends. What you see manifest is specifically what God desires.

The Dark Ages are dark in principle, and it is imperative that you understand what this means. Philosophically, it is specifically trying to separate all of man from any good. The fundamental formulations of Augustinian doctrine sought to eradicate man on every fundamental level. Christianity elevated pain and suffering and pestilence and poverty to the highest ethical ideal.

The whole of historic Christian doctrine revolves around the veneration of death. Human suffering reaches its pinnacle in Western thought. Destruction of the flesh is the ethical ideal. It doesn’t take an art scholar to understand why the symbol of a fish (the Greek word ιχθυς “ic-thoos”) in remembrance of the disciples was replaced by the cross as an enduring icon of Christianity. For the first 400 to 500 years, the cross does not appear in Christian art. But by the start of the 6th century, the cross, which is an emblem of political subjugation and torture, becomes Christianity’s central icon.

But then, what other icon would be appropriate for a religion built on human suffering? Four hundred years after Jesus came to preach life in the covenants of promise, Christianity became a cult of death that ruled the world with a nihilistic iron fist.

I get some heat on occasion for calling Christianity a cult of death. But I challenge you, show me I’m wrong. The sum of Christian doctrine is based on the death of man. It is obsessed and fixated on man’s death. And it worships an icon of death and culture. It holds out Jesus’ death and destruction as its highest ethical action. At its root, it preaches that man’s highest ethical ideal is his own self-destruction.

In the introduction I challenged you with this statement: The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. But that statement requires a necessary assumption. If there are men who are good, that presupposes they have values. And the nature of values are such that good men must act consistent with those values.

So then, what causes good men to take no action? What must be the primary assumption?

Change the definition of good!

Turn death and destruction into “good.”

If you want to understand what happened in National Socialist Germany, you must understand that the resulting behavior stemmed from a metaphysical premise that assumed a change in the definition of what was “good.”

Now for me to actually explain why this is so important, we are going to have to do some more remedial work, because most people reading this don’t hold the Augustinian standard of “good” in their head. Most modern Calvinists don’t hold the Augustinian, Luther, and Calvin doctrine of good in their head. Most of them get their definition of good from a very different source. And that’s what we’re going to talk about in part three.

To be continued…


Click here for introduction
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion

 

Free-Writing Notes: “The Church’s War Against the Holy Spirit”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 25, 2014

Against Church Cover    “Church” is a word that should be associated with institution and NOT body. Much will be said in this book about the need for a body to be organized, but much will also be said about authority and attempts to invoke life from a so-called body via a spiritual caste system. Though many will find the title of this chapter shocking and absurd, the institutional church’s war against the Holy Spirit is well-defined. If Christ’s called out assembly is a body of Spirit indwelled members, and it is, that could pose significant problems for a top-down institutional authority, and it does.

    We will begin where chapter three ended with the rise of the Catholic institutional church that waged all-out war on home fellowships through academic intimidation. Finally, after a nearly 300 year effort, the church at Rome married with the state in order to enforce its orthodoxy upon the masses. Constantine The Great (AD 272-AD 337), the first Roman emperor converted to “Christianity,” consummated the marriage and his rule began the epoch of force and faith in Western culture.

    Constantine was the consummate double-minded man, and like the bishops of Rome, integrated paganism with Christianity. What Victor could only verbalize at the first church counsel in AD 193, Constantine made law in the first ecumenical church council (First Council of Nicaea AD 325); that is, the recognition of Passover versus Easter. The reason this is key follows:

“This marked a definite break of Christianity from the Judaic tradition. From then on the Roman Julian Calendar, a solar calendar, was given precedence over the lunar Hebrew Calendar among the Christian churches of the Roman Empire” (Wikipedia: Constantine The Great…citing, Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius).

    The adoption of “church” nomenclature, as we shall see, was also very deliberate in marking that departure, but for purposes of this book, we would be errant to focus primarily on anti-Semitism; a major problem was the Jewish focus on body versus institution. Like all nations – and of course the Jews were and are a nation – institutions are relevant and needed, but religiously, the Jews always functioned as a body with heavy focus on the individual. A person is normally concerned with their own body parts in equal measure. If Christians are members (as in body parts) of one body, and they are, there should be equal concern and care for each member. This is much different than institutional membership. What the world needs are more functioning body members versus church member-ship. The teachings of Jesus, as well as Jewish traditions, are saturated with a focus on the individual life. When we think of Jewish worship, our minds, unfortunately, gravitate towards the formality of temple worship, but the temple was only a focal point of a broader interpersonal sharing of the faith.

    The best example of this is the tabernacle during the exodus. Obviously, the small dwelling was not a central meeting place for millions of Jews who were part of the exodus. Even then, there were elders who led small groups among the people in the learning of the word, prayer, and fellowship. Seventy of these elders were summoned to meet with God on Mt. Sinai with Moses (Exodus 24:1,9). As we know, the temple was not always available for the Jews, and was never the central place of fellowship around the learning of the word, or discipleship, but rather a place of ritual sacrifice. Historically, that was always the norm. Even when the temple existed, the Passover meal was experienced in private homes (Matthew 26:14,15). This is also indicative of the 1st century home fellowships that met together for discipleship and mutual edification. There was fellowship around a meal, a teaching and sharing from the word of God, and singing of hymns.

    There are many reasons for anti-Semitism, but one of Judaism’s foremost threats is against spiritual caste systems that have always dominated world history. Judaism emphasizes the authority of God’s word, and the ability of the individual to understand it:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Herein is a major distinction between individualism and collectivism.[9] In collectivism, there is in fact an hierarchy that must “ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it… go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.” The word, or truth, is not near to the individual, it must be brought to bear by others who are “specially gifted” to understand. Historians believe there were about 400 synagogues in Jerusalem alone during the ministry of Christ.[10] These were mostly small groups meeting in private homes. These groups were focused primarily on the reading and study of God’s word.

    This is where we begin to examine four ways in which the institutional church of Rome began to wage war on the Holy Spirit. Primarily, the newly appointed religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine sought to remove the private interpretation of the Bible from the common people. Let us remember, the word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17) and what the Spirit uses to sanctify (John 17:17).

    At that time, New Testament Scriptures were a far less problem than Old Testament Scriptures which were painstakingly preserved and canonized by the Jews. The Old Testament Hebrew had also been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) circa 250 BC. Greek and Latin were the most common languages during the Roman era, but Latin was the language of bureaucracy, law, and the military.

   This is when two primary theologians of the Roman church emerge and seek to demonize the people of God making a strong distinction between the Jews and Christianity. Remember, one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirit was to make Jew and Gentile ONE body in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:11-22). This is/was one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirt. The church’s two foundational theologians in its 4th century infancy were St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome. Both were Saints and Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. And…

“Church Fathers like St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Jerome and St Augustine (second only to St Paul as a Christian authority for the Western world) had by the end of the fourth century AD crysallised a demonic image of the Jew who combined superhuman malevolence with total spiritual blindness…The monkish, ascetic St Jerome, embittered by the spectacle of successful missionizing in Antioch by the large Jewish population, denounced the synagogue in theses terms: ‘If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul…you are still saying less than it deserves’” (Robert S. Wistrich: Anti-Semitism|The Longest Hatred; Pantheon Books 1992, p. 17 ).

“This theology is for the first time institutionalized in the fourth century AD, when Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire” (Ibid p. 19).

    To divide Jews from the body is an audacious throwing down of the gauntlet against the Holy Spirit. But Jerome and company were far from going to war with the Holy Spirit on that front alone. Jerome set out to translate the Bible in the bureaucratic language of the empire and make it inaccessible to the laity and common people via the Latin Vulgate. Eventually, Rome made it against the law to translate the Bible or even teach from it unless accredited by the Church upon pain of death. This was Rome’s mandate for about 1000 years:

Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.): “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 C.E.: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned…”

Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 C.E.: Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “…helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”

Fate of William Tyndale in 1536 C.E.: William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.

    The Church also took it upon themselves to establish the formal canon of the New Testament which was only in the form of letters written by the apostles and others. There were many copies of these letters circulated among the laity and commonly accepted as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15 – And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Colossians 4:15 – Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

1Corinthians 14:37 – If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Therefore, the idea that there was no agreed upon collective Scripture for New Testament era believers is unfounded, and the body of Christ hardly needed Gnostic academics to tell them what was inspired and not inspired. Nevertheless…

The Council of Nicaea called by the Emperor Constantine met in 325 C.E. to establish a unified Catholic Church. At that point no universally sanctioned Scriptures or Christian Bible existed. Various churches and officials adopted different texts and gospels. That’s why the Council of Hippo sanctioned 27 books for the New Testament in 393 C.E. Four years later the Council of Cartage confirmed the same 27 books as the authoritative Scriptures of the Church.

~ Source:  Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.

And…

In 382, Pope Damascus therefore commissioned Jerome (c. 347-420) to translate the Bible into Latin, a task which took him twenty years to complete. This Bible came to be known as the versio vulgata (common translation) and became standard for the Western Church.

~ Source: gbgm-umc.org: Three Early Biblical Translations.

    Attempting to obstruct the Spirit’s work in baptizing the Jews and Gentiles into one body, and confiscating the sword of the Spirit from the laity was manifested in a third way. In translating the Bible into English from the Septuagint (LXX), and for the most part not the original Hebrew, the English translators substituted the word “assembly” for “church.” The Greek word for assembly is “ekklesia” as translated from the Hebrew word for assembly,  kahal, or edah.

    This is a very significant fact in the transition period that produced another version of the institutional Catholic Church, Protestantism. These are merely two sides of the same institutional church that waged the exact same war against the Holy Spirit and continues to do so in our day. As aforementioned, it was against the law to translate the Scriptures without the permission of the Catholic Church, but this happened anyway because of the “Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church” (closed quotation from Wikipedia).

In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”.

~ Source: En Wikipedia .org: Wycliffe’s Bible.

Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffite Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible survive.

The association between Wycliffe’s Bible and Lollardy caused the kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it.

~ Source: Ibid.

    However, by no means did the Protestant Reformation abandon the core fundamentals of the institutional Church’s war against the Holy Spirit which was a devotion to the separation of Judaism from the body of Christ, and academic authority in regard to private interpretation of the Scriptures. Though the Protestants presented themselves as commendable for the distribution of Bible translations to the common people, they never believed the laity could interpret it for themselves, nor did they ever state such. To the contrary,

“The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom… Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam… Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others” (William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).

    The English translators did something in the English translation of the Bible that Rome did not even do in the Latin Vulgate. They translated “assembly” as “church” which had no validity whatsoever. The Greek word for assembly and the Greek word for church are two entirely different Greek words with completely different meanings. The Hebrew words for assembly and the Greek word for assembly allowed for a connection between the Judaism of the Old Testament and the Christianity of the New. The word “church” puts forth the idea of a completely different program and plan of some sort. In the like institutional core fundamentals, the Catholics kept the Bible from the laity, while the Protestants skinned the cat a different way by taking liberty with translation. Tyndale was much more virtuous on this wise, translating assembly as “congregation,” but unfortunately was executed by the Catholics for the effort.

    We will make this point here, but will revisit this issue in a later chapter because the rendering of “assembly,” “synagogue,” and “church” in Protestant translations of the Bible present an egregious distorted dichotomy in regard to the Jewishness of God’s overall plan for the ages. It is best to delve into this while discussing the fact that the 1st century home fellowships were merely a continuation of the Jewish synagogue, and that word seems to suggest some sort of institution, or temple-like mini-institution.

    To the contrary, some sort of substructure or mini temple version would have been a blasphemous notion to the Jews. Furthermore, for the most part historically, the Jews have had little choice to do anything other than worship in the privacy of their own homes.  Moreover, synagogues were of the laity and far removed from any priestly authority whatsoever. The intended model for Christian fellowship and assembly has never changed since the exodus and before. It is a body and ground-level family unhindered by the musings of bureaucratic control. It is not a machine controlled by men, it is a body that lives and grows.

    The Protestants never sought to separate from the Catholic Church and indeed they did not. It was a protest, not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Institutional accreditation was vital to the Protestants, and critical to their credibility. This means they NEVER left the Catholic Church. Protestants retained solidarity with the Doctors of the Catholic Church for this reason, particularly St. Augustine. The most prominent fathers of the Reformation, Luther and Calvin, were avowed Augustinians till the day they died. No citations will be noted here due to the immense common knowledge of it. Contemporary Reformers constantly strive to outdo each other in quoting Augustine at every opportunity, but God’s people are completely unmiffed by the exaltation of this serial anti-Semite Platonist. Why?  Because what happens under the roof of an institutional church is mostly inconsequential; it is the depot that punches your ticket to heaven.

    There are four primary ways that the institutional church wages war against the Holy Spirit, and this is a joint effort that includes Catholic and Protestant alike. We have examined three of them, but the fourth is what separates the Catholic from the Protestant. This war is not as absurd as it sounds, for the permanent indwelling of the Spirit suggests ability on the part of the individual. Both sides endorse the incompetence of the individual and need for enlightened mediators between the great unwashed masses and God; in other words, an efficacious caste system.

    This fourth war strategy involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth. The Catholic Church acknowledges the indwelling of the Spirit and the new birth, but insists that this only enables the salvation candidate to cooperate in the finishing of the salvation process; primarily by faithfulness to the Mother Church. As we discussed in the first two chapters, Rome is not shy or ambiguous about this idea. Yes, Catholicism and Protestantism alike hold to an unfinished progressive justification. Again, this was addressed in some detail in chapters one and two.

    Protestants deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth all together. Let’s think about this: if the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, salvation MUST be FINISHED, there is simply no way around that. A permanent indwelling of the Spirit makes a progressive salvation dependent on the church completely unnecessary.

    So, what are the specific differences in this fourth aberration of the Spirit’s work, and what are the specific differences in their progressive justification constructs? In addition, how does authentic Protestantism explain away the new birth, and how is the new birth redefined by them?

    In the next chapter, these questions are answered in detail.

Endnotes:

9. Collectivism defines the worth of an individual by their ability to contribute to the common good. That adds up to the “collective good” which determines the overall wellbeing of a society.

10. Talmud: Bavli Ketubot 100a; there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Ketubot 8:1); there were 460 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1); in Jerusalem, there were 480 synagogues.

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