Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Sometimes we use filters that are made from the things we learned when we were growing up, but forget to make sure they are filtering out only the bad stuff and letting in the truth. Sometimes the truth gets filtered out as well as the bad stuff getting in through the same filter.


We all use filters. Good filters help to keep our mind protected from all the clutter and weird ideas that constantly bombard us through television, email, phones, books, and the internet.


If you look around, you will notice that all filters do not work the same.

Everyone has differences of opinion on a multitude of subjects, and that is great. It makes the world go around and keeps things exciting.

However, there are a certain number of attributes that all Christians claim to want in their lives, but different denominations have very different views on how many there are, what they should be, and how to obtain them. This seems strange since they all want at least one thing in common - Salvation. All denominations say their actions and beliefs are all centered in the same Book - the Bible - but, they are so different from each other that it seems as though they are all reading different Books. All also agree that the Bible shows us the way to Salvation. However, all these denominations seem to be going in different directions. How can this be?

We need ANT control

Trying to come up with an answer that fits with a common reason for all these different views of the way to get to the same destination, I was reading a booklet by Pam Dewey and Ron Dart called Doctrinal Self-Defense: ANT Control in the Information Age. No, it's not about the little black, red, or brown insects that plague us all at home. This little booklet is really a warning against ANTs - Astounding New Truths. These ANTs are a direct result of a huge number of new organizations and people who want to influence us with their latest "discovery" of the best way to get close to God and get everything we want in life. They say that by using their New, Foolproof, Best Ever, Amazing, Outstanding, Guaranteed, Approved by God, Pastor-Supported system, we can become rich, affluent, humble, spiritual, effective evangelists in the world for God. All we have to do to gain all this wisdom is to send them a donation and the magic will happen in our lives overnight.

A good filter

The purpose of a good filter is to keep out ANTs like the one described in the paragraph above, while letting in those truths that God wants us to learn. The title of the book mentioned also has the answer we need to build a good filter - Doctrinal Self-Defense. What is that? It is simply knowing the Bible well enough to filter out any untrue claims made about the Bible and learn what God's real intentions are for us. Knowledge of the truth is the best filter.

Some time ago I learned the way government treasury agents discern the difference between counterfeit money and the real thing. They are taught to become so familiar with the real thing that they can spot the fake immediately. Now, we may think this is easy, but try looking at the real thing for a few minutes and make a list of all the things you can know about that bill. Color, design, font, spacing of lettering, thickness, width, length, feel, smell, features, weight, texture, and other things we don't even think about all play into the decision of authenticity. This same principle applies to everything else - especially the Bible.

How about some Awesome Old Truths (AOTs)?

Sure, you already know enough about the Bible to tell the big fakes from the real thing, right? O.K. Let's try something. Please don't take offense at this, but we are going to ask you some questions that were asked of me a short time ago. Well, I read them in a book, but the difference between my "reality" when compared to the facts was a little scary. So, rather than ask the questions, let's just make a list of some things that might surprise you. The book is called Pagan Christianity? and was written by Frank Viola and George Barna, released in 2002 and revised in 2008. Now this is not world-shaking stuff, but it is eye-opening and will likely make you want to look closer at what you think you "know". Ready?

1. "Official" Church buildings are not a Christian concept - they are from Jewish culture and paganism. The first-century Christians did not meet in church buildings - just homes and outside in meeting places.

2. There were no "pastors", "priests", or "ministers" leading the meetings. These developments are from pagan ceremonies and adopted well after the Apostolic era. "Church meetings" were people sitting around discussing the word of God and the events they had seen.

3. There were no "sacred" statues or artifacts (especially not crosses on the wall) in the "sanctuary" during the meetings. These are from those same pagan ceremonies adopted later.

4. The pulpit of today is adapted from the "bishop's chair" with roots in Greco-Roman antiquity. It was first made a place for preaching around 250 A.D.

5. The pew was originally designed to gather the audience together and symbolize the "lethargy and passivity" of the lay person. The audience had little importance compared to the speaker who is talking down to them from a raised platform. Pews were evidently unknown to Christianity for the first 1000 years of Christian history.

6. The order of worship - Prayer, Song Service, Announcements, Offering, Sermon, Benediction - was started by Gregory the Great (540-604 A.D.), the first monk to be made Pope. Nowhere in the Bible will you find an order imposed on a worship meeting. In fact, open discussion and spontaneous reactions were invited. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two - or at the most three - should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.


7. The sermon was adopted from the "sophists", wandering Greek orators from the fifth century B.C., and was not adopted into the "Christian" church service until the 4th century A.D. Until that time, the Apostles used an "every member involved" discussion method (Romans 12:6-8
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 9 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

, 15:14
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

, 1 Corinthians 14:26
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

, and Colossians 3:16
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.


8. Up until the second century, the church had no official person or people in charge. The unofficial leaders, such as Paul and Peter, were not stationary to a single local group, but moved around to make sure the message was getting out correctly. Of course, there were shepherds in the local communities, but they had no hierarchy, just a common desire to help where they could. Clement of Rome, who died about 100 A.D., was the first writer who spoke of a difference between the leadership and laity of the church, but this concept is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament. This division was mentioned by several men like Tertullian (160-225), Hippolytus (170-236) and Cyprian, but no official distinction was made until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

9. Dressing up for church was done only by the wealthy to distinguish themselves from the common people. This continued until the late eighteenth century when the Industrial Revolution allowed more people access to enough money to be able to set aside a "special outfit" like the rich. This became a point of conflict until a man named Horace Bushnell published, in 1843, an essay called "Taste and Fashion". This essay claimed that "sophistication and refinement were attributes of God", and the Christians should participate in them.

10. While the Apostles and original Christians often sang hymns when they gathered, music as a point of order in church services did not start until the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. However, by 367 A.D., all congregational singing was banished to be replaced by trained choirs.

11. Interestingly enough, tithing money is not a Christian practice. Its concept is based on some Old Testament verses, but the modern Christian concept of tithing is based on a complete mis-interpretation of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4
The Collection for the Lord's People

1 Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

. In fact, most Bible versions actually add a word to the verses that changes the whole context of Paul's request. He needed to collect a gift for the saints suffering a famine in Jerusalem, so he wanted them to collect something that would help them. Since they were to do no work on the Sabbath, he asked them to do the labor on Sunday. The word "money" does not appear in the Greek

, but most (if not all) churches use this verse with the added word to collect money every Sunday to pay for the church and its services. Since it was to solve the famine problem for the saints in Jerusalem, money would do them no good if there was no food to buy. Christian tithing did not begin until the time of Cyprian of Carthage in the third century A.D., and was used to pay the salary of the clergy.

So, all these "Christian" practices have little or no basis in the Bible.

How did you make out? I was pretty surprised, having been a member of quite a few different denominations and buying into most of it for a while. You can see a lot of the Catholic church in there, but I really did think they were trying to get it from the Bible. I was wrong. It was coming from proud hearts and disobedience, but my filter is now stronger.

Does anbody even care any more?

These Old Truths have been going on for hundreds of years, and nobody pays attention to them any more. Not to mention the problem with most Christians ignoring the Sabbath, celebrating Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. Why should they pay attention when we don't even follow all of the Ten Commandments any more? Slips right past the old filter, doesn't it?

But, some obviously feel that it's O.K. to tell God we're not going to do it His way. We seem to be sure that God knows that we really mean well and love Him, so He will let us slip a little, right? That is, if He even notices what we are doing since it is so minor. Well, I guess we can get used to anything nowadays. We're only human, right?

When you get right down to it, these old truths, like law and commandments, don't seem to affect much of what many of us do as Christians today. Most of the modern pastors encourage outright disobedence by their own apathy. But, who cares as long as everyone is happy and does their weekly duty of going to church on Sunday and putting money in the plate? Unless, that is, you consider it important to stick to the method of worship God set forth for us in the Bible. But, I guess that would take too much work to find out, since our filters are broken.

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