Promises and Secrets

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



Christian Myths, Traditions, and Lies

VIEWPOINT



As you will see, the version of Christianity in the world today is based on myths, legends, and outright lies. While you have seen some of them on other pages of this site, we thought it would be good to group them together and explain why we would say such an outrageous thing.

FACT


Christians today believe that their entire system of worship is a close copy of the first-century church.


VIEWPOINT



Revival or Rehash?

Lately, it seems that a lot of people are talking about a much-needed faith revival. The word "revival" means "an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again". People seem to feel that the joy of faith in Christ is missing in the churches today. They feel that this is because we have drifted away from the practices of the first-century apostles. Some have even written books and booklets about what they feel is needed and how to go about restoring that joy. While, on the surface, this seems to be a great idea, when reading what they propose it becomes evident that they are only looking to find a new fresh way of doing the same old thing they have been doing for centuries. The problem is that most of the "same old thing" is not based on the Bible, or even the first-century church of Jesus and the apostles. Oh, they get some of it right, but then you realize that even that is built on a shaky foundation and cannot move toward faith in the real Jesus. Let's look at an example.

Another outspoken book

Some time ago, I found a 2003 booklet called ekklesia... To the Roots of Biblical Church Life, edited by Steve Atkerson with contributions from a number of authors:

Brian Anderson, Steve Atkerson, Bill Grimes, Beresford Job, David Johnson, Johnathan Lindvall, Tim Melvin, Hal Miller, Dan Trotter, and Jon Zens.

The introduction of the booklet explains that there are some areas of church practice that they feel have been neglected. Their intent is to identify the practices of the first-century church and try to return to that "pattern". They are careful to point out that, while they feel that everyone's church should pursue this course of action, they are not trying to initiate "divisive action" that would cause conflict between different groups because they may select different practices as more important than another group. They leave the resolution of any differences to the Lord, implying that He will make everyone right in the end (Romans 14:4
4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

). Interestingly, that verse is speaking of our judging another, not the Lord making everyone's decision of equal value to that of another.

Well, it sounds good

While we consider this an awesome undertaking, worthy of a right-minded group of people, the considerations listed in the book identified some shocking statements that were evidently assumed to be facts, but are actually outright falsehoods. For one thing, the author realized in Chapter one a very important fact - they felt that they should follow a pattern "established" by the apostles, but realized on the second page of chapter 1 that there is no Bilbical statement or command about that pattern. So, the first thing they do is try to figure out what that non-existent "pattern" is and how to make that non-existent "pattern" a foundation of every church.

But, what did they actually do?

Think about that. If one has no idea about how to do something that is not described, how do you take on a mission to make it a foundation for something else? The only way I can think to do that is to take what you think is important now, see how it fits in the "original church" and make it fit better. After admitting on page 12 that there is "almost nothing to say by way of direct command concerning church matters", they go on on page 13 to say:

"We propose that the apostles had a definite, very particular way they organized churches, AND that they intended for all churches to follow these same apostolic patterns, even today."

Basically, they are saying, "Since the apostles didn't tell us what they did or how they did it, we are going to do the same thing and make it our practice." So, what is the first thing that the author quotes as a foundation? In 1 Corinthians 4:14-17
14I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

, Paul speaks to a Gentile church, telling them to imitate his life, the same thing that he teaches "everywhere and in every church".

Be like Paul?

Now, this is probably a totally new concept to you, but Paul was a Jew. His life is Jewish. He keeps the law (Acts 24:14
14However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

), yet nearly every Christian in today's churches believes that the Law does not apply to them. Paul was also the apostle to the Gentiles. The other apostles of Jesus' day also followed the Law. Not the oral law of the Pharisees and Saducees, but the Law of Moses and the Prophets - God's Law. That is not what the author of this book intended when he wrote that churches should go back to the way the apostles worshiped. How do I know this?

Making a list, checking it twice...

On page 18, still in chapter 1, the author lists 16 "apostolic traditions" that he considers should still be binding on churches today:

1. The Lord's Supper eaten as a full meal.
2. The Lord's Supper partaken of weekly.
3. The Lord's Supper eaten as the main reason for meeting each week.
4. Interactive, participatory, open church meetings.
5. Mutual edification, encouratement and fellowship as the goals of church meetings.
6. Church government by consensus (elder-led more so than elder-ruled churches).
7. Locally trained leaders.
8. Church eldership that is male, plural, non-hierarchial, homegrown, servant leadership.
9. House churches (smaller congregations).
10. Meeting regularly on the Lord's Day (Sunday).
11. The baptism of believers only.
12. The separation of church and state.
13. A regenerate church body.
14. Children present in the church meeting.
15. A community based church (daily fellowship).
16. Church reproduction & equipping through the ministry of itenerant church workers (apostles, evangenlists).

Oops, forgot to check it twice...

Rather than re-list all 16, most of which are reasonable and discernable from Scripture, I want you to consider these five:

1. The Lord's Supper eaten as a full meal.
2. The Lord's Supper partaken of weekly.
3. The Lord's Supper eaten as the main reason for meeting each week.
...

10. Meeting regularly on the Lord's Day (Sunday).
...

12. The separation of church and state.

First of all, to revive something (bring it back), it has to be something that was there in the first place. None of these five were ever practiced by the apostles. You can disagree, but then you have to show in Scripture that they ever happened as listed. We can show you that they happened differently.

The Lord's Supper?

There are no verses about The Lord's Supper in the Bible. Surprised? This title refers to a brief ceremony sometimes called communion or the Eucharist in today's church rituals. While the original service that the Lord held with His apostles was a full meal called Passover, this ceremony bears no resemblance to it - either in practice or symbolism. The original meal was part of a feast of God, not an afterthought with one thimble and a cracker where people can spend a few minutes in line and supposedly gain salvation without having to do anything Jeeewwisshh. The feast that Jesus participated in was held once a year, not on a weekly basis, had four cups of wine, not a thimble, had bread you break, not just tear off a piece, and it meant something.

The annual feast is not the reason for weekly meetings. The only reason for setting aside a weekly day at that time was the fourth commandment directly from God, and that is not the day listed in reason 10 in the box above. The only reason to make another day important, and to discard the truly important one, is to grab something out of thin air. "I changed the holy day because that's the day Jesus rose, so God's day doesn't mean anything any more." And, just because the apostles met together every day is not a reason to discard the Sabbath.

The Lord's Day?

First off, the apostles had never even heard of Sunday with regard to worship of our Lord, whether for Jewish or Christian purposes. That has always been a connection to paganism. The apostles had only one reason to set aside one day for a special purpose every week - the fourth commandment. The "Lord's Day" is mentioned one time in Scripture, by John in revelation, and has no reference that makes it refer to Sunday. The only day that is mentioned as belonging to the Lord is the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8
8"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

, Mark 2:28
28"So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

, Luke 6:5
5Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

). So, if you are going to say that a day is special, sanctified, and set apart as "the Lord's Day", what other day would it be?

According to Sabbath, God's Gift to Us and others, the day called Sunday was named by the pagans as "Dominus Sol", which means "Lord Sun". The "church fathers" quickly changed the name to "Dies Dominica" or "Day of the Lord", which is usually stated as "Lord's Day" in English. While it means "day of the Lord", it is not a reference to any connection to Jesus, but a direct reference to the pagan sun god, a lord of the pagans. To make a connection between John's reference to the "Day of the Lord" and the "pagan day of the Sun god" is a lazy acceptance of the kind of thing that grieves the Holy Spirit.

Others say...

There are non-Biblical references to external documents, but they are not as clear as some claim them to be. For example, Didache 1 contains a phrase "the day of the Lord, being gathered together" which is interpreted by some as referring to Sunday. However, an article at First Fruits of Zion shows the actual wording of the original document, the translation of which is not the commonly accepted reference to Sunday. The Didache is one of the most hotly debated early "Christian" writings, with disputed dates of origin ranging from circa 50 A.D. to as late as the early third century (see Early Christian Writings).

Another reference is in Ingnatius to the Magnesians, Chapter 9 verse 1, which definitely mentions the Lord's day as opposed to observing the "sabbaths":

CHAPTER 9
9:1 If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny -- a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher --

This does speak of a use of the term some 10 or so years after John's mention in Revelation, but this is hardly evidence that it is the same meaning that John gave the term. Especially since there is evidence that an anti-Semitism was already in effect disdaining everything Jewish at the time. Ignatius was one of the first in that camp. This had nothing to do with the word of God, but a lot to do with the "social media" of that day. This is evident in the same Ignatius letter quoted above, but in Chapter 8:

8:1 Be not deceived by heretical opinions, nor by ancient fables, which are unprofitable. For if we live until this present, according to the religion of the Jews, we acknowledge that we have not received grace.

Calling the beliefs of the Jews "heretical opinions" and "ancient fables" calls at least part of the actual word of God into question. You can believe the way of the Jews, and have faith in Jesus Christ at the same time. In fact, both are required for the salvation that "is from the Jews" (John 4:22
22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

), and includes the Sabbath that the pre-Catholics were already beginning to discard at the time.

Separation of church and state?

What? There are two glaring problems with even listing this as a requirement of today's Christian church. The source of the words and the words of Paul. The term "separation of church and state" came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, speaking to a private person, and it had to do with explaining the restricting of the government from setting up a "state church" or "national church". This allowed the freedom of religion which is one of the supposedly "immovable" pillars of this country. Each church member can worship in the manner of his own choosing, with no influence from the government for any matters of faith and legal observance of that faith.

They regulate the business, not the "church"

As for making that phrase a foundation for a church, what about Romans 13:1-7
1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

? Paul is adamant that people obey the God-appointed authority of the land.

We must remember that the "church" is not the building. That is why the "church" is separated from the state. The government allows the establishment of a legal organization called a 501c3 corporation, which is governed by the IRS in accordance with government regulations. Again, that is not the "church". The church is the community of believers who follow Christ and stay in the will of His Father. The government cannot affect what is in our minds and our hearts, but they can affect what is going on in the physical businesses today that call themselves churches.

If this author really intended to return to the practices of the apostles, wouldn't that include acting like the apostles and Paul? And Jesus too, for that matter. All of them were good Jews. Why is there a trend to be so anti-Jewish?

So, going back to the Apostolic traditions...?

While the idea of going back to the practices (you can't call them apostolic traditions unless they are continued by later generations of Christians) of the apostles is a noble thought, you must be able to demonstrate what they were before you can go "back" to doing them. If there is still a practice of the original people of God called Passover, why make up a "new", more frequent, practice? Many of what this books lists as "traditions" are actually non-Biblical practices currently practiced by "Christian" churches that the apostles never did.

However, most "Christians" of today wouldn't want to be caught practicing something Jewish. You know, just like the anti-Semitic "church fathers" refused to do back in the beginning of the second century. They are trying to take the twisted, abbreviated, foreign idea of the "Lord's Supper" and turn it into a full meal without reverting back to the real original practice of the apostles - the Passover. You know, four real cups of wine and real unleavened bread that you break instead of tearing off a piece. You remember, don't you? The feast that is a symbol of the hope that the "angel of death" will "pass over" us at the time of judgment? Of course, if that's too Jewish for you...

What else?

The rest of the list seems to advocate a return to the basics of the real reason for meeting with others of the faith. Sharing knowledge of those in need, sharing the things that they need, spreading the word of God, teaching what we have learned, keeping believer actions within the will of God, and sharing the gospel.

Where's the law? How do we identify sin?

Notice how this list does not include a building, or the vast majority of other trappings that come with a building and a 501c3 corporation. For a long list of "traditions" (not "apostolic") that have been added to modern worship over the centuries, see our page at Pagan Christianity? And one other thing that is not included in any of the 16 items listed as basic to a modern church - obedience to any sort of law. This is actually pointed out by the omission of the Sabbath as one of the foundation stones, but goes on to omit Leviticus 11 and Leviticus 18, and a host of other things that applied to the Gentile churches in Paul's day, but not, I guess, to the "Christians" of today. And, the more that you consider unimportant to worry about, the more that practice will creep into the modern "believer" practice. And, yes, I said that correctly.

It's getting worse because...

And what about this growing trend toward disobedience to the law of God? Have you read 1 John chapter 5 recently? Even just considering the big ones like the Sabbath, pagan holidays of Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, much of Chritianity feels like they are no longer obligated to obey the commands of God that still stand today. How about eating things that God calls detestable and says will defile a person? To say that He no longer cares is a monster lie that is told over and over by the pastors in today's churches.

OK, they are trying, but where will it lead?

At least the authors of ekklesia, To The Roots Of Biblical Church Life are trying to do it right, even if they forgot to make sure they were seeking out the real practices before making a list to follow. My concern is that even when someone points out the errors in their list, they will devise a way around it. Not a good one, just some denial that will make them feel more comfortable with what they are doing. Something like, "Sure, the Bible says something about it being wrong, but that's just the Old part, and God wasn't speaking to us, we're not -er- His people -uh-, I mean we're not Jews. You know what I mean. It's not important to us, only them. After all, it's not like it was Jesus Who wrote the laws...er...or well, you know, anything like...important to us. We are special because we have Jesus in our hearts. Yeah, that's it. So, we don't have to do what He tells us."

So, do you follow myths, traditions, and lies, or do you follow the Bible?

When making a list of "new" doctrines for a community of believers, we must remember what the word "believers" means. If we believe something, we want it to be true, factual, and from God. Just making a list of things in which we already believe is not enough. Can you show it in the words of Scripture? Or have you been told, "Well, it only makes sense that..." basing the concept on the "fact" that "everyone is doing it!", even if the Bible never actually says it.

If you openly admit you believe something, don't you want it to be true?









Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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