History Of The Church Of Christ
July 21, 2006
This is a revision of my 2002 article titled, "History Of The Church Of Christ". I noticed that most people never make it to the end of that article. I have decided to reverse the chronology, working backwards through the history, rather than forward. I hope that this encourages more people to examine the true history of the Church of Christ, as well as to see where we need to go from here. Bernie Parsons
History Of The Church Of Christ
By Bernie Parsons - May 30, 2002 Revised July 21, 2006
Apostasy: Digression From The True Path
After the first century A.D., men began to whittle away at the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, supposing it necessary to add to the body of information that was available by adding their own essays and thoughts to "clarify" the New Testament writings. Man-made doctrines were quickly added to those practiced by the spirit-inspired apostles and the earliest disciples of Christ.
We see the seeds of this departure in a writing attributed to Clement, whom the Catholic religion claims as an early Bishop, when he wrote in a document thought to be dated around 96 AD1.
1 Clement 21:6 "Let us reverence our rulers;" is a statement that elevates church leaders to a higher status than our Lord, Jesus, allowed.
Matthew 23:1-12 "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi."
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
This is enough to refute the statement of Clement, and the present practice of the Catholic religion, and her Protestant offspring, in regard to calling teachers and leaders in the church by titles, such as Father and Reverend. (Read "Titles For Church Leaders?".)
That Clement had departed from the faithful teachings of the apostles is evident when you read the story of the phoenix, a myth that he invokes to make a point. Our Lord, and His apostles, did no such thing as did this man, Clement.
11 Clement 25:2 "There is a bird, which is named the phoenix."
He went on to describe this mythical bird's resurrection every five hundred years. Neither Jesus, nor the Apostles, used any such myth in their teachings, and we should not.
The letter continues with a heavy-handed urging for the membership to submit to their leadership. It places emphasis upon obedience to the religious leadership, rather than to the Lord. This plea is unlike any penned by Paul, Peter, or James, or John, who make milder pleas to respect church leadership.
Hebrews 13:7 "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you
the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
1 Peter 5:1-5 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
1 Corinthians 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Galatians1:8-9 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Where the Apostles urged respect for the elders, the leaders of the body of Christ, Clement urged a higher loyalty than called for by our Lord, Jesus, supplanting the testimony of the Son of God with the testimony of men. The second letter attributed to Clement shows even more departure from the writings of the apostles and earlier Christians. It is quite evident that a divergence from the apostolic church had taken place, and no wonder, for the apostate movement was afoot during the lives of those apostles.
1 John 2:18-21 "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth."
Those who had diverged from the basic truths of our Lord had started a movement away from the word and will of Almighty God, trusting instead in the teachings and convenient explanations of man.
Another early writer, thought to be mid-second century A.D., set forth doctrines that are contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, yet I have seen some refer to this document as if it were in the realm of the writings of the Apostles. They quote from it as from Holy Scripture, and use it to put forth persuasive arguments. It is referred to as Didache.2 I have extracted some of those erroneous teachings, along with the scriptures that refute them to show why this document is not aligned with the teachings of Christ and His apostles.
2 Didache 6:3 "But concerning eating, bear that which thou art able; yet abstain by all means from meat sacrificed to idols; for it is the worship of dead gods."
This is in direct opposition to what Apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 10:25-31 "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
"But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Regarding baptism, we see the entry of heretofore unmentioned doctrines, which the Catholics, and their Protestant children, practice.
2 Didache 7:1-8:1 "But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. Didache 7:2 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. Didache 7:3 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Didache 7:4 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able; and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before. Didache 8:1 And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week; but do ye keep your fast on the fourth and on the preparation (the sixth) day."
The scriptures make no mention of running water, nor cold water, as preferable for immersion. Nowhere is the pouring of water upon the head described or sanctioned. Neither fasting before baptism nor waiting a day or two are conditions found in scripture. Yet I have seen these conditions advocated by some. They draw their doctrines from Didache, not from the Holy Scriptures that we call the Holy Bible. (Read "Baptism")
Acts 8:36 "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?"
Acts 8:38 "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him."
Romans 6:4-5 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
Acts 16:33 "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway."
Acts 22:16 "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Baptism was immersion in water--as opposed to sprinkling or pouring, no particular type or temperature of water was specified, and it was always done immediately, and was never delayed.
2 Didache 8:3 "Three times in the day pray ye so"
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Romans 12:12 "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;"
Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."
He also went on to say that the communion, or Lord's Supper, which he calls the "eucharist", is to be done with a set incantation each time. He also commands closed communion, requiring the church to question the right of an individual to partake. None of this is scriptural. (Read "Body & Blood".)
Regarding teachers, he declares conditions to determine a false preacher. This is contrary to what Jesus and the Apostles taught.
2 Didache 11:3 "But concerning the apostles and prophets, so do ye according to the ordinance of the Gospel. Didache 11:4 Let every apostle, when he cometh to you, be received as the Lord; Didache 11:5 but he shall not abide more than a single day, or if there be need, a second likewise; but if he abide three days, he is a false prophet. Didache 11:6 And when he departeth let the apostle receive nothing save bread, until he findeth shelter; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet."
Didache 12:2 "If the comer is a traveler, assist him, so far as ye are able; but he shall not stay with you more than two or three days, if it be necessary."
Compare these statements to those of our Lord and His Apostles.
Matthew 10:9 "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
"And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence."
Acts 14:27 "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples."
Acts 20:2 "And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia."
Acts 20:6 "And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days."
Acts 19:8 "And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."
Acts 19:10 "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."
Galatians 1:18 "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
We see here several of the doctrines of the Catholic religion, including the pouring of water on the head as a baptism, the declaration of the Lord's supper as the "eucharist", and the formal pronouncement of words over the serving of that "eucharist". We also see the doctrine of closed communion, contrary to what the Apostle Paul wrote--which is that a self-examination is to take place, not an examination by others.
1 Corinthians11:26-30 "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
There are other flaws in the doctrines in this letter, contrary to the scriptures. Yet it is seen as, and is, a foundational document for the Catholic religion.