Part 4 of 11
The Greatest Corrupting Influence Upon Christianity
Please note that the glorious grace gospel Bible verses I’ve cited in the previous installment are all taken from Paul’s epistles. Then after reading the good news these verses declare, one might ask;
How could one quarrel with these clearly unambiguous words from the Apostle Paul?
Then also, how could the Christian church grow into opposition to or compromise of Paul’s glorious grace gospel message of salvation and relationship with God by grace ALONE through faith…ALONE in Christ ALONE?
Let’s now look at where, when, and how the greatest corruption of the Apostle Paul’s simple grace gospel message occurred. How did it become so murky and obscured from view in the church-at-large?
Here is how the established church became corrupted… the fact is that church has largely set aside the truth of Paul’s “grace gospel” in favor of establishing and maintaining various degrees of “the Law” and religious authority by a hierarchical, and sometimes mediatorial, clergy system.
During the first few centuries in this age of grace, Satan opposed and attacked the Lord’s people, work, and Paul’s grace message outright, through persecution. But then, in 313AD, Satan took a new tactic, he worked by his “seducing spirits” (1Tim 4:1) to have Christianity legalized under the auspices the corrupt Roman Emperor, “Constantine the Great.”
The result of
’s influence has worked to obscure, corrupt and undermine the elements of Paul’s simple grace message, even to this day. Many today are robbed of hearing Paul’s pure simple grace gospel message and of its full potency to save and bless their lives with rest, peace, and security! Constantine
Wikipedia: “… CONSTANTINE’S ENDORSEMENT OF THE (CHRISTIAN) TRADITION was a TURNING POINT FOR CHRISTIANITY.
In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan legalizing Christian worship. The emperor became a great patron of the Church and SET A PRECEDENT FOR THE POSITION OF THE CHRISTIAN EMPEROR WITHIN THE Church and the notion of orthodoxy, Christendom, and ecumenical councils that would be followed for centuries AS ‘THE STATE CHURCH OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.’”
The Roman Church in the day of the Reformers of the 16th century still heavily bore the marks of
Constantine’s 4th century “State Church of the Roman Empire.” The “Five Solas” of the Reformers summarized their basic Biblical theological truths and beliefs that were in stark contradistinction with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of their day.
Constantinehad adopted Christianity in order to unify the vast Roman Empireat that fractious time in the Empire. Thereby, the once underground Christian church was usurped and became a branch of “the state church of the Roman Empire.” The church became a hierarchical religious mediatorial institution organized within the confines of the Imperial Roman Empire. This is how Christianity, at least in name, ultimately came to be the ’s catholic (empire-wide or universal) authorized religion. Rome
Roman Empireformerly was pagan and it yet remained pagan. To his dying day still functioned as the high priest of paganism by retaining the pagan title “Pontifex Maximus,” (Latin, “greatest pontiff”) as chief of pagan priests. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says in the fifteenth century, after the Roman Empire had long ceased to exist, “Pontifex Maximus” became the honorific title for the Roman Pope as the high priest of the Constantine Collegeof Pontiffs(Collegium Pontificum) in ancient . Rome
During his reign,
established the precedent of his Imperial involvement in all matters of the Christian faith. By the end of the 4th century a later Roman Emperor, Theodosius, had established Christian doctrine as the Roman state’s official religion, the details of which would be formalized by the first seven Ecumenical Councils. The Emperor himself came to be seen as the church’s defender and leader, along with the bishops. After Constantine Rome’s fall in 476AD, the Roman church continued as the surviving part of the Roman Empire, then still claiming the Empire’s endorsement toward its identity throughout the middle-ages.
Constantine’s acceptance, the genuine Christian church emerged from being “underground,” becoming the Roman Empire’s sole authorized religion. The essentially “nameless” underground Christian church had previously been a relatively pure expression of the genuine living “church, which is the body of Christ.” But then ’s pagan influence came to be seen everywhere. Constantine
Consider these below as just a few examples.
· The Sun God: “Sol Invictus” (“Invincible Sun”) was the official sun god of
Roman Empire. decreed that Sunday would be the day of rest – as a legal holiday. His intention is doing so was to honor the god Mithras; “the Unconquered Sun.” Excavations at Constantine St Petersin the uncovered a mosaic of Christ in a mausoleum as the “Unconquered Sun.” By contrast, under Paul’s gospel of grace for today there are no Sabbaths or holy days, special diets and the like ( Vatican 2:16). Col
· “Church of the Apostles” in
Constantinople: When Constantine built this church in 330AD; he included twelve monuments to the twelve Apostles surrounding a single tomb for himself as the thirteenth and “chief apostle.” (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/istanbul-church-of-holy-apostles.htm)
· Sacred Objects and Places:
borrowed from the pagans (not the Jews) the notion of the sacredness of objects and places. Graven images are Biblically forbidden. Largely due to his influence, relic mongering became common in the church. By the 4th century some church leaders of that day spoke out against this as “a heathen observance introduced to the church under the cloak of religion… the work of idolaters.” Constantine ’s mother, Helena, was most noted for her obsession with relics. In 327AD she made a pilgrimage to Constantine , where she reportedly found the cross and nails used to crucify Jesus. Jerusalem promoted the idea that the bits of wood that came from the cross possessed spiritual powers. Obviously the pagan magical mind was at work in Emperor Constantine. I’ve visited Roman churches where relics of bone, etc. abound in glass cases. Constantine
· Holy Sites:
is also noted for bringing to the Christian faith the idea of the holy site, which was based upon the pagan shrines. Because of the aura of “sacredness” that the fourth century Christians had attached to Constantine Palestine, it had become known as “the Holy Land” by the sixth century.
· Constantine Declared Divine: The Roman Senate declared
to be a pagan god at his death and no one stopped them from doing so. Constantine
Constantine’s Building Program: began erecting church buildings worthy of an Emperor throughout the Empire at public expense. He named these after “saints” – just as the pagans named their temples after their gods. He built these over supposed burial sites of the dead saints and these were considered “holy spaces.” Constantine
· Necromancy: The largest church buildings were built over tombs of martyrs. This practice was based upon the idea that the martyrs had the same powers that were once ascribed to the gods of paganism. The church’s practice of prayer to dead saints comes from the pagan practice of communication with the dead. This is called “necromancy,” which is forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:11, along with witchcraft. Those who pray to saints or family members and claim to hear them are actually speaking with demonic spirits – that’s why it’s forbidden.
Many of the Roman Church’s teachings and practices were then and still today are a mixture of the Empire’s paganism mixed with some Biblical truth. There is come truth is seen in the first Nicene Creed, adopted by the church in 325AD. Yet,
essentially remade the church of this corrupted mixture, distorting the truth. Whenever we have some truth while our doctrine and/or practice are corrupt, it serves to bury or obliterate the TRUTH. This is why standing on the absolutes of the “Five Solas” is so important. We stand upon 1) The Scripture ALONE, which tells us of 2) God’s salvation by Grace ALONE, 3) through Faith ALONE, 4) in Christ ALONE, giving expression to 5) the Glory of God ALONE, now and hereafter. Constantine
Thus the usurped church became established as a branch of the
Roman Empire, having the full might of the Empire. Being such, it then became fashionable to be a Christian, at least in name only. Thousands of unsaved Roman pagans then became baptized and started calling themselves “Christians.” Did water baptism save them and make them true Christians? Certainly not! The rite of Water Baptism actually belongs to , not “the church, which is the body of Christ.” Thus “the state church of the Israel Roman Empire” had gained in numbers while the quality of most of its supposed devotees was still pagan, unchanged. A multitude of hypocrites and pretenders entered “the church.” There was a massive growth in numbers but no growth in genuine purity of faith. The church became more and more worldly and corrupt.
Today, both the Eastern Orthodox Church (of Constantinople, Greek, “Constantine’s–polis,” city), and the Roman Catholic Church still claim to be the historical continuations of Constantine’s Roman Church. They refer to Emperor Constantine as “Saint Constantine the Great.”
Constantinemoved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in AD 330, ancient Byzantium; now called ). Istanbul, Turkey
The genuine underground church in its early years, before
, had stayed mostly pure because it had cost something to be a Christian at that time. Often it had meant suffering and persecution. Genuine Christian believers weren’t popular in the world. Persecution actually serves to purify and strengthen the faith of genuine believers. These early Christians under Constantine ’s domination had suffered persecutions because they refused to worship the pagan Roman gods or to pay homage to the Roman Emperor as being divine. But then in Rome ’s day it did NOT cost anything to be a Christian. In fact it then was to an advantage to be called a Christian, it was politically correct. Constantine
Similarly today in the
, it is still relatively safe to be called a Christian because visible Christianity has become quite mixed with the world in money, power, pomp and splendor. There’s little persecution and cost. But if you express your loyalty to the Word of God and Christ ALONE as God and Savior, in some circles your acceptance likely will be diminished or you may be belittled among them as a religious zealot or kook. USA
There is a day coming when the governments of the earth will require everyone to take “the mark of the Beast (the Antichrist)” of the Book of Revelation in order to “be able to buy or sell.” Do you think it then will be obvious who the genuine believers at that time are and are not?
Constantine, the Church had been persecuted but strong and independent of ’s power. They had Paul’s letters to establish the correct doctrinal elements of “the faith” and practice in the local assembly in this age of grace. But when the church encountered the supposed “kindness” of Roman State ’s acceptance, a “worldly spirit” entered the Church. Seemingly blinded to the consequences, the church accepted the olive branch and offer of sharing power. They perhaps saw the gesture as a well deserved God-ordained reward for their faithfulness. Thus the church drank the venom of money and worldly power, allowing it to be controlled by Constantine, an individual who lacked genuine Christian virtue. This allowed “the faith” to be mixed with pagan practice, ceremony, and ritual. The church had outwardly merged with the pagan Constantine . Instead of keeping “the faith” that had been persevered regardless of its difficult times, the church was now made part of the corrupt culture of the Roman State Roman Empire.
Today, being regarded as “spiritual” and having a nameless god as with the “Oprah’s style” of spirituality, is fine with the world, but, serious belief in and fidelity to “Jesus Christ” is considered too narrow. I say they claim a “nameless god” because these liberal spiritualists generally speak of “whatever your god is” or “your higher power,” never testifying to or naming the name of “Jesus Christ,” by whom only we may be saved
“Neither is there SALVATION IN any other: for THERE IS NONE OTHER NAME (THAN JESUS) UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED.” (Acts 4:12)
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, (those) WHO CONFESS NOT THAT JESUS (the) CHRIST (Messiah) IS COME IN THE FLESH. THIS IS A DECEIVER AND AN ANTICHRIST. (2 John 1:7)Thus we have recounted the sad history of the greatest and most toxic pollution of Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God.”