|"A GREAT RETURN TO THE BIBLE" |
by Dr Pence Dacus
(Church History Correspondence Course)
HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF STEPS LEADING AWAY
Following our study of the tremendous growth of the church of Christ in the first century we have noted: (1) the falling away (2) the man of sin (3) the development of the apostacy (4) the development of the papacy (5) steps leading to the Reformation. In these lessons we concentrated primarily on the facts about the people, the places, and the events, although some of the practices were introduced briefly. Then, in the two preceding lessons (14-15) we devoted our attention to the changes in practices which accompanied the departure, or falling away.
This lesson will focus upon the steps of departure in a century by century analysis -- stretching across a span of history from 120 A.D., when the use of Holy Water was introduced, to the crowning moment in 1870 A.D. when the pope was declared infallible. The dates of different practices vary with scholars inasmuch as it is often difficult to set a specific time regarding when the practice was fully accepted. Sometimes the practice was sanctioned long before it was widely practiced -- when papal decrees were made in advance of public approval. However, it is believed that most of the dates are in general agreement with the historical records.
BY THE YEAR A.D.
120 --- The use of Holy Water became an unofficial practice. This was a practice wherein the priest was supposed to bless and sanctify the water.
157 --- Doctrine of penance introduced whereby punishment was inflicted to expiate sins. Also, the custom of celebrating the memories of heroes (martyrs) was started -- borrowed from the Greeks.
180 --- Christ's form of church government from a plurality of elders to one ruling elder (Episcopacy) began to be changed.
240 --- Intercession of the dead saints for the living began.
251 --- Clinical baptism was first administered to a man named Novation.
270 --- Monks began to seek asylum in hidden places--Monasticism developed.
300 --- Doctrine of penance becomes more popular.
320 --- Introduction of the use of candles in worship was inaugurated.
325 --- Nicean Creed-- led the way to a complete departure from Bible.
375 --- Worship of angels (as idols) was practiced.
394 ---Latin Mass adopted for assemblies (first used universally in 666 A.D.).
432 --- Worship of Mary started -- she was venerated as the mother of God.
500 --- Priests started to wear special clothes to distinguish them from regular members.
588 --- Extreme unction started.
593 --- Doctrine of purgatory begun.
600 --- Worship in an unknown tongue started.
606 --- First pope -- Boniface III. Placed in power by Phocas. This legalized, officialized, and universalized the change in the New Testament pattern. Man had been trying to reach this position of power for two centuries.
AT THIS STAGE MOST OF THE FEATURES OF THE SIMPLE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH OF CHRIST HAD BEEN DRASTICALLY AFFECTED. AND, WITH THE AUTHORITY NOW VESTED IN A UNIVERSAL BISHOP, COMPLETE APOSTACY WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.
666 --- Instrumental music introduced by Pope Vitalian I.
709 --- Doctrine of kissing the pope's big toe started.
725 --- Doctrine of temporal power vested in the church and voted to the pope.
788 --- Use of images and relics in worship was widespread and accepted.
933 --- Canonization of dead saints started by John XI.
965 --- Baptizing of bells begun by John XIII. Bells were dedicated to dead saints and the sound of them is supposed to drive away evil spirits.
1015 --- The doctrine of transubstantiation accepted. In the Lord's Supper the bread and wine are supposedly changed to the literal body and blood of Christ.
1022 --- Doctrine of penance widely accepted -- as Bishop Buchard said, "The rich man may redeem himself for money."
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAD LOST EVERY TRACE OF ITS ORIGINAL IDENTITY BY THIS TIME, IN THE SHAMBLES OF HUMAN INTERFERENCE, BORROWED FROM THE MOSAIC SYSTEM AND THE TEMPLES OF THE HEATHEN, EVERY FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE HAD BEEN ALTERED OR DISCARDED.
1054 --- Catholic Church split into Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox. This was caused by doctrinal disagreements among the clergy -- Greek Orthodox, among other things, rejected the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, doctrine of purgatory, images, and instrumental music in worship, and baptism by sprinkling (they baptize by immersion only).
1070 --- Doctrine of purgatory widely taught.
1074 --- Celibacy of the clergy voted in as church law. Many bishops contended that this leads to a gross moral breakdown -- it has and still does.
1122 --- Principle of lay investiture accepted -- the pope thereby given control over civil and individual property.
1130 --- The seven sacraments were catalogued and adopted.
1190 --- Sale of indulgences practiced widely (in 1515, Pope Leo X expanded this scheme beyond all reason). Thus, the Reformation was sparked.
1215 --- Auricular (booth) confession instituted -- practice borrowed from the Babylonian priests by the Greek priests -- a very successful way to reduce men to mental slavery.
1215 --- The mass became a literal sacrifice of the body of Christ (supposedly in the elements of the Lord's Supper).
1229 --- Bible taken from the common members. The council of Toulouse decreed in part, "We forbid also the permitting of the laity to have the books of the Old and New Testament ..."
1256 --- Priestly powers of absolution granted.
1311 --- Sprinkling and pouring first licensed by the pope as baptism. It had been used earlier.
1414 --- Laity first officially denied the cup in the communion by the council of Constance.
1545 --- Apocryphal books accepted and included in the Catholic translation -- the very word "apocryphal" means spurious, unauthenic, and fabulous. Tradition was made equal with the Bible.
1564 --- The Mother Church declared to be the only vein through which true interpretation of the Scriptures emanated. Mass universally said in Latin, which only a few understood.
1845 --- Immaculate conception of Mary--Her Assumption declared in 1950.
1870 --- Pope Plus IX, through the council of Trent, had papal infallibility conferred upon himself.
Conclusion: The cycle is complete. With an infallible pope -- there are no further changes required. The Roman Catholic system has annexed into its power structure the means of altering anything it deems necessary.
Consider: What could have prevented it? A right attitude toward the Word of God could have stopped it. A very revealing study is the comparison of attitudes toward the Bible among the religious leaders and how it relates to the falling away. Consider the three-way comparison in the following chart. It should explain why there was a falling away from the second century on - and why the Reformation started.
Attitudes Toward the Bible -- The Word of God
* "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).
* As eloquent preacher named Apollos was "taught the way of the Lord more perfectly" by Aquila and Priscilla. He accepted it (Acts 18:24-28).
* Irenaeus said of Polycarp: "I remember ... how he recited the sayings of Christ and the miracles he wrought; how he received his teachings from eye-witnesses who had seen the Word of Life, agreeing in every way with the Scriptures."
* Papias wrote a book in which he made it a point of enquire of the Elders the exact words of Jesus.
SECOND CENTURY TO MIDDLE AGES
* Irenacus (130-200 A.D.) appealed to the "tradition" of established churches to find the true doctrine. (Renwick, p.38).
* Thomas Aquinas organized the mass of traditions in the Catholic Church in 13th century. Today, it is accepted by Catholics as of equal authority with the Bible.
* Hildebrand ordered Bohemians not to read the Bible.
* Gregory IX forbade laymen the possessing the Bible.
* Paul IV prohibited the possession of the Bible.
* The Jesuits induced Clement XI to condemn the reading of the Bible by the laity.
* Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX all condemned Bible societies.
* Albigenses -- 12th century A.D.--made great use of the Scriptures.
* Waldenses -- 12th century A.D. -- taught the Bible as the sole rule of belief and life.
* John Wyclif -- 14th century A.D. -- advocated the people's right to read the Bible.
* John Huss -- 14th century A.D. -- exalted the Scriptures above the dogmas and ordinances of the church.
* Anabaptists -- Middle Ages--devoted to the Scriptures.
* Erasmus -- 16th century A.D. -- tried to get men to return to the Scriptures.
* Wm. Tyndale said to a Catholic priest, "If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough share to know more Scripture than thou dost."
* The Reformation owed its being to the direct contact of the mind with the Scriptures" (Halley, p.893).
Cox, John D., Church History
Halley, H.H., Bible Handbook
Howard, V.E., Gospel Radio Sermons
Maynard, Zeke, The Church of Christ
Renwick, A.M., The Story of the Church
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