Heresy and the Visible Church

Heresy is not a popular word nowadays. It implies that within religion (and more specifically Christianity), there is such a thing as a wrong answer; that it is not just about my opinion or feelings about things, but that the will of God has been revealed, made known and defined, and that I must submit my own will to it. The idea that there is such a thing as objective truth in any sphere (bar the realm of empirical science of course) is not well received by the modern mind, and when applied to religious questions, objectivity is seen as something implausible, even abhorrent.

Even amongst Christians (though admittedly mainly amongst Protestants) it is being increasingly suggested that doctrine isn’t really that important, and the great measures that the early Church went to in order to ensure correct belief was just so much hair-splitting. What matters is that we love one another, and that we affirm the ‘basics’, whatever those basics might be agreed to be (I’ll come to that a bit later). However, from the earliest periods of the Church’s history, before her creeds were given official formulation, right belief was considered to be of paramount importance, and definitive of whether or not one was a Christian.

Christianity was unique in this respect – the Jews had a set of laws and practices, and so can be said to have been more considered with ortho-praxy (their doctrines in fact being formulated at least partly in response to Christianity); and the pagan religions were characterised more by their annual round of cultic practices and festivals. Christianity obviously shares both of these elements too, but there is a sense with the Church that what one believes is also of central importance. As Frances Young writes in her introduction to the doctrinal controversies of the early Church:

Already in the New Testament we find internal controversy and attempts to establish true over against false teaching. The conflict with false teaching was deepened in the struggle with Gnosticism in the second century, and with other “Satanic” heresies as the centuries progressed. There can be no doubt that these struggles contributed to the shaping of the creeds, and provided precedents for what happened at Nicaea. Bishops had met in Council before to deal with members of their own number who failed to teach what their consensus demanded. Excommunication had been used before, and false teachers anathematised…

…controversy undoubtedly contributed to the formation of the creeds, and also to their adaptation as “tests of orthodoxy”. But the concern with “true doctrine” or “orthodoxy” pre-dates its association with creeds, and the authority of the bishops to determine true doctrine pre-dates their use of creeds to impose it.

The Making of the Creeds (2002), pp.13-14, SCM Press.

            The creeds themselves developed out of confessions of faith made by early Christians and passed down to succeeding generations, in a context of catechism and reception of sacraments (especially baptism) – they started out as summaries of the Christian story which believers were inaugurated into, and spoke of what God has done in Christ. The question of how our salvation was achieved, and who Christ must be in order for Him to have achieved it, are different questions, ones of doctrine rather than narrative. It is the concern for right doctrine that enabled the Church to flesh out those initial statements of faith and definitively state what all Christians must believe (and conversely what would make one a heretic if they were to change these doctrines).

Now this immediately raises the question of who is doing the defining – i.e.; who is the Church? In discussions with Protestants I have encountered the claim that the Church is merely the aggregate of all those Christians who hold to a minimum set of ‘orthodox’ beliefs, usually defined by the content of the Nicene Creed. Some will also go on to claim that they believe in the Church as a visible entity, because Christians are people, and people are visible – their unity (via shared belief) may be invisible, but they are not. Unfortunately though, this is insufficient on a number of levels. Firstly there is the issue of how we are to identify this sum total of Nicene Christians. Where are they to be found; do we conduct cross-denominational surveys to locate them?

No doubt Christians of all stripes who affirm what is in the Nicene Creed have much more in common than they do with the more liberal members of their own denominations, but it seems that for all intents and purposes this definition still leaves us with a Church that is unidentifiable as a distinct entity, and therefore invisible in its essence. The Catholic Church indeed affirms that an invisible dimension exists, and it is something along the lines of what is outlined above regarding shared belief, but its claims to visibility are much more literal. This leads to the second problem – how can this dispersed, cross-denominational, non-institutional Church define anything for belief in the first place?

When the Church claims to be visibly One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, it does so on the basis that there is an institution one can point to and find these elements within it. It does not mean that each and every Catholic (or even the majority of Catholics) are perfectly set apart and one with the will of Christ, perfectly adherent to the whole of the Faith, and perfectly in tune with Apostolic doctrine – this indeed would be both an arrogant claim and a grossly inaccurate one. The claim is that although individuals are an integral part of the Church, there is also a distinct institutional aspect (namely the Magisterium) to which one can look and see what has been defined for belief.

It is also often claimed by Protestants that if Catholics were to ‘tone down’ some of the claims made for the papacy, that the road to unity would thereafter be straightforward. This might hold for the Orthodox, for whom the papacy is the only really substantive point that sustains the schism between East and West, but the problem for (most) Protestants is that they do not recognise a visible, institutional Church at all; or if they do, then this makes nonsense of the articles in the Creed regarding the Church’s nature. For here is the rub – for there to be orthodoxy (and by implication, heresy) there must be an organ which can visibly and definitively say what it is that Christians believe. This is something that the sum total of orthodox believers cannot do, for they are not one ‘thing’, and do not speak with one voice.

And this leads to my final point – on what basis does one decide that the Nicene Creed is a test of orthodoxy? I do not deny that many fundamental doctrines are outlined there, or that it is a good starting point for dialogue, but doctrine develops, and why should a Christian receive that body of teaching, and nothing else (or even just the bits that they prefer)? The Creed is only held to be authoritative because it was pronounced to be so by a visible, institutional Church, which claims to speak with divine sanction, and infallibly so. If these claims are rejected, due to a rejection of later doctrinal definitions, then there is no good reason why one should have any confidence in the Creed itself, or anything else that the Church has defined.

Basically, either the Church is possessed of a recognisable (i.e.; institutional) means for determining and proclaiming what is and what isn’t orthodox doctrine, so that we may know with confidence what is to be believed, or it isn’t. Either the Church is the ultimate foundation and guarantor of the Truth (c.f.; 1 Timothy 3:15), from whom we humbly receive all we need to know for our salvation, or we are left to figure it out ourselves. We cannot say yes to her authority when she gives us the Holy Scriptures, and then no when she speaks of the corporeal Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; we cannot say yes when she gives us the Nicene Creed, and no when she tells us that we are to honour and revere (and ask for the intercession of) Our Blessed Mother. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. If we cannot accept the Church’s authority in this way, we cannot speak coherently of orthodoxy, and heresy becomes just what the modern mind sees it as – opinion.

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12 thoughts on “Heresy and the Visible Church

    • Dear Eliza,

      Many thanks for your comment. I feel though that you may have perhaps misunderstood the central point (or at least one of the central points) in my post, which is that we receive Holy Scripture from the Church – it does not guarantee its own authority. The order goes like this: Christ-Church-Bible. We can only be sure that the Bible is authoritative (and I agree that it is) by a prior recognition of the Church’s divine sanction by Christ to teach in His name.

      Furthermore, the Bible alone does not define our faith and practice – it is a book, which requires interpretation; left alone it cannot say anything, and so requires people to discern and expound its correct meaning. The problem with the ‘Bible alone’ approach is that fifty different people will give you anywhere between five and fifty different interpretations. How do we know which is the correct one (and not just of this or that passage, but the whole grand narrative of Scripture overall)?

      The sensible answer, I would suggest, is that we look to the place from which it came – the Church. Jesus Himself never wrote anything, but gave the Apostles authority to teach in His name – this authority they then used (some of them) to put their teachings and records of Christian history into writing. They then passed their authority on to their successors, who preserved the Scriptures, as well as the venerable traditions which formed part of the Rule of Faith, and later generations elucidated their meaning within that context, as well as finally deciding on the canon of Scripture (there were other texts floating about in those days, and authority was required to decide which books were orthodox or not).

      So, the point of my post really is to ask why we accept the Church’s authority to do really important things like this, but not for other things. An authority gifted to the Church, to ensure that it was guided infallibly to write, preserve and canonise Scripture, but which is then removed after some indeterminate time, makes little sense.

      God bless you too, and thanks again for your comments.

      • Interesting. I thought that Scripture was given to us by the Holy Spirit as He moved men to write the very words of God. I thought the church recognized these writings to be the Word of God by the witness of the Holy Spirit. I thought that Jesus Christ promised to give us His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to guide us into all truth and to bring to our remembrance, (here especially the apostles and prophets who wrote the New Testament) all things that He had said to them. I thought the gospel that Paul preached, taught, and wrote about was given to him by personal revelation of Jesus Christ. I thought that God has promised to preserve His Word. I thought that it is the Word of God that works in our hearts to bring us to repent of our sin and put our faith in Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit of God convicts us of sin and His just judgment upon us because of our sin. I thought that since the Holy Spirit moved men to write the Scriptures we cannot come up with our own interpretation, but must rely upon the Holy Spirit to reveal His interpretation to us. I thought that one of the defining marks of a false teacher is that they come up with their own interpretation of the Scriptures and twist it to their own destruction.

        What if the “church” teaches doctrine about Christ that is contrary to what the Bible says and they add their own traditions and extra-biblical books to the Bible can we really have confidence that they are going to give us the truth of the Word of God?

        18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you head from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:18-27

        1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears the. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6

        The Bible is the only sure testimony about Jesus Christ and any teaching or doctrine that contradicts what God’s Word says about His Son is from the spirit of the Antichirst. Those who reject the testimony of the Scriptures (those who know God listen to the apostles and the prophets as they have spoken in the Word of God) and go elsewhere for their doctrine are showing that they do no know God and are being led by the spirit of the Antichrist.

        One other point. The Jews completely rejected (for the most part) the testimony of Jeremiah their prophet, yet his words have been preserved for us in the canon of the Scripture. So it is completely possible to be a so-called people of God and yet to reject the truth of God and substitute words that have their origin in the false spirit of the Antichrist. Jesus Christ Himself encountered this when He confronted the false religious zealots of His day.

        http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/your-word-is-truth/

        • Dear Eliza,

          Thanks again for your comments. However, I am not quite sure why you think that I don’t believe the Bible to be God’s word, written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit; that Jesus promised to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and to preserve His word; that God works in our hearts to convict us of sin; or that we must rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the correct interpretation. I believe all of these things, and not only have I not said (or even implied) that I don’t, but what I’ve written in my post and in my reply to you suggests quite strongly that I do.

          Though I agree with these points, there are some important differences to note, which I have already outlined in my previous reply. First of all, my point is that we can only know the Bible to be God’s word because we receive it from the Church (I’ll come to your point about Jeremiah later), which has been given the authority to write, preserve, canonize and transmit it (who do you think those men inspired by the Holy Spirit were if not part of the Church?) and that it is illogical to accept the Church’s authority to do something as important as this, but not for anything else. The Bible is not only not in opposition to Sacred Tradition, it is actually part of that Tradition – it is the written part of the Church’s apostolic teaching, and it is foreign to the thinking of the early Church to separate it from that environment.

          As an aside, I would sincerely suggest that you look at the following scriptural passages: Matthew 16:16ff; Matthew 18:17; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 10:16; Luke 22:28-30; John 20:23; John 16:13-15; 1 Timothy 3:15. These are passages that speak of the authority given by Jesus to His Apostles, and which speak of that authority being the foundation of the Church.

          The second thing though, is that when you point out the problems with people finding their own interpretations of Holy Scripture, you are making my point for me a little bit. If the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (which He does) then does it really make any sense that He would be guiding umpteen different people into different interpretations of Scripture, or would it make more sense that He would guide them to unity and to harmony in interpretation? There are Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Amish, Mennonites, Plymouth Brethren, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christadelphians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, plus many more denominations into the thousands, all of whom think that the Holy Spirit has guided them into the truth. You and I could sit down with a Bible and come up with completely different interpretations of different passages. To say that the Holy Spirit is guiding this chaos is an affront to God’s Providence.

          What the Catholic Church claims is that there is one Church, established by Christ, to which He gave His Spirit to guide her into unity, love and truth. This is not to say that the Spirit doesn’t work outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church – He does – but only to say that in matters of faith and morals (such as certain scriptural interpretations) He acts towards unity, not chaos. The Church certainly does not reject the testimony of the Scriptures – in fact, she guarantees it, by allowing us to know with confidence that these really are the words of God and that we can know their true meaning, and not be led astray by our own musings of those of whatever denomination we happen to come across.

          Now your point about Jeremiah and the People of Israel is a good one, but there are two things that can be said about this. Firstly, the Jews did not decide upon a canon of Scripture until well after Jeremiah’s day – the earliest estimate is around 200 BC, and the latest (and more probable) 200 AD. So, this is anywhere between 300 and 700 years after Jeremiah. Up to this point, the only revelation completely accepted by the Jews was the Pentateuch. This is not to say that some did not see the Prophets (and Psalms, etc) as venerable, but their was not a consensus until well after.

          The second point is that when the canon was formed, the Jews did not ‘reject the truth of God and substitute words that have their origin in the false spirit of the Antichrist’ – they included Jeremiah in their scriptures! All your case really proves is that people within either Israel or the Church have gone astray from time to time and not seen holiness or truth when presented to them – that’s like shooting fish in a barrel to be honest, it happens all the time. The point with the Church is that the Holy Spirit works within it to preserve His truth, despite the sinful wills of men. If He had to rely on having the right people the game would be up before it began! The miracle is that, in the writing of Scripture, its preservation, and everything else, He worked through the hearts and minds (and free wills) of fallible, sinful men, and still guaranteed infallible truth. That is the power of God.

          I hope some of this makes my position a little clearer, but if not, maybe this article (which outlines some of the practical problems of the ‘Bible alone’ approach) might be of use:

          http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/practicl.htm

          God bless, and thanks again for your interesting comments.

  1. I can’t dispute God’s Word that He did appoint the apostles and they were entrusted with His Word and His message and God has preserved His Word for us today using men. However, although the Catholic Church says it presents a unified truth, it does not because as is the case with Protestantism, so is the case with the Catholic church, many different interpretations and disagreements about the meaning of the Word of God. Then heap upon this the many edicts of the Popes and the incorporation of religious tradition and there is no way that the Catholic Church presents truth that is in agreement with God’s Word or is unified. There are those who teach the veneration of Mary and those who worship her. There are those who teach that she is co-redemptrix and mediatrix, and those who dispute that this is official church dogma. That is just one example. The Catholic Church is ecumenical to its core and denies the gospel of Jesus Christ and preaches and teaches a false gospel that cannot save. Augustine, the father of the Catholic Church is also the fountainhead of the Protestant Reformation, this is why there are so many different denominations and interpretations of the Scriptures. But God gives His interpretation to His children who belong to Him through faith in Christ Jesus who we learn about solely from the Bible. God bless you:)

    • Dear Eliza,

      Thanks again for your response. I shall try and respond as briefly (which doesn’t necessarily mean brief per se unfortunately!) as I can to the points you’ve made here, as it seems we seem to be talking past one another a bit.

      Firstly, I would obviously dispute that the Catholic Church denies the Gospel and cannot save, but that should be obvious! I can’t go into the ins and outs of soteriology here, so I think the best thing to do is to suggest that you read a bit of Church history – Protestantism is a novelty, and its view of how we are saved (sola fide), as well as several other points, are foreign to the rest of Christian history. I strongly suggest that you pick up some of the Church Fathers (Henry Bettenson – a Protestant – has a couple of very good value paperbacks where he has compiled excerpts from the Fathers on various central topics; I would also recommend JND Kelly’s – also a Protestant – ‘Early Christian Doctrines’) and find out for yourself; but take my word for it, the early Church was not Protestant at all.

      Regarding Saint Augustine, who although very important, is not THE Father of the Church – that is Jesus! – and, more importantly, was one of the most overtly Catholic of the Church Fathers. Luther in particular used his writings highly selectively to make various points, but it is not representative of his thought at all. Again, I would suggest actually picking up some of his writings, but this site provides some pertinent excerpts (the references of which you are free to check for yourself):

      http://www.stillcatholic.com/PROTAugQuotes.htm

      Re the Tradition and teachings of the Church that have developed over time, again my point here is that the Church either has the authority to do this, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t have the authority to write, preserve, canonise and transmit Holy Scripture either, and we have no reason for trusting it to be God’s word. All Christian churches have developed their teaching over time, whether they like to admit it or not, and each new church that springs up is due to someone else having a reaction to some tradition or other and thinking that their interpretation is finally the right one (and therefore everyone else was wrong). For any Protestant though, one has to ask what the Holy Spirit was doing for approximately 1,500 years, if the Catholic Church has been so wrong in its teachings, even to the point of ‘denying the gospel of Jesus Christ’ – how did He let this happen? Doesn’t sound like leading us into all truth to me.

      Finally, as to the differences of opinion within the Church, yes this is true, particularly so now when our culture is infected by individualism and relativism (two phenomena which one could make a good case of tracing back to the Reformation itself, and its principle of private judgement/interpretation incidentally). The difference here is though, that dissenters within the Church are dissenting AGAINST something – there is a body of defined teaching which they are diverging from; they are, frankly, heretics. In Protestantism however, the final arbiter of what Scripture means is the individual, so differences of opinion are just that – differences of opinion. There is no one defined interpretive authority to appeal to, or to diverge from; thus there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as heresy in Protestantism. This was the whole point of my post of course. Here are a couple more articles that may help (in fact I’d recommend doing some keyword searches on the Catholic Answers site – it’s very helpful, and fair):

      http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/how-do-we-know-it%E2%80%99s-the-true-church

      http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/don%E2%80%99t-you-want-more-not-just-mere-christianity

      God bless, and I hope you read the links I’ve provided (as well as looking up those books, or some similar compendium of the Fathers) as they will be able to provide a much more convincing (and concise!) explanation of the case than I can 🙂

    • P.S. When I said Jesus is the ‘Father’ of the Church, maybe it would be more appropriate to say that God is the Father of the Church. Obviously Jesus is God, but He is also the Son, and using the term ‘Father’ could thus be a little misleading. What I mean is that Jesus is the one Catholics look to as the ultimate founder of the Church.

  2. I appreciate the tenor of your responses, but I can never agree with you about your contention that the Church writes God’s Word and has the right to add to it via tradition. That is contrary to the Scriptures.

    16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21

    This is the true definition of Scripture, holy men of God, chosen by Him, spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; who bear witness to God, His Son, and His work in this sinful depraved world for His honor and glory, and the salvation of sinners. These are specifically chosen individuals who bring forth the Word of God by the Holy Spirit. They are used by God for this purpose to bring forth the light of His truth into a dark and depraved world that only rejects Him. The prophets of Old Testament preached God’s word to a people lost in sin and depravity, who rejected His many exhortations to repent and return to Him.

    3 “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the Lord has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened. 4 And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. 5 They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given you and your fathers forever and ever. 6 ‘Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands, and I will not harm you.’ 7 “Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. Jeremiah 25:3-7

    Man’s rejection of God’s Word doesn’t nullify it, even if that rejection comes from the very people of God. The Jews, God’s chosen people, roundly refused to listen to God’s Word to them, even though He spoke to them often and early in their apostasy, and so they incurred the wrath of God against them. The heresy and division caused by false teaching within the church is not an indictment against the Word of God but a clear revelation of the wickedness of humanity. God in His grace sent His Son and has give us His Word the Bible that we might know the sure testimony about His Son so that we can believe and have eternal life. This was done through the apostles and prophets apart from the consensus of men.

    30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31

    14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And the shall be My people.” 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

    This is the definition of the church, coming out from among unbelievers and those who pervert the Word of God. We are Christ’s called out ones. The church is not an institution, it is the Body of Christ that is composed of all who have turned away from the lies of the world and are holding fast to Jesus Christ and the Word of His grace, which is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word commands us to turn away from those who promote heresy and cause division within His Body. The New Testament is replete with warnings against false teachers. You want me to read the traditions of men, God has commanded me to stay true to Him by holding fast to His Word the Bible. This is what I will do. Those who belong to Christ through faith in Jesus Christ are few in number and rejected by the religious. He has made it clear in His Word that there are few who do belong to Him, and they prove their fidelity by holding fast to His Word.

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

    “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19

    Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Philemon 1:1-2

    Churches that met in houses are also noted in Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and Colossians 4:15.

    Church comes from the Greek for called out ones and assembly. So the church is those who are called out from unbelievers by God through faith in Jesus Christ and assemble together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and meet like the early church did as recorded for us in Acts.

    41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to the. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers……46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:41-42 & 46-47

    God Himself has taught me to turn from the words of men and hold fast to His truth the Bible and has made it clear that those who belong to Him revere His Word and obey it.

    The Catholic church does preach a false gospel teaching that those who are baptized are regenerated and those who take their first communion receive Jesus Christ when they take and eat that first wafer. This blasphemous and directly contradicts God’s Word.

    To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20

    • Dear Eliza,

      I am sorry but I am going away for about two weeks now, and will not be able to respond to your last comment. All I can say from what you’ve written here though (and please believe me that I mean no offence by this) is that you have utterly failed to grasp the basic premises of my argument, and from what I can see either haven’t read any of the articles I’ve sent you or haven’t grasped their points either.

      It is not that I expect you to change your mind all of a sudden, but the replies I am getting from you seem to be a repetition of your original point rather than a true critical engagement with the points I have raised. I must go now, but I do strongly urge you to read some early Church history as I suggested, where you will find (for example) that the idea of the Church there is deeply contrary to what you hold, baptismal regeneration is taught, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is unanimously accepted, and the ‘Bible alone’ methodology which you appeal to is unheard of (this is by no means to suggest that early Christians didn’t see the Bible as authoritative – when it was written of course that is, as the earliest Christians didn’t even have a New Testament to appeal to and so had to appeal to…the traditions and oral teachings of the Church! – only to point out that they did not see it as separate from the Church and its authority). As you can see (hopefully) from the Saint Augustine excerpts I sent you, the early Church was not very Protestant at all.

      God bless and good luck – I hope you at least give the early Church Fathers a try 🙂

  3. I know that they are apostate so I won’t be checking them out. As far as your comment about the early church not having the Scripture, you are very mistaken. There are numerous references to the New Testament books in the New Testament. One being Peter’s reference to the letters of Paul as being Scripture (2 Peter 3:16) so apparently Jesus Christ had already directed His children regarding the New Testament Scriptures, something that completely discredits what you have contended. I pray that God will have mercy on your soul and turn you from the lies of men to the truth of His Word, the Bible so that you can truly know His Son Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul.

  4. Pingback: G. K. Chesterton: The Keys and the Creed | Journey Towards Easter

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