|The Truth Which Sets Free - Destiner Press|
For free online reading simply click on the Chapters listed below.
An exposure of the false teaching of Christianity concerning the reason for evil and suffering. This is one of the most challenging and deepest areas in the Word of God.
The following four booklets are now also included in the Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free.
Chapter 5. Early Church Fathers
Turn your attention now to the founders of Christianity, called the "Church Fathers," the Christians who were indeed the fathers of the Church. Probably the best source to examine them is in the writing of Eusebius of Caesarea (263-339 AD), sometimes called the Father of Ecclesiastical History, servant of the Church and friend of Emperor Constantine I (also called the Great, c.274-337AD). His accounts of the early church are the prime proof that they were a completely different body from Gods chosen, far removed from apostles and disciples, but always using the name of Jesus. Space does not permit to examine them all but even a cursory reading of their history reveals a group dedicated to lording it over each other, vying for priestly positions, breaking away and forming ever more new churches, calling councils to issue decrees which bade men to conform to them, excommunicating and condemning each other. Their lives were nothing like those of the Lords first disciples whom He taught to serve each other and those early goats knew it. Their antics to cover up the difference were no different from churchmen of today. Eusebius and others revised the history of the apostles in their own image, to suit the church picture, a fraudulent model for all doomed goats to follow thereafter. Note this introduction from one unwittingly drooling over the error of Eusebius.
"A study of Eusebius pages shows inescapable proof that the Church of the first generations of Christians was one in which an Anglican of our day would recognize most of the ideas and practices to which he is accustomed the same line drawn between clergy and laity same practice of episcopal ordination and consecration, the same insistence on the Apostolic succession presided over and ruled by bishops Did not James, the Lords brother, within a few years of the Saviors death, sit on the episcopal throne of Jerusalem and officiate in sacerdotal vestments? Was not John the beloved disciple a sacrificing priest wearing the mitre? There may have been a short period when services were held in private houses, but as soon as possible churches began to rise, then cathedrals Truly that generation and this are one." (Introduction by G. A. Williamson to: Eusebius, History of the Church, Dorset Press, 1965)
Yes indeed, this present generation is entirely one in falsehood with that brood. It is simply not credible that James or John betrayed the Lord in this way. Note here that this is James the son of Mary and brother of Jesus who became a leading apostle in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19; Matthew 13:55), not James the brother of John who was in the original twelve with Christ and later killed by Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12:1,2) James replaced Peter as leader when the latter had to flee from Jerusalem. (Acts 12:17) It would have been completely at odds with their teachings in the Bible if these men later created a beast in the image of the one Jesus had just destroyed, building temples, offering sacrifices or putting on priests garments. If James, John or Peter had created a Judeo-Christian priesthood then they would have committed apostacy against their Masters teaching and their own writings. But the church fathers, like Clement of Alexandria and Hegesippus (c.180 AD), spread stories about James as though he were no better than a Hindu fakir steeped in eastern style "holiness", a vegetarian, not shaving or washing himself, even becoming an early Christian priest whom the Jewish priests allowed to enter the Holy of holies in the obsolete Jerusalem temple, later killing him for that same faith in Christ. (Eusebius, Tiberius to Nero) The story is ludicrous. Clement told a tale, also repeated by Eusebius (History of the Church, Enemies), of the apostle John consecrating a young man and entrusting him to a priest, saying he would return, like the Lord to the vineyard, to collect him when his church training was complete. On his return the young man had gone wildly astray, so John, now very old, outran the lad across the country to catch him and bring him back, saying he would lay down his life like the Lord to redeem the young mans soul. This is pure nonsense. The real John would never have turned anyone over to the church, let alone claimed any powers that belonged to Christ alone. It reads as a silly myth, far from the tone of the scriptures, and numerous historians have complained of such "embellishments" by Eusebius or "untrustworthy references in the writings of the early Church Fathers (e.g., Clement of Alexandria) and some Gnostics..." (Encyclopedia Britannica, Sacred Rites and Ceremonies, Std.Ver.1999)
These fables are standard fodder for goats supplied by church fathers and the churchmen lapped it up. Others tried to counteract the teaching of the apostle Paul, even counterfeiting letters in his name to confuse the elect. "When his converts in Thessalonica began to be persecuted they mistook their sufferings for the first tribulations of which Paul had spoken. Forged letters, as if from the apostle, encouraged their mistake. There were other false alarms in the following centuries, and a constant spate of Christian forgeries " (Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox, Oxford University fellow and lecturer in ancient history, p.266, Knopf, 1986) There were hundreds of these forgeries, embellishments and cover-ups, and they neither read nor feel anything like Scripture. Consider the Infancy Gospel of James or Protovangelion (c.150 AD, long after James was dead), which is the earliest mention of virgin veneration and the claim that Jesus was born in a cave. Or the equally out of date Acts of Peter and Acts of John (c.150-200 AD), probably written by Leucius Charinus, with tales of Peters marvels, making a dog talk in witness and raising a smoked herring from the dead, John converting the Ephesians and destroying the Temple of Artemis. Or the Gospel of Mary (c.120-180 AD), supposedly written by Mary Magdalene and superior to the apostles teaching because she was closer to Christ as his "girlfriend," a text almost identical to the Hindu myth of the world being an illusory chaos in which each soul must discover its own true nature. These forged fables are so corny they would be laughable if there were not hundreds of millions of Christians today who believe the same kind of tripe. (Space does not permit to cover all these inane documents. For those who have the time to waste here are four sources: The Complete Gospels, ed. Robert Miller, San Francisco, Harper Collins, 1994; The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. J. K. Elliot, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993; Early Christian Writings, ed. Maxwell Staniforth, NY, Penguin, 1987; The New Testament Apocrypha, Schneemelcher, Westminster and Knox Press, Louisville, 1989). Eusebius himself admitted that he suppressed anything that might tend to the disgrace of Christianity and Augustine likewise justified concealing whatever was deemed necessary to defend his religion. Critics have pointed out that his treatise, On Lying, was made just before his "conversion" but even after he was bishop of Hippo his essay Against Lying was no better. This love of fanciful myth or half truth (what the Word calls lies) is a hallmark of early churchdom and, as we shall soon see, every Christian on the planet today is quite happy to bathe in comparable superstition.
Whole schools were devoted to the creation of this new religion. Their centers were primarily in Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. Here councils and synods met to argue about exactly how to fast at the Easter Festival, and whether their Eucharist should be celebrated on Sunday or only at Jewish Passover, while Christ had not taught his disciples such specific fasting nor to keep his ordained bread-breaking on any particular day or month, certainly not at the Festival of Ishtar. Another site of critical importance to the foundations of Christianity was the city of Ephesus. Its bishop, Polycrates (c.190 AD), was the one who sowed the absurd story that the apostle John "became a sacrificing priest, wearing the mitre." (Eusebius, Marcus Aurelius to Severus) From this same sect in Ephesus came the fables about Mary being Theotokos ("Mother of God") and her resurrection and ascension from Ephesus to become the mediator between Christ and men (suiting the pagans of that city, who worshipped the great mother goddess Diana, as well as the Christians). All this was classic Christian strategy: to wait for the elect to die and then claim them as their own, revising history to suit the church plan (Rome is doing this right now regarding the Protestant Reformers). Eusebius acknowledged the problem of fake documents being confused with the writings of the apostles, and even such key scriptures as the book of Hebrews being openly rejected by early bishops. And no wonder! That majestic scripture is the very death knell to church and priesthood. Even a cursory reading of this great epistle reveals that the church by comparison is a fake. Christianity is neo-paganism in the name of Christ.
Jesus had strictly commanded his apostles to "not be called teacher," and "do not be called master," but above all, "Do not call anyone on earth father: for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:8-10) As Lord, he would have known exactly what error was soon to come and he would not have his elect fall into this trap. But the early Christians were bent on using these terms as soon as possible, giving such names to their "divines" and "patriarchs" and eventually hatching the emergence of the great padre or grand-papa of them all, the Pope. That particular "Holy Father" is neither holy nor father, at least not to the elect. To churchmen he is indeed their father. Consider some of these men called early church fathers and what they believed. Unlike the apostles, many of them were fixated with a pathological desire to be martyred. All of them were in totally in love with the Church they had created. All of them believed that their priestly utterances at their sacraments could, as in the parallel pagan mystery cults, literally turn bread and wine into the body and blood of their god, so that they could feast on him. Their other "miracles" were likewise preposterous. Here is an account in a letter from the church of Smyrna regarding Polycarp (69-155 AD), the last living link to the real apostles, who was supposedly condemned to die by fire. The alleged slayers, on seeing that the flames formed a protective arch around him and that he instead glowed and smelled like perfume, "perceived that his body could not be consumed by fire, they commanded an executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. And on doing this there came forth a dove, and a great quantity of blood so that the fire was extinguished." The story reads exactly like a Greek fable or Roman Catholic marvel; it completely lacks the ring of truth of any of the great works of the New Testament.
Irenaeus (c.120-200 AD), bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons, France), wrote of the authority of the church fathers and listed the bishops which became the doctrine of "the apostolic succession," even emphasizing at that early date the unique position of the bishop of Rome. Tertullian and other "fathers" are supposed to have recorded that Peter was the first bishop in Rome. This was another masterly fabrication. "There is no historical evidence that St. Peter was the first leader of the church of Rome nor that he was martyred there during a persecution of the Christians (c. AD 67). By the end of the 1st century, however, the See of Rome seems to have been accorded a place of honor among the bishoprics claiming apostolic foundation, perhaps because of Romes claim to the graves of both Peter and Paul, its many martyrs and defense of what has triumphed as orthodoxy, and its status as the capital of the Roman Empire." (Encyclopedia Britannica, Papacy, Std.Ver.1999)
The following are extracts from the seven short letters of Ignatius of Antioch (died c.110 AD), early English translations by C.H. Hoole (1885) and J.B. Lightfoot (1891). (A comprehensive text may be found in A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, William Schoedel, Fortress Press, 1985). These selections display the two driving themes of his doctrine, his absolute love of priestly lordship and the church obsession with the Eucharist. "Respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the priests as the council of God and college of Apostles. Without these it cannot be called a Church Do nothing without the bishop let all men reverence the deacons, and the bishop likewise, even as Jesus Christ, and the presbyters as the council of God he who is within the altar is pure, he who does anything apart from the bishop and presbytery is not pure." (Letter to the Trallians) "The bishop sits in the place of God submit yourselves to your bishop." (Letter to the Magnesians) "Run in harmony with the mind of the bishop, that by our submission we may give ourselves to God be careful not to resist the bishop plainly, we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord himself obey the bishop and presbytery without distraction, breaking one bread, the medicine of immortality, the antidote that we should not die." (Letter to the Ephesians) " one Eucharist one altar one bishop." (Letter to the Philadelphians) " wherever the bishop appears there is the catholic church." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans) As we shall see in greater detail, this is precisely the spirit of "antichrist" (subsitute-christ) which the apostle John said was appearing during his own lifetime, and the "falling away" Paul predicted was just around the corner. John wrote that the elect in Ephesus had "tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars" but had "lost their first love," and that "he who has an ear" should repent quickly. (Revelation 2:1-7) He also revealed that both Smyrna and Philadelphia were infiltrated by "blasphemy" and a "synagogue of Satan" and would be put to a severe test. (Revelation 2:9,10; 3:9,10) This is a direct pointer to the likes of Ignatius and the coming church. Ignatius even allowed himself the name Theophoros (Greek, "God Bearer"). Except for the untrustworthy Eusebius, there is not a shred of evidence for the Christian claim that Peter confirmed this man to teach. If he had ever met him, he would have thrown him headlong out of the door. Most likely, Peter or another apostle did just that and Ignatius "planted churches" instead. Today he is a "patron saint" to whom millions of Orthodox Christians pray for "intercession."
Ignatius was the first in Christian literature to use the expression "catholic church" and was noted for his yearning for martyrdom with wild beasts in the arena. "I shall coax them to devour me if they are unwilling and refuse, I will compel them to do it tearing apart of bones, hacking of limbs, crushing of the whole body, tortures of the devil come upon me, if only I may attain to Jesus Christ." (Letter to the Romans) This demented death-wish theology was not uncommon amongst early Christians (and crazed sects today) but is not found in Scripture. The apostles natural preference to be with Christ in glory did not include such twisted reasoning, and Jesus told Peter that he "would not wish" to go to the death that awaited him. (John 21:18,19) This is almost incredible because the apostle John could still have been alive while the unbalanced Ignatius was formulating the dogmas of this fraudulent body, the kyriakon or "church." That is how quickly it all happened. Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) expounded on the Easter Festival, teaching the priestly ability to "eucharist" bread and wine into real flesh and blood. Athanasius (295-373 AD), a notable Christian father who attended the Council of Nicea, and also formulated an important church creed named after him, described the sacraments in as directly pagan terms as possible, even describing the Christian priests as a rebirth of the Jewish priesthood which Christ had abolished.
Clement (c.150-215 AD), a mystic who taught at the enormously influential school at Alexandria, laid the foundations both for Christian monasticism and early ecumenism, the embracing and blending of human philosophies with the Word: "One, therefore, is the way of truth, but into it, just as into an everlasting river, flow streams but from another place." (Clement, Stromateis) His description of the church could hardly be more in accord with pagan mysteries, " one only is the Virgin Mother. I love to call her the Church she is at once both Virgin and Mother calling her children about her, she nourishes them with her holy milk." (Clement, Instructor of the Children, c.202 AD) Here is Augustine saying the same thing of the body of the initiates: "His mother is the Church, because she Herself gives birth to His members, that is, the faithful." (Augustine, On Virginity) No apostle of Christ ever wrote such drivel. In Scripture, the children of God receive their enlightenment from the Father of Light (not a mother or virgin), are begotten by the Word (not the church), are taught by the Spirit who shows them Christ (not the image of a female body) and teaches them His truth (not church doctrine). Imagine being responsible for teaching such dogma to children and having to explain it to the Lord on the last day, when His declared penalty for leading such young ones astray is so terrible and eternal! Here we have the classic replacement of God the Father with the Virgin and grand Mother, the "holy church" birthing and suckling its young. This is the timeless usage of the word kyriakon, the same old church tactic of taking a golden calf from paganism and saying it is now of Yahweh.
The Lord does not accept this, and His wrath against the ploy is beyond measurement. (Exodus 32:4,5,28,35) The Holy Spirit never elevated, exalted or even so much as used the word kyriakon ("church") to describe His people, and this we know absolutely from all the scriptures which He directly inspired. The Holy Spirit never confused kyriakon with ekklesia (Gods called and chosen, His house not made with stones or human hands) and neither must His elect accept such a replacement or fusion. It was the early sect of neo-pagans who did this, the fathers of the Christian church, who absorbed and applied Greek and Egyptian superstition and philosophy to the Word of God.
Clements most famous pupil, who succeeded him as leader at Alexandria, was Origen (c.185-254 AD), "the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek church." (Encyclopedia Britannica, Origen, Std.Ver.1999) He later went to Palestine to found another school. This prominent father and trainer of churchmen, a man steeped in Greek and Roman philosophy, was an extreme ascetic in the eastern fashion, fasting, refusing to wash, sleeping only on the floor, even castrating himself as a supposedly better way to serve God. Origen was also the early prototype for Christian evangelists today, an earnest advocate of mans freewill and possible universal salvation, teaching in its most extreme form that even Satan could repent and be saved. He hated Gods absolute and sovereign grace as taught by the apostles, preaching strongly against any who believed in the hundreds of Scripture verses which declare that salvation and damnation are predestined, not dependent on fallen mans volition but ordained according to the purpose, pleasure, power and will of the Lord of lords. His was a pagan god like the Christians worship today, a Jesus who merely offered salvation and waited helplessly for man to accept, making man, not God, the ultimate master in redemption.
This is not what the churches teach about these men of course. They are usually portrayed as the great formulators and defenders of doctrines such as the Trinity. But so what? The African Coptic Church holds to the Trinity, which at the same time they depict as a grotesque graven image, a three-headed man in their icons and on their bishops staffs. The Roman and Orthodox Churches still champion all of those dogmas and are still dead and doomed, blind to absolute justification by Another, still pronouncing anathema curses against pure grace, still revering the Virgin and Mother Church, still confirming and consecrating the priesthood which Christ died to abolish, still shaking hands with every sect and religion that will join the ecumenical fold, still celebrating every important pagan festival. They do indeed belong together with the early fathers of Christianity, the bishops and patriarchs of the kyriakons.
Origen was a classic theological goat, immersing his pupils in the Bible-pagan mixture that we now know as Christianity. His school was a perfect model for todays theological college, studying every combination of untruth that mans philosophy had invented and applying it to the Word. He was a forerunner of the theological professor and nothing in his writing shows that he ever believed in the true college of the Spirit, as promised by Christ, where God calls and teaches his own directly and into the Word alone. (John 6:45; 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15; Hebrews 8:10-11; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13) Indeed, how could Origen teach such a truth? He would have been out of a job. The apostles taught that the Spirit led the elect completely away from the "elemental spirits" of philosophy, right out of the darkness of paganism. The church fathers led their disciples into that gloom, blending it with the truth. This fraud has been perpetrated from the very beginning, and every elect disciple needs to learn that over and over again. Theological college is not the spiritual enlightenment that God promised. Churchmanship is not discipleship. Origens intellectual influence was not eclipsed until the appearance of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), author of "The City of God," the church father whose ideas were as earthbound as those of Origen and Clement, and whose works molded the form of the very worst church body ever to reign over mankind. But that was yet to come.
The thing that the early church fathers most desired was church buildings. They had bishops and councils in the first two centuries but no kyriakons. The elect had certainly not built any, and neither had the cult called Christians. "At this date (250 AD) there were no church buildings on public ground." (Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox, p.266) The elect would never have constructed kyriakons, but the Christians could hardly wait. They got their wish with the conversion of Emperor Constantine I to Christianity. Make no mistake, Constantine was indeed a Christian. Do not confuse this with election to the chosen people of God. When Constantine favored the Christian cult, the lid came off Pandoras box, the flies poured out and the harlot arose in full strength. The direct result of Constantines conversion, according to his friend Eusebius, was " consecrations of the newly built places of worship, convocations of bishops leaders performed ceremonies with full pomp, and ordained priests, the sacraments, and majestic rites of the Church mystical ministrations." (Eusebius, History of the Church, Constantine) Eusebius recorded one of the many speeches made by a church "minister" at the time. "Friends of God, and priests clothed with the sacred vestment the pride of the holy temple of God on whom God bestowed the supreme honor of building his house upon earth and re-establishing it for Christ shall I call you a new Bezael master builder of a divine tabernacle, or a Solomon, king of a new and nobler Jerusalem university of true religion." (Eusebius, History of the Church, Peace and Security) There you have it, a total sell-out, a full scale return to the obsolete temple and priests, clothes, rites, everything that Christ had abolished according to the New Testament book of Hebrews and letters from eye-witnesses like Peter. It is from this earthly shadow that God saves his elect. He saves from the church, not to it!
But what was it that really gave these church fathers the break they had been longing for? What led Constantine, a worshipper of the sun god Sol or Apollo, to elevate the Christian cult above all others? It was a well documented event in history which finally catalyzed the terrible rise of this religion-in-waiting, producing a gigantic cult from which the world will not recover until the return of the Lord who will lay it entirely to waste. Constantine was at war, facing a critical battle, and he claimed to have seen a vision of a Greek chi-ro X symbol on top of a round sun, with the words, "in this sign conquer." So the sign was used on his standard (Eusebius claimed he saw it, and described it), on shields, on helmets and later on coins. Constantine won the battle. Pagan emperors worshipped and compensated their gods for supposed favors and so Constantine rewarded the Christian sect of the cross. It was a masterstroke because the pagans already revered the Sun and the chi-ro or a similar mark called a chreston used in their scriptures. This was the turning point. "No chi-ro sign has been found in a Christian context before Constantines vision instead the sign has a different connotation in pagan papyri scribes or readers used exactly this sign to mark a good or useful passage, the chi-ro for the Greek chreston. Did the emperors advisers suggest this clever abbreviation for Christ (Chrestus)? Like other symbols in the years after Constantines conversion it had a double meaning, one for pagan, one for Christian." (Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox, p.616)
There is no doubt the double meaning was intentional. Christians can be "converted" much more easily than this. Consider Hilarion (c. 291-371 AD), alive at this very time, whose story was pumped up by another early church father. "Jerome greatly exaggerated Hilarions importance it is often difficult to determine the facts." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Hilarion, Std.Ver.1999) Hilarion was claimed to have, among other marvels, healed a camels hump and blessed a Christians racehorses so that they beat the pagan competition, thereby "converting" many who watched. "Saint" Hilarions veneration spread to Italy and France, and he is naturally a favorite of some Irish bookies at the racetrack. This was the melting pot of myth and fable from which Christianity was forged. In selecting the flavor of the day Constantine employed the very tactics of the church, blending with already established paganism. He simply chose a sun-god symbol that was already sacred in Egypt and Greece and applied it to Christ. All Constantine did was add Christianity to his ecumenical fold. He may have diverted public money from pagan temples to Christian churches, but he did not outlaw or persecute the other cults. The church fathers and bishops were not so tolerant. As a minor cult they had suffered the persecutions of pagan priests and emperors, the "Christian-hunting" recorded by Eusebius. Now it was payback time. They were on a quest for supremacy and immediately set about torturing rival priests into submission, a method they perfected for a thousand years, right up to the Inquisition. Again, make no mistake about this. No elect apostle or disciple, called and taught by God, would ever have engaged in these Christian acts. The church was out for complete takeover and control, not destroying paganism but absorbing everything and consecrating it in Jesus name. They renamed the pagan gods as Christian "saints" and even adopted the "science" of astrology and the "book of fates", which became the church horoscope of the dark ages under Papal rule, and selected choice pagan sites, such as the oracle of Sybil, for their church buildings. (Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox, p.676-8)
Do you think this is merely ancient history and has no bearing on todays events? Think again. I have been in many start-up fellowships and Bible studies where the plain and pure Word was being discovered, and the Spirits enlightenment was evident, and then some goat bleated out those terrible and predictable words, "When are we going to start a church?" Let the answer of the elect resound, "Away with you Satan, for your thoughts are not of God but of man." Understand this, that wherever the Word begets the true children and house not made with hands, wherever God calls his own to himself and begins to teach them, the kyriakon will follow in haste. Satan is Beelzebub, literally the Lord of the Flies, the grand Bott-fly, seeking out life and laying his eggs right under its skin, so that his fraud may grow and distort and stifle. The church is Satans ace card and he will not hesitate to play it again and again in his drive for souls. His servants, the church fathers, are alive and well today and in our midst. Their game plan is exactly the same as that of the early fathers. Church, church, church!
They wish to breed churches, plant churches, build churches. From this the elect must turn away. This is a battle that has raged through history since the first coming of Jesus. The Reformers fought with the church, knowing it to be false, but because they sought to reform it rather than get out altogether they fell right back into the same pit. Beelzebubs eggs hatched yet again. The prominent martyrs, well versed in the scriptures with which they exposed the church, were all killed by the church, not the state (except when state and church were one and the same beast). It was not an accident that an "uneducated" John Bunyan, schooled only in the Word, a tinker not unlike the ordinary fishermen Jesus called, rocked the church which tried so desperately to silence and imprison him. Every awakening of God is a wrenching from the church, not toward it, but Christian revivals put people right back in the pews. There are countless church "fathers" working to achieve that end right now. Like the group of early fathers, that is all they are, begetters of churchdom. They are not the fathers of the children of God, those regenerated by his Spirit to eternal life. The elect have one Father only. Accept no substitute. He who has ears let him hear.