|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 6. Early Christian Councils
The Council of Nicea (325 AD, ancient Nicaea now Iznik, Turkey) was the first ecumenical council of the Christian church. Constantine the Not-so-Great presided. This council attempted but failed to establish a uniform date for Easter. But it issued decrees on many other matters, including the "proper" method of consecrating bishops and a ban on bishops, priests, and deacons moving from one kyriakon to another. In a key area of encompassing traditional pagan priesthood it failed in its early attempt to make a statute enforcing celibate clergy. That came later under Rome. In the critical tenet of the church the Nicene creed, like other creeds later adopted by the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches, states the words which churchmen love to hear and that no apostle would ever have uttered. "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."
The Council of Constantinople (381 AD), the second council of the Christian church, was summoned by the emperor Theodosius I. Doctrinally, it accepted the Nicene Creed; it also gave the bishop of Constantinople precedence over all other bishops because, as they put it, "Constantinople is the New Rome." In fact only eastern bishops had been summoned but the Greeks claimed this council to be ecumenical. Pope Damasus I in Rome, of course, did not accept the precedence of Constantinople. The bishops were at it again, vying for supremacy, something which the apostles, had they been alive, would have viewed with disgust and exposed as the fabrication of the counterfeit body.
The Council of Ephesus (431 AD), the third council of the Christian church, was commissioned by the Roman Pope Celestine I. When the Eastern bishops arrived and learned that the council, summoned by Emperor Theodosius II, had been started without them, they set up a rival synod under John of Antioch and excommunicated the bishops of Ephesus and Alexandria, both favored choices of the Pope. In turn Pope Celestine excommunicated the eastern bishop of Constantinople. By now you get the picture, the perfect image of Christianity at work. But that was not the greatest importance of Ephesus. It was in this city that Christians initially hatched the worship of the Virgin Mary, her elevation to sinless perfection, her titles of Mediatrix and Mother of God (Theotokos, as decreed by the Council). This was a deliberate ploy to intermingle with the pagans who also revered the Great Mother goddess as both a chaste virgin and a matron of fertility, a bent contradiction that the neo-pagans swallowed hook, line and sinker. According to the apostles Paul and Peter, "There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5) "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Now compare that with typical Doctrinal Statements of a few "infallible" popes in the "apostolic succession" of the Church.
In the Bible Mary is given no such place or authority. She was indeed favored as the giver of the flesh in which the Word appeared, but certainly not the mother of the eternal God, and no apostles ever addressed her with this blasphemous title. Neither was she a perpetual virgin, like the pagan goddesses, such as Vesta, but had many natural children through normal sexual intercourse with Joseph, producing at least four brothers plus sisters after Jesus. (Matthew 12:46-50; 13:55; in these verses Jesus also declares that his true family is not that of blood but of spiritual obedience, the children of God who display the right fruit.) Mary was greatly honored in being selected to bear Christ, but was nevertheless a fallen and flawed sinner like every human being descended from Adam, and she openly named Jesus as "God my Savior." (Luke 1:47) But in the "holy catholic church," Mary would be revised to play the same role as Isis or Venus, even her churches being built over theirs. She would become the great Madonna (literally "My Lady," the precise meaning of Baalat, the female consort of Baal, and the same name given to countless pagan goddesses, including Ishtar and Astarte).
What happened at Ephesus was no mere coincidence. Ephesus was traditionally the abode of the most important goddess in Asia Minor, the idol of the Graeco-Roman Artemis-Diana housed in her great kyriakon (church), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Her statue, like many of the pagan goddesses, was sexually explicit, especially so because it had not only large breasts, but also multiple breasts signifying ultimate mothership, a perfect image of the maternal church suckling her young. Jesus quickly corrected any who talked of breast fetishes or mother-reverence. (Luke 11:27,28) Such errors were hallmarks of the pagan religions around him, and as Lord he would have known that these doctrines would soon be gleefully absorbed by the coming church sect who would try their hardest to deceive the elect. It was here in Ephesus that the apostle Paul battled the cult of Diana, "she whom the whole world worships." (Acts 19) When he and other "followers of the Way" (eyewitnesses and original disciples of Christ, c.60 AD) arrived in the city with the message of the one living and moral God, the Ephesians rioted. The artisans in particular realized that their very livelihoods were at stake. If the people heard about the Lord, then all their trinkets and icons (Diana souvenirs) might be worthless. So when the disciples, including the apostle Paul himself, tried to address the public, the silversmiths whipped the crowd into charismatic agitation, chanting a mindless mantra, "Great is Diana! Great is Diana!" in constant repetition for hours.
The whole episode is eerily similar to the frenzied efforts of the modern churches, particularly in Britain, to deify Our Lady of Lust and Landmines, Princess Diana, and the sad desire of so many worshippers to convince themselves of her heavenly position. Newspaper headlines across the world carried headlines like, "The woman who changed the world," and "The true force for good in the world has gone," when in fact she had merely publicly perished in the same sexual immorality in which she had lived and boasted. Indeed, the House Of Windsor has become a "red light district," the fodder of tabloids. Anglican and almost all other Christian churches were quick to defend Diana, calling for prayer vigils and special services, using their favorite and lop-sided message that God is Love and Compassion, but not also Light and Judgment, that Jesus is always forgiving, because he accepted a prostitute as his follower, and did not cast the first stone at the adulteress, while omitting the requirements for redemption at the end of those accounts. A half-truth is as powerful and misleading as a lie. The critical conclusions to those encounters with the Son of God are quite different. The harlot in scripture did not continue or die in her old ways after meeting and becoming a disciple of the Son of God. He changed her forever. The lawful penalty for the adulteress was mandatory, death by stoning, and Christ was the only one in the crowd, indeed, in all history, with the qualification (without sin) to throw that stone. He did not merely save her from certain death, nor did he lie to her with todays sugary gospel that God would tolerate or condone her behavior. He told her bluntly to "Go and sin no more" lest something worse befell her. (John 8:11)
Pauls message to the key city of Ephesus was exactly the same. He escaped the religious riot and went on to other cities. But to the early disciples who remained, he penned one of the greatest spiritual letters of the New Testament, describing the master plan of God and the unique and cosmic status of Christ, "raised from the dead to sit at His right hand above every name that is named in this age and the age to come." (Ephesians 1) He also gave them a clear warning to avoid the Diana worship which had swept their world: "Let no filthiness be named among you be sure of this, no fornicator (one engaging in extra-marital intercourse) or idol lover has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God let no one (church minister or anyone else) deceive you with vain words, it is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming it is a shame even to speak of the things they do in secret." (Ephesians 5)
In ancient Israel, the prophets had perpetually battled the two-faced cult that mixed the worship of the Lord with the mother goddess Astarte or Asherah. In Babylon, she was known as Belit, "My Lady" (Madonna, the consort of Bel) and in Egypt venerated as Isis the "Queen of Heaven" (Jeremiah, chapter 44), all titles which were later transferred to Mother Mary by the Mother Church. As Christianity shrank the Lord to an idol permanently stuck on a crucifix, or a helpless infant, the Mother was elevated. "The Christian representations of the Madonna and child are clearly the continuation of Isis and her son suckling her breast" (Encyclopedia Britannica, Mystery Religions, 1974, 12:785). In the prophet Jeremiahs time (circa 630 BC), the Lord destroyed this cult without mercy (men, women and children) with pestilence, famine and the sword. The few survivors received an overdose of mother-worship right where it originated, taken as exiles in chains to Babylon.
Indeed, it is hard to find a book of the Old Testament prophets without finding a reference to the cultural impact of this Asherah worship, usually performed in the name of the Lord. The prophets actually called this "the spirit of harlotry", warning that no amount of "righteousness" (good deeds, religious sacrifices) could avert the penalty for such spiritual or physical prostitution because the mixture was unthinkable, completely unacceptable to God. The picture is not unlike that of today: churchmen ordaining sodomite priests and marrying homosexuals, ministers joining people already divorced countless times in yet more "holy matrimony," "politically correct" statesmen and social workers designating prostitutes as just "sex trade workers," people worshipping their Hollywood stars, lapping up their immorality in the supermarket tabloids, and logging on to their favorite Internet porn sites. The price will be the same. "Your lewdness and harlotry have brought this upon you, because you have played the harlot I will thrust you down with those who descend into the Pit, and make you dwell in the nether world I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more." (Ezekiel 23 through 26) The church is not standing against this but winking at it and even joining hands with it. That is exactly what happened at the critical Council of Nicea. They went right back into that forbidden zone, choosing a harlot/virgin/mother goddess and a mother church and confusing them with the Word of God.
The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian Church, held in Chalcedon (modern Kadikoy, Turkey), was convened by the emperor Marcian, the largest and best-documented of the early councils. It approved the Nicene Creed, issued disciplinary decrees affecting the (unscriptural) orders of monks and clergy, and generally flexed its well-formed muscles. By now, the character of the early church was well established, and this council merely confirmed it. Christianity was at last a traditional religion and major institution. It could hardly have been further from the first apostles and disciples and their wonderful freedom which the Master had died to purchase for them, but that was not what churchmen wanted, nor do they now. What the elect, the "remnant saved by grace" were doing immediately after the apostles is no easier to determine than it was in Elijahs time, when that great prophet despaired that there were no elect to be seen, only churchmen. There are hints that there were "uneducated and unorthodox" believers who rejected the teachings of the early fathers at Alexandria. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Clement, Std.Ver.1999) Make no mistake, the elect may be hard to find in history, but they were there, quietly working with their unseen Master while the church made its public show. It is no easier to know where they are today, those whom the Lord calls and keeps for himself. One thing is sure, except for a few temporarily snared sheep (who will escape, for the Son neither abandons nor loses any whom the Father gives to him) they are not to be found in the church. The church councils and synods are not the assemblies of the elect. The kyriakon is NOT the ekklesia.