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The Apostate Fathers

Volume 1

St. Clement, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus

These writers, whom many Christians for centuries now have called their fathers, are the earliest of those founders of Christianity who are called the Ante-Nicene Fathers, because they lived before Christianity's First Ecumenical Council at Nicea (A.D. 325). If we are to believe the historians, they wrote these works shortly following the days in which the apostles of Jesus labored among us. They are the most ancient of Christian writers whose works have survived, and, in some cases, only fragments of their writings remain. Some of their writings, if not all, have been tampered with, even forged, by later Christians, but we will not try to sort all that out. In the main, we will deal with these works as they have been preserved and presented to us.

We are thankful that God has graciously allowed these writings to remain for our study. The text used for this study is from the reprinted edition of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volumne 1, The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, originally published in the United States by the Christian Literature Publishing Company, in 1885, and reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers in 1994, by whose kind permission excerpts of these ancient writings are used.

The Apostate Fathers - Volume 1

An Index and overview of work

1. INTRODUCTION
2. CLEMENT
EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS
3. MATHETES
EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS
4. POLYCARP
EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
5. THE ENCYCLICAL EPISTLE OF THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA
THE MARTYRDOM OF THE HOLY POLYCARP
6. IGNATIUS
EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS,
SHORTER AND LONGER VERSIONS (EPHS.)
EPISTLE TO THE MAGNESIANS (MAG.)
EPISTLE TO THE TRALLIANS (TRALL.)
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS (ROMS.)
EPISTLE TO THE PHILADELPHIANS (PHILA.)
EPISTLE TO THE SMYRNAEANS (SMYR.)
EPISTLE TO POLYCARP (POLY.)
SYRIAC VERSIONS OF THREE EPISTLES
(POLY. SV.; EPHS. SV.; "THE 3RD EPISTLE", SV.)
SPURIOUS EPISTLES
MARTYRDOM OF IGNATIUS (Mart. Ig.)
7. BARNABAS
EPISTLE
8. PAPIAS
FRAGMENTS
9. JUSTIN MARTYR
THE FIRST APOLOGY (1AP.)
THE SECOND APOLOGY (2AP.)
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO, A JEW (DIAL.)
THE DISCOURSE TO THE GREEKS (DISC.)
HORTATORY ADDRESS TO THE GREEKS (HORT.)
ON THE SOLE GOVERNMENT OF GOD (G.G.)
ON THE RESURRECTION, FRAGMENTS (ON THE RES.)
OTHER FRAGMENTS (FRAG. JUST.)
MARTYRDOM (MART. JUST.)
10. IRENAEUS
AGAINST HERESIES (FIVE BOOKS: AH1, AH2, etc.)
FRAGMENTS (FRAG. IRE.)
11. CONCLUSION
12. APPENDIX

INTRODUCTION

Irenaeus, one of Christianity's fathers, perceptively wrote, "Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than the truth itself." If Satan does have ministers plying their ungodly trade in the church (2Cor. 11:13-15), then we should expect them to mingle their poison with the pure water of the Word, rather than expect them to tell nothing but lies. Otherwise, they could deceive no one. Just as Israel was warned of prophets whose prophecies came true but who afterward attempted to lead God's sheep astray (Dt. 13:1-3), so we are warned of teachers who speak well of Jesus and the Father, but who also proclaim doctrines which are contrary to the truth. These are they, said Jesus, who come to the church "in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves" (Mt. 7:15). This wickedness in the guise of good is what we find in the teachings of the men who are called by Christians the Apostolic Fathers, and that is the reason I call them the Apostate Fathers. These men, whose works are examined here, are, I maintain, the very ones concerning whom Jesus and the apostles gave the church earnest warning, but, alas, to no avail.

We do not deny that there is truth to be found in the writings of Christianity's church fathers; on the contrary, many examples of truths they confessed will be pointed out. But what we are searching for are those conclusive proofs of their being wolves in sheep's clothing: false doctrine mingled in with the true.

Because the false teacher is profane, he cannot discern the difference between what is truly of God and what is not. He holds both the revealed truth and his own thoughts in equal esteem. The distinguishing mark of a true man of God is not merely that he speaks truth to the church, but that he speaks only the truth to the church. That is the real measure of a man sent from God (Jn. 3:34), and it is the holy measure by which the writings of these "fathers" stand unquestionably condemned.

The first indication that what we have in these writings is doctrines of devils is the fact that for centuries Christians have called these men fathers of their faith. Jesus said not to do that (Mt. 23:9). Clearly, whatever flies in the face of God's commandment must necessarily be evil, and so I say without any fear of contradiction from God that Christians who tout these writers as "apostolic fathers" or "early church fathers" are rebellious in doing so. We should not be surprised to find, then, that such Christians, being of the same disobedient disposition which inspired the doctrines of these fathers, applaud their heretical writings.

The categories below are the principal ones used to organize the teachings of these writers into manageable groups. With them, I have briefly summarized by what standard these men will be judged.

  • ANTI-SEMITISM
  • CEREMONY
  • ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS
  • HERESY/ PERVERSION OF THE SCRIPTURES
  • SALVATION / WORKS
  • SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND POWER
  • SUPERSTITION
  • TRINITARIAN ISSUES

ANTI-SEMITISM

Although both the prophets of Israel and Jesus' apostles lamented the hardness of the Jews' heart toward their God, there is never found in them an attitude of hatred or contempt for the Jews. Jeremiah was grieved beyond words for the blessings which his beloved fellow Jews were throwing away. Paul said that he was willing to be cursed by God, if that would make his beloved Jewish brothers and sisters understand what they were missing by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah (Rom. 9:1-3). Contrarily, the animosity and cruelty historically shown by Christianity to those who opposed it, especially to the Jews, is undeniable. A condescending, sarcastic or contemptuous attitude toward the Jews will be found only among false teachers.

CEREMONY

The faith which Jesus created among men by the Spirit, and which Paul the apostle preached, excluded any ceremonial rite. There is no ceremony in the Spirit of God. That this is contrary to the Jewish church's behavior in the book of Acts is undeniable (e.g. having certain hours for prayer, Acts 3:1; offering sacrifices at the temple, Acts 21:23-26); but that is, in fact, the point. The Jewish believers continued performing the ceremonial works of the Law after the Spirit came; but, when God raised up Paul as an apostle, he sent him to the Gentiles with what Paul called "the gospel of the uncircumcision" (Gal. 2:7), which excluded every religious ritual known to man, including those rituals which God, through Moses and David, had given to Israel. This matter of religious ceremony is extremely important because it was on this issue that Paul's gospel for Gentiles differed from Peter's gospel for the Jews.

Fortunately, for those who are seeking the truth, this clear and simple difference between those two gospels seems to have always escaped the attention of false prophets and teachers, making it easy for us to determine who they are. False teachers do not understand Paul's gospel of liberation from ceremonial form; so, they continue to endorse worship "in the flesh", as Paul called it; that is, the practice of religious ceremonies. Any man's endorsement of any religious ritual is proof positive that he has not been sent from God. In no other matter are true and false teachers made so clearly manifest than in the matter of ceremony. Jesus did not come to add another ceremony to the lives of God's people, but to provide a "new and living way".

ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS

The government of the church is entirely directed by the Spirit; it is not of the will of man. Therefore, an endorsement of worldly political methods, such as voting on a doctrine, or voting to hire or fire a minister, is also a mark of a false teacher. Any entanglement in the political affairs of this life, or any use of carnal methods of gaining control over the church, is contrary to the way of the Spirit of God. A man is doing evil who exhorts the saints to resort to earthly political methods to accomplish God's will on earth.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF THE SCRIPTURES

Any blatant contradiction of Scriptural truth, the promotion of ungodly ideas, or the twisting of Scriptures to suit such a purpose, is evidence that a man is not sent from God, "for he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God" (Jn. 3:34).

These earliest Christian writers misquote the Scriptures frequently, in part, no doubt, because of the sheer volume of verses quoted by some of them, but perhaps also because the manuscripts available to them were inaccurate. If so, the fault, then, may not have been altogether theirs, and a simple sense of justice requires us to leave room for error in such circumstances. Therefore, there is little attention given to the very many instances of error in Scriptural quotations, or to their references to Scriptures which do not exist, or to their inaccurate references to biblical facts, unless those errors are significant, as a few of them are.

SUPERSTITION

Peter said that in the proclaiming of the gospel "we have not followed cunningly devised fables" (2Pet. 1:16). It is clear that a man who in his preaching or teaching employs pagan myths and fables as being factual material is not of God. References to the mythological phoenix as an historical fact, or to the incredible seventy-day production of the Septuagint, are sure indications of a carnal mind that cannot differentiate between the holy and the unholy, the true and the false.

SALVATION / WORKS

In the main, and to their credit, the fathers of the Christian faith agreed with God's apostles and prophets on the subject of salvation; that is, they maintained that without faithfulness to God, the church member will not be saved in the end. These false teachers of the early church knew nothing of the twentieth-century tradition which has developed among many Christians of claiming to have "gotten saved" (before the day of judgment!) merely because they have believed in Jesus.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND POWER

For the sake of those unbelieving Christians who reject the notion that the miracles which the Bible records really happened, or that they ceased to occur after the earthly ministry of Christ and his apostles, I thought it would be beneficial to point out some of the references in the writings of their fathers to the continued presence of spiritual power in the church of their time.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

The faith of Christianity stands or falls principally on the doctrine of the Trinity, a fact which the Catholic Church itself repeatedly admits in its official Catechism. This doctrine, therefore, receives special attention, so that Christians may see what some of their earliest fathers believed concerning the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit. There is, of course, no doctrine of the Trinity to be found in the Bible. What may surprise some Christians is that in most of the writings of the earliest fathers of the Christian church the doctrine of a Trinity is not merely missing; it is plainly contradicted. Since the doctrine of the Trinity had not yet been invented in their day, the earliest fathers of Christianity gave no thought to it, and they often described the relationship of the Father and the Son in simple, biblical terms which contradict the trinitarian doctrine in both spirit and letter.

Their ignorance of the Trinity doctrine notwithstanding, some of these fathers set in place some small stones of philosophy which were used by later Christian theologians as foundational material in the construction of their trinitarian gospel. In the main, however, the writings of the earliest Christian fathers plainly contradict the Christian Trinity doctrine, and their writings do that for an obvious reason: like the apostles of Jesus, and Jesus himself, they knew nothing of it.

Note: From the earliest extant letters of Christianity's church fathers, the term Christian is used in reference to believers in Jesus. There is no indication as to when or how the term Christian became a term by which followers of Christ identified themselves, as opposed to what it was originally: a term (of derision, certainly) imposed upon them by unbelievers (Acts 11:26). For more on the subject of the origin and meaning of the term Christian, see the Appendix.

The Apostate Fathers

CLEMENT

THE EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS

INTRODUCTION:

Irenaeus, whose work we will study later, tells us that Clement was the third Bishop of the church in Rome (AH3, III.3); that is to say, the third Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. This letter has been historically attributed to Clement, but in the letter itself the author's name is not given. The date of its writing is also uncertain, but two suggestions are: about A.D. 68, after the persecution of Christians by Nero, or about A.D. 97, following the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Domitian.

It is not too much to require of Clement, the third Pope and a man who considered himself to be a guide of the saints, that he be saintly in his knowledge of the truth. We appreciate the truths which are enunciated by Clement, all of which are familiar to anyone who has knowledge of the holy Scriptures; however, for the assessment of the man's character, we cannot ignore errors of essential doctrines and of judgment concerning important spiritual matters. We are willing disciples of anyone sent from God, yet we require of anyone who presents himself as a vicar of Christ to the church that he teach only what is true. It would be ungodly for us to demand anything less.

CEREMONY

Statement:
Clement states that the Lord commanded the saints to bring offerings "at their appointed times and hours", and that only those offerings offered at those appointed times are acceptable to God (XL).

Truth:
There is no such commandment from Jesus to be found in the Scriptures, nor does such a commandment belong on his tongue, for it is contrary to the spirit of the New Testament. Paul was dismayed that the Gentile church had begun to "observe days, and months, and times, and years", as those under the Old Testament had done (Gal. 4:10). There would have been no sin in the elders of the church at Rome making a rule, for some necessary purpose, which required the church to bring their tithes and offerings at an appointed time. Men anointed by God have the authority to do that; but for Clement to tell the saints that Jesus commanded the church to do that is to elevate such a rule to the status of doctrine, and that is an tactic used by religious oppressors to manipulate believers.

Clement later exhorts that the believer "who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ" (XLIX). One of the commandments of the Lord, which Clement apparently forgot, was not to add to them.

ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS

Statement:
Clement lists a strange hierarchy of earthly church leadership: a high priest and other, lower priests are mentioned as operating in the church according to the commandment of Christ Jesus, along with Levites, and then, laymen (XL).

Truth:
There is no such teaching in any of Jesus' words, nor yet in the writings of the apostles. According to the apostles, even though there are various functions and gifts belonging to individuals in the church, the saints as a body are all priests and kings with Christ (Rev. 1:6). The term laymen is not biblical, and there are certainly no Levites ordained by God in this New Covenant, as existed under the Law.

Statement:
Clement states that a congregation of believers has authority from God both to grant to a man a position of leadership over the church and also to expel a man from the ministry (XLIV). (Can you imagine one of the churches hiring Paul?) Moreover, a heathen method of government, rule by the will of the majority, is recognized by Clement as a valid method of settling disputes within the church (LIV).

Truth:
This indicates that the congregation which Clement considers to be the church has no leader anointed by God to govern its affairs after the Spirit, including Clement. Majority rule is clearly a "carnal weapon" which both comes from and promotes disunion, and which can never accomplish the will of God for the church.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
Clement looks forward to the elect of God receiving salvation in the future rather than claiming, as many modern Christians claim, to be already saved (II). He also uses the word saved in its present tense, not with the incorrect modern meaning of converted but of rescue (VI; IX). Like James (2:24), and like Jesus (Mt. 7:21), Clement states that the saints will be justified by their works, not their words (XXX). Again, he states that "the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed." Why? Because we are dealing with holy things, and "those who do anything beyond what is agreeable to His will are punished with death" (XLI).

Truth:
Clement apparently uses the word salvation as the apostles did, which usage is opposed to the way a large part of the modern church uses the word. There is none of the "I'm saved and you can't make me doubt it" attitude to be found in Clement's writing, just as it is absent in the writings of the apostles.

Note: Clement contradicts his own teaching on the subject of salvation when he writes, "All we, too [as with the Old Testament faithful]. . . are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, God has justified all men" (XXXII). He never explains to the readers why he, in this place, denies that "works wrought in holiness of heart" are required of those who hope to be saved, when in every other place he teaches the opposite. It may have been that he wanted to emphasize especially the dependence upon God's loving mercy which is our lot. If so, he certainly overstated his case, omitting, as he does here, the believer's responsibility to be faithful to Christ.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
The mythological story of Judith is given historical credence, and Judith herself is lauded by Clement as a blessed servant of God, alongside Esther (LV).

Truth:
The apocryphal book of Judith (included in the Catholic Bible) is worse than a pagan myth, for not only is the story itself invented but it also routinely contradicts historical facts found in both the holy Scriptures and in secular histories. Here are some examples:

  1. The author of Judith calls King Nebuchadnezzar the king of the Assyrians (Judith 1:1). He was actually the king of Babylon. Later, Judith seems to think that Nebuchadnezzar's army was composed of Medes and Persians (16:10).
  2. Events in the book of Judith are said to have begun in the twelfth through the eighteenth years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, when the Israelites "had lately returned from exile" (Judith 4:3). This is an historical impossibility. The Israelites did not even go into captivity until the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (2Kgs. 25:8), and they remained in Babylonian captivity at least seventy years, long after Nebuchadnezzar had died (Jer. 25:11-12; Dan. 9:2). When they returned from captivity, the Babylonian Empire had already collapsed, and the Medo-Persian Empire had swallowed it up.
  3. In Judith, the Moabites are referred to as Canaanites (Judith 5:2-3). The truth is that they descended from Lot, Abraham's nephew (Gen. 19). They were not Canaanites.
  4. In one of Judith's prayers, she praises God for "putting the sword" into the hand of her ancestor, the patriarch Simeon, when he and his brother Levi murdered an entire city of helpless men who were about to enter into covenant with God (Gen. 34). For this treacherous, wicked deed, both Simeon and Levi were cursed by God through their righteous father Jacob (Gen. 49:5-7). According to Judith, however, their deed was an exemplary accomplishment for which she praised God (Judith 9:2-4). For their wicked treachery, Jacob called Simeon and Levi "instruments of cruelty" (Gen. 49:5); Judith called them "favored sons, who burned with zeal for you [God]" (Judith 9:4).

Do modern Christians know that their father, Pope Clement, actually believed that these events in the book of Judith happened, and believed that Judith was a wise and righteous woman, a heroine of the faith?

Statement:
Clement brings disgrace upon the holy name of Jesus and upon his resurrection by offering as proof of the reality of resurrection the example of the phoenix. Think about it. Clement, a father of the Christian faith and third Roman Catholic Pope, presents to the world, as concrete evidence of the reality of Christ's resurrection, the bi-millennial resurrection of this mythological bird (XXV), believing it to be fact! Here is the story as he tells it: "Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in the Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and it lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed."

Truth:
No ancient pagan myth proves anything about the resurrection of Christ, and to use those myths in the promotion of the message of Christ profanes that holy history. Peter said that in preaching of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", he had "not followed cunningly devised fables" (2Pet.1:16). Can Pope Clement, and the other Christian fathers who believed the phoenix myth, make that claim?

Statement:
Clement places confidence in the apocryphal Book of Wisdom, quoting it no less than three times. The book is a forgery which claims to have been written by Solomon, but was not. With the expected magnifying of God for His power and wisdom, with which praise even a pagan could possibly agree, the Book of Wisdom contains several blatant doctrinal errors which betray the unclean Spirit under which sections of it were written.

First, The Book of Wisdom makes the incredible statement that God did not create death (1:13). Of course, this provokes the obvious question, "Who did?"

Second, the author declares that death entered into the world through Satan's envy (2:24). Paul taught that death entered the world through man's transgression (Rom. 5). Had man not sinned, Satan's envy would have had no effect on the earth whatsoever.

Third, this book contradicts the truth concerning the marital relationship. Hebrews 13 states that "the marriage bed is undefiled." The Book of Wisdom calls the marriage bed a "transgression" (3:13).

Truth:
I place Clement's references to apocryphal books under the heading of Superstition because faith in anything other than what is truly of God is not holy faith; it is superstition. Clement, in his message to the church, reveals his lack of spiritual judgment by referring to writings that lack God's stamp of approval and contradict His plainly revealed truth. Of course, there are many examples of pious statements to be found in The Book of Wisdom, as well as the other apocryphal books; and that is not surprising, for, as I mentioned earlier, false teachers must tell some truth, or no one will listen to them. But whether there are true statements in a book is not the issue. The real proving ground for a book about God, as well as for a man who claims to speak for God, is, does he speak only for God, or has the truth been mixed with something else? The apocryphal books clearly are an ungodly mixture of truths and lies.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
Clement sees the Son as submissive to and dependent upon the Father. The Father raised the Son from the dead (XXIV), the Son preached the gospel which he received from the Father (XLII), and, just as the apostles were ordained and sent by Christ, so Jesus was ordained and sent by God (XLII).

Truth:
These statements are in accordance with the doctrine of Jesus and the apostles. The Father did raise Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20); the Son preached only what the Father told him to preach (Jn. 8:28); and just as the apostles were sanctified and sent by Jesus, so Jesus was sanctified and sent by God (Jn. 10:36; 6:57). Jesus has absolute authority over the church, being its head (Eph. 1:22-23), and the Father has absolute authority over Jesus, being his head (1Cor. 11:3). There is no trinitarian sense anywhere in the apostles' teaching, nor in that of Clement's.

Note: As did Josephus, Clement makes reference to the remains of Lot's wife, saying that they were still standing as a pillar of salt in his day (XI).

THE EPISTLE OF MATHETES
TO DIOGNETUS

INTRODUCTION:

The date ascribed to this short letter is A.D. 130. The author is unknown, but calls himself a disciple (Greek: Mathetes), that is, a disciple of the apostles, not of Jesus himself (XI). There is not a single Scriptural quote found in this letter, though the author does use phrases which are similar to certain Scriptures.

ANTI-SEMITISM

Statement:
This writer mocks the Jews' continued observance of the ceremonies of the Law. He ridicules the whole concept of animal sacrifice, saying that the performance of animal sacrifice is an indication of insanity on the part of the Gentiles, adding that the Jews sacrificed animals because they believed, as many pagan cultures did, that God is in need of the flesh and blood of the dead beasts (III). He further states that the Jews observed the sacred Old Testament months and days because they are "waiting on the stars and the moon" to do something (IV). He calls such observance "a manifestation of folly" (IV).

Truth:
The Law of Moses and the ceremonies contained in it were all of God. Mathetes altogether misunderstands this; he probably would have rejected Paul's statement that "the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12). The Jews did not observe the holy days and months because they were waiting for the stars to do something for them, as he slanderously asserts; they were simply obeying God. He forcefully shows the foolishness of both the Gentiles' worship of idols and the Jews persistence in methods of worship which God changed (III). However, he misunderstands and misrepresents the elements of the Old Testament and the motivation of the Jews to worship God as they were continuing to do. His attitude toward the ceremonies of the Law which the Jews were continuing to observe, and toward the Jews themselves, is completely inconsistent with that of the apostles.

Another Christian father, Irenaeus, later would point to Jesus' quoting from the Law during his Temptation with Satan in the wilderness, and would write, "If the Law is due to ignorance and defect, how could the statements contained therein bring to nought the ignorance of the devil, and conquer the `strong man'"? (AH5, XXII.1).

The truth concerning Old Testament ceremonies is exactly the opposite of what this man, Mathetes, writes. The reason that the Jews in his time were still worshipping in the way prescribed by Moses was precisely because the Law was not of man, as Mathetes suggests the Law was. The Jews continued in those works because the Law was of God, and they knew it.

But the Jews were locked into a continued adherence to the works of the Law not only because of their knowledge of its divine origin but also because (1) no one but God could set them free from their obligation to the Law, and (2) in rejecting Jesus, they had rejected the only one ordained by God to do so. No one but Jesus was anointed to free the Jewish conscience from the Law's ceremonies (Heb. 9:14), and since they had rejected him, they were imprisoned inside the Law, which was intended to be their "schoolmaster to lead them to Christ" (Gal. 3:24). This imprisonment was just as the Spirit of the Messiah prayed against the Jews in the Psalms, "Let that which should have been for their welfare (Heb., shalom), become for them a trap" (Ps.69:22). The Law was given by God as a blessing for Israel, but, because of their rebellion, it became their prison.

In his exaltation of the Christian's place in the world, Mathetes states that it is an illustrious position to which "God has assigned them" and "which it were unlawful for them to forsake" (VI). He fails to grant, however, that it was the same self-understanding which prevented the Jews from forsaking the ceremonies of the Law.

Mathetes rightly challenges his Gentile reader (a non-believer) to abandon the Gentiles' perception of God and not to be attracted to the Jews' error. He is correct in pointing out the enormous pride to which the Jews had fallen victim concerning their covenant of circumcision and their other God-given (and therefore unique) observances. However, he falls victim to that same unclean spirit of self-exaltation, and boasts himself against God's fallen people. The apostle Paul sternly warned the church not to do that (Rom. 11:18-22).

POLITICS

Statement:


The subject of politics encompasses the arena of violent or military action. In this connection, the writer makes many good and sober comments upon the nature and works of God which modern Christians would do well to hear. Some of these observations are deeply touching. Among them, he discusses how that Jesus came to persuade, not to compel men to obey God, "for violence has no place in the character of God" (VII).

Truth:
This last statement is true, but only in this New Covenant era, for God in the Old Testament certainly showed Himself to be quite capable of war, and, at the end of this age, He will show Himself to be an entirely violent God toward those who have rebelled against the gospel of His Son Jesus. For all that, the author is correct in emphasizing the gentleness of God as revealed in Christ.

Most important, however, is his statement that, "If you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness" (X). If the man really believes that violence is not a part of God's nature, and that those who love Him imitate that divine nature, what would have been this man's opinion of the Christian crusades? This author's work is listed among the writings of the Christian church fathers, but would he have called the crusaders of the Middle Ages his sons?

To the ecclesiastical tribunals of the Middle Ages, which routinely sentenced innocent souls to torture and death, the following words of one esteemed to be a father of their faith stand as a monument to their ignorance and rebellion against Christ: "It is not by ruling over his neighbors, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those who are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can anyone by these things become an imitator of God. . . . On the contrary, he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbor; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing those to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive [his benefits]: he is an imitator of God" (X).

Amen!

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
The writer knows nothing of an equality of Father and Son. He sees the Son as the emissary of God (VII; X).

Truth:
As with most of the earliest fathers of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the Trinity was completely unknown to this man, as his statements concerning the relationship of the Father and the Son show.

Note: The word Christian is of extreme sanctity to this man. He is attempting to persuade the man Diognetus to become a Christian, or at least to acknowledge that the Christian concept of God is superior to that of the Jews and that of the Gentiles. "As the soul is to the body," he writes, "that are Christians to the world" (VI).

POLYCARP

THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP TO THE PHILIPPIANS

INTRODUCTION:

Polycarp is said to have been the Bishop of Smyrna and to have been conversant with John, the apostle of the Lord. He is said to have been martyred for his faith at the age of eighty-seven by being burned alive. This epistle is believed by some to have been written about the middle of the second century, A.D.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF SCRIPTURE

Statement:
Referring to the first epistle of John (4:3), Polycarp misunderstands the verse and, consequently, misquotes it. He writes, "For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist."

Truth:
"By this you know the Spirit of God," John the Apostle wrote (1Jn. 4:2), "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." John certainly was not saying that every person who says that Jesus came in the flesh is of God. If that was his meaning, then false teachers would be virtually non-existent, for almost all false teachers do confess that Jesus lived in the flesh among men. John knew better than to think that anyone who admitted that Jesus lived in a real human body is of God. No, John was referring to speaking in tongues, the testimony of the holy Ghost, when someone receives Christ into his heart. In 1John 4:3, the verse misquoted by Polycarp, John was warning the saints of any spirit which claims to be of God but does not move one to speak in tongues ("confess Christ") when it enters our hearts. It is the spirit of antichrist, that dumb religious Spirit of Christianity, which does not cause men to speak in tongues when it enters their hearts.

Polycarp made the typical Christian mistake of assuming that John was speaking of people who deny that Jesus possessed a natural body of flesh while here on earth, and altered John's words to fit the message which he thought John meant to convey. Polycarp was wrong, and the difference between what John wrote and what Polycarp said that he wrote is critical.

Paradoxically, Polycarp immediately proceeds from his misquote of John's words to condemn vehemently anyone who would "pervert the oracles of the Lord", adding an exhortation for the church to "return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning" (VII). Polycarp could have provided an example for the church by correctly quoting John and preserving the original meaning of his words.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
Polycarp teaches that salvation will be received only at the end of a life of faithful service to God. We will be raised from the dead into eternal glory only "if we do [God's] will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness. . ." (II). "If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, we shall also reign together with Him" (V). In reference to a man whom Polycarp considers to be apostate, he states that such a believer who departs from the faith and is again defiled by covetousness and idolatry "shall be judged as one of the heathen" (XI).

Truth:
Polycarp teaches what the prophets of Israel, Jesus, and the apostles taught; that is, only those who do the will of God shall be saved. There is no hint of the confession of many modern Christians, that they are already saved and their future salvation is assured, even if they live contrary to the will of God now.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
Polycarp quotes from the apocryphal book of Tobit, using it as an authoritative source of divine truth (X).

Truth:
In the book of Tobit, the righteous man Tobit is blinded by bird droppings, which fell on his eyes while he slept by a wall, causing him to develop cataracts. Later, Raphael, an angel from heaven, tells Tobit's son, Tobiah, what will heal Tobit's eyes. He says, "As for the gall [of the fish Tobiah had caught], if you rub it on the eyes of a man who has cataracts, blowing into his eyes right on the cataracts, his sight will be restored" (Tobit 6:9).

Sarah, the young woman whom Tobiah will marry, had already been married seven times, according to this tale, but a "wicked demon" named Asmodeus killed each of her husbands on the hapless bride's wedding night, before the marriages could be consummated (Tobit 3:7-9). Raphael instructs Tobiah how to use other parts of the dead fish to exorcise the demon from the young woman's bedroom. "As regards the fish's heart and liver, if you burn them so that the smoke surrounds a man or a woman who is afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, the affliction will leave him completely, and no demons will return to him again" (Tobit 6:8). After the wedding, Tobiah remembered the angel's instructions when he entered the bridal chamber. He "took the fish's liver and heart from the bag which he had with him, and placed them on the embers [to make] incense. The demon, repelled by the odor of the fish, fled into Upper Egypt. Raphael pursued him there and bound him hand and foot" (Tobit 8:2-3).

The fish used in these magical spells was one which Tobiah caught while on his journey from Nineveh to Media. He had stopped to wash his feet in a river when "a large fish suddenly leaped out of the water and tried to swallow his foot." The surprised young man, at the angel's command, "seized the fish and hauled it up on the shore" (Tobit 6:3-4).

The superstitious nature of these passages is obvious.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
Polycarp mentions "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself" (XII). According to Polycarp, the Father raised up the Son from the dead (II), and the reader is exhorted to "believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father who `raised Him from the dead'" (XII).

Truth:
There is no doctrine of the Trinity here. Polycarp says nothing in support of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Note: The word Christian is not found in Polycarp's epistle.

THE ENCYCLICAL EPISTLE OF THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA

Concerning the martyrdom of the holy Polycarp

INTRODUCTION:

This letter from the church at Smyrna, where Polycarp had been Bishop, is addressed to "the Holy and Catholic Church in every place", but in particular to the church in a city called Philomenium, located in the territory of Phrygia. The great number of wildly superstitious and heretical statements found in this letter is disproportionate to its size. If this letter was in its present form when it was first written, it should have been trashed before the end of its first reading.

ANTI-SEMITISM

Statement:
Anti-Semitism burns throughout this letter. Several times, the Jews are depicted as inciting the Roman rulers against the Christians. They are, in fact, said to be the ones who advised the Roman governor to burn Polycarp so completely that there would be no flesh left for the Christians to possess (XVII).

Truth:
The Jews may in fact have done this. If, however, they advised the Romans to finish burning Polycarp's dead body so that nothing remained for Christians to salvage and to venerate, then they were probably doing those superstitious Christians a great favor.

HERESY

Statement:
The author(s) of this epistle express the opinion that believers become angels when they die (II).

Truth:
Angels are a different species of creature altogether. No angel will ever become human, and no human will ever become an angel. In the world to come, said Paul, the saints will rule over angels, not become one (1Cor. 6:3).

Statement:
An attitude of worship of the holy Spirit is seen in several statements (e.g. XIV, XXII).

Truth:
To worship the holy Spirit implies that the worshipper believes the Spirit to be a person. That the holy Spirit is a person is an trinitarian heresy which was invented later than the time in which this letter was supposed to have been written. So, that this epistle has been tampered with is obvious.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
According to this letter, Christians watching Polycarp's execution zealously desired to become "possessors of his holy flesh", but were disappointed by the Romans' decision to burn the body of that martyr completely (XVII). Not to be outdone however, the Christians did sift through the ashes to gather Polycarp's charred bones, "as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold" (XVIII).

Truth:
This is sick. Nevertheless, the use of relics (as possessing miracle working abilities) was a powerful tool of evangelism for Christians. Without the cult of relics to impress the deeply superstitious barbarians, the spread of Christianity in northern and western Europe would have taken much longer.

Statement:
The last editor of this epistle calls himself Pionius, and he claims that "the blessed Polycarp" visited him and, through a revelation, aided him in the writing of this account of his martyrdom (XXII).

Truth:
Concerning the details of events in this life on earth after their death, "the dead know nothing", wrote Solomon (Eccl. 9:5). Polycarp did not return from the dead in a vision to aid the author of this epistle. The author lied.

IGNATIUS

EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS, Shorter and Longer Versions (Ephs.)
EPISTLE TO THE MAGNESIANS (MAG. )
EPISTLE TO THE TRALLIANS (TRALL.)
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS (ROMS.)
EPISTLE TO THE PHILADELPHIANS (PHILA.)
EPISTLE TO THE SMYRNAEANS (SMYR.)
EPISTLE TO POLYCARP (POLY.)
The Syriac Versions of Three Above Epistles
("sv" DESIGNATES THE SYRIAC VERSIONS: POLY. SV.; EPHS. SV.; THE 3RD EPISTLE, SV.)
SPURIOUS EPISTLES
MARTYRDOM OF IGNATIUS (MART. IG.)
(The account of Ignatius' martyrdom is written by an unknown author, but one who purports to have been an eyewitness of the event.)

INTRODUCTION:

Ignatius is thought by some scholars to have been born during Jesus' earthly lifetime. He appears to be the earliest Christian writer from whom more than one work has survived, but at least eight of the letters attributed to him are generally regarded as Christian forgeries. Possibly all have been tampered with, but then, the same might be said of many of the other writings of the fathers of Christianity. I have chosen to treat all the letters of Ignatius together, not only because it is more convenient but also because it is all but inconsequential as to whether or not a man named Ignatius penned them all. These are works regarded as sacred by Christians throughout their history. That is what matters.

ANTI-SEMITISM

Statement:
Ignatius refers to the Jews as "Christ-killing Jews" (Mag. XI), and states that "if any one says that the Lord is a mere man, he is a Jew, a murderer of Christ" (Hero II; cp. Phil VI).

Truth:
Because they had been blessed to be God's chosen people, the Jews were more guilty of the slaying of Jesus than were the Roman soldiers (Jn. 19:10-11). Nevertheless, a Gentile gave the order for Jesus' execution, and Gentile soldiers drove the nails into his hands and feet. There is enough blame to go around; Ignatius is writing as a hypocrite when he condemns the Jews' for their part in Jesus' death, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

CEREMONY

HOLY DAYS

Statement:
Ignatius promotes the observance of the first day of the week as the "Lord's Day" because Jesus rose from the dead that day (Trall. IX). He states that it is God's replacement for the Jewish Sabbath (Mag. IX).

Truth:
Ignatius never expounds upon (1) how Jesus' resurrection made a holy day out of an ordinary one and (2) why no New Testament writer mentioned that God had replaced the Old Testament sabbath with a new one.

Statement:
Ignatius encourages Christians to partake of special activities on the first day of the week, including rigorous Scripture reading and study, rather than in "relaxation of the body" (Mag. IX). He also sees the first day of the week as a "festival", which "every friend of Christ" will keep (Mag. IX).

Truth:
Ignatius rightly rejected the idea that we are any longer to "live according to the Jewish law" (Mag. VII), but he failed to realize that Christ has made us free from all ceremonialism, such as the Law contained, and for Christians themselves to invent a new holy day to replace the one God commanded Israel to keep is twice as evil as continuing in God's old one. He understands the philosophical concept of keeping "the Sabbath after a spiritual manner", but he has no understanding of what keeping it in spirit means. The setting apart of the day of the sun (Sunday) as being "queen and chief of all days [of the week]" (Mag. IX), is not a spiritual keeping of God's sabbath.

CHRISTIAN COMMUNION

Statement:
The term eucharist is used in connection with a ceremonial meal (Smyr. VII), which is improperly performed by anyone other than the Bishop (Smyr. VIII), according to this Christian father.

Truth:
A ceremonial meal is improperly performed by anyone in this covenant. The words concerning communion in the New Testament are to be understood spiritually (Jn. 6:63). After telling his disciples that if they ate his flesh and drank his blood they would live forever, Jesus explained to his shocked followers that "It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is worthless [for that purpose]. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

CHRISTIAN BAPTISM

Statement:
Ignatius also maintains that baptism is improperly performed by anyone who is not a Bishop (Smyr. VIII), as is the laying on of hands, and the ordination of clergy (Hero III).

Truth:
Water baptism is improperly performed by any man in this New Covenant. For the church, there is but one baptism (Eph. 4:5), and it is not a watery one which washes dirt from the flesh, but that baptism which Jesus administers and which his resurrection made possible (1Pet. 3:21).

ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS

Statement:
The authority of the Bishop is a major theme of Ignatius' writings. Ignatius teaches the following things concerning submission to Christianity's Bishops:

  1. The church is to "depend on [the Bishop] as the church does the Lord Jesus, and [as] the Lord [depends] on God and His Father" (Ephs. V; Mag. XIII).
  2. The church is to avoid all accusations against church leaders as they would avoid being burned by fire (Trall. II), for the elders of the Christian church are the "sanhedrine of God" (Trall. III), even if the Bishops are young men (Poly. VI).
  3. There is no elect church, no congregation of holy people, and no assembly of saints, without Bishops (Trall. III). Furthermore, Ignatius insists that there is no "lawful" baptism, offering, or "love-feast" without the Bishop presiding over them (Smyr. VIII).
  4. Anyone in the church who does anything "apart from the Bishop, and the presbytery, and deacons" is defiled (Trall. VII); therefore one should "do nothing without the Bishop" (Phila. VII). Ignatius claims that in his hearing, "the holy Spirit proclaimed these words: `Do nothing without the Bishop'" (Phila. VII). Ignatius went so far as to say that whoever "does anything without the knowledge of the Bishop serves the devil" (Smyr. IX), and that whoever becomes well-known "apart from the Bishop has destroyed himself" (Poly. V, sv).
  5. While acknowledging that God's power is still greater, Ignatius stresses that the Bishop "beyond all others possesses all power and authority" (Trall. VII). Apparently, Ignatius understands the office of Bishop as the highest rank attainable by man on earth, whether secular or ecclesiastic (Phila. IV).
  6. Disobedience to the Bishop is tantamount to disobedience to God (Ephs. V), and is a mockery of Him (Mag. III).
  7. God will give heed only to those who give heed to the Bishop (Poly. VI), and forgiveness of sins is granted only to those who in repentance come both to God and "to communion with the Bishop" (Phila. VIII).
  8. Using Old Testament rebels as examples, he warns that all who rebel against leaders of the Christian church are in danger of losing their souls (Mag. III).
  9. A peculiar view of the relationship between Christian Bishops and the ordinary believer is that "they are priests, and thou a servant of the priests" (Hero III).
  10. We find the Bishop referred to as "father" in the silly Epistle to Mary at Neapolis, one of the letters written by an unknown Christian who lived long after Ignatius, and who forged this epistle in his name in order to make it appear that Ignatius had written to the virgin mother (IV).

Truth:
Ignatius takes submission to the elders of the church to new heights, or lows, depending on one's point of view. Here, in order, are the truths which are contradicted by Ignatius' teachings, as quoted above:

  1. Jesus was completely dependent upon his Father, and the church is completely dependent on Christ. Jesus said that he received his life from the Father (Jn. 5:26), and we know that the church's life springs from Jesus. Insisting that the church depends upon the Bishop as it does Christ, Ignatius is making the ridiculous assertion that the church has no life unless the Bishop is present to impart it to them.
  2. According to Paul, the church is forbidden to hear accusations against the Bishop if those accusations are made in secret (1Tim. 5:19). Contrary to what Ignatius teaches, it is perfectly acceptable to hear accusations against a Bishop, if those accusations are made before witnesses.
  3. This is nonsense. Jesus said that where two or three people were gathered together in his name, he was in the midst of them (Mt. 18:20). Ignatius should have said there is no lawful baptism, communion, or assembly of saints unless Jesus, in spirit, is there to sanctify the worship of the church (Rom. 15:16). It is the presence of Jesus, not that of a church elder, which validates a gathering of the saints.
  4. Ignatius is contriving a new standard by which to judge righteous action, a standard which contradicts Paul's simple statement that those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14). One principal objective of a pastor should be to teach the children of God, by word and by example, to recognize God's voice, and to be led by it. Jesus commended some of the members of the church in Sardis for not following their pastor in his evil ways (Rev. 3:3-4). Under no circumstances are God's sheep ever obligated to follow a man who is wrong.
  5. No earthly Bishop possesses all power and authority. Jesus pointedly warned his disciples not even to think in that way. He said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them. . . . But it shall not be so among you. But he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve" (Lk. 22:25-26). Peter likewise exhorted the elders of the church to "feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock" (1Pet. 5:2-3). The arrogant conduct of Christian leaders throughout Christianity's history toward rulers of secular kingdoms demonstrates how wrong Ignatius' doctrine is. The church's part is to pray for and to obey those in positions of worldly authority, not to criticize, nor threaten, nor attempt to overthrow, nor seek to manipulate them (Rom. 13:1-7; 1Tim. 2:1-3).
  6. This is true only if the Bishop is a Bishop after God's own heart. If a man merely possesses the title because an organization has granted it to him, and has received no ordination from Christ, then it is a mockery of God for a believer to follow that man-made Bishop.
  7. It is not true that God will hear the prayers only of those who submit to Christian Bishops. Neither is it true that only if a Christian Bishop forgives will God forgive. History has abundantly demonstrated that Christian Bishops can be as perverse as anyone, and it is never the will of God for one of His children to follow the example of such a man.
  8. This assumes, of course, that leaders of Christianity are anointed by God to lead His people (as Moses and Aaron were) which they undoubtedly are not.
  9. This is reminiscent of Pope Clement's description of church hierarchy: high priest, other priests, Levites, and laymen (Epistle to the Corinthians XL). And it certainly was the mentality of Christian leaders for over a thousand years that they were the privileged class, ruling over the peoples of Europe, including their kings, with a relentlessly heavy hand.
  10. Jesus said not to call any man on earth father, in a religious sense (Mt. 23:9).

Note: If "Bishop" is defined biblically, as one who is a faithful overseer, anointed by the holy Ghost to fill that office in the church, then some of Ignatius' statements concerning a Bishop's importance to the church hold true. On the other hand, if "Bishop" is defined as an elder in the Christian religion, ordained by other Christians to the post, as it is certain that Ignatius' definition is, then none of his statements hold true concerning a Bishop's importance.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF SCRIPTURE

Statement:
Ignatius teaches that Jesus, seated in heaven now by the Father's right hand, still has a fleshly body (Smyr. III).

Truth:
While it is true that after his resurrection Jesus was still in his fleshly body (Lk. 24:39), he has now been glorified with the glory he had "before the foundation of the world", just as he prayed that his Father would grant him (Jn. 17:5). The saints are promised glorified bodies like the body that Jesus has now (Phip. 3:21). These new bodies are not terrestrial but celestial (1Cor. 15:40-49). The apostle Paul states explicitly that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1Cor. 15:50); that is, in order to receive our promised inheritance our bodies must be changed from a fleshly body to a spiritual one, as Jesus' body was glorified after he ascended into heaven. As for our natural bodies, they will be "destroyed" (Rom. 6:6) along with this physical universe (Mt. 24:35; 2Pet. 3:10), "nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2Pet. 3:13).

A description of how Jesus now appears in his glorified body can be found in Revelation 1:12-18. There are no nail prints in Jesus' glorified hands, no scar from the Roman spear is in his glorified torso, and his glorified brow shows no marks from the crown of thorns woven for him by the Roman soldiers. We have known Jesus after the flesh, says Paul, "but henceforth know we him no more [after the flesh]" (2Cor. 5:16).

Statement:
Ignatius teaches that Satan backed out of his plan to crucify Jesus at the last minute, because "he perceived his own destruction was at hand". He says that it was Satan who inspired Judas to take the money back to the priest, and that it was Satan who gave Pilate's wife a tormenting dream about killing an innocent man (Phip. IV).

Truth:
This is pure fiction. Satan could not possibly have attempted to back out of his plan to crucify Jesus because to crucify Jesus was not Satan's plan at all! It was God's plan to "give his only begotten Son" for the sins of the world (Jn. 3:16), and to God alone belongs all the glory for it. The church glorified God in Acts because all that Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the rulers of Israel did to Jesus was only what God had ordained to be done to him (Acts 4:27-28). Isaiah prophesied that the Father, not Satan, would "make [Jesus'] soul an offering for sin." In that same verse it is written, "It pleased the LORD to bruise him; He [not the devil] hath put him to grief" (Isa. 53:10). It was Judas' own knowledge of truth which filled his heart with terror at what he had done; it was not Satan changing his mind.

Note: By glorifying Satan as the master planner of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus, Ignatius exposes himself to the discerning eye as a minister of Satan, giving him glory for what was the wondrous and awful salvation plan of God. God's ministers glorify Him.

From Christianity's own fathers, such as this one, is provided more than sufficient evidence of the truth that the god of Christianity is not the God of the Bible, but Satan himself. That is an underlying reason why we often find these fathers of Christianity attributing God's work to that filthy, fallen cherub, and honoring Satan's craftiness and lies as doctrine from God.

Statement:
Along with Elijah, Melchizedek, Joshua, and John the Baptist, Ignatius lists Saint Clement as an example of holiness and chastity (Phila. IV).

Truth:
His faith in that ungodly teacher, whose lone surviving work has already been examined, and who has already been proved to have been an apostate father of Christianity, is misguided. Ignatius approves of Clement because he is of the same spirit.

Statement:
Ignatius says that Satan is "from the ranks of angels" (Phip. XI).

Truth:
Satan is not an angel; he is a cherub (Ezek. 28:14). He has wings; angels do not. It is a common Christian mistake to teach that Satan is a fallen angel. In such modern materials as the Roman Catholic Catechism we find "The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel" (391; see also, 414). On the other end of the theological spectrum of Christianity, Billy Graham's book on angels makes the same mistake.

Statement:
Ignatius says that the new name for God's people, which Isaiah prophesied would come (Isa. 62:2), is Christian, citing Acts 11:26 as proof of his assertion. He adds that "Whosoever is called by any other name besides this, he is not of God" (Mag. X).

Truth:
Isaiah 62:2 reads, ". . . and thou [Zion] shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name." Ignatius is correct in thinking that Isaiah's prophecy of a new name concerns the New Testament people of God. He incorrectly asserts that this "new name" for the household of faith is Christian. "The mouth of the LORD" did not give the name Christian to the disciples in Antioch. The Lord gave the new name for his people in Matthew 16:18, when he said "upon this rock I will build my church." Church, which came directly from the mouth of the Lord, is the new name for the people of God, not Christian.

Note: As the passive verb from Acts 11:26 clearly shows, "Christian" is not a name which the followers of Jesus invented for themselves; rather, they "were called Christians" by others. It was no doubt a derogatory term given to the church by those who were not disciples, meant to embarrass and ridicule, not to praise. (The world has never congratulated and rewarded those who truly followed Christ.) "Christian" is a term bestowed upon the church by the world, and it is a term which has become very dear to Satan. It represents his most successful lie in all of human history; to wit, that to love Jesus and to be converted to him means that one belongs to Christianity. For more on this, see the Appendix.

POLITICS

Statement:
Ignatius exhorts Christians to "be humble in response to their wrath; oppose to their [i.e. sinners'] blasphemies your earnest prayers; while they go astray, stand ye fast in the faith. Conquer ye their harsh temper by gentleness; their passion by meekness" (Ephs. X). This is an attitude consistent throughout his works. "Against their error be ye armed with faith", he writes (Ephs. sv. X), "but rather subdue those who are evil by gentleness (Poly. sv. II). He is absolutely correct in telling his followers, "Let us make them brethren by kindness", even though he goes too far in exhorting the church to call unbelievers brethren in order to win them (Ephs. X). But he rightly uses the apostles' words when he exhorts his readers to "imitate the Lord, `who when he was reviled, reviled not again . . . when he suffered, he threatened not' but prayed for his enemies" (Ephs. X). As for Ignatius himself, he states that "I do not give orders like an apostle" (Trall. III).

Truth:
The absence of desire to physically harm those who oppose his faith commends Ignatius. There is no resorting to military power or intrigue in order to promote the gospel he proclaims; indeed, there is just the opposite.

How different from later Christianity does Ignatius appear, as later Christians fought against, pillaged, tortured, and murdered those whom they deemed heretic, persecuting untold thousands who could not in good conscience follow the pernicious ways of Christianity! Would to God that Christian inquisitors of Europe and the Americas had followed the example of their father Ignatius in this matter. Had they done so, there would have been a veritable mountain of innocent pain and heartache avoided, and thousands upon thousands of lives spared.

Statement:
Ignatius exhorts the church to hold elections for church officials, at least for those of deacon and Bishop (Phila. X), as well as for delegates to another church (Smyr. XI).

Truth:
Ignatius' rightful avoidance of violent methods notwithstanding, the seed of such cruel, carnal action is here being planted by him; indeed, it was already blossoming. Those blossoms are always attractive and seem harmless enough, but the bitter fruit of violence and carnal quests for power soon follow. This innocuous-appearing bloom is that of democracy in the church.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom. Elected officials do not exist in His domain. Our king appoints (anoints) all to their office, having received no advice, and He supplies his anointed ones with the power required to fulfill their duties. If a body of believers had the spiritual wisdom and depth to know whom to elect as their pastor, they wouldn't even need him.

Ignatius' charge to Polycarp that he assemble a "very solemn" council for the purpose of electing church officials does not contravene the fact that majority rule is not the way of Christ. We can be "very solemn" and still be very wrong. Ignatius exhorts the church "to elect one whom you greatly love" (Poly. VII). Indeed, it may be just because carnal men will almost always elect only those whom they dearly love that God did not institute such a practice in His church. God appoints those whom He loves, and everyone who knows God love God's appointment.

Statement:
Ignatius goes on to say in this same section of his letter to Polycarp that "a Christian has not power over himself."

Truth:
If Christians elect their own pastors, popes, bishops, deacons, delegates, and other church officials, then they certainly do have power over themselves; and, they have proved that they have that power thousands of times in their sorry history, continuing to this present time. The fact that Christians may approach the election of a Pope or a local pastor "very solemnly", as Ignatius exhorted them to do, makes the deed no more of God than it would be otherwise.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
The believer who has become dull of hearing the word of God and "sets at nought His doctrine, shall go to hell" (Ephs. XVI), writes Ignatius. He is equally firm about those who follow such a heretic, saying, "If any man follows him that separates from the truth, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and if any man does not stand aloof from the preacher of falsehood, he shall be condemned to hell" (Phila. III). According to him, great danger exists for those believers who desire to "live according to the Jewish law, and the circumcision of the flesh" (Mag. VIII).

Everything Ignatius writes on the subject of salvation is fairly well summed up by these words of his: ". . . there is set before us life, upon our observance [of God's precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes shall go to his own place. . . " (Mag. IV).

Truth:
These words could have been written by Peter or Paul, or spoken by one of the prophets. Paul, too, used Old Testament examples as a warning to the church (e.g., 1Cor. 10:1-12). And he warned the Gentile church, as Ignatius does here, that to resort to the Law of Moses was to put one's hope of salvation at risk (Gal. 3:1-4; 5:1-5).

Ignatius writes in one place that no man would be able to stand before God if God "should reward us according to our works" (Mag. X). The works to which Ignatius refers here are works that people perform before coming to Christ. He is not in this case contradicting himself. His teaching that obedience is necessary to attain to salvation is both correct and consistent. However, his insistence on absolute submission to Christian leaders is to be expected as much as it is to be rejected. It begs the question as to whether those men are of God. Moses was of God, and rebellion against him was sin.

Note: As noted previously, one frequent confession of many Christians of the late twentieth century is that they are already "saved". For them, the word "saved" has become a synonym for conversion. No one among them seems to have noticed that the idea that one can "go up to the altar" and "get saved" is a new thing, a perversion of the true faith, and that before the twentieth century such a doctrine was virtually unknown--even to the ugly history of the Christian church. There is no hint of any such doctrine in Ignatius' writings. Instead, what we find in them is the correct view: a sober awareness of the requirement of obedience to the will of God in order for believers to survive the coming Day of Judgment.

SPIRITUAL POWER

Statement:
Ignatius mentions the Spirit speaking to him (Phila. VII). Again, Ignatius is said to have imparted spiritual gifts to those who came from Smyrna to see him on his way to Rome, including to Polycarp himself (Martyrdom, III). No specifics are given concerning that.

Truth:
Modern Christians should know that miraculous experiences were still known to occur among those who believed in Jesus in Ignatius' day.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
Ignatius reveres the mythological Judith as a true heroine of God, as an example for Christian women to follow.

Truth:
For details on the Book of Judith, see the section on Superstition under Saint Clement, above.

Statement:
With respect to Satan, Ignatius teaches that Jesus tormented him by his power when he was ministering on earth (Phip. VIII).

Truth:
The time for Satan's torment has not yet come, as even the demons themselves know (Mt. 8:29). Jesus did not do what Ignatius says he did against Satan while here on earth.

Statement:
Ignatius addresses a large portion of his letter to the church at Philippi directly to the devil himself (chaps. V-XII).

Truth:
Ignatius does not explain how he obtained the devil's address, nor can we be certain that the Philippian address was in fact correct; but it seems doubtful, since Satan's seat was at Pergamos (Rev. 2:13). The Philippian church could have forwarded this portion of his letter to Pergamos, but there still is no difference that the devil ever wrote him back. In reality, the devil probably never even got the letter.

Statement:
Ignatius had a strange and morbid desire to suffer. "I hope, through your prayers, that I may be devoured by beasts at Rome", he wrote (Ephs. sv. I). In another place, he pleads with the church, "Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts. . . . let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ" (Roms. IV). "I am eager to die for the sake of Christ", says the elder (Roms. VII).

To spare the church of the burden of a burial, he exhorted the church to "provoke greatly the wild beasts, that they may be for me a grave, and may leave nothing of my body. . . . Then shall I in truth be a disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world seeth not even my body" (3rd Epistle, sv. IV). According to the anonymous account of his "martyrdom", it was with "great alacrity and joy, through his desire to suffer" that Ignatius departed from Antioch on his journey toward Rome (Mart. III).

Truth:
The apostle Paul proved many times over that he was willing to suffer for the Lord Jesus, if it were forced upon him, and the apostle Peter, after he was beaten by servants of the council of Jewish elders, was thankful that he was counted worthy by God to suffer for Christ's sake (Acts 5:41); but, neither of these men, nor any other man of God, nor yet any sensible sinner, actually desired to suffer. They did not yearn for it.

Nor did they believe that suffering was necessarily proof positive that a man was righteous. Paul wrote that one could surrender all his earthly possessions and give his body to be burned in devotion to a cause, yet it prove to be a worthless exercise of the flesh (1Cor. 13:3). Ignatius suggests that he will at last be a true disciple of Christ when the world "seeth not even my body." This is certainly not a dependable way to determine who is a true disciple of Christ and who is not. There have been many evil men who died in such a way as to leave no trace of their bodies. Ironically, Ignatius exhorts Christians to avoid false teachers "as ye would wild beasts" (Ephs. VII). It was perhaps because they avoided false teachers to the same extent that he avoided wild beasts that they made such shipwreck of their faith.

Statement:
Having joyfully and excitedly reached Rome, Ignatius was brought to the amphitheater, where ". . . he was cast to the wild beasts. . .", writes the author, "so that by them the desire of the holy martyr Ignatius should be fulfilled, according to that which is written, `The desire of the righteous is acceptable [to God]'" (Mart. VI).

Truth:
With the author's own words, in which he falsely accuses Ignatius of having a righteous attitude toward death, and falsely accuses God of approving of this man's morbid longing for torture, the truth found in the Psalms is demonstrated, wherein God condemns the foolish for their wicked ways and tells them, "thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself" (Ps. 50:21).

Statement: For the enjoyment of Ignatius followers, the wild beasts left a few of "the harder portions of his holy remains . . . which were conveyed to Antioch and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable treasure left to the holy Church by the grace which was in the Martyr" (VI).

Truth:
This is sick.

Statement:
The writer of the account of Ignatius' execution asks the readers to believe that within twenty-four hours after Ignatius' suffering, the departed Bishop appeared to him and a few other discouraged souls who were gathered in earnest prayer. The author states that Ignatius embraced him, while others saw Ignatius praying for them, and still others saw Ignatius standing beside Jesus, "dropping with sweat, as if he had just come from his great labor" (VII).

Truth:
It is doubtful that people in heaven sweat, even if they have been working hard.

Statement:
In his epistle to the Magnesians (III), Ignatius repeats as an historical fact the apocrypha's fictional account of Daniel as a twelve-year-old sage, opposing the wicked old judges and rescuing innocent Susannah from execution (Dan. 13, apocrypha).

Truth:
It is not true that Daniel was in Babylonian captivity, and held in great reputation for wisdom, by the age of twelve.

In the apocryphal material, two chapters are added to the twelve original chapters Book of Daniel. The story of Susannah is in found in the first additional chapter, and in the second added chapter is the mythological story of Bel and the Dragon. In that chapter, Daniel exposes the vanity of worshipping Bel, is given permission by the king to destroy Bel's priests and temple in Babylon, and slays a dragon by feeding him cakes made of pitch, hair, and fat. In that same fourteenth chapter of the apocrypha's Book of Daniel, Daniel survives seven days in the den of lions because the prophet Habakkuk miraculously is transported from Judah to Babylon with a bowl of stew for Daniel's "lunch". Habakkuk had fixed the food for some field workers, says this unknown writer, but an angel hijacked him by the hair of the head as he took it to them and carried him to Babylon for Daniel's sake.

Both chapters thirteen and fourteen of the apocryphal version of the book of Daniel are uninspired forgeries, and only an uninspired man could fail to see that.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
Ignatius teaches that as the church is dependent upon Jesus, so Jesus is dependent upon the Father (Ephs. V).

Truth:
This is in accordance with the words of Jesus in John 6:57. The relationship of Jesus to the Father is consistently described by Ignatius in terms which indicate that he understood well that, as Jesus said, the Father is greater than the Son (Jn. 14:28).

Statement:
In his farewell to the church in Antioch, Ignatius writes, "May He who alone is unbegotten, keep you steadfast both in the Spirit and in the flesh, through Him who was begotten before time began!" (XIV)

Truth:
Among the early Christian fathers, the Father is distinguished as a person other than the Son in this manner. The Father is the "unbegotten God", while Jesus is "the begotten of God". But there is a critical issue of when Jesus was begotten, which we now will explain.

Statement:
Jesus is said by Ignatius to have been "begotten by the Father before the beginning of time" (Mag. VI).

Truth:
Without exception, the fathers of Christianity who referred to Jesus as "begotten of the Father", misunderstood the phrase, and their confusion on this point was instrumental in the development of the Trinitarian dogma. When the Scriptures mention Jesus as the only begotten of the Father, it does not refer to his generation in pre-creation eternity, as Christianity's fathers teach, but to his human birth in Bethlehem. Nothing more. Jesus was not begotten of God in heaven before time began. There was no woman in heaven through whom he might have been begotten. Jesus was begotten of God on earth about two thousand years ago through the virgin, Mary, during the reign of Augustus Caesar, the Emperor of Rome. The Son of God was created by the Father in heaven before time began; he was not begotten in heaven.

The Greek word monogenes (only-begotten) appears in the New Testament only nine times. Three times it refers to a human being's only child, either a girl (Lk. 8:42) or a boy (Lk. 7:12; 9:38). The other six times, it refers to Jesus (Jn. 1:14,18; 3:16,18; Heb. 11:17; 1Jn. 4:9) as the only begotten Son of God. There is no suggestion in any of these verses that Jesus was begotten in heaven. The perversion of the phrase, only begotten Son, by Christianity's earliest fathers was a tragic mistake, but even they could not have foreseen where it was to lead.

Statement:
Of special importance is Ignatius' affirmation that the Son was created (Tars. VI), which is an unmistakable contradiction of the Trinity confession.

Truth:
Ignatius correctly reads the words of Solomon as referring to Christ (Prov. 8:22,23,25): "The LORD created Me, the beginning of His ways. . . . Before the world did He found Me, and before the hills did He beget Me" (Tars.VI).

Note: This confession must have presented a challenge to later Christian fathers as they labored at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicene to formulate a trinitarian confession, and yet maintain the appearance of unity with these earlier fathers who knew nothing of a Trinity.

Christianity's doctrine of the Trinity, as given in the famous Nicene Creed, contains the confession that Jesus is "eternally begotten" with the Father. That bizarre phrase appears to mean that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, which itself is heresy.

Ignatius, long before the Nicene Creed was adopted by the elders of early Christianity, rejects it's view of Christ as being equal with the Father. He condemns those who "suppose Christ to be unbegotten. . . . Some of them say that . . . the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but the same person" (Trall. VI). He warns the church against those who "introduce a multiplicity of gods" or who "deny Christ under the pretence of [maintaining] the unity of God" (Antio. I), as the fathers at the Nicene Council later would do.

Ignatius affirms that it is Satan who holds that "the unbegotten was begotten"; that is, that the Son and the Father are one God, and that this one God became man (Phip. VII). "Whosoever declares that there is one God, only so as to deny the divinity of Christ is a devil, and an enemy of all righteousness" (Antio. V). Ignatius vehemently condemns as Satanic the notion that Christ is "God over all, the Almighty" (Phip. VII). Writes Ignatius: "that [Jesus] Himself is not God over all, and the Father, but His Son, He [Himself shows when He] says, `I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God'. And again, `When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall He also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all'" (Jn. 20:17; 1Cor. 15:28. Quote from Tars. V).

Statement:
Jesus, the begotten Son of God, is the "High Priest of the unbegotten God" (VII), says Ignatius. Jesus is seated at the right hand of "the one and only true God, his Father", who sent him into the world (Mag. XI). "There is one unbegotten Being", writes Ignatius, "God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of Truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism, and one church. . ." (Phila. IV; cp. Hero VII, IX).

Truth:
Amen.

Note: Having only the English text of these works, it is impossible to know whether the fathers of Christianity referred to the holy Spirit as "it", as the apostles always did, or if they referred to the Spirit as "he", as modern Christian translators prefer. In the English translation used here, the holy Spirit is almost always called "he"; but that is not to be trusted, for it is a typical fault of modern Christian translators to ignore the original text and to use the English "he" (or He) where the original writer used "it" with reference to the Spirit. (Send for The Pioneer Tract Society's study, "The Influence of Trinitarian Doctrine on Translations of the Bible" for proof of Christian translators' intentional mistranslation of pronouns relating to the Spirit. - See the advertisement in the Appendix.)

Statement:
Ignatius states that the believer has "obtained the inseparable Spirit, who is Jesus Christ" (Mag. XV).

Truth:
This is reminiscent of Paul's comment in 1Corinthians 15:45, "the last Adam [Jesus] was made a life-giving Spirit." However, neither Ignatius' statement nor the verse from Paul suggests a Trinity of persons, except to the one who is straining to see it there.

Note: The spurious Epistle to the Philippians is of a somewhat different tenor from other Epistles of Ignatius, in statements referring to the Father and the Son. For example, this confused statement: "There is then one God and Father, not two or three, one who is; and there is none other besides Him, the only true God. . . . And there is only one Son, God the Word. For `the only-begotten Son', saith the Scripture, `who is in the bosom of the Father'. . . . And in another place, `What is His name, or what is His Son's name, that we may know?' And there is only one Paraclete.

There are not then either three Fathers, or three Sons, or three Paracletes, but one Father, and one Son, and one Paraclete. . . . not one having three names, nor three who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honor" (II). Many times in the writings of the early Christian fathers, there is found the unmistakable signature of later editors reshaping the text to make it appear that those fathers were in harmony with the views of later orthodoxy. This may be one such example, in which Ignatius is made to appear as confused about God as later orthodox Christians were, and are.

Statement:
In opposition to those of his time who taught that spiritual beings have no shape (Roms. III), Ignatius teaches that Jesus still has a body.

Truth:
It is important to know that Jesus has a body of his own, apart from the Father's body, because by that simple truth alone the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is exposed as false. Two bodies means two persons, according to anybody's biology book. (As we have already pointed out, he is wrong to hold that the body which Jesus now possesses is made of flesh.)

THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS

INTRODUCTION:

The author of this epistle is unknown, though from early times his name was called Barnabas, and we will use that name as a matter of convenience. Some early Christians believed that the letter was written by the Barnabas who was Paul's fellow-worker. It is, of course, possible that Barnabas wrote this letter in its original form, but he certainly did not write the letter as it now stands. The Barnabas who traveled with Paul certainly knew the Scriptures better than the author of this letter knew them, and he understood the truth Paul preached better than the author of sections of this letter understood it.

The exact date of the letter, as with all these earliest Christian writings, can only be guessed at. The most common guess is about A.D. 100.

ANTI-SEMITISM - WHO IS MORE WRETCHED?

Statement:
Barnabas wishes to tell his readers that "the wretched Jews, wandering in error, trusted not in God Himself, but in the temple, as being the house of God" (XVI).

Truth:
It is true that very many of the Israelites made the awful, superstitious mistake of trusting in the things God had given them rather than in God Himself. They trusted the snake which Moses had lifted up in the wilderness, making an idol of it after God had finished using it (2Kgs. 18:4). They trusted the ark of the covenant, instead of God, to save them from the Philistines (1Sam. 4:3). And, as Barnabas rightly points out, they trusted in the temple to save them when God was determined to destroy the holy city (Jer. 7:1-7). But at least we can say that the things the Israelites trusted had really been ordained for them by God!

On the other hand, Barnabas trusts Christianity's water baptism to wash sins away (XI), but God never ordained any of Christianity's forms of baptism, which are to this day practiced by Christians! The closest biblical example of Christian baptism is the baptism performed by Apollos before he learned the truth (Acts 18:24-28). Apparently, Apollos thought the water baptism he performed was the same as that practiced by John the Baptist (which God did ordain), but Paul disagreed (Acts 19:1-7).

Further, Barnabas believes that observing the eighth day of the week as a holy day will contribute to his salvation (XV), but he cannot point to any biblical verse to show that God ever sanctified the eighth day, as He had sanctified the seventh day for Israel.

Who, then, is more "wretched"? the Jews who clung to things which God actually ordained for them, or Christians who invented a religion out of their own superstitious hearts, claimed that God sent them to preach it, and then condemned anyone who refused to believe them? What kind of man is it who disparages God's chosen people as "wretched" because they continue to keep the ceremonies of God's first Law, even as he himself keeps neither the old Law or the new Law of God, but observes a law of his own making? Who is really more wretched?

CEREMONY - SACRIFICES, FASTING, AND SHOWY HUMILITY

Statement:
Barnabas begins his treatment of ceremonial forms by pointing out that the New Testament form of sacrifice is no longer a sacrifice of animals but "a human oblation" (II). He proceeds in the same rich vein then to show from the Scriptures that the kind of fast which is acceptable to the Lord is not a spartan show of harshness to one's body, but the keeping of such moral directives as are listed in Isaiah 58:6-14.

Truth:
This agrees with what the writers of the New Testament books taught on these subjects, as well as with God's own detailed description of the true way of fasting from Isaiah 58.

Statement:
Barnabas also warns the saints of the kind of life which in a very short time after Barnabas became extremely popular among Christians: the hermitic life. Says Barnabas, ". . . let us flee from vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness. Do not, by retiring apart, live a solitary life. . . . For the Scripture says, `Woe to them who are wise to themselves, and prudent in their own sight!'" (IV).

Truth:
The writer of these words would have given this advice to the militant Christian monks of later centuries at the risk of his life.

BAPTISM

Statement:
Concerning the verse from the first Psalm, which mentions a tree planted by the water, Barnabas writes, "Mark how [the Psalmist] has described at once both the water and the cross. For these words [the tree by the water] imply, `Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water'" (XI). ". . .we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement," he writes, "but come up, bearing fruit in our heart" (XI).

Truth:
This is nothing but the spirit of heathen superstition. Water baptism has never washed away anyone's sins, because it cannot touch the spirit of man, where the sin is. The correct understanding of the spiritual nature of the New Testament, which the author displayed in some sections of his letter, is altogether contradicted here in his doctrine on baptism. One must wonder, if Barnabas knew that true fasting is a matter of moral virtue, not starvation, and if he knew that New Testament sacrifices are spiritual, not carnal, and if he knew that the New Covenant form of separation from the world is not physical seclusion, but sinlessness, why then would he not understand that true baptism is in spirit and not in water? How could the man who explained those other spiritual truths so well be so blind concerning the true baptism?

HOLY DAYS

Statement:
God spoke through Isaiah, telling Israel that because of their immorality, "Your new moons and your sabbaths I cannot endure" (Isa.1:13). Barnabas claims to speak from God when he says that there is a hidden meaning in those words from Isaiah. According to Barnabas, God was actually saying that He despised the seventh-day sabbath that Israel observed, because He had decided to set apart the eighth day, Sunday, as the New Testament sabbath (XV). "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead" (XV).

Truth:
So far as New Testament sanctity is concerned, there is no difference between Saturday, Sunday, Friday, or any other day, just as there is no difference between the water of Jewish ceremony and the water of Christian baptism. Water is water. A day is a day.

Those brethren who in Paul's day maintained a respect for the sabbath which God had given to Moses were called "weak" (Rom. 14:1-6) and were to be shown compassion, because they were not able to comprehend the liberty from ceremonial form which Jesus provided. But simple spiritual weakness is not the spiritual condition of Christian fathers such as Ignatius and Barnabas. No, they invented a holy day, altogether apart from the will of God. That is not weakness; it is wickedness.

Jewish brothers who could not in good conscience depart from Moses' God-given Law were to be excused for their weakness and loved; these apostate fathers who ruined good consciences with their self-made religion were to be condemned and rejected as liars for claiming that their doctrine was from God. They taught that God had made a change from one holy day to another. He had not done it; instead, He made the change from carnal to spiritual, from ceremonial observance of a Saturday sabbath to the observance of no day at all. In this New Covenant, holiness is entirely a matter of the heart.

The place of rest for the church is in God's holy Spirit, as Jesus indicated when he said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). When we cease from our own religious works, and from our own thoughts about God, and when we walk in the wisdom and strength which the Spirit alone gives, we are keeping the sabbath of God, and pleasing Him well by so doing.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF THE SCRIPTURES

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

Background:
On the Day of Atonement, the most fearful of Israel's holy days, two goats were to be brought by the Israelites to the high priest. The high priest then was commanded to "take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And [the high priest] shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD, and the other for the scapegoat. And [the high priest] shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. . . . And [the high priest] shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their trespasses in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the scapegoat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. . . . And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp." (Excerpts from Leviticus 16)

Statement:
According to Barnabas, Christ spoke through Moses and commanded the priests to eat the inner parts of the goat that was sacrificed "unwashed with vinegar". Why? As Christ is supposed to have continued to explain, "Because to Me, who am to offer my flesh for the sins of My new people, ye are to give gall with vinegar to drink" (VII). Another of Barnabas' additions to this ceremony, and an especially repugnant one, is that God commanded the Jews participating in the ceremony: "All of you spit upon it [the scapegoat], and pierce it, and encircle its head with scarlet wool, and thus let it be driven into the wilderness" (VII).

Afterwards, Barnabas claims that the man who drove the scapegoat into the wilderness was required by God to find a certain kind of desert shrub, probably a thorny one, and then to place the wool from the goat's head onto it (VII). Of course, a somewhat complicated explanation of how this deed foreshadowed Jesus' crown of thorns follows.

Truth:
The Law's uncomplicated and wonderful Day of Atonement ceremony is so distorted by Barnabas that his readers must have doubted that God ever really commanded those rituals to be performed--which, as Barnabas describes them, He did not. Not only would his distortions have warped the reader's perception of the God of the Israelites but also their perception of the Jews themselves.

Justin Martyr's assertion [noted later] that the only reason God gave the Law to the Jews was because they were especially wicked would certainly be more believable if the ceremonies were made to seem weird, as Barnabas makes them to appear. Barnabas' version of the rites of Moses' Law must have lent credence to the many anti-Semitic statements found in the writings of Christianity's fathers.

There are very many inaccurate and confused quotations of Old Testament scripture made by Barnabas which will not be mentioned in detail. This is one of two segments of his epistle, however, which deserve special attention because of the wild, even bizarre, representations of the rites commanded by God in the Law.

THE RED HEIFER

Background:
The second portion of Scripture which is especially perverted by Barnabas concerns the famed Red Heifer ceremony. Here are the relevant portions of Scripture as they appear in the Bible: "And the LORD spoke saying, `Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee [the high priest] a red heifer without spot. . . . And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest [who was next in line to be high priest], that he might bring her forth outside the camp. And one shall slay her before his face. And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and shall sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times. And one shall burn the heifer in his sight: her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn, And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer." [Then the priest and the man who burned the heifer were required to bathe, wash their clothes, and remain outside the camp until evening.] "And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up outside the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation. It is for purification of sin." (Excerpts from Numbers 19)

Statement:
According to Barnabas' version of this ceremony, God commanded "men of the greatest wickedness" to make the offering of the heifer (VIII), and after these men had slain and burned the heifer, "[three] boys should take the ashes, and put these into vessels, and bind round a stick purple wool along with hyssop; then, the boys should sprinkle the people, one by one, in order that they might be purified from their sins" (VIII). "And why are there three boys that sprinkle?" asks Barnabas. "To correspond to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob" (VIII).

Carrying out the ceremony, according to Barnabas, made the wicked men innocent of all evil and they were "no longer regarded as sinners" (VIII).

Truth:
First, wicked men were forbidden to perform the rites of the Law, and God was incensed when evil-hearted men carried out those rites. For Israel to carry out the rituals of the Law without maintaining a holy lifestyle was repugnant to God in the extreme (cp. Isa. 1:10-17).

Secondly, boys were never allowed by God to participate in the holy ceremonies of Israel. Even the helpers of the priests, the Levites, were required to be at least thirty years old before they were allowed to help perform the holy works of the Law (1Chron. 23:3. And this was apparently after a five-year apprenticeship. Num. 8:24). By inventing this commandment of God concerning children's participation in the holy rites of the Law, Barnabas may have been attempting to justify the use of boys in Christian religious ceremonies (possibly yet another holdover from the practice of Roman nobles and emperors of having young men around them for their own personal pleasure?).

Lastly, the ashes of a red heifer were not sprinkled on all the people, as Barnabas says. The biblical text shows that those ashes were preserved "outside the camp" for use in specific times, when certain unclean persons would need to be sprinkled with them.

Statement:
Barnabas states flatly that Jesus "is not the Son of man, but the Son of God" (XII). Truth: Jesus calls himself the Son of man thirty-two times in the book of Matthew alone.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
That Barnabas does not consider himself to have already obtained salvation is made obvious in many places by such comments as this: "We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole past time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh sons of God" (IV). "If anyone", writes Barnabas, "desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works" (XIX). Barnabas teaches that the man who, after having a knowledge of "the way of righteousness, rushes off into the way of darkness" will perish (V).

Truth:
These statements are in keeping with the truth revealed in the Scriptures. In particular, the last one, which is similar to Peter's language in 2 Peter 2:20-21, "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to know the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."

FRAGMENTS OF PAPIAS

INTRODUCTION:

The estimated dates for Papias are A.D. 70-155. Almost nothing is known about this Bishop of the church at Hieropolis, a city of Phrygia. He is said to have heard John the apostle and to have known many who had personally been acquainted with the Lord and his apostles. Nothing remains of his writings except a few small fragments attributed to him in the writings of other Christian church fathers and writers.

HERESY / SCRIPTURAL PERVERSION

Statement:
According to Theophylact, Papias taught that "Judas walked about in this world a sad example of piety; for his body having swollen to such an extent that he could not pass where a chariot could pass easily, he was crushed by the chariot, so that his bowels gushed out." He also suggests that Judas' eyes were so swollen that he could not see, and they were so sunk into his head that his eyes could not be seen, even with the aid of a physician's optical instruments, and that the rest of his body was covered with runnings and worms, and that the place in Palestine where he died still stank badly (Frag. II).

Truth:
The biblical account of Judas' death differs significantly from this fanciful account. According to the Bible, Judas hanged himself (Mt.27:5). This act of suicide was apparently committed from the side of a steep hill, for when the rope which Judas used broke (or perhaps when the tree limb from which he hanged snapped), Judas fell headlong, and his body burst open upon the rocks below (Acts 1:18).

Statement:
Papias teaches that those who are saved in the end will be divided into three groups, depending on their rewards: the first group will live in heaven, the second will live in paradise, and the third in "the city", that is, New Jerusalem.

Truth:
Note that he uses the word saved correctly, with reference to "the end of your faith", as Peter said (1Pet. 1:9). There will be, of course, degrees of rewards for the saved in eternity. Jesus made that clear many times. But to separate the saved in this manner is a contrived scheme. First, and most importantly, the eternal dwelling place of the saved will not be heaven, as Christians often say; it will be the New Earth. "Blessed are the meek", Jesus said, "for they shall inherit the earth" (Mt. 5:5). And the Psalmist wrote, "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's, but the earth hath he given to the children of men" (Ps. 115:16).

SPIRITUAL POWER

Statement:
Papias plainly states that he considered the "living and abiding voice" of the holy Spirit to be more accurate and dependable than the books which had been written about Jesus and his disciples (Frag. I).

Truth:
Good! Jesus did not say that when he returned to heaven, he would have a book written which would guide us into all truth. Rather, he sent back the holy Spirit to do that. In some sectors of Christianity today, the Bible has completely replaced the Spirit as a guide. In such cases, the terrifying warning which Jesus gave to some men in his day still applies: "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me, and you will not come to me, that ye might have life" (Jn. 5:39-40).

For many Christians, the voice of the Spirit is a strange voice. Those who do hear from God by His Spirit are often misunderstood by Christians who do not know that such communication exists. Instead, Christians are taught to trust in the Bible, which is pointing them to the life of the Spirit of Christ that Jesus purchased for them, but they will not pursue it.

Statement:
According to Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. iii. 39), Papias said that "Mark [the author of the gospel that bears his name] having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him" (Frag. VI). As for the Gospel of Matthew, Papias says that Matthew recorded "the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could" (Frag. VI).

Truth:
This may or may not be the case. There is no biblical information about this.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
It was discovered in an obscure manuscript that, according to a genealogy invented by one named Papias (Frag. X), several of Jesus' disciples were his cousins, including James, John, and James the Less. Other men listed as Jesus' cousins were named Joseph and Judas, but it is unclear whether or not the inventer of this genealogy meant that this Judas was the Judas who betrayed Christ.

Truth:
This is an invention. None of this is biblical.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
Papias teaches that, in the end, the Son will submit his kingdom to the Father, who gave to the Son all the authority that he now possesses (Frag. V).

Truth:
Papias offers no help to those who seek evidence of a trinitarian faith among the earliest Christian fathers.

JUSTIN MARTYR

  • THE FIRST APOLOGY (1AP.)
  • THE SECOND APOLOGY (2AP.)
  • DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO, A JEW (DIAL.)
  • THE DISCOURSE TO THE GREEKS (DISC.)
  • HORTATORY ADDRESS TO THE GREEKS (HORT.)
  • ON THE SOLE GOVERNMENT OF GOD (GOV.)
  • ON THE RESURRECTION, FRAGMENTS (ON THE RES.)
  • OTHER FRAGMENTS (FRAG. JUST.)
  • MARTYRDOM (MART. JUST.)

INTRODUCTION:

According to his own words, Justin's First Apology was written one hundred fifty years after Jesus' birth (1Ap., XLVI). For those unfamiliar with the term, an "apology" is a defence. Justin is not apologizing for his faith in the modern sense of the word; he is simply offering a defense of Christianity to the Roman Emperor. Justin is called Martyr because he was beheaded for his faith, if we are to trust the story related in "The Martyrdom of Justin". He clearly possessed great intellect and was very well acquainted with the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Bible. He was a philosopher first and foremost, who repeatedly asserted that some of the greatest pagan poets, writers, and philosophers of the ancient classical cultures possessed a knowledge of the true God and, therefore, deserved to be called Christians (Hort., XXVIII). Justin accused Plato of rank cowardice, though, maintaining that on a visit to Egypt, Plato had learned of Moses and of the Mosaic Law's revelation of the true God, but that, fearing a fate such as befell his teacher Socrates, Plato disguised his confession of the truth in ambiguous, contradictory language (Hort., XXV).

ANTI-SEMITISM

Statement:
Justin calls the Jews "senseless", because they were inspired by demons to persecute Jesus (1Ap., LXIII). Truth:
The Jews were no more senseless than the Gentiles, who with the Jews partook of the murder of Jesus, and who themselves later perverted the gospel of Christ into what became known as Christianity, which over the centuries persecuted to the death many precious saints of God who were like Jesus.

Statement:
Justin states that the works of the Law (sabbaths, sacrifices, etc.) were given to Israel because of their great wickedness (Dial. XX; XXI).

Truth:
This is false. For one example, circumcision, which became an essential ceremonial element of the Law, was first given to God's friend, Abraham, "a seal of the righteousness of the faith he possessed, being yet uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11) God did not give the rite of circumcision to Abraham, nor did He accept Abraham's sacrifices, because Abraham was wicked, as Justin's logic would lead us to think. There was a loving, holy purpose in all the ceremonial works which God gave to His chosen people. "The Law was our schoolmaster", wrote Paul, "to lead us to Christ" (Gal. 3:24).

It is true, as Paul said, that "the Law was added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19), but there is no indication in Scripture that the Law was added because of Jewish transgressions only. "The whole world", wrote the apostle John, "lieth in wickedness" (1Jn. 5:19).

Statement:
Justin insists that the sacrifices required of Israel by the Law of Moses had not even been necessary for them to perform (Dial. XXII).

Truth:
This assessment of the works of the Law is plainly wrong. It is the steadfast position of the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament books, that every word of the Law was of God; therefore, it was absolutely necessary that its every precept be obeyed by the circumcised nation (the Jews). As Paul wrote, "I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole Law" (Gal. 5:3).

Statement:
Justin suggests that Jews in general, not just those to whom he was speaking, have "a love of contention" (Dial. CXVII).

Truth: God's prophets could, without malice or hypocrisy, call Israel such things as foolish, hard-hearted, crafty, unscrupulous, or "wise only to do evil"; but not Justin. He wields his own craftiness with words. And in several fundamental matters of faith, as will be shortly demonstrated, he shows himself to be, as he hypocritically describes the Jews as being, "utterly incompetent to know the hidden counsel of God" (Dial. CXXIII).

CEREMONY - THE LAW

Statement:
Justin holds that Jews who believed in Christ would probably be saved in the end, if they did not attempt to persuade Gentiles to "be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremony" (Dial. XLVII).

Truth:
This was true for the time, and so it was during the time of Paul, who exhorted both Jews and Gentiles to "abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (1Cor. 7:20). He wrote, "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any man called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised" (1Cor. 7:18).

The larger issue for us living now is, if the Jews were not to pressure Gentile believers to submit to the God-given ceremonial works of the Law or "any other such ceremony", as Justin rightly insists, then by what authority do Justin and the other Christian fathers demand that the church observe their ceremonies, which were never given by God for anyone to observe?

Statement:
Justin suggests that the Israelites performed the Law's ceremonies through ignorance, adding that he and the Christian community have learned that "the Maker of this universe . . . has no need of streams of blood and libations and incense", and that men ought not to "consume by fire what He has brought into being for our sustenance" (1Ap., XIII). He ascribes such a perspective of contempt toward ceremonial works of the Law to Jesus.

Truth:
Jesus taught no such thing about the Law. Jesus himself observed every precept of the Law. He did so because the Law came from God, and he exhorted everyone around him to do the same. "Think not", he said, "that I am come to destroy the Law. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Mt. 5:17).

Paul, while teaching the Gentiles that they were not required by God to observe the ceremonial works of the Law, still insisted that "the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12). The Law was not the offspring of ignorant men's superstition, as Justin insinuates. Out of pure love for mankind, God gave the Law, that men might prepare to believe and understand the incomparable work of His Son. Without the Law, our carnal minds would have had nothing by which to grasp the meaning and the majesty of Christ Jesus' saving work.

CHRISTIAN BAPTISM

Statement:
When Justin first mentions baptism, his reference is clearly to a baptism in water (1Ap., LXI). "[Those who have fasted and sought God for forgiveness of sin] are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were regenerated." He also describes what probably was the baptismal formula used by the baptizer: "In the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water." He calls this baptism "the water of remission of sins already committed" (1Ap., LXI).

So, Justin holds that by Christianity's water baptism sins already committed are washed away, and by the same baptism a repentant person is "born again". "This washing is also called illumination", wrote Justin, "because these things are illuminated in their understanding."

Truth:
Justin contradicts himself on this key doctrinal point by teaching the truth about baptism later; therefore, we will let him condemn his own false teaching, as described above.

In speaking to a group of the Jews concerning baptism, Justin rightly confesses, "We have believed, and testify that that very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented; and this is the water of life. . . . For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses the flesh and body alone?" (Dial. XIV). He goes on to scold the Jews because "you have understood [the works of the law] in a carnal sense, and you suppose it to be piety if you do such things" (Dial. XIV). "We do not receive that useless baptism of cisterns", he says to the Jews, "for it has nothing to do with this baptism of life" (Dial. XIX). Again, he testifies, "What need have I of that other baptism, who have been baptized with the holy Ghost? (Dial. XXIX). Amen! That is the truth of Paul's gospel for the Gentiles. That is the truth which Paul the apostle struggled so valiantly, and vainly, to persuade the Gentile churches to believe. But that truth does not agree in any respect with Justin's earlier teaching on the necessity and efficaciousness of Christian water baptism.

Justin also agrees with Paul in explaining the spiritual significance of the baptism of the holy Ghost in relation to circumcision (Dial. XLIII): "We, who have approached God through [Christ], have received not carnal but spiritual circumcision. . . . And we have received it through baptism. . . ." Of course, the baptism which administers this circumcision of the heart cannot be a fleshly, watery baptism. Whether or not Justin would agree with this comment, though, would depend upon which Justin responded to it: the Justin who taught that water baptism regenerated and illumined a man, or the one who didn't need the "useless" baptism of water because Jesus had baptized him with the holy Ghost.

The truth, with which he attempted to condemn the Jews, condemns Justin's own doctrine concerning water baptism! Why were the Jews to be condemned for practicing a water-cleansing ritual, when the Christians practiced a water-cleansing ritual of their own? What is the difference between Jewish water and Christian water? The baptism of the water of life, the holy Spirit, which Jesus purchased for us with his blood, is the only baptism which will accomplish any good thing for the soul. By Justin's endorsement in his First Apology of Christian baptism, we must conclude, then, that he and his fellow Christians understood the work of God every bit as much "in a carnal sense" as the Jews did, whom he condemns. So great is the difference between Justin's two teachings on baptism that one must wonder if the same man wrote both.

CHRISTIAN COMMUNION

Statement:
Justin states that after baptizing in water the one "who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching", the Christians led him to the place where they assembled. There they prayed, saluted the brothers with "a holy kiss", and, lastly, partook of a ceremonial meal, "bread and a cup of wine mixed with water" (1Ap., LXV). This bread and diluted wine was typically served to the church by the deacons after another prayer was offered to God "at considerable length" by the "president" of the meeting (1Ap., LXV). A portion of the meal was sent to the homes of those believers who were unable to attend the meeting. The title given to this meal by the Christians was the eucharist (literally, thanksgiving), "of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined" (1Ap., LXVI).

Truth:
This is precisely the "such ceremony" as Justin condemned the Jews for teaching the Gentiles to observe (see Ceremony, above).

Statement:
Justin says further that the Christian communion meal is not received by the faithful as common bread and wine, but as the flesh and blood of Jesus (1Ap., LXVI).

Truth:
The meal was, and still is, common bread and wine, in spite of what Christians teach. As one Medieval man, an Italian shoemaker disgusted with Christianity's bizarre communion doctrine, is quoted as having said, the sacramental wafer is just "a bit of food which one puts in one's mouth and comes out. . . " well, where it comes out. Needless to say, his comment was reported to the clergy, and he was brought before the Papal inquisitors for that remark.

Statement:
Justin teaches emphatically--even indignantly--that "wicked demons" produced among men an imitation of the Christian eucharist, naming specifically the initiation meals of Mithras, a popular religion at that time, especially among Roman soldiers. The priests of Mithras served their ceremonial meal with an incantation, as Christians served theirs with prayers (1Ap., LXVI).

Truth:
Christian communion is itself a satanically inspired mockery of the true communion for which Jesus suffered and died. The only communion which is acceptable with God is that communion which Jesus still ministers to believers: fellowship in spirit with the Father and the Son, and with one another.

Statement:
Justin states that Jesus enjoined the church to offer the "sacrifice" of "the Eucharist of the bread and the cup . . . which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world" (Dial. CXVII).

Truth:
Justin is teaching superstitious, heathen nonsense when he says that Jesus commanded the church to offer the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Jesus did no such thing. Christian communion, rejecting the true communion of saints, is itself a superstitious and rebellious mockery of Christ and should be repented of by all who have ever partaken of it.

Statement: He adds that this "solid and liquid food" brings to mind the suffering of Jesus. Truth: Justin is exposing his misunderstanding of Jesus' words on the matter, when he states that carnal food and drink bring to mind the sufferings of Christ. That is not what Jesus meant when he said, "This do in remembrance of me". Jesus' word, this, referred to what he was doing, acting as an humble servant, not to the disciples' act of eating. To carry on such a dead ritual as Christian communion is as the sin of witchcraft and idolatry, and does not "show forth" the death of Christ, but merely shows forth our own deadness to the things of God.

Only a few paragraphs after his mention of a Christian sacrifice of "solid and liquid food", Justin's refers to the "true and spiritual praises" of the church as being God's replacement for the carnal "blood and libations" of the Old Testament (Dial. CXVIII). This truth, that the worship of the church is spiritual, is absolutely irreconcilable to the carnal, ceremonial consumption of bread and wine, and is another of the contradictions found in Justin's writings which causes one to wonder if a later Christian redactor added the communion heresy of his time to Justin's earlier, and better, writings.

HOLY DAYS

Statement:
"The eighth day [that is, Sunday]", wrote Justin, "possessed a certain mysterious import, which the seventh day did not possess, and which was promulgated by God through [certain rites of the Law]" (Dial. XXIV). One of those rites which accentuated the eighth day was circumcision, which had to be performed on males eight days after birth (Dial. XXVII; Gen. 17). Another of Justin's justifications for honoring the "eighth day of the week" was that "it is the first on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter made the world; and [on that day] Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead" (1Ap., LXVII). Another justification offered by Justin for especially revering the eighth day is the fact that there were eight souls saved in Noah's ark (Dial. CXXXVIII).

Truth:
First, it is mind-boggling that, in his zeal to formulate a doctrine concerning a new sabbath, this astute man, with other Christian fathers, failed to realize that there is no eighth day of the week! After the seventh day, we are supposed to start counting again, beginning with the first day.

But the larger issue is that there are no holy days in this New Covenant; the Old Testament contained the only holy days that God has ever ordained, and they were only symbols, shadows of the glory of Christ Jesus (Col. 2:16-17). Justin confesses that Christians have substituted the "day of the Sun" for the biblical sabbath day, have instituted a form of water baptism instead of washing at the laver of the temple, and partake in a ceremonial meal instead of such feasts as Passover. In all these things, it is clearly demonstrated that Justin's Christian ways of worship were as carnal as the Jews' ways of worship; at the same time, there was a singular, fundamental difference: God ordained the ceremonies of the Law for the Israelites, but Christians simply invented their ceremonies and then claimed that God did it. He didn't.

But again, there appears to be two Justins at work here. For Justin contradicts himself when he tells Trypho that the "new law" in Christ requires men to keep a "perpetual sabbath", and that this new sabbath is observed by walking in the Spirit of holiness (Dial. XII; XVIII). This is absolutely true. Whence then comes the Christian commandment to observe the non-existent eighth day of the week as a holy day?

CIRCUMCISION

Statement:
Justin correctly states that physical circumcision was required only of the Jews, and that the Gentiles, having received the circumcision of the Spirit in their hearts, did not need the kind of physical circumcision God had required under the Law (Dial. XVIII; XIX; XCII; et. al.).

Truth:
Amen!

Statement:
Justin condemns Trypho the Jew for trusting in fleshly circumcision, resting on the sabbath day, and eating unleavened bread at the times appointed by the Law. He rightly tells him that "The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances" (Dial. XII; XVIII).

Truth:
Justin is correct to say that "the Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances"; however, it should not be forgotten that, during the time of the Old Testament Law, God did take pleasure in those observances, if performed by righteous men. It is only from the time of the sacrificial suffering and death of Jesus that God has "taken no pleasure" in those once-holy works of the Law. These early Christian church fathers often failed to grasp this simple truth.

SUMMARY OF CEREMONIAL SECTION

In the earliest Christian centuries, there was a transformation of Jesus of Nazareth, certainly not in reality, but in the minds of Christians. There was, as it were, a redefinition of the Lord. The apostle Paul warned the churches not to receive "another Jesus", nor "another Spirit", nor yet "another gospel" (2Cor. 11:4). Unfortunately, the churches did not listen to Paul.

In the early Christian centuries, there was in the minds of many Christians a combining of Jesus with the persona of Helios, the Greek sun god (sometimes also identified with the god Apollo). Helios was thought to drive a chariot from east to west daily across the sky, thus providing light to the world and chasing night away. Helios was also distinguished by a halo, with radiant beams springing from it. This latter feature probably provided the inspiration for the glowing halo which Christian artists for centuries now have drawn around the head of Christianity's Jesus/Helios. On a Christian's sarcophagus in Rome, from about this time, has been discovered a picture of Christianity's Jesus/Helios riding a chariot with a glowing halo surrounding his head. So closely did some Christians associate Jesus with Helios that they would actually bow toward the east in worship of the sun before entering the regularly scheduled meeting of the church. In the light of all this, it should not surprise us to find that Christians esteem "the day which is called `the sun'" (Sunday) above other days of the week.

These things demonstrate the truth which God's people everywhere need to know; to wit, Christianity is not the church of Jesus Christ; it is an appealing synthesis of gospel revelation and pagan religious practices and beliefs, the prettiest trap Satan has ever laid.

If forced by God to make a choice, a sensible man would choose to observe the Jewish sabbath rather than the Christian Sunday. He would prefer Jewish feast days to Christian communion meals, and the baptism of John to Christian baptism, for at least it could be said that God at one time did ordain those rites for the Jews. God did ordain the Jewish sabbath as a holy day, whereas observance of the day of the sun was never ordained by God. He ordained John's baptism for the Jews, but He never ordained Christianity's water baptism. And Jesus broke the bread and served the wine at his last Passover supper, not at his first, revised version of it.

Justin rightly states that if Christians had not understood the Law of Moses, then they would observe the ceremonial works of the Law (Dial. XVIII). Ironically, it is precisely because Justin and Christians everywhere do not fully understand the Law which God gave to Israel, nor yet the surpassing work of Jesus our Savior, that they observe special days, wear special clothes for worship, baptize in water, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, burn incense, and carry on a host of other carnal ceremonies.

What God abandons, the devil uses. When God abandoned the high places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped, and gave men the Law instead, Satan used the fact that God had once accepted Abraham's worship there (e.g. Gen. 12:7,8) to confuse and deceive Israel. When the holy ceremonial forms of the Old Covenant were fulfilled by Christ and abandoned by God, Satan successfully embraced ceremonial forms as a snare for the earliest church, despite all that Paul could do to prevent it. "Are you so foolish?" Paul pleaded with one congregation who had begun to perform and to have confidence in carnal ceremonies, "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3).

Justin said that he and other Christians "do continually beseech God by Jesus Christ to preserve us from the demons which are hostile to the worship of God"; however, in joining with Christians who partook of dead works he had fallen right into their hands.

ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS

Statement:
One of the titles of the Roman Emperor (found in the spurious "Epistle of Antoninus [Pius] to the Common Assembly of Asia", and attached to Justin's first Apology) is "Supreme Pontiff".

Truth:
The head of Christianity, the Pope, is now called "Supreme Pontiff". One demonstration of early Christianity's envy of the Roman Empire's political power is its adoption of Roman titles and methods of government.

PHONY SCRIPTURES

Statement:
Among the many errors made by the Christian father Irenaeus (whose writings follow) is his quotation of a phony Scripture which he on one occasion says is from Isaiah (AH3, XX.4), and on another occasion says is from Jeremiah (AH4, XXII.1): "The holy Lord remembered His dead Israel, who slept in the land of sepulture; and He descended to them to make known to them His salvation, that they might be saved."

As I said earlier, we allow for errors in Scripture quotations because reliable texts may have been wanting to these men; so, to point out this error is not the issue here. However, Justin not only quotes this same phony Scripture (along with other equally phony verses), but he condemns the Jews for having removed those phony verses from the Bible (Dial. LXXII).

Truth:
Righteous men do not falsely accuse others. The history of Christianity is glutted with examples of evil Christian rulers unjustly condemning, persecuting, and even murdering other men, sometimes for no other "crime" than their refusal to accede to Christianity's particular brand of wickedness. What we see in Justin's false accusation is the germ of Christian injustice, the ungodly spirit of oppressive Christian rulers who through the centuries ruled with great arrogance and cruelty over many who were far better judges of right and wrong than they. Wise Solomon observed during his lifetime that "There is a time when one man ruleth over another to his own hurt" (Eccl. 8:9). Christian leaders have for almost two millennia now provided convincing examples of that truth.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF SCRIPTURE

THE RESURRECTED BODY

Statement:
Justin is adamant that in the resurrection both the righteous and the wicked will possess the same fleshly bodies in which they walked on earth (1Ap., VIII; On the Res., II). "The flesh will rise perfect and entire", he taught (On the Res., IV).

Truth:
This is one of Justin's most notable false teachings. It is true that Jesus was raised with the same physical body with which he lived on earth; but after he ascended into heaven to offer himself to the Father for the sins of the world, and was accepted, he was glorified by the Father with the glory that was his before the foundation of the world (cp. Jn. 17:5); and it is a glorified body such as Jesus now has that the saints are waiting to receive (Phip. 3:20-21).

Statement:
Justin holds that the physical body of a sinner, "with its head, hands, feet, and skin", are taken into hell so as to make torment possible (Hort., XXVII)!

Truth:
This is nonsense. A fleshly human body has never been in hell, nor will one ever be. Even the pagan poet Homer had a better understanding than that. The characters of his epics who were in Hades were described by him as untouchable "shades", no longer in fleshly bodies.

Statement:
Concerning the promise of the resurrection given to believers, Justin writes, "[God] gives the promise to the flesh" (On the Res., VIII).

Truth:
Here, Justin misunderstands Jesus' resurrection in a fleshly body to be an example of how the saints will rise (On the Res., IX). Apparently, Justin was ignorant of Paul's words in 1Corinthians 15:42-44 concerning the resurrection from the dead: "It [the body] is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

God has made but one promise to this carnal creation, including all human flesh; namely, that it will be completely and forever destroyed (Isa. 25:6-7; 2Pet. 3:10-12).

GOD'S NAME

Statement:
Justin states that God "is called by no proper name" (1Ap., X; 2Ap., VI; Hort., XXI). He refers to the Father as "the nameless God" (1Ap., LXIII; Hort., XXI).

Truth:
God revealed His name to Moses in Exodus 6:2-3, saying, "I am Jehovah. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them."

Note: There is no good reason to abandon the name Jehovah and to adopt the pretentious "Yahweh" as the correct pronunciation for the Tetragrammaton. Christianity has been promoting the name Yahweh quite vigorously the last few decades, and it is gaining wide-ranging acceptance in our Christian culture. But there may be a very good reason for not adopting "Yahweh" as God's name. See in the Appendix The Pioneer Tract Society's, "Yahweh, god of the Christians".

Statement:
Justin holds that the Jehovah of the Old Covenant is in fact the Son, not the Father (Dial. LX).

Truth:
His position on this matter is impossible to defend, in the light of such Scriptures as Psalm 110:1, in which the Father (Jehovah) speaks to His Son (cp. Mt. 22:41-45). Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Father, not the Son.

CREATION

Statement:
Justin states that God created all things out of "unformed matter" (1Ap., X).

Truth:
The question then is naturally raised, from whom did the "unformed matter" originate? God created all things from nothing but His own goodness, wisdom, and power.

David sang, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Ps. 33:6). No mention of merely rearranging pre-existent matter here. In the acts of creation, the commandment from the mouth of the LORD was typically, "Let it be", not "Let it be rearranged" (Gen. 1:3, 6, 14).

It is interesting to note that Irenaeus, another Christian father, condemned the heretics of his time for teaching that "the Creator formed the world out of previously existing matter" (AH2, XIV.4). What would he have said of Justin?

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

Statement:
Justin teaches that "all who, by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners" (1Ap., XV).

Truth:
This is false doctrine. Justin errs, as many Christian ministers still do, in his understanding of Jesus' teaching on marriage and divorce.

Jesus was sent from the Father to minister to no one but Jews, God's covenant people (Mt. 15:24; Rom. 15:8). When two people marry who are both in covenant with God, remarriage during the lifetime of the first spouse is forbidden (with an exception made for infidelity). Jesus did not speak to any other groups of people concerning marriage and divorce. When Paul taught on the subject of marriage, he, too, allowed married believers to separate; at the same time, and again in agreement with Jesus, he forbade those separated believers to remarry so long as the first spouse lived (1Cor. 7:10-11). However, contrary to what Justin and many of his theological descendants hold, Paul did allow for remarriage if the departed spouse was an unbeliever (1Cor. 7:15).

Note: Great harm has been inflicted upon many children of God through the centuries by Christian ministers who, like Justin, take the biblical commandments intended only for two married children of God and apply it to all married people. Society's. Send for the Pioneer Tract Society's booklet "Marriage and Divorce" for the truth of the matter.

BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY

Statement:
Justin states that 5000 years before Jesus' birth, it was prophesied that he would come (1Ap., XXXI).

Truth:
According to the biblical timetable, there were no people created, much less prophets sent, 5000 years before Christ.

THE APOSTLES' MISSION

Statement:
Justin believes, as many of his Christian descendants do, that the twelve apostles of Jesus "went out into the world" and "proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God" (1Ap., XXXIX; XLIX).

Truth:
There is no indication in the Scriptures that the apostles of Christ ever did such a thing. Peter's mission was to the Jews, while Paul's gospel was for the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-9). Paul and his fellow workers, such as Titus, were they who carried the gospel to the Gentiles, not Jesus' twelve disciples, despite what Christian tradition holds.

THE ORIGIN OF DEMONS

Statement:
Demons came into existence, according to Justin, when fallen angels "were captivated by love of women, and begat children" by them (2Ap., V). These half-human, half-angelic beings then subdued mankind, he says, "partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions" (2Ap., V). Justin lays the blame for the troubles and sins among men and nations on these same demons.

Truth:
Jesus indicated that sin proceeds from the heart of man (Mt. 15:19); in other words, to blame demons for our sins is a lame excuse. Man does not need the devil in order to sin; sin is in human nature, and if the devil were to die tomorrow, mankind would still be sinful and would still desperately need to be regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Justin's tale of intercourse between angels and earthly women is another juvenile invention, probably based upon a misunderstanding of Genesis 6:2, which refers to intermarriage between godly and ungodly people. Jesus said plainly that angels in heaven do not marry (Mt. 22:30). Jesus' meaning was not that angels cannot marry in heaven because no women are there, but can marry if they come to earth because women can be found here. His obvious meaning is that the bodies with which angels are created are incapable of consummating a marriage, just as the glorified bodies given to faithful saints in the resurrection will be incapable of the same. Those who will be saved in the end will not marry, not because there will be no women saved for saved men to marry, but because the spiritual bodies which will be given to those who are saved will not be designed by God for the purpose of reproduction.

SATAN WAS HOPING FOR A BREAK FROM THE JUDGE

Statement:
According to Irenaeus, Justin taught that Satan never blasphemed God before Jesus came, because he didn't yet know what his sentence for apostatizing from God would be. Justin explains that Satan became so angry when he learned from listening to Jesus and the apostles "that eternal fire had been prepared for him", he then blasphemed God, much in the same way that a condemned criminal may become enraged when his sentence is announced, and curses the court and the judge (AH5, XXVI.2).

Truth:
The demons who possessed certain people in Jesus' day certainly knew, the first time they met Jesus, that eternal torment awaited them (Mt. 8:28-29). That "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" was known a thousand years before Jesus came (Ps. 9:17). Certainly, Satan understood that his punishment, as "the father of lies", was to be at least that horrible, and probably much worse.

Satan blasphemed God the moment that he turned from faithfulness to his Creator and began to contrive a rebellion against the rule of the Almighty. Because of Israel's ignorance of God, He pardoned great sins committed by them in the wilderness and let them live when they clearly deserved to die (e.g., Num. 14:19-20); but when Moses himself transgressed in a relatively small matter, God refused to allow him to enter into the Promise Land with Israel (Num. 20:7-12). God held Moses to a far higher standard than that to which He held the ordinary people of Israel, as Jesus explained, "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Lk. 12:48). Satan, then, having been created "full of wisdom" (Ezek. 28:12), and having seen the face of God in heaven, having lived on "the mountain of God", and having walked in God's presence "up and down in the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezek. 28:11-16), would have been altogether and eternally condemned from the moment of his transgression against God, and would have known it. He did not wait until Jesus and the apostles explained to him what his punishment would be; he was a blasphemer from the beginning.

JESUS WAS ACCURSED

Statement:
Justin makes the incredible statement that "Christ was not cursed by the law" (Dial. CXI).

Truth:
In the attempt to justify this unorthodox statement, Justin travels a twisted theological path. Paul, on the other hand, keeps it simple: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; for it is written [in the Law], `Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree'" (Gal. 3:13).

POLITICS

Statement:
Justin states unequivocally that he and other Christians do not look for a "human kingdom"; rather, they look for a kingdom which is with God. And for that reason, he and other Christians are not afraid to face death (1Ap., XI). Justin also states that Jesus taught us to pay our due taxes and to submit to earthly authorities, but to worship none but God (1Ap., XVII).

Truth:
Justin is correct in both these statements.

Statement:
Justin demands that the Emperor of Rome punish all who claim to be Christians but who live ungodly lives (1Ap., XVI), and he tells the Emperor that he should "exterminate from your realm" all prostitutes and other sexually perverse people (1Ap., XXVII).

Truth:
Typical of these early Christian fathers, and typical of Christianity itself, Justin follows a path which is completely contradictory to a truth he himself confesses (in the statement above)! By demanding that the government act according to his directives, he intrudes into the realm of human kingdoms, which is forbidden to the church in this covenant. By what authority does Justin demand that the Emperor of Rome put to death those whom Justin deems to be in error?

In political entanglements, such as counselling earthly governments concerning their laws and conduct, Christians expose the unclean spirit of their beginnings.

Note: While it is none of the church's business to advise governors of earth, it is most definitely Christianity's business, because Christianity is a religion completely of this world. Indeed, Christianity itself is the Roman Empire, in a new and improved form. Heretics such as Justin and others transformed the Roman Empire with their doctrines, and, in turn, the Empire, with its carnal spirit and worldly power, transformed the church into a whore, the Great Whore of Christianity, the greatest of the world's religions.

The perceptive reader will ask the obvious question: If it is wrong for saints now to become involved with political action, then why were many of the righteous characters in the Bible deeply involved in earthly politics? The answer is that all the biblical characters who were entangled with the political/military affairs of this life were Old Testament figures, not New. God told the rulers of Old Testament Israel to fight foreign armies, burn witches, and kill adulterers, etc., because Israel was an earthly kingdom. That is not the case with the church. Jesus said that if his kingdom were of this world, then his servants would fight (Jn. 18:36). We may justly add that if the kingdom of God were of this world, then Jesus' servant would vote, would boycott businesses, march around abortion clinics, join the military, pursue political positions, and would in general "mind earthly things" (Phip. 3:19), as Christians for the most part do.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
Justin uses the word saved, not as a synonym for conversion but as a reference to being received into paradise at the final judgment. Justin understands, as most of Christianity's fathers did, that "each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions" (1Ap., XII). "Not those who make profession," says Justin, " but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to his word" (1Ap., XVI; also LXV).

Truth:
This is true. Salvation will be given only to those in Christ who do good works.

Statement:
When Justin says that "by [the blood of Christ] those persons who were at one time harlots and unrighteous persons out of all nations are saved" (Dial. CXI), he is not using the word saved (as modern Christians do) as a synonym for conversion. He is saying that by the blood of Christ sinners are delivered from the power of sin so that they sin no more. He teaches that those once-vile sinners are saved by "receiving remission of sins, and continuing no longer in sin."

Truth:
Justin is correct. This is in harmony with the consistent biblical stance that only those who are cleansed from sinfulness and are obedient and faithful to Christ until the end shall be saved from the coming wrath of God (Mt. 7:21-27; Rom. 2:13; Jas. 2:24). Modern Christians could learn from Justin on this issue.

Statement:
Justin points out that Jesus was saved by his Father (Dial. CI). Justin warns Trypho and his fellow Jews: "When [Jesus] said, `Thou art my God; be not far from me', he taught that all men ought to hope in God Who created all things, and seek salvation and help from Him alone; and not suppose, as the rest of men do, that salvation can be obtained by birth, or wealth, or strength, or wisdom. . . . For if the Son of God evidently states that he can be saved, [neither] because he is a son, nor because he is strong or wise, but that without God he cannot be saved, even though he be sinless, . . . how do you or others who expect to be saved without this hope?" (Dial. CII).

Truth:
This statement touches not only on the issue of salvation but also on the issue of the superior power of the Father over the Son. Justin is exactly right. Jesus feared God (Heb. 5:5-9), knowing that the Father heard his prayers and would receive him into glory because he kept His commandments and did those things that were pleasing in His sight (cp. 1Jn. 3:22).

SPIRITUAL POWER

Statement:
Justin recognizes the reality of prophecy, stating that God "beforehand foretold [the events which] should come to pass" (1Ap., XII), and that the coming of Jesus was predicted many times over many generations, "for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose" (1Ap., XXXI). The number of references in Justin's writings to prophecy are too many to list, but of special importance is his statement that "the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time" (Dial. LXXXII). Significantly, Justin calls upon the Jew, Trypho, to bear witness to the fact that since the time of Christ, prophecy after the Old Testament manner had completely ceased to exist among the Jews (Dial. LXXXVII).

Justin records the deeds of Christian exorcists, who were driving out demons by the name of Jesus when other, non-Christian exorcists could not (2Ap., VI). Further, he lists various other gifts given to different members of the church in his time by the Spirit (Dial. XXXIX; LXXXVII; LXXXVIII).

Concerning exorcism, however, Justin acknowledges that exorcism was practiced by the heathen and by Jews as well as by Christians, but he condemns the methods which non-Christians used (see esp. Dial. LXXXV).

Truth:
Christians who adhere to the notion that spiritual gifts and power were given only to the very earliest church, or never really given at all, would do well to ponder Justin's testimony to the presence of spiritual gifts and miracles in his time.

SUPERSTITION

Statement:
Justin believes the myth concerning the origin of the Septuagint (1Ap., XXXI; Dial. LXXI; Hort. XIII).

Truth:
Even though the Septuagint is stained with an excessive number of incorrect translations of the Hebrew, it was trusted by most of the fathers of Christianity as a reliable version of the Bible. It most certainly is not.

Statement:
There was a myth among some early Christians that when Jesus stepped into the Jordan river to be baptized by John, a fire was ignited in the Jordan River. Justin gives credence to this myth (Dial. LXXXVIII).

Truth:
No fire was ignited in the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized.

THE AFTERLIFE

Statement:
The Italian poet Dante (1265-1321), called by some "the greatest Christian poet", modeled his depiction of hell and torment on the pattern provided by the pagan poet Virgil in his epic, The Aeneid. As a matter of fact, in Dante's Inferno, Virgil himself, as a shade from the underworld, served as Dante's highly honored "master", protector, and guide on his frightful expedition through hell. In both these ungodly and misleading accounts of the afterlife, one from ancient Rome and one from Medieval Christianity, the wicked dead are described as being tormented by evil creatures, or by being forced unendingly to perform frustrating, cruel tasks. Justin teaches a myth about hell and torment which is similar to Virgil's and Dante's, saying that when we die God is able to prevent "every shameless evil angel from taking our souls", and that when Jesus prayed for deliverance from "the sword, and the lion's mouth, and from the power of the dog", he was praying that no one but God would take his soul when he died (Dial. CV, with reference to Psalm 22:20-21).

Truth:
There is no indication in Scripture that the wicked in hell are being tormented either by demons or by performing strange and cruel tasks. In that prayer of Christ from Psalm 22, the Son of God was not praying to be delivered from demons, but from cruel and wicked men. Jesus did not, and does not, fear falling into the hands of demons. The Scriptures indicate that just the opposite is the case; namely, that demons fear him.

Statement:
To Trypho, Justin says that because Jesus prayed to his Father that his soul would not be taken away by demons when he died, "God by His Son teaches us . . . to pray that our souls may not fall into the hands of any such [evil] power" (Dial. CV).

Truth:
Jesus feared God (Heb. 5:7). As stated above, Jesus did not fear falling into the hands of demons or the devil; they fear falling into his hands. By teaching such a doctrine as Justin teaches, not only has he followed after the pagan poet Virgil's lie but also after the pagan philosopher Plato's doctrine of the fate of the wicked (Hort., XXVII). And by doing so, Justin betrays an idolatrous spirit within himself. Jesus, not Satan, "has the keys of death and of hell" (Rev. 1:18), and the beginning of wisdom, of which Jesus was in no short supply, is the fear of God.

Old Testament Israel failed in their walk of faith with God because they believed that God was only one God among many. By portraying Satan, the leader of rebellious demons, as the dreadful god of the underworld (like the Roman god Pluto) in charge of tormenting the souls of the damned, and especially making it appear that even Jesus himself feared being turned over to Satan, Justin promotes the fear of Satan and his (supposedly) tormenting hordes of demons. The fear which belongs only to God is then stolen and divided between Him and Satan.

It is more dreadful to fall into the hands of God than to fall into the hands of Satan, who himself trembles at the thought of God's wrath. Justin's teaching on this subject is plainly an evil and ancient heresy, and his promotion of Satan's power and fear is a sure indication of whose minister Justin really is.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

Statement:
According to Justin, Christians hold Jesus "in the second place" after "God Himself", and hold the "prophetic Spirit" in the third place (1Ap., XIII). Quoting Plato as well as Moses to support his doctrine, he continues along this philosophic line to teach that there is a "power next to the first God", and a third power besides (1Ap., LIX).

Truth:
Here, Justin speaks some truth, concerning the existence of a "power next to the first God". The Father is the creator of, and is superior to, the Son in every way. Justin plainly states that [God the Father] "conversed with some one who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational being" (Dial. LXII). This other person is the Son, whom we now call Jesus.

However, the Spirit cannot be in a "third place", for the Spirit is not a person; it is God's life, just as your spirit is your life. God's holy Spirit is within His body, just as your human spirit is within your body. The Father gave of His life-giving Spirit to the Son; thus, the Son was created, the "firstborn of every creature", servant to God the Father, and himself God over all things which he, by the will and power of his Father, proceeded to create.

Statement:
Justin condemns some for teaching that the Son is in fact the Father Himself (1Ap., LXIII). To Trypho he said, "I will attempt to persuade you of what I say, that there is, and that there is said [by the Old Testament Scriptures] to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things" (Dial. LVI). This second person, says Justin, "is distinct from Him who made all things,--numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that he has never at any time done anything which He who made the world--above whom there is no other God--has not wished him both to do and to engage himself with" (Dial. LVI).

This second person is called at various times "the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos" (Dial. LXI). As lofty as all these titles are, it must be kept in mind that whatever titles the Son bears, he received from the Father (Dial. LXXXVI).

Truth:
Though Justin may have helped lay the groundwork for the perverse, philosophical doctrines of Christian church fathers of later years, it is clear that he himself does not at all see Jesus as "co-equal" and "co-eternal" with the Father, as later trinitarians taught. He understands that the Son is "numerically distinct" from the Father, and that "there were two in number: One [Jesus] upon earth. . . . Another [the Father] in heaven, who also is Lord of the Lord on earth" (Dial. CXXIX). He has not yet followed that winding road of philosophy to the point of later Christians who would proceed to say that the Spirit is itself a person, forming a supposed Trinity of divine persons in heaven. As a matter of fact, he disparages the philosophical notion of Plato that there are "three first principles", preferring Aristotle's view that there were only two (Hort., VI).

Viewed from the vantage point of this last statement, Justin's proclamation of a "third place" in heaven causes questions to arise. Justin teaches that there are, and then again that there most certainly are not, three "places" in heaven. Will the real Justin please stand up!

Whoever the author is of these things, whether Justin himself or a later Christian redactor of his work, the "third person" concept is a heathen philosophic notion that has no place in the gospel. There is no third divine person who may occupy a "third place" beside Jesus. There is, however, an evil being who envies the glory of Christ and the Father, and who deceives men into making a "third place" in their heart for him.

Statement:
Without explanation, Justin mentions worshipping the holy Spirit (1Ap., VI).

Truth:
Worship of the Spirit of God is foreign to both the Scriptures and to the truth. This is either an addition by a later Christian trinitarian promoting the idea that the Spirit of God is a person, or Justin wrote something here which he neither explains nor elaborates upon.

Statement:
Justin states very plainly that there is a power, and only one, who is greater than the Word of God; namely, God Himself who brought forth the Word (1Ap., XII).

Truth:
This is perfectly true. Jesus said that the Father is greater than he (Jn. 14:28).

Statement:
Justin calls Jesus the "Apostle of God" (1Ap., XII), the "first-born of God" (1Ap., XXI), the "only proper Son who has been begotten by God" (1Ap., XXI; Dial. LXI). Like Ignatius and others, Justin distinguishes the Father from the Son by calling the Father the "unbegotten God" (1Ap., XXV; XLIX).

Truth:
It is commendable to distinguish the Father and the Son in these ways. They should be distinguished always, so far as their persons are concerned.

Note: Christianity's historical preference for "proceeded from the Father" in reference to the Son's generation, and its repugnance at the suggestion that the Son of God was created, is an unnecessary strain at words. What is the difference, in real terms, between saying, as the Bible does, that the Son of God was created by God before all things (Prov. 8:22), and saying, as Justin does (Dial. C), that the Son of God "proceeded before all creatures from the Father by His power and will"? There is no real difference at all. Before he "proceeded from the Father", he was not there, and no amount of intellectual gymnastics can make him be there before the Father "brought him forth".

Statement:
It is the Son, says Justin, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, not the Father (Dial. LX). Justin teaches Trypho, ". . . wherever [the Scriptures say], `God went up from Abraham', or, `The Lord spoke to Moses', and `The Lord came down to behold the tower which the sons of men had built', or when `God shut Noah in the ark', you must not imagine that the unbegotten God Himself came down or went up from any place. For the ineffable Father and Lord of all neither has come to any place, nor walks, nor sleeps, nor rises up, but remains in His own place, wherever that is, quick to behold and quick to hear, having neither eyes nor ears [emphasis mine], but being of indescribable might; and He sees all things, and knows all things, and none of us escapes His observation; and he is not moved or confined to one spot in the whole world, for He existed before the world was made. How, then, could He talk with anyone [!], or be seen by anyone, or appear on the smallest portion of the world, when the people at Sinai were not able to look even on the glory of Him [the Son, according to Justin] who was sent from Him?" (Dial. CXXVII).

Truth:
The reason for Justin's mistaken insistence that the Father is not the one who descended upon Mount Sinai, nor the one who communicated with Abraham, nor yet that He is the one who did many other deeds which Jehovah is said to have done in the Old Testament remains a mystery until near the end of his Dialogue With Trypho. There, Justin's thoroughly pagan and philosophical idea of what God is had displaced the wonderful truth, revealed in the Scriptures, concerning who God is. Justin's supreme God is so much other than man that He never so much as moves or speaks!

Clearly, in Justin's thoroughly philosophical mind, God is a thing, something to be speculated upon. Justin's concept of God can never be the wonderful, loving Being revealed in the Bible, Who condescends to communicate with and to care for man. Justin's thinging of God is a precursor of Christianity's bizarre Trinity doctrine, which later would bring the thinging of God to its perfection, with the Trinity formula making God out to be no more than a vague, indefinable, divine Blob.

Remarkably, Justin commits this crime against the Father and the Son, though he himself condemns Plato for having committed the same offense. With typical Christian indignation against one who is no more wrong than himself, Justin points out that while "Moses said, `He who is'", "Plato [said], `That which is'" (Hort., XXII).

Note: The fact that God the Father has a body separate from Jesus' body is incontrovertible, if we are to maintain the integrity of the Scriptures. The biblical information on this is plenteous (see "God's Body", attached to the end of this study). Our bodies were created in the image of His body (Gen. 1,2), and His Son, being made a man, was a reflection not only of His will and holiness but also of His form.

We who believe in Christ are promised a body like Jesus' glorified body (Phip. 3:21), if we are found faithful. If, being now glorified, he is merely a part of the divine Blob which Christianity maintains that God is, does that mean that our hope in Christ is to be glorified as blobs in heaven with him? What kind of hope is that? When Justin denies the bodily form of the Father, he opens a philosophical door for later Christians to enter to formulate more philosophical nonsense about the Father and the Son, which they most vigorously did.

It is in this context of re-inventing the Father in a pagan, philosophical mode that Justin feels the need to begin to discuss how it is that the Son differs from the Father; consequently, we see this very bright scholar begin to use the inscrutable language of thinkers, speaking of "the essence of God". What in heaven's name is that? And who cares to pretend to know? But this is the ostentatious language of fools "considering themselves to be wise", and the inexplicable concept of God's essence was eagerly built upon by erudite fools of later generations.

THE CHILD, JESUS

Statement:
During his conversation with the Jew Trypho, Justin makes the comment that at the time of Jesus' birth "he was in possession of His power" (Dial. LXXXVIII).

Truth:
It is a long-standing Christian myth that from Jesus' birth he possessed miraculous power. According to one such myth, the little child Jesus made clay pigeons and then miraculously gave them life, so that they could fly away. Such myths are utter nonsense, of course, but the notion that Jesus possessed all power at birth serves as a basis for such godless myths. It is true, as Jesus said, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me" (Mt. 28:18), but it was not given to him as a baby.

Statement:
In reaction to this, the knowledgeable Trypho perceptively raises a question concerning one of Isaiah's prophecies of the Christ, "And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him" (11:2). How can it be that the Spirit of God will "rest upon" Jesus, as though he was without it, he asks, if Jesus already had it?

Justin's reply is that Trypho misunderstands the meaning of "rest upon". According to Justin's definition of "rest upon", the Spirit would not come upon Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus already was in possession of the Spirit and power of the Almighty from birth. By "rest upon him", Justin maintains, Isaiah meant that the Spirit and its gifts would henceforth spring from Jesus alone. In other words, spiritual power and various spiritual gifts rest in Jesus now, and only through him does any man partake of them.

Truth:
Though it appears to honor Jesus greatly, this is only a clever heresy. After his baptism in the Jordan River and the forty days of temptation that followed, God anointed Jesus with power to do good and to heal all that were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). He did not have that power before that time. Only after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River did the Spirit come upon him (which, despite Justin's denial, is the clear meaning of rest in Isaiah 11:2, and in John 1:32). Only after his Temptation in the wilderness, did Jesus begin to minister "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk. 4:14).

Justin's doctrine is a mixture of truth and error. It is true that no man comes to the Father but by Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6). And it is true that the Spirit of God, with all its gifts, are available now only in the name of Jesus (Jn. 14:26). But those truths do not preclude the fact that Jesus himself received the Spirit and an anointing of power from his Father. Jesus repeatedly confessed his utter dependence upon his Father for his doctrine (Jn. 7:16-17; 12:50), his power (Jn. 5:30; 6:30 Acts 10:38), and even his life (Jn. 5:26; 6:57).

Trypho saw it rightly. Justin had erred by saying that Jesus possessed all power from his birth, and Trypho, seeing his error, questioned Justin about it. Justin invented a meaning for Isaiah's phrase "rest upon" in an attempt to cover up his error.

The old proverb goes, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." Justin here provides a perfect example of this practice. First teaching the error that Jesus possessed all power from the womb, he then is forced to invent another false teaching to cover the first one. But as the Christian father Irenaeus would later write, "One ignorance cannot be done away with by means of another ignorance" (AH5, XXII.1). Justin should have confessed his mistake when Trypho pointed out the Scripture which exposed his teaching to be wrong.

Statement:
Obviously, if Jesus already had all power from his infancy, then he could not as a man have received it. And that is exactly the direction Justin goes in his efforts to cover up his false teaching. He adds a third heresy to support these two previous ones when he maintains that Jesus did not really need to receive the Spirit (Dial. LXXXVIII).

Truth:
It is simply wrong for Justin to say that Jesus did not need the holy Ghost to come upon him. He certainly needed eternal life from God, and that is what he received when the Spirit came, "for the Spirit is life" (Rom. 8:10). Jesus was born of the Spirit just as we must be. He was, as Paul said, "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).

JESUS' OCCUPATION

Statement:
Justin holds, as virtually all Christians historically have, that Jesus' occupation before his baptism was that of a carpenter (Dial. LXXXVIII).

Truth:
The Bible never states that Jesus was a carpenter, only that he was a carpenter's son. The only biblical indication of what Jesus' occupation was before he was anointed by God is the prophecy of Christ found in the prophet Zechariah (13:5-6): "But he shall say, `I am no prophet; I am an husbandman, for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.' And one shall say unto him, `What are these wounds in thine hands?' Then he shall answer, `Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'" Apparently, Jesus was a shepherd, or herdsman, before his calling to go to the River Jordan to be baptized by John and receive the Spirit.

Classical Gods and Goddesses

Justin states repeatedly and emphatically what may be an important and revealing truth, that the ancient pagan poets and philosophers learned much from Moses, who predated them, and from Israel's prophets, but that they were inspired by demons to twist the truth and to fashion myths which glorified those demons, giving certain characters appealing names and making them out to be gods and goddesses (cp.1Ap., XLIV). He wrote, "[The Greek myths] have been uttered by the influence of wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race. For having heard it proclaimed by the prophets that the Christ was to come . . . they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvelous tales" (1Ap., LIV. For more on this, see "the Gods of the Gentiles" in the Appendix).

I do not know how successful those ancient myths were in persuading men of Justin's time to reject belief in the miraculous elements of Christ's story, but they were very successful in deceiving some of the seminary professors who taught me. In conversation, they frequently referred to ancient Near Eastern and Classical myths as being evidence that the miraculous stories in the Bible were also mythological, without considering that the great stories of faith which are in the Bible had been twisted by demoniacally inspired heathen minds and served as the basis for their mythological tales. Justin gives several specific examples of biblical revelation which served as the springboard for the heathen's plunge into idolatrous myth (1Ap., LIV), among them Noah, whom the Greeks renamed Deucalion (2Ap., VII). "It is not", he writes, "that we hold the same opinion as others, but that all speak in imitation of ours" (LIX).

Justin's brilliant characterization of the gods of ancient Greece and Rome as demons in disguise is very bold, considering his times, and it deserves commendation. It is less likely that he spoke the truth when he suggested that those demons actually had intimate, carnal relations with both women and boys (1Ap., V).

The Leaven of Philosophy

Justin's principal failure was the failure to realize that the gospel is not a philosophy, but a living experience of God's power. Justin saw himself as a philosopher, as is evidenced by his wearing the distinctive pallium of philosophers (Dial., I). He admits that God's power makes the difference between the gospel and ancient pagan errors, but himself relies on refined philosophical arguments rather than upon the power and truth of God to make his case. His strong faith in philosophy is exemplified by his confident quote from the pagan Plato, "Unless both rulers and ruled philosophize, it is impossible to make states blessed" (1Ap., III). Later, however, Justin admits that Plato's trust in Homer's theology is a sure indication that his own (Plato's) was perverse (Hort., V). Justin denies that the teachings of Plato are different from those of Christ, just that they are not in all ways similar (2AP., XIII).

To fully appreciate Justin's concept of Christianity, one must hear his own words: "Those [in human history] who lived reasonably are Christians . . . as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, [Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego], and Elijah, and many others" (1Ap., XLVI). Then, a foundation stone of Justin's theology is that all who, from any culture at any time, lived according to reason were righteous (sanctified?), or in Justin's term, Christians. Following this line of thought, we would necessarily see the Savior as the ultimate philosopher, despite Justin's disclaimer that Jesus is not "the mere instrument of human reason" (2Ap., X). What Jesus taught, Justin classifies as the "divine philosophy" (cp. 2Ap., XII), "more lofty than all human philosophy" (2Ap., XIV). According to Justin's view, then, Jesus was a philosopher.

Justin's defense of Socrates, as a man guided by the Word of God, and as "partially knowing Christ" (2Ap., X) is in some respects understandable. Anyone who reads Plato's accounts of Socrates' dialogues must be impressed by the man's courage, his inquisitive genius, and his apparent humility and earnestness. Yet, at his trial before the men of Athens, Socrates adamantly insisted that he did believe in the Greek gods. In his vigorous cross-examination of Meletus, one of his accusers, the aged Socrates successfully proved that Meletus had falsely charged him of not believing in the Greek gods. He was not so successful in his defence against the other charges brought against him, and a dying request of the condemned and poisoned philosopher was that Crito, his friend, offer a cock to the Greek god of healing, Asklepios. The request for sacrifice to a demon was not the request of a man led by the Word of God, as Justin affirms that Socrates was. Socrates' admirable qualities notwithstanding (and they appear to have been genuine), it transgresses the limits of truth to suggest that Socrates was led by the same Spirit of holiness which guided Moses, David, and Abraham. Socrates, like Justin, and all other false teachers, was a mixed bag of good and evil.

Justin does admit that Jesus was not "a sophist", but that "his word was the power of God" (1Ap., XIV). However, it appears that the miracle-working power of the holy Ghost found in the New Testament books is not what Justin has in mind, Justin's power being a power of persuasion through the use of logic and reason.

Throughout Justin's works, he flirts far too much with the attractive, but unclean spirit of philosophy; indeed, he surpasses flirtation and passionately embraces that seductive Muse, and by so doing profanes the incomparable work which God accomplished through His chosen, anointed servants. Justin elevates pagan men to a level of spirituality and holiness which was not a part of their lives.

It is pure heresy to teach, as Justin does, that ". . . philosophy is the greatest possession, and most honorable before God. . . and these are truly holy men who have bestowed attention on philosophy" (Dial. II, emphasis mine). Since when did philosophy make men holy? What about the Spirit of God? Is philosophy really a greater possession than that? What does the holy Spirit do for men, if it is philosophy which makes them holy? Did Socrates and other pagan thinkers really attain to holiness through their enormous mental effort?

Justin's confession is that "on some points we [Christian teachers] teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you [the Emperor] honor, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching" (1Ap., XX). By this, Justin implies that the pagan poets and philosophers were divinely inspired, but that the Christian revelation is the fulfillment of their imperfect prophecies and writings. When with these things, Justin's antagonism and demeaning comments concerning the Law of Moses are considered, one is forced to wonder whether Justin believed that some pagan poets and prophets of ancient Greece were more perfectly inspired harbingers of the Messiah than was Moses and the prophetic ceremonies which God commanded Israel to perform!

Justin's justification for stating that "every race of men" was a partaker of the Word of God (1Ap., XLVI) is that he understands the Word principally as a philosophical concept, saying that "a part of the Word" was "diffused [among men]" (2Ap., VIII) and "is in every man" (2Ap., X). "Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of Christians", wrote Justin (2Ap., XIII). It is true, of course, that God has blessed all people to some extent (Mt. 5:45). God is the Provider for all mankind, and the Giver of every good and perfect gift. But Justin stretches that truth too far, leaving the impression that God spoke through Homer as well as Hosea, though perhaps not as clearly.

Justin's Word of God, as with other Christian fathers, was "Reason Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ" (1Ap., V). Paul the apostle's Word of God, on the other hand, was "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1Cor. 1:24). Wrote Paul, "And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God . . . . And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God" (1Cor. 2:1, 3-4). In contrast, at the conclusion of Justin's work, there is nothing for his hearers to rest upon except his impressive erudition.

According to Paul, philosophy would ruin the church (Col. 2:8), and, thanks to men like Justin, it did.

IRENAEUS

AGAINST HERESIES (FIVE BOOKS: AH1., AH2., etc.) FRAGMENTS (FRAG. IRE.)

INTRODUCTION:

Irenaeus claims that as a young child he saw the aged Polycarp. If the dates assigned to Polycarp are correct, then Irenaeus was a boy late in the first, or early in the second century. He resided and ministered in the territory of ancient Gaul (modern France), in the city of Lyons, where he and a number of other Christians are reported to have been martyred in 202. But this claim of martyrdom for him is unsubstantiated. Irenaeus' main work, Against Heresies, is intended to refute the errors of certain heretics, whose names he gives. If those heretics taught what Irenaeus says they taught, then they were certainly strangers to the truth of Christ. However, in his defense of the faith, Irenaeus may have actually stumbled into one of Satan's most artfully laid traps. In an effort to defend the church against wild teachings about supposed deities in heaven other than the Father and the Son, he sometimes stresses the unity and uniqueness of the Father and the Son too far in the opposite direction, thus inadvertently laying some groundwork for later Christian fathers to build a doctrine of a trinitarian god, something Irenaeus never imagined. It appears that Irenaeus and other early Christian fathers felt compelled to stress the unity of the Father and the Son in order to preserve for the church the understanding of the sanctity and uniqueness of Jesus. They eventually went far beyond what was necessary or right, however, when they added a third divine Person to the family in heaven and, through some inexplicable philosophical decree, made them all one.

Some Christian scholars have characterized the writings of Irenaeus as "monuments of fidelity to Christ, and to the charges of St. Paul, St. Peter, and St Jude." One scholar has written that "the work of Irenaeus Against Heresies is one of the most precious remains of Christian antiquity." Let's examine his work now, and see how precious it really is.

CEREMONY

Statement:
Irenaeus claims that Jesus and the apostles handed down the tradition of performing the Eucharist as a sacrifice (AH4, XVI.5; XVIII.1; Frag. Ire. XXXVII). Truth:
Neither Jesus nor the apostles handed down to the church any such thing. This is the typical, carnally minded Christian interpretation of Jesus' words during the famed Last Supper. Irenaeus seems to have been able to understand that the kind of "incense" which rises from the church to God is not a physical incense, but is, instead, the prayers of the saints (AH4, XVII.6, on Rev. 5:8). If we pray, and our prayers are acceptable to God, then our prayers are described as rising as sweet incense before God. There is no institution of incense burning in the church in this New Testament, as there was in the Old Covenant (Ex. 30:1), but Jesus did teach that "men ought always to pray" (Lk. 18:1).

Likewise, the Father has chosen the real, living communion with the church in the Spirit, rather than for us to act out a carnal ritual which symbolizes that communion. Unfortunately, Irenaeus, as his next statement shows, misunderstood this.

Statement:
Irenaeus says that the using of earthly material in the celebration of the Eucharist is a spiritual act (Frag. Ire. XXXVIII). Truth:
This is a critical point. Using earthly materials, or "elements" as Paul called them (Gal. 4:3,9), in symbolic, ceremonial worship is not spiritual but carnal. It both comes from, and leads to, superstitious fear, as the next statement shows.

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that by partaking of the bread and wine of Christian communion, human bodies are "nourished with the body of the Lord and with his blood" and "are no longer corruptible" (AH4, XVIII.5). The flesh's participation in Christian communion, says Irenaeus, is proof that the flesh will be raised incorruptible from the grave (AH5, II.3).

Truth:
The burden for the Christian minister who teaches that carnal bread and wine possesses supernatural power, when consumed with ceremonial rectitude, is to describe the effect, the blessing, which that imaginary power is supposed to confer.

The problem is clear and acute. Christian Eucharist does absolutely nothing spiritually for the participants (except to confuse them). How then do Christian ministers persuade men to continue observing the worthless rite? By promising the participants that the Eucharist is the will of God and that it will bring a blessing in the future. Problem solved? Only if the congregation is persuaded to believe the minister's words. To persuade Christian congregations to believe Christian doctrines and observe Christian ceremonies (such as communion), articulate and charismatic ministers are needed, and the most eloquent and magnetic clergymen are well paid for their services to the prince of darkness.

A hallmark of false teachers is that they do not know when they wander off the right path. So, it is typical of false teachers that they contradict themselves without realizing that they have done so. True to form, Irenaeus unwittingly contradicts himself when writing about communion with God. He says that the Spirit was poured out from above for the purpose of "communion of God and man, imparting indeed God to men by means of the Spirit" (AH5, I.1). Here, Irenaeus rightly follows Paul in confessing that communion with God is in the Spirit. Paul, however, would have said only by the Spirit is God's life imparted to us (cp. Eph. 2:18; Rom. 8:9), whereas Irenaeus praises the imagined efficacy of Christianity's communion ritual, saying that our bodies are given immortality by consuming the Eucharistic bread and wine (AH5, II.2,3).

MARY WAS IN A HURRY

Statement:
Irenaeus claims that when Mary told Jesus there was no more wine at the wedding feast (Jn. 2:3), her real desire was for him to change the water into wine so that she could partake of the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist. Her crime, says Irenaeus, was impatience, and "the Lord, checking her untimely haste, said `Woman what have I to do with thee? Mine hour [to initiate the Eucharist ceremony] has not yet come'" (AH3, XVI.7).

Truth:
When Mary told Jesus that the wine was gone, she was simply regretting that the store of wine at the wedding feast had run out. Her imagined secret desire for Jesus to inaugurate the Eucharistic ceremony too soon is the purest fiction. Jesus never did ordain the Eucharistic ceremony which Christians perform, and Mary never wanted it.

CHRISTIAN BAPTISM

Statement:
In what was probably a reference to Christian (i.e. water) baptism, Irenaeus states that infants who are put through that ritual are born again to God (AH2, XXII. 4). Irenaeus points to Naaman's "baptism" in the Jordan River, and his healing, as a symbol of how the "sacred water" of Christian baptism cleanses the repentant person from sin (Frag. Ire. XXXIV). Truth: Naaman's baptism? Naaman was not baptized. He merely washed himself in the Jordan River seven times, as Elisha told him to do.

No earthly water is sacred, and no water baptism has ever washed anyone's sins away. It is impossible for anything other than the blood of Christ to wash sins away. The superstitious belief that an external ceremony is spiritually beneficial is fundamental to Christianity, but is contrary to the truth revealed in the New Testament.

Statement:
Concerning the baptisms of the holy Ghost and of water, Irenaeus teaches that "both are necessary, since both contribute towards the life of God" (AH3, XVII.2).

Truth:
This is contrary to the doctrine which Paul preached among the Gentiles. Paul taught that "there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism", and he warned the Gentile churches not to practice any ceremonial works, including John's water baptism, insisting that works of the Law (the only ceremonies God ever ordained for anyone) had nothing whatsoever to do with the Gentiles' hope in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).

NOT BOWING THE KNEE

Statement:
Irenaeus declared that from the days of the apostles the church was forbidden to bow the knee on the day of Pentecost, as "a symbol of the resurrection" (Frag. Ire. VI).

Truth:
No one on earth with good sense believes this.

ECCLESIASTICAL OPPRESSION / POLITICS

Statement:
Irenaeus proclaims that Paul and Peter "founded and organized" the "universally known church at Rome" (AH3, III.2).

Truth:
This is among the most ancient of Christian myths. The church at Rome was "universally known" long before Paul ever set foot there (Rom. 1:8-10). Secondly, Peter was a servant of the Jewish believers in Judea, and was out of his element among Gentile believers (cp. Gal. 2). There is no biblical evidence whatsoever to suggest that Peter ever went to Rome. Considering the time of his writing the letter, Peter's cryptic term "Babylon" (2Pet. 5:13) is more likely a reference to Jerusalem than to Rome. But even if it is true that Peter did, as an old man, go to Rome, it certainly was not to "found and organize the church".

The myth of Paul and Peter founding the church in Rome remains doctrine of supreme importance to the Roman Catholic Church, as a basis for forwarding their claim of the supremacy of the Bishop of the church at Rome over all other Bishops.

Statement:
Irenaeus also appears to embrace the notion that "succession of Bishops" from the apostles is the equivalent of spiritual authority (AH3, III.2; AH4, XXVI.2).

Truth:
No one has spiritual authority in the church unless God gives it to him, and God's method of bestowing spiritual authority is by the anointing of the holy Ghost and power. God's ordination is not biologically transferred, as with the priests and Levites of the Old Covenant, and it is not bestowed by the appointment or election by any group of humans, as in Christianity.

HERESY / PERVERSION OF SCRIPTURE

JESUS' AGE

Statement:
Irenaeus firmly holds that Jesus lived to be an old man (AH2, XXII. 4-6), saying that men who had known the apostles reported that the apostles taught that Jesus lived to be old (AH2, XXII.5).

Truth:
There is no biblical confirmation of this. It appears that Irenaeus, opposing the heretics' position that Jesus lived only one year after his baptism (AH1, III.3), again went too far in the opposite direction in order to prove them wrong.

JESUS' LINEAGE

Statement:
Irenaeus says that Jesus was descended from both Levi and Judah (Frag. Ire. XVII).

Truth:
The only biblical evidence that the blood of Levi ran in Jesus' veins is the fact that Mary was a kinswoman to Elizabeth (Lk. 1:36). The prophets say nothing about the Messiah coming from Levi. The entire biblical stance is that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah (Heb. 7:14). If anything could have been said by the apostles about the Messiah descending from Levi, they would most certainly have said it.

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Statement:
Irenaeus claims that the cry of John at his birth loosened his father's tongue so that he could speak (Frag. Ire. XLVII).

Truth:
Those who have read the Bible know that it was only after Zacharias wrote on a tablet, "His name is John", that the Lord loosened his tongue (Lk. 1:57-64). The baby's birth cry had nothing to do with it.

JESUS' BREATH

Statement:
Irenaeus taught that when Jesus "breathed on his disciples" (Jn. 21:), they received the holy Ghost (Frag. Ire. XXI; LII).

Truth:
The disciples received the Spirit when Jesus told them they would, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5; 2:4; 15:8).

THE RESURRECTION

Statement:
Irenaeus assumes that resurrected bodies will be made of flesh, as was Jesus' body immediately after his resurrection (AH5, VII.1). He writes, "the new flesh which rises again is the same which also received the new cup [of the Christian Eucharist]" (AH5, XXXIII.1). Concerning the body which arises from the grave, Irenaeus states, "It is not one thing which dies and another which is quickened" (AH5, XII.3).

Truth:
When Jesus rose from the dead, his body was not yet glorified; he was still in that natural, fleshly body which was crucified, and he showed his disciples the crucifixion scars (Lk. 24:40). Terrified at his sudden appearance into the room, they thought they were seeing a ghost; but Jesus comforted them by saying, "handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Lk. 24:39). It was only after his ascension into heaven that he received his glorified body.

Paul taught that the resurrected bodies of the faithful would no longer be made of fleshly substance, but of spiritual substance. "It is sown a natural body," he wrote, "It is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (1Cor. 15:44). Again, to the church in Philippi, he explained that Jesus "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phip. 3:21). Paul compares the burying of a dead saint's body with the planting of a seed. He wrote, "That which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be", meaning of course that the body one receives in the resurrection will not be the same body that was "planted" in the ground (v.37).

After Jesus ascended into heaven, he received his inheritance, being glorified by the Father; that is, he was given a new, unscarred, glorified body, which John saw and described in Revelation 1:13-15. There are no crucifixion marks in his glorified hands, no gash from the spear in his side. A glorified body cannot be harmed by earthly weapons; it shines as the sun in the kingdom of our Father. It is this kind of glorious body which Jesus will give all obedient saints, not recycled fleshly bodies, as Irenaeus adamantly maintains Jesus will do (AH2, XXIX.2).

Statement:
Says Irenaeus, "If God does not vivify what is mortal, and does not bring back the corruptible to incorruption, He is not a God of power" (AH5, III.2). Irenaeus so strongly feels that resurrected bodies are made of flesh that he puts that doctrine on a par with the doctrine of redemption by the blood of Jesus (AH5, II.2), saying that it is "the utmost blasphemy" to deny it.

Truth:
In effect, Irenaeus is saying that if the God of the Bible does not resurrect the flesh so that it lives forever, then Irenaeus rejects Him as being God. Irenaeus is risking his soul by making such a statement. It is a grievous thing to see any religious teacher become so adamant in his assertions that he condemns God if He dares not to agree with his doctrine.

Note: It is pride which causes Irenaeus to overstep the bounds of prudence and to challenge God Himself to disagree with him. The man who has a reputation for teaching, but who can humble himself and change when he finds he is in error, has been blessed with favor from God. Typically, a proud man will slander the bearer of truth rather than repent.

A wonderful biblical example of humility is Apollos, who despite being in great reputation as a teacher, humbled himself to believe the whole truth of the gospel when it was presented to him; and he became a teacher of that "more perfect" version of the gospel instead of attempting to live on his past reputation (Acts 18:24-28). From Irenaeus' own words, it would appear that he would not have believed the truth and changed his message, but would have chosen rather to condemn God and die.

I Corinthians 15:50

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Along with Justin's example, which we have already seen, Irenaeus' handling of this verse provides another perfect example of how a heretic, in order to preserve his reputation as a teacher, must twist the Scriptures in order to justify himself. Irenaeus has already taught that the flesh will live forever in the kingdom of God. What is he to do with Paul's unequivocal assertion that it will not? So that the reader may comprehend what Irenaeus teaches here, some background on 1Corinthians 15:50 is necessary.

Some of the church in Corinth were beginning to have doubts about the resurrection because they could not understand how natural bodies could arise from the dead, seeing that they decay after death and return to the earth. In 1Corinthians 15, Paul is reminding the Corinthian believers of what he had previously taught them; to wit, that, yes, there will be a resurrection of the righteous at the appearing of Jesus, but that the human, fleshly body will not be the body that arises from the grave. "It is sown a natural body", he writes, "it is raised a spiritual body" (1Cor. 15:44). Paul then goes on to explain that we must have new bodies, that it wouldn't do any good for the flesh to rise anyway, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (v.50). His clear and unmistakable meaning is that the flesh will not be raised from the dead and then granted immortality, but that a new, spiritual body will be given to those who inherit the kingdom of God. He writes, "As we have born the image of him who is of the earth [Adam], we shall also bear the image of Him who is from heaven [the glorified Christ]" (1Cor. 15:48). Paul earnestly longed for his "house which is from heaven" (2Cor. 5:2), knowing that "if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2Cor. 5:1). The bodies we have now are not in heaven, but the bodies which we shall receive at the resurrection are now in heaven, and we are waiting to receive them (See John 14:2, where Jesus calls them mansions, and 1Peter 1:4, where Peter refers to the new bodies as the inheritance "reserved in heaven for you").

Statement:
By such verses, Irenaeus is confronted with a choice. Either he must admit that his doctrine concerning the resurrection of the flesh is wrong, or he must reinterpret Paul's words to make Paul's doctrine seem to coincide with his. He chooses the latter, altering Paul's obvious meaning to suit his purposes. "When did we bear the image of him who is earthy?", asks Irenaeus. "Doubtless it was when those actions spoken of as `works of the flesh' used to be wrought in us. And then again, when do we bear the image of the heavenly? Doubtless when he says, `Ye have been washed', believing in the name of the Lord, and receiving his Spirit."

Truth:
This is a complete perversion of Paul's obvious meaning. By his phrase, "image of the earthly", Paul is not describing the deeds we have done but the fleshly body which we possess now. And with his phrase, "image of the heavenly", Paul is describing the bodies which we shall receive from God, spiritual bodies like Jesus' glorified body in which he lives now.

Statement:
Most revealing, Irenaeus further says that Paul's phrase, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" does not mean that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; rather, that it means that a man who is merely flesh and blood (does not have the holy Spirit) cannot inherit the kingdom (AH5, IX.4). Without the Spirit, says Irenaeus, a man is merely flesh and blood (AH5, IX.1). "The flesh, therefore, when destitute of the Spirit of God. . . cannot possess the kingdom of God". And, "The flesh in itself, and blood, cannot possess the kingdom of God" (AH5, IX.3). His point is that man's body of flesh will inherit the kingdom of God, if the Spirit of God is in that body.

Truth:
An intelligent adolescent could easily see that this is not what Paul was teaching. Always beware the man who says that the Bible does not mean what it clearly states.

Statement:
In spite of Jesus' and the apostles many words to the contrary, Irenaeus teaches that the saints of God actually will not inherit anything [!], but that when the Spirit enters our bodies, it inherits the flesh of the saints. The "various parts of the man", claims Irenaeus, "are inherited by the Spirit when they are translated into the kingdom of God" (AH5, IX.4). Justin also seems to have taught something like this (Frag. Just. V).

Truth:
What a lousy inheritance for the Spirit to receive!

Irenaeus is staggering down the slippery, descending path of philosophical tripe. The holy Spirit of God inherits our bodies? That is not much of an heritage, seeing that this entire physical creation, including the flesh, will be destroyed (2Pet. 3:10-12). With his denial that bodies of the faithful will be changed from fleshly to spiritual bodies, Irenaeus has painted himself into the proverbial corner, and makes ever more outlandish doctrinal pronouncements in order to cover up his heresy.

Statement:
Paul, in another letter, encourages us by writing that if our earthly bodies "dissolve" and return to the earth, we need not be dismayed, for we "have a building of God, an house not made of hands, eternal in the heavens" (2Cor. 5:1-4). Of those who understand the truth and teach that the promised "eternal house" which now is "in the heavens" refers to new bodies from heaven (cp. 1Cor. 4), Irenaeus says, "they make perverse and crooked interpretations of all the [biblical] passages, so as to overturn and alter the sense of the words" (AH5, XIII.5).

Truth:
To believe that our mortal bodies must be changed into immortal spiritual bodies is not a "perverse and crooked interpretation" of Paul's words. It is the only interpretation which is possible.

Statement:
If one wonders how the Spirit can inherit decomposed flesh, Irenaeus explains, "We therefore have formed the belief that [our] bodies also do rise again. For although they go to corruption, yet they do not perish; for the earth, receiving the remains, preserves them" (Frag. Ire. XII).

Truth:
How it is that the earth "preserves" the decomposing flesh of dead men is not explained. With this statement Irenaeus forces the reader to choose between common sense (the indisputable fact that the earth does not normally preserve dead bodies) and his doctrine (human flesh is made immortal by partaking of Christian communion).

What happened to Irenaeus here is a common problem among heretics. Having begun from an heretical premise, and finding himself contradicted by the clear and simple statements of a man of God, as well as by common sense, Irenaeus twists ever more tightly the apostle's clear meanings and concocts an ever more strained theology in order to justify his growing error. In the end, his bands burst, and his lack of ordination from God is exposed before all.

Listening to a man like Irenaeus as he twists the apostle's words in an effort to confirm his fanciful doctrine is like watching Goliath try to cover up his uncircumcised body with a baby blanket. The harder he tries, the more foolish he looks.

There are a number of statements from Irenaeus on this issue which I could include here, but the point has been amply made. I refer the reader to the works of Irenaeus, if there is any curiosity as to his other efforts to explain the resurrection.

CONCERNING ADAM

Statement:
Irenaeus insists that Adam repented of his sin in the garden, was forgiven by God, and, at the end, saved by Christ. "It was necessary", says he, that it should be so (AH3, XXIII.1).

Truth:
Being an unresolvable mystery, the matter of Adam's eternal judgment is nothing to be much concerned with, and I would have omitted mention of it, as I did many other questionable opinions which Irenaeus expresses, except that Irenaeus insists that all who doubt what he says about Adam "shut themselves out from life for ever" (AH3, XXIII.8). Irenaeus thus sets a standard for being saved in the end which is contrary to all godliness and truth.

Statement:
Irenaeus says that if Adam was not pardoned and saved, then God Himself was conquered by the devil (AH4, XXIII.1).

Truth:
This is nonsense. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy", said the Lord (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:15). If He refuses to show mercy to anyone, He is not defeated in any respect by any creature in heaven or on earth. It is foolish to speak definitely on subjects which can only be matters of conjecture.

Whether or not Adam is in hell or paradise now is a relatively insignificant matter, (except to Adam, of course). If God refused to grant repentance to Adam, then God refused to grant repentance to Adam. There is no more to that issue than that. There is absolutely nothing said in the Bible concerning Adam's salvation or damnation. Here, as in the earlier matter concerning the resurrection of the flesh, Irenaeus risks his soul by challenging God Himself to act according to his doctrine or be rejected by Irenaeus and his followers. It is the height of arrogance to condemn God if He doesn't agree with one's opinion on such subjects.

CONCERNING ADAM AND EVE

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that Adam and Eve were created not as adults but as children and had to grow up before they could procreate (AH3, XXII.4).

Truth:
God called Adam a man from the moment of his creation (Gen. 1:26), and Eve was called a "woman" from the moment of hers (Gen. 2:22). If they were created as children, then God's commandment to Adam and Eve that they "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:29) was completely superfluous. Why would the Almighty command them to do something that they were physically incapable of doing?

Further, if Adam and Eve were created as children, how could Irenaeus have been telling the truth, when in another place he taught that Adam sinned on the day that he was created (AH5, XXIII.2)? Did he sin as a little child by taking the fruit from his wife Eve? And why would God create them as children instead of as babies? or as teenagers?

Statement:
Irenaeus says that Satan's promise that Adam and Eve "would become as gods" (Gen. 3) "was in no way possible" for them (AH3, XXIII.1).

Truth:
The Father said to the Son that by Adam and Eve's eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil "they have become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22).

THE DEVIL

Statement:
As most Christians do, Irenaeus calls the devil a fallen, or "apostate", angel (AH4, XL.3; AH5, XXI.3).

Truth:
The devil is not an angel, and never was one; he is a fallen cherub (Ezek. 28:14), which is a species of heavenly creatures completely different from angels. One difference: cherubim have wings; angels do not.

THE ANTICHRIST

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that the coming of the Antichrist is a future event (AH5, XXV.1; XXVIII.2; XXIX.2; etc.). The typical Christian, like Irenaeus, assumes that the Beast, the world ruler described in the book of Revelation as making his appearance at the end of this age, is the Antichrist (AH5, XXV.3,4).

Truth:
Long before Irenaeus, there were many antichrists, to which fact John pointed as a fulfillment of the prophecy that antichrist(s) should come (1Jn. 2:18; 4:3). It has apparently escaped the notice of many prophecy teachers that the word antichrist is not found in the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is prophecy of future events. When John wrote that prophetic book, he was already seeing antichrists multiplying all around him. There was no need for John to write of the antichrist's coming; he had already arrived.

The Antichrist's clever doctrine is that he (Antichrist) is not yet here. Christian ministers who teach that the Antichrist is a future enemy of righteousness, as Irenaeus does, are (unknown to them, surely) serving the devious purposes of Satan.

Paul did not say that the "man of sin", who is the Antichrist, would come in the future, but that he would in the future be revealed. His words were, "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day [the coming of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes [present tense] and exalts [present tense] himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God, sitteth [present tense] in the temple of God, showing himself [present tense] that he is God" (2Thess. 2:3-4). This filthy spirit resides in the temple of every saint who takes in his ungodly doctrines, and not only Paul but John also saw many being led astray by this nemesis of truth. "They went out from us," John wrote, "but they were not of us" (1Jn. 2:19).

Statement:
Irenaeus says that the Antichrist "shall sit" in the temple of God (AH5, XXV.2)

Truth:
Paul said that the Antichrist already "sits" there. (And had Paul been alive in Irenaeus' day, he would no doubt have warned Irenaeus that the Antichrist was sitting in him!) That is an important distinction. The Antichrist took up residence in God's temple as he persuaded the church to accept his doctrine and to reject Paul's gospel. As an "aged" man, the heavy-hearted Paul lamented that all the churches of Asia had forsaken the true gospel (2Tim. 1:15). This apostasy is what the apostles, during their lifetime, actually saw happening to the church.

Since the days of the apostles, the Antichrist has been sitting in the temple of God, teaching that he is not yet here. This son of Satan, using men such as Irenaeus, perverted the right ways of God, invented Christianity, and imprisoned God's people within it, even to this day. But the truth will shortly set them free.

Statement:
Irenaeus, not only teaches that the Antichrist's sitting "in the temple of God" would be a future event but also that the temple in which the Antichrist sits is to be a building which will in the future be built in Jerusalem (AH5, XXV.2).

Truth:
The only temple of God that there is, is the church. "Know ye not", wrote Paul, "that your body is the temple of the holy Ghost?" (1Cor. 6:19). Even if men do in the future build a building for the worship of God in Jerusalem and call it the temple of God, it will not be the temple of God. What men call a thing is irrelevant; God is not confused by our delusions. Nothing is the temple of God where God does not dwell.

There is no point in our waiting for the Antichrist to come sit in something that never will exist. The Antichrist is already here, has been here since the days of the apostles, and the temple in which he sits is the church. This great imposter has been sitting among the church on a stolen throne for so long now that he calls it home; and why not? He has over the centuries shaped the church's doctrine and behavior to the extent that he is not often made to feel out of place by those who think to be serving Christ.

PERFECTION (OR, "BEING SPIRITUAL")

Statement:
Irenaeus quotes Paul's words in his letter to the Corinthians, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect", and he says that Paul was referring to everyone who has received the Spirit "and who through the Spirit of God do speak with all languages, as he used himself also to speak" (AH5, VI.1).

Truth:
In Paul's doctrine, those are spiritual who not only have received the holy Ghost but who have also grown into maturity in their understanding of, and walk with God (1Cor. 3:1-3). In writing to "those who are perfect", Paul was not speaking to everyone who had received the Spirit, but to those who had matured in Christ after receiving the Spirit.

Irenaeus' teaching is very much like the doctrine held by many Pentecostals and Charismatics of our own time (and Irenaeus would clearly be included in those groups today - see the section on Spiritual Gifts, below). Believing that men receive the Spirit before they are baptized with it (with the evidence of speaking in tongues), most Pentecostals and Charismatics teach that the baptism of the holy Ghost is merely an optional, deeper experience which helps those who receive it to attain to "perfection", or maturity in Christ.

Statement:
f Irenaeus later amends his definition of a perfect person in Christ as one who has "had the Spirit of God remaining in him, and has preserved his soul and body blameless, holding fast the faith of God . . . and [has maintained his] righteous dealings with respect to his neighbors" (AH5, VI.1). And again, he says that spiritual people are those "who possess the earnest of the Spirit, and who are not enslaved by the lust of the flesh, but are subject to the Spirit, and who in all things walk according to the light of reason" (AH5, VIII.2).

Truth:
Irenaeus' philosophical bent ("the light of reason" instead of the light of the Spirit), causes his definition of spiritual people to fall short of what Paul would have said, but this is an improvement over his earlier definitions of spirituality.

Statement:
As opposed to spiritual people, Irenaeus defines carnal people as people who "have no thought of anything else but carnal things" (AH5, VIII.2).

Truth:
This is an inaccurate definition. Carnally minded people can be religious in the extreme, and they may ponder a great deal, indeed a lifetime, on spiritual things, as Irenaeus himself does.

JOSHUA'S FACE

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that Joshua's face glowed brightly, though not as brightly as Moses' face did, when Moses laid his hands on Joshua's head (Frag. Ire. XX).

Truth:
This did not happen.

POLITICS

Statement:
Irenaeus says that Jesus accomplished his work "not by violent means . . . but by means of persuasion, as became a God of counsel, who does not use violent means to obtain what He desires" (AH5, I.1).

Truth:
Later generations of Christians, who fought, abused, tortured, and killed others who refused to submit to their brand of the Christian faith, should have listened to their father Irenaeus on this matter. Righteousness can never be imposed upon anyone.

SALVATION / WORKS

Statement:
Irenaeus condemns the heretics for teaching that they will be saved by virtue of their being "spiritual", rather than on the basis of their conduct (AH1, VI.2).

Truth:
Irenaeus understands that God requires holiness of those who would be saved, "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

Statement:
Irenaeus uses the word save with the meaning of rescue numerous times (AH2, VI.2; AH4, XXVIII.3).

Truth:
Rescue is one of biblical meanings for the word save. For example, it is said that Jesus saved Peter from drowning (Mt. 14:30-31).

Statement:
Irenaeus also appears to have used the term saved as modern fundamentalists use it (AH5, VI.1); to wit, as a synonym for conversion.

Truth:
Converted is not a biblical meaning for the word saved, and Irenaeus only appears to use it so, as a closer look makes clear. He continues a few sentences later to say that salvation is the inheritance of the righteous (AH5, VI.1), which is true.

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that "without the Spirit of God we cannot be saved" (AH5, IX.3; Frag. Ire. XXVI). Also, that it is the communion of the Spirit by which we are saved (AH5, XI.,1). And again, that it is by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God that we are saved (AH5, XI.1).

Truth:
These comments indicate that Irenaeus understands that salvation is the work of God wrought in the lives of His people by His Spirit, and that without the Spirit of God, no one has a hope for salvation. As Paul wrote, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).

SPIRITUAL POWER

Statement:
Irenaeus states that the gifts of the Spirit are still being exercised in his day (AH2, XXX.8), as well as miracles being wrought (AH2, XXXII.4). In particular, he mentions that the gift of prophecy comes upon "those to whom God sends His grace from above" (AH1, XIII.4), and he tells of the dead being brought back to life by the church "directing her prayers to the Lord" (AH2, XXXI.2, 5), and that those who were brought back to life "remained among us for many years" (AH2, XXXII.4). "Others have foreknowledge of things to come; they see visions and utter prophetic expressions" (AH2, XXXII.4). Some others in the church healed the sick "by laying their hands upon them", while others cast out demons by the power of the Spirit (AH2, XXXII.4). In fact, he states that miraculous works were "frequently done in the brotherhood" (AH2, XXXI.2), and the church had grown "accustomed to work miracles" (AH2, XXXII.5). Irenaeus states with great confidence his belief that "the name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits [upon men], and cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on him" (AH2, XXXII.5).

Truth:
Many modern Christians are not of the same faith as their fathers as regards the operation of spiritual gifts. None of these early Christian church fathers indicated that they expected a cessation of spiritual gifts in the church. It should also be noted that Irenaeus employs Paul's euphemism for speaking in tongues when the Spirit is received, when he says that Paul wrote to those "who had received the Spirit of God, `by which we cry, Abba, Father'" (Rom. 8:15; AH5, VIII.1).

Note: Irenaeus claims that certain Jews of his time were still exorcising demons by calling upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (AH2, VI.2).

SUPERSTITION

THE MYTH OF JOHN'S FEAR

Statement:
Irenaeus describes the apostle John as cutting short his visit to a bath house in Ephesus when he discovered Cerinthus, a heretic, bathing there. Irenaeus says that the apostle fled in terror, "saying, `Let us fly, lest even the bath house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within'" (AH3, III.4).

Truth:
No apostle ever fled in terror from a heretic. John would certainly have known God far better than to think that his heavenly Father would cause a building to collapse on him because a heretic was close by. This story, which Irenaeus tells with utmost seriousness, is a silly, superstitious myth.

THE WORD

Statement:
Irenaeus teaches that the Word of the Father descended to earth and "is the same also that ascended". This Word is "the Only-begotten Son of the only God . . . our Lord Jesus Christ" (AH1, IX.3). The Word was God's agent in creation (AH1, XXII.1).

Truth:
At no time does Irenaeus embrace the later Christian myth that the Bible itself is the Word of God. Whenever Irenaeus uses the phrase "Word of God", he uses it rightly, either as a reference to what the Father says or as a reference to the person of the Son of God.

THE SEPTUAGINT

Statement:
Irenaeus (AH3, XXI.2; AH4, XXI.2) adheres to the mythological origination of the Septuagint, as do other fathers of Christianity.

Truth:
According to this myth, this famous Greek version of the Old Testament scriptures was produced by seventy Jewish elders (hence the Greek word, "septuagint"). Here is the myth, as related by Irenaeus: "Before the Romans possessed their kingdom, while the Macedonians [Greeks] still held Asia, Ptolemy the son of Lagus, being anxious to adorn the library which he had founded in Alexandria with a collection of the writings of all men, which were works of merit, made request to the people of Jerusalem, that they should have their Scriptures translated into the Greek language. And they--for at that time they were still subject to the Macedonians--sent to Ptolemy seventy of their elders, who were thoroughly skilled in the Scriptures and in both the languages, to carry out what he had desired.

But he, wishing to test them individually, and fearing lest they might perchance, by taking counsel together, conceal the truth of the Scriptures by their interpretation, separated them from each other, and commanded them all to write the same translation. He did this with respect to all the books [of the Old Testament].

But when they came together in the same place before Ptolemy, and each of them compared his own interpretation with that of every other, God was indeed glorified, and the Scriptures were acknowledged as truly divine. For all of them read out the common translation [which they had individually prepared] in the very same words and the very same names, from beginning to end [emphasis mine], so that even the Gentiles present perceived that the Scriptures had been interpreted by the inspiration of God."

Now, I believe in miracles. It is altogether possible for God to have given to each of those separated scholars a verbatim translation of the Hebrew into the Greek language. But what makes this story so completely unbelievable is that the Septuagint version of the Old Testament is riddled with translation errors. Some sections of it are just plain bad. Every biblical scholar on earth worth his salt knows that. And I cannot believe that God inspired those seventy Jewish translators, all working independently of the others, to write the same wrong word-for-word translation.

Ptolemy may have actually commissioned this version of the Old Testament be written. There may have been seventy elders from Jerusalem who worked on the translation. And the translation may have been undertaken so that a copy of the Hebrew scriptures could be placed in the great library in Alexandria, Egypt. All that may have been true. I can't know certainly whether those elements of the story are true or not. No one can. But no reasonable person can be expected to believe that God Himself inspired the gross errors in translation which exist in the Septuagint, much less that He inspired seventy different men, working in seventy different places, to make precisely the same errors.

The erudite Irenaeus should not have repeated as true this "cunningly devised fable" of the Septuagint's origin. A man who places such faith in a myth cannot know the difference between true and false faith.

TRINITARIAN ISSUES

At times, for his own crafty purposes, Satan raises up religious leaders who are wild and transparent heretics. Examples in the late 20th century in the United States have been Jim Jones and David Koresh. Satan's purpose for inspiring such men is to give Christian ministers someone at which to point an innocent-looking finger, for by doing this, those ministers appear to be the protectors of the church and defenders of the faith. However, both the wild and transparent heretics and the well-trained, disguised ones work for the same evil master. The first are Satan's expendables, thoroughly despicable to him but necessary for his purposes. The latter are Satan's pride and joy, for whom he sacrifices the other.

Satan led Irenaeus into just such a trap. By inspiring some men to proclaim the existence of gods and other powers in heaven above the Father of Jesus, Satan offered Irenaeus a target at which to aim, thereby turning the attention of the reader from Irenaeus' false doctrines to the false doctrines of others. Thus, just as Satan planned, Irenaeus is made to appear to be a defender of the faith. Not having been sent by God, however, and carried away with his own intellectual prowess, Irenaeus makes thorough shipwreck of the faith he may once have possessed.

Though Irenaeus knows nothing of the Trinity doctrine as later expounded by Christian theologians, he relies heavily at times on philosophic arguments against heretics and, unwittingly of course, is used by Satan to lay some foundation upon which later trinitarian theologians would build.

Irenaeus concentrates his efforts on refuting heretics who had developed elaborate schemes of invisible, divine powers. So bizarre were their teachings that one wonders why any church leader would have given them much attention at all. There certainly was no danger of those crazy schemers "deceiving, if possible, the very elect" of the church. The danger of deception lay in the church giving ear to Irenaeus, not to those whom he labels as heretics. In his zeal to refute them, Irenaeus so heavily stresses the closeness, unity, and uniqueness of the Father and the Son that he issues unordained and unwise statements which would contribute to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.

For all that, Irenaeus himself does not at any time teach the Christian Trinity doctrine, and knows nothing of it. That would be a later development. It is impossible to imagine that if Irenaeus had believed in the Trinity, as later taught by Christian theologians, he would have failed to use it to contradict the heresies against which his writings are directed. Irenaeus clearly does not believe that the Spirit of God is a person, or he would have plainly said so; nor does he believe that the Father and the Son are the same person; however, in his philosophic efforts to refute the speculative philosophy of the heretics, he overstates his case, and brings confused and contradictory statements into the argument.

Statement:
Irenaeus states that the Father is "God, the only Creator" and "of His own free will, He created all things" (AH2, I.1). At the same time, he acknowledges the biblical truth that the Father created all things through His Son. "The rule of truth which we hold is that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by His Word" (AH1, XXII.1). "The Word", of course, is the Son of God, and accordingly, Irenaeus states that "the Father made all things by him" (AH1, XXII.1).

"Just as regards success in war, which is ascribed to the king because the king, even though not personally in the battle, commanded the battle to take place, so the Father is credited with being the Creator of all, though the Son actually performed the creation act, because the Father willed and empowered him to do it" (AH2, II.3). "Wherefore, we do not say that it was the axe which cut the wood, or the saw which divided it; but one would very properly say that the man cut and divided it" (AH2, II.3).

Truth:
This is sound doctrine, which contradicts the unsound doctrine of the Trinity. After commenting upon a verse in Psalms (33:9) concerning creation: "He [the Father] commanded, and they were created", Irenaeus asks "Whom, therefore, did He command? The Word, no doubt, by whom the heavens were established" (AH3, VIII.3). Amen.

Statement:
Irenaeus makes the observation that, because the Son (the Word) was empowered by the Father to fulfill His will in creation, the Son and the Father both may rightly be called God and Lord (AH3, VIII.3).

Truth:
This is true, and it poses no biblical difficulty at all to call, at the appropriate times, both the Son and the Father, God.

Statement:
At other times, Irenaeus seems to leave out the person of Christ when discussing the act of creation (AH2, II.4-5).

Truth:
Irenaeus becomes so vigorous in his opposition of the heresies which assigned responsibility of creation to various gods or powers, even to angels, and which imagined a higher and nobler Authority than the Father of the Lord Jesus, that he at times depersonalizes the Word of God, in order to make his point that ultimately there is no other responsible for creation than God the Father.

By this crafty means, by puffing up Irenaeus as a defender of the faith, Satan lured foolish Irenaeus away from the "simplicity that is in Christ" (cp. 2Cor. 11:3).

Statement:
In an attempt to prove his theological position against the heretics, Irenaeus resorts to philosophy and condemns the notion that God the Father needed any other being to help in creating all things (AH2, II.4-5).

Truth:
It is true, of course, that God needed no help in creating this creation; but, that is not the issue. The issue is not whether or not the Father needed any other, but whether He chose to use any other in creating all things. The revelation of the gospel is that, according to His own will, He did use another in the creation process, and that other person is His Son. In trying to shoot down the false doctrines of the heretics, Irenaeus wounds himself in the foot sometimes by virtually denying the Son's part in creation (e.g. AH2, XXXV, 4). This is contrary both to the Scriptures and to Irenaeus' own statements in other places.

Statement:
Irenaeus says that the Scriptures never refer to any other but the Father as God (AH2, XXVIII.4).

Truth:
This is another example of Irenaeus overstating his case and leaving room for confusion. Jesus is referred to as God in many places in the Bible, such as Hebrews 1:8-9. And Irenaeus himself admits this (AH3, VIII.3).

The man Moses is called a god by God Himself in Exodus 7:1, and the judges and prophets among God's people are also called gods (Ex. 22:28; Ps. 82:6 with Jn. 10:34-35). So, the use of the term god with reference to someone other than the Father is biblical, and especially is this true when speaking of the Son, God's agent in creation.

Irenaeus understands that the Father is God over all, even over Jesus (e.g., AH5, XXII.1), and that may be the truth to which Irenaeus is referring here. If so, he is absolutely correct. The Father is the one God whom both Jesus and Paul proclaimed (Mk. 10:18; Eph. 4:6). But Irenaeus should have, and very easily could have, made his point in a less confusing manner.

Statement:
Irenaeus acknowledges that the Son was blessed by the Father with "dominion over all creation" (AH3, VI.1).

Truth:
And if Jesus received that dominion, then the One who gave it to him is greater than he, for "without all contradiction, the less is blessed by the better" (Heb. 7:7).

Statement:
Justin firmly maintains that God the Father has never spoken directly to any man on earth, and will never do so; moreover, Justins teaches that the Father never even moves from His place "wherever that is" (Dial. CXXVII). Irenaeus, on the other hand, insists that, even though the Son was one of the angels who visited Abraham (AH3, VI.1), it was "God the Father who spake with Abraham" (AH4, XLI.4),.

Truth:
Irenaeus is unclear regarding his position on a number of issues, including this one. He holds (again, contrary to Justin, Dial. CXXVII), that it was God the Father who gave the Law to Moses (AH5, XXI.3), but then teaches that the Son is the one who spoke with Moses (AH3, VI.2). Did he mean that the Father willed, and the Son performed the deed, as in creation? If so, he is wrong, as Justin is, concerning who it was that met with Moses on Mt. Sinai. That being was very clearly the Father, not the Son.

Statement:
Irenaeus says that "neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in his own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme" (AH3, IX.1). The apostles and prophets confessed both the Father and the Son, but the Son confessed only that the Father was God (AH3, IX.1; also AH3, VIII.1).

Truth:
This is true. Jesus never claimed to be God. A few of his statements have been interpreted that way by Christian theologians, but only in order to justify their faith. Had God wanted men to believe in a holy Trinity, he would have plainly taught it through Christ and the apostles; he would not have dropped subtle hints.

Statement:
"The Lord, receiving [the Spirit] as a gift from his Father, does himself also confer it upon those who are partakers of himself, sending the holy Spirit upon all the earth" (AH3, XVII.2).

Truth:
This is true and again emphasizes the Son's utter dependence upon the Father for his own life and power. Jesus said, "As the Father has life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself, and hath given him authority to execute judgment also" (Jn. 5:26-27; see also Jn. 15:26).

Statement:
Irenaeus says, "Even the Lord, the very Son of God, allowed that the Father alone knows the very day and hour of judgment, when he plainly declares,`But of that hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father only'" (AH2, XXVIII.6).

Truth:
This is another sure indication that Irenaeus was not of the trinitarian faith. This reference to Jesus' own words, by which he confessed that the Father possessed greater knowledge than the Son, is obviously intended by Irenaeus to emphasize the Father's superiority to and authority over the Son.

Statement:
Should someone ask how the Son was produced (that is, came into being), Irenaeus says that "No man understands that production, or generation, or calling, or revelation, or by whatever name one may describe his generation, which is in fact altogether indescribable. Neither Valentinus, nor Marcion, nor Saturninus, nor Basilides [the heretics against whom Irenaeus argued], nor angels, nor archangels, nor principalities, nor powers [possess that knowledge], but the Father only who begat, and the Son who was begotten" (AH2, XXVIII, 6).

Truth:
Both this forerunner of the Christian religion and the Christians who followed in his unsteady footsteps, fail to use the correct term, creation, to describe how the Father brought the Son into being. This Christian father, as well as the others, is unwilling to admit the simple, biblical truth that the Son of God was created by his Father and was ordained by the Father to create everything else. Still, as other statements of Irenaeus (such as the one that follows) show, he is not averse to the idea that the Father brought the Son into being.

Statement:
By the act of creation, says Irenaeus, the Creator grants to all created beings and things "that they should be thus formed at the beginning, and that they should so exist afterwards" (AH2, XXXIV.2). Irenaeus teaches that "all things which proceed from Him [the Father]. . .do indeed receive their own beginning of generation, and on this account are inferior to Him who formed them, inasmuch as they are not unbegotten" (AH2, XXXIV.2).

Truth:
This is all true, even when applied to Christ. All that proceeds (into existence) from the Father or that is generated (into existence) by the Father is "inferior to Him". Irenaeus often says that the Son was begotten by the Father, and that the Father alone is the "Unbegotten God". By this, Irenaeus is teaching that the Son had a beginning and is inferior to the Father, as Jesus himself confessed (Jn. 14:28), and that the Son's continued existence is dependent upon the love of the Father, as Jesus also taught (Jn. 6:57).

Irenaeus asks, "What are we to learn from the fact that Jesus said the Father alone knew all things", except it be "that we may learn through him that the Father is above all things. `For the Father', says [Jesus], `Is greater than I'" (AH2, XXVIII.8). Amen.

Note: There is not a hairsbreadth of difference between saying that the Son was created by God and saying that he was produced by God. In any way the matter is viewed, the truth is exactly as Arius (who was later condemned by Roman Catholic Christians) is said to have taught: "There was [a time], when [the Son] was not." And if "there was, when he was not", then the Son's life was given to him by the Father; and that is exactly what Jesus said was the case: "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself" (Jn. 5:26; also 6:57). By whatever term chosen, if the Son was given life by the Father, then there was a time when the Son was not alive. That, my friend, is not complex philosophy; that is common sense.

Statement:
Laboring to refute the heretic Marcion, who taught among other things that there was a second God besides the Father, Irenaeus announces that "there is only one God . . . He is Father, He is God, He the Founder, He the Maker, He the Creator, who made [all] things by Himself, that is, through His Word and Wisdom. . ." (AH2, XXX.9).

Truth:
Here we see an excellent example of those times when, in a heated passion to contradict the silly would-be theologians of his time, Irenaeus begins to drift a little from the simple confession of Christ as God's servant and agent of creation, and to complicate the issue with wild rhetoric of his own. Note especially this next bizarre phrase, which follows the above quote by only a few sentences, and which later became a fundamental tenet of the trinitarian faith.

Statement:
Refuting the heretics which imagined deities other than, and even superior to, the Father, Irenaeus says that the Son "eternally co-existed with the Father" (AH2, XXX.9).

Truth:
This is clearly a major step toward the development of trinitarian doctrine. But, how could the Son have co-existed eternally with the Father, if the Father gave life to the Son? If the Son is co-existent with the Father, then how is it that only the Father is "the Unbegotten God", as Irenaeus otherwise maintains?

If the Son co-existed with the Father, then the Son is necessarily, as trinitarians teach, co-equal with the Father. And if that were true, then Irenaeus has not refuted Marcion at all; on the contrary, he has agreed with him, for with that doctrine Irenaeus presents to us another deity, equal in all respects with the Father! In fact, to have a trinitarian god is to have a god who is greater than the Father, for the Father's power would be broadened by the additional attributes of the Son and the Spirit.

We can discern the clever hand of Satan in the argument of Irenaeus, who argues against heretics because of their teaching that there is one greater than the Father, and at the same time lays the groundwork for a doctrine which teaches in essence the same thing. Irenaeus' statement is utter nonsense.

Statement:
"All saw the Father in the Son;" writes Irenaeus, "for the Father is the invisible of the Son, but the Son is the visible of the Father" (AH4, V.6).

Truth:
Such nebulous statements do nothing to edify the church. This mysterious language is just too philosophical to hold much spiritual truth. What do his words mean? Was everything that was invisible of Jesus, the Father? What about Jesus' will, which was invisible and which differed (for a little while) from the Father's in the garden of Gethsemene (Mt. 26:39)? What about his mind, which did not know all that the Father knew? Was that the Father, too? Of course not. And by saying that the Son is "the visible of the Father", is Irenaeus saying that Jesus perfectly represented the Father on earth (which is true), or is he saying that the Father does not possess a body of His own and that when He is seen, whether on earth or in heaven, He is seen as Jesus (which is false)?

It is true, as Paul taught, that the visible things of this creation teach us about the invisible realities of God (Rom. 1:20). By observing nature, we may learn of the Father, but only in part. We may learn more perfectly of God by following Jesus, the image of the Father (Heb. 1:3). But just as we do not say that the stars and other elements of creation are God (pantheism) simply because they teach us about Him, so we do not say that Jesus is the Father simply because he perfectly reflects the Father's will and wisdom.

The strange, philosophical language of trinitarianism was a long time in development. Such phrases as these last two from Irenaeus, and the next one, clearly foreshadowed that exotic language.

Statement:
Irenaeus uses the enigmatic phrase, "God of God" in referring to the Son (Frag. Ire. LIV).

Truth:
By this, Irenaeus may only mean that the Son, created by the Father, was made God over all creation, as Moses, on a far lower level, was made god over Egypt and its king (Ex. 7:1). Whatever his intentions, however, this phrase was later to be used frequently by Christian trinitarians to affirm their faith in the co-equality in all respects of the Father and the Son. The phrase may have in fact been added by one of those later trinitarians to make it appear that Irenaeus taught their doctrine.

THE WORD

Statement:
A central focus of Irenaeus' (as well as Justin's) teachings about God is the Word. Irenaeus believes that the Word "always co-existed" with God (AH2, XXV.3).

Truth:
This is true, but only if Word here is defined simply as God's ability to speak. God has always been able to do that. But, the person of the Son of God, who is also called the Word of God, was created by the Father, and therefore could not possibly have "co-existed in eternity" with Him.

THE PERSONHOOD OF THE SPIRIT

Statement:
Irenaeus employs the enigmatic phrase, "character of the holy Spirit" (AH1, XXIII.1).

Truth:
Along with the doctrine that the Son is co-equal with the Father, one foundation stone of trinitarianism is that the Spirit of God itself is a person. If that is shown to be false, the whole trinitarian faith is exposed as wrong. Even though Irenaeus uses the phrase, "the character of the holy Spirit", he does not at any time teach that the Spirit is a person; on the contrary, he condemns the heretics of his day in part because they did teach, in their bizarre genealogy of universal powers, that the Spirit was a person. To be specific, they taught that the Spirit of God is "the first woman" (AH1, XXX.1), with whom both the Father and the Son had intercourse, producing a third man, who was the Christ (AH1, XXX.1-2).

As the reader can see from the above description of one of their doctrines, the heretics against whom Irenaeus taught, were transparently wrong. Irenaeus opposed them with errors of his own, which were not so easily discerned.

Statement:
Irenaeus holds that the Son was always with the Father, but then adds that the Spirit was always with Him, too, as if there were a third being present (AH4, XX.3). A similar statement shortly follows: "Thus God was revealed; for God the Father is shown forth through all these [operations], the Spirit indeed working, and the Son ministering, while the Father was approving" (AH4, XX.6).

Truth:
Naturally the Spirit of God was always with God, just as your spirit has always been with you. God's Spirit is God's life. That does not in any way make the Spirit of God a person.

Statement:
Irenaeus makes other statements which also seem to personalize the Spirit. For example, "For with Him [i.e., the Father] were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom He also speaks, saying, `Let us make man in our image'" (AH4, XX.1; AH5, I.3). Again, "For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom he speaks, saying `Let us make man in Our image and likeness'" (AH4, XX.1). He also writes, "For by the hands of the Father, that is, the Son and the Spirit, man . . . was made in the likeness of God" (AH5, VI.1).

Unlike Irenaeus here, Paul called Christ Jesus, not the Spirit, "the wisdom of God" (1Cor. 1:24).

Truth:
In English it is impossible to tell, but it seems certain from the context that a plural form of whom is being used in the Greek by Irenaeus. So, it appears that Irenaeus is saying in these places that the Father was speaking to the Spirit. This necessarily implies that the Spirit is a person other than the Father, who can hear what the Father said.

Statement:
Irenaeus' teaching, and the teaching of all Christianity, might be summarized by using Irenaeus' own words: "the fellowship and union of the flesh and the Spirit" (AH4, XVIII.5).

Truth:
This is exactly the error into which Paul spent his life trying, and failing, to prevent the church from falling. "Are you so foolish?", he asked the Galatian church, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh" (Gal. 3:3). "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh", he wrote (Gal. 5:17). There was no "fellowship and union of the flesh and the Spirit" in Paul's gospel for the Gentiles. In his gospel, baptism, communion, circumcision--all life with Christ--were spiritual experiences, not carnal ceremonies.

Note: This is an acceptable definition of Christianity: Christianity is that religion where Jesus Christ and the Father are worshipped, but not in spirit and truth. Christianity has always sought to honor and to worship God in some combination of spirit and flesh, rather than in spirit and in truth. And as will always happen in those cases, the flesh eventually takes precedence and the real Spirit of God is cast out altogether (as in non-pentecostal Christian groups) or is relegated to a part-time position (as in pentecostal groups).

In short, Christianity is a terrible, tragic mistake, the most tragic error that mankind has ever made. Irenaeus' erroneous doctrines certainly earn him the prestigious title of a father of that mistaken religion.

Statement:
Early Christian tradition concerning the ministry of the apostles is that after they received the Spirit at Pentecost, "they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings" (AH3, I.1).

Truth:
This Christian myth betrays an ignorance of the commission of Jesus' disciples. The twelve apostles of Jesus, including Peter, were never sent to the Gentiles, even if Peter had to open the door of the kingdom for them (Acts 10, 11). They were ministers only of the circumcision (Jews), just as Jesus himself was, while here on earth. Paul was sent with the gospel for the Gentiles (see Gal. 2:7-8).

"THEY ALL HAVE FORSAKEN ME"

Statement:
Ignatius seeks to legitimatize his doctrines by saying, "To these things all the Asiatic churches testify" (AH3, III.4).

Truth:
The broken-hearted, aged apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "All [the churches] which are of Asia be turned away from me" (2Tim.1:15). If Irenaeus is telling the truth, and all the churches of Asia really did approve of him and his words, it is only because they had indeed apostatized from the true faith, as Paul had with much grief written earlier. No church which remained faithful to the truth would have agreed with Irenaeus.

Smyrna was one of those churches in the Roman province of Asia that forsook Paul and his gospel. If the church leader Polycarp really was the Bishop of Smyrna, as was claimed, then Irenaeus' glowing admiration of him is all the more understandable.

CONCLUSION

A Developing Tradition

Perceptive artists and writers know that the Christian tradition of Christmas is still in its formative stage, and that the opportunity exists for someone to have a hand in shaping the tradition permanently, and to reap the rewards which will certainly follow if they succeed. Consequently, on television, in movies, and in children's books, new and imaginative variations on the origin and meaning of the Christmas tradition, and of the origins of old Santa Claus himself, are constantly being offered to the public. All the originators of these new ideas about Christmas hope that theirs will be the one which will capture the public's imagination and become an integral part in the developing Christmas tradition.

One successful attempt to do this is the nineteenth century poem, "The Night Before Christmas". There can never again be a credible myth about Christmas unless allowance is made for the "jolly old elf" which comes down the chimney. Another such success is the song, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". It was offered to the public in the early twentieth century, was warmly received, and subsequently became a permanent part of the Christmas tradition. Every future addition to the Christmas tradition must now accommodate Rudolph.

This is what was happening during the times of the early fathers of Christianity. They seemed to sense that something big was developing in the world and were rushing to offer their versions of the gospel to the public, in hopes of being among those whose doctrines would be incorporated into the developing tradition. Those whose offerings were successful are those whom Christians now call their fathers. The failures remain unknown (just as those whose ideas about Christmas fail to take root now will eventually sink into oblivion), or else they were publicly condemned as heretics and persecuted by the victors. But the prize for those whose doctrines were incorporated into the growing tradition of Christianity was enormous; it was that for which all flesh longs: fame.

But there must have been at that same time another group, a group which was neither participating in nor seeking to help develop the Christian tradition, a group which would have been considered by the leaders in Christianity to be heretical, but in fact was not. This would have been the small groups, scattered widely throughout the Empire of Rome who clung resolutely to the truth which Paul taught to the Gentiles churches. They would have watched in great sorrow as the fathers of Christianity stole the attention and hearts of the majority of the church, just as Paul grieved in his old age as he witnessed the beginnings of that great apostasy. In time, with all the military might of the Christian Roman Empire to support them and to enforce their rapidly developing version of the gospel, those fathers could and did quench every light of truth that dared to shine, and they sang diffidently, as a crafty whore upon her bed of ease, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (Rev. 18:7).

Since those days, that pretty whore has sung her lovely siren song and has brought eternal death and ruin to millions. Those who have been given the grace to see through her painted countenance and to behold the blackness that is in her heart, and who have been given the grace to warn men of her unclean spirit, have been ridiculed, persecuted, and condemned by her and her ministers. The masses have fallen for her line, have fallen to the Great Whore's seductive appearance, her phony humility, and her cunningly devised fables. She has seemed to be right because she has survived the centuries and has taught all people that she has survived because she is the apple of God's eye, the ark of safety for all men. However, wise Solomon remarked that although the man who is given the opportunity to argue his case first may seem to be right, his neighbor comes after him and reveals the truth of the story.

Christianity, your neighbor has arrived.

Appendix

GOD'S BODY

BODY PARTSSCRIPTURES
head & hairDan.7:9
eyesProv.15:3; Dt.11:12; Ps.34:15
eyelidsPs.11:4
earsPs.17:6; 34:15
nose (smell)Lev.26:31; Amos 5:21; Phip.4:18
nostrilsEx.15:8; Job 4:9; Ps.18:8,15
mouthDt.8:3
tongueIsa.30:27
lipsJob 11:5; 23:12; Isa.30:27
breathPs.33:6
voiceGen.3:8; Dt.4:12; Isa.6:8; 30:30
face / countenanceEx.33:20; Ps.13:1 Num.6:26; Ps.4:6
arm / hands Dt.33:27; Isa.51:5 Gen.49:24; Ex.15:17; Isa.5:12
fingerEx.8:19; 31:18; Lk.11:20; Ps.8:3
backEx.33:23
feetEx.24:10; 2Sam.22:10; Isa.60:13; Nah.1:3
a general bodily form ("image") Num.12:8; Jas.3:9; Rev.4:3 Gen.1:26-27 with 5:3
heartGen.6:6; 8:1; Hos.11:8
spiritGen.1:2; 1Cor.2:11
soulIsa.1:14; 42:1; Jer.5:9, 29
Note: God rides, walks, sits, stands, feels, and thinks. Yes, we are made in His image! "Wings of the Almighty" are mentioned several times (Ruth 2:12; Ps.17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4), but that is a figure of speech. Wings are mentioned figuratively throughout the Bible (e.g. as belonging to Assyria in Isa.8:8; Moab in Jer.48:9; the risen Christ in Mal.4:2).


CONCERNING THE TERM "CHRISTIAN"

It is completely understandable that the reader should have questions concerning the phrase, "non-Christian servant of Jesus Christ". All of us who were brought up in Western society have grown up in a culture in which the term Christian commands great respect. It has a pleasant ring in the ears of Westerners; but now the true light is again beginning to shine. Until recently, it had never crossed our minds that the term Christian is an ungodly title. But when the evidence is carefully examined, or more correctly, when God opens our eyes to His truth, we see clearly that Christian is a title that was given to the saints by the world, not our heavenly Father.

There are but three places in the Bible where the word Christian appears. Those three places are Acts 11:26; 26:28; and 1Pet. 4:16. Let us now examine each one.

In Acts 11:26 we are told that "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." The verb in that sentence is a passive verb. The followers of Jesus were called Christians by others; they did not call themselves Christians. This fact is acknowledged even in Gerhard Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, a scholarly work that is used by biblical scholars and teachers of every ilk, everywhere on earth where New Testament Greek is seriously studied and used. In Volume IX, page 537, it is stated that "it is likely that the term [Christian] was first used by non-Christians". (How this same scholar can justify his earlier statement that Christian is "obviously the term which the original believers used for themselves" (p. 536) is beyond me. How can the term have first been used by non-believers, if the original believers used it for themselves? But, such inexplicable, conflicting statements are typical of Christian teachers; we can only try to understand them as best we can.) The important point here is that the idea that non-believers coined the term Christian as a title for disciples of Jesus is not a far-fetched one. The world's leading scholars admit the same.

That being so, we should ask ourselves, "Why would the unbelieving people in Antioch call the followers of Jesus Christians?"1 The first reason must involve the type of city Antioch was. It was a cosmopolitan, sophisticated city, a crossroads of culture from Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was one of the three or four most popular and celebrated cities of that ancient time. Many of its citizens were well educated and wealthy, especially compared to the other cities and regions of the Roman world and the Eastern lands. It is not surprising that the witty citizens of Antioch would be the ones to coin the title Christian in reference to believers.

To rephrase the question a little more completely, we can ask, "Why would the unbelieving people in Antioch call the followers of Jesus Christians, if they themselves did not believe in Christ?" Wouldn't they be admitting that Jesus was the Christ, by saying his disciples were Christians? The answer is yes, by using the term Christian they would be confessing there was a real Messiah of Israel--unless they were being sarcastic! And that is exactly the case. The second, and obvious, reason that Christian was the term which the Antiochans invented to refer to God's people is that believers claimed to have found the Christ, or Messiah, of Israel. To mockingly call believers "Messiah-ers", or "Christ-ians", is something that sarcastic unbelievers would do. This leads us to the third, and last, reason that the Antiochans would have chosen that term: it was funny to them.

The Antiochans, as I have said, were sophisticated, worldly people (the kind of people that civilized human beings still like to be), proud of their city and their status in the Roman world. It suits their times and their attitude for them to have been the ones to come up with a clever, sarcastic name for those who believed that the man from Nazareth, whom Pontius Pilate crucified, was the Savior of the world. The term Christian would not have been considered a prestigious title. In that title, there was no confession of faith in Israel's Messiah at all. It was a belittling title of mockery, scorn, and ridicule, cast upon the humble followers of Christ Jesus by a smug, unbelieving world.

In summary, these are the three reasons that the Antiochans would have called the disciples Christians: (1) the pride and sophistication of the Antiochans, (2) the claim of the church in Antioch that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ of God, and (3) the sarcasm of the Antiochans toward that claim.

It seems obvious that by the time Luke wrote the book of Acts that the title Christian had already been popularized as a term for those who followed Jesus, and in his Acts of the Apostles he apparently thought that the reader might want to know where that term originated; but the real issue is not whether it had become popular but with whom had it become popular? Certainly not with Jesus' disciples; they would hardly have felt worthy to refer to themselves by the sacred title of Christ. It seems to me that to have invented that word for themselves would have required an arrogance and pride that they did not possess. And it would be good to point out here that there is an awful, unclean spirit of pride that still attends the claim of "being a Christian". It has become a title that the flesh loves, as is evidenced by the incontestable fact that the vast majority of those in the world who call themselves Christians do not have the holy Ghost, and do not want it. They see no need of it, because . . . well, because they are Christians. The word Christian is, as it always has been, a term that belongs to the world; and, it is another act of human madness that millions of human beings have fallen in love with the very term of abuse which the world invented to ridicule the church's confession of Jesus as the Christ. The tragedy is that those with the holy Ghost have been swept up in that strange delusion as well as others.

The second Scripture in which we find the word Christian is in Acts 26:28. Paul, as a Roman prisoner, reasoned so powerfully before King Agrippa concerning the righteousness of the gospel of Christ that the king said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." His remark shows: (1) he considered Paul to be one of those who were called Christians, and (2) the word Christian was such a disreputable term that he could not bear the thought of being called one, even if it meant running the risk of rejecting the truth of God. In other words, Christian was known as a term of reproach, a reproach which the king was unwilling to bear.

The word Christian being a term of scorn and reproach, several things are obvious. First, the church did not reproach itself. God's people did not make up this term of scorn for themselves. They were called Christians by others. Secondly, the king was paying Paul a high compliment. He was telling Paul that his preaching and his reasoning from the Scriptures was so profound and clearly true that he, the great King Agrippa, had almost been persuaded to confess it himself and, so, lose his exalted social standing and reputation and be branded as a Christian himself. Paul would not have quibbled with the king over using Christian in reference to him, when the king was actually using it because the gospel had so deeply touched him.

The last reference to the word Christian is found in 1 Peter 4:16. "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him glorify God on this behalf." Peter wrote this letter to the churches of present day Turkey. Clearly, then, the term Christian had become widespread and common among persecutors of the church as a title for all who believed that Jesus was the Christ. We cannot say it was a title which was widespread and common among the faithful. This is the only case in the Bible where an apostle ever uses the word.

Concerning this Scripture, let me first point out the extremely important, but oft-overlooked fact that Peter is not calling believers Christians. In order to understand what Peter was saying, as his original readers understood it, we need to substitute the word Christian with a modern equivalent. We could use "cult member", or "jackass" or "fool", or any such term, because when those ancient unbelievers called a saint a Christian, that is what they meant. So then, Peter was simply exhorting the church to praise God when they were ridiculed. He was not glorifying the word Christian, as so many seem to think he was doing. Actually, of all modern equivalents, "jackass" may be the best choice. There was actually a rumor occurrent in the ancient Roman world that those who were called Christians worshipped a jackass. There is a very well known and widely published drawing (next page) which was found scratched on an ancient wall in Rome (on the Palatine Hill, chief of Rome's famed seven hills). This crude drawing shows a believer looking toward a man, who has the head of a jackass, being crucified on a cross, with graffiti that mockingly says of the believer "Alexamenos worships god." Here is that ancient picture:

If we substitute the modern derisive term jackass for Christian in those three Scriptures in the New Testament where Christian is found, we will discover what was really being communicated at that time.

  1. Acts 11:26 "And the disciples were first called `jackasses' at Antioch."
  2. Acts 26:28 "Then Agrippa said to Paul, `Almost thou persuadest me to be a jackass.'"
  3. 1Pet. 4:16 "Yet if any man suffer as a `jackass', let him glorify God on this behalf."

Ignatius, one of the earliest "fathers" of Christianity (early Catholicism) taught that "Christian" was the term for the New Testament people of God which fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy of a new name for God's people (Mag. X on Isa. 61:1-2). Instead, church is the word for the New Testament saints which was given, as Isaiah said it would be, directly from "the mouth of the Lord" (Mt. 16:18). The word Christian did not come from the Lord's mouth but from the mouths of unbelievers. And in time, Satan cleverly turned that term into something to be admired and envied, and God's people fell into the trap. When Jesus warned his disciples that many false prophets would come "in my name", was he not warning us of ministers who come as Christians?

There is nothing sacred about the name Christian. It is not of God. Christianity is not the church of Jesus Christ; it is a pretender to the title of the bride of Christ (cp. Rev. 18:7); it is an evil institution, in which no child of God belongs. And those who desire that Jesus really be glorified for the good things they are doing will come out of that religion; otherwise, Christianity will share in Jesus' glory for their righteous deeds, as Satan has always wanted to do (Isaiah 14:13-14). One of the greatest needs of God's people is to see examples of men and women who are holy and happy in Jesus outside Christianity, because they have never so much as imagined such a thing; therefore, they cannot believe that it is the Spirit's voice they are hearing as it pleads with their hearts to "Come out of her, My people." This is a truth whose value is immeasurable, but it is virtually unknown on the earth today. It is not even being considered! If, before we fall asleep in Jesus, I and those with me manage only to make this truth known, if all we accomplish in our lives is to make this single truth an issue in the hearts of God's precious people, we shall have accomplished a very good deed on earth.

Note: It is remotely possible, as Kittel's dictionary proposes (IX, 484), that the Antiochans misunderstood Christ to be someone's name. There was such a name in those times as Chrestus (male), or Chraystes (female). In that case, the unbelievers would have been simply calling the disciples after what they thought was the name of their leader. This explanation suggests that there was in Antioch a profound ignorance of the Jewish hopes for the Messiah (Greek: Christ); however, there was a very large and prosperous Jewish community in Antioch, many of them believers, and those Jews were necessarily conversant with Gentiles. In fact, it was there in Antioch that Gentiles in large numbers first began to believe the gospel which the Jewish believers preached. It is, then, very unlikely that the very well educated and clever Gentiles in Antioch misunderstood the term Christ to be a proper name. The reason they chose Christian for the disciples is better explained another way.


YAHWEH, GOD OF THE CHRISTIANS

John David Clark, Sr. - (first published in March, 1997)

"I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God almighty; but by my name was I not known to them." Exodus 6:3

The first time I heard the word Yahweh was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the mid-seventies. Now, the name Yahweh is accepted in all of liberal Christianity as the most likely pronunciation of the Biblical name of Israel's God, and is more slowly (but surely) being accepted in every Christian sect. Why Yahweh instead of Jehovah? I personally always thought that Jehovah was fine. Here is the explanation for the change, as delivered to me by my seminary professors:

The name of God revealed to Moses (Ex.6:3) is made up of four letters. In theological circles, it is called the "Tetragrammaton". "Tetragrammaton" is a Greek word meaning "four letters" (tetra = four; grammaton = letters). When you see   * * * *  in this article, is is referring to this Tetragrammaton.

In the reading of the Scriptures, many of the learned Jews, we are told, historically had so much reverence for God that they refused to speak His name aloud when it was found in the biblical text; so, they contrived various means to circumvent it. At a place where the text reads, "Thus saith * * * * ", they would refuse to pronounce the name * * * * . They would instead say, "Thus saith the name". It was a little awkward, but that's how some of the Jews felt about the name of God; it was too holy to be spoken out loud. Generations passed. No one spoke the name, and eventually no one even remembered how to pronounce it.

Now, in the original Hebrew text, there were no vowels, just consonants. A group of Hebrew translators, so the story goes, called the Massoretes, added the vowels to the text about a thousand years ago. In part, they did so in order to help preserve Hebrew from becoming a lost language. But, which vowels were to be added to the Tetragrammaton? Since no one knew how to pronounce the name of God any longer, what vowels were they to add to the four letters ? According to the theory, the Massoretes decided to use the same vowels which were in the Hebrew word for "Lord". This made the Tetragrammaton to be pronounced (in English form) "Jehovah". With the vowel pointings added by the Massoretes, the Tetragrammaton became in our language, "Jehovah".

That is the story I was told, and that in fact may be the way the word "Jehovah" actually came about. I don't know.

But modern scholars were not satisfied. They felt that they could improve upon the name devised by the Massoretes and bring the Tetragrammaton closer to its original form, even if no one could say for certain what it really was. The vowel pointings, now dismissed as unsophisticated Massoretic contrivance by modern scholars, were replaced with modern scholars' guesswork. They felt that they could render a more likely answer to the problem of the missing vowels.

There is no "J" sound in Hebrew, nor is there a "V" sound. The "J" would be pronounced as the English "Y", and the "V" would be pronounced as the English "W". So, as a result of the scholars' efforts, the pronunciation of the new and improved Tetragrammaton is no longer the Massoretic Jehovah but the more likely Yahweh. Virtually everyone in higher scholastic circles approves of this modern improvement, and the name Yahweh is gaining ever greater popularity among Christians.

Now, to change subjects for a moment.

We know that the gods which pagans of the ancient world worshipped were, in fact, demons. (Justin, as we have seen, certainly understood that truth.) But, that statement actually might not have bothered many pagans. Celcus, a vehement anti-Christian of the second century, A.D., criticized Christians of his day because they refused to honor demons. Of course, ancient men understood demons to be harmless--even helpful--spirits. Moses and Paul, with all other holy men of God, viewed those gods quite differently, however. They learned from God that demons were evil and not to be trusted, and that the chief of all demons is Lucifer--the devil.

But, to move on, you may remember from school days that the chief of the Gentiles' gods was called Zeus by the Greeks. This same "supreme" god was called Jupiter by the Romans. And, since the chief of demons is in reality Satan, we know that the Gentiles' chief god (Zeus, or Jupiter) was in fact none other than Satan himself. But this same "supreme god", chief of all demons, had another, and possibly more popular name, the Latin name JOVE.

Now, consider carefully these facts about Latin grammar: First, just as in Hebrew, Latin has neither the English "J" nor "V" sound. Latin "J" is pronounced as the English "Y", and the Latin "V" is pronounced as an English "W". Second, there is no silent "E" in Latin. If a Latin word ends with an "E", it is pronounced as a short "eh" sound. Thirdly, as anyone learns in the first few days of studying the Latin language, a short "O" sound (such as in the Latin word Jove) is difficult to spell out, but is somewhat like "AH".

What does this mean to us?

This means that if we pronounce Jove according to the rules of Latin grammar which we are taught, if we pronounce Jove as an ancient Roman would have done, Jove would be pronounced very nearly, if not exactly, as the modern Christian name for their god: Yahweh. Can anyone honestly believe that this is a coincidence?

We have already been taught by the Spirit that the god of Christianity is Satan; what is surprising, with the emergence of Yahweh as the new name for God, is how blatantly Christianity is renewing its devotion to him. Satan has been disguised for a very long time, but the holy Ghost is forcing him out of the closet. Can you see him?

The god of Christianity is the Roman chief of demons, Yahweh. Since the first time, years ago, when I heard Christians suggesting a change from Jehovah to Yahweh, I have wondered why. With the original pronunciation of Jove in mind, the answer is clear. As I have told you before, Christianity is the Roman Empire in disguise. The chief priest of Christianity, the Pope, still calls himself after the chief priest of the Roman Empire, Pontifex Maximus--because he is worshipping the same filthy chief of demons that the Romans honored. What Jesus showed me, and what I have told you before about the Roman Empire's transformation into Christianity, is being confirmed again. It is so overwhelming at times to me that I myself must pray for faith to be able to believe what I am seeing. Can this similarity between the Yahweh of modern Christian scholars and the Yahweh of ancient Rome be mere coincidence? No thinking person can believe so. The only thing is--what do we do with this truth that Jesus has shown to us?


GODS OF THE GENTILES


John David Clark, Sr. - (first published in February, 1997)

"The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God." 1Cor. 10:20

Modern man is so proud of his technological advancements that he treats the myths of the classical world as mere rubbish, as no more than a cartoon in the Sunday paper; but this generation's arrogant contempt of previous ones may be based on more fiction than are the myths from the ancient past. This generation's proud attitude toward those who lived in the past is encouraged by the theory of evolution: the longer men live, the wiser they become. The truth may be far different. What construction crew could today build the pyramids? Who in our time could match Julius Caesar's feat of building in ten days a forty-foot wide bridge across the Rhine River, a quarter of a mile across at that point, strong enough for an entire army to cross? An ancient citadel stands on a mountain in South America made of rock molten together after its construction - a feat which scientists have tried to repeat but to this point have been unable. With cleverly fashioned tools, the ancient Romans and Greeks, and others, performed delicate eye surgery, brain surgery, and even what is known now as plastic surgery, building new ears and noses. The ancient people were not the monkeys that some men try to make them out to have been.

The inevitable impression left upon the person who studies the classical world with an open mind is one of great respect and deep pity; respect for the amazing accomplishments they managed to achieve in virtually every field, and pity that so much of their efforts were wasted on ignorant superstition. The costs of idolatry were very high, in terms of both money and human life, and doubtlessly prevented even more advances in the sciences and arts than the ancients did achieve.

Consider this one example of needless suffering from ancient times in our hemisphere: it is estimated by some scholars that the Aztec Indians sacrificed an average of fifty-four human beings a day to their blood-thirsty sun god (Eerdman's Handbook to the World's Religions, p.54. 1994 ed.). They foolishly believed that human blood enabled the sun to continue to travel across the sky; so, to save mankind, it was essential that there be a constant supply of sacrificial victims. One method of human sacrifice required the victim's heart to be cut out while he was still living! Of course, in order to maintain a supply of victims, wars had to be waged and prisoners taken; so, a peace treaty with neighbors was not likely. War was a necessary tool of this religion. Try to imagine the centuries of useless terror and agony inflicted on innocent people by that one superstition about the sun! Now, multiply that horror by ten thousand times and spread the pain and loss over the face of the earth, and the enormous cost of ignorance of God's truth begins to be revealed.

For another brief example, try to imagine how many heartaches could have been avoided, and how much suffering among the poor could have been alleviated with the fortunes which were buried with the Pharaohs! Immense wealth was sealed in tombs of stone, to be taken by the dead king to the next world, while the miseries of the poor in this world were ignored.

O how precious is the truth about God! There is nothing which has caused more misery in man's history than wrong ideas about God; and if you are now entertaining a wrong religious idea, pray to be delivered from it. It will cost you dearly.

BECAUSE IT WAS REAL

Ancient man's superstitions notwithstanding, I tend to lend more credence to some of the mythological stories of the classical world than others might be inclined to do. It was scarcely a century ago that a German named Heinrich Schliemann dared to think a similar thought. He endured the ridicule of "experts" who scoffed at his belief that the ancient city of Troy was a real place (remember the Trojan Horse?). With tremendous determination, he ventured out on his own to search for the ruins of Troy. Using the geographic information in Homer's Iliad as his principle guide, he astonished the scholarly world by discovering the ruins of a once-great city in the northwest corner of Asia Minor--exactly where Homer had located Troy, its ruins testifying to its former greatness.

The superstition of the ancient world may have been great, yet those people were not quite as easily made fools of as some modern men, especially evolutionists, would have us to believe. In the Bible there are a number of examples of soothsayers and witches who had real spiritual power. The most stunning example is the Egyptian magicians of Moses's time, who performed miraculous deeds which for a time even matched the miracles which Moses performed! There was also the famous witch of En-dor in 1Samuel, who had power to contact the dead, and there was the demon-possessed young girl in Acts who made her owners wealthy with her supernatural knowledge. In spite of what many "enlightened" people now believe, such supernatural events did take place, and ancient men were deceived by them, not because such spiritual power was phony, but because it was real.

The devil is a real creature, as are the fallen angels. They are not theological inventions of man. They once stood before God in heaven but were cast out when they rebelled against God (2Pet. 2:4). Having been in heaven, they know God far better than ordinary men know God. They have supernatural powers; they can reveal things unknowable to humans through a person whom they possess, and they can perform feats of superhuman strength, as did the demon-possessed man whom Jesus healed at Gadara (Mk. 5:1-5).

It is obvious that many ancient myths are fabricated. We know, for instance, that Atlas is not holding the world on his shoulders, and we know that Poseidon does not drive his chariot across the seas. Moreover, there are no half-divine people born of intercourse between one of the "gods" and a mortal. But ancient man's colorful imagination does not make untrue the fact that there were men of old, possessed by demons, who could, for example, lift and throw stones much larger than men normally can, as Homer describes Hector doing during the battle for the Greek ships at Troy. The man in the region of Gadara out of whom Jesus cast a "legion" of demons certainly exhibited supernatural strength. The Bible clearly mentions men before the flood, who were of giant stature, "mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:4). Because of the depths of evil to which mankind had fallen in those times (such evil that it caused God to regret that He had created man - Gen. 6:5-6), it is very easy to imagine such demon-possessed men performing superhuman feats, whose stories were told and retold for generations, becoming increasingly fictional until the mythological stories of ancient Greece, Rome, and other nations were formed. Are we not able to see through the layers of myth and acknowledge the germ of truth which may have lain at the root of those stories? According to the truth revealed in the Bible, there is no reason not to do so, for there certainly were men and women possessed with demonic power which was misinterpreted by the ancients as a divine touch from one of the "gods".

In the book of Acts, a young slave girl was empowered by a demon to reveal secrets, possibly predicting the future, and she brought her masters quite a bit of money with her soothsaying. The apostle Paul cast out that demon, leaving the poor child helpless to predict anything, and both Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into prison afterwards (Acts 16:16f). When the ancients went to the famous oracle of Apollo at Delphi, or to the other oracles of the ancient world, it is altogether believable that when they went to the oracle, supernatural events sometimes took place. We do know that when backslidden King Saul went to a witch for help, he received more help than he bargained for (1Sam. 28). It is inconceivable that the ancients, intelligent as they were, would have continued believing in oracles if nothing supernatural ever happened; and, there is ample evidence that supernatural events often occurred in the "holy" places of the gods.

So, in the ancient world we had a mixed bag. Along with their high intelligence and initiative there was gross spiritual darkness which perverted the good life which their intelligence could have produced.

MINISTERS OF SATAN

Repeatedly, the Bible states that when the Gentiles worshipped, and when Israel worshipped as the Gentiles did, they were actually worshipping demons (Lev. 17:5-7; Dt. 32:12-18; 2Chron. 11:13-16; Ps. 106:34-38; 1Cor. 10:18-22); but, neither the Gentiles nor the idolatrous Israelites thought so, and they would very likely have put to death anyone, such as the prophets of Israel, who dared to make such a statement to them. Men called their demons by lovely names, such as Saturn, Jove, Aphrodite, Apollo, etc., and invented elaborate ceremonies for them and mythic stories about them. They were dedicated to the service of the "gods" and prayed fervently to them in expectation of supernatural help. All the evidence points to the fact that sometimes those demons fulfilled their expectations and gave a prophecy, or revealed a secret, or made a promise, or gave one of them supernatural power. The price for that spiritual "help" was only to do as Satan suggested that Jesus do in the wilderness temptation, "Bow down and worship me" (Mt. 4:9).

When Jesus neared a demon-possessed person, quite often the demon would scream out some element of truth about Jesus, such as, "We know who thou art, O holy one of Israel!" (Mk. 1:23-24), or would beg him, "torment me not!" (Mk. 5:7). And sometimes they would prophesy of the coming judgment, asking Jesus, "Art thou come to torment us before the time?" (Mt. 8:29)? The little demon-possessed girl whom Paul delivered had followed Paul and Silas through the streets of Philippi screaming out the news, "These men are the servants of the most high God, who show unto us the way of salvation!" (Acts 16:16-17). These demonic voices, crying out bits of truth through possessed people, were the voices of the "gods" of the ancient world, which the Bible tells us were not gods at all, but demons. But consider this sobering question: If demons inspired men in those times to proclaim the holiness of Jesus and the certainty of judgment to come, why then should anyone consider it strange that demons continue to do so, through those whom Paul called "ministers of Satan" (2Cor. 11:13-15)?

Paul said that in this New Testament time Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light, and that his ministers have transformed themselves into minsters of righteousness (2Cor. 11:14-15). Ministers of Satan, Paul wrote, now masquerade as "apostles of Christ" (2Cor. 11:13). But who were Satan's ministers? Were they not the priests of the Gentiles' "holy" sites? Was not the priest of Jove (the chief god of the Greeks and Romans) Satan's chief minister? Were not the oracles of Apollo, Athena, Juno, Poseidon, and the others, demon-possessed ministers of Satan?

The official title of the High Priest of Jove (Latin pronunciation, Yohweh), the chief god of the Roman Empire, was Pontifex Maximus. It was a coveted political prize, to which a man was elected by the senate of Rome. It was the world's highest religious position, first held by nobles such as Julius Caesar and, later, by the emperors of Rome. If there ever was a man who was a "minister of Satan", then Pontifex Maximus was he, being the chief of all the idolaters on earth. But if Satan's ministers have now transformed themselves into apostles of Christ, where is Pontifex Maximus now? Where has that chief minister of Satan gone? Find him, and you'll find a man claiming to be the vicar of Christ on earth, God's spokesman, and the anointed shepherd of the sheep. Find Pontifex Maximus now, and you'll hear someone again moved by demons to speak well of Jesus and to proclaim the reality of the coming judgment; and as in ancient times, you will see multitudes ignorantly worshipping devils in beautiful, if not magnificent settings, "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2Tim. 3:5). Find Pontifex Maximus and his followers now and you'll hear the "doctrines of devils" of which we were forewarned by the apostle Paul. Find Pontifex and those like him, all ministers of Satan, and you'll find angels with wings (demons) and churches you can join! Where are they, and by what name now do they now disguise themselves? You tell me.

The loveliness of false religion has always belied its danger. The simple rites which God gave to Moses could not compete with the grandeur of the Greeks' Parthenon or many of the other spectacular rituals and temples of the ancient world; but then, God wasn't trying to compete. He was only providing a way for us to be forgiven - a simple way, and it worked. His simple way of faith still works, but only those who are more impressed with reality than with appearance will ever learn that.

The gods of the ancient world are still crying out for recognition through the mouths of Christian ministers, and from those who are ignorant of the truth they are still receiving the honor which belongs to no one but God and His Son. Are you among them, still justifying your rebellion against Christ by pointing to the many others who are doing the same thing? Or have you obeyed the voice of your Father, who so gently and earnestly is calling His children out of Christianity into the light of Jesus, His Son?


Other Books/Messages by John David Clark, Sr.

Click on Title to pull up on this CD.

Spiritual Light

In-depth Bible study on these topics: How did the ceremonies of the Law of Moses foretell of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus? What does baptism have to do with salvation and what form of baptism is the "one baptism" which Paul preached? Must a man obey the commandments of God and do good works in order to be saved in the end? Does everyone who receives the Holy Ghost speak in tongues?

All Things (Rom.8:28)

The worshipping of idols is not idolatry; it is merely a symptom of it. As the red spots of a child with measles are indications of the disease, and not the disease itself, so the worshipping of idols indicates the disease of idolatry is present. Unfortunately, we have assumed that, because idol-worship is no longer among us, we are free of the disease of idolatry. All Things exposes the mind-set of idolatry, the attitude which leads to idolatrous living, and reveals that idolatry is alive and well among men and, tragically, even in the church. Nothing has changed but the symptoms.

The stories of Joseph, Job, and the Lord Jesus are reviewed, showing how they overcame trials which were insurmountable except for their faith in God as He really is. They were not afflicted with the idolatrous notions about God which prevent so many of us from ever knowing true peace with the Creator. Therefore, they could overcome any suffering which earth had to offer.

The history of Israel as it is recorded in the Scriptures is told in detail, from the time of the Judges to the captivity of Judah, demonstrating clearly that God was in thorough control of the circumstances they faced, both the pleasant and the horrifying. The nation was destroyed because the people foolishly held other gods responsible for some of the things that befell them. In our day, this same idolatrous notion shows its ugly head every time someone holds Satan responsible for the circumstances of his life. Jesus is Lord of all. If we can understand that glorious, liberating truth, we can overcome the world!

Marriage and Divorce

Concerning earthly relationships, perhaps in no other way has more harm been done to the church by her own ministers than in matters concerning marriage and divorce. In most cases, remarriage is permitted by God, and the scriptures, rightly divided, clearly say so! The only case in which remarriage is forbidden is when two truly born-again people separate. In every other case remarriage is allowed.

Sermons by John David Clark, Sr. on this CD
Visit the Audio Link for All Available Titles.

"The New Birth"

The doctrine of conversion, or the "new birth", is central to the gospel. A person's perspective of righteousness, sin, God, the church - everything concerning life - is shaped by his understanding of what it means to come into a right relationship with God in Christ.

What experience is the experience of new birth? When were the disciples born again, and how did they know it? By clear explanation of the Scriptures, Pastor Clark explains the truth about the new birth. If you have been taught that the baptism of the Holy Ghost was not essential for your salvation, you may want to rethink your position after hearing these 12 sermons on cassette, taken from the Pioneer Broadcast radio program.

"What Must I Do To Be Saved?"

The gimmick "get saved" religion which arose in the 20th Century and took the church by storm is at last brought into question. Hundreds of Scriptures are employed in this series of 12 sermons, conclusively showing that salvation is the hope of the saints, not received by repeating a few Scriptures, nor by claiming it. It is received by obeying the voice of God until the end. Stubborn, disobedient believers will not be saved, but condemned by Christ Jesus in the judgment. Hear these convincing sermons and be set free from the burden of claiming something that has not yet been given!

All Things (Rom.8:28)

Companion to the book by the same title (see previous page), this series of sermons puts into words the same message contained in the book. The lives of the men and women of greatest faith are examined: Abraham, Job, Joseph, the Lord Jesus, Paul, the prophets.

The Law No ancient prophet in Israel ever spoke more perfectly of the coming Messiah than did the Law of Moses. The work of Jesus Christ is painted brilliantly in the ceremonies of the Law. The earliest Church preached Christ, with no scriptures but what we call the "Old Testament"!

The negative attitude of many toward the Law of Moses is shown to be from Satan, not from God. Jesus loved the Law which his Father gave to Moses. So did Paul and the apostles. We all need to know the real reason that the Church was taught by Paul not to continue to observe the Law's ritualistic ordinances.


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