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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Jan. 17, 2009

  • 2009 Jan 17

Where Did the Church of Today Come From?

How Do You Connect Together the Early Church to Where We Are Today?

An Overview of Church History:

  1. The first era ends with the death of the Apostles. 
  2. We started out with what we would call the Catholic Church. We are not talking about Pope's or Rome, but the Church that Jesus Christ started. I am talking about the Church built on the Apostles and the Prophets. You would know this as the Apostles then those post-Apostolic men, Timothy all the way through to St. Augustine
  3. After that about 13 centuries we have the Reformation— That was the time of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and in England John Knox. 
  4. After the Reformation a few hundred years went by and we had what we might call the era of evangelicalism or world missions. This era, the fourth era of the Church the Evangelical / World Missions you would know as the time of Wesley, Moody, Billy Graham. 
  5. Then we have a new phenomenon today, which really is rapidly growing all over the world, the Charismatic era with the emphasis on the gifts.

That is all of Church history. I will draw in a few more lines but that is the big picture. We went from the Church that Jesus Christ started. A lot happened in 13 centuries then we had the dawning of the Reformation which actually started with Wycliffe in England with his work on the English translation of the Bible, Huss in Bohemia and Czechoslovakia doing his Reformation speaking. It seeped into Martin Luther who was deeply influenced by Huss and Wycliffe"s work. Martin Luther deeply influenced and opened up so that a young Frenchman named John Calvin did his voluminous writing. Then of course it spread to the British Isles and John Knox. That’s the Reformation. 

The Reformation dominated Christendom with a lot going on till the advent of what we would call the modern day evangelism, because the Reformation didn’t continue to emphasize evangelism. So they felt that they needed to do something about it—William Carey - the father of the modern missions movement. He was followed by a lot of evangelists—Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham. 

Now basically the modern day Charismatic movement started historically in Los Angeles at the Azuza Street Mission in the 1920’s where there was this outbreak of charismatic utterances. It started formally at Dennis Rector’s church in Los Angeles where officially a mainline church became charismatic. That was in the late 40’s or early 50’s. 

I witnessed to a man who told me he was Roman Catholic and backed away from me. I smiled and said "I am Catholic, too.” He stepped toward me then and was excited but didn’t know what he was getting into. I told him that I am Catholic but not Roman Catholic. I am as Catholic as you can get—I believe in the Holy Catholic Church that Jesus Christ started—founded on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. I believe that Jesus Christ started the Church and that Church continues to this day and we are a part of it. It is right here, it is this truth that is a part of God’s Word. 

Second Century

What happened? By the 2nd century the Church that Jesus Christ started already believed in infant baptism. Romanism started seeping then. By the 4th century beads, candles, robes, vestments, hierarchical levels of clergy—in fact there was a clergy/laity break. Only the clergy could handle the Communion. 

Sixth Century

By the time the 6th century came, we have a full blown Pope. In the 9th century we have Mass in the sense we know it today with purgatory, indulgences, sacraments. It was not codified until the Council of Trent in the 16th century. You could all the way up to the Reformation be a very evangelical Catholic in the Roman Church because they did not “homogenize” the place and make them all toe the line until the Council of Trent in 1546. That is Romanism. What I am showing you is today, there is a great deal of the Roman Catholic Church that we can agree with 100%. They are Trinitarian, they believe in the Deity of Christ, they believe that the 66 books of the Bible that we believe in are inspired. They have added to them the Apocrypha and the Pseudopygrapha and a whole bunch of traditions. At the core of their theology and Christology though they have added—The best way to poison someone is to take 99.5% wholesomeness and put in .5% something very deadly. That works in salvation and non-imputational salvation is right at the heart of Romanism and that is the danger. There are people in the Roman Catholic Church who are born again. They don’t believe in that Mary stuff or I don’t agree with the Pope. I ask them how on earth can you support something that is so wrong—maybe they feel they are a missionary. 

Between these two lines I would put the Lutheran Church. Here is the Presbyterian Church- that John Knox started. The Episcopal Church-- I would put that right in here, too. Those three are kind of a little bit Romanistic and Reformed also. Why do I say that? They believe in infant baptism. They believe that you get into the Covenant by baptism. What the Jews used to have circumcision for has become Baptism today. The Roman Church says that God is done with Israel and will never pick up with them again and the Church has become the new Israel. Circumcision becomes baptism. The priesthood of the Old Testament becomes the priest of the New Testament. The sacrifices of the Levitical system become Mass. Moses and Aaron and the High Priests become the Pope. They have basically taken the Old Testament and given all New Testament names to it and they have built this whole works salvation thing that the Jews had. 

The elements of that are in the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Episcopalian Churches today. The Episcopalian is the American version of the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church is the Roman Catholic Church that Henry VIII started- He set up his own Pope so he did not have to pay taxes to Rome. The Anglican Church is a revolt against the Catholic Church with a new Pope. The Lutherans and the Episcopalians are in constant talks to be reunited with Rome. In our lifetime if the Lord doesn’t return, we will see probably them back with Rome

The Reformation hit and now I would say that all of this much of the Reformation is Biblical. Some of you immediately would not have any trouble saying that part of Romanism is not Biblical. But you start getting squeamish when you say that part of it is. That is because of this—I want you to understand why I say that about Reformation theology. This is another drawing that might help you learn.  

This is the Bible (put a cross on it like a lot of Bible’s used to have); when you read the Bible, you and I read and get conclusions from the Bible like this. That is what we are supposed to do—that is how we build theology. We can get a conclusion about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, about the Church, about salvation, about ecclesiology and all those things are very true. This right here is called theology or doctrine. All doctrine is to be tied back to the Bible. If you have Biblical doctrine, you can in any context explain it with no theology book present. You just take the Bible and open it up. In the historic early Church, they did not have this notion that everything had to be so defined and deep that you can’t understand it unless you have a doctorate in something. Paul reasoned with that group in Acts 17 from only the Scriptures.  

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