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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Sept. 29, 2007

  • 2007 Sep 29
  • COMMENTS
 

Where Do All the

Denominations Come From?

Acts 19

How do you connect together the Early Church to where we are today? 

This is all of Church History.

  1. The first era is up to 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 everything. I am talking about the truth. 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. 

Let me show you something that is really a blessing to me… 

I am going to draw a line here- see this square? That square is the Word of God. What happened is this much today of the Catholic Church is quite Biblical (inside the square). This part was added- the Romanism- (outside the square). I witnessed to 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. 

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. 

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 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 you can 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. You say what do you mean, put that there? 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 the Theology books—NO, the Scriptures.  

There is nothing wrong with theology, I have spent a lot of my life studying theology but I personally believe if you cannot explain what you believe merely from the Bible, you should be careful about being dogmatic it, because immediately you are open to this. You take this conclusion here and this conclusion there from the Bible and you make another conclusion. You take this conclusion and make another conclusion.

You know what, a lot of those conclusions are still true but they are no longer this belief right here- is no longer directly found in the Scriptures. You can only find it by having an awful lot of pages of discussion and saying because of this—because of this… That is what causes great divisions between people. Most of the things we divide over as churches are out here, not right there. Most things historically are out there.

This process, drawing conclusions from the Bible is called doctrine or Biblical theology. This process when you take it this extra line, is called systematic theology. What is that? When you take the Bible and cut it all up in pieces and rearrange it in orderly manner.

There is nothing wrong with it—you have to study systematic theology. The problem is that some of these conclusions out here get so detached from the Bible, it is what is called Theological drift. Right there is what most people have problems with. There is a portion of the Reformation doctrine that you can’t find in the Bible unless you quote some theologians. You can’t say Paul said it, you have to go back to Calvin himself or who ever. 

All those things are right out here and there is nothing wrong with them, but they are not to die for because they are not totally defined by and contained with in the Word of God. Just like you can find out here a lot of stuff. Let’s look at where we are—the whole Baptist, Billy Graham, Dallas Seminary, modern Christendom, Chuck Swindol, John MacArthur circle right there. Did you know that within that circle this is from the Bible. We have our own set of traditions that are not in the Bible. But we do them anyway. We fight for them, and fight over them, and everything else—they are not clearly defined in the Bible. They have become a part—

For example, you can’t find in the Bible Sunday School. There is the concept but you can’t find in the Bible that you must have an age graded Sunday school. That is just something we do. Yet people act like Paul did it, in fact I have heard people talk about in the early church when they had Sunday School, and their jowls start moving when they do it and you can see a little froth because they just get excited. There are many things when you think about it that are wonderful but you didn’t see the New Testament Church doing them, you don’t see it commanded, you don’t see it even detailed.  

For example, the idea of a solo pastor—not a pastor that sings. I am an ordained Baptist minister. The Baptists believe that there is one pastor and a whole bunch of deacons and the pastor is in charge. You can never find that in the New Testament- the elders are always in the plurality. In the Bible concept, there are three interchangeable words that are used for the same man. There is poimen, which is pastor or shepherd. There is presbuteros which is elder then there is episkopoi which is bishop or overseer.

Those three words are always used interchangeably in the Bible. They are always plural- you never find them in the singular when it is talking about a church. God didn’t design the Baptist system, it evolved over the years. There is nothing wrong with it, I am not saying it is bad and it is not to be taken down but it is out here- (outside the square). Churches split and fight because someone introduces the idea of elder rule. Even though you find elders all through the New Testament but you won’t find the modern notion that runs most evangelical churches these days.  

This sermon will be continued tomorrow September 30th as we start by looking at the various churches.

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

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