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Discover the Book - Jan. 21, 2009

  • 2009 Jan 21

Does Romanism Contain Paganism?



2 Corinthians 11


Something tragic happened from this era in the Bible. Let me just rehearse for you just a thumbnail sketch of where the church was when the apostles were here. The church was conquering. It was conquering the world not through social activism but through personal renewal and regeneration and supernatural life. When people got saved back then they renounced the world they left it behind, they burnt their magic books. They left their immoralities. They left their occultic ways. They renounced paganism and they turned in newness to Christ and they suffered for it. Things were really amazing. The church was flourishing. People were being saved every day; people were living holy lives. People were seeing the power of God. The apostles were ministering and they were writing letters. Yes, they had problems and they had questions, but it’s very simple. As he says in verse 3,


the simplicity and purity of Christ”.


What was the simplicity? Well, Paul gave his testimony he says 1 Cor 15…in other words; the whole gospel was based on the scripture. Period. And it was simple. You made a choice between Jesus Christ or eternal damnation in hell. It was a very simple choice. Many people chose both. It was a simple gospel.


Well, verse 4… see as a father he’s starting to chide them. He’s saying , “You’re not on your guard and I’m passing off the scene.” It’s 56 AD and he’s going be around until AD 62, maybe AD 64. He’s 56 years old and he’s got maybe 3 or 4 more years in ministry, but he knew it was coming to an end. And he says, “What if someone preaches to you another Jesus, not a different, not heteros, but one who is another of the same kind?”


Slow Rise of False Traditions


In other words, he’s not talking about guru Rajneesh So-and-So from India, he’s not talking about Bogwan Salami. He’s talking about someone that claims to be the Biblical Jesus. And he says if someone presents you with a Jesus that doesn’t line up with the Bible and someone presents to you a Holy Spirit that doesn’t measure up to the Bible and someone has presented to you a gospel that you have not accepted that’s not simple. He says you might go along with it. And you know, it happened. Because what happened with the church was the apostles passed off the scene and their disciples, like Ignatius and Polycarp, who knew the apostles personally and had been lead to Christ by them, they powerfully lead the church into the second century. The 100’s A.D. But something happened and pretty soon the church started giving in to a little formalism here and a little sacramentalism there and little bit of baptismal regeneration here and a little bit of heirarchical stuff and letting people rise up to be rulers over the church that Peter warned against.


And by the time we get to the 4th Century, the 300’s A.D., the Roman Church was the church of the Roman Empire. It was still the church of Jesus Christ built on the apostles and prophets but it had become religio licita -[the officially recognized church of the Empire].


How Constantine Started the Roman Church


Well, the emperors had to do something about that. In 313 AD at the Milvian Bridge when Constantine beat his contender for the throne, He saw a vision. Now, watch out for people who see visions. Jeremiah 23:16 says:


Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.

They make you worthless;

They speak a vision of their own heart,

Not from the mouth of the Lord.


And things haven’t changed much; they’re still around. I mentioned them this morning. Usually they involve your pocketbook. You know, they always have a vision for your money. But he had a vision and he saw a big flaming red cross on a blue background and he saw the words “In Hoc signa Vinci”, isn’t that interesting, it was in Latin. He understood Latin and he saw that and Constantine conquered at the Milvian Bridge by painting red crosses on all the shields of all his warriors. Ah! Red Cross. Christ. Christianity. So that must be what happened. So he became a “Christian”.


All the Roman Gods Merged With the Church


Well, what did he do with the State church? They had the Pantheon of Hadrian, they had all the priests of Dagon and the priests of Marduk and the priests of Phoenicia, Astarte and Baal. What do you do with Isis and Osiris and all that gang from Egypt and what do you do with Semiramis and Tammuz? What would you do with all the deities coming in from Persia? He said, well, I have an idea…its religion, let’s just all work together. Well, the church didn’t like that too much but they accommodated the influx of paganism. Now up until that time the church was just what you see in the New Testament. They read the Bible, they broke bread, and they baptized people after they were saved. They didn’t have anything to do with baptizing infants. They didn’t have anything to do with prayers for the dead. They didn’t have anything to do with Mass, Mass doesn’t come around for 12 centuries. It was just simple house churches, breaking bread, fellowshipping, baptizing people, confessing Christ, preaching the Bible, praying and loving Jesus Christ. But here came all these religious priests of a pantheon of religions in 313 AD. They brought in their censors, incense burners, and they brought in their robes, and they brought in all their candles, and they brought in all their various beads that the pagans used.


Remember what Christ said in Chapter 6 of Matthew, don’t pray mindless, rote prayers repeating the same thing endlessly over and over again thinking that God’s going to hear you and bless you because of that. That’s the first few verses of chapter 6. Well, here come the pagans with their prayer beads. Here they came with their cutting their hair in certain places, bald spots on top of their heads, which was a part of paganism. Here they came with their feasts to the Sun god, here they came with their feasts to the Love god and they came with their feasts of worshipping the death and resurrection in forty days of Baal. And they were confronted with what do we do with all this stuff. He said, Well, that one’s close to Christmas, we’ll put that one next the Christmas. That one’s close to Easter, we’ll put that by Easter. That one’s over here, we’ll put that there. Gradually, paganism seeped in.


The apostles, Peter, Paul, John, the early church, the simplicity, verse 3, that was in Christ, started to get complex. And it started evolving, and tradition became as powerful as scripture. And then it was more powerful than scripture. And the church got to the point, by 12th Century AD; they were so confused, that they believed they had to crucify Christ over again every day. That has persisted for centuries. So, when I talk about the Roman Catholic Church, I’m talking about the church today that believes all that syncretism. Do you know what syncretism is? Religious syncretion is when you blend together the best of everything. Some New Age ideas, a couple of Hindu ideas, get a couple of Jewish ideas and through in a sprinkling of Christianity and you don’t want to offend anybody. And that’s why the RI National Council of Churches, which buys into that, sends out letters to clergy, like they did to me, that says that if you ever pray in public don’t offend people by mentioning Jesus Christ. He’s very offensive. Talk about the supreme power, the deity that they can worship at the Masonic Lodge or at AA or down at the B’hai Temple but don’t bring up Jesus Christ; that’s offensive. Do you know why? Because the preaching of the Cross is to those that perish foolishness and it offends them. It says in 1 Cor 1. And Paul says I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, it’s the power of God and the only power of God until salvation. But that’s been muddled over the years.


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