Which are true; which are false?
In the early centuries of the Church, Christians would wait to be baptized until the end of their lives, this because of the false teaching that after baptism, there was no way to have the forgiveness of serious sin.
In the early days of the Church, many bishops were heretical and the Christians under them had no way to know this, so they believed heresy as truth.
Various teachings of the Church in history are just plain wrong...
- Evil is merely the absence of good
- Christians are to follow corrupt, unholy, heretical bishops
- Marriage is only for the purpose of raising children
- Marriage must be performed in a public ceremony
- Natural law,Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophical systems
- Sola Scriptura,Sola Fide
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches both claim to have a historical continuity from the early days of the Church; and so they do. However, in looking at the fruit of this slow development, we see that these foundational teachings are not essential or healthy for Christianity. Here they are...
- Sacrament of Holy Orders in which the act of ordaining grants spiritual powers. As a result, scoundrels became bishops; the office of bishop became a political office of aristocrats (while the people languished)
- Bishops are infallible (yet Catholic teaching is rife with errors and inconsistencies)
- Faith is passed-on via bishops (yet many taught error)
- Papacy (Catholic)
- Strong, central hierarchy (Catholic and Orthodox Churches seem more like secular nations than fellowships of believers)
- Church is political
- Church rules over Christians (who must obey)
- Clergy vs. laity
- Emphasis on sacraments, rites, rituals, "canned" prayers
- Great schism of 1054 A.D. indicates that Church is no longer united and that, therefore, these aspects are not of Christ
- Eventually, this all leads to high-ranking Cardinals overseeing torture sessions and burning at the stake people who would today be accepted as Christians
In general, these trends all started developing rather early (before the Nicene Creed and the canon of scripture) and with each passing generation they dominated more and more of Church life. The early great saints such as Cyprian and Augustine were already steeped in these views. In modern Catholic teaching, for example, these topics dominate all others. I think they are artifacts of Roman rule; in spreading the faith, the Church wished to compete in the secular sphere and, as a result, itself became secular.
If it wasn't for these, I would be Catholic. But because of the wrong-headedness and obvious error in all this, I instead must reject Catholic claims.
In rejecting Catholic abuses, the Protestant Reformation built itself on another set of false teachings which are at the core of many denominations even today. In fact, there is no Church movement yet to break free from these (except for liberal Christianity which I utterly reject).
- Church is political (many modern denominations, to their credit, have rejected this)
- False doctrines (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Bema seat judgment, sins merely covered)
- The state to rule the Church (this was key for the Protestant Reformers but has largely faded away)
- Church control of members (some more, some less)
- Hatred of Catholicism (generally, the more orthodox the teaching, the more they hate Catholicism)
I do not wish to discuss this topic much since I have already done so at great length.Instead I will briefly present my views of how the Church should be organized.
- The purpose of ordination is to recognize leaders who are orthodox and qualified; to validate their ministry; to recognize that they are doing God's work
- Local churches to choose their leaders (or at least ratify the choice)
- Leadership is essential; a "must have" (without leadership you have anarchy; home churches claiming to not have leaders actually do have leaders)
- Leaders to have close interaction with their congregations (no archbishops, patriarchs, or popes; councils and committees are ok as long as they don't impose rule from on high)
- Allow for various "flavors" of Churches (even the Catholic Church unwittingly does this — it simply can't be prevented)
- Accepting of all truly Christian communities as fellow Churches
- Can have large national or international organizations (such as denominations, associations, etc.)