Monday, June 20, 2011

There Are Only Two Churches- 1 Nephi 14

I had an interesting conversation with my number one son about the formation of the “great and abominable” church this weekend.  He boldly stated that it was “Christianity”.  I guess after taking into consideration the information provided by Stephen E. Robinson, from my last post, my belief that “he is one smart cookie” was reinforced. I, however, would add more to his definition by calling it “Historic Christianity”.

About the same time, another friend shared a definition he found from one of my favorite authors, Denver Snuffer, for the term “abomination”.  Snuffer explains that “iniquity” is general evil practice, but an “abomination” involves the religious justification of wrongdoing.  My friend’s response was merely, “Interesting!” I responded with a resounding...."Interesting!"

So what exactly  is a definition of Historic Christianity?

Perhaps one of the easiest, “in a nutshell”, explanations of “Historic Christianity” to be found is one given by Snuffer. Taken from his Blog, it is as follows:

Christianity became diverse quite early on.  Almost immediately after the closing of the New Testament, the diversity began to metastasize.

There were those who viewed Christ as a normal man, who had been "adopted" by the Father at the time of His baptism.  These were called "Adoptionists."

There were those who believed that Christ was just a normal man, but that He had a divine spirit inhabit Him temporarily from the time of His baptism until the time of His crucifixion, at which time the divine spirit left.  It was incomprehensible to them that God would suffer and die.  Therefore, they developed a theory in which He did not.

There were those who believed that Christ was a transcendent spirit, and never corporeal as other men were.  They believed that He manifested Himself as if he were a mortal, but never truly was mortal.  They did not believe it possible for God to become incarnate.

There were those who believed that Christ taught a secret Gospel to His insiders, and that the public teachings were misleading. It was the private "gnosis" that would save you.

There were those who believed that Christ was a separate and distinct being from God the Father, and that the result was that there were two gods and not one.

There were those who argued that if they were separate then it violated the idea of "monotheism" and therefore, God the Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost had to be one, single person.  However incomprehensible that may be, there was only one being, manifesting itself in three forms.

There were those who believed priesthood authority was immutable, and once conferred it could not be lost no matter what the conduct of the person ordained.  That is, authority was not dependent at all upon righteous behavior, and even a thoroughly wicked man, once ordained, held priesthood authority no matter what he did.

There were those who believed that priesthood authority was entirely dependent upon faithful living, and that a failure to live according to God's will terminated the authority of that man.  This movement was named after a North African priest named Arius who remained devoted during the persecutions and was blinded and crippled by those who were seeking to destroy the Christian faith.

Well, by 324 AD the whole thing had become riddled with controversies and sects.  Therefore, when King Constantine, who had battled his way into sole ownership of the Roman Emperor's seat, determined to adopt a state religion (he chose Christianity as that state religion) he presumed he was taking a harmonious, consistent faith.  Upon learning that there were strong internal Christian disputes, some of which led to violence between professors of the various beliefs, he decided that he needed to put down the disputations.
In a fit of practicality, King Constantine convened the great council at Nicea, and summoned all the Bishops of Christianity to a single gathering.  At the gathering he demanded they come to an agreement on what the Christian faith believed.  He could not tolerate disputes leading to violence in the newly adopted Roman state religion.

This council at Nicea was the first attempt at correlation.  The result had little to do with the truth.  It had to do with peace for the Roman state.  Constantine himself did not believe in the doctrine. He believed in the effectiveness of the faith as a basis for political power, domestic security and ease of ruling a diverse population scattered about on three continents.  When the results were achieved, he then exiled the handful of dissenters and 'voila, Historic Christianity began.  That Historic Christianity remained correlated and of a singular view until the split between Constantinople and Rome at about 1000 AD.  It became further uncorrelated in the 1500's with Martin Luther.

Once you start letting doctrinal disputes develop you wind up with a split empire, and internal loss of government. The original effort was imposed at the tip of a sword.  When there were dissenters, they were exiled, or eventually made "heretic." When the final step was taken, and the intellectual buttress supplied by Bishop Ambrose's arguments, it at last became possible for "heresy" or "heretics" to be snubbed out by murder.  The persecuted became the persecutors. They were justified by the change, having a correlated promise that the faith ratified the reasons that allowed you to persecute, torture and kill those who strayed from the "one true, Catholic faith."  After all, if you could reclaim them merely by torture of the body, how much better than allowing them to lapse into eternal torment by being consigned to hell.  An endless "Hell" also being an invention of the Historic Christian faith.  So it was really good to do that burning, racking, thumb-dislocating, flaying, stuff after all.  All in a day's work to convert the wayward soul back to Christ.

I find it quite interesting that as  members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter –day Saints we are continually accused as not being “Christian”.  The accusations lie in the fact that we do not conform to the liturgy of Historic Christianity which was formed by such documents as the Nicene Creed. We do however claim to be a restoration of Primitive Christianity, denouncing the “philosophies of men mingled with scripture”, while laying claim to following the original teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the scriptures.

With this in mind view the information  the angel told Nephi during his dream:

1 Nephi 14:10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

I know, this teaching is far from being “politically correct” but correct it is none the less. 

Notice how Joseph Smith was taught this same concept:  

Joseph Smith History 1:18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

 19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

 20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.

So, by in large,  if we as Latter-day Saints, or more commonly known as "Mormons", are accused of being different, or not part of main stream Historic Christianity, in my opinion, that would be a good thing.  The distinction has already been made. 


Jessica and Christian Briggs said...

Loved it!

Anonymous said...

that was marvelous Diana!!! Thanks so much <3 Lisa