04 Aug 2017
August 4, 2017
No Church Buildings Built During 1st Three Centuries Because God Calls Christians to Build 24/7 Church Communities, NOT Rarely Used Church Buildings (2 of 25)
Have you ever wondered about why no archeologist ever unearthed a church building prior to the 4th century?
Some say it’s because the church was being persecuted and this prevented Christians from building church buildings. But history reveals the gospel was preached in many countries and in some of those regions there was no persecution.
Googling for “oldest church building” provides a lot of archeological expertise, but the experts agree, prior to 300 A.D. no dedicated church buildings have been unearthed in the middle east, the area where Christianity was birthed.
However, I remember a documentary from years ago, in which conclusive evidence was provided for the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas in India. He was one of the original 12 Apostles (the one famous for his doubts). I figured that since the Catholic Church made him a saint and claimed him as one of their own, he would have had a different mind-set then the other Apostles and probably built a church or two.
It turns out, Thomas built seven church buildings in India, beginning in 52 A.D. However, this was the exception in early Christianity, not the rule, and has more to do with Catholicism’s desire to transform Christ’s Spirit-centered teachings into their religion with all the outer pomp for outshining the competition.
Understanding why early Christians chose not to erect buildings dedicated specifically to church services requires a clarification of the word “church”.
I usually use the more specific term “church building” when I’m referring to churches. That’s because people tend to use the word “church” when referring to church buildings but a church is NOT the building, it is God’s people gathered together in one place. Believers gathered in a field are still the church. The building houses the church, but it is not the church.
The word “church” in Greek (the language of our most ancient bibles) is “ekklesia” and means “a gathering” of those “called out”. But “called out” and “gathered” in what way? Gathered into a church building for a one-hour worship service each week? Is this consistent with the historical church of the first three centuries of Christianity?
The question modern Christians should be asking is, “Can we be a functioning church, as in ‘the body of Christ, which is the church’ (Colossians 1:24), if everyone is scattered to the four winds for all but a few hours, one or two days a week?” In other words, we are the arms, legs, hands and ears of Christ’s body, and if we’re scattered to the four winds 98% of our time, how can we claim to be a healthy, functioning body of Christ?
The answer is obvious, we’re NOT! And this is at the heart of religion’s inherent hypocrisy: we claim to be a community but we rarely interact with all but a few others, and then for very limited time periods; we claim to be the “Body of Christ” but being scattered geographically makes that impossible; we claim to obey Christ’s call to “Love one another as I have loved you” and yet we fail to follow Christ’s example of living and working together as a community.
Read this Biblical passage for a clearer understanding of what it means to be “The body of Christ, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24): “Speaking the truth in love, [that you] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body, to the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Historical records verify that early Christians didn’t erect separate buildings for church services but met publicly in one another’s homes. This is also verified by the Bible: “Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (I Cor. 16:19; see also Acts 20:20 Romans 16:5; etc.).
There is a modern movement towards house church meetings that has been going on for decades now. There is also the more recent “emergent church” and “missional church” movements. But in all these attempts at deepening a sense of Christian community I see the same fatal flaw: they refuse to obey Christ’s parable of the wineskins and step outside their religion. Thus, these modern movements to incorporate house church meetings remain either church-centered (Catholic) or bible-centered (Protestant), retaining the religious infrastructure that contradicts Christ’s Spirit-centered teachings.
The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his book “Antiquities of the Jews” referred to “the tribe of Christians”. Primitive tribes always lived together for protection and mutual empowerment.
And Justin Martyr, in his “First Apology”, written about 150 A.D., wrote this about the early Christians (of whom he was one), “We who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavor to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all”.
Justin Martyr reveals that most early Christians built intentional church communities.
The establishment of the second intentional Christian community is recorded in Acts chapter 2. It was a large community, in that 3,000 were added in one day and “All that believed were together and had all things common… continuing daily with one accord”. I’m not advocating that lifestyle, but back then, when most everyone was poor, it was natural for those with much to help those who had almost nothing.
What we Christians fail to realize is that the model of Christianity we have today wasn’t the original model, which almost all Christians practiced for over 300 years. That model was rooted in the Spirit-centered teachings of Jesus Christ. And that model was opposed to religion and the building of wasteful, dedicated church buildings that separate believers geographically.
So, what was the first Christian community? It’s clearly recorded in the Bible and Jesus Christ was its founder. Given that fact, wouldn’t you think every congregation today would acknowledge this truth? But they do not. And the reason for Christianity’s disconnect from this reality, is religion.
Religion prefers to demote its congregation, from equal members in the “Royal priesthood” (the prophesied “Priests of the Lord” in Isaiah 61) to a common and uneducated “Laity”.
Religion thrives on the congregation’s dependence on the clergy, and that clergy prefers to follow Pharisee Paul’s prescription for ecclesiastical leadership, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” (Hebrews 13:17), rather than Christ’s diametrically opposed prescription: “Those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you.” (Mark 10:42-43).
And Christianity, like all religions, is about the use of external religious substitutes: the easy reading of God’s written word in the Bible instead of the time-consuming process of waiting to hear God speak His Spirit Word; the easy one or two hour commitment to go to a local community church building and pretend to be the church for one or two hours every Sunday, instead of making a lifelong commitment to be the church community 24/7.
In other words, if religion makes it easier for the laity to be “spiritual”, the laity will naturally be more submissive. And if the congregation is more submissive, it’s easier for the clergy to control what they think and do.
I think everyone understands the basic human tendency to be proud of one’s education. Where educated people can get in trouble is by allowing their pride to turn into arrogance. Sadly, among theological scholars and the clergy, that is all too often the case. It’s natural for the clergy, who’ve been educated by their respective denominational schools, to believe they have the right doctrines. And they’ve been taught it’s their duty to teach the congregation what they should know about God.
But the New Covenant between God and man says that’s not the way we’re to know God: “I will put My laws [My Word] in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Hebrews 8:10-11).
It is God who is to teach us about God’s nature, God’s purposes, God’s glory and power and life. And this is something every believer can KNOW, something that does not require a human teacher to educate us, because, according to Jesus, “They shall ALL be taught by God.” (John 6:45).
By now you may be wondering why you haven’t heard this before (or you’re imagining I’m crazy!). Well, the answer is simple. These things are spiritually discerned. Everything I’ve told you is supported by both logic and the Bible but is hidden from those who read with a religious mindset. That’s because religion, at its heart, is a means of censoring what our religious leaders don’t want us to believe, censoring ideas that might lead to a spiritual independence from religious teachers.
Christians are led to believe they’re spiritual if they read their Bible, attend church and pray. But if those things are done within the framework of a religious mindset, one learns only a lot of interesting information ABOUT God. Such information, is only a “Copy and shadow of heavenly things”. It’s based almost entirely on the amazing experiences others had, that were recorded in the Bible. But Christians need to experience those “Heavenly things” for themselves. They need to spend time alone with God. They need to set aside daily meditative time to listen, to hear God’s “Still, small voice”, so they can actually KNOW God, not just be filled with a lot of interesting information ABOUT God!
An outsider, looking at a church as a community of the faithful, might conclude that Christianity unites people. But in reality, it’s all an appearance-based facade. Religion divides one denomination from another and the community exists for only a few brief hours a week. Christianity also prevents its adherents from uniting with those who have spiritual discernment, who’ve seen through religion’s hypocrisy and left behind religion, by sowing in every believer’s heart the fear of being compromised.
For instance, religious Christians I’d known, who had no problem fellowshipping with non-Christians every Sunday, refused to fellowship with me, simply because I didn’t believe Jesus is God. Most wouldn’t even consider listening to my arguments based on Christ’s own words. And those who did debate, lacked spiritual discernment, being unable to accept the plain meaning of Christ’s words, inserting instead the illogical doctrinal interpretation of the Trinity, which they were taught from childhood, and which they refused to abandon lest they be ostracized, shunned or excommunicated.
When Jesus spoke about His relationship with His Heavenly Father, He made statements like: “My [Heavenly] Father is greater than I” (John 14:28); “But of that day and hour [of Christ’s second coming] no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32); and “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelations 1:11). Obviously, if Jesus has a beginning and an end (i.e. “The First and the Last”), as “Alpha and Omega”, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet indicates, then Jesus cannot be God!
If there’s ever to be a return to the Christian community example set by Jesus, Christians will have to leave behind this leaven of hypocrisy that is religion and take Jesus at His word!
For approximately 20 years, regardless of where I lived, I would join a local congregation, and attend both Bible studies and church worship services. But my passionate desire for truth was not widely shared by the Christians I fellowshipped with. And none of those few who were passionate about the truth, were brave enough to break free. The common response among those who disagreed with the preacher’s views or their denomination’s doctrines, was simply, “It doesn’t matter to me; all my friends and family are here.”
That is the reality. Christians cling to their traditions and care more about the social connections they’ve established, then they care about truth.
But if one’s church is built on a religious foundation that incorporates a secular lifestyle model, a model incompatible with Christ’s over-the-top love expressed in His establishment of the first Christian community, have we not denied Christ? And if one’s church denies Christ’s most important Spirit-centered teachings (which I’ve identified as, “Christ’s 9 Principles of Spiritual Independence, Equality and Individual Empowerment”), is that not also denying Christ? Any why shouldn’t every Christian strive to create what is best, a Christian community lifestyle in which every member is truly joined together day in and day out?
The Bible says we must “Lay aside hypocrisy”, along with “All malice, all deceit… envy and all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1). To not do so means being overcome by the consuming leaven of hypocrisy; it means falling into a spiritual slumber from which some never awake.
If you doubt that, listen to these words in Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire it promoted itself as the only true church, teaching that any doctrines not approved by the Catholic church were false doctrines. This is how man does things. They impose their ideas, they forbid reading other’s ideas, they penalize those who disobey their edicts and they seek more and more power to eliminate all competition. But religion’s easy external substitutes for the spiritual work God requires of us and the authoritarian rule of Christianity’s ecclesiastical leaders over a submissive laity, has been the source of Christianity’s endless divisions for over 2000 years.
When Christians get serious and embark on a path of sacrificial love through intentional church community; when Christians seek to hear God’s inner voice speak the living Word through Christ-centered meditation, the result is always the same: an amazing unity of mind and spirit.
I hope I’m being really clear about the primary source of all our divisions: it is religion.
The Bible frames the idea of Christians being divided one from another in a slightly different way: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
The “letter”, the written word of God (i.e. the Bible), although “Given by inspiration of God” as we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, is “For doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All of which is necessary of course.
But those Biblical instructions are EXTERNAL things, they are about how we live and what we do. There is NO Spirit and Life in those instructions, those corrections, those reproofs or the doctrines we live by. That Spirit and Life comes from God, NOT the Bible, not our Bible teachers, and certainly not our doctrines.
The greatest error of religion and the source of its innate hypocrisy, is that in all those studies to learn ABOUT God and how we should relate to others, the religious person is made to believe those studies and understandings have helped them KNOW God. They have not!
To KNOW God requires one to spend time with God, not the Bible, not other believers, just you and God. You must come before God in humility, with an openness to hearing something you did not know before, and with Faith. For when one is seeking God’s Presence, one must believe that God will speak, that you will hear, and that you are capable of doing whatever God asks of you!
Of course, there are many evangelicals who do hear God’s voice. But paradoxically, because they’re taught not to equate the words they receive as being “God’s Word”, as important as any scripture (important because God spoke directly to them, ergo it was the Word of God), the words they receive cannot impact them as much as they should.
And of course, God also speaks through impressions, such as a quickening of one’s spirit, or a sense of foreboding about a person, place or direction of travel. This is also God speaking, just without words. But this too should be of more importance to the believer than scripture, FOR WHEN GOD SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO US, IT IS THE WORD OF GOD… PERIOD!
But as mentioned, when people think less of what they receive directly from God (because Christianity makes every believer totally dependent on the Bible as the only word of God), then there is more likelihood a believer will doubt the words they do receive from God, change their mind when circumstances change, or forget what was originally revealed.
More importantly, this self-doubt about the importance of what God tells you is central to religion’s control over man.
For instance, I cannot tell you how many times God led me to people and vice versa, whereby God’s Spirit impressed upon us both the importance of working together. But each and every time, their religious affiliation, their doctrinal brainwashing would intervene. And rather than follow what they initially believed was God’s leading, they reverted to listening to their inner religious voice, a voice strengthened by endless sermons about the dangers of wavering from one’s religion.
If this happened once or twice I would probably chalk it up to circumstance, but this happened many, many times over the years, revealing a pattern of denial that can only be explained by that inner voice of religion outweighing the importance of God’s voice. This really gets to the heart of what “Spiritual discernment” means. And it brings to mind this scripture in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The Christians I mentioned in the previous paragraph were all born-again Christians, so they weren’t quite as bad off as the “Natural man”, unable to receive the things of the Spirit. Things in life are not usually that black and white. But the “Nor can he KNOW them” part does apply, because their spiritual discernment was weak at best, and certainly unable to overcome those religious voices.
The kind of KNOWING I’m talking about here is absolute. It’s a KNOWING that comes when one prefers to spend more time with God than the Bible. It pushes aside every doubt that arises. And it never allows religious voices to drown out the voice of God! So, in truth, all those people God tried to get to join me and this ministry, they shut themselves out of God’s kingdom; they cast aside the great joy of following God’s will into Christian community. For like the Pharisees and scribes, they allowed religion to “Shut up the kingdom of heaven against men”. It was religion that prevented them from going in, from experiencing the heavenly rewards which await all obedient believers.
If the Bible is our FOCUS, and we do not understand the difference between the written word of God (the word about THE Word) and the living Spirit Word of God; if we do not set time aside to be alone with God, to meditate long enough to sense God’s Presence and Power; if our times of meditation are short and sporadic, then all we have is religion and endless divisions. Such a “letter” mindset will surely kill the Spirit, preventing us from entering God’s kingdom within, from standing in God’s Presence, from entering the Life of God’s Spirit Word river, and from hearing God’s voice.
Christianity, like all religions, has its “Holy” Book; its hierarchy of “spiritual” leaders (who get their knowledge of spiritual things from the Book); its “sacred” gathering places (its church buildings); and its God-like original founder who is worshipped. Christianity’s religious mindset revolves around the schools that create the theology teachers, those who read and interpret the scriptures, who then teaches them to student clergymen, who in turn are ordained (approved) to teach the laity. By this institutional process denominational divisions are born and solidified through repetition.
But this differs radically from what Jesus taught. He didn’t tell us to READ God’s word, Jesus told us to “HEAR God’s Word and do it” (Luke 8:21). He didn’t tell us to go to divinity school or Bible college and get ordained by a denomination, Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would “Guide you into ALL truth” (John 16:13) and then He said, “They shall ALL be taught by God” (John 6:45).
My research and experience tell me this: all denominational divisions arise from man’s dependence on the Bible as the only source of truth. Tolerance is a product of humility and God’s Spirit
However, having lived in Christian community, I can attest to seeing miracles of unity happen. Even those with strongly held positions came to a place of unity by God’s Spirit, for in Christian community God’s Presence is magnified exponentially, increasing the potential for unity.
Religion on the other hand, created a religious mind-set. It started with the Catholics but continued with the Protestants. The Reformation really didn’t reform Christianity, it just gave it a new veneer, less pomp and ceremony for sure, but the same old religious traditions: Jesus-is-still-God; the congregation remains divided into clergy-laity; there are no new Words from God because it’s all in the Bible; when anyone hears God’s speak, that’s a nice “Word of knowledge” but it’s not the Word of God; the symbolism of the earthquakes destruction of the Temple veil at Christ’s death, which signified an end to ecclesiastical rule and equality before God as Priests of the Lord is made null and void by the clergy’s continual rule over a submissive laity; and the Protestants continued to ignore the two most important tools in a believer’s spiritual arsenal, Christian community and Christ-centered meditation.
But how could it be otherwise. Both religion-oriented movements were started and run by theologians, those with the power of education and a public bully pulpit. Their only real difference? Catholicism’s focus was on the external church, while the Protestants focus was on the external Bible.
Jesus, on the other hand, always focused on our inner spiritual life, on God’s Spirit and hearing God’s voice.
Make no mistake about this, Christianity’s religion and appearance-based mindset allowed the institution to unite with the secular powers of the State, both legally and militarily, so they could maintain dominance over every other religion, and over every Spirit-centered Christian movement. All the Christian leaders had to do was identify those who opposed them. The State considered anyone who opposed their State-sanctioned religion guilty of Sedition (because church and state were now united), and Sedition was a crime punishable by death. In this way, Christianity could continue to deny the blood on their hands. But God is not fooled, and neither should you be.
Getting back to the first Christian community, the Bible reveals that Christ’s first act of ministry was to gather together 12 male disciples. His requirement for them was simple yet profoundly difficult: they had to leave everything and follow Him. According to the Biblical descriptions, we know they left homes, friends and family and refused invitations to family funerals.
Soon after the first 12, other disciples joined, both male and female. We also know from the Bible’s record that these disciples of Christ regularly traveled together, broke bread together, ministered together, fished and made tents as the need arose. But, the really definitive proof they were an intentional community, was the fact they shared a common purse: “[Judas] was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NRS).
This first Christian church community was a far closer-knit community then what Christians hypocritically refer to as, “community” today (as in “community church”, where the community is already established before the church; rather than “Church community”, where the church is established first, and then the church builds their community).
When believers live geographically separate lives because they each own property in different secular communities, and then they get together for a few hours a week, they are NOT a Christian community! Their lifestyle is no different from anyone living in traditional secular communities.
It amazes me that Christians can’t see the Biblical evidence for Jesus having established the first Christian community of faithful followers.
But this reveals the extent to which Christians have willingly given up their critical thinking and just accepted what the clergy tells them! You see, it’s not in the interest of the clergy to promote the building of an intentional faith-based community. The traditional Christian ministry model is based on few demands of their congregation and the pastor encourages individuals to enjoy the same lifestyle enjoyed by secular society, living apart from others in total privacy. And that Christian ministry model is also dependent on begging others for help, both financial and ministerial help.
The clergy pleads for the laity to attend their community church’s worship services and Bible studies regularly, then begs them for their offerings, the money they need for building maintenance, missions’ outreach, youth programs, marriage counseling ministry, or whatever programs they’ve created.
But the model Jesus established was the building of a 24/7 church community, a permanent gathering of disciples who willing sacrificed their former lives and worked with their hands to supply the needs of the new community, which was dedicated to ministry (a traveling ministry in Christ’s case).
However, somewhere in the early days of Christianity, a group of religious men decided to create our present model of a secular lifestyle and ministerial begging. To me it seems pretty obvious, those religious leaders misunderstood the passage in first Timothy about money being the root of evil. The scripture doesn’t say money is the root of evil. Rather, it says, “The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Unfortunately, we have no detailed description of the early Christians daily lives or how they financed everything, but there are modern day examples which reveal a better way than begging for charitable giving.
In the 1980’s I came across an article about a black Baptist church in Georgia. This church was started by former slaves just after the civil war. They started with nothing, and, unfortunately, continued to struggle with financial support for over 100 years. Something like 85% of the congregation was on welfare and despite a century of prayer for an abundant prosperity that alluded them, nothing changed the deep poverty of most congregation members.
But then their Pastor got a word from God. They should stop trying to help the world with mission money until after they overcame their own poverty. So, all the congregation’s offerings and mission money was set aside until they gathered enough seed money to start their own church run business. The church business prospered, then the pastor suggested they use some of their profits to help church members with good business ideas start their own businesses.
Now, I don’t remember the exact statistics, whether it took 10 or 20 years, but that Baptist church reversed the 85% poor to 15% middleclass stat, so that now only about 15% of their congregation remained poor. There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the side benefits of working a church business together is more time spent together. They became a closer-knit community and moved closer to the ideal of living intentionally as a permanent church community.
Of course, the financial benefits of living in a Christian community were even more important in ancient times. They allowed very poor people to pool their resources. And they could get more done than they could accomplish on their own as individuals, due to their very limited means. As everyone knows, “Many hands make light work”. Members of any Christian community are thus given the opportunity to liberate a few hours a week for their own spiritual pursuits, a luxury the rich always have, but the middle class and poor almost never do.
Although Christian community is extremely rare in this modern day and age, throughout history there have been many Christian groups who understood Christ’s example of community: the Bogomils, the Waldensians, the Doukabors, the Quakers, the Mennonites, the Hutterites, Anabaptists, the Amish and many, many more. By studying the history of Christianity, we learn that both Catholics and Protestants were agreed on one point: they both considered those Christians who lived in community to be heretics. And both religions murdered them routinely, burning them at the stake mostly. But some were hung, some drowned and some tortured to death! This should tell you all you need to know about who was in possession of the truth and the Spirit of Christ. Religion is at heart anti-Christ.
And contrary to popular opinion, most such Christian communities were not “cults”! They were simply dedicated followers of Christ who desired to fully live out Christ’s commandment: “This is my COMMANDMENT, that you love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” (John 15:12).
Through daily interaction of Church community members, group cohesiveness is increased, and love abounds, but the greatest benefit of all is the intangible spiritual unity that results. Which is why David wrote in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”
This scripture begs the question: if we believe those words of David, that dwelling together with brothers and sisters in Christ is “good” and “pleasant”, that it leads to greater “unity”, and Jesus Christ set the example in establishing the world’s first Christian church community, why are such intentional Christian communities so rare? The simple answer is religion.
We Christians need to break the bonds of religion in both word and deed.
Religion’s hold is broken in word: by a return to Christ’s original anti-religion, Spirit-centered message, which we accomplish through our understanding of the necessity and daily discipline of Christ-centered meditation.
Religion’s hold is broken in deed: by following Christ’s example of a change in lifestyle, by actively working towards the establishment of a permanent 24/7 church community.
Once we’ve remove ourselves from this world’s frenetic pace, its bondage will be broken. And that in turn enables us to liberate our time, SO WE CAN HEAR THE VOICE OF GOD AS NEVER BEFORE!
The reality right now is that nearly the entire population of Christendom has never experienced the immense joy or individual empowerment of Christian community. And that lack of experience falls squarely on the shoulders of the clergy. It’s not part of their training for sure. And the religious structure they’ve unwittingly help propagate is already set in stone.
But Jesus anticipated man’s desire for religion. And Jesus knew such a structure would work like leaven to consume all the sweetness of living according to God’s commands. So, Jesus gave us the parable of the wineskins, to help us understand our church community structure should be a flexible one, able to contain the fermenting power of new wine (the symbol of God’s Holy Spirit delivered Spirit Word): “No one puts… new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17).
As mentioned previously, religion is about control. Those who established the institution of Christianity desired rigid structures to give more control. To that end the founders of Christianity instituted the following:
They instituted a religious hierarchy of clergymen. This idea of an ecclesiastical hierarchy originated with Paul, who admitted being a religious Pharisee (Paul bragged to the Roman authorities, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” – Acts 23:6). And the idea of a male-only clergy was pushed by Paul for two reasons: he was a life-long bachelor who could never understand women; and his need for a controlling ecclesiastical hierarchy forced mere lip service to Christ’s teachings on the elimination of the Master-Servant religious model. When this understanding is combined with God’s tearing the Temple veil in two, which clearly indicated our equality before God as male and female Priests of the Lord and the elimination of the top down religious leadership model, we realize the old model stayed in place only because of the weakness of men, who desire the control of a religious structure. These ideas are reinforced by the actions of Jesus, who railed against religion and excoriated the religious leaders of Judaism – the Sadducees, the scriptural legal authorities called Lawyers, the Scribes and the Pharisees – calling them all vipers, hypocrites and various other unflattering names.
They instituted doctrines that favored obedience to the clergy and their absolute authority to decide which doctrines defined who was a Christian and who was not. This led to Paul’s ability to declare those who were caught in sexual sin as non-Christian, excommunicate them from the community, and then pray that Satan would consume their flesh! These actions are not reflective of the example set by Jesus Christ, who simply told a woman adulterer, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus never did, nor would He ever, pray to turn anyone over to Satan!
They changed scriptures by adding and taking away words and phrases that could be interpreted in a way contrary to their doctrines. I’ll talk more about the details of those changes in another article. But the change I want to focus on here is their changing the meaning of Christ’s sheep metaphor, which change further empowered their control over the laity.