The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part I… (Repost)

One of the most common historical objections against the Catholic Church goes something like:

“The Catholic Church was founded by the Emperor Constantine forcing the early church to fall away from preaching the simple gospel and into the arms of pagan rituals and traditions like worshiping of idols”.

Historians have repudiated this old canard over and over, but it still manages to make its way into the lips of anti-Catholics who used it as a blunt instrument against the Catholic Church. However, the witness of history firmly disabused many accusations made to discredit the historical and doctrinal claims made by the Catholic Church. As Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, wrote in his conversion story to the Catholic Church:

“To be deep into history is to cease to be protestant.”

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

He wrote these words after a long journey, which he first started as a quest to disprove the historical claims of the Catholic Church in favor of those made by the Church of England.

Today many claim that the simple gospel of Christ was lost in early Christianity and the church that Christ founded fall into apostasy. The problem with such statement is that it is simply false. This is the main point that historian Rod Bennett makes in his new book: “The Apostasy That Wasn’t: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church”. In it the author traces the events that led to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D and the tumultuous time that ensued it.

the-apostasy

The Apostasy That Wasn’t is a truly riveting story of the heroic early Christian church that defended Christianity against the threats of heresy, schism and court intrigue. It shines a bright light on the unbroken continuity of church teachings and the heroes that defended it.

The “Ghetto Church” and Martyrs

The book highlights the growth of Christianity post-apostolic times and the role that the Jewish diaspora and God fearing people (gentiles that became acquainted and adopted many, if not all elements of the Jewish religion) played in fueling the growth of the early Christian church.

The author does not shy away from what he calls the “ghetto church” which grew at a time of relative peace and acceptance of Christianity that occurred after the major early persecutions of Roman authorities against Christian and prior to the Diocletian persecution of the early 300’s. The “ghetto church” slowly grew out as Christians became indifferent about their faith as evident by the number of scandalous behaviors committed not only by the laity but also by the clergy. The moral state of many churches is very well documented by a number of synods convened by bishops to address their scandalous behavior.

trap-door-into-the-Colosseum

The shallowness of some Christians became self-evident when the Diocletian persecution started in full force. Whole parishes renounce their Christian faith as soon as the persecution was in full swing. One cannot help but to think of today’s stagnant Christians, those who are neither warm nor cold, but just going along with the culture. What would be on them if faced with such persecution? However, this only had the effect to prune the flock. Many more Christians remained faithful. As the author points out soon after the persecution started many in the Empire knew of a Christian who was either tortured or killed by the pagan authorities. Some years later Emperor Constantine witnessed with his own eyes the cruelty committed by his predecessor when he called the Council of Nicaea:

“At this period many individuals were richly endowed with gifts; and many, like the holy apostle, bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. James, bishop of Antioch, a city of Mygdonia, which is called Nisibis by the Syrians and Assyrians, raised the dead and restored them to life, and performed many other wonders which it would be superfluous to mention again in detail in this history, as I have already given an account of them in my work, entitled Philotheus. Paul, bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, a fortress situated on the banks of the Euphrates, had suffered from the frantic rage of Licinius. He had been deprived of the use of both hands by the application of a red-hot iron, by which the nerves which give motion to the muscles had been contracted and rendered dead. Some had had the right eye dug out, others had lost the right arm. Among these was Paphnutius of Egypt. In short, the Council looked like an assembled army of martyrs”.

Theodoret
Ecclesiastical History, Chapter 6

Such witness not bore in words, but with their own body cannot only move mountains, but also tear a pagan heart and replace them with a human heart…

St. Athanasius the “black dwarf” and the Dessert Fathers 

Rod Bennett continuously hits high marks in his narrative approach to the story by allowing history to speak for itself. He accomplished this by extensively quoting contemporary sources, such documents from the council or from historians that were fairly close to the events.

One figure that comes to life through the witness of contemporary historians is St. Athanasius of Alexandria a “short and dark priest from Alexandria. He was the assistant to the Bishop of Alexandria named Alexander during the Council of Nicaea and as his successor, he heroically defended orthodoxy in the tumultuous times that followed the council.

St. Athanasius was one of the ascetics from the dessert. A humble Christian community of hermits who renounced all wordily good in favor of a devout life dedicated to prayer, self denial and fasting. It is from this community that emerge the early prototype of monastic life that later would have not only change Europe, but save civilization from the dark ages of the Barbarians that occurred after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. It was this saintly community who adopted St. Athanasius as a young child in order to provide him a safe haven from the full blunt of the Roman persecution.

336

History tells us that this community was founded by young and rich Christian Roman, named Anthony of Coma, who, after hearing a sermon decided to give up everything to the poor and devoted himself to a secluded and ascetic life of prayer in the dessert. Not long after, many others joined him and formed a community known today as the desert fathers. Many miracles and conversion were attributed to the desert fathers:

“Many sufferers in body who where present did the Lord heal by [Anthony’s hand]; and other he purged from demons….And certainly Anthony did not heal by his own authority, but by praying and calling on Christ; so that it was plain to all that was not he who did it, but the Lord, who through Anthony showed love to men, and healed the sufferers”.

Life of Anthony
Athanasius

(Quoted from The Apostasy that Wasn’t)

This was the community that received young Athanasius and instructed him in the fullness of the gospel of Christ with humility and obedience. His brilliant clarity and orthodoxy were evident in a treaty that he published early in his career titled: “On the Incarnation”. Today it is universally viewed as a theological masterpiece. C.S. Lewis the great 20th Christian apologist wrote:

Link to “On the Incarnation”:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2802.htm

“When I first opened De Incarnatione [On the Incarnation] I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece, for only a master mind could have written so deeply on such a subject with such classical simplicity.”

C.S. Lewis

On the Incarnation” gives us yet another window of what Christians believed in the early fourth century. Its clarity and simplicity reflects greatly the integrity of the teachings of the Christian church in the early centuries of Christianity. One key component of the doctrine of the incarnation is the fact that God was made flesh. That is: Jesus was truly man and truly God. In that way as Christ hung from the Cross so did death and corruption, ultimately meeting their demise in the Resurrection:

“The death of all was consummated in the Lord’s body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished.”

St. Anthanasious
On the Incarnation

It was this young priest who wasn’t even old enough to vote at the council that stood up with clarity and conviction along with the council fathers against those who denied the divinity of Christ.

 To be continued…

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3 thoughts on “The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part I… (Repost)”

  1. Regardless of what any Person claims to the contrary Caleb, the evidence of your Churches disobedience to God’s guidelines recorded in Scripture is confirmed in them.

    I have shared with you already some of the error your Leadership propagate and just because you don’t want to believe your Church is in error does not make it so when it is confirmed in Scripture they are indeed in error.

    Does this mean that all those who Worship in a Roman Catholic Church do not Love God or seek to serve Him, of course not! you yourself Caleb are very much a Loving Man and no doubt are seeking to be Loyal to our Lord in word and deed but if you practice your Churches Pagan ritual’s that dishonour Him, you will walk in darkness, meaning you will not walk in His Freedom.

    I Love you in Christ Jesus Caleb and always will the same as my other Christian friends that belong to your Church and I Pray for you and for them, that their eyes will be opened to God’s Truth by their asking and receiving His Wisdom instead of continuing to just Trust in what Man claims to be True but it will always be their choice and this is the same for you Caleb.

    Christian Love and God’s Blessings Now and Always -Anne.

    1. Dear Annie,

      Thank you for the kind words and wishes. I know they come from a deep and loving place in your heart and I do appreciate it.

      As reflected in all our debates, people who held a “Scripture Only” approach only have their own opinion/interpretation as their ultimate authority. However, the Bible disagrees with the unsustainable position. For example what happens when two Christians look at the same passage of the Bible and disagree in its interpretation?

      The Bible is clear that its the Church that decides:

      In Mathew 18:15-17

      15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      Jesus gave us a Church, not a bible to solve these issues. Thus, I follow what Jesus said in the Bible and trust the Church that he founded, not the interpretation of fallible man.

      I feel so sorry that you are missing out on such rich Christian history. The stories told in this book are the stories of the Martyrs, of Christians who were tortured and did not give up their faith. There story is your story, because they are the Christian that pass on those tradition that you hold dear…these are the Christian whose witness gave us the Bible and defended the Divinity of Christ against heresy from within the Christian community.

      _________________

      I hope all is well! Keep my in your prayers!

      Cheers,

      Caleb

      1. To say Caleb that Scripture is not important for our Spiritual Maturity is very wrong, it is how we know and understand God’s Truth and His Good Will for us as He confirms below……

        2 Timothy 3: 16-17 All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God and is profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness. That the Man of God may be Perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all Good Works.K.J.V

        Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the Principal Thing; therefore get Wisdom: and with all thy getting get Understanding

        Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evi, know how to give good gifts unto your Children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

        1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my Preaching was not with enticing words of Man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of Power: That your Faith should not stand in the wisdom of Men but in the Power of God.

        1 Corinthians 3:18-20 Let no Man deceive himself. If any Man among you seemeth to be wise in this World let him become a fool that he may be Wise. For the wisdom of this World is foolishness with God. For it is written; He taketh the wise in their own craftiness and again; The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain.

        2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this the Testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and Godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God we have had our conversation in the World and more abundantly to you-ward.

        Yes Caleb we also need to Ask for God’s Wisdom which none of us were Born with and His Empowering by The Holy Spirit or we will not understand, His Truth it will be foolishness to us (see below) and instead we will accept Carnal Man’s understanding including some of those who are in leadership in the Churches and we will follow their made up rules and not follow God’s Guidelines which are always for our good.

        1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the Heart of Man the things which God hath prepared for them that Love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things yea the deep things of God. For what Man knoweth the things of a Man, save the spirit of Man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no Man but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the World but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which Man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost Teacheth, comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. But the Natural Man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them because they are Spiritually discerned. But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the Mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? but we have the Mind of Christ.

        You can be sure Caleb that I do not accept anything that is claimed to be of God regardless of who propagates it unless it is confirmed as His Truth in Scripture and I don’t depend on my own or others interpretation of it but through the Empowering of The Holy Spirit Jesus our only Spiritual Teacher leads me into all Truth and this has been confirmed many times but yes I’m still learning and there were times when I Trusted in Mans and not in God’s Truth.

        Matthew23:8-10 But you do not be called ‘Rabbi for One is your Teacher The Christ and you are all Brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your Father for One is your Father He who is in Heaven. And do not be called Teachers for One is your Teacher The Christ. NKJV

        Psalm 32:8 I will Instruct you and Teach you in the way you shall go.I will guide you with Mine eye.

        Colossians 2 :2 -3 That their Hearts might be comforted being knit together in Love and unto all Riches of the full Assurance of Understanding to the Acknowledgement of the Mystery of God and of the Father, and of Christ in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge.

        1John 5:20 And we know that The Son of God is come and hath given us an Understanding, that we may know Him that is True and we are in Him that is True even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God, and Eternal life.

        John 15:14-15 Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I Command you. Henceforth I call you not servants for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth but I have called you Friends for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.(KJV)

        Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore for there is nothing covered that shall not be Revealed and hid that shall not be Known. What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in Light and what ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV)

        I also don’t doubt Caleb that God gave me His Wisdom when I asked for it because if I did I would be calling God a Liar and I would be unstable and there would be no point in me asking for anything from Him because I would also doubt He had given it to me as confirmed below.

        1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any Man Teach you but as the same Anointing Teacheth you of all things and is Truth and is no lie and even as it hath Taught you ye shall abide in Him.

        James 1:5-6 If any of you lack Wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all Men liberally, and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. But let him ask in Faith nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that Man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded Man is unstable in all his ways.

        God’s Blessings Caleb Now and Always – Anne (Grannie Annie )

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