When Paganism Crept Into Christianity
By Nathan A. Urshan
I would like to draw your attention to something very important which I feel is outstanding in relationship to the Word of God. First of all, I would like to call your attention to the marvelous history of the New Testament. In the New Testament long before the doctrines that corrupted the early church appeared, the Apostle Paul as is reported by St. Luke in the writing of the Acts of the Apostles, warned the early church of the possibility of such heresies entering the church.
I am reading from Acts 20:27-31. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Now the Apostle Paul was not alone in this concern for what might take place after his departure as an individual and as an instructor in the early church. For if you will read the Epistle of Jude to the New Testament Church, you will find that Jude also warns that there would be strange people entering the fold of fellowship in that new Christian experience and would bring with them damnable doctrines of heresies. Therefore, there was an alert that was sounded trough-out the whole rank of that early church warning that heresies would begin.
A New Revolt in Religion
Concerning this, I would like to point out that we are living in a day of revolution not only in religious circles, but revolution in commerce, society, politics, and in many other areas. There is something behind all these present day upheavals and it is, of course, the nearness of the end of the Lord and on certain tribulations that will come upon the earth. This is the convulsion of our formal world which is soon to pass away, making way for the new heaven and the new earth as promised to us by the Lord Himself.
Since the last part of the first Christian century, the original Apostolic doctrine has been be-clouded by so-called “heretical Christians”. While reformations have brought to life a great deal of Bible truth, yet even our reformers have been afraid to cut loose entirely from the so-called Christian Father’s dogma on the subject of God or the doctrine of the Godhead.
The Prophet Daniel was shown among many other things for these last days, that the revelation of God to His own people would be one of the issues of the time. Therefore, Daniel said, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits: (Daniel 11:32). Jesus Himself, speaking of present day upheavals, declared in Matthew 24:9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Mind you, this persecution would not come for your Godliness; it would not be pressed upon you for your spiritual gifts or your denominational name, but He declares your persecution would be for the sake of His name or “… for my name’s sake.
I would like to point out that the evening time of the primitive Christendom is now at hand. At this evening time, there is shining forth into the loving hearts of the people of the Lord, a great and marvelous revelation and a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit which will culminate in the whole earth receiving the knowledge of the Lord which will finally cover even the mountains. This will usher in the millennium. But, in the midst of these present revolutions, we are concerned about some of the conditions that exist in religious circles.
Today people are celebrating their hero’s achievements and glorying in the work of their hands. On the other hand, the false system of worldly religions are making a very drastic success, boasting of their gain in membership and their high stand in politics. Religion is boasting of their wealth and their influence upon society. Today there are more spiritualists than there ever has been in the history of religion.
While these man-made revivals are on and while a good deal of Protestantism is sadly divided and waning fast, one who loves the Lord and observes these evident facts may ask the question, “What are we to do in such a time?” The answer comes from heaven by the wonderful operation of the Holy Spirit. That answer is, “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). “…hold fast which thou hast…” (Revelation 3:11). Hold fast to what? Well, this is it: Your loyalty to the name of the Lord and to the word of His patience, for the Lord has declared, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me” (Revelation 22:12).
Seek Ye The Lord
Seeking the Lord is the message of the hour. Seeking to know Him, for the people who know their God shall be strong, seeking to proclaim Him and profess Him, for “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32)
We need to seek strength to be able to endure with our love to our Lord unto the very end. For the Bible says, “… he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). But, into the midst of this projected condition, there is this question, Who is the Lord?” Upon this important question hangs our blessed and absolute eternal destiny. Those who call Jesus Christ the Lord by revelation and inspiration of the Holy Ghost worship Him as such.
The Bible states in Psalms 91:15, “…I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” You’ll notice in Psalms 91 that a love for the name of the Lord brings deliverance because centering your love on that name brings the protective influence of Almighty God. But, when the blessed Spirit of the Lord is crowded out by human ideas and philosophy concerning the Lord, w=the revelations and inspirations of heaven cease.
This is what began to take place during the second century when pagan theology, philosophy, and wisdom commenced to creep into the pure apostolic church. The consequences was a sad and endless mix-up and then, of course, religious out-breaks. These revolutions divided the church of Jesus Christ. The church gradually was controlled by men of great human personalities, men of great learning, influence and philosophy.
One of the first heresies that crept in was tritheism. Some of those devout, learned and converted heathens saw that the common Christians who were filled with the Spirit of God, were praying to Jesus Christ, worshipping Him, and praising Him vehemently and continually. These men of learning thought these Christians were giving too much homage to the Son and neglecting worship to His Father, so they began at once to preach a new doctrine. Their new doctrine taught that Jesus was not the first to be loved and worshipped, but His Father, and that Christ was to be the second and the Holy Spirit was to be the third in the place of honor. This brought about the teaching of a three persons God.
These tritheistic fathers became so dogmatic in this teaching, that they changed the form of baptism to what is known now as “triune emersion.” At that time they dipped their converts three times, once into the name of the Father, second into the name of the Son, and third into the name of the Holy Spirit. These church fathers, being cultured and scholarly, and very often very devout to their ideas of God, and also having influence with the world’s influential men, prevailed against the common, slave-class of Christians and the latter had to submit against their own will.
Today, though we do not have a continual practice of so-called three dippings or triune emersion, we do have a new substitute which is involved in what we know to be Matthew 28:19 which declares “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Some people who knew better, being more independent and also quite wise, revolted against this tritheistic theology. These were know as Arians and Socians. They held to a one God being Jesus Christ and Son, begotten, originated, created, and adopted during some unknown period of time to be the first and greatest of all God’s creatures by and with whom the Almighty made the world and redeemed humanity.
The crisis between these two parties and others minor parties created new revolutions such as the Sabellianisms and many other small “isms,: until the flames of this religious revolution got to the Kings and Princes of the world. It was so great that these rulers had to take sides with these different Christian sects for their own political opportunities. This, of course, caused terrible divisions, persecutions, and Christian martyrdom.
In their time, the bishops became religious leaders under the world’s rulers, putting their anthemas upon any opponent, until the rise of Constantine, the emperor of Rome. He seemed to be the wisest of all European rulers. Through his nominal profession of the Christian faith, though refusing baptism until the time of his death bed, he began to work a plan of uniting all Christians in Europe in order to get the good will of the rest of Christendom in Asia and Africa. He figured he would use them to work out his political plan and conquer the rest of the world. Constantine succeeded in getting the greatest Christian gathering ever held, about A.D. 325. Emperor Constantine paid the way of the bishops and presbyters, gathering them together from all over the world to settle these disputes among Christians in Rome and pledging his kingly support.
The outcome of this great gathering was the rejection and disposition of Arianism and the formation of the 19 creeds which is held today by the Roman and Greek Catholic churches and by many protestant denominations. But, into this 19 credo was written some of the substance of a good deal of traditional churchanity which has filled a good deal of the thinking and a good deal of the doctrinal stands of many protestant bodies today. The result has been that around the traditional idea of the Nicean council a great deal of religion has found its basic foundation.
Back To The Original
Today as we declare to you a gospel that comes from the primitive Apostolic church, we are answering the traditional concept by saying that never in any instance did the New Testament teach a baptism into a formula of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Instead the New Testament, as reported in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, taught a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remissions of sins. The promise was that upon repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, you should receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is why we are contending for an Apostolic faith that is the original practice of the church.
The Apostles knew of these new doctrines that were coming into the church, and that is why they forewarned the Christians of their day. The Apostle Paul speaking against this corrupt doctrine said, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8). Then in Colossians 2:9, the Apostle gives his reason for the warning: “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” This satisfied the primitive Christians of the first century in regard to the deity of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle John warned against Socians and Arians. In I John 5:20 and 21 he says, “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. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
These two practical warnings contain the whole truth. Declare it with no unsound words. The truth is that the true God is the true eternal life and that God in His majesty is in His Son, Jesus Christ. With this being the truth, they preached Jesus Christ, baptized into His name and admonished the converts to believe, to cleave, and abide in Jesus Christ, because, “… he that acknowledged the Son hath the Father also: (I John 2:23).
Today we are again sounding the same apostolic message to our world and declaring that this is the primitive doctrine of that original church. Back to Jesus Christ; back to the Bible; back to the original primitive standard of the church; back to the great foundation upon which the church is built. This is what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 16:18, “… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”