The Rise of the Roman Church
This is Part Two
As discussed in part one, within a very few years of its birth rival sects arose with the Way Movement opposing the Jewish views of the original Hebrew talmidim such as Paul, Peter, James, John, et al. During John's imprisonment on Patmos the Nicolaitan and Gnostic heresies were already replacing the Way movement.
As time passed the Gentile members, some with the best of intentions, others who were intentionally altering and Paganizing the Way sect, began to transform it. Despite having little to no Torah knowledge, these converts gained authority within the emerging new "Church." Judaism and the rejected reforms of Yeshua were gradually being replaced by a new Pagan-based Roman religion.
By 325 CE at the vary latest the Jewish Way sect had ceased to exist. Just as Rabbi Gamaliel had expected.
The Rise of the Universal Church
First the terms:
Catholic: From the Greek katholikos or "universal" and brought into Latin as catholicus. Catholicism was established by Emperor Constantine to be the sole global (universal or catholic) religion. It was to be observed by all people living under the authority of the ever expanding Roman Empire. The dream was that with this new catholic religion Rome would conquer the planet.
Church: The Greek word translated as church used in the Greek New Testament writings means a few different things:
In the New Testament the word is first used at Matthew 16:18: "... and upon this rock I will build my church [ekkle'sia: "ek-klay-see'-ah"]." This Greek term is used in two main ways: As kuriakē oikia or "house of the Lord" and as ekklēsia kuriakē meaning "congregation of the Lord," so the word refers simultaneously to both the place where Christians meet as well as to the Christians themselves as the "Body of Anointed Ones" (or Body of Christ). The early Church regarding all Christians as the anointed ones. Both usages are correct and both apply to the modern idea of "the Church" (despite what groups like the Church of Christ teach).
The common English word translated from ekkle'sia as "church" comes through the Old English word cirice which is taken from the Germanic kirika (or kirche) which in turn is taken from the Greek kuriake' which means "of the Lord" (or "the Lord's property"). Hence the Church claims to be "the anointed possession of the Lord." Again this comes from the Greek, not the Hebrew which has no such word. Imbued in this word are many catholic associations that are neither biblical nor in harmony with Jewish understanding. The "Church" therefore is a Pagan, not a Jewish/biblical, construct.
As doctrinally reformed Jews Yeshua and his initial talmidim would not have used the term to describe themselves. Again however as discussed in the previous section, the Greek New Testament text is what we have to go by, so it is wise to avoid extremist positions on linguistic purity. As is so often case, balance is the best approach. We know what is meant by the term today.
Constantine the Great
Sol Invictus and the Papal Cross
In 312 C.E. during his famous battle for control of Rome against Maxentius, Constantine -- the mighty warlord who became Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus (lived circa February 27, 272 – May 22, 337) -- a devout worshiper of Mithras Sol Invictus (the Roman sun god) until the day he died, claimed to have had a vision of Yeshua, whom he called Iēsoús Constantine claimed that Iēsoús had appeared to him in the heavens, enshrouded by the Sun (the sacred emblem of Sol Invictus) and ordered him to "fight and conquer" under the sign of the Chi-Rho (a form of the ancient Pagan cross). To the right you can see a Roman coin embossed with this Pagan symbol. The historic Yeshua died on a stake (a Stauros) according to the Gospel accounts, not on a cross.
For Pagans the cross represents the crossroads, the opportunity to take a new direction under the blessings of the sun god. The symbol was used to signify that one had arrived at an opportune moment of decision. It was also viewed as an augury of good fortune and success if the correct fork is taken.
This Iēsoús who appeared to Constantine was supposedly the Yeshua of the Bible; the same Yeshua who ordered his followers to turn the other cheek when struck, the same Yeshua who ordered Peter to put away his sword, 'because those who live by the sword will die by it', the same Yeshua who declined repeated requests to take up the sword and lead Israel as the Messiah, and who said 'My kingdom is not of this world.' It appears that Jesus changed his mind and ordered a Pagan warlord to conquer the planet and create his kingdom! But again, one dared not question the obvious problems with this claim!
Despite the obvious absurdities and inconsistencies of his claimed vision, the victors write the history books. Today however things are different. Many Christians are now questioning the politically motivated mythical origins of their faith and are looking to the Noahide Way for answers. Many others are seeking and finding conversion to Judaism, the religion of Yeshua and his followers.
The fact that Constantine, the founder of their religion, remained a worshiper of the Mizrachi sun god until the day he died apparently does not bother most Christians. After all, Constantine won the wars and wielded the power! Today as then most Christians accept Constantine's account of Iēsoús ordination of him. Most accept it as an established fact that the God of the Bible wanted to "elevate" the Way sect (or its replacement, the Nicene Church) to political power and did so by the might of a Roman Pagan warlord!
In this generally accepted foundational story most Christians accept the claim that "Jesus" decided to fundamentally alter his doctrines, to nullify the Torah which he said would never pass away (Matthew 5:18), to severe his Movement's tenuous remaining ties with Judaism, indeed to outlaw and persecute it, and to create the Catholic Church and government to rule the planet (even though the Church failed to accomplish this). And it's all based on Constantine's unsubstantiated claim that Iēsoús appeared to him in the form of a Pagan religious icon! An icon that now hangs upon the wall of almost every Christian church on earth and around the necks of untold millions of "Bible Believers" all because an unconverted Pagan warlord said so.
Countless unknown numbers of Way adherents converted or returned to traditional Rabbinic Judaism during this period rather than accept the heresies being established by Church and its councils. Records are sketchy but provide some evidence that Judaism took in more converts during this period than during any other single period in its history. Other members of the various Way sects outwardly conformed to the New Religion but covertly maintained their faith in the Way for a time. Fears of Papal retribution kept them from teaching their children the Way doctrines and so within a generation these people mainly ceased to be a factor within the Church Their children embraced Catholicism and the Way sect ceased to exist.
Most of the few remaining Way members (and most Pagans) entered the Catholic Church submissively and accepted Rome's authority and anomos (Torah denying dogmas). Yeshua's reform Jewish teachings replaced by the Nicolaitan heresies, just as John had warned in Revelation chapters two and three.
The history of the early (Roman) Universal ("Catholic") Church is replete with stories of Pagan priests, Nicolaitan bishops and crafty theologians and politicians bitterly debating every conceivable point of doctrine for their own purposes, both with each other and with the remaining "Arian" based Way members who continued "contending earnestly for the faith" as described at Jude 1:3. Around this period however the last voices of the Way sect were silenced for good.
Arianism was heroically championed by Bishop Arius but he neither invented it nor was its sole proponent. The Arian belief is that Yeshua was fully human rather than divine, and that he, unlike the Holy One Who alone is blessed for ever, had a beginning. To claim that there was a time before which Iēsoús existed was to invited Papal vengeance and yet Arius and others did just that heroically.
As discuss in part one, the Bishop suffered mightily for opposing the polytheism of most of the Church fathers. Note that the term Arianism has nothing to do with views of Aryan racial supremacy. Despite the similarity in sound they is no connection. Bishop Arius (250 or 256–336) was a Christian presbyter and an ascetic Berber who sought to hold on to the teachings of the Way sect rather than accept the Trinitarian beliefs of the new Christian religion. He was a priest in Baucalis, Alexandria Egypt. His Church authority rose and fell several times within the Catholic hierarchy depending on the views of the current Pope, a few of whom were also Arian.
As discussed in the previous section, the determinations of the Nicolaitan Papacy were eventually canonized as mandatory dogma for all Catholics (Christians). Catholicism was declared the One True and Apostolic Universal Church. It claimed to have replaced Judaism and its Covenant with G-d, as well as all of the rival Way sects still on the scene. Unapproved beliefs were declared illegal and after a while those holding them were severely punished. Millions of people were killed by the Church for refusing to embrace their new religion.
Prior to birth of Catholicism (Christianity), between the late first and early fourth centuries C.E. (i.e. A.D., of our common era) everything was open for debate among the conflicting sects of the Way Jewish Movement. Nazarenes, Nicolaitans, Gnostics, Essenes, Mandaeans (i.e. the followers of John the Baptist), overt Pagan and others openly competed for their doctrines to be accepted as the Way sect norm... and more importantly, for the members. In the end, by the authority of the Roman Empire itself, the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, 15) were successful and established their religiously consolidated views as "Catholic Christianity" (Universal Christianity) and the various sects were outlawed.
Politically motivated counsels of powerful Catholic bishops decreed with the authority of "the Mother Church" (a Pagan term if ever there was one) what was to be accepted as the approved dogma and doctrine of the Church Universal, and what was to be condemned as apostasy. Their rulings were established as the Divine Tradition of the Catholic Magisterium and hence held sacrosanct. All who failed to submit to their rulings were condemned as heretics.
Once the Church's authority was established the various councils became think-tanks to determine how the new synthesis religion would be structured. The debates held by the various Catholic councils were not interested in determining what the Tanach or even the writings of the New Testament taught, but on the political connections of the arbiters of the various doctrines and how best to expand the Church's authority over the masses. With practically every ruling they made, the bishops moved farther away from the Way teachings of the Apostles and their Jewish reforms.
The Judaism of the P'rushim (Pharisees) and Tz'dukim (Sadducees) had been criticized by Yeshua for being tradition laden, but now the Way/Church became even more stifled by human tradition than Judaism had ever been! Every point of doctrine was dictated from on high and beyond discussion. Even when their rulings opposed logic, for instance that Iēsoús was simultaneously both human and divine, merely questioning the inconsistences could lead to death, whereas Jews debate everything endlessly and accept the plausibility of alternative beliefs on most topics.
To attract more Pagans innumerable anti-biblical doctrines were interspersed with biblical truths in a bid to be all things to all people (in other words, "catholic"). Pagan customs and traditions were added from across the Roman world and beyond while the Papacy declared the carefully crafted theological collage inspired by its God. Catholicism became a house of cards, remove one and the entire edifice might collapse. For this reason dissent was not tolerated. The Vatican established itself as the only authorized source of information secular or religious. Accept their rulings or be sent to the Pagan god Hades for eternal torment! Never mind that Hades is not a biblical character, the Church declared him to be Satan and his domain real, and so they were!
As the Councils of Catholic Bishops extended their authority the people of the empire largely conformed to the developing new doctrines and religion. By this point there was so much confusion and violence that most people just wanted peace. They would accept anything that might achieve that. With the Church's authority centered in the Roman government persecutions against those who claimed to follow Yeshua, for a time at least, ended. The Gnostics and others were effectively silenced. The lead Bishop of Rome was now the universal "Daddy" (or pope). He would tell everyone what to believe and what to reject. Submit to him and all would be well.
Following the alleged conversion of Constantine the Great, the Roman Empire came to be regarded as the Kingdom of God on Earth. Faith was replaced by obedience, reason by Papal authority. The new dogmas were enforced by Roman Law and the persecutions returned, but from a slightly different source. Opposing the Bishops meant opposing God and opposing God meant opposing Rome and that, as before, would not be tolerated.
The Roman persecution of the Way was gradually replaced by the Roman Catholic persecution of apostates and Judaizers, of Witches and Druids, of all other unrepentant Pagans and infidels under their control. As long as one submitted to the Church there was peace, but oppose it or continue with ones prior practices, and experience the wrath of the Holy Inquisitions. The Church Universal and Triumphant was on the move again! People soon discovered that it was much easier (and safer) to embrace the New Religion of Christianity than to oppose Rome. Most everyone on the Continent submitted to Papal power!
Nicaea and Codification of Nicene Christianity
Under the sway of this new all inclusive governmental and ecclesiastical hierarchy the Way sect was silenced as Vatican authorities codified and mandated heretical doctrines in their councils: such as those held at Nicaea in May of 325.
The Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed appears in slightly different forms (and of course languages). The Creed is usually just called the "Nicene Creed" but it is also known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, after its origin in the first two Church ecumenical Councils in 325 and 381. Here's the official Catholic version of the Creed in English as found in the Handbook of Prayers edited by James Socias:We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
This Creed established the foundation of Christian religion to this day, whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Church of the East, etc. Those who depart from its teachings on any point are not accepted as "Christian" according to the majority of Christian denominations. Several of its points are biblically heretical. No Jew who accepts these can be recognized as religiously Jewish, rather he or she is an heretic to the Jewish people The so-called Messianic Christians accept the Creed:
Biblical Objections to the Creed:
... the only Son of God: This is interpreted in terms of the common Pagan idea that the gods and goddesses take birth on the earth in order to interact with humans. It does not mean "son" is the standard sense. There is no biblical support for such an interpretation of the word son nor that G-d incarnates.
... eternally begotten of the Father: This does not even make sense. "Eternally begotten?" The reason for the inclusion of this statement is Colossians 1:15 where Paul says that Yeshua is "the firstborn of every creature." The Arians argued that if this is true then Yeshua has a beginning and can not be God, Who has no beginning. Paul almost certain got this notion from the Jewish teaching that the spirit or spark of mashiach was among the first created things. In no way does this mean the Messiah was created at that time, and of course, Jesus was not the Messiah anyway since he failed to meet the requirements.
... God from God... true God from true God: Torah says: "Hear O Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is One"... not two (nor three). This claim is biblically heretical on its face.
... begotten, not made: By this the Church means that Jesus was made as the prototype for the rest of creation. The source of this could be the mystical Jewish teaching of Adam Kadmon but even if true, it has nothing to do with the Messiah, Jesus or otherwise. The Bishops probably added this hoping to nullify the obvious biblical contradictions.
... one in Being with the Father: Again an utter contradiction of the biblical doctrine.
... his kingdom will have no end: By this the Creed means "the Church" will have no end. The original Church, Catholicism, teaches that one day everyone will become Catholic and that will lead to the return of Jesus.
... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord: The Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is not "the Lord" and is not a "Person." The Ruach HaKodesh is the Spirit Presence of HaShem, not a third god nor an "emanation" of a Trinity.
... the giver of life: ONLY HaShem gives life.
... who proceeds from the Father and the Son: The Ruach HaKodesh is not a Person and does not "proceed" from the Father as meant here. It is the Presence of HaShem. Nor does it proceed from Yeshua in ANY fashion. God's Holy Presence is His own. The translation of the Spirit as "He" is a matter of (inaccurate) interpretation and style, not of translation. This clause is sheer blasphemy biblically speaking.
... With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified: The Bible could not be more clear on this heresy: Isaiah 42:8 I am HaShem, that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another... ONLY G-d is to be worshiped according to the Bible. To worship anything or anyone else is avodah Zarah (blasphemy).
... One church... one baptism...: The problem here is with what is meant doctrinally by this, not by the words themselves. They are claiming that the One Church is the Vatican and the One Baptism is done by their priests. Both of these claims arise from replacement theology, that the Church has replaced the Sinai Covenant with their own. Non-Catholics interpret "the Church" to mean all those who "accept" Jesus and who are "saved." This interpretation has the same problem. It is based on replacement theology. This contradicts the Bible. The Sinai Covenant between HaShem and the Jewish people is eternal, it will never be passed on to any other people.
Almost all segments of the Christian Church use this creed and consider it to be the standard of their faith. When Christians speak of retuning to "First Century Christianity" or to "the Second Chapter of Acts Church" they invariably do so maintaining this unbiblical creed as their touch stone. With this as the foundation there is no way to return to biblical religion! The way sect no longer exists.
It is said that Emperor Constantine once bowed to an idol of the sun god (Sol Invictus), presumably thinking it was a statue of Iēsoús This would have been an understandable mistake since the Catholic appearance of Iēsoús is almost identical with that of Sol Invictus. Even calling him "the Son of God" rang true to the Pagan ear because Sol Invictus was the "Sun God." When his supposed error was pointed out Constantine replied, "What's the difference?" and continued worshiping the idol. The truth was that Constantine's conversion was a matter of political expediency, as we will discuss below. Sol Invictus, the Mizrachi sun god, was Constantine's lifelong master and deity, not Iēsoús and that never changed!
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